Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Advice for Overseas Missionaries

Hey y'all! I have been thinking about this post for a while, ever since I got back from Ghana.  I feel like going on a longer trip is a huge thing, and I know before I sought as much advice as I could get. Still, there are some things I wish I had done differently in preparation and also while I was there. Here is the stuff I think went well, and things I could have done better!

Do get to know your team mates. Meeting with Olivia and Hillary every week was really helpful for spending time over there. I think the fundraisers and planning meetings we had every week really helped us get to know our personalities and how we could best encourage each other. For instance, Hillary loved hugs and that is really how she was encouraged. So somehow someone came up with the 10 second hug.

Do research the culture. I did this a little, but I sooooo wish I had done it more.  The culture will affect everything about your ministry.  Especially know what is culturally acceptable and not.  If you don't understand the culture you risk trying to "Americanize" the people you are ministering to. And God didn't create everyone to be Americans. Eat up as much information as you can get.  I know in Ghana it was very rude to not tell people "Good morning/afternoon/evening." I am sure some people thought we were rude without us meaning to be! Definitely wish I had researched more. However...

Don't come in acting like you know anything.  From discipline to dress to manners, I know in the 2 months there was so much I didn't understand. We were given a lot of free reign in taking care of the kids, but I wish I had held back a lot more. If you come in and take over, again, it is easy to Americanize or to kick someone important out of their job instead of encouraging them in their position in the body of Christ.

Do communicate regularly with your team mates, hosts, and ministry.  There are going to be times you are annoyed. There are going to be times you are mad. There are going to be times where no one has any idea what needs to be done.  This is so important to be effective!

Do encourage each other.  Even though we do not do things for earthly rewards, encouragement is one way God can speak through other people and restore your spirit. There were many times this summer when the enemy snuck in and made me feel useless and replaceable when this was missing. Remember in times when you are feeling down to seek it from Christ, but also just ask your team mates. Also, in your times of feeling down, try to encourage someone else on your team.

What would be your advice to a summer missionary? How could they be most effective in their ministry?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

yesterday's struggles

I am a mess. You probably already know this, but I like to pretend you don't know, so it is only fair to warn you.

Lately, I have been struggling with things I haven't thought about since high school. In high school, I was so insecure and always seeking everyone else's approval.  I never got it, and the summer after senior year, God broke me down and I was stripped of anything of myself.  He made me new, he again made me His, He took my self-doubt and people pleasing away so I could have a better, fuller relationship with Him.

There we go, my Big Problem solved and wrapped with a tiny bow.


Now it's back, and in full force.  I have no idea why these thoughts keep coming back. I am involved in a million and one things this semester, and so overcommited I feel like I can't breathe without scheduling that into my day as well.  I am poured out, I am empty, and the devil is attacking.  He is telling me I have let everyone down.  He whispers that everyone thinks I am incompetent.  He speaks through other people telling me I am not good enough for my fiance (which is true, but....ouch).  I didn't even realize it was him talking until last night.

Last night the devil tried to hit me in a new way, something he's never tried before.  It was the first time I was even tipped off that I was being attacked.  That my exhaustion and insecurity was an attack and not just a personality flaw. I sat in the chapel during revival and just prayed, because I couldn't fight for myself.  The Lord fought for me, and He won. He breathed life back into me last night.

This morning I woke up with my same usual thoughts of doubt and insecurity and exhaustion. So I asked God to claim my day. I will ask Him to claim tomorrow. A day of His victory over my pride and myself and my thoughts. He will win. He always does.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


My plan for my life was...

