Wednesday, October 31, 2007

*forgiveness again*

I like studying forgiveness and wrestling with this topic because in the midst of my wrestling I am reminded of God's forgiveness, His grace, His power and existence, and His satisfying love for His people...

I was reminded of how when we let God's grace wash over us, we are a testimony of Him. He is "in the business" of making all things new. I love the thought of God making all things new.

Isaiah 61:3 *and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor*

When I wrestle with God's grace and mercy, it makes me want to spend more time in His word studying His attributes more deeply.

When I wrestle with God's grace and mercy, He sends me back to the stories of His faithfulness and lovingkindness in my own life. The examples and "Ebenzer stones" I have laid before...

oh to have the heart that will never wander, never weary. Won't that day be everything we've ever wanted?

...even now, He already is.


I'm having serious writer's block... well, not so much WRITER'S block... more like workshop block.
Everyone on staff is giving a workshop. Mary, Mark, Kyle and Jin have all gone. Jennifer, Ruth Ann (visiting from Utsu) and I are left. I am going on Tuesday....
and I have just one thought about what I want to talk about.
But what I want to talk about is also very bearing of my soul...
living a life of forgiveness....
even just saying that to you makes me want to delete this post. But I'm hoping small steps will add up to larger ones.
I cannot get past a certain point. For instance, why do I struggle with the concept of forgiveness? It's easy to tell my friends that there is grace and that God loves them BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT TO BE TRUE.
But then why do I believe the lie that the standard is higher for myself?? I really don't know.
i can't seem to gather my thoughts... can't seem to decide what to share or not share...
i hate lies and i hate satan.
maybe i can use that as my title??? that's a start.
(p.s. I'll be sure to post my workshop when I finish it. God will have glory in my life and through my workshop blockage. :D)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

*open hand*

I've been thinking a lot about Hannah from the Bible these days. I've been remembering 1 Samuel and how Hannah gave both physical and spiritual life to Samuel. What's amazing about Hannah is her endurance in asking the Lord for what is heaviest on her heart.

*She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.... Hannah answered, "No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD."...the Lord remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son.* 1 Samuel 1

What impresses me the most about Hannah is that she releases any hold she has first on her heart. Ah, that is so important to remember! I cannot ask my hand to let go when my own heart refuses. I must remember that my heart is God's. That my wellspring of life is the vessel God is pouring life and love into, that I may pour onto others. If I cannot open up my own heart, I cannot allow for the fullness of God to pour in.

Think about this: picture me, stumbling into my kitchen at the crack of dawn to start my coffee. When I pour water into my coffeemaker, it is so much easier if I open the back lid all the way. However, some times when I am too tired in the morning, I don't realize that the lid is only slightly ajar, so when I start pouring the water catches on the back of the lid and pours onto my floor...

so it is with my heart. If I only allow certain areas of my heart to be opened, then only those areas can be fully satisfied by the Presence.

How many times have I let my heart be opened only halfway? Begged it not to open with desires because I was afraid I would be disappointed? I love (LOVE!!!) to remember the days of when I would literally cry out about returning to Japan. I would beg the LORD to hear my heart but in the next breath, deny my heart to return. Tell the LORD, "I really want to go but...." Why do I do that?

Oh my heart!!

So Hannah "admits" to God her desire and cries out to Him, which signifies the release of her heart to God. This release enables Hannah to release her hand when her son is born. This time it is physical. When God remembers her and gives her a son, she does not turn and forget the promise she made, but honors that her son rightly belongs to the Lord and so dedicates his life to God.

Hmmm.... interesting.

Jin pointed made a good comment on Friday she said, "Many of us will just keep our secrets and desires to ourselves because we would prefer to stay in this 'safe' zone where we don't have to let anyone know, least of all God, what we want the most. BUT God wants us to take our desires before Him."

Soooo many tears, prayers, and the releasing of my own heart and hand to my dream to be in Japan... and now here I am... writing about desires and dreams in Japan... ha ha! If I lived in the old Testament I would build a stone rememberance right outside Gurasu Toppu like Abraham and Jacob did when they "met" God.

