FINALLY!!! big shocker…it’s a long one. take a break from the summer heat and enjoy!! ooh, and since ringo shut down, i’m gonna have to find another way to share my photos with you. in the meantime, here are a few recent faves of mine highlighting the past few months…
the seasons of my life…
well, it’s been quite awhile since i last wrote; certainly much time has passed since the winter, although here in Sweden we often feel that we go directly from winter to summer. anyway, the seasons here during the past half year or so have certainly mirrored my life. i felt as if the cold, dark, lonely winter would never end, but it did, and with the spring, God brought promises of hope and renewal (jer. 29.11). and now as summer is in full force here, i too feel and believe that i have entered a new season in life, and, for that, i am eternally grateful.
although we often have to endure seasons of hardship, trials, and challenges, God works through these times where we feel buried beneath the ground in order to cultivate us into beautiful spring wildflowers that speak ever so beautifully of his glory and divine purpose in our lives. and just as he knows when it’s time for the perennials to end their season of hibernation and bloom anew, he knows when we too have endured enough and will not test us beyond what we can bear (1 cor 10.13).
despite the harsh winter, though, i am honestly grateful for the trials as i know that they produce character and draw me into the presence of God with a true and utter desperation and utter dependence upon him that no time of joy can achieve. and being able to look back upon trials and to see how God has worked in my life is breathtakingly stunning.
over the past few months, i have watched God answer prayers and work in ways i have never experienced before. in february/march, jonathan and i watched God answer nine of ten very specific prayers in three weeks, and the tenth, which was a prayer of deliverance prayed over nine years, was answered just a few weeks later! amen!! and, honestly, that’s just one of many examples of the mighty ways our omnipotent and intimate God has involved himself in my life…
april: birthday highlights and continued healing
during my birthday weekend in April, i was blessed (thanks, mom!!) to be able to spend a much-needed day at a local spa with several girlfriends and even more blessed to spend my birthday with 20 fantastic friends at one of my favourite restaurants! but the BEST part of the celebrations occurred at the “after party” held at jonathan’s, where we watched “August Rush” (PLEASE watch it if you haven’t!) and then worshiped the Lord together for hours with the evening ending with my friends praying and prophesying over me…truly the best present i could EVER ask for!
a few weeks later, i was privileged to participate in a conference held in the middle of the Old Town [in a church with an ominous dragon statue in its center] entitled Kairos New Wine. That evening, i was thrilled to be able to witness the physical healing of many and to see how God was getting ready to prepare us as a people for what was and is to come!
may: on fire!
may was almost a blur but a rainbow of one filled with God’s promises that He has not forgotten this country! [for those of you who received my email(s) regarding the following, sorry for the repeat.] on 3 may, somewhere around 15,000 people gathered from seven squares around the city to take part in the Jesus Manifestation, of which New Life played a large roll. what an incredible experience for us in the extreme minority [as many of you know, approximately one percent of the Swedish society is made up of practicing believers, making Sweden the most secular nation in the world!] to be able to unite in this individualistic society and to proclaim that Jesus is Lord, that we love and serve Him alone, and that we’re not afraid to declare it in this seemingly God-forsaken land! And what a time of testimony to Stockholm that God IS indeed alive and well and working in and among his people here!!
the following sunday was pentecost, and, at least in New Life, we witnessed the Holy Spirit alive, well, and very much at work, moving in and among believers, stirring us up and still preparing us for things to come! then, just two short weeks later, we welcomed the Passion World Tour team to stockholm and watched the Holy Spirit blow up Hovet (local arena) as over 1400 Christians from all over europe gathered to encourage one another, unite university students globally, and bring glory and renown to the name of Jesus [isaiah 26.8, www.268generation.com]. besides the fact that we were privileged to enjoy the brilliant teaching of louie giglio and the Spirit-filled music of charlie hall, matt redman, and chris tomlin, i was elated that i was able to be part of the core stockholm team that helped in the preparation and execution of passion::stockholm.
i must take just a second to say that i have been amazed since my time as a missionary here at how God has opened doors and provided opportunities for me to use my gifts in his service! never in my life have i had more chances to run café events, prepare food for the masses, proofread documents [i love it! i know i'm a dork!], organise social activities, and plan and coordinate major events! i just know that i am exactly where God has called me to be at this moment in time, and that knowledge brings with it great peace and assurance in God’s plan and purpose for my life! amen!! and this time around, during passion, i was even personally thanked from the stage in front of ALL at passion::stockholm by louie giglio himself! what a lovely reward! :o)
june: consecration transformation
june began with a strong word from the Lord to our congregation, specifically to our worship team, as he said through the prophet joshua, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.” [joshua 3.5]…and amazing things he has indeed begun! as a result of this word, many in our congregation entered a 21-day consecration fast in which we gave up the internet, tv, movies, and other forms of media; sweet foods; meat; and other things; and watched God begin to work in even bigger and more exciting ways in and among His people here! so instead of filling our days with things that don’t really matter, there was lots of prayer, worship, uplifting and challenging conversations, updates from lakeland, fl, and, of course, lots of steven furtick sermons! [if all you north carolinians only knew how popular furtick has become here!]
my friend stefan and i even committed to praying for one another over a list of things we christened “consecration::transformation” [CT]. and, WOW, not only has God been answering in big ways, the Holy Spirit has been manifesting Himself in beautiful ways all over the place! i am truly ectatic about this whole process we’re in the midst of right now! part of what we have been praying over with CT has to do with God’s will regarding my job situation. and God starting providing answers literally immediately as stefan and i began praying! as much as i love my precious children–never in my life did i think i’d end up staying with the family for three years–i’ve known for awhile now that it’s time to move on, that i have done what God called me to do in the öhman family. at the same time, God’s been renewing my passion to start a café. now, as most of you know, God’s plans are NEVER like ours, his ways are not our ways, and his timing is always seemingly a bit off [isaiah 55.8-9]…but it’s ALWAYS better.
