Friday, March 11, 2011

Honored and Blessed

I've been horrible about writing this past year...not that I have anyone reading this, but for myself to come back and look at the incredible things God is doing. It seems so much has been happening this past year and specifically this past month and a half that I can't even process enough to get words out to describe it.

I've been learning a lot these past weeks and if I could sum it up it would be that I need to fully grasp hold of who God has created me and head full force into what He has given me the passion to do. To follow my dreams wholeheartedly and trust that I don't need to be fully equipped or all knowing, but just willing and obedient.
I have a lot ahead of me and right now it looks like a daunting Mount Everest, but I am choosing to climb, despite not having all of the tools needed...trusting that as the moment comes God will provide and show me the next steps, leading me so that He may have the glory...not myself.
For years now I have waited, wondering how God was going to connect all these passions and events in my life...feeling called away from moving to a third world country and instead being called to be a bridge...yet left questioning God what that was supposed to look like. In the last year and a half I have done a LOT of waiting. As I've waited I've been blessed with outlets and people to pour myself into but still have had a tug at my heart that "this is not it, keep waiting". Finally last Saturday night I was reading through a book by a dear friend that had some encouraging, but also challenging points that I felt were very directly speaking to me...followed up by our pastor's sermon the next morning....which led me to Sunday evening. I won't let out the news yet...maybe that is me still holding onto the fear that I may not be able to reach this dream/vision...or maybe it's just the excitement and tiny bit of perfectionism in me that wants it to be just right before I spill the beans on it all...I'm not sure. I will tell you this...for the first time ever...it's all making sense and seeming to fit into a puzzle I never would have imagined would fit together. And of course...like always, it is WAY bigger and better than I could have ever imagined it.

I will give you an update on some other things though:
Guatemala was amazing as always. We spent most the trip creating a vision to team with a women's shelter there where they make coffee bean jewelry to sell and help support the women as they begin life again on their own. We have brought the jewelry to the states to start selling from here for them and my dear friend Brittani and I are in the works of pulling that together and starting up. Be watching for our first house party invite...we're going to need as many people there as possible...we have lots to sell...as the women are just waiting to get paid for all the hard work they put into the beautiful jewelry.
I also got to spend some time with THESE incredible people while we were there


Since getting back, oh and fitting in a cruise right after Guatemala it's been a whirlwind of just trying to stay caught up with life, which I feel like I've been failing at miserably, but I'm learning to be ok with not being able to do everything and just do what I can sanely do in a days time and rest knowing that I did my best. It gets kind of crazy juggling the many hats I wear but I'm trying to continue to be the same, consistent person underneath each of those hats.

I have to give a little extra example of what life looks like these days......We went to a dress-rehearsal last night and Charlotte was falling asleep so I was holding her while standing in the back listening as they sang. She was sound asleep curled up in my arms, her little red hair covered head tucked under my chin and I just had this moment of wanting to hold her and never let her grow up. I've had the honor of being in her life since she was a little 5 lb newborn and I feel like time is flying by. Then I look up and see the other three precious girls in front of me, Kate's little arms wrapped around her mom's neck all staring in admiration as their daddy sang and I couldn't help but think "how did I get here?" "how did I, just a small town girl from Colorado, get here?"
I have been so blessed to be able to do what I am doing and have people who support me and encourage me to follow my passions for missions and photography and also allow me to be a part of their children's' lives. But also so honored and blessed to get to serve them as they live out a ministry that can be really tough....to watch as they make themselves vulnerable so that others may be encouraged. I love them so much and I love being a part of their kids every accomplishment, every new skill, every smile, every hug....it makes me wonder how it's possible to love a child more..I'm sure when I have my own kids I'll know what it's like to have an even deeper love, but it's hard to imagine right now. Because as I rock sweet Char to sleep and she has her hand tightly grasped around my necklace and her breathing is a sweet gentle rhythm, I think, there can't be a more precious moment, or when I look out the window to see three beautiful girls swinging on their tree swings, heads thrown back in abandon, wind in their faces...I realize they teach me so much just by living life, I can't learn more from anyone else...the lessons and moments these kids teach me everyday will be carried with me for the rest of my life.
So to sum it up...things have been chaotic, most days I smell like spit-up and peas, and I usually am driving a mini-van around, and when I'm not doing that I'm planning my next out of country adventure or hanging out at youth group watching young people grow and learn....I love every minute of everything that I am doing. I'm loving that God is taking me down a path I didn't necessarily see myself going, I love that He has an even bigger imagination than I do and that a beautiful tapestry is being woven...allowing all of my dreams to pull together to make one incredible, ever changing picture.




