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Gratefulness

Sorry for my absence, readers. Life has been a hectic blessing lately. Between nannying, working at the feed store, and other miscellaneous jobs such as babysitting and painting, I don’t have much time for leisure or rest. I am learning, however, that sleeping at night is a precious gift I’ve taken for granted way too long.

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Since I last wrote, lots has happened and lots has not. I’m back in the states, not living with my family, got to vote for the first time in a presidential election, and am growing into an adult. But even with all that, it is hard for me to decipher, after living the most sanctifying, adventurous year of my life, what constitutes as a significant event and what doesn’t. That probably sounds weird, but I don’t know how else to put it.

Let me explain…

Because I am back in my hometown—where everything is routine and doesn’t ever change—life mostly seems mundane. It’s hard for me to adjust to this normalcy because, as a young adult, exploration and change and newness have been my norm; but not so for now. However, I am not ungrateful for the culture and place in which I was raised, I’ve just been introduced to different ways of life, so now my desires and goals have been shifted and are expanding.

Here’s a lame illustration: It’s as if I’ve been eating Dryer’s ice cream my whole life and someone just graciously opened my eyes to Blue Bell, and now I can’t go back to what I knew.

I continue learning that I’ll never be done learning. While I love living “on the edge” and praying for divine financial providence due to not working for a paycheck, it is so rewarding to reap what I’ve sown in working 50 hour weeks. I’m learning that jobs can be a blessing; I am constantly presented with opportunities to be a witness to my coworkers and customers. This is one of the many reasons I don’t use the term “mission field” very often because really, as a believer, my charge to share the good news is not continent specific. The vessel in which I minister the word may change country to country, but it is the same word no matter my location.

Before returning to the states I had prayed for change, for things to be different and completely unlike before I left ‘home’. I asked for new communities, job positions, etc. And let me tell ya, He heard me. I got more than what I asked for and what I honestly, on my own, couldn’t handle, but that was the point. When I initially was back here, I found myself in some really unhealthy, ungrateful patterns, and I always seemed to be in a funk.

Everything made sense on one hand, and on the other nothing. I didn’t (and quite frankly still don’t) know how to reconcile all that I’ve seen, heard, and lived with where I am now at.

So, my word for 2017 is gratefulness. On great days, on bad ones, I must be grateful. Grateful for His daily giving of new mercies; for breath; for bread; for His blood shed; for the Rock which I can undoubtedly cling to and trust.

Be blessed.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe…”

Hebrews 12:28

 

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The Hustle + Bustle

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Wow, please forgive me for my lack of writing lately! Life back in the states has been as busy as it usually is; maybe even busier due to my three jobs. My circumstances as of late are undoubtedly keeping me on my toes, but the Provider has provided and I must be grateful.

While everyone else in suburbia has settled into rhythms and adjusted to routines, I’m still trying to not forget the last year of my life. Oddly enough, I find it’s a shockingly easy thing to do with all these first-world distractions swimming about my head. Like the times I biked around the outskirts of Berlin and could hardly form a prayer because ‘what is life?’ was all I could think; or when I hiked to an extremely undiscovered, remote village in the highlands of Papua New Guinea with friends I’d met only months prior; and how could I forget returning to my second home and catching up with friends which I hadn’t seen in three years?

But when I’m driving around and making plans and shopping at Whole Foods, it’s as if it never happened.

I have no doubt that the statement I just made may sound zany; even if it is, nonetheless,  it’s true. Unless you have walked in someone’s shoes, you cannot authentically know how they feel or how their situations have affected them.  Though I am blessed with a handful of friends whose experiences align with mine, when others whose don’t but try to act as if they “get it”, my impatience glides right in the way and I just want to forget about it and shut up.

Imagine taking a trip to the Vatican and the only vise you possess to capture its ornate and intricate beauty is a disposable film camera from Walmart. It would obviously have no chance at adequately relaying what you physically saw in person. What the Lord has allowed me to see, witness, and learn is honestly hard for me, the one who endured it, to fathom; how could I, after all? I’ve been taken on an adventure beyond my imagination.

One of the issues with being me is that if I don’t have hours (at least) to explain in full the greatness of something and the remarkable details embedded within it, I practically give up. I don’t fancy partial story-telling or being restricted by time, space, or what have you. I’ve been so spoiled and blessed by Eastern-Time-Zone lifestyle; having unlimited time and availability to say what deserves to be said. But since I am now in a Western zone, I have got to switch my brain. Essentially, I have to get over myself.

Harsh? Maybe. But necessary. Life, no matter how much Satan strives to convince me otherwise, is not about me. And as a follower of Jesus, especially, I am compelled to live out that belief.

So, if you run into me purchasing groceries or sipping coffee at a regularly frequented shop and my words are few, I apologize in advance. I am in no way justifying my lack of extraverted-ness, but simply trying to be honest about the difficulty I have with briefly explaining this journey I’m on as just “fun”.

How could something so great be described in such few and simple phrases?

I hope this is making sense.

Frankly, I am asking for grace. I am an imperfect human; I want to outdo others in honor, and sometimes that is just hard. BUT, that is no excuse; His grace has covered as far as the east is from the west. He has made me a new creation and I’ve got to live like that!

On top of all that crazy, I’m writing a book. So, blog posts will be more scarce in the near future.

Thank you, readers and pals, for the encouragement and support you so fervently dish out. I am grateful for a blessed life and the privilege to write about!

 

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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.
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Seasonal Tips for Babysitters

I’ve never really done a self-help blog, but I thought I’d give it a go…

So, here goes!


 

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If you’re like me, babysitting could be your career. And not that “playing house” or ‘Monopoly‘ ten times in a row isn’t a blast, but I know you’re thinking “Surely there’s got to be SOMETHING else…right?!”

You’re in luck–there is!

Ideas/crafts/recipes change by the season, but since we’re in the jolliest season ever, the simplest option would be to make dough at your house, then bring it to wherever you’re sitting. Prep time is not long or laborious, and it’s SUPER fun for the kids (depending on age (usually best for 3+)).

There are (literally) BILLIONS of different recipes you could follow for your dough, but I have found one that turned out spectacular! Wasn’t too chewy, neither too crunchy. (http://addapinch.com/cooking/chewy-sugar-cookies-recipe/)

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This dough kept great form once we used the cookie-cutters which is always a helpful thing (especially with kids).

Having a variety of add-ins (sprinkles, Red-hots, M&M’s, etc.) brings color and more fun to the cookie-making!

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Also, as a consistent sitter, I know how messes can intimidate…but don’t let them. Just have fun with it and worry about the clean-up later; I promise it makes the process way more fun for the kids and YOU! Plus, flour is fun to play with and easy to wipe up.

After you’ve cut out all the dough and await the timer’s ding, make some hot cocoa (topped with whip, of course) to enjoy while they cook!

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Once they are fully cooked, set them out to cool so that you can ice them! My go-to flavor is vanilla, but feel free to choose whatever sounds best to you.

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I also would advise playing a Christmas movie because it simply just makes things more fun and sets a good mood.

I hope you enjoy this idea, or even become inspired to invent your own! It’s a special honor and tons of fun being a babysitter; not ever a dull moment!

Merry Christmas, y’all!

 

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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.

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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