Tuesday, November 25, 2008

November 25, 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

            Six years ago I set out for Cyprus for the very first time. I was 19 years old and in my first year after high school. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I was excited. It did not take long for me to realize that it is possible to feel so at home and have such love for two places. I love my home and family and church and feel so alive and fulfilled here; nevertheless, I felt the same feelings almost immediately in Cyprus with the Gateways Beyond ministry. It is not so surprising really because what draws me to both places is the Spirit of the Living God and the love in the people and community. The Gateways Training School in 2003 was a pivotal step in my journey as God established so many things in my heart concerning my destiny, His love, and the passions He has placed inside of me. I went back to Cyprus in 2004 in order to do the second year internship. This was truly a special time in my life. I grew closer to my friends, more deeply connected to the ministry, and more certain of my calling to the nations.

            After the internship, I went through a bit of a struggle over what to do next. I felt strongly that I was supposed to have a season of serving alongside the staff of Gateways Beyond and joining in the vision of the ministry; however, I also knew that college was something very important to me and for equipping me further for God’s Kingdom. So, I decided not to go back immediately but to come home and focus my energy on finishing school. This was also a pivotal decision in my life. I was able to be back home with my family, be involved with Shady Grove Church, and immerse myself in studies. My time at Dallas Baptist University was more than I had hoped for. I was very involved on campus with the University Honors Program and Sigma Tau Delta (the English Honor Society). I was challenged in so many ways and know I will always cherish the friendships I made with my fellow students and my professors. I even made my mark at DBU by being the first graduate of the new University Honors Program and you can find my senior thesis, “Transforming Tales: C.S. Lewis, Imaginative Literature, and Character Formation,” in the school library, although I think it is probably very dusty right now.

            As graduation approached, I thought the time was coming for me to go back to Cyprus, but my timing was a little off. The Lord opened the door for me to help lead Life Walk, the discipleship school at Shady Grove. Most of you receiving this letter already have read about Life Walk and our amazing trip to China this summer. So, I will just say that, once again, the Lord showed me that His plan is even greater than what I can dream up for myself. Life Walk was such a training ground for me, and I feel so enriched by the year I was blessed to spend with each student and the director. Just writing this brings back so many memories and makes me miss each of them.

            Life Walk ended for the year in May and I have been working ever since. The Lord is so faithful and in this time of global economic hardship I am blessed not only just to have a job, but also to have a job that I greatly enjoy. I am working at the Four Seasons Resort Dallas in Los Colinas and get to meet so many other staff from around the world. Many would not want to let go of such a job in these times, but I know I can trust in God; and now, once again, my path is shifting. After much prayer and submitting myself to the counsel and covering of my parents and other godly leaders in my life, I feel that the time has come for me to return to Cyprus and work with the Gateways Beyond ministry. I will be going in January and will be on staff. I will be returning after 4 ½ years and I know things will be different. Both I and the community in Cyprus have grown and changed in so many ways. I feel like I am both returning home and going to a new place entirely. I am so excited and humbled to have this opportunity!

            So here I am, just a month and a half left to go, and so much to do. I do not yet know what my exact responsibilities will be this year in Cyprus, but I can offer a glimpse of what I will be involved in. GBI has both a first year discipleship school and a second year school. It also has an internship program for students returning a third year. In whatever capacity I serve, be it hands on with one of these programs or administratively, I will daily be active in helping disciple the students and interns. I will also likely be living with some of the girls and leading a small group. For 2009, I will be in Cyprus from January to June. Sometime around March we will spend a month in Israel, and at the end of the school we will go to another country for a month-long outreach. These trips are always so powerful and transforming in our lives and in the lives we touch.

            Your friendship means so much to me and I am so grateful for the many people who have touched my life. As I go forth to the nations, I believe that the way so many of you have blessed me, God will bless many others. I would love to keep in touch as I travel. I started a blog online where I will post regular updates and other things I want to write about. It is at http://www.hiddenroyalty.blogspot.com. You can also keep up with me through email. If you would pray for me and this ministry whenever we come to mind, I know there will be many times that your prayers will change the very circumstances we are facing. You can also help me by spreading word to anyone you know that may need an online English tutor or need some proofreading or editing done. These are things that I can do via the internet and earn a little money here and there, as I will be volunteering and not receiving a salary for six months. Also, if the Lord would lead you to sow financially, I would be so blessed by your gift. Anything you give will go to help cover my monthly base fees and our trip to Israel and the outreach. You can give easily online by going to the website www.gatewaysbeyond.org and following the link “Donate,” or you can send a check made payable to Gateways Beyond to Gateways Beyond PO Box 155101 Ft. Worth, TX 76155 with a separate note attached saying it is for me. Both options are tax-deductable. If you would like to make a monthly commitment for these six months please let me know to help me keep track of everything. My monthly fees will be 350 Euros and it would be so wonderful if this was covered through monthly commitments.

            Once again, thank you for being who you are and for investing into my life. And thank you for reading this letter. Please write to me what is going on in your life and how I can pray for you. May you be blessed in all you do, and may you endeavor to honor the Lord in word and in deed.