One time of opening your heart, sadly doesn't always enable the next one to happen as easily. Thinking about Hannah made me look into my life now and where I sit with my dreams and desires. Am I quick to hide them again? Try to deny my very heart...


unfold my hand and release the hold I have on my desires, dreams, and what I would call "mine"? Only when we admit that all things come from God and most things will one day end can we fully enjoy them. Things like my time in Japan, my time as Mary's roommate, the fall season...

how can i live a life of holding my hand loosely and trusting God more fully?

Remaining close...

*Open up, O silly hand,
that's clenched so tight!
Forget the dark, forget the night.
Open up and grasp the light,
that beckons you so gently.
Open up, O tender fingers,
one by one see your length unfold!
See that what you grasped had become cold.
Never fear to open up,
oh, oh! fingers be ever so bold.
Open up, O smooth palm,
awake and see You were made
long ago,
by a Hand that formed you so.
Oh, won't you open up?
Grasp instead His hand,
by letting go.*

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Aunt Joanna

Sometimes when I'm looking through pictures or listening to music I am reminded of the little faces I miss the most... my nieces.
Lenora Daye and Waveland Eliza.
Soon these two will be joined by Eddie David and Baby Girl Schupbach.
I love being an auntie.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

know my heart


right before i ask
the words
but already
in my

and then
i turned
and you
had already


you knew
me before
i was born.
knew my
face before
i was formed.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

My First Album

If I ever write enough songs (or even a song) I'd like to title my first album "Skittle Tree" and it would be in memory of this tree I have fallen in love with on my walk to campus.
I had a fabulous day today. I was so encouraged. The weather was beautiful and the leaves are beginning to change. See what I mean?
One of the things that made me smile today was my new purse's secret pocket. That's right, folks, I said secret pocket. Today I was walking along thinking how stealth I felt having this pocket.
It's been good catching up with friends... although I am daily reminded of the time that is too quickly passing to be with Mary. This is a picture of Fuyu, Asa and I. I said, "Strike a pose on how you feel about Mary leaving." But Fuyu kept laughing...
so that made us laugh...
until finally our true feelings were portrayed correctly. Oh, Fuyu!!!!
I've learned how to play Texas Hold 'Em recently. Loads of fun.
I've been catching lunches, coffee dates, and shopping trips with the BEST club girls. I love living in Tokyo. And I love my friends!!
The only bad part about Tokyo is that someone special lives on the other side of the ocean... but he's so sweet to me. He sent me a special message via fall leaves.
The rumor on the street is that "somethings" gotten into Joanna lately...
I believe Jesus is overflowing my cup with the weather, the skittle tree, friendships, Mary, secret pockets and a great guy who is trusting the Lord.
*Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our souls wait for the LORD, he is our help and our shield for our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.* Psalm 33:18-22

Monday, October 15, 2007

Let the Birthday Continue...

Here are some more pictures from people who celebrated my birthday bash at Starbucks:
Priscilla and her roommates
Meaghan and her boyfriend Tim... Tim looks really excited to celebrate my birthday. Thanks Tim!

Awww... cute! Ryan and Ariel were "there".

Christy grabbed a drink "with" me... in Arizona.

Keigo, Kie, Kyle and Jennifer were all there to celebrate my big day... complete with a sign they made.

See? Nice, huh?

And last but not least... I know, had there not been an invite miscommunication that my best friend Kelli would have celebrated my big day with me. So, because I overlooked my sweet best friend... I am now adding her picture because I know she was there with me in heart.

Thanks everyone for pictures. Thanks for celebrating my big day with me.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fear This

