Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Everyday annoyances. We all have them. Either they are things that happen daily that are completely out of our control, or perhaps it's something that someone else does. We all have them. Little moments that can drive us completely bonkers! And during the Holiday season, these annoyances seem to occur even more often, and to make it worse, they are 100 times more annoying! And to top it off these "issues" seem to bother us on a whole different level.
This could be because we are being pulled in 10 different directions from the moment we wake up to the second we finally drift off into a Christmas filled sleep. Or possibly all the "quality time" we're getting with our loved ones is putting us on edge. The list of reasons goes on. We tend to get frustrated, lash out at others, or hide behind a cheery smile until we can yell at an unsuspecting family member. It is, after all the "most wonderful time of the year".

However, the way in which we react  and handle the extra stress is completely up to us. Paul started out each of his letters with "Grace and Peace to you". Paul is saying no matter what is going on when you receive this letter, may God's grace wash over you and His peace fill you. No matter how stressed you are because your to do list is longer than your done list, Peace to you. Jesus told His disciples, "my peace I give you".... Jesus know these men were going to face some really hard and trying times. Jesus however, knew the peace that comes from His father. He knew that this peace could calm any fear or anxiety.

So right now during the Christmas season, remember God's peace. Remember that this is not a season just to get through, or a time to make every moment perfect. But it is a season to feel God's peace in new and refreshing ways. Know the peace of the father who calms the seas and keeps nature in it's beautiful rhythm. Merry Christmas friends! And may you find time to rest and truly enjoy the season!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A heavy post

Thanksgiving is merely 2 days away. Dang that snuck up quick! I don't know that I'm ready for the Holiday's. Maybe it's the internal struggle over the whole "what's next" issue, or could be the change in weather. Whatever it is, I can say with confidence that I'm in a bit of a funk! While I should be looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with my family, it's not all that exciting to me. There is so much to look forward to, and yet I could probably spend my four day weekend sleeping and watching movies and come away completely ok with it. But why? It's this place that I feel completely stuck in.

There is no motivation, and over all I feel stuck. Knowing that the Lord has great plans gives hope, and knowing that nothing can take me from His hand helps to lighten the heaviness. Jesus Hold me!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

To write a Love Story

I recently have enjoyed watching the movie 'Kate and Leopold'. In case you've never seen it, it's a movie starring Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman. Leopold (Hugh Jackman) is from the 1800's and through some bizarre circumstances, is brought to present day (2003ish) New York City. He meets and falls in love with Kate.... Now that you're caught up ;)...

This movie really isn't a normal type for me. It's a little too mushy lovey dovey, and is not anything that I would normally pick. But there is an aspect to the movie I enjoy! It shows a romance. A gentleman (Leopold)  pursues the woman he has become captivated by (Kate). This raises in me the desire to pursued by the man God has set aside for me. But it makes me think about how over romanticized our society is.

Men and women watch movies, t.v., read books and magazines that all portray this idea of love that we've come to long for. We desire this idea of love that is portrayed through "whirlwind romances", "love at first sight", "love conquers all". We see these stories played out and we want it! We want that perfect moment with the right words,  precise lighting, and the ideal mate. We begin to make up checklists for our future mates. These lists only lead to brokenness, unmet expectations, and calloused hearts.

By creating our own lists and ideas of what love should look like, we create a story that can never be written. We're setting ourselves up for heart ache. By setting up standards according to the world and according to our own heart's there is absolutely no one who will measure up. And we can't expect them to.  But by measuring them by God's standards, we have the potential to find someone worth investing in.

Also, what we realize is that when we allow God to be our guide and matchmaker we will find someone to spend our lives with. It won't be perfect, and it won't always be easy, but it will be designed and focused on Christ. This relationship will be one of great strength that will become a marriage of spiritual richness. God will surprise us. It's a crazy ride and allowing God to write our stories all along the way will take us on a journeys unimaginable.

Personally, this is the kind of romance I want. A romance and relationship so focused on Christ that the journey is a beautiful picture of Christ's love for the church. And man do I look forward to that kind of love!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

An honest look at Halloween Candy

Well, as you know tomorrow is the big day. The day that kids look forward almost as much as they do Christmas. Halloween! A night to dress up in costumes and beg your neighbors for candy. Now Halloween just happens to be one of my very favorite days of the year. Basically I just love to dress up, but the candy is great too! There are so many candies that come out just around this time of year. Candy corn, pumpkin shaped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Giant bags of assorted candy... Ok so really the normal candy just turns into something bigger and Halloween shaped. But what it really comes down to, is what kind of candy you get at Halloween.

