Inner Disposition

Let me fill you in on a little secret of mine.

Before I truly embraced my relationship with Christ, I would watch Christians. I would watch what they said, what they did, and how they treated others. To be honest, I was not that impressed. I did not have the best experiences with Christians. Often times, I felt judged, looked down upon, and excluded by them. They did not have much credibility in my mind. They called themselves Christians, but the only things that set them apart were their judgmental and close minded attitudes. I knew I never wanted to be that person. This completely turned me off of Christianity, religion, and Jesus.

When I started walking with the Lord, I knew I never wanted to be like that. But lately, I’ve been realizing how difficult that can be. It is difficult to love everyone. It is difficult to be inclusive. And sometimes I really suck at being a Christian. It really hurts to admit that. Sometimes I do things and realize that my integrity with people might have been tested. I am scared that others might look down on me. I fear that I am not set-apart. I get anxious that I might be the Christian that I used to dislike. It is a huge insecurity of mine.

I DON’T know how to be the perfect Christian.

But I DO know that I should pray these things daily

1. To love others well.

2. For my credibility to not be shaken.

3. To be set-apart.

This morning, I fell into that insecurity again. But God blessed me with some wise friends because they offered me the encouragement I needed. They reminded me that following Jesus is tough sometimes. Christians are held to a higher standard and sometimes we fall. It makes us human. That is what the cross is for.

In the wise words of my friend Alia… “When Christians fall, we don’t fall into an empty abyss to be lost and gone forever. We fall into a net that God placed there before hand because he knew we would fall. It’s kind of like a trampoline. We fall only to get right back up again.”

Here is some simple truth…

Psalm 103:12, MSG

“As high as heaven is over the earth,
    so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
    he has separated us from our sins.”

2 Corinthians 7:10, MSG

“But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.”

2 Corinthians 4:16, MSG

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”

Remember that God is radically renewing us and eternally changing our inner disposition. Don’t be discouraged when insecurities get the best of us.

 

 

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Extra Large Goodwill Sweatshirts and Hand-Written Letters

Thanksgiving is officially upon us and it is one of my most treasured times of the year. It’s a time where tradition runs prevalent in my family. We always travel to a familiar home with the funnest of dysfunctional family’s and eat lots of food while playing with dogs and babies.

During this season, I have learned how to cultivate gratitude. Some days it is really easy to be thankful and other times it is a lot harder. I am learning how to count my blessings, from the big things to the really small things, and it has been the most rewarding practice.

About a month ago, a particular speaker at an event I attended, Bryan Bulmer, spoke on this. Particularly, he encouraged us to read, listen, or write something positive as soon as we wake up in the morning. I started to begin my days with telling at least one person how thankful I was for them. Whether a text, email, or (my personal favorite) a hand-written letter, a detailed description of what that person means to you goes a long way… for them and for you.

I encourage you to do the same. I have seen the effect it has had in my attitudes and relationships. Whether it be starting a gratitude journal or just letting those around you know how much they mean to you, it is so important to be thankful on a daily basis.

If you are unsure of what to be thankful for, I have compiled a list of some off-the-wall things to be grateful for. Make your own; it could definitely be your next Thanksgiving around-the-table dinner conversation.

25 Off -The-Wall Gratitude’s

dog slobbers in the mouth

hallmark holiday movies

flickering flame of a candle

changing color of the leaves

extra large Goodwill sweatshirts

aroma of fresh coffee

pretty-packaged gifts

hugs from distant relatives

handwritten letters

old quilts

hot bubble baths

sweet potato casserole

fuzzy socks

pens that write really well

oven timers

boys who come to the door when they pick my sister up for a date

handcrafted wreaths

hair appointments

picture frames

smells that bring back old memories that you can’t quite put your finger on

downtown’s

inside jokes

automatically connecting to wifi

good-smelling boys

clothes straight out of the dryer

 

xoxo and happiest of Thanksgivings!