If I let myself, I could fear a lot of things.
I could fear the earthquakes that shake my apartment, the loss of friendships, the loss of loved ones, rejection, mice... lots of things.
I received an email from a friend who expressed that lately she has been feeling a bit paralyzed by the fear that is in her heart. There are some legitimate things to fear, I think... things that make us more aware of danger. Like girls walking alone in dark and scary places... walking across a busy street, kind of fears. These are good fears or "awares" to have.
But the fear that robs us of our daily life and daily joys comes from satan. i think that any fear that makes us dread our surroundings and want to crawl back into bed is a fear that is not from God.
I read Isaiah 7-8 about the possibility of another nation attacking Israel and God says this, "Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall regard as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread..."
In Isaiah 7 the promise of a Messiah is mentioned... and his name shall be "Immanuel" or God with us.
STOP! STOP! Think about that. The God we love, serve, and live for is called Immanuel or God with us. In all areas of my life, in every moment of ever day, I have a God who loves me and is with me. A God who does not want me to fear anything BUT Him.
Matthew 10:28 *And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rahter fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.*
2 Timothy 1:7 *for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control*
1 John 4:18-19 *There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love becase he first loved us.*
And my new personal favorite... a quote from 5 Aspects: *When we fear the LORD he becomes our Refuge because fearing Him is the one fear that casts out all others.*
Proverbs 18:10 *The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.*
I remember hearing a quote once from Gods and Generals that one of the Generals said whether in bed or in battle, he knew his death had been ordained by God. Imagine having that confidence in God's plans. Whether I die today in a battle or 5o years from now in my sleep, it has been given to me as my time to die from God.
So as for today, I will pray for my friends, pray for my possible fears and decid to start anew. Today I choose that nothing deserves my fear or attention like my God. He holds all things in His hand. Nothing is too great or too mighty for Him.
God's name alone is a refuge where we can be saved... when satan threatens to make me despair, paralyze me with his fear... I will call on the One who is with me... Immanuel...
and then I'll use my scary face.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Handwritten Letters and Kitchen Secrets

I can still recall where I was standing when Hilary Pepper introduced me to Kelli Brown. And I recognized her name because I had been praying for her... although she was just a name on a piece of paper at that time... but through that first meeting, a deep and unique friendship was born between Kelli Brown Burrier and I...
Through the summer at Snow Mountain Ranch, Kelli and I poured our hearts out to each other and laid our thoughts, prayers, and dreams before the Lord.
6AM prayer, deep sharing, tears, laughter... swimming with scripture, climbing Mt. Albert...
M&M blizzards, green apples and more seriously, I was honored to watch as Marcus Burrier started to boldly lead and pursue my sister through dating, engagement and marriage.
Kelli is beauty to me. Her friendship has always been faithful, loyal, and strong. Like her heart for the Lord. Kelli is my encourager and protector. :) She is my sister and best friend. I love her dearly.
I just want to lift Kelli up this week... will you pray for my dear friend?
Here is Kel's prayer requests in her own words...
1. rest/recoup from head cold - havent slept more than 4 hours in 2 straight weeks
2. Be a witness to the Lord in my life via my words and hard work this week in St. Loius - we're working 3rd shift from 7pm-7am with corporate America folks
3. Endurance to do the work God has given me with a steady heart, integrity, honesty, and self-sacrifice
4. Finish strong the month of October
5. Find balance in coming month between work and personal life.
and I want to add my own for Kel:
**pray for her marriage with Marcus, that they would fall MORE in love as time passes, pray that they would honor each other as they grow in Christ together.
**pray for her desires to be overseas someday. pray that God would hear her heart and her desires and grant her those.

You can check out more about Kelli, her great adventures, and her beautiful heart by clicking on her name which has been linked above or clicking on the links to the right. Her blog is titled, "handwritten letters and kitchen secrets".

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I heart California

Would you like a complimentary upgrade to first class from Detroit to LA?
Um, yes... yes, please! I stopped in California on my way back to Japan... California was full of good food and good friends... I had the best time ever in 40 hours. :) I really wanted to stop in and see my friends from the SIJ 2006 and 2007. I hadn't seen Ojen, Priscilla, Cole, Eddie, Jeremiah, Jane... for over a year~ so I was missing them like something crazy. I was also wanting to spend some time with the team from this summer and perhaps, I wanted some time with a guy who I am just crazy about... hee hee hee!
I'm such a nerd~ this is how I reacted when I saw Ojen for the first time.
And Jeremiah
Seeing the infamous Oak Glen apartment... with Joni
Joni is sooo great.
Mmm good food!! Here I am looking at everyone around me thinking, "Why am I so blessed?"
Speaking of blessings...
Joni and I on the beach.
"Come in, Jeremiah. The water is grrrreat!"
I love this picture of Chris Wu and I. I'm laughing at something... probably something I said that I find hilarious and Chris is like, "uhhh... you're jokes are not that funny, Joanna."
Joni and I in Chris's eye!
Ahhh.... seeing so many friends.
Joy, Jo and Priscilla.
I am super de duper blessed.
Thank you, Jesus for friendships that are from You. That no matter, the time, distance or space that separates us~ You are the one who works all things together... Thank You.

