European Exploration

Low Expectations, Great Outcome

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Proverbs 19:21


As my 90 days in Europe come to an end, I am drawn to reflect on my time here and more deeply analyze the things I’ve been taught.

Ten times out of ten, God’s plans greatly supersede mine. However, for some reason, there’s always a small ounce of doubt in my mind; I’ll walk away from experiences disappointed or unimpressed.

When leaving Berlin, my friends asked, “What was the best part of being here? What was the worst?” Thankfully, I never had an answer for the latter question.

My dad is a master at making everyone else’s lives less difficult, even if it makes his so. A phrase he often repeats is ‘go with the flow’. No—it doesn’t have a thing to do with giving into peer pressure or doing what everyone else is. Rather, its purpose is to urge me to loosen the grip on my agenda, making it easier to honor other’s requests.

Never before has this phrase been so suitable for my life than in these past three months.

The only thing I knew before embarking on this adventure was whose roof(s) I would be staying under. I wasn’t working or making any money, yet He provided the food I needed, and so much more. My expectations were low, however, the outcome was greater than I could’ve dreamed.

So many times I would wake and think, “What day is it?” I had no regimented schedule or itinerary; no agenda. I realize that isn’t realistic or ideal for 60% of the world. In fact, I know some who wouldn’t even enjoy having one day like that. But—it truly is so good not to be in control.

Gosh, I can’t say it enough!

Living in the freedom of His timeline is so liberating. And I know it sounds cliché—even redundant—but His ways are not ours, neither His thoughts.

Believe me, I don’t have this whole “life” thing figured out (not even close!). But I do know this: He who created you wants you to be free, and that only happens when the Author of freedom is writing your story.

As a sinner made perfect by the blood of Christ you have no rights or entitlements—and trust me—His righteousness far exceeds our fleshly desires.

He knows you, sees you, loves you, and delights in you. Trust Him.

Advertisements
European Exploration

Small Beginnings

And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.

                                                  Job 8:7


Entering young adulthood away from home has given me ample time and instances to reflect upon my upbringing and what’s molded me into whom I’ve become.

This may come as a shock to you, but I didn’t grow up seeking adventure or exploration. I have, however, always confidently believed that God is with me wherever I go because I am a child of His.

As a youngin’, I wondered what God would do with me in my adult life. I figured I would stay in the performing arts/ballet world, go to college, and do what everyone else did. Never did I imagine myself graduating early from high school, living in Africa for several months, and continuing to not do anything traditional or conventional.

I never envisioned my life unfolding in such exciting patterns, but thank goodness for God’s thoughts being higher and bigger than mine could ever desire to be!

After being in Europe these past three months, I keep learning that no matter where I am or how old I get, there will always be new things to learn. I’ve also gained a new love and respect for my homeland. The U.S. is a messed up place full of messed up people, sure (isn’t everywhere?). BUT the freedom, the liberty, and the care I grew up under is unlike what any other country on the planet has to offer, and I gotta say, I’m proud to be an American (well, Texan really).

God keeps revealing more to me about who HE has made me to be, and I’m loving it—a lot. I count it joy getting to see life through the lenses of His infinite glory and love for His creation, instead of my fogged, distorted view of the world. I am grateful to boldly believe and proclaim, “I am HIS, and HE is mine!”

The past two years have been filled with unexpected (and some unwanted) circumstances. I often think to myself, “What are you doing?” Or, “Why not make a ‘five year plan’ rather than troubleshooting dreams that eventually fall apart?” Still, He is teaching me that right now that’s not what He has for me.

God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.

                                          – John Piper

I am awaiting approval for an Australian visa because I got accepted into a YWAM DTS (Youth With A Mission, Discipleship Training School), woohoo! I have always dreamed about living in Australia and working in a coffee roastery on the coast, but we’ll see what happens! While these are the things I presently am thinking and dreaming about, I am sure God has other things in the pipeline that will soon be unpacked. I’m just glad to be along for the ride!

You may wonder if I have any plans? Goals? Hopes? Aspirations? Yes, I suppose. But if they become an obstacle, preventing God’s word from reaching others, then I want to be rid of them (James 4:17).