 

 

Stay Rad

Accepting grace used to be a foreign concept to me. I did not know how to embrace this wonderful gift. I so often felt trapped by my sin, like I had four walls constantly surrounding me that defined me. Spacious living and boundless freedom were never supposed to be in the cards for me… or so I thought.

One night, I sat on my living room floor with my good friend Carli. She had recently discovered what freedom was. She knew what it was like to be in complete darkness, see the light in the far distance, and run for it with everything she had. She had joy and dance and laughter tattooed upon her life and all I knew was that I wanted what she had.

As we were sitting there, my eyes swelled up with tears. All I said to her in that moment was “I want your freedom.”

I was

burdened

heavy

lifeless

dull… because of my sin.

Galatians 5:1 says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Writing this, Paul knew that is was possible for Christ followers to be “burdened again.” He knew that obstacles in life could recurrently bound us to slavery.

 

Slowly but surely I had to learn how to…

Reveal my sins.

  Accept his Grace

             Deny picking it back up.

That’s pretty… RAD… right?

As a permanent reminder of this radiant gift Christ has given me, and to always remember to accept His grace especially in the present, I tattooed a sound wave (that two of my best friends spoke) of the word “freedom.”

So here is to freedom, tattoo’s, and staying RAD.

Vulnerability Hangover

Once upon a time… or two times… or maybe 250 million times… I told someone something that I immediately regretted. I have walked away from certain conversations feeling naked and exposed. I have woken up some mornings with flooded anxiety about something I shared with someone the previous night.

This is what I like to call a vulnerability hangover- a.k.a. shame.

So what’s in a shame?

Shame is the ultimate fear of disconnection from people. It is the result of rejection or fear of others not accepting us. Shame is the voice in our head saying “if you share this, others are not going to accept you” or “because you told them this, they are going to see you differently.”

I am unworthy of love.

I am not pretty enough to accomplish that.

I am not successful enough to do this.

I am not good enough to talk to them.

So, I am here to tell you this- having a vulnerability hangover actually has… NOTHING…to do with vulnerability at all. This said “hangover” is a result of shame, which can lead to some other really ugly things.

depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders

Recognize the brutal lies the devil tells you and start believing that what makes you vulnerable makes you BEAUTIFUL! Rest assured that the darkest thought you could have, the lowest point you can feel, and the furthest place you could run… His grace will always meet us there.

  1. Remind yourself that you are worthy of love and acceptance.
  2. Surrender to your vulnerability.
  3. Have the courage to be imperfect.
  4. Your life is your art.
  5. Vulnerability is most definitely NOT a weakness.

But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.” ~Francis Chan, Crazy Love

Stay encouraged!

xoxo

Turn Your Mess Into Your Message

There is something so neat about people sharing their stories with you. It is a way to connect, laugh, and cry with each other on such a deeper level. They can be inspiring. They can be heartbreaking. They can send chills down your spine.  But as much as I love listening to them, thinking about sharing mine terrifies me.

I was asked by my small group leader to share my testimony. WHAT. My insides were screaming “no” but I politely responded with a “sure.” My anxiety levels were through the roof.

How do I even share my testimony?

What will people think of me?

Is my story “too much?”

With a troubled and confused heart, I prayed and asked God to show me what to share and how to share it.

Ironically, Passion City Church had sent me a free trial of their new devotional called “Simple Pursuit: A Heart After Jesus.” Two days after I said that prayer, the title of the devotional that day was “Your Honest Testimony.”

How cool is God.

Through this, I was taught a couple of things

  1. I am not sharing my testimony to reveal all of my deepest darkest secrets.
  2. My testimony is not “too much.”
  3. Testimonies are for giving real examples of what being brought from death to life really means.
  4. They show how radical a life change in Christ can be.
  5. Our story is not meant to lie dormant.
  6. Reveal how he breathes life into us e v e r y d a y and how His grace is, was, and always will be enough.

