let’s make our presence present

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I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. What I assumed would be my first post in Greece wasn’t, isn’t that how blogging goes? Expecting to be able to write about something but when you start it takes you in a new direction? Can any other writers/bloggers relate to this?

I’m writing from Limnos, Greece a place where my dad’s side of the family is from, a place where I spent most of my childhood summers and a place where we spent quality time with ou Yia-Yia who is no longer with us. To say we miss her, her warm and welcoming spirit, her laugh and loud voice and smile behind her large eye-glass frame would be an understatement. Limnos isn’t the same without her presence, we will always remember and cherish our times with our Yia-Yia. She was one of the most loving and generous people I knew who would do anything for her family that she cherished most in her life.

For anyone who doesn’t know Limnos is one of the geographically bigger Greek islands found in the North Aegean Sea located 20 miles from Turkey but it’s not a tourist hotspot. That always made me appreciate the simple beauty of this island where I feel so connected too. A place where I came as a child with not a care in the world.

Returning brought back a flood of feelings and emotions that my brother and parents can relate to.

Being back on the island after ten years has stirred up many emotions. Has it really been ten years? This place feels the same and different at the same time. It’s given us a chance to look back on our past ten years and talk about everything that has happened. Deaths in our family, accomplishments, hard times, good times, life. 

I cherish so much about this place, and will always return when I can, feeling a strong connection to the simple and local culture, feeling again far removed and at home all over again.

Being older and have traveled around the world you really appreciate each experience as unique and treasure the present moment, or try your best too. I’ve tried to become more intentional about not getting caught up in the future but trying to be present exactly where I am today. Too make our presence present. A friend of mine shared this quote that truly resonated within my heart. Imagine if we could all appreciate and be grateful for where we are today. Externally and internally and not look around us to compare ourselves to other’s lives, adventures, experiences, but appreciate the beauty in this fleeting and current moment.

“Each moment is a place you’ve never been.” Mark Strand

We are all on our own journeys, and we each have the opportunity to make this moment a place we’ve never been. That’s inspiring. We are not even technically promised a tomorrow, or a next month not knowing what change may come but we can be hopeful in enjoying the beauties, dealing with the pains and appreciating moments of today with a grateful heart. 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

When we landed in Athens I switched my phone on only to be have told of something that broke my heart and left me feeling completely helpless and out of control of the situation. Not really what I was expecting to happen the day my vacation began. Wishing I could turn back the hands of time, but knowing this was not a possibility. But that’s life. Leaving me with no power to do anything. I realized in that moment you can travel the world but you can’t expect to run from your problems. There is nowhere you can go where your troubles will not follow. There is nowhere you can escape where life will not reach you.

In that moment I had a choice. I could have broken down and worried myself and ruined the time with my family with “what if’s” and dwell in the future which I have no control over. Or I could choose to have peace knowing that on this particular day life happened. And it hurt. A lot. 

Naturally I tried to keep my cool, but the emotions of this surprising situation kept surfacing to the top. I knew I had to deal with it somehow, someway, I had to do something when I had absolutely no power to do anything. I had to relinquish control and be intentional about my reaction.

Those two words kept popping into my mind, control and intentionality.

Our layover in Athens had ended and we boarded the flight heading to Limnos. A short enough flight to get through, but it seemed long enough to dwell in the sadness of what had happened.

I rested my head against the window of the small old-fashioned plane flying over the North Aegean Sea with amazing views of the mountains. Hearing the flight attendant tell us we had 10 minutes until the plane would descend, hearing the Greek brought a rush of familiarity and feeling at ease knowing I was heading home after so long. Looking down out my window the beauty overwhelmed me as I gazed over mountain tops peaking through the clear blue Sea, the clouds and the sunset that made the water turn gold and sparkle.

I didn’t want to use my mind as a flush of memories of the situation that had left me feeling devastated, confused, and heart-broken. 

I wanted to be intentional about my reaction. I grabbed my notebook and wrote how I felt I looked back of my favorite bible verses I had jotted down in the first few pages. I ended this particular entry with this…

This is a testimony in the making, and I choose to trust in him, even though it hurts, a lot.

Then I flipped to the beginning pages “DO NOT FEAR” written in all caps were the first words my eyes glanced over and it hit me.

In that moment I realized this, that we ultimately have no control over our lives. Of course we can control our attitudes, and our efforts but the major things in life we are out of control. I didn’t want to get caught up in fear. I wanted to have peace knowing that I have no control. This might sound strange or weird to many people.