Would totally appreciate your prayers that I would stay near His side and in tune with His Spirit.

Gott Segne!

European Exploration

Auf Wiedersehen, Berlin

  
I knew this day was coming, but it’s arrived much faster than I imagined. Goodbyes are seldom fun, and I’m really not looking forward to it tomorrow morn. 

However, I know the upcoming plans of the Lord are filled with new adventures and more ways to explore His greatness! 

  
To be honest, I really didn’t think I’d fall in love with this place like I have. 

Things I’ll remember most are:

  • The people I’ve met + friends I’ve made
  • Talks with Jesus on bike/train rides
  • Hearing conversations in unknown languages everywhere I went
  • Endless coffee excursions 

  
This time of restoration and rejuvenation has felt surreal in every sense of the word. 

  

To say I’ve been blessed by this family would be quite the understatement. Their generosity, love, kindness and selflessness are only evidences of the Holy Spirit’s sweet rule in their hearts. I’ve learned so much about Jesus and how He loves from living under their roof.

I deeply encourage you (wherever you are in life) to get away, in an unknown place, with Jesus, and let Him teach you things you can’t teach yourself. His Spirit is never resting and never tiring — take advantage of that! It’s as simple as keeping an open mind and your eyes wide. 

He loves you, delights in you, and pursues you; do the same to Him! 

We are, by Divine design, worshippers — once your focus is set upon His face, everything that follows spreads the Kingdom where it has not yet been brought.

  
Be bold, love well and be eager to EXPLORE! 

European Exploration

The Author I’m Not

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Only 5 sleeps left in Berlin;  I can hardly believe it.

If I were to explain in full, using mere words, how majestically God has shown Himself to me over these last two months, this post would go on for an eternity. So I’ll try to make it brief.


I continue to learn that, when I don’t rely on my agenda, life is sweet. God keeps reminding me Who is in control; Who’s actually writing this story.

My imagination cannot even go as far as His already established plans do.

God often speaks to me in visions and dreams, and the most recent picture He’s given is one of a wrapped present, filled with exciting items I daily get to pull out.

I now look back and see that me buying a plane ticket and having a place to call home here was only the bow tied around the boxed-gift.

Life as a child of God is the gift that keeps on giving. Not necessarily giving of nice cars, toys or materials, but LIFE!

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5 

IMG_1423

Life is, regardless of what the enemy or you may tell yourself, better when God is fully in control.

You cannot think up options, ideas or experiences that could supersede His.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 

Isaiah 55:9

I promise (& don’t use that term lightly) that, when God is guiding your every step, you will have fullness of life. Not simply living to the “fullest”, because God doesn’t have limits on how full life can be. Life in Him is full because He is an abundant stream of life.

Surrender yourself unto Him; I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.


[Friend: this adventure has brought a whole new meaning to the word.]

Let me introduce you to a few of the sweet souls I’ve had the privilege of getting to know on my journey in Berlin:

Meet Andrea (Andie):

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset
Native Canadian, spent years in the great U.S., and most recently is here from Sydney. We met through mutual friends who said we had much in common; turns out, we have more in common than we can sometimes handle! A love for Jesus and coffee makes for a fast friendship and good conversation. Please pray that she would have successful ministry while living in Berlin — that she would see God work mightily in the people He surrounds her with!
Hannah:

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
Half Norwegian, half German; this sister is beyond special. She and her sister just moved to Berlin from Norway, and in the mere two weeks that I’ve known her, I’ve learned so much from her example. No matter where we are or what we’re doing, she always has her eyes peeled for people to pray for and talk with. She boldly walks out the love of God so that people might come to know that love, and I’m ever grateful that I got to see that truly lived out. Please pray that she will continue to see God miraculously save and heal the people of Berlin!
Linn:

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
Sister to Hannah, and a friend to all, this girl shines the light of Christ SO brightly! She cares deeply about the truth of  salvation, and wants each person to know how loved and cared for they are by the Holy God of the Universe. She fearlessly proclaims the love of Jesus Christ, and I richly admire her for that! Please pray that she will continue to seek God’s wisdom and accept His grace as she steps out in faith each day!
Meet Emma, Jacob and Ben:

IMG_1416 IMG_1351

These kids bring an abundance of laughter, life and love to everyone around them! I’ve been so privileged to live under the same roof as them, which has only provided endless memories and fun times to one day look back on.