Friday, October 05, 2007

*I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.*
Psalm 16:8

Monday, October 01, 2007

Monday Musings

So... for my birthday I've come up with a list of "goals" to start working on... one of them is more purposeful blogging. I send out a prayer email and update all my stateside friends about what I am learning/doing in Japan... and I let them know several different ways to pray... but I started thinking. What if I used my blog for more meaningful things... like prayer requests...
So I decided to use MONDAYS as my day to feature someone to pray for, for the week. I'm about to start up with BEST club in a week or two, so I hope I'm not over committing myself here, but cultivating a heart of prayer is a huge desire of mine so it's time to start.
Without further ado... my first (of Lord willing many)
Monday Musings.
This is a picture of Jamie (black sweatshirt) and me (yellow) my junior year of college with our friend Sato. (that is another story worth telling another day)
Jamie, discipled/mentored me in college. She was the older sister I dreamed of when I was growing up. She is hilarious, beautiful, playful, protective, gracious, fiesty and yet, carries a deep and tender side of her that is so amazing it makes you want to clear out your schedule and sit with her for hours. She's a well-spring of knowledge and has a love for Jesus.
I really cannot say enough good about Jame. She was the first picture of redemption and purity that I had (outside the bible and family).
The verse I always think of when I think of Jame is Habakkuk 3:17-18 which I have seen Jamie live out in her life! *Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.*

So PRAYER REQUEST for Jamie, her husband ANDY, and their twins Josiah and Abigail...
Right now, Jamie and Andy are in the process of adopting a little boy from India.
That's right, I said INDIA!!
Jamie said this about her reasons for adopting:
why we are choosing to adopt- a couple of reasons. we think that it's a sweet picture of what Jesus has done for us. He has adopted us into His family by His grace and mercy- Our baby boy in India has been chosen for us- sovereignly just like Josiah and Abigail were sovereignly chosen for us (or your children were chosen for you) It is ordained way before time that he would live with us. God asks us to care for the orphans and widows. another reason- we want Josiah, abigail and our other children, Lord willing, to see no color or ethnicity..
So prayer requests:
Pray for their son, that he would be taken care of. Jamie said that often these kids are not taken care of inutero, so he could be a sick little guy OR they go to places before being placed in a home that could lead to some sickness now or later on. So please pray for God to protect his little body.
Pray that Jamie, Andy, Josiah and Abbie would be patient as they move into the 2nd half of adoption. Pray that things would move in God's timing.
Pray that little details would get smoothed out as they wait for this little guy.
And pray that God would use his life to open others's hearts to India and the world beyond Iowa, America, etc. Pray that this little guy would be a testimony of God's heart for all people.
If you want to know more you can follow the story via Jamie's blog, titled:
Squirrel Haters Unite... it's a Jamie and Joanna thing
or by clicking on Jamie's name anywhere you see it underlined.
Jamie, if there is anything you want to add, please comment and let us know how we can be praying.

It's a Celebration!!

I had the best birthday ever. I felt SO blessed. I got an embarassingly large bouquet of roses...
But one of the greatest parts of my birthday was celebrating with friends all over the world...
This is how it worked; i chose a time when everyone would be up (around the world) and moving around. I tried to find a time that worked well for CST, Pacific, Hawaii Time, and Tokyo Time... after you pick the time you have to pick the location and since Starbucks just happens to be everywhere (grrr but also nice for this reason)... location and time... then you send out the invites... and this is who "met" me for my birthday.

At 9PM I celebrated at Starbucks with my friend Sara, my Dad and my Mom
Sara's my new friend who I met this trip home... she is a beautiful woman and has a joyful giving heart. She's GREAT! Thanks for sharing my birthday with me, Talbert.
Cole, celebrated around 4PM in Hawaii... although in "starbucks spirit" and not really at a Starbucks... this is also not the acurate picture of him celebrating... ha ha! Thanks Cole!Jin, Jennifer, and Mary celebrated at Starbucks in Manganji (aka Tokyo)
Jeremiah and Joni celebrated in California...
Hey, what are you guys spelling? Joni, is your mouth an "a"?? Ha ha ha!!! I laughed so hard.
Joni brought a couple friends to my party... hello, new friend!
Hello more new friends.
Mikey celebrated in LA...
and Lawrence celebrated at home with chocolate milk and the beanie I made him... :)
Wow! I am super blessed.