Go to college in some glamorous career
Move to the big city (cough cough Chicago) and live on my own or with a few girl friends
Get married around the age of 24
Have kids at about 28...or later
Move to awesome suburb
Live an awesome life with my awesome husband and two kids while working

Instead plans have changed  (and will probably keep changing)

Go to college to be a children's minister
Spend summer being mommy to precious orphans in Ghana
Marry Chris at age of 20
Hopefully adopt our sweet baby girl at the age of 23, if we can wait that long
Have/adopt more kids much later
All while living in Campbellsville
Work at a church or at a nonprofit that benefits orphans
Live an awesome life glorifying God with my super awesome husband and 5 kids, some of which would be Ghanaian babies :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What I'd Do Differently

Overall, Ghana was of course an amazing experience. I can't get the eyes of the beautiful children out of my head. When I think about my sweet R, I physically ache. I can't wait for the day Chris and I can bring her home.  Ghana was the most amazing experience of my life, and I can't wait to go back.  But there are a few things I would personally have done differently.

Some people say regrets are stupid. While dwelling in the past just leads me to guilt, I am a fan of evaluating things and seeing what works and what doesn't.  But for future reference, I do want to make sure I don't make these same mistakes twice!

1.  Been more conservative in the culture.  This includes dress, but also in speech.  While we were given a lot of responsibility with the kids, I wish I had asked John and Irene, the awesome director and his wife, more advice, even when I thought I knew exactly how to handle the situation.  Because no matter how much GMI sometimes felt Westernized, it was a different culture, and I sometimes should have handled situations in the way a Ghanaian would.

2.  Not been afraid to take initiative.  For tasks in the mornings, I was always scared I would overstep boundaries or make someone feel like I was taking their job.  I wish I had gone in and asked the Aunties to teach me to do laundry. We asked them once or twice, but I wish we had been more consistent.  I think I really missed an opportunity to minister to them and serve them consistently.

3.  Had more one on one time with the kids.  During the last few weeks, we made sure each girl got a "mommy date," whether that was a sleep over or a movie during nap time.  These moments were so precious to us, and I know the girls loved it.  I wish we could have implemented that from the beginning.  It was very hard to minister to the kids in a large group setting (example: VBS fail) because of the language and cultural barriers, but one on one the kids loved to hear Bible stories and be prayed over.  When I go again, even though it will be for a shorter time, I think I will definitely try and do as much one on one time as possible.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Today, I am home to stay for a week before I go back to school.

Today, I have a to do list a mile long.

Today, my heart is aching for a girl I feel God is calling me to love my whole life who is is Ghana.

Today, I feel like smiling at people as I walk by is a little too much to ask for.

Today, I am called to show God's love, when it feels hard to even get out of the apartment.

Today, I feel like if I have one more thing to do before school starts I might explode.

Today, my emotions have run out.

So today, I will sit around. Not take a shower. Put off my to do list for a day. I will rest in God's love as He pours love into my heart so I can show others. Today, I may not be productive. But today, I will imitate the perfect God who rested on the 7th day. Please excuse me while I take 2 or 3 "seventh days".

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I am least, I think so. It is hard to feel at home when my heart is left in Ghana and Togo with some precious, beautiful children. It is hard to have an empty lap and empty arms. I didn't realize I needed the kid's love as much as they wanted mine.

I miss them. I miss hearing a cry and knowing who it is. I miss hearing Esther's laugh and Emmanuella's very grumpy cry after nap time. I miss so much I can't keep naming things because I will never stop.

The hardest part is trying to figure out what's next. Because of school, it's not possible for me to plan another  trip back right now. But I know that I am responsible. I am responsible to pray. I am responsible to advocate for homes and supplies and love for these children.

I am praying for the next step, the next way God wants me to serve the kids. I am praying hearts will break and fall in love. I pray kids will find homes, but more than that, that God will reveal himself to these kids. I pray I will never get over the things I've seen. I pray my love for these kids won't just be a cute memory. I pray the emotion and the urgency doesn't fade like I know it can.

My heart is heavy, but it is also hopeful. I am so thankful for this opportunity, and I thank you for all your prayers and support. One thing is for sure: these two months are just a beginning. There are things you can never forget, and these kids have changed my life forever.

If you would like more information about Ghana, Great Mission International, adoption, or how you can help the 147 million orphans in the world, please contact me. If I can't answer your question, I'll get you to someone who will.

Friday, July 13, 2012

One More Week

Today is our last Friday here in Ghana, which is very weird to say!