You see, about a week ago, I was in the store and the couple behind me in line put quite a few bags of quality candy on the belt. Almond Joy's, Hershey's, Laffy Taffy, Snickers.... All the stuff that makes walking the streets in pre-winter temperatures worth it. Those are the houses that make your trek a valuable one. But there are some candies that make you wonder why you even bothered. You know the ones I'm talking about. The off brand, tastes kind of like real candy, but really leaves you completely unsatisfied. There are three main categories of these candies

Chocolates: This covers anything from bars to candy shell covered pieces. The off brand usually feels like and tastes like wax. The biggest offender: Sixlets they're supposed to be a competitor for M&M's but don't even come close. The only thing Sixlets are good for are to launch them through a straw at a sibling or unsuspecting passerby...

Chewy Candies: Whether it be taffy that takes you 3 hours to chew, or the gummy worms that you break a tooth on, you must beware of the offbrand chewy candies. The real problem here is you either feel like you're eating pure sugar, or you end up chewing on tree sap.

Waxy candy: I'm not talking about waxy tasting or feeling, I'm talking about straight up wax. Wax lips, bottles filled with colored water, or anything made out of wax is not an appropriate alternative to candy. Nobody wants to be searching through their bag of goods only to find wax. You can't eat it, and nobody wants to trade with you for something better so really wax items are a total fail!

So to those of you passing out candy this year, please make wise choices in your candy selections. You don't want to be labeled as "that house" ya know the one that each year the kids say "oh no it's the house with the horrible candy"And then you run the risk of being egged or toilet papered for years to come. Besides once your labeled, the only way to redeem yourself is if you pass out full sized candy bars.

Have a safe and super fun Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Love Blinders~ A lesson in Hope

I'm wondering if I am walking around with love blinders on? Do I not see what is really going on, am I not actually seeing the truth? Am I so blinded? I feel like at this place in my life, I choose to see the good in a situation and in a person. But yet I am not blind to the bad and the possibilities of failure. Ok that just sounded confusing even to me as I'm writing it...

What I'm trying to get at, is am I so wrapped up in the hope that I have for a person that I am failing to see the wrong and the past? I know there is better, I know that this person can do better, and yet I know their past. But there is a burning hope inside of me that this time it will change. What if it doesn't? What if I'm left looking like a fool for defending a putting my trust in them? I keep going back to 1Corinthians 13:4-7... I know this is used a million times at every wedding ever and there are thousands of sermons preached on it every Sunday, but I think it deserves a good look....

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 "4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

I underlined a couple of points that really stick out to me... 
"It keeps no record of wrong"- We all mess up, in fact I'm probably the biggest screw up of all. But what does this mean for those of us who are called to love? I'm called to love ALL. Dang do I fail miserably at that! But what does it mean to keep no record of wrongs? Do we just love blindly and not learn from the past?? I think we are to learn from the past but still believe the best for the future because that is what Jesus does and we are called to love like Jesus.... 

"Always hopes, always perseveres"- Dang!! ALWAYS hopes... I think this is where my problem is right now. I am hoping for the best. But how often do we actually put hope in a person? (well except when their name is Hope) ;)

Hope: to expect with confidence

Hmm... So if we are always hoping for the best in a person, then we are expecting with confidence that the good is going to come. So am I being blinded by my love, or am I merely living out the call to love? 
I wish I had some insight, or word of encouragement, but I don't. I'm wrestling with this. Why? Well because this is a new road for me. God is teaching me to trust in others, and to love them wholly. With this comes the idea that we are called to place hope in others. We are to believe in them.... Even when they fail, so what you stand behind them, love them and continue to hope the best for them... 

Huh... A lot to process... 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pressed, not crushed

One of the greatest pieces of advice my dad ever gave me was "life just isn't fair sometimes". Why is this such a great piece of advice? Well because it's true!! Life just isn't fair. There are times when we are treated unjustly, trampled by our circumstances, and pressed to our breaking point. People let us down, accuse us, and make us feel inferior. While this is so unfortunate, it is something we have to deal with because we live in a fallen and broken world. The enemy is constantly on the prowl and seeking to destroy us, and we are in a fight for our lives against him. Paul said
 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." ~Ephesians 6:12   

And because this evil is present here on earth, it has the capability to hold people captive. It's through others that we experience the most oppression and pain. And all too often it's the people who are close to us, the ones we place trust in that hurt us the most. It stinks, plain and simple!! But there is hope! 

When you commit to follow Jesus with your whole life, you have someone who goes into these battles for you! You have the power to rebuke Satan and his attacks on you with the name of Jesus!! Woah!! And when you feel like you're at the point where you can't take anymore, remember what Paul said to the Corinthians 

"We are pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Yeah life might have you in the final round it seems like the knock out is coming at any moment. But you have the life of Jesus in you! The most powerful name in all the universe, the name that can heal the sick, raise the dead, and drive out demons is the name that has given you life! So dangit reach out and use that power! Stand up against the enemy and break free from the bondage he has you in. Granted there will be more to breaking free than just this simple step, but ya know what, it takes you stepping up and boldly declaring freedom in the name of Jesus! 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Silly conversations

I enjoy silly conversations. The kind when there are lots of giggles, and friendly teasing. These are the conversations that you stay up late with your girlfriends, and talk about everything! Especially when we start talking about boys... Oh man. But I love what these conversations turn into. 