without even applying, i was offered a job along with one other girl who has heaps of experience in this field [all other "employees" work on a strictly volunteer basis] working in stockholm’s new and only strictly fair trade shop, where, starting yesterday [monday], i became responsible for selecting clothes and accessories to sale in the boutique, decorating store-front windows including manequins, and creating an exciting store design and layout! who knew that my years at gap, inc. would come in so handy? :o)
you can check out the store’s website at www.fairtradeshop.se. the shop is located in the same building as one of stockholm’s only Christian bookstores, and, together, we hope and pray that if the store does well, we’ll soon open an adjacent café which, of course, i could run! so, there’s your connection [or "red thread," as the swedes say] with my new job and café missions! God’s path and plan sure are much crazier than mine, but oh the trust in Him i’m learning on this exciting road!
job updates: my kiddies and beyond
now, all these changes also mean that i finished my last official day as nanny to the precious öhman children last week. i have, of course, promised to visit/work at least once a month with them, though! i leave in peace and joy knowing that i’ve been able to talk and to pray with my kids and to pour out God’s love upon them and ann and gustav as well. over the past three years, i’ve watched ann soften greatly and learn how to be a truly fantastic mother! i’ve also watched gustav slowly pull himself more and more away from his job and devote more of himself to his family. and these experiences have been nothing but beautiful! i’ve said a blessing at the dinner table with the kids many times, explaining the importance of thanking God, provider of all good things, for our food, and lately, the kids have had many questions about Jesus and even Satan. what priceless opportunities i have been given!
when i took care of the girls weekend before last while ann and gustav were out of town, i put the girls to bed as usual, leaned over to sophie and said, as i always do, “sophie, i love you,” and before i could finish, louise interjected, “i know, jo, i know. God loves us, too!” coming from a five-year-old child who’s raised in a non-Christian home, those words couldn’t have been sweeter! but those relationships with “my children” are just the tip of the iceberg. God has and continues to bring me into contact with and into relationships with people who are far from him and who long for “something more,” for discipleship, and these relationships inspire me in incredible ways and challenge me to be where i need to be in my own relationship with the Lord. on the other hand, during my winter season, God proved Himself amazingly but not surprisingly faithful as he surrounded me with a new type of family and friends who are always near in my greatest times of need, ready to listen, to pray, and to just be with me. i am indeed beyond blessed…
july/august: holiday time is here!
as i’m sure i’ve shared before, swedish summers are NOT to be missed, and with five-week holidays, the people take advantage of the endless sunshine and surrounding crystal-clear waters. although i’m saving up at least two weeks to travel home to NC in the fall [yay! NC summers are way too sweltering for this lover of cool air to return right now], i’m excited about the week stefan and i will spend camping on the west coast and attending an old-fashioned tent meeting where his father will be preaching! and the week after just might include a little visit to some of my new passion friends who are missionaries in slovakia AND/OR a visit to mia and jonas in skåne [southern sweden] AND helping stefan work on his new kitchen [brilliant improvement as he now has NONE].
regardless, i’m elated to have a much-needed break from the normal insanity that is my beloved life. :o). when i’m not on holiday this summer, though, i am responsible for the café that is run in conjunction with our summer cell group worship services that are held every wednesday night. what a great ministry time it has been so far! and from 15-17 august, our congregation is heading to a beautiful retreat center for a weekend of seeking the Lord and fellowshipping and worshipping with one another…and of course we’ll fika! i can’t wait!
prayer requests and thanks
if you haven’t fallen asleep yet, i’d like to thank you for taking the time to read, pray, care, support, and walk with me through this ministry to which God has called me that i like to refer to as my life. although i’m not so great at keeping in touch with all 304 of you regularly, i love and pray for you and look forward to updates i receive from you, especially those sharing just a glimpse of all that God is up to in the world today. he is good, and he is faithful! if you will, i ask you to join with me in prayer regarding the following:
1] my family in the US: many physical and spiritual “issues” that need the miraculous healing of Jesus and the intervention of the Holy Spirit.
2] God’s guidance regarding a cell group: God’s already begun answering this prayer, but i feel led to start up a new cell group [i laid down the group i had been leading for the past two years] in the fall for a group of international believers who truly desire to seek and to know the heart of God…but what does this group look like? who should be in it? where should we meet? etc…
3] the work/process that God has begun here in sweden/stockholm. there is still much work to be done. “greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city” as chris tomlin sings on the newest passion cd. indeed! praise be to Him for all that’s happening here and around the world, especially all of the truly AMAZING miracles that are happening RIGHT NOW in lakeland, florida. check out www.god.tv if you don’t know what i’m talking about…it’s totally worth a few minutes of your time!
4] okay, gonna go ahead and throw it out there: pray for my future husband and that God would bring him to me expediently!…not that i have time for one but…
5] pray for my café vision/dream and all the entire process involved with opening one soon! may God’s will be done!
thank you AGAIN for being YOU and for playing the important role you have played and continue to play in my life. each of you is a blessing, and i truly appreciate you taking the time to read this epistle-length update and investing in me and in all that God is doing here in stockholm right now!
more coming from me soon…
heaps of grace, peace, love, and the Holy Spirit