A quick update on the past week-

We started VBS, which has been CRAZY! The language barrier with these children makes it very difficult. They also don't really like to listen, no matter what we try. But today is our last and most important day. We will share the gospel. We are going to try something new and break the kids into three small groups. Each of us will present the Gospel and pray the Holy Spirit leads! Hopefully He also closes their mouths and opens their ears as well :) haha

We tie-dyed shirts with Lisa and Angela, and it was an absolute blast! The kids loved it.

We went to City of Refuge yesterday and hung out with the kids and volunteers. While we were there, John Bull brought home four children to the safe house! One of the kids was covered in scratches, and John said that he was bloody when they found him. Praise God they are now safe in a new home! The volunteers began putting together beds and cleaning the safe house. So exciting to see the work the Lord is doing!

I found out a lot of things about adoption in Togo that have me thinking. The government only allows a few adoptions a year, and prospective parents cannot choose a child but instead are matched. The prospective parent must also live in Togo with the child for a year. Definitely difficult, but I pray people's hearts will be open to God's call there. I even pray that adoption from there could be in the cards for me one day. I also pray for John's work there. He is working with the government there to make adoption better for everyone.

There are many volunteers and family coming in and out this week. Lisa and Angela are leaving on Monday, while two adoptive families and a friend of FTO are coming on Saturday and Sunday nights. Then Olivia and I will be headed to America on Wednesday.

Prayer requests:
Olivia and I as we say goodbye to the children and as we travel
Families for the children
God to open doors and hearts to answer his call to care for people around the world

Monday, July 9, 2012


I love love love Ghana, but I must say that God has laid a special love in my heart for Togo. I just got back from our second short visit there, and I must say that I cannot wait to go back!

This time, we got to Togo after the kids were in bed. I was so excited to see them that I couldn't sleep! My heart was beating so fast from excitement. I went to bed at 12:00 am and woke up at 3:00 am. I was so excited I couldn't go back to sleep! I had to be up when the kids were up. I finally heard them stirring at 5:00, so I was up and in the hallway before most of the kids were even awake.

I will never forget. Kokou, my buddy from last time, looked up at me with his big eyes. He grabbed one of my hand in both of his and just looked at me with a smile and happy eyes. Oh, I was so happy!

It is so much fun to love on the kids. It is difficult because they don't know English and we don't know Ewe or French. They receive the love just the same, though, and we were loved in return.

Another girl who is about 13 was glued to my side when she wasn't doing chores. She was so sweet. That morning, as soon as I sat down, she sat at my feet and put her head in my lap. I have been told it is a sign of respect and trust. It was so sweet and humbling. This beautiful girl is so strong and sweet and loving. As I left, I handed her a pair of my earrings. She looked up and started crying that we were all leaving. Oh, my heart.

Through FTO, money was raised for all the kids to have mattresses! There is also a building over the kitchen, a door on the courtyard, and mosquito nets coming. They also built a small storage room in the hallway for the mattresses and other things. They are also working on getting beds and other needs for the home. It is so awesome to see God work through John. He does such a good job with the homes.

Oh, my heart is sad to leave those kids, but happy for the love they receive from John, his mom, and the other people who work with the home.  Oh, God is good!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ghana Update

Aw, friends, there's only two weeks left to the beginning of my Ghanaian adventure! I cannot believe time has flown by this fast. Please be praying that we finish strong!

The past few weeks have been crazy, it feels like! I got to witness a child going home to his family. It was such an experience. Today, another girl will go home. In the coming weeks, two more kids will get to go. It is beyond exciting for them mixed in with a little sad for us, but mostly happy!

One of the funniest things happened the other day. Little Moses is 4, although he looks like he is maybe 3. He doesn't speak much English, but he is learning quickly! The most he has ever said in English to me is, "Where did you go?" But he is getting there. Moses loves to crack himself up. The other day I got to GMI and I went upstairs to see the kids. When I came back downstairs, there were 6 or 7 kids standing in the foyer. Emma looked at me and said, "Mommy, why did you tell us to come inside and go back to sleep?" I didn't tell them to, so I said, "What? I didn't say that?" Emma looked at me, "But Moses said you did!"  I looked over at Moses and he was rolling on the floor cracking up! He is so ornery, but I love it!