We go from surface topics and end up in deep discussions about Christ. The idea of who God is, and His calling and will in our lives becomes a late night topic. We fight the onset of sleep, for the sake of our conversation. There comes a point when we begin to talk about our big dreams, and what we're excited to see God do. Of course there are fits of laughter, and moments when the giggling takes over. But it always slips right back into the moments of seriousness as we share our hearts with one another. 

This is another one of the reasons I am so in love with my savior! I believe that being able to enjoy the company of those He placed in our lives, and being able to laugh over silly things brings Him joy. But I believe that God delights in it when we bring Him into our conversations. When we take our dreaming and allow Him to direct it, the bigger the dreams become! The higher the heights we begin to try to climb. And when we make God the center of our conversations, they become beautiful life giving moments. 

So maybe, it's time for us to have more silly conversations! Maybe we need to allow the Spirit of God to lead us into fits of giggles. Then, we need to allow those conversations to turn to Jesus! And through these conversations, we can fall more in love with who Jesus is! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Out of Ashes

I believe that we like to be safe. In fact I know this! We are comfortable when we know that our lives are in a safe place, whether it be physically, financially, or emotionally. We don't like to step out of this place very often, and for those that do, there comes a great amount of criticism. We hate taking risks, unfortunately, this has leaked over into our view of Christ. If we keep God in a "safe" place, and at  a "safe" size, then we don't have to risk too much.

Think of it like a fire.We're good with a bonfire. It's contained, we can control it. There is very little risk of someone getting hurt. And when we're done we can put it out. I'm afraid this is what we've reduced God to. We like Him as long as we can keep Him contained. We don't want to allow Him to spread too much or get too big in our lives, because then we'll have to start changing. We'll have to give up things we love in order to make room Him.

For Shame!! God is not a bonfire!  No! In fact, I believe God is a wild fire. We fear a wildfire, because it is unpredictable, and we can't control them. They completely change the landscape and leave a path of wreckage and ashes. And when we look at it, that is all we see. But if we were to give it time, there will be something beautiful. The aftermath of a fire gives a chance for regrowth. A chance for beauty to rise out of the ashes. God will do the same with us. He will take what we see as destruction and wreckage, and He will make us beautiful.

Why do we continue to play it safe? We should be praying for Him to wreck us. We should be praying for God to reduce us to ashes! Paul rejoiced in the suffering, he was glad when trouble came and when God wrecked his life. This wasn't because he was a crazy man. (although by all means he totally was) But he rejoiced because this breaking brought glory to God. Paul was a shining example of God's glory in the wreckage. We are to be a display for the beauty and glory of God. But we've got to stop reducing God to a stinkin' bonfire! He is a wildfire, and all consuming, forest wrecking, life changing fire! It's up to us to recognize it, and then let Him have His way!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Have I not commanded you?

Joshua heard the voice of the Lord say to him "Be strong and courageous." And because, he clung to those words, Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land. Then when faced with opposition, Joshua repeated these words to the Isrealites. "Be strong and courageous" With these words, he offered encouragement, and direction.

Knowing that God's words are life and knowing that He cares for us is a breath of Hope. It's what sustains us when the storms we face seem too big. When the boat you're in is being tossed back and forth and you don't know if you can hold on any longer. The reassuring words of Christ, when hidden in our hearts, can be the thing that keeps us calm in the midst of the storm.

"Be Strong and Courageous"

God is good, He is present, and because of Him, there will be peace in the midst of the storm!

'Joshua said to them "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.'~ Joshua 10:25

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I am learning the importance of community. While in Africa, I was constantly around people. We ate together, prayed together, shared a room (well separate rooms for the genders), and even brushed our teeth together! We were constantly in each others space, asking questions, checking up on each other, sharing victories, and burdens. So you can imagine my sadness when I came home and was no longer surrounded by a community. I slept in a room by myself and woke up to an empty house... No Fun!

I missed the family atmosphere, being constantly surrounded. Which if you knew me before, this is a huge change! I used to cherish my alone time, I had one night a week set aside just for me. Now don't get me wrong, I still cherish alone time, but man do I miss community. To remedy this, I have been spending time with some friends of mine. Here I get the family atmosphere. Trying to figure out what community looks like outside of that is the hard part. How do we make this work in a society that is individualistic and motivated by the desire to make their lives better?

In Acts 2 it talks about how the believers met together daily, they ate together. They shared everything. Everyone's needs were met. The focus was on community. Now even though I don't have an answer to my dilemma, I think it can start by focusing outward. Focusing on the people around us. Learning how to become the Acts 2 Church. My prayer is that we can learn to live in complete community, looking out for each other, caring for each other.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I have to say that I really admire Paul. His writings are honest and straight to the point. Every time he wrote to one of the churches, he had no problem telling them what was up, but he always followed it up with encouragement on how to live. Having just celebrated my 27th birthday, I have learned, that daily I could use this kind of correcting and encouraging.

