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Missing in Nepal: Choosing Faith Over Fear

{My brother (pictured on the right), husband, and I climbing a 14er this past fall}

If there's one word that describes my younger 21-year old brother it's, adventurous. When we were kids, he wouldn't dare ride the roller coaster at Elitches, but if it involved mountains, he was out the door quicker than you could put your shoes on. He's the rock climber, the one who climbed a 14er (a mountain over 14,000 feet) in the dark, and is happiest with a camera in his hand and hiking boots on his feet. He's got a God-given gift for photography (see some of his beautiful pictures here  ), a sarcastic sense of humor, and a really severe case of wanderlust. 

It was really no surprise when he told us that he would be taking off for a year long adventure to Thailand and other undetermined destinations. He left December 22, 2014 and has been keeping in contact with us via social media and the occasional text. His travels have taken him from Thailand, to Malaysia, to a million other places I can't remember, and most recently, Nepal. 

My brother has been in Nepal for a couple of weeks, but we have not heard from him since the massive earthquake struck Nepal Saturday night.  Thursday night was the last time anyone spoke to my brother. He said that he and his Canadian travel companion, Casey, were in Pokhara, Nepal and headed out on the Annapurna circuit (a famous Nepali trek) on Friday morning. 

When we heard the news of the earthquake early Saturday morning, we knew nothing about my brother's whereabouts nor plans, aside from the name of the trek and the name of the last town he was in. Casey's (Isaiah's travel buddy) family have done some excellent research and have discovered that Casey and Isaiah need to check in every couple of days at different points along this trekking circuit because they are not traveling with an official guide. We are trying to get a hold of the next checkpoint to see if they have checked in but have not been successful thus far. We are guessing that the majority of this trek is without internet and or phone service. At this point we are hopeful that Isaiah and Casey are okay, and it's more just a matter of them having access to phone or internet to get a hold of them.

That is the update. That is the black and white, that is what we know for sure. What I can tell you that is more than black and white is that the Lord is using this. Using this scary circumstance to grow my faith, and using this as an opportunity to grow the faith of those around me. 

I was working night shift at the hospital over the weekend and was the first out of friends and family to hear about the earthquake because I was awake during what is daytime in Nepal (they are 12 hours ahead of Colorado time). I NEVER EVER check the news, but decided to hop onto CNN early Friday morning. When I saw the headline stating that an earthquake had hit Nepal, I sat stunned. 

Immediately, my gut reaction was fear. At this point, I didn't even know where my brother was in Nepal. I had no clue if he was in the capital city, near Everest, or somewhere else. I had 8 hours left in a difficult shift at the hospital with sick kids that needed my focus and attention. 

I realized Friday night at 2 in the morning that I had a choice. I had a choice of FEAR or a choice of FAITH. 

There is no feeling more helpless than being halfway across the world watching the death toll rise in a country that is currently home to one of your best friends. But that was it- I was (and am) helpless. No amount of worry, panic, or scenarios created in my mind was going to help me find my brother. So on Friday morning, mere hours after the quake hit as I sat in a hospital thousands of miles from the devastation, I chose faith

That night, I trusted that my God was walking with my brother- before, behind, and around him. That night I chose to believe that God knew (and knows) right where my brother and Casey are. Two days later, I am still trusting that my brother is resting in the hand of the ALMIGHTY GOD, and that's really what matters most. 

Now, lest you think, this choice  of faith has come easy, let me take you back a few years. Fear has been one of my biggest struggles. My junior year of high school, I began having nightmares of my parents and brothers dying. I remember talking to my youth leader at the time about it, and wondering how on earth I would ever not be afraid again. Would I always fear? 

The problem continued through college- I remember weeping in front of a sweet lady at a college retreat as she stood at the altar ready to pray over me. Through tears I explained how every day I was panicky with the fear my family dying. She reminded me of the sovereignty of God and that He does not want us to live in fear. Over and over I heard things that I KNEW, yet couldn't wrap my mind around enough to eliminate my fear. 

In 2013 I started my job as a pediatric nurse, and began to see horrible, tragic things on a daily basis. And interestingly enough, that is where my healing began

I began to see that I could choose to live in fear, or I could choose to live in faith. I could worry and fear that one day when I have children that they will be born with many disabilities, or worse, not survive past birth. I could live in fear that should I deliver a healthy child, that 8 years later they would be diagnosed with brain cancer and be given months to live. I could live in fear that my brothers, friends, or future children would one day be in a car accident, and their lives would change forever as they lived their life out as a paralytic or in a vegetative state.

Or I could choose to live in faith. I could choose to live in faith that the Lord counts my steps and walks alongside me during my days. I could choose to believe that the Lord would send his angels to protect me and my loved ones from harm and tragedy. I could choose to believe that even if tragedy befell my family, that Jesus would be carrying me, holding me, and never letting go. 

And I realized- I wanted to choose faith. But I also realized that faith will always be the harder choice. 

The choice of faith requires self discipline, prayer, and steadfastness of the mind. A choice of faith requires diligence, requires focus, and most importantly demands reliance upon the Holy Spirit and the grace of God. 

The choice of faith was and is still hard. Each time I pull up Nepal on Google and feel my heart start to beat quicker, I have to choose faith. Every time I see the death toll rise and my palms start to get sweaty, I have to choose faith. 

The most important thing I can do is pray and choose to believe. Choose to believe that God is with my brother and Casey. Choose to believe that God is holding each and every one of the beautiful Nepalese who have witnessed their mother, father, child, or brother die in the last 48 hours. I can choose to believe that in the midst of chaos and disaster and tragedy that there is Jesus and there is peace. 

I am playing my Jesus music as loud as I can, reading my Bible as much as I can, and reminding myself over and over of the promises of God. I am meeting with friends, laughing, and going about my day. Because it is in these things that I am reminded that I have a God who is looking over my brother and all those who are missing. It's not my job to worry and fret because I know that they are in the best hands possible. 


Today, in what do you need to choose faith over fear? I pray that you have the courage to do the hard thing- to choose faith, and to not give Satan the victory of trapping you in worry and anxiety. Choose Jesus. Choose peace. 

** APRIL 27th UPDATE: We heard from Casey's parents (who were able to message Casey this morning) that he and Isaiah are safe. We don't know much else but that they are safe in the mountains. Thank you for your prayers!** 

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