Testimonies are stories of hope and redemption. It is so important to be honest- do not worry about covering ANYTHING up. Speak boldly and be enthusiastically proud of your rebirth in Christ.

He has chosen us for our weaknesses, not our strengths. This magnifies our need for Him. Our stories are meant to be told.

“But Paul and Barnabas didn’t back down. Standing their ground they said, “It was required that God’s Word be spoken first of all to you, the Jews. But seeing that you want no part of it—you’ve made it quite clear that you have no taste or inclination for eternal life—the door is open to all the outsiders. And we’re on our way through it, following orders, doing what God commanded when he said, “I’ve set you up as light to all nations. You’ll proclaim salvation to the four winds and seven seas!” When the non-Jewish outsiders heard this, they could hardly believe their good fortune. All who were marked out for real life put their trust in God—they honored God’s Word by receiving that life. And this Message of salvation spread like wildfire all through the region.” Acts 13:46-48

I encourage you to share your testimony with someone. Ask Christ to give you the courage to share your story of being brought from death to life. If it encourages just ONE person, you are furthering the kingdom of God and that is wondrous. 

 

 

Breakfast Dates with Bae

Mornings are my favorite. Call me crazy, but I would much rather wake up early and drink my hazelnut coffee on the back porch than sleep in. The a.m. is such a beautiful part of the day. Knowing that I might be waking up to fiery-colored sunrises, retro coffee shops, and messy hair makes me so much more grateful to be alive. I’ve always heard people say “What you do in the morning determines how the rest of your day will be!” And that’s why I love mornings so much. What I do in the morning sets the tone for the rest of my day.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Gabby challenged me. In her words, this is what she proposed- “You should join me in the Matthew 6:33 20-day challenge.”

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Although I thought this might add one extra thing to my plate, I went ahead and said, “Okay! What does that entail exactly?” Basically it’s putting God first for 20 days and going out of your way to seek him first and meditate on His word, Gabby responded. She told me the first thing I needed to do when I wake up is start with a prayer or devotional. There’s no limit on how long, even if it is two minutes, she said. But make an effort to pray and seek God first in: your time, mindset, thoughts, words, finances, relationships, conversations, blessings, food and drink, and attitudes. Everyday write down one verse on the front of the note card and what you learned/how it relates to Matthew 6:33 on the back.

So why am I telling you about this? During college, I had always been the occasional “devo” kind of girl. I may or may not spend 5-10 minutes in prayer or reading a scripture depending on if I had enough time. But coming into this school year, I knew I wanted Christ to be an all-consuming part of my life. Not exactly knowing how to go about doing this, I started with disciplining myself to spend time with the Lord every morning. Not just a quick devotional, but actual quality time. I started having breakfast dates with God.

We are so cute. I would make muffins and hazelnut coffee nearly every morning (or occasionally go to Daylight Donuts for some glazed donut holes). I made my “date space” on my back porch. The date essentials included a blanket to snuggle up in, my bible, and maybe a guided devotional (which is currently Jordan Lee‘s BeLoved series). I practiced showing gratitude to my Savior, confessing what I’ve been going through, and asking Him help me live my life for Him, whatever that means.

There is complete irony in Gabby asking me to do this challenge. I had already felt convicted to do it, but her challenge confirmed it in my heart. Anyone in this day and age knows the term “bae,” which stands for “before anyone (or anything) else.” This may be a stretch, but what if “bae” could be the modern way of saying “seeking Him first.” Christ should be before anyone or anything else and we should seek Him first in all of our activities.

Personally, I had to give up some of my leisure time. As much fun as it is to lay in my cozy bed while watching Friday Night Lights, I started to put Him first in my leisure (a.k.a. lazy) time. It has been so rewarding. My days lately have become far more fulfilling and productive. So I challenge you! What efforts are you making to put Him before anything else? What might you have to put lower on your list so God can come first? 

