From Simple To Extravagant

He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”

 John 12:25-26

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View of Queenstown, New Zealand

Life has increasingly become more and more surreal every day. I have not had  a steady job or worked for a pay check in nearly a year, but He has provided abundantly. I’ve lived in Europe, Australia, on a south pacific island, and am now in New Zealand, shortly heading to Kenya. Who’da thought a small-town, country-bumpkin like me would end up like this? I can assure you the thought never crossed my mind.

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Taking a nap on Lake Wakatipu
I’m sitting on the shorefront of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand, trying to find words that justly express my current mental state, unfortunately I can’t quite seem to fit any together that adequately describe where my thoughts are at the moment.
I truly can’t explain it, this mystery of a life I’m living.
As a kid, I hated exploring. Intentionally going into the unknown and having no expectations to be met or unmet wasn’t my cup of tea. Thankfully, God changes hearts; and delving into uncharted adventures is my life-anthem.
Do I get homesick? Well, depends on which home you’re referring to.
Was I born where I was, grew up where I did, and become who I am for no reason or by chance? Certainly not, but I am positive, without a shadow of a doubt, that I wasn’t meant to just stay put and comfortable, disobeying the great commands of scripture.
“Where’s she going with this?” — Bare with me.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
John 14:12
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Me at age 7 in one of many dance recitals in Lewisville, TX
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Me at age 21, preaching to about 1,000 children at a primary school in Wabag, Papua New Guinea
What I’m trying to say is that my life—every breath I’m given—is not mine to do with whatever my small-minded-self wills.
Scripture says He lives in me, and He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. So why the heck would I not open my hands, my mind, and loose my reservations, which only bind the gift of freedom, when the word that cannot return void states His great desire to use me in mighty, heavenly ways?

Think of it this way: It’s your 16th birthday; your dad buys you your fantasy car; hands you the keys. Along with that, he then includes that you have no limited distance in which to remain. Knowing this, you, instead, keep within a 10 mile radius, moving at no higher than 35 MPH. I think, personally, that your dad would be a little disappointed or, at least, a little confused as to why you wouldn’t enjoy and delight in the great freedom he’s gifted you. Helpful illustration? I hope so.