Emma: fun-loving, caring, full of life. Brave is the word that comes to mind when I think of her. Sweet in her approach, she manages to make known the power of Christ and greatness of life in Him. I love that I, a 20 year old, can glean wisdom from her, a 12 year old.

IMG_1512

Jacob: story-teller, sweet-heart, thoughtful. This young man loves Jesus so much, and it’s beyond evident in the way he lives. Always thinking of others, making everyone feel included and important. I am so anxious to see how the Lord changes the world through this little man. Big things will happen, no doubt!

IMG_1381

Ben: adorable, comedic, inventive. Always looking for ways to have fun, Ben keeps life exciting and me on my toes! When around him, I guarantee you will have several belly laughs for things you never could’ve thought up. His life-story so far has been nothing short of amazing, and I believe the rest of his days will not be less than that!

IMG_1407

Keri:

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
Mother to the three above, and as good as they come. It’s funny because we’ve been at the same church for the same amount of time, but never connected until a little over a year ago through social media. I had only heard from [many] others how sweet of a gift her life is, and man, were they right! Her ability to unceasingly lavish encouragement onto anyone and everyone is deeply comforting. I am blown away by the things I’ve learned from her and friend I’ve found in her.
Crista:

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
The world, I keep finding, is ridiculously small. This new friend, who is friends with lots of my friends in TX, has a heart of gold. Her intentionality in making everyone feel loved, important and welcome into her life is only one of the amazing qualities God has placed in her. Connecting is her thing, and I’ve been so blessed by that gift in her!
Heather:

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
Another fellow Texan whom I’ve met in Berlin is Heather Hinton – a truly fun, free-spirited, beautiful friend! She and her family are close friends of the Campbell’s, and they both moved to Berlin around the same time. Having another person much like you in an unknown place is always a comfort. God is so good to faithfully provide the things I need!

IMG_4452

Long story short, I’ve met some really awesome people and learned some really awesome things here.

I came to Berlin with only one rather ambiguous expectation: Learn more about God. And He substantially delivered.

I’m so glad to know the Author of my life isn’t me; my imagination is beyond boring compared to His works.

Prayer has also been a huge part of my time here. Reading scripture while praying, I’ve found, is really important. Being able to read the promises of my faithful God, while knowing He is attentive to my pleas & cries, is ever comforting.

My hope is that, by reading only snippets of my explorations, you would be enlightened to step out in faith, and simply say, “YES!” to any crazy adventure that should come your way. I’m praying for more of that in my life, and for yours!

Gott segne!

European Exploration

“So We Too Might Walk In Newness Of Life”

IMG_1289

 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:13


God continually is revealing to me all the ways I doubt Him. How I doubt His power, ability &  awareness. It saddens me that, when other brothers and sisters boldly pray for things, I find myself, in my head, thinking,”Yeah, that’d be great – but surely it can’t happen tomorrow. I mean, that’s too soon, right?” But golly, am I wrong.

Last night some friends of the Campbell’s arrived who will be staying at the house for a while. Before we all hit the hay, we found ourselves spontaneously gathered in the living room and began to pray.

Markus, who just got here, specifically prayed to see baptisms – tomorrow.  Y’all gotta understand, I’m from a place where spontaneous baptism is not really a thing. However, I’m learning that just because it’s not familiar doesn’t mean it’s evil; it’s actually pretty neat.

So, guess what happened today? TWO people got baptized – in my bathroom!

John and Nina are from Serbia, living in Berlin as refugees. John has spectacular English,  which allows us to be able to talk with Nina who speaks mainly Serbian. They both are good hug-givers and have such sweet spirits.


John was baptized by Hannah, Markus’ daughter.

IMG_1274

He came out of the water feeling freed; he truly felt his weights and burdens had been lifted.  He felt peace. He felt new. We all began praying continued deliverance for our sweet brother.

IMG_1279

Then Nina.