Friday, February 4, 2011

Joyful and Content

I guess it's time to make use of the blog again.Bear with me this isn't going to be anything fancy...I'm still pretty sleep deprived.

I had so many mixed emotions coming into this trip....not because I was nervous or scared...I've been to Guatemala a dozen times, but because the weeks leading up to it were...shall we say...insane. Two weeks before I invited one of the youth girls to join me and then a week after that another leader to join....so we then spent those last days trying to get last minute passports, make a schedule (I'm totally a get on the plane and go with no plan), get contact info, and set up hotels. I am soo glad they decided to come though because it has been a blast having people to travel with, especially people who have never been out of the country oh and one who had never been on a plane. It reminds me of that first time excitement I had and I don't want to lose that. I also just went through a thing called FOCUS, Inspired life training at my church...I won't get into all the details but I will say that it wrecks you, brings out everyone's garbage and issues, is the most emotional I have ever been, and pretty much drains every ounce of energy from your body. It's great but it comes with a lot to process...so I was pretty emotionally and physically exhausted.
It wasn't until we were descending into Guatemala and I looked out and saw my beloved Volcanos and beautiful mountains that I felt a weight begin to lift. I'm here to do what I love, here to continue growing the vision I have, here to serve and rest, rest in Him. The joy and contentment with being back just grew with every step...stepping off the plane, getting our bags, finding our ride, breaking out the Spanish (that has been in hibernation for TWO years), driving through the city, getting to my favorite town in the world, Antigua, and then getting to hug my dear dear sweet friend Melissa....and to play with Madi (she was supposed to be sleeping but what are Aunts for? haha) I could not be more joyful or more excited for what this week has to hold. The weight has been lifted...freedom in coming...I'm almost there.
Love you all and will post pictures soon...still need to unpack the camera.
Adios Dios te Bendiga!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

another year

It's been awhile.

I've been meaning to do the whole "New Year" post, reflect over the past 12 months, talk about how amazing this journey has been, yada, yada, yada. Honestly, the journey has been amazing....amazingly hard. There is so much to reflect over that it would take me a two week, shut in a cabin by myself, vacation to reflect and process. God truly has given me a full life, of which I am so undeserving.
I do feel like it is time to give a good update and a slight reflection on this past year (or year and a half...cause it all blurs together).
14 months ago I was living in a new town, new state, trying to make new friends and new connections....working lots of new "glamorous" jobs such as, putting together furniture at 4am in the snow. There were lots of "news" for me. Along with that came lots of "I want to give up" moments. 14 months later...here I sit at my regular Starbucks table nodding a hello to the other regular Starbucks goers writing emails to my new friends and working on some future ideas. All things that 14 months ago I would never have thought I would be doing.
I struggled for almost a year wondering why God had brought me here, why I hadn't been thrown into my dream job, wondering what the plan was going to be. At the same time being so excited to see what it is, because deep down I knew it was nothing that I could come up with. Sure enough it wasn't....not even close to anything I came up with.
So in a nutshell....the last year equals the following:

  • Got new puppies
  • started a job with someone I have admired for a LONG time (yes Angie, I really was a blog follower) a job that didn't make me give up my passion for missions and photography.
  • started working with youth again and be reminded of how much the youth in our society have the potential to change the world
  • moved out of our first (ghetto) apartment into a house
  • full-filled my dream of traveling to Hands & Feet in Haiti...only to fall in love and wait anxiously to get back
  • started the brainstorming process and making connections for a ministry project that has been on my heart
  • Met people I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever meet and then have them bless my socks off
  • and am finally heading back to the country I love so much...Guatemala
....just to name few of things that were included in the year

I am constantly in awe of how God just pieces things together, connects things that should never have connections, nudges me out of my comfort zone so I can discover more passions, forces me to face fears and be the person He created me to be. So this is where I find myself this year....in awe. Waking up everyday having to make the decision to let God use me, to let Him love me, despite my flaws and lack of confidence. So that I am able to experience the incredible adventure and plan He has for my life. I am trying to contain my excitement and not get ahead of myself this year...but to just walk at the pace He wants me to walk, turn the directions he wants me to turn.