Picture Source

Getting High

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4

Well, what about when we are hurting, God? What about when the test and challenges seem like too much? What happens when we feel like giving up?

The first time I can ever remember my heart truly being broken was when my Poppie passed away. I had never experienced someone so close to me die. It all happened so suddenly; I remember the phone call I got from my mom when she informed me of the tragedy and all I could say was “No no no, I love him. This can’t happen.” I can still feel that perpetual gut-twisting moment when I thought about how he would never get to be the preacher at my wedding (as we always dreamed about together) or how he would never see me graduate high school.

The second time I ever had my heart-broken was not too much longer after that. It was my freshman year of high school, after the break-up with my first real boyfriend. I was soOoOoo in love and so head over heels with this boy and truly thought I was going to marry him. He was the first boy to ever shower me with love and affection and gifts and kind words. I was devastated when things did not end up working out. No matter what I did and no matter how much I begged him to take me back, he was gone. I felt completely and utterly out of control. He had moved on to the next better, prettier, and smarter girl and I was just “me.”

At this point in my life, I was unable to see past all of this. I chose to go down a completely destructive path trying to numb the deep pain that came along with rejection and loss. I soon realized that if you numb something long enough, it becomes cold- and that is exactly what my heart did. I made myself numb to feelings and emotions and intimacy. Instead of living life the way it is supposed to be lived, with zest and spontaneity, I lived it through boys, alcohol, and shallow friendships. I was constantly searching for something that would get my mind off of whatever hardship life threw at me or whatever sadness I felt. Eventually, I built a tolerance to these worldly highs and was left in a dark, cold, and scary place. Nothing could get me that good feeling anymore; I was emotionally exhausted. 

So many people can relate to the inner distress that comes with having their heart-broken. Whether it is a traumatic experience, the end of a long-term relationship, or the death of a loved one, not one person is exempt from the pains of this world. When your heart is broken, you have two options- you can choose to take the worldly, destructive path that brings temporary satisfaction or you can choose to take a different path. I want to tell you about the different path a recently took that really did help me be “okay”.

Heartbreak is inevitable. Recently, I rediscovered that painful feeling once again. Yes- the nausea because you physically can not eat, the anxiety that consumes your daily life and the exhausting thoughts constantly running through your head. I understand it from the core of my being because if you are anything like me, you feel things DEEPLY. When I love, I love hard and when I hurt, I hurt even harder. But something in me told me that I can not take that path that I did in high school. I can’t go to that dark, cold, and scary place again. I needed to do something different. I needed to FEEL better- physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

SOOOOOOO….

I ran to Jesus. Not only did I run, but I full on sprinted. During college, I truly found my relationship with Christ, but still felt some uncertainty when it came to trusting Him with all of my being. All I knew is at this point, I had to hand everything over to Him. I spent my days and nights in prayer, the Word, and in Christian fellowship. I asked Him to HELP me trust Him because it was hard. I prayed for Him to give me strength and peace and let me tell you… He was SO faithful.

There is no place so desolate that we cannot find Him there.

So after being vulnerable with you guys and gals, I want to tell you the ways I sprinted to Him in case you literally have no idea how to (because at one point I didn’t either). God works! He is the only one who can fully heal a heart and transform your mind.