You have to understand that the last year of my life has been a rough one. I lost a job, experienced major changes, and the hardest of all was losing my dad in April. People and things have been stripped from my life, and there are times when I feel like I'm standing here completely exposed. Losing a job wasn't the worst thing that could happen, even having to give up a nice car and the freedom to spend money as I pleased wasn't that bad. That all paled in comparison to losing my dad. When I lost my dad, I lost my best friend, and my biggest cheerleader. The pain of that loss still aches from time to time. But through it all God has been teaching me! He has been growing me and molding me into the woman He wants me to be.

Even though it's been a hard year, I did experience something amazing and life changing. I spent two months in South Africa. While there I was challenged, broken, loved on, and completely and utterly changed! Those two months taught me so much, but I feel like the biggest thing I learned, was that God uses EVERYTHING for His Glory! All the pain and hurt, He uses it to show His glory in our lives. When I began looking at the trials of the last year in that light, it made them easier to deal with. It made the fact that life can just plain stink sometimes, and ok thing.

I can't just focus on the bad stuff though. I have been so blessed in the last year. I have made new friends, and met people that have deeply impacted my life. I've learned to enjoy life and be bold! God is good and He blesses us for our obedience! It reminded me over and over again of my favorite verse in the Bible:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 " There is a time for everything; and a season for every activity under heaven."

I know this seems like an odd favorite, but I discovered this verse when I was 12 and have leaned on it ever since. Knowing that in our lives, there is a season for everything brings comfort and peace in the times of trouble. God is good no matter what. And because we serve a good God, our circumstances are for His purpose and His good! Praise God!

So this next season of life may not be what I want it to be, but I will abide in who God is and who he is making me into. Because if my life isn't about Him, then it is not worth living. I want to challenge you to do the same!! View every trial and hard time as an opportunity to grow and bring glory to Christ. Live every day with purpose and joy! Be a light of who God is in you. Be bold, and live and awesome life!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

He calls me Beloved

I want to share the story of a woman I met this summer in Deipsloot. Her name is Shame. I met Shame while I was on ministry with our first team. A couple of the team members and myself had just finished talking to a group  of people, and they were not interested in what we had to say. As we left and began to travel down the road, I noticed a woman following closely behind us. One of the first questions you ask is always "what is your name". When she told me, I had to ask a second time. Now I have heard some pretty crazy names, but I couldn't believe that anyone would ever name their child Shame.

As I began to talk to Shame, she told me the story of how she was given her name. When her father found out that her mother was pregnant with another child, he was not too pleased. He even went as far as leaving her mother for the duration of the pregnancy. When it was time for their baby girl to be born, her father was to choose the name. He chose Shame, because he was ashamed to have yet another daughter, especially one he didn't want.

My heart broke for Shame. I was able to share the love of Jesus with her. I explained to her that God did not create us to live in embarrassment and disgrace because of who the world tells us we are. But that He has a plan and purpose for each of us. That God does not want us to be ashamed of ourselves, and that He doesn't regret or hate her, despite her father's disapproval.

Shame gave her life to Christ that day, and I believe that she began to understand the redeeming love of a God who gave His most prized possession, so that she could experience the love of a father who is not angry, and ashamed of her. If I could go back and talk with Shame again, I would share with her the importance of a name. I would tell her that I don't believe that God looks at her and does not see a woman named Shame anymore, but He sees His beloved.

There are so many of us that are living in a place of embarrassment because of our past. Because of the things we've done and the ways we've royally messed up our lives. We're hiding in corners behind cheerful smiles, and a list of activities. We mask our insecurities with accomplishments, awards, and and entourage of acquaintances. We don't get close to others, and we never let others see us frustrated or angry, we never go out in our pajamas. We have taken on the name Shame, we wear it on a name badge and hope that no one at the party will talk to us. We're afraid to speak up because of who we've become. It's a sad and numbing existence. We no longer enjoy life, we just hope to make it through the days without making too much commotion and without drawing too much attention.

Why do we live this way? Why do we allow ourselves to be beaten down by the enemy and believe the lie that we aren't good enough? Jesus gave His life so that we could live in Freedom, not in captivity. He gave His life to give us a new name. He calls us Beloved.

This has become my favorite name. To know that the creator of the universe calls me His Beloved.... Wow that blows my mind! If He looks past my mistakes and mess-ups, then why do I still live in embarrassment from them? If Jesus accepts me for who I am, then why do I keep trying to change to please those around me? My creator calls me His Beloved! God has been showing me the last couple of days what it looks like to be His Beloved. He has been speaking to me about being joyful, and living in peace. But it was while I was reading in Isaiah 54 that He really got my attention. I want to encourage you to read the scripture below and ask God to reveal His heart for you.