Is it healthy to keep on the safe side? Sure, if you don’t have heavenly security and trust from the giver of the gift. But, if you are a child of the King, the mere illusion of earthly safety is unnecessary, and you’re missing out on one heck of a journey. The Lord entrusts us, His children, with much because there is nothing that we can so badly screw up that He can’t repair. So, my friend, if you have not taken advantage of the liberated life He’s cheerfully allotted you, my heart hurts for you.
For the children of God, our home is a heavenly, sure place so that we may, with the time we have on earth, fearlessly venture as far and wide for the edification of His name and furtherance of His kingdom. The western-world-fast-pace-small-living lifestyle is a deceivingly lacking one. My soul aches for the son or daughter who’s been adopted in to the house of the Lord but lives as if they weren’t.
It really stems from a lack of obedience to His voice. Hebrews 13:8 says He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and if He spoke in ancient days, how could anyone believe that He, who cannot lie, wouldn’t speak today? Truth is: He spoke, and He is speaking now. Satan has managed to find the easiest vessel of distraction for the children of Yahweh by convincing us that He simply has nothing more to say than that which is written—not that it is insufficient, but more so the heinous idea that He doesn’t want much to do with us insignificants. How are we meant to earnestly seek spiritual gifts like words of knowledge or wisdom or discernment if His Spirit isn’t still communicating to us what is needed?
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Me at age 18, three years ago at Naomi’s Village in Maai Mahiu, Kenya
Five years ago He began whispering ‘Africa & Missions’ to me. I thought I knew that was not from God because, surely, He couldn’t possibly want me to give up my dream of becoming a principle ballerina in a world-renowned dance company and have to get uncomfortable: Wrong. Via my parents’ encouraging and admonishment, getting uncomfortable was the best decision of my life; obedience always ushers joy.
People from every country I’ve been to ask how I get to do the things I do. My answer: I never say no.
I’m in a stage of life where it is rare that I face a shut door, where options are limited. Some times it incurs stress due to the fact that I can’t choose one option over the other, but I suppose that’s a good problem to have. My daddy always told me to dream big knowing I serve a big God. I can honestly say, in my wildest dreams, I never thought He would do what He’s done with me thus far, and it is only because I have said ‘Yes’ to, not just His plans, but Him.
If 16-year-old-me would’ve told God ’no’ or ‘that’s too risky’, I surely wouldn’t be where I am right now, locationally and spiritually.
Christ doesn’t share specifics as to what life will look like once one is adopted into the family of God, but I keep learning that that is, in itself, a gift.
If you keep yourself dead to you, He has much more room to flourish through you the fullness of life. Of course He is powerful enough to do what He pleases in whomever, whenever, but if you will not empty yourself of your own ideas and desires, what has He to fill?
Here is my charge and plea to you, reader: Start doing things that seem crazy, even a little ridiculously risky. I’m not just talking bungee-jumping and parasailing, but making new friends from foreign countries, hiking up a mountain to watch the sun rise, singing worship songs at the top of your lungs at the beach, or taking a 2.5 hour horse ride in a country you’ve yet to visit. Additionally, believer: As one of my favorite Kiwi’s and DTS lecturers eloquently said to us students (at least 10 times a day), “STOP IT.” Stop moping around and waiting for God to move powerfully in your life. He has given YOU-yes, YOU-a mind and a heart and the ability to respond to the wonderful and miraculous ways He has already changed your life’s trajectory.
Open your ears and listen. Quit leaning on your own understanding and hopes and dreams, and wake up. God is a good Creator and His creation was meant to reflect that. For the sake of kingdom growth, please ask yourself, “What am I shut off to?” “Where am I holding back because of fear?”
He commands us not to fear time and time again throughout scripture. Proverbs 12:25 explains it best by stating that, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” It can’t be said any clearer. Growing up (ask my poor mother) I was quite the indecisive kid. At one of the malls in my home town, there was once a train that children could ride. One day my sister and some friends who had joined us wanted to take a ride. I, for the life of me, cannot figure out why I was so afraid to step foot into it, but for whatever reason I was completely terror-stricken. The worst part? I stood there glaring at the horrific thing for about 20 minutes and then, finally, came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t a good idea. I missed out on all the fun due to fear.
I’m not telling you that you should take up bear-wrestling (unless God tells you to), but please seize doing things that you can make sense of within your human brain and understanding. I promise, if you just simply say, ‘Yes, Lord. What now?’, He will not waste His time.
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Me on a trail ride over the Rees River with High Country Horses in Glenorchy, New Zealand where Tswift, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and many other greats filmed videos and movie footage

I have not ridden since the end of last year, and the fact that I got the opportunity to ride through the most beautiful country in the world on this amazing boy still takes my breath away and has left me speechless and grateful.If you think your life isn’t going to be momentous, it probably won’t. So stop thinking that, and ask God where He wants to take you, what He wants to show you. And most of all, trust Him. 

 

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“To the Ends of the Earth”

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Mark 16:15


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Well, friends, as per usual, time is flying by! My feet hit the ground running the moment I arrived back to the states, but God is good and life is abundant.

As I mentioned in another blog (Small Beginnings), I was accepted into a YWAM DTS located on Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. I typically don’t start my mornings by checking my email, but for some reason, when I was visiting friends in Georgia, I felt the need to. And voila! I had received an email saying my Australian visa had been granted. GRANTED! Instantly it became much more real to me.

For several years I’ve been interested in and have desired to become a part of Youth With A Mission, an international/interdenominational movement of Christians, whose goal is to make known the goodness of God all around the world. This past fall I spent a few months with missionaries who partner with YWAM in Berlin, Germany. I left deeply encouraged by the hearts of the people there and the mission lived out to make His name known across all nations—it only made me want to be a part of what they’re doing even more!