IMG_1281

She was so eager to be baptized –  and her face showed it! We told John that since he had now been baptized, he could baptize Nina himself. They were both so excited to be doing this together.

IMG_1283

We asked Nina if there were any things we could pray against. She asked for healing from all illness, especially her headache that she currently was dealing with.

Keri, Hannah, Linn and I prayed for her after she was “dunked”, we then asked if the pain had lessened. John, who was translating for us, said she felt total relief from her headache and all the pain was gone. Our Father is so good, and He hears us.


Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. 

Mark 10:9


At this point, Nina and John were not married. David and Markus mentioned, kind of joking but kind of not, that they both are ordained, so they could be married now! The couple  zealously agreed and said, “Let’s do it!”

And so they did.

IMG_1284 IMG_1285

And yes, it happened in the living room/kitchen area. But most importantly, it happened before God. Two newborn disciples became one flesh today, and the Lord had all this planned since before the beginning of time. We serve a good, good God.

After the baptisms and wedding, we all saw it fitting to celebrate with communion!

Markus explained what the elements represent, and what it means to have life in Christ.

IMG_1288

I still can’t quite believe I get to witness the wonders of God right before my eyes. His power is breaking down walls in others, which in turn is breaking down walls within me.

HOW YOU CAN PRAY:

  • That Nina and John would continue to seek God and community with fellow disciples. That whoever they come in contact with would see Jesus. That they would not lose zeal and joy.
  • That radical stories like this would become more and more common amongst missionaries here.
  • For dead bones to be brought to life by the breath of God.
European Exploration

Unexpected Life Changers 

000b1318-614

To be honest, before coming to Germany, I had no expectations, plans, or hopes. I, of course, was excited about time with friends, eating great food, and seeing more of Europe, however, I hadn’t given a thought to creating an itinerary for the days and weeks to come.

When strangers & friends ask if these months are centered around vacation, missions, or otherwise, my answer lacks certainty.

“I make it my ambition to preach Christ where he has not been named” — Paul the Missionary

In other words, because I am a chosen child of God,  bought with the blood of Christ, now guided by the Spirit, anytime, anywhere and everywhere my feet land, there the kingdom of God is. His power to minister is not limited by my separation of “fun time” and “Jesus time”—a seriously dangerous mindset.

I pray against that for all believers, for it sets us on a path that impairs our view of the profound strength of our Holy God.

Thus far, my time in Berlin has been most restful. Unexpectedly, roughly two weeks into my trip, all my social media feeds began to be filled with links to pages about the refugee influx in Europe, especially Germany. I had no idea what divine appointment had just been placed on this part of the timeline of humanity.

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”  Exodus 9:16 

{If you haven’t educated yourself on what is happening in Europe, most heavily in Germany,  I deeply encourage you to do so.}

I’m 1/4 Syrian—don’t let the blue eyes, light hair, and fair skin fool ya. My great-grandparents immigrated from Syria to Boston in the early 1900’s, meaning my grandpa (Gido) would be first generation in the states. I’ve desired over the past few years to spend time in the middle east, learn more about my family’s culture which I neglected to do before my Gido passed, and attempt to learn Arabic, Farsi, etc.

I bought my ticket to Berlin on a hot, Texas-summer day with good adventures joined by new friends as the only foresight or idea I had of what August-November would look like.

I had no idea what the Lord was going to do, and He’s once again proven that there’s always a good reason for that.

Why do I mention those things, you ask? Because I am in a place right now where people of my heritage are seeking refuge, and I had absolutely no part in the timing and place of this situation.

How in the world could I have planned this? Exactly, I literally couldn’t. But how great is it that He has me here for such a time as this? I might not even get to speak into a single person’s life, and that’s okay, I’m no savior. However, to watch and learn from my brothers and sisters here living out the love of God to others in so many brilliant ways is a priceless gift. Sometimes it is good (even wise) to observe. Not at all implying that you shouldn’t practice what you preach, but you have to learn what to preach before you’re able to practice it, right?

Most, quite possibly all, don’t realize what refuge their heart is truly yearning for: refuge in God.