  1. I started my very own War Room. I wrote down the desires of my heart. I wrote down comforting scripture. I wrote down long, deep prayers. I hung up pictures of people I needed to pray for during this time. I did this all in my closet (just like the movie war room:) and that became my place of comfort. I would sit in there all hours of the night just talking to God.
  2. I asked God to HELP me trust him fully. I never understood how someone just “trusts” God 100%. That was always a hard concept for me because I can’t physically see Him. So I asked! And once again…He was faithful.
  3. Open up. I love to bottle up my feelings and pretend like they don’t exist half the time. I have a bad problem of living in denial. Find someone to open up to and be completely honest with them. For me, that was my mom. Her and Christ became my ultimate safe space.
  4. Acknowledge God multiple times a day. Whisper to Him thankfulness. Sing to Him his goodness. Meditate on His sovereignty.
  5. Stay in the Word. It gave me instructions on how to make it through the days where I thought I couldn’t. Start in Romans! I found so much comfort reading this.
  6. Surround yourself with people who bring you joy! Even if you don’t feel like it… do something with someone. Don’t be alone with your thoughts too much. It is so easy for the Devil to speak lies into your head and heart if you are not constantly guarding them. Which brings me to the next point…
  7. Don’t let the Devil steal your joy. The Devil is real people. He is out for YOU and he is out for ME. I verbally tell the Devil that he can not have my peace, my joy, or my life.
  8. annnnnnd last but not least- God doesn’t offer a “quick fix” for the healing and restoration of our hearts. He offers us peace and comfort- but that does not make the heartbreak go away. He transforms us during this time. He builds our character, prepares our hearts, and builds our trust. When we feel weak and want to take the “easy” way out, remember that we are only hurting ourselves in doing so. He wants to make us stronger and we need to let Him.

REAL QUICK let me tell you about this miracle I had during this experience! At one point, when my anxiety was so bad it felt like I could hardly breath and move, I got on my knees. I prayed and begged for Him to take it away because it was so debilitating. And in that moment, I physically felt the anxiety leave me. LITERALLY, from my tips of my toes to the top of my head…gone. Now tell me that isn’t a full on miracle. I FELT it. That verified all over again what a personal and loving God He is.

Thanks for letting me share and be REAL with ya’ll! Hope you learned a little something and I encourage everyone to be more vulnerable to themselves, others, and Christ!

Check out my sweet, sweet friend Jenny’s blog for more love on this topic

Galatians 5:1

xoxo

Jet Lag

Don’t be scared to walk alone. Don’t be scared to like it. There’s no time that you must be home, so sleep where your darkness falls.

Dream your dreams but don’t pretend
Be friends with what you are
Give your heart then change your mind – 
John Mayer 

Is there any comparable feeling to knowing your suitcase is packed and you are about to travel 9,000 miles away? Planning out my next adventures (or where I am going to eat) is a natural high for me. I live for the moments when I can say “Yes, I have been there!” or “I am going there soon!”

I was blessed with the awe-inspiring opportunity to travel abroad this past month to the two most alluring countries in the world: Australia and New Zealand.

When I was accepted into the discover abroad program at the University of Georgia (after waiting months for someone to drop out because the program was so popular), the same adrenaline rush that comes from going down the first hill of a roller coaster hit me without warning. The lessons I was about to learn, friends I was going to make, and the mistakes that were bound to happen were dangling in front of me… I just wanted that day to be here already. I wanted so badly to step on the airplane that would make the experience feel real.

Like others, I was not thinking about the potential hardships that would come from traveling abroad. I was not thinking about the fact that my phone and wallet might get stolen or that one of my friend’s passports would fall into a river while bungy jumping. Nevertheless, lessons have to be learned one way or another so why not have them while swimming in one of the most beautiful places in the world such as the Great Barrier Reef?? I would like to share what I learned about myself while studying abroad, for I truly believe the moments I experienced were transformative.

Learning to Get Lost in the Moment:

After my phone was stolen, this lesson hit me in the face like a brick. Not only could I not use my phone to look down at during awkward situations, but I could not take the pictures and videos I wanted to. After anxiety filled days and restless nights, I had to learn to let go. I learned to breath in the fresh air a little deeper and immerse myself in the natural landscape of the land or the beautiful man-made architectures. I was urged to journal more about my experiences, such as star gazing in Canarvon Gorge and swimming with wild Dusky Dolphins in Kaikoura, rather than staring through a camera lens so much. I was able to notice different aspects of people that I never would have noticed if I was looking down at my phone every other minute.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1244.
Kaikoura, New Zealand