"Do not be afraid; You will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth, and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your maker is your husband- the Lord almighty is his name- the Holy one of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth." ~ Isaiah 54:4&5

 Friend, you are His beloved. He does not want you to live in the shame of your past, He wants you to dance in the joy of His love for you. The Lord is your Husband. Dwell on that concept for a moment. God has made a life long commitment to stand by your side no matter what. He loves you despite your bad hair day, your inability to resist sweets, and even your deeper issues. He calls you His Beloved when you fall back into the same old sin, He draws you close when the storms of life have beaten you down. Wow, God almighty Loves you!

You are His Beloved!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Come and rest

I've been home for a week and a half now, and I have been going nonstop! It seems that if there is somewhere to be, I have to be there. If there is someone to talk to, I have to talk to them. This doesn't seem like a problem, until I hit wall. That wall is called exhaustion.

Yesterday, I was so tired and discouraged. All I wanted to do was lay in bed all day. So I did.... I even put off doing my quiet time until later in the day. And in His usual "I'm gonna rock your world" fashion, God showed up! I read in Mark and this is the verse that stuck out to me:

Mark 6:31 ... 'Then Jesus said" Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile."

In another version, it says " Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." We usually miss this verse because it's right before Jesus feeds the five thousand, and we are focused on the BIG miracle Jesus does. But this really stuck out to me. There I was tired and running on almost empty and Jesus is saying "Hey let's spend sometime together! Rest in me. There is this quiet place I want to take you to."

All I had to do was stop for a second and see that He is constantly calling us to go away with Him. To give Him our burdens, cares, and worries. But we resist this. We hold back, because we have "do it ourselves" mentality. We want to be independent, and self sufficient. Our society tells us we need to have it all figured out, the next steps mapped out, and all the answers to the big questions like "What are you plans now?"

That is not how God wants us to live. That is not why He sent his son to this earth.  Isaiah had a lot to say about God's power and his rest for the weary. But this passage really stuck out to me....

' He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall into exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, They will walk and not faint.' ~ Isaiah 40:29-31

I know we've all heard verse 31.... We've heard it in sermons, commencement ceremonies, funerals, devotionals... The list goes on. And I think I may have already used it in a blog posting.... But when we really dive into it, really look at what the context of the verse is saying, there is a whole new world opened to us.

Basically, God is saying, regardless of your age, your stature in life, and no matter where you live, you will get tired.... You will be weak, you will be so exhausted that you won't want to get out of bed. But Trust me for everything!! Wait upon my timing, allow my grace to be sufficient, allow my words to give you hope. Come away with me to a quiet place and rest. Oh Man!! WOW!! Here it is. God is giving us permission to say "I don't know" to the questions about our plans and future. He's giving us an out.

So friends, I don't know where you're at, I don't know what has you tired and worn out, but rest in Christ. Find that quiet place for the two of you and simply rest. Listen to his gentle voice. The one that calls you His beloved, and be strengthened and renewed by it!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Alabaster Jar

"A woman in that town who had lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them."
Luke 7:37&38

The woman in this story is doomed from the very begining. She is called a sinful woman. Society has deemed her an outcast. But there was something that drew her to the feet of Jesus. There was something in who Christ was that attracted this woman who had been beaten down, and thrown aside. Her self worth was probably nonexistant, her confidence at a 0. But yet she knew she needed something, and found that something in Jesus.

This woman's desperation for answers and completion brought her to the feet of a carpenter. Her tears wet his feet and she used her hair to clean them. This in itself was a huge sacrifice. Jesus feet were probably disgusting! He simply wore sandals all day and walked around in dust, mud, and other gross stuff. But yet She didn't care. She found all that she needed in Jesus. Her response was to simply weep at his feet and then give of herself completely to him. Despite her past, she recognized her need for a savior and was willing to lay down her own comforts to serve Christ.

How often do we take our salvation for granted? Do we overlook what Christ has, and can do for us? I know in my own life, I all too often overlook the gift of grace God has given me through His son's sacrifice. I instead focus on my own sins and shortcomings. I am so distracted by the fact that I have messed up, that I completely miss the fact that Jesus died to forgive my mistakes. I don't believe that I'm alone either.

I met a man named Peter in Kya Sands. He had approached the group I was with, and he had clearly been drinking. Peter began to ask us questions about God. He explained that he used to go to church, but can't go anymore because he needs to drink with his friends. He told us that he can't change, and because of that, he can't go to church. We began to explain to Peter that you don't have to change in order to come to Jesus, but that all he's asking is for us to come to Him and then He'll change us. Peter had a really hard time wrapping his head around this concept. When we left him, he was still questioning. But I see a lot of people in Peter.

People who are being kept from a relationship with Christ because they have a hard time accepting grace. We don't have to have it figured out in order for us to come to Jesus. The sinful woman understood this. She didn't have it figured out, her life was still messy and yet she knew she needed Jesus. She came to Him mess and all, wept at His feet, and poured out her life.