Little moments like this will be what I remember for years. I will remember the sound of Roselinda saying angrily when I don't pick her up, "Ohhhh, mummy." Emmanuella grabbing my hands so she can jump up and down without falling. Abu always wanting to be held, but never able to sit still. Majuwah pretending to be sick so she could come sleep with us. Mina at AoH putting on a mask and knocking on it, saying, "What is your name?" then cracking up. Esther's laugh. Mawusi asking for a goodnight prayer after a month of hiding from us. Edwin at CORM's shrieking like a girl.  Quoting all of the Village21 Church Jesus parodies with Emily.

Well, I am about to cry now. Next week we will begin VBS. We were this week, but we had a crazy weekend with a hospital visit and stuff. We are doing a God Is... theme. If you would like to partner with us and pray for each day, here is a prayer guide for the theme:

Monday: God is Creator (pray kids will understand there is one God and He is completely in control)
Tuesday: God is Just (pray kids will understand sin and the consequences)
Wednesday: God is Love (pray kids will be able to feel God's love and realize how He always loves them)
Thursday: God is Savior (pray kids will understand how God showed His justice and love on the cross and for the kid's salvation)
Friday: God is at Work (pray kids will understand that God calls us to grow in relationship with Him and how to do that)

If you would like to partner with us in these prayers, please please please leave a comment letting us know! I would love to know there are people praying for us and for VBS. We will need it! It will be a miracle if the kids will listen and be able to understand what we say. But God is good, and He is a God of miracles!

Love from Ghana!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

All the time

This past week was spent at City of Refuge Ministries, which is located around two hours from Teshie. CORM is an organization that negotiates for the freedom of child slaves who work as fishermen on Lake Volta.  Their property serves as a safe house for children and has an awesome school on the property.  The children there are full of joy and fun.  Their vision is large, and soon I am sure the Lord will fill their property with safe houses and many children!  We got to see CORM bring home one boy from the lake named Sammy.  He was so much fun! We had water fights with our satchets. Four more were brought home from the medical clinic.

I feel like I have seen so much tragedy this past week, along with lots of joy.  While I have been here in Ghana, I have seen things that break my heart.  The volunteers with CORM had to leave many slaves behind for a different rescue.  There are children living in a dump.  There is poverty and HIV and so many pictures in my head that can bring me to tears.  But every single time I drive or walk past one of these situations, the Lord always whispers to me, "I am good."

He is good in the joy in a little girl's eyes as we sing and dance. He is good when we find that that girl has scabbies and no money to get treatment.

He is good in R's sweet smile as I chase her with her bath sponge. He is good when her mother leaves her at the orphanage because she can't give her food.

 He is good when we must leave behind dozens of other slaves for another rescue. He is good when we bring sweet Sammy home from a life of slavery, to a new home where he is free!

I don't understand. It makes my heart hurt sometimes. But seeing the joy in children when they have nothing but Jesus, I believe it. God is good. All of the time.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


"Now that I have seen, I am responsible-faith without deeds is dead."

We met a little girl in Togo named Albertine. She was adorable, a little rotten, and loved making funny faces.  She reminded Hillary of this song by Brooke Fraser called Albertine. It is about Brooke's trip to Rwanda, where she met a girl named Albertine and became responsible for her and the other people she saw.

I have been here for three weeks, and I am already responsible. She says it better than I can, so here is the song. Please take a few minutes to watch the video and let God break your heart into action.

Albertine in Togo

I am sitting still
I think of Angelique
her mothers voice over me
And the bullets in the wall where it fell silent
And on a thousandth hill, I think of Albertine
there in her eyes what I don't see with my own

now that I have seen, I am responsible
Faith without deeds is dead
now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot let go till you are

I am on a plane across a distant sea
But I carry you in me
and the dust on, the dust on, the dust on my feet

I will tell the world, I will tell them where I've been
I will keep my word
I will tell them Albertine

I am on a stage, a thousand eyes on me
I will tell them, Albertine
I will tell them, Albertine

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Meet the Kids!