Building Confidence:

The hardest part about losing my identity (basically) was that my parents were 9,000 miles away. There was limited cell service to sort this out with my parents on the phone. They were not readily available to comfort me or to offer immediate answers on how to fix the situation. After realizing that everything I lost is replaceable and that I was still alive, my perspective changed. I cherished the short Facebook video chats I got with my family or the sweet emails telling me how much they missed me. They were confident that I could overcome this; their energy poured into me. Without the security of a credit card or cell-phone, I had to place my trust in God as my father-figure in a way I had never experienced before. He was not going to let me fall. I was here for a reason. If that’s not a confidence booster, I don’t know what is.

Not Everyone Thinks Like Me…. and That’s a Good Thing.

Fortunately, this program provided one-on-one time with the local people of each area. Hearing how they choose to live their lives was fascinating- it is so different than in the United States. I often got asked the question: “Why didn’t you take a gap year?” (the second most frequent question I got asked was how I felt about Donald Trump…..). This was something that never even crossed my mind…it’s not what’s expected of us. The expectations are different and it makes me question how our own assumptions are shaped. Learning to respect people’s ideas and perspectives by listening and absorbing their words helped me understand why I personally value certain things. Even if I do not agree, I feel like my stance is constantly becoming more and more well-rounded.

Taking Chances

Oh boy did I take some chances…..like jumping out of a plane 12,000 feet in the sky??When a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is presented to me, I learned to take it (this cures fomo pretty nicely) Do everything you can. Feeling brave and empowered can only help people in the long run. I am not scared to go out of my comfort zone anymore…I already took the first step.The experiences we have while were young help shape who we will become (I don’t know about you, but I wanna be a really freaking awesome person). I want be able to say “Yep! I’ve done that!” to everything….well, almost everything. So, despite what your parents told you, if your friend jumps off a bridge, YOU DO IT TOO (aka bungy jumping).

DCIM100GOPROG0052479.
Queenstown, New Zealand

Humbleness

Without the help of my parents, graduation money, generous donations and prayer, this would not have been possible. My parents have provided me with an amazing life that I never fully appreciated until I went overseas without them. I hope to be able to provide the same experiences for my future family as well. I am so blessed to have people that miss me when I’m away and people I can’t wait to come home to. Travelling makes my time at home or school more fulfilling. I appreciate my friends, memory foam mattress, and good Mexican food a little more.

And Yes, You do Start to go Crazy After 48 Hours Without Sleep. It’s OK, you’ll Eventually Get Used To It.

 

Resfeber (n.)

the nervous feeling before undertaking a journey; the restless race of a traveler’s heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together. 

 

By the way… watch my short YouTube video that sums up  my trip quite nicely. Not pictured is swimming with dolphins in freezing water (and some people witnessing a sperm whale), seeing sharks while scuba diving, 500 cows wandering in the middle of the road, getting kicked out of a restaurant for falling asleep, and a huge New Zealand sheep farm.

I hope whoever reads this is inspired to GO. Become the best storyteller ever.

A Letter to My Mission Team

When I first heard that there was a mission trip going to Haiti over spring break, I could feel it in my veins that I NEEDED to go on this trip. I do not exactly remember my motives for deciding I wanted to go on this trip, however. It could have been anything from getting to travel (which is a passion of mine), spending time with my sorority sisters, being able to play with kids, etc. Whatever my thought process was, I was pumped. The mission trip was put on by Chi Alpha, which is a christian organization on my college campus. I had met several people who were active here and even went on a super fun retreat with them before. I just knew that this trip was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Weeks before the trip, I started to prepare my heart. I wanted so badly to make a difference in Haiti. However, the more I tried to get my heart ready, the more doubtful I became of going on this trip. Everything seemed to not be in my favor: I was not raising enough money, I was getting very ill, I had very little details about the trip (which made me nervous), the Zika virus was coming out with reports that it was spreading more and more, Facebook posts went viral about “why mission trips to Haiti are not making a difference” and so on and so forth. What was worse was other people were getting sick and doubtful as well, which fueled the anxiety I was already having. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, was telling me that I should not go on this trip. I was scared.