Your friend and sister in Messiah,

Hannah Briscoe


(682)559-9351 (until I leave)

2414 Axminster Drive

Grand Prairie, TX 75050

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup is so delicious, yet how often I forget that fact. If chicken noodle soup had feelings I think it would feel very used and forgotten. I mean, we always turn to it when we are not feeling good or maybe if we are having a grilled cheese sandwich, but the rest of the time we (or at least many of us I am sure) completely forget about it, or we decide that it is not appetizing enough for an ordinary day. Well, I for one am thankful for this soup and confess that I take it for granted. It is always there for me when I don't feel so good and it always makes me feel warm and cozy. So, if you haven't decided what to have for lunch, you might consider opening up a can of Cambell's (or Kroger brand, it's yummy too) chicken noodle soup. I think you will be glad that you did. Whatever you eat, I hope you feel warm and cozy and good inside.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

sleeping in

Sleeping in on my day off--good idea or bad idea? I can't decide. When I am in bed I think it is a lovely and grand idea. But when I get up and think how short my day will be, I think it was a bad idea. I didn't sleep in that late, only kinda late, so I think I can call it a comfortable compromise.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gavyn Michael Thalken

Today, November 9th, is my nephew Gavyn's birthday. He is now 3 years old and totally thinks he is Batman. OK, so this kid is cute and smart and funny and lovable in so many ways. I do not say that just because I am his proud aunt. He truly is amazing. I remember the moment my sister told me she was pregnant with him. He was the first grandchild born into our family, and we were bursting with excitement. I remember the hospital when he was born: hearing him cry, watching through the glass as the nurse cleaned him, holding him for the first time. As he grew he was so stinking cute because he always looked like a little man. My sister trained him to not take hats off his head so he was so little and always had these adorable golfer hats on and would actually wear them. If you know my sister Selah, you know that Gavyn has inherited quite a dramatic streak. He makes the funniest faces and is truly theatrical. He can be soooo sweet and can also be a little toot. He is the best big brother and cousin ever. Gavyn loves his brother Joshy and his cousin Emily. I know as they all grow up that they will be able to look to Gavyn as a leader. Gavyn already loves Jesus and loves to worship and I know God has placed so much inside of him. I am so excited to watch him grow up and experience this abundant life God has for him. He has an amazing calling on his life and will bless many many people. Gavyn has made me such a proud aunty! I love you Gavyn, happy birthday!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

emotional night

So, I had an emotional night last night. It began with the elections. As I watched the celebrations and listened to the speeches a part of me was very proud to share in this momentus time of the election of the first African American president. Although I did not at all want Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States of America, I could feel the significance of this moment for African Americans throughout this nation, and for all Americans for that matter. I hate racism and am broken-hearted when I hear it surfacing today. I am grieved by our nations history regarding slavery and racism, and I have always looked forward to the day when we would have our first African American president and when we will have our first woman president. So, part of my emotions were happy. Then, my mind would think about the Supreme Court decisions ahead, and I just wanted to sob as I thought about the millions of babies who have been aborted in this country and how it is possible now that what few limitations there are on abortion will be stripped and abortion rights will be expanded. OK, so this is not really a political post even if it sounds like it; I am just trying to show what set the stage for my emotional breakdown last night.
I think I get so invested in these elections that every cycle I get this desire to someday go into politics. I want to be a voice in this nation and in the world that will make a difference. So, last night I get home after being a little emotional from the election, then someone was upset with me about something totally unrelated and I got more emotional, then as I stood on my balcony at my apartment and thought about my life I got even more emotional. I tried to explain this swirl of emotion to my sisters and all I could say was that "I am just emotional because I want to do everything. I want to be a missionary; I want to be a writer; I want to be a senator or state representative; I want to be a judge; I want to be a wife and mother; I want to go back to school; I want to travel the world; I want to do everything."
In the end, I think it was cathartic for me. I think when we allow our emotions to surface then we can truly hand them over to God and receive His peace in exchange. And I did. I have such peace right now. As far as the country goes, I believe we have days ahead in which we will be challenged more than ever to stand up, pray, and make our voices heard. I think when their is a republican in office, even if many don't like his decisions, conservatives feel somewhat of a safety in that and don't invest themselves as much in what is going on. Maybe now we will pay more attention, and that is a good thing. I have also have peace about my life. I don't believe in being led by my emotions, but I don't believe in suppressing them either. God is my Father and He loves me so much. He wants me to crawl up in His lap and tell Him everything on my heart. He holds me close to His chest and tells me He knows and I can trust in Him. He has placed these desires in my heart and He knows why and how they will be fulfilled. We don't have to hold anything back from God. We can have an emotional breakdown as long as we are satisfied to rest in Pappa's lap.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hidden Royalty

We are all hidden royalty. Created in the very image of God, we were given power to walk in authority in this earth. We were the rulers and protectors of this land. We exchanged that dominion for slavery when we fell in sin. For thousands of years we struggled on, not understanding why we felt trapped and helpless while knowing on the inside that we were meant for more. Then King Jesus came to this earth and chose to be the sacrifice for us all--He paid the price to free us from our chains. For thousands of years the sons and daughters of the High King were chained as slaves to torments, lusts, and degredation, but the Prince of Peace--Jesus Christ, Messiah Yeshua--invaded the kingdom of darkness and set us free and has restored to us our rightful place as sons and daughters of the King, created to walk in dominion over the powers of this earth. Satan realizes he has lost the war, but he is still desperately trying to win battles and keep this royal priesthood from flooding this world with light. He not only wants to keep the world from finding out who we are, but also to keep us from realizing the fullness of who we are in Christ. We are truly meant to be servants, showing God's love to the world, and royalty, walking in power and authority and advancing the Kingdom of our Father. My name is Hannah and I am royalty, but I am no longer satisfied to be hidden.