Tuesday, October 30, 2012

hope and a future

for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

what powerful and carefully chosen words! i feel like they were set aside specifically for me right now. of course they were, because every little detail is in God's plan! the reason i am thinking about this is because i am trying to figure out which mission trip will be my first! i cannot wait and i know that this coming year is going to be the first of many that God uses me to shed His light on darkness and give His hope to the hopeless! this is what i am supposed to do, i can feel it.

now the question is where do i start?! Avery is going on a trip to Nicaragua in March (not with highlands) and i may join her on that, i will pray about it and decide after i get more information from her about it--right now i pretty much know only that it is happening, haha.

i hear people say all the time how our government is so worried about other nations while we have colossal problems here at home. i'm split between that. even our homeless are better off than some in third world countries. but with both of these things comes responsibility and anointing. starting locally, i pray that the things that you read here will stir your heart and encourage you and know that there are things you can do that don't cost money or travel costs! how much easier does it get than that? every first and third saturday our dream center holds events in birmingham that anyone can help with, even kids. that stopped me for a long time, because i didn't know what i would do with kinley all day. the good news is a lot of events have your kiddos help too! and their sweet and sassy selves will surely brighten someone's day. :) you can read more about my local intentions in my second post. i also plan to go on a mission trip to atlanta, where there is another dream center, before taking on any out-of-country-mission.

now to the meat of it: i have narrowed my mission trip for next summer to either Afirica (Ghana) or Guatemala (San Cristobal). i have A LOT of praying to do to figure out which one is the right place to go! they are both similar missions, working in schools, with kids, spreading God's word, church planting, leadership training. although i have no doubt that i will come out changed for the better from either one. i already know almost a year in advance that God is going to move like never before through everyone involved! the trip to Ghana is much more costly, at a little less than $3,000. Guatemala is only $1,300. i plan to put in most of the money myself and hopefully will receive donations and lots of blessings as well. that leaves me with about 4-5 months to save up. i am going to be living as minimally as possible (except getting the couple of things on my importance for happiness list in previous post), no more buying lots of clothes i don't need, or nail polish or house decorations for a big house i don't and won't have to fill up with STUFF. i'm sure by now that you are seeing these different things tying together (i hope) just as i have seen my thoughts, past and future intertwining and starting to make sense to me.

 i am just so grateful that i am only 24 and know God has a great plan for me to live out in His name! i am trying not to worry about the money, because once i know the right choice it will all work out. here's how i know:

"and my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:19

my prayer for you is that you are shaken and moved to do for others as Jesus has done for us! WE have the same in us as in Him! it is a reality that if we only show up and help with earthly things and don't build relationships, show love and the spiritual, then nothing is gained! serving our Lord and others should be done to meet a physical need and show God's undying and forgiving love through our actions. amen, end preach. :)

grace

i'm finally learning not to question
no one but you knows your intention
my God you are good
my God you are great
for you i should
for you i will wait
quiet, alone, covered in your grace
seeking you in my secret place
you know no bounds
for the edge of your glory
you're the beginning and all ending
Lord you're our whole story
when i pray and want to question
i remember you know your intention
my God you are good
my God you are great
for you i should
for you i will wait
quiet, alone, covered in your grace
God i'm running to my secret place
for you i'll go, so it's you i'll know
for you i'll wait, because you are grace
Lord i'll run, i'll run to my secret place
thank God i've found your saving grace
 
now someone teach me to play the guitar so that i can put a little tune behind this. ;) 

after going through a VERY trying time in my life over the past few month, and being saved by the grace of God in the midst of it, my relationship with Him has become very strong. i rest in the peace of knowing that He will love me no matter my past-when you turn your life over, you are redeemed and have a new chance to be the person you were created to be. i hope everyone can feel this at some point in their life! even when you feel convicted, know that is is out of love, not disappointment-He just loves us and wants a righteous life for us! my problems are no longer mine and it's not about how big my problems are, but how BIG my God is and that He will give me the knowledge and tools to make it through anything that comes my way and every test which with i'm faced. it's the most comforting and reassuring feeling i've known and one you can get from NO human! 