These children have already captured my heart, so I want you to meet them! I will try every week to introduce you to two or three children. They will all be from the GMI Orphanage in Teshi, Ghana, unless otherwise noted! Some have families, and some do not, so please join me in praying for them all!

Moses is around 2, and this little face says it all. He doesn't know a lot of English, but he has definitely figured out the word Mommy. He loves to sleep, talk to the other kids, and play with water bottles. He is so cuddly!

This is Emanuel, Ema for short. He is pretty quiet, but he loves to sit in Olivia's lap and play with her watch.  He is soooo skinny, but he loves to eat our food when we can't finish it! His smile always makes me smile.

Oh, Miguwah! She is so precious. Her and Hillary are buddies. Miguwah is a diva in the best possible way. She loves to be held and to laugh. Anything can make her laugh if she is in the mood to. She is always wearing pillowcase dresses, and her droopy eyes are so cute. She loves giving kisses.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ghana Update

Hello! Or as Ghanaians say it, “hallo!”  We have been in Ghana for three full days, and I am already in love.  The second we came in the door, all the children ran and covered us with hugs and kisses.  The teenagers and adults are all so friendly and welcoming as well!  There is no shortage of love and kisses here.
The orphanage has a courtyard around it.  My favorite thing we have done so far is sit in a chair in the orphanage courtyard with one or two children in my lap, with girls braiding my hair better than any American (although it hurts, and we have to tell them “We have white hair!”), and two or three kids around saying “Mommy see, mommy see!” We are all mommys here.  We tried to tell them to call us Aunties, but that did not last long.  Anyone who sits and loves on them is a mommy.  I can’t say I don’t like it.
We went to the beach yesterday. Oh my…the men here love them some white women.  The guys with the orphanage are so awesome, though.  They were on the look out for the creepers and let us take care of it, unless we couldn’t then they would let them have it.  Us girls also learned that the Jenna Marbles face works wonders to scaring guys away…haha if you haven’t seen that video don’t go look, because it is inappropriate, but so funny! Hahaha
Something God has opened my eyes to is what an orphan actually is.  Someone who is an orphan is not just sad because they don’t have parents, but also because they aren’t chosen.  These children see families come and go taking the other children, meanwhile they are still here feeling rejected.  I asked Deejanu if she talked to God.  I asked her what she talked to him about.  She looked up at me and said, “I ask for a mommy and daddy.” Oh, my heart.  I prayed with her, and I am praying for all these children.  Please join me. The Lord has a plan for their lives.  I pray that it includes a loving mommy and daddy.  I am so blessed that I get to fill the role as mommy for a few months in their lives, but I am also sad to know that is not enough.


This is  my afternoon haha love it
Sweet Ema, so quiet and loving

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cover Us

"When Pilate saw he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. 'I am innocent of this man's (Jesus') blood,' he said, 'It is your responsibility!'  All the people answered him, 'Let his blood be on us and our children!'"
Matthew 27:24-25, NIV

I was reading this yesterday and today in my Bible. Both times, I was struck by the people's line.  "Let his blood be on us and our children!"  Oh, Jesus.  I know the people meant they would stand responsible for the death of Jesus.  But that cry, the cry of my heart....let your blood cover me and my children, Lord.

In the Old Testament, there was a mercy seat, literally translated "atonement place."  It was kept inside the Holy of Holies on top of the ark of the covenant, the place only a priest could go, and only one day a year.    That priest would sacrifice a bull and sprinkle it's blood on the mercy seat.  This sacrifice would stand for the priest and the people of Israel.  Now, the ark of the covenant contained the 10 Commandments and Moses' staff.  The blood covered the law that every person has broken.

Every year, the priest had to do this. Hebrews 10:4 says "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins."  Verse 3 says those sacrifices were "an annual reminder of sin." Every year, the bull was insufficient.  A bull is not worth a person! And the price of sin is a person's death.