That is my reflection on this past year....and my thoughts on the one laid out before me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pray for Madi!



Please keep Madi in your prayers! Melissa has been living in Guatemala, waiting to bring her home for four years! Right now Madi is in the hospital with a ruptured appendix, but cannot receive an operation due to infection and swelling....please pray that the antibiotics would help to fight off the infection so that they can operate. Also pray for her dear parents Scott and Melissa.
More info and ways to donate towards medical costs here: www.prayformadi.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Chaos

I need a sabbatical. Something I have definitely learned about myself in the recent years is my great need for rest. I live and have always lived a highly stressful life, I thrive on stress and pressure. I catch myself so many times though just wanting to pull the car over, turn the radio off and just enjoy the amazing sunset being painted in front of me, or sit on the deck and just listen, or take a hike for the sole purpose of enjoying the beautiful scenery around me. Yet, it is rare that I follow those little pushes inside me to do those things. Most of the time I just take a deep breath and keep on pushing through.
In these past few years I have noticed that I have become more of a people pleaser than I ever thought I would. Back in high school (and most of my H.S. friends would probably vouch for me on this) I was outspoken, stood firm, and didn't let people push me around. I grew up being a very strong-willed kid. Now circumstances and some chiseling from God has broken me down quite a bit, however, I find myself struggling to find a balance between people pleasing and trying to get through my to-do list so as not to let anyone down, and simply standing up for my own time, taking hold of the reins and placing value on myself and my time God gives me.
Anyone else struggle with this or am I alone?
My day to day schedule consists of taking care of kids, trying my best to help raise them the same way their parents are and keep life consistent for them, trying to get photography sessions in so I can pay my rent and then trying to stay caught up (usually costing me my sleep at night) so that people get their pictures on time (which I can never seem to succeed at despite the sleepless nights). Then I spend my other waking moments (usually laying in bed) thinking about what a horrible friend I am because I have not kept up with everyone and I don't have time to call friends who don't live here and everyone must just hate me......
You ever start going down that spiral?
Now I'm not writing this because I have finally found the key or I've finally figured out how to add hours to our days (wouldn't that be nice though?)
I'm just simply writing it...to put it out there...I've turned into a people pleaser...and on the teetering edge of unhealthy people pleaser.
I have so much I want to do with my life, so many dreams and passions. I mean I just got back from Haiti and have so many passions that were once again un-covered and yet I haven't even taken the time to just sit and pray about it...listen to God...hear where He wants to take me. It's like the trip never happened....just get off a plane and jump back into the chaos of real life.
I work and work and work and still barely make bills every month...yet I don't want my life to revolve around that. I want to re-focus. I want to pour into the passions God is allowing me to use...I want to pour into the amazing youth group I am so honored to work with, I want to pour my heart into missions and bring much needed awareness to our society....there is so much I want to do with my life....why am I letting people pleasing and chaotic schedules stop me?? I'm reading a book called Sabbath.....so good and I'm only two chapters in...and it has been a great reminder of one: how much I NEED sabbath time, time just to breathe and re-center my life around Christ and two: how much I know I long for it and thrive on that.
I have several ways I like to take "sabbath" time:
through photography...seeing the beauty of creation through a lens and capturing just a glimpse of it
through journaling....it's incredible to me to go back and read prayers and entries and see how those were answered
through reading...there is so much to be learned
Through conversation with fellow Christians...people who challenge me, speak wisdom and share their stories of how God has worked in their lives
through conversation with God...it's incredible what you can hear when you just stop and listen

So I'd love to hear....how do you make life work? How do you spend your "sabbath" time? How do you balance the chaos of life and not lose track of what's important?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Contrast...beauty and broken