It’s hard for me to imagine, as someone who’s known nothing but security and protection, to wrap my head around the reality of the 800,000 that are expected to flee from their homeland to Germany by the end of this year… Sure makes Romans 8:28 hard to confidently believe.

If you read and believe in the scriptures of the Holy Bible, I urge you to pray that all man-made religions would be turned from and unwanted because of the strength of God’s love for His children. That no one would not buck any telling of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, but run full-force into His welcoming arms.

Pray that the eyes of those now seeking mere shelter would be opened and shown what their hearts are truly seeking: eternal Hope, Love, & Grace.

God loves these people. They were created in His image, just like you and me.

We were created to worship Him in freedom, not abandon ourselves to false gods.

Pray. Pray. Pray. 

To learn more about what God is doing through the full-time missionaries here in Berlin, here is a link that I hope will be helpful & encouraging to you: http://www.prayforberlin.org    

(https://img.rasset.ie/000b1318-614.jpg

European Exploration

Eyes Wide Open

  

This post is not about me telling you how to live your Christian life—no. This post is about the way my culture molded and framed my idea of a successful life as a Christian and how the Lord is now shifting & adding weight to those views.  

“You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always.” Deuteronomy 11:1 

Always. 24/7.  

What is His charge? His statutes, His rules, His commandments? 

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40

“See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice alwayspray without ceasing..” – 1 Thessalonians 5:15-17 

Alwayswithout ceasing

Words & phrases like that roll off the tongue swiftly, I find. But living it out…always…without ceasing? Yeah, that’s where it gets sticky. 

I was created to keep His commandments always: love Him with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength; love another as I want to be loved; rejoice & pray. 

Always. 

“Are you implying that one can never have a laugh, goof off, or just have a good time?” No, not at all. However, I’m definitely saying certain cultures(myself included) have become much too comfortable with the implications of salvation. 

We’re on the clock. We have a job to do, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy life (ps 35:27) — that’s not the point. God doesn’t want us to begrudgingly submit to Him — quite the opposite! (But that’s another blog post..)

 The point is that we have been chosen & raised to life by the Father to join in on what He’s doing in this world. 

“for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love”. – Psalm 119:47

I’ve been learning a lot, but not how most people my age do. Before embarking on my European excursion, the Lord kept putting the word “learn” in my head. And man, oh man, has He thrown a lot of things I didn’t know that I didn’t know in my journey! 

He has also brought total affirmation to one thing in particular by the support of my brothers & sisters here, and that is: the Holy Spirit is on the move, all the time, never taking a break. 

I’m learning now that I personally grew up thinking “I’ll pray for that, but not yet”, assuming there was a more significant day to bring things to the Lord, and that on a mundane Wednesday afternoon, crazy things couldn’t happen. 

But it wouldn’t make sense, if that were true, that anything could happen at any time? The best part is that it isn’t true! 

I am not saying that planning and setting aside a time of the day to spend with the Lord is of the devil—of course not! There is wisdom in thinking ahead because humans get distracted. 

But, there is definitely something to be said for letting go of “this great thing will happen, but not yet” and living on the edge. Freedom, that’s the edge I’m talking about. The edge of “God, I feel like this is random and I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but You say You’ve got this, so… Here!” And He always is there. 

Believing that God has the power to do whatever He pleases, whenever He pleases is the most freeing thing ever. 

Again, real easy to say, and real hard to live out. (Can I get an amen!?) 

Today a friend and I toured around Berlin, enjoyed some tasty treats in two coffee shops, and stood in awe of a cathedral located amongst other monuments. On train rides, walks, and more train rides, I saw, over and over again, many people who looked like all they wanted was hope. 

I realize there are tons of people in my home town who are in the same need of that hope, but it is helpful to get out of my comfort zone of “home” and forcefully have my eyes opened—wide. 

Berlin is an ecclectic place filled with people who need the love of God. 

So many people now fleeing to this land for shelter—talk about redemption. 

Would you pray for the Syrian refugees? 

That the Lord would bring dead bones to life? 

That missionaries here would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the work set before them; for bravery & humility? 

That Satan would have no room to distract anyone from learning of salvation and the life and freedom in Christ? 

Please pray revival over this nation because our God is far more than able!