Friday, June 20, 2008

The Surprising Nature of Risk Taking

It has been difficult for me to figure out what to write on this blog. I think the main reason is that there are people from all of my different social “zones” that are checking it. I have close friends, acquaintances, family, colleagues, people I’ve met along the way, and even possibly some random blog surfers. What do I talk about? The embarrassing cultural moments? My new ambitions to never let the "guy speedo craze" hit America?

Well, in today's blog, I've decided to share something that I have learned along the way. This will go beyond my newfound appreciation for Walmart and all its convenient monopolized goodness. It’ll even go beyond the freedom I’ve experienced of packing just one backpack of clothes. Here’s the topic for this weeks blog: the surprising nature of taking risks.

Lets face it: traveling around the world alone as a ridiculously good-looking female (name that movie!) on 11 different flights carries an element of risk, regardless of how technologically advanced we are. With my adventurous spirit and, more importantly, a God who promises to take care of me, I’d like to say that I didn’t have any fear. But, that would be a complete lie! But what is a risk without an element of fear?

So, here comes my personal epiphany. The thing that I have found to be most surprising about taking risks in the name of the Lord: after you take one, you will probably be asked to take another one. And another one. And another one.  And while the risks may become even tougher, the rewards become even greater. 

We’ve all heard the story of Peter walking on water (Mark 6).  Don’t loose sight of what was happening before that: Peter was in the boat with the rest of the disciples. They look out and see Jesus walking on water. What does Peter do? He asks Jesus to command him to walk on water towards him. 

Peter didn't have to ask Jesus to command him to come out of the boat. Peter didn't even have to get out of the boat after Jesus commanded him to. He had the choice. But Peter chose to ask AND then chose to get out of the boat. And because he did, he was able to experience that extraordinary moment of walking on water. What an incredible feeling that must have been. I wonder how much of an impact this had on him later on in life? 

Every time I've asked the Lord how I can know him more, he always seems lead me a little more out of my comfort zone and a little more dependent upon him. It has meant taking on a leadership position that I was terrified of (Phi Lamb), become increasingly involved at church, living with less "stuff," confront a loved one, take a job out of state, and go on various short term mission trips. I don't know what my next "boat" will be, but I'm willing to bet it will involved a considerable amount of risk and reward. 

Let me get this clear, I don’t think anyone should do anything in the name of “risk” that is contrary to what the bible says. I also don't think that everything turns out "perfect" because you followed Jesus out of one of your comfort zones (Peter did sink, after all!) But I have found the most significant spiritual growth to be in the times of FOLLOWING Jesus out of my comfort zone. Of taking risks. The more I get out of my comfort zone, the more He asks of me. The more He asks of me, the more I am reminded of His faithfulness. The more I see how faithful He is to His promises, the more prone I am to follow Him wherever He leads me to go. I have no idea what is next. But, I do know that the Lord is faithful to His promises. I know he is worth running towards, even in the midst of stormy waters. If following Jesus out of your comfort zone brings you closer to Him, I'm starting to see it more of a risk not to follow Him out. Do you have a boat He's asking you to get out of? Have you asked him?

“His divine power has granted to us ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness…by which he has granted to us his PRECIOUS and very GREAT PROMISES, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 1:3-4

I adore you all! More to come...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cultural Lessons From the Redhead

Welcome to cultural lesson number one. Keep this in mind the next time it is 100 degrees and you are without an air conditioner. Did you know that Montenegrins believe that sickness can be traced to two distinct causes: drafts and not wearing house slippers?  They will not let you keep 2 windows, a door AND a window, etc. open at the same time. For example, if it is 100 degrees outside, you will only be able to roll down one window in your car.  No more. Another example: you can open one window in your room, but only if you close the door first. I badly misinterpreted this belief. I was assuming a closed door meant the same that it did in America: stay out! If I had followed my cultural expectations and “stayed out” every time the door was closed, I would never have had any opportunities to talk with my host family. It has been the little things like that that have been the biggest surprises for me.

I’ve had the opportunity to take pictures of the absolutely beautiful surroundings. Pictures could never do it justice, but I’ll share one anyway. Imagine gorgeous mountains plunging straight into a ridiculously blue sea, decorated by quaint towns made of stone. Above you find my favorite of the bunch. You can’t see Herceg Novi (where I am staying), but you can see the Bay of Kotor and the mountains.  You should be able to find this area on a map if you wanted to.

I have also had the opportunity to begin learning about the culture. Like many cultures, there is usually not a distinction between personal beliefs and cultural expectations/traditions. The dominant religion is Orthodox, but the majority do not attend any sort of weekly worship service . It is a big change from the “church on every corner” found in the bible belt.  Out of an estimated 40,000 natives, there are an estimated 5 believers in the area.

I'm looking forward to spending 2 more weeks here, but am afraid the time will go by too quickly! I hope all is well on your side of the world!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kat has landed!

Zdravo (hello) from Montenegro! After around 24 hours of travel and over 30 hours without sleep, I have officially landed in Montenegro. By “accident” I had a 9 hour layover in Rome.  What a blessing to run into another American girl traveling on her own with an open afternoon! She let me drop my belongings off in her hotel and we ran around Rome for a few hours. This is a picture of us in front of the Colosseum. It makes the new Dallas Cowboy monstrocity of a football stadium look tiny and insignificant, especially since this was made without machinery. 20th century folks are such wussies. 

I have my own room at a house with a welcoming and hospitable Montenegrin family. And to answer the first 2 questions I always have, yes,  there is running water and working toilets! I was actually welcomed the first night by a rare Texas-sized thunderstorm that reminded me of home. The city I am in was built ON the mountain and next to a coast. It is absolutely breathtaking. I have spent the last few days walking around town, learning some language basics (serbo-croatian), learning more of the history of the region, and basically getting accustomed to the area. Next week I will begin to teach an intermediate and advanced English class. I'm looking forward to getting better plugged into the culture and meeting some of the native Montenegrins! 

More pictures and updates will be coming after I get a chance to take a few more pictures and have more time to get settled. PLEASE let me know if you have anything you'd like to know more about! Thanks for checking in!

Cucemo se! (Keep in touch)

Monday, June 9, 2008

And I'm off!!!

Okay..... I admit it. I used moving day as an opportunity to put a shameless "my-niece-is-cuter-than-your-niece" picture up, but I couldn't help it. Can you seriously blame me? Meet Karlie, born to the Moy family on August 14th, 2007. Although my brother and father did all the heavy lifting, Karlie helped us a lot on moving day by giving us a smiling face to come "home" to!

So... there you have it. On Saturday, I moved all of my belongings into storage until I get back on July 20th. I fly out of Montenegro  TUESDAY afternoon (yes, tomorrow!) at 12:15. Next post will be after I get settled in! 

In preparation of leaving, I want to share with you one of my favorite passages in all of scripture:

"But thanks be to God, who in Christ ALWAYS leads us in triumphal procession and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?" 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Friends, I definitely do not feel sufficient for these things on my own. But, I DO feel sufficient by the work of Jesus in me. I know He has led me to take this trip, and I rejoice that His grace is sufficient for me and that His power is made perfect in my many weaknesses. (2 corinthians 12:9). May his light shine through me thoughout this trip and to Him be all the glory.

Blessings to all...