This particular program lasts 6 months—(beginning in late January) the first 12 weeks consist of a lecture phase—focusing on getting to know God better, His will, and His heart for the lost. The following weeks will be spent in the “outreach phase”. Currently, the location of our outreach is unknown, but early on in the DTS (Discipleship Training School) we will ask Him where He would have us go, and that is where all the training I’ve received will be put into action!
Most importantly, I am asking for your intercession on my behalf. Through this transition, I will be faced with potential obstacles and new situations that I am not capable of handling on my own—I need Him, and I need the church! I believe in the power of prayer and appreciate all your help in this area.
 I’m humbled and grateful for this privilege from the Lord to serve Him and get to know Him in new ways. He is faithful and good and true! Thank you in advance for your prayers and financial help. If you have any questions about YWAM or anything else, feel free to email or call me. I’d love to meet with you and talk about the goodness of our great God!
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As Twila Paris sings, ‘There is no God like Jehovah!’ and I want each individual in the world to know and proclaim that truth!
Though I’m not sure where exactly He will take me after these upcoming 6 months, I’m sure it’ll be an adventure well worth waiting for.

Jot It Down: The Gift of Documentation

My momma always told me to journal throughout my life so I, at any point, could look back and remember how I got where I am. She also swore it helps make the important, and even unimportant, events in my life become long-term memories—I just wish I would’ve listened sooner.

I reluctantly began journaling around my 18th birthday. Over time, writing became routine. This was a season in my life that was heavily influenced by change of scenery and circumstance. Having just moved to Kenya without any family, I didn’t have many immediate people near to share my heart’s recent burdens; my notebook had become my sidekick.

Things started off rough; jotting down everything that happens in a day can get tiresome. So I thought, “There’s gotta be more to this, right?”

Oddly enough, a line said by Aibileen Clark from ‘The Help‘ offered some insight.

“I thought I might write my stories down or read ’em to you. Ain’t no different in writin’ down my prayers.” 

“Ah, that’s it”, I thought. Then I began writing as if Someone else was reading my entries; and He is.

If you’re stuck or confused or don’t know where to turn, get some pieces of paper and a pencil and begin a documented dialogue with the One who is your help.

Yes, I’ve become one of those hippies who goes nowhere without a pen-pad & pencil, ever prepared to scribble a thought or feeling down, taking it captive and giving it to Him.

Joy and peace are the primary things I’ve found since taking up journaling. I highly recommend beginning this practice so that you may reap the benefits of a deeper, more tangible connection with life & the Lord!

And, you know what they say, Mom knows best.

A Loving Law

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Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in His ways!

Psalm 119:1-3


Being a young adult not presently living under my parent’s roof has brought a profound new view of God as my Father into my life.

I was raised by two loving parents who taught me that when I, in glad submission, obey, joy follows; life flows. Naturally, that is exactly the result I found when I simply said, “Yes [ma’am/sir].”

It’s strange. Growing up, I dreamed of the day that I would get to make my own decisions and not have my parents always giving the commands. I wasn’t a rebellious child-no, quite the opposite. Nonetheless, the desire to be independent in my heart was great.

Now, as a 20 year old, single girl living in Europe with God as my only present authority, independence has suddenly lost its glamour.

Oddly enough, keeping His statutes and abiding by His law has never appeared sweeter.

Opportunities to do the work of God are often quite available; He doesn’t give useless gifts. Still I wonder, “Really, Lord, do I have to go talk to this stranger?”…”I really don’t wanna embarrass myself…You understand, right?” But alas, He reminds me of the banner I now live under: Love God and His law. (Psalm 119:165 English Standard Version)

My parents always taught me, through simple tasks, that submitting myself to their leadership was a model and practice for submitting myself unto the LORD. (How thankful I am for their perseverance and consistency!)

If you didn’t grow up in a God-fearing or loving home, I deeply encourage you to find a family whose home-life is modeled after the love of Christ.

Any time you think your way will lead to more life than His, think again. (I say that from firsthand experience)

Asking to gain a thirst for scripture may be handled differently than you first imagine. You may be lead to the other side of the world, or put in really uncomfortable positions, but regardless of circumstances, His path leads to life perfectness. Not because it lines up with what you had in mind for your future, but because He is perfect.