As God looked down on the bull's blood covering the Ark, He saw the law was temporarily covered in an insufficient way.  Christ was our sacrifice.  He was a human being.  He was perfect and spotless.  He is sufficient.  As our eyes are opened to the Gospel and we die to ourselves, Jesus's blood covers us in a way much fuller than the bull's blood can.  If I am dead, and Christ lives through me, then God sees Jesus's blood covering my sin.  He sees Jesus instead of my filthiness.  He sees righteousness and perfection instead of me.  Oh, Jesus.  May Your blood be on me and my children. Cover us.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Only gonna get get what you give away...give love

Ghana is in 38 days!

I cannot tell you how excited I am. But after spending five minutes with me and realizing that is all I will talk about, you'll probably figure it out :)

Olivia, Hillary, and I are going to be staying in an orphanage for two months, loving on kids.  Oh, Jesus, I am so happy. These kids need love, and the Lord has been filling my heart with His love my whole life, and especially speaking love over me this last year.  I believe it has been in specific preparation for this trip.

Today, I got a yellow fever shot...ugh...and bought seven skirts.  I cannot wait.  I just can't!

Here are some things that we could use prayer for:
1.  Most importantly, that we would emotionally connect with the children, and have many opportunities to talk about Jesus with them.
2.  Raising the rest of our funds.  The very last bit is due when we get there.
3.  That the Lord would continue to prepare our hearts in whatever ways they need it.
4.  That we could let go of any anxiety.
     (Wanna know what I am most afraid of?  Being away from my family and Chris will be brutal, of course, but I am most scared about having to eat different food, especially fish.  I guess I should be happy that's the most pressing matter!)

Thanks for your prayers! :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Now to Him...

"For this reason, I bow my head before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ surpasses knowledge, so that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do abundantly more than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV)

To Him who has changed my life in ways I didn't even know needed changing.
To Him who saved me when I couldn't comprehend I was lost.
To Him who blessed me with money to go to college at the last minute.
To Him who grabs onto my heart and doesn't let go.
To Him who heals families.
To Him who gives the ultimate example of friendship.
To Him who is love, and shows us how to love.
To Him who has created everything in the universe.
To Him who is totally sovereign over every single thing, because He has created it.
To Him who gives great ideas.
To Him who provides all the money needed for a mission trip.
To Him....
be the praise and worship. be all adoration. all recognition. be all the glory that is duly His.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I was thinking the other day about love languages, and how the way we are most gifted to display love is often the way we are also most talented at hurting.For instance, if words of affirmation are your thing, you know how to make things sound good. You also know just how to dig into another person and tear them apart with your words.

I was thinking about how spiritual gifts, or what we perceive to be a gift, can be disguised and turned around in ugly, ugly ways.  Self seeking, prideful, and evil ways.  All the while, you think you are just using your wonderful gift from your wonderful God and aren't you just wonderful?
So, I have always known I am a critical person.  I know. I hate it about myself.  Instead of truly repenting of it, though, I just reason it away.  "It is good that I am critical.  It makes me not gullible to false teaching, It gives me my own opinion, etc...blah blah blah"  Disguising it as discernment, dressing up my crap.

Now, there are some times that it IS good to be critical.  Outright false doctrine is not something my ears should take in as truth.  But criticizing EVERY word someone says, as if I am looking for something to pick out as false, is NOT the way to be.  It leaves me with a handful of pride, relying only on myself.  Not trusting the community of believers around me.  It's a lonely place to be.

Something has happened this week where I had to ask someone for advice, and I had to let someone inside my head who I had been keeping away without realizing it.  I don't ask for advice.  After all, I usually would think no one else could get it right.

Man, I sound like a very terrible person.

But, for the sake of honesty, I won't rewrite that and make myself sound better.  Anyway, I asked for advice.  I got great advice, and God totally blessed me through this person.  I know we crossed paths for a reason, His reason, and I finally let go of my pride to ask for advice. Then I had to have a hard conversation with someone, one that was very, very hard, but needed and God blessed us through that, too.  He showed me I can let people see my emotions, and I can ask Godly people for advice, and He will speak through them. Thank you, Jesus!