I buried these feelings I was having and went anyways. I was still excited, I was just very nervous. I did not bring my fears and my worries to God like I should have. Instead, I just let them consume me… like the Devil wanted. Looking back, it all makes sense. The Devil hates this. He hates when people share the love of Jesus. He hates when people are getting their hearts ready for God’s great plan. He prowls and he attacks. He has no limits. Ephesians 6:11-12 says that we need to put on the whole armor of God…we do not know the schemes of the devil…and that we wrestle against the spiritual forces of evil. I can only thank God that I still decided to go, because let me tell you.. This trip was out-of-this-world and life-changing. But… I am not writing this to tell you about the trip. I am writing this about my mission trip team.

This team is silly. There is no other words to describe them. They are constantly laughing, constantly smiling, constantly joyful. On the outside, they seem nothing but goofy. I had only had recreational encounters with most of this team and thought that this was the only side of them they had. I even questioned how this trip was even going to mean anything because I truly thought they did not have a serious or emotional side. I mean.. I was always good at reading people, I MUST be right. But man, I was SO wrong.

I first want to talk about the men on this trip. Although the men were highly outnumbered by the girls on this trip, it was impossible not to constantly feel their presence. They were the one’s who set the tone for each day. Their energy spread like wildfires; when they were laughing, we were laughing, when they were quiet, we were quiet, when they became vulnerable, we become vulnerable. I saw a side of each one of these men I had never before seen in my life. The stories and testimonies that they shared were powerful and relatable; they longed to tell what Christ had done in their lives. They were not ashamed of their pasts- they were only thankful that God saved them. They were prayer warriors. They were constantly brought to their knees, constantly praising God with their bodies, constantly encouraging and uplifting others. They were the first to be outside every morning spending quiet time with the Lord. They were the first to help unpack bags, carry huge water bottles, hold open doors, let the women eat first, and to set up and break down. They treated all of the ladies with kindness and gentleness, always respecting our own vulnerabilities, strengths and weaknesses, and emotions. The Holy Spirit ran rampant within them; I could see it in their faces and hearts everyday. Thank you boys, for being leaders and examples of God-fearing men on this trip.

Now, my fellow ladies. It is impossible for me to generalize all of you. Each one of you all are so different, so unique, and so beautiful in your own ways. From worship and bible study leaders, to pageant girls, to prayer warriors, to the adventurers, to the jokesters, to the soft-spoken, to sorority girls, to the opinionative. If I had one word to sum up the women on this trip it would be “teacher.” There was not one woman on this trip I did not learn immensely from. These girls love with boldness. They are eager to listen, eager to share hard stories, eager to learn from others, eager to offer affirmation, eager to defend, eager to support, and eager to invest. A common goal of all of these girls was striving for better relationships. Multiple conversations came up where they wanted to connect with God and others more deeply. They wanted to love and be loved deeper. They embraced the people of Haiti with open arms, with adoration and acceptance. They connected with the Haitians despite the language barrier. They did not let anything stand in their way. These girls were DEPENDENT on God. They had experienced things in their life that they can only turn to Him to heal. They were more than willing to repent of their sins so they could be filled denser with the Holy Spirit. Some spoke quiet, intense prayers and others spoke bold and inspiring prayers. They talked about their hopes and dreams with such passion that made me excited for my own future. We had future women in ministry, mothers, doctors, engineers, service women, and so much more- all of these to further His kingdom. I have never felt so close to a group of girls more quickly. I will forever remember staying up late talking about the events of the day, being extremely silly, protecting ourselves from bugs via extreme bug nets, having rap battles, eating so many cheetos my stomach would burst (literally), singing together, praying together, and sharing our testimonies. I feel free and liberated because of each and every one of you girls lives and have so much love for you all. Thank you for serving the Lord and teaching me to trust in Him without any hesitation. Thank you for taking the road less travelled even when it means hardships. Thank you for not conforming to what the world wants you to be and being a light to so many other girls who are struggling everyday to choose between right and wrong. You ladies are so special, so beautiful, and so wonderful.