We don't necessarily know what happened to the woman after her display of love for Jesus. But she played a pivotal role in the story of Christ. She shows us that even though we're messy and broken, God still wants us. He wants us so badly that He sent his son to die for us so that we could live in the grace given to us so freely! So come to Jesus, he doesn't care about your past, your failures, your shortcomings. He looks at you and sees his beloved child. He doesn't see what you are, He sees who you will become!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Bondage: Slavery or involuntary servitude; the state of being bound by or subject to some external power or control.

This word has been passing through my mind a lot. We're all held bondage to something at one point in our lives. If you're a Christ follower, you were held bondage to sin. But when you committed your life to Christ, He freed you from that sin. But the more we grow in Christ the more we discover that we are held bondage to certain sins and issues. God wants to, and will free us from these issues. I know for me, God has been revealing a sin I have been held bondage to for quite a few years now. I have had to go to places that I didn't realize were present in my life, and deal with things that were hidden deep in my mind. These places were uncomfortable and as much as I hated going there, I didn't go alone. Jesus was there every step of the way.

I met so many people in the squatter camps that were being held bondage by sin, greed, hate, and worst of all religion. When our devotion and worship to God turns into a traditional, emotionless routine, we are in big trouble. The Lord intended our relationship with Him to be fully interactive. All too often, people are being told how to worship, where to worship, and who to worship. I would like to think that this is only happening in the African churches, but it's not. I've been noticing this very dangerous pattern in American churches.

It seems that people in the church are going out of tradition. They show up every Sunday wearing the "proper" clothes, park in the same spot, sit in the same seat. They listen to a nice sermon, and sing the same songs. It's all very routine, but they always feel better about themselves at the end of the hour long services. As long as it's only an hour no longer because everyone has something very important to do. There is a program, a schedule, and if you stray from that program, there will be a price to pay. But what if we're already paying the price because of our need to program and schedule. What if our routine is holding us captive to religion?

When we become routine in our worship of Christ, we are allowing Satan to have a foothold in our lives. Jesus didn't come to place us in a routine or a program, He came to bring us life and salvation. He came to bring Freedom! And if we're so tied up into our traditions and programs, we can't even begin to live for Christ. Jesus himself said " 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,  because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners,  and recovery of sight for the blind, 
to set the oppressed free," Luke 4:18

So why do we allow ourselves to stay in this place of bondage? I believe it has to do with comfort. We don't like to step out of what is comfortable and "safe" in our eyes. We don't like to go to places that make us think or really evaluate ourselves. So completely committing our lives to Jesus is a little bit scary. I'm not just talking about saying the salvation prayer, and then going about with normal life, I'm talking about being completely sold out, on fire 100% in love with Jesus. This kind of life requires sacrifice.... Now there's a scary word... Giving up, laying aside, dying to your flesh.... Hmm no wonder we shy away from a true relationship with Christ. No wonder we're ok with the routine of Christianity. Because once we really start diving into the Word of God, and we allow Him to start changing us, it gets personal and it gets tough. But that comes with the territory right?

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come"- 2 Corinthians 5:17 

Oh man... What a deep verse.... The moment we come to Christ, we are a new creation. We are at that moment to begin laying down our old lives. Our old ways, habits, traditions.... We begin a life long journey of change. One that at times will hurt and be very difficult, but the results will be beautiful and undeniable. It all starts with coming before the Lord and laying down our lives completely. Submitting to His will and allowing Him to break the chains of bondage in our lives. Especially the Chains of religious bondage. My challenge? Fall completely in love with Christ. Find out what it means to live freely in Him! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


July is here and almost done.... Crazy! But that means we have had a lot of awesome ministry that has happened and that is yet to come! God is moving, People are being saved and coming to know the reality of Christ! Yesterday, Micah, Joanna, and I went to meet the latest team to join us in the work that is going on here in South Africa. They are from Tulsa Oklahoma. While we were in the Airport, we went to a little shop.

It was in this shop, that I discovered something that made me absolutely sick to my stomach. There is a company that is making key chain sized voodoo dolls and selling them. There are at least 50 different types of dolls that are supposed to protect/help you with different things. They are clearly marketed to children. I was appalled! Not only are they taking something that is purely demonic, and making it look like a toy, they are spreading this to kids everywhere!!

What is happening to our world? The enemy is on the move, and at times it seems that as Christ followers, we are completely unaware. I'm seeing this more and more by sitting and talking to the people in the squatter camps. We have a lot of work to do, and we need to start NOW NOW!! So today I'm not going to give you a nugget of hope, but a challenge.... What are you doing to spread the word of God? Are you living for Christ, or for yourself? Are you sacreficing your comforts to reach out and tell people about the hope and life that can be offered because of Christ?

We all have excuses, and in fact I am the master of excuses! But Jesus told us to " go into the ALL the world and make disciples" We are to be telling people in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and homes about Jesus. This was the great commission. Which we as Christians have mistaken for the great suggestion.... So what are your excuses? Why aren't you telling people about Christ, living out the life of freedom you've been given through Christ??