And today, I feel like I am new creation.  Praise the Lord for transforming my mind every single day, to be more in tune with Him. I let go of the spirit of criticism that has filled me with so much pride (Rather, God took it out of my hands, because nothing in me could ever let that go).  I will not be perfect, but I am praying for transformation, that my spirit of criticism will be one of encouragement instead. God is faithful, and He will do it. He is so good.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What are we doing?

I implore you to pray.
Right now.
You've already spent twenty minutes scrolling down your Facebook page looking at stupid stuff.
Pray, really pray.
Ever been suddenly hit with the realization of how broken the world is? Of course, theologically and principly I know the world is broken.  But sometimes you just really, really really can feel how broken it is.
What are we doing?  Standing in our circles at church, ignoring the people who know no one and feel left out and alone?  God is love not a clique.  What are we doing? Letting our witness down for just one second. Gosh, the world was created for more than this.  We were created to be more than this.
So pray.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

a few pictures

 This is me, 19 and a junior. Preparing to go into ministry, starting with the kiddos and following where God says.  Easier said then done sometimes, but He loves me, so I will go.
 This is Campbellsville, my wonderful home and campus. It is the prettiest one I have ever seen.

These are my parents, whom I love and miss when I'm away. They are fantastic people.  Sorry for all the makeup, it was senior prom :)
 This is Chris. He's smart, kind, funny, loving, hard working, always makes me laugh, loves the Lord, wise, laid back, and the love of my life.
This is Mindy, my best friend and supporter.  We call each other out and we hold each other accountable and just love on each other.

Monday, January 23, 2012

No more manna

You guys might think I'm weird for this.

Tonight at Oasis (CU's BCM worship service), the speaker told us to turn to Joshua 5:12.  He continued to speak about this verse (in a very different way than it hit me, but still awesome).

I, however, couldn't listen after I read the verse.  Joshua 5:10-12 talks about the people of Israel FINALLY getting out of the promised land and into Canaan after the walls fell.  Verses 11- 12 say,
"And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year."

Oh. My Goodness.  I cannot even explain it, but my heart broke when I read these verses.  On one hand, the people of Israel are finally in this promised land, full of God's goodness and grace and providence.  He has blessed them with food to eat daily.

On the other hand, though, the Isrealites lost their manna.  Like I said, some may think I am crazy.  But this just broke me down.  The Israelites are ending forty years living in the wilderness.  During this time, God has been so, so present and so, so evident.  He allowed them to cross over the Red Sea and again the Jordan River on dry ground.  When they could not find anything to eat, he RAINED DOWN food from the sky.  Let me say that again-HE RAINED DOWN FOOD.  Every morning, the Israelites would wake up to a miracle-their food supply.  Their very sustenance was a miracle every single morning straight from the Lord.  Great is His faithfulness!

It made me think of a horrible time in my life.  Everyone goes through them, goes through seasons where they cannot even get up without God's love and graciousness.  He is so gentle in these times, in these hard times where He shows us constantly about how much He loves us.  Every day in these times, no matter how hard, we wake up to a miracle.  We grow spiritually like never before.  He takes us and carries us.  He proves faithful day in and day out, even in the hardest times.

I personally think back to the summer after my senior year.  It was all I could do to get out of bed sometimes.  I was heartbroken and wounded in ways I had never been before.  I didn't trust anyone with my pain.  Except the Lord, who faithfully and tenderly spoke love over me.  This was Love, this was the Lord, in a way I had never known Him before.

The amazing thing about God is how He works in our times of wilderness, in our times of complete reliance on Him.  Oh, Lord, thank you for your faithfulness!

The thing is, the Lord always brings us through the wilderness season.  He brings us through to His glory and with His power.  And then the manna ends.  The every day miracle ends.  Not that He isn't there, not that He isn't just as faithful.  But His presence is so close, so tender in those wilderness times where we come to the end of ourselves.  In the promised land, we lose sight of the everyday miracle we had been waking up to.  We forget about our manna.