So here’s a little word to the Devil- you lost! God has won. Never will you win this battle. “…and if our God is with us, then what could stand against?” Nothing can stand against the men and women of God. Our God had a way of bringing completely different people together who compliment each other  Everyone on this trip was so unique and so different, there is no other way to describe it. We were each a puzzle piece, a different size, shape, and form, yet we fit together to create this beautiful, perfect picture that depicts what God wanted to happen on this trip so elegantly. God’s hand was with us the whole time- there is no doubt about that. I can only wait and see how God uses his people to further his righteous and divine Kingdom. I am ecstatic to see what the future holds.

 

Shout out to the team: Alia, Hallie, Bailee, Charles, Chris, Daniel, Gabby, Haley, Jeanne, Josh, Kaliya, Kandice, Kayla, Kelsie, Megan, Meghan, Michael, Rachel, Ryan (gimp), Carli, Stephen (with us in spirit), Sydney, and Taylor.

I want to say a special, special thanks to a few people: Gary for leading us, Russ for doing basically everything, Gabby for being a light, Carli and Charles for being bold in their testimonies, Kayla for being an awesome Bible story teller, Jeff and Suzanne and for being our parents for the week, the cooks for the incredible food, the bus driver for keeping us safe, and the wonderful people who let us stay in their homes.

When God Wrecks Your World

God has completely wrecked my world. My comfortable, perfect little world. He has absolutely turned it upside down in a way my heart feels like it can not handle. To say I feel completely out of control is an understatement. The countless tears, anger, and sadness that have swept over me the past couple of days is crippling. When I have the time to just sit with my own thoughts, I tend to cry out to God, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Why are you taking away every good thing from me?” As a human, it has been so HARD understanding what He is doing. It is HARD to understand that He knows exactly what He is doing. It is SCARY not knowing what the future holds. I use to have so much security and comfort, but maybe that was the problem.

Lately, I felt like my life could not have been better. I felt as if things were going so good for me. I was overcoming my fears, trying new things, making accomplishments- anything that was making me feel good about myself. I have been heavily relying on these external factors to give me feelings of worthiness. These things are GREAT, but was I really giving God the glory for these things? Was I even listening to Him as to whether He wanted me to have these things?

…..but if not, He is still good.

 

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:21

 

I did not come into this world deserving of anything. a n y t h i n g. That, to me, is a hard concept to grasp. We are always hearing things in the media about our human rights and what we deserve- but do we really deserve anything? We did not bring a single thing into this world, so what makes us worthy of having anything at all? God’s amazing grace and love allows us to sometimes receive these things if it be God’s will, but we should never take these things for granted. He can take back anything, anytime He wants. He does not take away to be a “mean” or “unjust” God. He has his reasons- and sometimes it is to get our attention.

Sometimes, God takes away the very thing that we thought was bringing us closer to Him. That is how blind we can be. He wants us completely dependent on Him. Not ourselves, not other people- fully and explicitly Him.

God, I am on my knees. I choose to open my eyes to You, where my help is found. God, I need you to heal my heart. I need you and all of your goodness to hold me in the palms of your hands during this new path I am about to take in life.You know the ultimate plan for my life. You know who it will include and who it will not.  I know that You give and You take away and I beg you take away anything in my life that does not steer me towards you. I trust in your promises.

Heal my heart and make it clean

Open up my eyes to the things unseen

Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks yours

Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause

As I walk from earth into eternity