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Well, it's been two weeks, but I've been so busy! I am so amazed at how God has been moving in me, and in the communities we've been working in. I've met so many people that have touc\hed me in a deep way. God has used these people to speak to me, and to move me. I don't know that I have time to talk about every single person, and I don't even know who to talk about. But I suppose I could pick one.

Her name is Josephine. She's 26, both of her parents died several years ago, and she is left to raise her younger sisters. She was telling me about how it's so hard sometimes to feel like everyone needs something from you, and you have so little to give. She was already a Christ follower, but I was able to pour into her life and encourage her in her relationship with Christ.

All this time I've been asking God to send me people I can encourage with my story. So when I met a young woman the same age as me with a similar story, I was blown away. But why?? Why do I get so surprised when God answers my prayers and gives me what I'm asking for? I feel like this is a condition of all of our hearts. We pray for direction and when God answers, we get upset because it's not the direction we wanted. We have this idea of what we think our lives should look like, and so when God disrupts that with His plan, we gripe and complain about it. And maybe it's not just the fact that our plans are so different from His, but when He asks us to give stuff up.

The other night, we had a session about missions and giving our lives for the gospel. As I was praying, God showed me that I have no problem giving my life, it's the stuff and people around me I have to be willing to give. He asked me "Nichie will you give your family for the gospel?" Oh man.... That's a deep question! Will I??  I'm working through this right now, knowing that in the end I will, but coming to terms with it now is the challenge.

This makes me wonder what else God wants me to give up for Him? And what about you? What is it that God is asking you to give up to further His kingdom?? Your comforts, your stuff, the people around you??

Yeah think about that for a while... And hopefully you'll be willing to give up on some things to go deeper and further with Chris!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Moments of Brokeness

Well it's day 6 here in South Africa. We have finished our training and the missions teams are going to be here tomorrow! We did Kids Ministry yesterday, and we have done shack to shack ministry in the squatter camps. There are so many people I've met already, that God has broken my heart for. I just wanted to share a little bit of their stories, and what God has done in me because of them.

In the Squatter camp Msawawa (Umshawawa) I met a young girl named Shelter. She was 19 and living with her boyfriend. Shelter was so quiet, and at first came across as shy. The more my team mate and I were talking with her, the more I began to see a young girl who was lacking self confidence. She was hurting, and there was something deeper going on. We shared the gospel with her, and although she didn't make a decision to follow Christ, we did leave her with the fact that God loves her, and thinks she is the most beautiful woman. Please keep praying for Shelter.

The next woman we met was Eunice. She is a Sangoma (witch doctor) in Msawawa. Eunice knows that Jesus is all powerful. In fact she asked us to pray for her granddaughter (who the team had prayed for a month ago). Eunice has already seen the healing power of God and continues to ask for it for this young girl. But Eunice is not ready to give her life to Christ. Because in doing so, she would be giving up all of her other beliefs, and her very lively hood. We are believing that God will change Eunice's heart. Please pray for a transformation of this woman's heart!

Yesterday I met a woman that has wrecked my heart! Her name is Elsie. She came to a couple of us women and asked for prayer. Elsie has not been able to have children and wants so desperately to have a child of her own. I just wanted to throw my arms around her and cry with her. What a sad thing to deal with, wanting to be a mother, but not being able to. I wanted to share my heart with her, and tell her about how I want so bad to be a wife and a mother. And that there are times when I cry out to God for these things. But I know in the very core of my being, that God has a plan and it will be his timing not mine that I'll receive those things. I was able to share a story of a dear friend of mine named Hope. Hope was told she would never be able to have children. She left it in the hands of God and now has two amazing children named Andrew and Aliza! I told Elsie that when we leave our cares and desires in the hands of God, He will bless us. 

I titled this moments of brokenness because that is where I am. God has brought me to a place where my heart is broken not only for my own life circumstance, but also the trials and sadness of the people I have and will be encountering. I think of Nehamiah, and how he sat outside of the city of Jerusalem and wept for it. He was so sad that the city was not following God. He just wept!! 
Nehamiah's heart was broken for the people..... My heart is broken for these people that so desperately need Jesus and need hope. So what is it that has broken your heart? What is it that you find yourself weeping over?? And what are you doing about it??? 

Thank you for the continued prayer and support. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 3 in a foreign land

It's Day three of this awesome journey! So far I can say that the Jet Lag hasn't been too horrible.... But I do believe that has something to do with the Melatonin :). It's Sunday afternoon, and I think we may be heading back to the cottage to chill for the day! I'm pretty excited for that for sure!! We've been training quite a bit, taking in a lot of information, just getting ready to go out and do ministry! Our groups start arriving on Friday!! Woo Hoo!! I don't know that at this moment I have much more to say, so happy Sunday to all of my loved ones State Side!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thoughts on Airports

Well travel day has arrived!! I was up at 4 this morning and on my first flight by 6:30 AM. I still am in a little bit of shock over the fact that it is already June 9th, and I am officially en route to South Africa. This just makes me think about how I've gotten here, and they path I've taken thus far. The fact that just under a year ago, I was on my way to Texas for a mission trip with a group from my church. From Texas we flew to South Africa for the week that changed my life. It was during this time I fell in love with the people of South Africa and knew that I would return... But I honestly didn't think I would be returning so soon.... 