Oh, my heart aches when I think about it.  It truly does.  I feel like Moses in Exodus 33, when the Lord says He will give the Israelites land but will not go there with him.  Moses says that God could give them everything, but without His presence, "everything" would never ever be worth it.

Lord, let me never forget about Your manna in my life.  Let me never forget Your faithfulness and loving tenderness and mercy and grace.  Give me wilderness if it means I will not forget.  Let me glorify You in every season, wilderness or promised land.  I love you, because You love me so compassionately.  Amen.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So this is the new year...

I know I'm a few weeks late, but it always takes me a little while to process things.  I am so excited about this new year.  2012 brings a whole new lists of challenges and opportunities, ones I am scared and excited and nervous and totally unprepared for.  That's the gorgeous thing about God, though.  He chooses the things that are not so He can show just want He is.

  I was reading about Noah the other day and how insane his calling from God must have seemed.  Building a huuuuuuuge boat to save his family from the rain.  So many questions must have been going through his mind, like what is rain? What is my family going to do when we get out? How long? How in the world do I get two of each animal onto this freaking boat?  But God gave Noah very specific directions.  He did not give him the answer to every single one of these questions.  It doesn't really say he gave him answers to much at all.  But God did tell him specifically how to build the boat.  God told Noah specifically what animals to put on it.  And God even brought the animals to Noah.

Our callings may seem insane and far out and impossible, but God will equip us with what we need.  He will! I truly believe He is a God of clarity.  Maybe not how we see clarity, as in knowing every single detail and moment that is going to happen, but instead we see over and over again how He equips people with what they need to fulfill their calling, to reach the next step.  We must believe this. (And I am talking to myself here more than anyone)

Some new ministry opportunities are opening up for me here.  I am taking over women's ministry for the Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM) here at Campbellsville University.  My goal is to do four events: one for each month of the semester.  So far, the ideas are mixed, from fellowship to service to discipleship.  I need one more idea, but the Lord will provide it.  It's crazy, I will wake up with events planned. Totally from God, nothing from me.

Another opportunity you'll hear a lot about is going to Ghana.  So many things last semester led me to this decision.  God said go, so I am going to go! I'll be there for two and a half months this summer, by far the longest I have ever been away from home.  I've never left North America, so this will be quite an experience. Raising money is going to be difficult, but God will provide. I'm scared about other, earthly things, too, like eating weird food (I am very picky!), and getting sunburned (I am very pale!). Getting to share God's love to orphans, though....ohhhh I am so excited!

Anyway, this new year God brought a theme verse to mind through Beth Moore's blog.  Micah 6:8 is currently posted all over my notebooks and all over my thoughts.  It says:
"He has told you, oh man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
I'll dissect this more next post.  I have already probably bored you to tears! Have a great week and year. :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tune My Heart

Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I'm fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love.

I was listening to this yesterday, and the line struck me, "Tune my heart to sing Thy grace."  We tune instruments to play songs correctly and beautifully.  An out of tune instrument makes a song ugly.

My heart was once in tune with my Father's.  Sin threw us all out of whack, though.  I've tried all my life to tune to Yours my heart by ear, doing all the things I was told were "right" and "good."  But I was still out of tune.  My song was still lacking.  I could not play the beautiful, redemptive song You wrote for me.

Your song is full of love.  The most intense, real love anyone has ever heard.  Then, the love turns to pain.  The love and pain alternate as man refuses to praise Your greatness and instead bask in their sins.  The final crescendo of pain comes as You send Your son to die, loud and beating, and then-hope wins.  Love wins.  The Lord wins.

Meanwhile, my own heart still longs for the sin that causes pain, but also for Your love.  My pitiful attempts at tuning leave me a poor instrument to play Your song.  Until You come, full of glory and hope and love.  You are the perfect tuner.  You fix my heart, You tune my strings.  You teach me to play Your redemptive song of grace.  You take my brokenness and hide it inside Your perfect song.  You make me new.  You tune the strings of my heart to sing Your notes of grace.

Oh, Lord.  Tune my heart to sing Your grace.