i think we all wonder sometimes why we have been faced with the challenges we have been given-past and present. well, first, know that you are not given anything you cannot handle. i have realized that everything we experience is mean to help. meant to help us in the future, meant to help us gain strength, meant to help us learn to lean on our Lord and no one else, meant to help others, meant to help tell our story, and in my experience, meant to help realize what a life and heart changer our God is.

i have found my mind occasionally wandering to a place that wonders how some people were so lucky to have given their life to Jesus so early: 12 years old, 15 years, and so on. why couldn't i have been one of those kids that loved Jesus nonstop and wanted to live for Him? why was i living for myself and even though i wanted to help others, never seemed to get anywhere? but now i see that God's timing is spotless and He is faithful. some people are lucky to find Him at 60 years old, and He loves us all just the same and is only glad we came home. if you don't feel like you are walking into His arms, into his safehouse, you may want to try a different road, because there is so much more love, possibility, mercy, opportunity and grace to be had!



Sunday, October 28, 2012

letting go

WOW, what an emotionally and physically exhilarating and exhausting day! i had a rough start this morning, but God totally turned my day around and i ended on the best note possible! has anyone ever told you to just "let it go"? of course they have! unfortunately, as we all know, it's a lot easier said than done! but the peace i have come to know, just realizing that God has my back 24/7, takes so much weight off my shoulders. it's almost like i feel as though i've run a 5k everyday through prayer, just talking to him and seeing answered prayers. what an awesome God to have that WANTS you to lay your burdens on him?! even psychiatrists just want to encourage you to fix your own problems... God already HAS the answers and He will surely give them to you if you just ASK and listen with your whole heart! Psalm 66:10-12 speaks to me. He tests us, he wants us to remain faithful even through the hardest times, and i totally faced that this morning. but then? then he brings us to a place of joy, freedom, peace, abundance, overflow, love. He is love.

so this afternoon after church, it was like the Lord was just speaking straight to me. taking the morning's emotional "let it go" and turned it into a physical "let it go". my room was a mess (i'm not afraid to admit that... i have been busy as a bee lately, which leaves little room for laundry! let's be real here), and all the clutter of things that i don't need were starting to get to me (see previous post about excess STUFF). i knew right then and there i had to go through everything i own personally and get rid of the things i don't use. now, i don't have much stuff in the first place... that's just a minimalist's mentality, however i still managed to donate multiple bags of things to the lovelady center and threw away a bunch of junk too. it felt awesome! i feel like that is what i needed to do to just continue to nudge at the things that i'm called to do. and if you haven't noticed, those things don't involve places that you can have very many belongings. you've got to hold yourself accountable my friends.

as for my evening, well, that was the best part of the day! i went to dream team 401, and went to dream center training. it wasn't very training-like, but more of an explanation of your options and an opportunity to talk to the leaders and get contact info on how to get everything set up. everything went great, and the minute i walked in the room, i already KNEW i had chosen the right path. meaning i have been praying daily about this for the past month, so... like i said, God had my back. :)

i got set up with the mentoring group, which is at one of the inner city schools in birmingham. i will be having lunch with a 4th grade girl every other week and i am honestly overjoyed! these children are not fortunate enough to have many, if any, positive role models in their life. i can't wait to hear details of her day and let me tell you, i don't know her yet, but i am already praying for my match, and i know my God has great things in store for both of us, and my babygirl Kinley. we can take our student to church, motion nights, movies, and really anything else we'd like to. this is honestly like a dream come true for me, and this has been in my heart for a long time. i have no doubt that this little girl will teach me just as much, if not more, than i can teach her.