There is no way I can write what I want to write here....for so many reasons. The basics being that the Internet is slow and I should have been asleep long ago.
Getting on to Haiti has been anything but easy...the long hard week leading up to it as well as the actual traveling here was full of obstacles and challenges, but I truly truly believe with all my heart that "something" was not happy about us coming here.
I have prayed numerous times for my reaction to Haiti, because I have heard so many different people come back and say things about it just being completely hopeless or that is literally a Hell on earth. I was so afraid that I would come here and feel that God is not here....as much as I believed He was here I still had that fear that maybe people were right.
I can now say with great confidence that God is here and is very evident in so many different ways.
Our long ride from Port Au Prince brought us through devastation, trash, waste, and rubble....but then you would see the beautiful coast line or the green covered mountains rising above it all...and I kept hearing.."I am here"...there is still beauty. Of course that's not good enough for me because it doesn't take away the devastation....so as I'm taking this in and thinking through it, Greg, our leader is talking about how much they had cleaned up and how different it looks just since he was last here a few months ago...and there was sign number 2. God again just kept saying..."I am here" there is hope.
I believe that there is hope for this country. It may not fully be seen in our lifetime but it is our job to make sure that generations to come may see it. I look into the eyes of these kids and I listen to Michelle talk about raising these kids up to be Christian leaders in this country and I just am amazed at what a different picture I am seeing than what has been described as "Haiti".
I have struggled all summer with the fact that I would be traveling to Haiti and not Guatemala, because as most of you know Guatemala is my heart. I was worried I wouldn't fully experience Haiti because my love for Guatemala is just so strong and so that has been a huge and difficult prayer that I have prayed is that for the first time ever...may Guatemala be pushed aside in my heart and mind for this week so that I would fully experience where I am.
I think that prayer has been answered and lucky for me my heart is big enough for two countries.
So on that note....I am going to go dream of tarantulas, cockroaches and centipedes......

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A changing generation...

So as I sit down to write this my head is spinning with so many lessons needing to be processed. Over the past five years I have been through the roller coaster ups and downs of learning to trust God, learning to let go of all control and leap out in faith. I've moved to new places, states and countries, I've met people who have hurt me and have blessed me, people who have challenged me and spoken unforgettable wisdom into my life. I mean, in just the last couple months my friend and I went from not knowing where we would be living, me not knowing if I would ever get a job that I like....etc....to being given a gorgeous home so that we can open it to hosting village (small group), welcome in guests and well, know that we are safe and, I have been given the best job I could ever imagine (although it was definitely NOT in my plans of what would be "best").
The faith thing has been hard...it's taken a lot of chiseling and molding me out of my grip of control to get me to learn that God's plans are bigger and when I just jump in and let the waves take me where God wants the destination is so much grander than if I had tried to construct my own raft and draw my own map.

But here is where I got smacked in the face......Tonight....by a bunch of young kids. who would have thought....right (look up 1 Tim. 4:12)? I stand back watching these kids come into youth group all hyped up on social energy, talking fast enough to keep up with Alvin and the chipmunks, playing silly youth games like they were about to win the lottery (only the prize is really just a monster energy drink)......they go from facing the stress and pressures of social circles, classes and activities.....then...the worship band picks up their instruments, the room becomes calm, peaceful....and at that moment...I'm not gonna lie...I can't even focus on the songs. I am so caught up watching the atmosphere of the room change into this complete surrender, worship experience. These "kids" are being met right where they're at, with their messy lives and all...and just being with God. It took me back to my youth group days and I longed to have that passion and life back, to see life in a much bigger way. There is something about that age that gives them a huge advantage for making a difference in this world. And if they allow it, if they are open to it...they have such potential for striking the match and fanning a flame in their relationship with God that will change everything in their future. Tonight the message was about our identity and and who we are....how are we identified? Does the identity come from loneliness, family, abuse, looks, friends? Or do we identify ourselves as children of God? It was awesome to see the youth soak up the message and then just let go, put their hands and hearts out and truly let go. They took it and ran with it. They showed surrender to God, true worship and true community as they stood by each other, prayed for each other and worship with each other. Aaron announced that the leader's would be there to pray with them, but what I watched was so much better...high schoolers were puling in the middle schoolers, hugging them and praying for them, guys were on their knees praying together. They were playing their own roles of leadership and community in the most positive of ways. That's what I love about them. They showed me something tonight...I became very good at one aspect of Christianity, the whole walking in faith, trusting God thing as been a main focus for me...but I've become a little stagnant in the whole, just enjoying God, just letting go and being with Him. Aaron hit it right on tonight....we as leaders come to pour into the youth and "work on them", but instead they are working in each one of our lives. Sometimes leaders just need to sit back and watch the action...let them take off and fly.
This is why I love this age....All night I kept thinking of this quote from my favorite book: "It is small enough to ignore and big enough to change your life forever. Life is the sum total of what you do with the moments given you." ~Erwin McManus. My prayer is that they would grasp hold of this feeling, take hold of that moment, that their hearts would continue to be receptive and the curiosity they have would continue to flourish and cause them to seek God with all their hearts.