So, now here I sit in the Atlanta Airport, during a 10 hour layover, just waiting. I feel like we spend a lot of our time waiting. We wait to be old enough to drive, and then we wait to turn 21. We wait for traffic, food, moments, events, and answers. Sometimes the waiting is for something exciting, and sometimes we find ourselves waiting for a moment we wish would never come. 

I found myself waiting for one of these moments just two months ago. We were all gathered around my dad's hospital bed watching him take assisted breath after assisted breath. Knowing that the end was coming. Knowing that our lives would never be the same, and we would forever have an empty place in our hearts. Crying out to God in short prayers, I found myself at peace with how God was moving. I knew that He had a plan for that moment in my life. I can't say that I understand completely, but God does and I'm ok with resting in that knowledge.

When I lost my dad, I lost my best friend and my biggest cheerleader. He was so supportive of this journey I am taking now. He encouraged and supported me all along the way, telling me to go for it, and to chase my adventures! I've thought about him a lot this last week. Knowing he'd be so proud of me, and knowing he'd want to be there waiting for me when I come home. And he'd be ok with the waiting, because it's during those moments that we grow the most. He used to tell me to never settle and wait for what God has in store, because what God has in store is better than anything we'll ever settle for.  

And now I'm sitting in an airport waiting on a plane that will take me to Johannesburg. A plane that will deliver me to the biggest and most amazing adventure God has placed before me yet. If I were to just settle for the first plane that came along, I would end up in  Virginia. And while I do love Virginia, that is not my intended destination. But, if I wait the 10 hrs, the right plane will come along, and I will end up where I'm supposed to be. 

I believe that if we aren't willing to wait on God's timing, we have the potential to arrive in the wrong destination. Now don't get me wrong, God will work in all things and will use any place or situation we are in to move. But when we enter into a relationship with Christ, we agree that we need Him. We need Him to direct us and to guide us, to save us from our own paths. So if we have acknowledged that, then why is it that we have such a hard time acknowledging that we need his timing, that we need to wait? We get restless and "bored". We then try to do things on our own and end up in a self-induced mess, crying out to God to save us from the tragedies that are our decisions. And all we had to do was wait. But waiting is so Hard!!!! 

It's pretty clearly outlined in Isaiah 40:31 "Those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength..." I know this is a typical verse, but think about it for a second.... Basically this scripture is saying; those that are willing to stop and rely on God's timing, and place their plans, future, and hopes in Him will be given strength and a renewing of hope to endure and face whatever it is that God will bring their way.... Wow that's deep....  When we wait on Him and obey the Lord, He's not going to leave us hanging. He's going to be there every step of the way and encourage us along the way..... What an awesome God we serve!! 

So today, what are you waiting for? Are you looking forward to this event? Or is it something you wish would never come? Are you waiting on God? And in your waiting, are you leaning into Christ and drawing from Him strength and joy? If yes, then great! If not, then why? 

Enjoy your Thursday!! 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Final Countdown

So I'm officially four days away from getting on a plane that will take me to South Africa. I keep getting questions like "Are you excited?" "Have you started packing yet?" "When do you leave?". To answer these questions
- yessish....
- nope
- June 9th

I'm excited, but I'm also anxious. I really don't want to start packing and not because I don't want to go, but because packing is a big job! Instead I keep finding other things to do and other places to be. I know this is just procrastination at it's best, and I've completely accepted the fact that I will be up pretty late the night before finishing the process. But I am ok with that. I know that regardless of how late I wait to pack, it will get done.

And I may have just realized what my problem is.... Distractions!!! I seriously just forgot what I was doing  because I got distracted by something on my facebook.... It wasn't even all that great, I just happened to lose focus for a minute there. I think though that this is a big problem facing each and every one of us! I know that since I started the whole process that is taking me to South Africa for the summer, there have been so many distractions. Whether it be a huge life change, or something minor, I have gotten distracted so many times along the way.  There are so many times that I've forgotten what my mission and purpose is, and in turn I forgot who God is, and what it is that He has called me to do.

Unfortunately, that is the world we live in. There are so many things that keep us from focusing on God and his purpose for us. But the beauty of this is that God is merciful, and full of Grace. He loves us despite our wandering eyes! He still wants to use us even if we can't always keep our focus.  That is Awesome!!

My hope is that my two months in Africa will help me focus. Help me to truly seek God's purpose and cling to it. And to learn how to keep my focus. I hope that maybe you will go on this journey with me as well. Ask God to help you focus, and to show you what it really looks like to fix your eyes on Him!