another REALLY exciting thing in the works is that we (another woman i met and her niece... and probably some others i'm already recruiting) are going to start a dance class at the dream center! these kids sometimes can't afford luxuries (yes, they really are) like sports and so what better way to show them God's love than to just hang out, encourage with God's word and relationships and fun?! i think my journey may have been less of a beaten path  if i had someone like that who never gave up on me and just wanted to show me how much God loves you and that you really can do all things through Him, including dance! i truly feel that this is so much larger than Julie's idea or my encouragement and support. at dinner after 401, i got to share my excitement with my friends, and i'm so stoked that they were just about as happy for me as i was! so thankful for encouragement and accountability.

before i have to tape my eyes open, i leave you with this. let it go. give it away. give it to God. he already knows what you're thinking anyway.

Psalm 66:16-20
Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; His praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me!

now, what does that mean you ask? here's what i see:
pray what you mean and mean what you pray.

Friday, October 26, 2012

necessity versus excess

so here i go... i am going to let the cat out of the bag and post my first blog here! i have been blogging since the days of AIM profiles, livejournal, myspace, xanga, tweeting since '09, all the way to the facebook of now, but this is a new venture for me. i finally have a vision of how i want to live out my days and this is the starting point. i have always thought that people have too much "stuff". i am a minimalist (in a loose sense of the word--i still like to keep items of importance and i love DIYing crafts and such). everyone in my family appears to have hoarding run in their blood, and it drives me nuts! i mean it... everyone. they collect things, have mismatching things (and not in the cute eclectic way), just let things sit around and take up space. to each their own, of course, but i think that is what has driven me to constantly purge my things that have had no use for a determined amount of time. now it's not to say i haven't gotten rid of something and then days or weeks later said "MAN, i knew i shouldn't have gotten rid of that. i've done it a bunch! but fortunately, it's yet to be detrimental!

so i digress... i want to lay it out for myself. a question i have been asking myself a lot lately. 

what do i really NEED in life? here is what i've come up with:
-air-obvious
-the mercy and grace of God-He sent his only son sacrificially to die for OUR sins. who else could love me more than that?
-my daughter-my sweet baby, who at almost five, is not so much a baby anymore
-food and water to consume-obvious, again
-a place to sleep and be protected from the various elements of nature-i guess technically i could be homeless, but...
-friends that will encourage and hold me accountable-you can't do it on your own
-a source of income-no matter how much we dislike it, we need some form of our currency to purchase things we need
-shoes and clothing-thanks to adam and eve frolicking in the garden

here are the only additional tangible things i can truly think of that assist in my happiness:
-computer and phone-to stay easily connected to my family and friends long distance, news, all of my books (got rid of all my paperbacks except for my bible.. sad day.. not), hulu and netflix-since i have no intention of getting cable 
-camera-i find magic in the ability to freeze a moment in time and be able to look back and be reminded of all of the details
-makeup and hair products-well, i am a girl and i like to feel pretty and confident and have fun doing it
-my vehicle-there is something so calming to me about jumping in my car and going for a drive with the music on. revives my soul
ta-da! the end.

so looking at this list that i can name off in about 3 minutes, WHY do we as americans hoard so much junk? we live way beyond our means. not to say that people don't work hard for what they have, i know, i have done so. lately i have realized that we work so many hours a week to buy all these things, but we can't buy time or experiences with the people that mean the most to us. most of us also work somewhere that has nothing to do with any of our passions. it saddens me, really. 

i have been saved by the grace of my God and i am truly trying to follow my calling. i have been interested in the tiny house movement for a while and have finally made the decision that i will eventually quit my 8-5 day job to pursue building MY very own tiny home for my daughter and myself. i feel like i have a calling to go on mission trips and i feel like my heart is simply going to melt into them. but i would like a place to call my own and have a returning point. it is also very exciting that should i have the notion to move, i could pretty much do so on a whim. it's magical. wanderlust.

My photo
meet me somewhere between reality and all we ever dreamed, United States