Isn’t that what we all want? To be in control of a situation? To be the pilot of our own lives? Isn’t that what society teaches us? To always have it all together, or when we don’t have the power to make it all better? But ask yourself, what do you really have control over? Can you promise yourself a tomorrow? That you’ll be in perfect health in ten years, that your loved ones will live forever? That your job will never fail you? That your home will always be safe?

The truth is we don’t, we can try, but in the end we have no control over what happens or what life may bring. What we do control is our reaction and we control our decision to be intentional about that reaction. 

In that moment I accepted what I didn’t have control over and chose to trust God with this situation. He is the author and he works things our for good. He see’s it from a different perspective than me, and I know I can trust in him what I have no control over. Even when it makes no sense, even when it hurts. I want to choose peace. I want to choose to not loose minutes or hours of my day worrying about tomorrow or what my future may or may not hold.

The things we value most like family, relationships, health, job, our futures, our governments, the state of this world, our security, if you really think about it we don’t have control over it. Anything can fail us at any time, and these things are things we have no control over.

“In You I find my rest
You are in control”

Lyrics from In Control by Hillsong

Today I want to be intentional about choosing peace over fear, and trust over worry. I want to cast my cares on to the Lord. I don’t want to be the author of my life, I trust the one who created it to complete his story in my life. I want to “not get caught up in things I have no control over.” I want to enjoy my time in the island that I’ve dreamt of coming back home to for the past ten years and face tomorrow when it comes. I want to make my prescene in this moment present. I want anyone who is reading this to know it is okay to not be in control, it is okay to trade it in for something much better, peace and cast our fears, hopes or worries on God.  Even if you forget everything you’ve read up to this point I want anyone who is reading this to remember what God tells us

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

“Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

You are all loved,

Dev

 

1 1/2 till takeoff!

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It’s about that time where I pack up after three weeks at home, and head off, only this time not straight to Ghana. I’ll be in Europe with my friends and family (blog post coming soon about that) It felt so strange to walk past the flight boarding Accra, part of me wanting to just jump on, but in two weeks time I’ll be flying back to Africa.

Being here at JFK setting off for another summer away with so many new adventures it makes me reminisce about leaving and setting off for Ghana last year jumping into so many unknowns, and trusting God to take me through it all! side note- he did! as he always will, even when we doubt and have fear, he never fails to take us through!

As I sit here I still feel as if this summer holds so many unknowns, which holds within itself a new journey and a new adventure that I am excited about

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” Ephesians 3:20

A year ago I started this blog, unsure of what I’d be writing about, how often I’d use it, or who would come along this journey with me, or be reading on the other side of the screen. And then an hour until takeoff I wrote this…. a blog post of everything I was feeling jumping into the great unknown boarding that flight with my dad

To read or look back on that post click here  

Somewhere along the lines I started to love “blogging” and reading about other people’s experiences all around the world and connecting with so many new friends.

I got to connect with people living all over the world who have felt a strong burden on their hearts for orphans, particularly in Africa. I’ve spoken to some of you with dreams of starting a non-profit, and have been invited on other adventures occurring all around the world.

And it inspires me. So much.

To hear from you, to hear your dreams and read along with you, feeling like I was in Asia, East Africa or other parts of the world with you through your posts.

My first blog post was called “Home” about a year ago I was packing my bags to head off to Europe to explore 5 countries with 4 of my best friends. Then I came home unpacked and started putting my life back into a suitcase this time for the big move, to Africa, not knowing how long I’d be there.

to read that first blog click here

Where is home for you? I’d love to know! Comment down below 🙂

My first blog post I talked about home. What exactly that word meant to me, and looking back on it, I feel the same way. Home becomes the people you are surrounded that make “a place” become “a home.” And now a year post starting my blog I’m back where I started yet everything has changed. I leave today for Europe (my best friends the same 4 girls are coming next week) and and after I’ll  be heading back to Africa for a busy and exciting summer of new experiences as God is continuing to take me places I’d never imagine going.

It’s amazing what 365 days can do. What you can learn from them, how you have full circle moments of relearning the same lessons you have in new contexts and situations.

so many lessons. the good, the bad and the ugly, they are still lessons, and God will never stop using them for OUR GOOD!

So cheers to one year on the blog, and many more sharing adventures, stories, lessons good and bad, sharing God’s story and connecting with many more awesome and inspiring people. I look forward to so much this summer!

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Hopefully I’ll have time to blog about what my next two weeks will look like and why it is so exciting/special to me personally and how awesome God has been through it all.

Next stop Greece!

You are all loved,

Dev