God has boundaries, yes. However, His boundaries were not given to keep us from fullness, but to pour that fullness out.

 …but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:2

Sluggard Soul

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Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 

Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the LORD said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’: for to all whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.

Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, 

declares the LORD.”

Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me,

“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Jeremiah 1:5-10


I have neglected the story of my brother, Jeremiah, all too much, therefore I am left ignorant of the example he set to follow as a child of God.

I am young, and many of life’s twists and turns have proven that to me over and over again. It doesn’t matter how many bible studies I’ve done, how many badges were pinned on my ‘Quest vest’ as a preschooler for memorizing scripture, the years I have been a professing believer – I, all too often, shy away from ministry opportunities because of my age.

I think it’s because instances like that reveal to me that wisdom does some times come with age, and I allow intimidation to set in.

“You know your stuff, sweetie”, says my mom.

“But what if I don’t give the answer they’re wanting to hear?” I ask.

“Well, whose words are you speaking? Who should you be pleasing with your words?”

Ah, that’s what moms are for.

When trying to convey the power of the message of Jesus relies on mere human strength, what good could come of it? Well, not really any.

In the Old Testament, time after time, it is stated that the ‘LORD is with you wherever you go’ and, in the New, we have the ‘Spirit of God that dwells in us’.

He does not forsake us, not ever. 

God never commands His children to do His work without Him present; not by preference, but reality. We cannot do what He commands without Him; what a profoundly freeing truth.

He is with us not only as a presence, but a Deliverer.

We all have hang ups, don’t hide em. Let them be exposed by the light of His love to deliver you out of them. Fear, hate, weariness – He can rid you of those things that weigh down your soul. Better yet, He wants to.

When Jesus taught us to pray for things to be “on Earth as they are in Heaven”, He wasn’t talking about asking for gold streets and pearl gates. He goes much deeper than that.

In glory, no one will be troubled by fear, hate, or weariness – that is what we are to pray for! Things that you won’t struggle with in Heaven can go away now – really, they can! God is the Father of good gifts (Matt. 7:11). Last time I checked, sin isn’t a good gift.

I’m not saying that we aren’t guaranteed trials and tribulations; we most certainly are. BUT when something leads to less of God and more of self, it cannot be from God. 

“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” Proverbs 13:4

“In all toil there is profit…” Proverbs 14:23a

When the LORD’s hand is on you, nothing can go wrong – not because circumstances fit human ideals, but because mistakes are impossible for Him.

He is abundant and full; don’t settle for a lesser god.

Satan is constantly lying and speaking false, depressing things into our minds; my prayer is that you (& I) are drawn to ignore that of which is not of God.

To me, the last verse in the passage above glares the word obedience.

Thankfully I have parents who give what I would consider to be the best example of earthly, God-fearing parents. Ever. They are not perfect, but I cannot remember a time when I felt unloved or hated by them in their parenting of me.

Obedience is habitual. My dad still (yes, even as a young adult) reminds me that the more I practice obeying him, the more naturally it will come every time an authority is placed over me, the most important one being God.

The goal as God’s children is not to cowardly grumble into submission under His plan, but gladly lay our thoughts aside and simply say, “Yes.”

Whether to pluck up or break down, destroy or overthrow, build or plant, God’s children should always answer with a resounding “Amen!” or “Yes!” to whatever and all He commands.

My Time is Not My Own

Y’all, it’s been a while. Like, a long while. July 3rd was my last entry. (Oops!)

So, let me explain (with the hope of not boring you) why it’s been so long.

In early May I became a barista (yay coffee!) and am still learning more about the science of coffee than I may even care to, but I love it! Tasting the natural, good flavor that the Lord put in coffee beans has made me more grateful and aware of how tuned in He truly is.

On August 18th, I became an intern at the Village Church in the Preschool ministry area. I’ve already learned many things from this experience, but probably not the types of things you’d expect.

What comes with working in a church of our size (amount of people not building parameters) is organization – something I try to avoid like the plague. For me, looking at a calendar and knowing mostly what my days will look like up until March makes my stomach churn. Literally. But alas, God has put me in this place, at this time, with the authority I’m under, for some divine reason. So if you ask me how I’m doing and I respond with “Good.. Busy.” – you know what I mean & how I feel. This does not mean I’m ungrateful, I’m just not going to lie about how the Lord is stretching and growing me in ways I personally wouldn’t choose. I’ve learned, though, that His choices draw me nearer to Him & bring fruitful life, so I’m trusting.

Something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed over the past 4 months is a class I’m taking called Perspectives. A couple weeks back, we studied a group of people called the Moravians (the Moravian Slaves, http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moravian_slaves). These incredibly brave disciples’ “mission statement” has lingered on repeat in my head.

“May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”

The Moravians understood in full that their lives were unworthy of not suffering for the One who undeservingly suffered most. I so badly want to live that way. Specifically over the past 4 months, the Lord has also abundantly watered the seed He planted in my heart that gave me a passion for the unreached. It’s growing like a wild fire, actually. People like Jim Elliot and Pete Fleming, just, yeah. I pray to attain humble, sacrificial, bravery like those men. Truly willing to lay down my life for the sake of others knowing Christ is frightening, because I know Who my God is. But, when I think about Who my God is, I’m reminded that nothing man does to me can separate me from Him. It is well with my soul.

Sorry, I rabbit-trailed. But basically, what I’m trying to convey is that, simply put, my time is not my own. But I am grateful for that, because He knows what He’s doing, and as much as I’d love to believe I do, I don’t. God’s timing is not perfect because it fits in with everything I schedule around it, but because HE is perfect.

So, will you pray for me, with me? For contentment, patience, wisdom? This next year I will be making many big decisions, and I want them to be the Lord’s decisions, not mine. I want to submissively follow wherever He will lead me.

“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”
Proverbs 3:7-8

“For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth the LORD, the God of hosts, is his name!” Amos 4:13

The Desert and the Valley

I’m gonna be frank and just spit this out there – life has been dry. Very dry.

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”. These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:1-6a.

This passage in scripture has been a sweet reminder that despite me currently being in a weird, transitioning stage of life, my soul should be thirsting for God, whilst praising Him because He is my salvation and my Rock.

August 24, 2013 was one of the hardest days of my life; leaving Kenya, what I had known as home for the 5 previous months. Ask my family if you don’t believe me when I say I shed real tears on the ride to the airport, waiting to board, and departing.

The reason I was so upset was not simply just because I was leaving “home”, but also because I was going back to the burbs of DFW, to do nothing but wait and see what God had next for me.

If you know me, you know I don’t particularly like waiting for an answer, even just a mere idea of what’s going to happen would be satisfactory (one of my many faults) – but finding peace became quite difficult when it seemed as though everyone around me had plans set for at least the next 2 years, or more.

So yes, the past 10 months have been somewhat rough. BUT – He is faithful through it all.

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” Psalm 126:5

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in Him I will trust, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my Savior, You save me from violence.” 2 Samuel 22:2

I’m excited to share that I will be interning at The Village Church (my home church) in the Little Village ministry (infants-preschool) beginning mid August. It truly is a blessing and honor to get to serve alongside my brothers and sisters in such a special way. Yes, I am nervous, but also confident in knowing this journey is going to bring me closer to the Lord as I will be stretched in many different ways; ways I’ve probably never imagined.

I would deeply appreciate your prayers as I enter this new (crazy) season of life. Growing up is weird, and it always felt like it was never gonna happen to me – but here I am, about to be working two jobs as well as taking seminary classes. WHAT?! Well, as you can see, I’m insane & need all the prayer I can get 😉

But seriously, God is good. So good. And we need to be reminded of that daily, hourly, even by the minute – not only because we’re sinners constantly consumed with thoughts of ourselves, but because He is abundantly worthy of being spoken about unceasingly.

Oh that He would be at the forefront of our minds & hearts always.

Peace be with you.