Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I'm a Liebster.

 Here is something a little different:
Sarah from Doodle Pad tagged me with the "Liebster Award" (which I had no idea existed, by the way), and because I'm blowing the dust off the keyboard and rediscovering the world of blogging, I'll be a good sport and cooperate :)

1) Each person must list 11 things about themselves.

2) Answer the 11 questions that the tagger has set for you PLUS you MUST create 11 questions of your own for the 11 people you will nominate with this award.

3) Choose up to 11 bloggers linking them to your post.

4) Go to their page and inform them of the nomination.

5) Absolutely NO tag backs (no awarding who awarded you).

6) Remember to ONLY award bloggers with less than 200 followers

11 facts regarding me, myself and I:
1. Jesus Christ is more important to me than anything else on this earth. My greatest desire is to know Him intimately and become more like Him. He has given me salvation and to my great joy, He is willing to take my life's broken mess and turn it into something beautiful. 
2. I would rather do hard labor (preferably outside) than anything involving sitting at a desk. It makes my brain feel better.
3.  I find myself tripping over my own idea of perfectionism all the time, instead of looking to Christ for His righteousness. This is one of my greatest weaknesses. 
4. I love adventure and will go out of my way to find it. A flat tire, getting lost in the woods, falling on my face, and getting bucked off of a horse all sound like exciting activities :) Please note: depending on the situation, my attitude is not always this optimistic. I'm speaking in general here, people. 
5. My attitude is at it's worst when I find myself with nothing to do. 
6. Horses are my happy place!
7. Listening to music is one of my favorite pastimes, but I have very limited musical abilities.
8. I'm terrible at making small talk, and it irritates me. 
10. I like mixer games. Actually, I like group games of any kind...
11. I have strange dreams, and find myself trying to figure them out all throughout the day.
9. (I just realized that I missed 9) I don't have a normal, but then again, who does?
12. Insects don't bother me, but I'm terrified of mice.
(How many of these do I have to do again?)

Alright, here are my answers to Sarah's questions: 

(these are really great questions, by the way!)
1. Why do you blog?
 My prayer is that through blogging I can encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ, share the gospel with those that do not know Jesus personally, and ultimately to glorify my Lord. The purpose of this blog is to give you a taste of what God has placed on my heart as He continues to teach me more about Himself.
2. Do you like pickles? 
What kind of pickles? As far as I know, I haven't met one that I don't like.
3. Are you afraid of heights? 
Not usually. But you won't find me any closer to the edge of a cliff than necessary. 
4. If you were guaranteed a position in any job/career, what would you want it to be?
Working at an espresso stand :) 
5. What would you value most in a spouse? (this is hard!)
My husband needs to love Jesus more than anyone or anything else, including me. An eternal perspective is something I would really value. I want him to be unattached to this world, with a strong desire for ministry. On a more specific note, I would really appreciate a husband that is encouraging. 
6. Would you rather go bungee jumping, clean a pig's pen, or eat a jalepeno?
I would rather eat a jalepeno
7. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
I don't have a favorite... But if I had to answer right now I would say something with chocolate and peanut butter.
8. Have you ever seen a shooting star?
9. What is your favorite camp memory? Or campING memory?
I have WAAAAAY too many camp memories. One of my favorites was singing while washing dishes and having a soap suds war. In the midst of our battle Miss Krissy, the leader of the dish crew, walked around the corner and we all froze. She looked like she was going to scold us, but pulled out her camera instead :) I have some great memories praying and singing praises with my brothers and sisters in Christ as well. *sigh* I love camp!
10. What is the coolest (as in unique or interesting, not temperature) place you've ever been?
Indonesia. Hands down.
1. Heels or flats? Flipflops or boots?
Flats. Boots (better for horseback riding). 

Here are the nominated bloggers (sorry, I don't know too many other bloggers):
Olivia and Abigail
Kati Shiloh
Autumn Rose

And here are my questions for the nominees:
1. If you had one day completely free of obligations and responsibilities, how would you spend your time?
2. What is your greatest fear?
3. What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
4. If you had the opportunity to meet anyone you wanted to, who would it be? (living or deceased)
5. What is the most exciting thing that's happened to you in the past year?
6. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
7. Do you enjoy traveling? 
8. What are you most passionate about?
9. What is your biggest pet peeve?
10. What is something that puzzles you?
11. What is your favorite song?

That was a lot harder than I thought it would be....

P.s. Go look up what "liebster" means :) I did!

Unbelievable. (part three)

I still can't believe it.

It's been 60 days since I returned home. Two whole months. 

I can't believe it's over. I have been brought to tears many times during the past few weeks as I've reflected on all that God showed me through my trip to Indonesia. 

I've mailed my final letter to my support team.
I've given my presentation and showed pictures.
I've told story, after story, after story.

This trip is over, but I still find my thoughts drifting back to the heat, the smell, and the taste of Indonesia. I can still close my eyes and picture the kids of Sekolah Gracia and Abigail gathered around us, meeting us for the first time. I still remember what it felt like to work in ministry beside my team, a group of people that were strangers a year ago, but I now call family.

Maybe you're sick of hearing about Indonesia, but I have to write just one more time. 
Please forgive my scattered thoughts, I have many things running through my mind right now.

I am in awe. 

God wanted me to go. 

I can now say that with complete confidence. 

I went through my notes, pictures, and journal, and finally packed up my keepsakes. Memories flashed through my mind. I was reminded of the reason I went on this trip.

This trip was not about a cultural experience.
This trip was not about work projects, or teaching English.
This trip was not about making new friends.

Do you want to know the reason behind this trip? 

Two thousand years ago there was a man that died to take the punishment for my sin. He wasn't just an ordinary man. He was the Son of the living God.
God chose to come to this broken earth as a man, so that He could buy us back from the slavery of sin.
God created us, He knows us inside and out. He knows every deep dark secret we try to hide. He knows every thought, every word, every action. Every evil in the world is laid out before Him. He sees it.

When we visited the garbage dump community in Jakarta I caught a glimpse of the true awfulness of sin. This world is corrupt.  It's been corrupted by us! The image bearers of God! The ones that He formed, and breathed the breath of life into! We are the ones that rebelled against our Creator. We chose filth over royalty. 
And yet His love for us is so great that in order to satisfy His righteous justice, He became our perfect sacrifice. He chose to bridge the gap between us and Himself, so that He could fellowship with us.

I have been washed by the blood of Jesus. I am innocent of my sin because He has said of me, "Not Guilty". The wrath of God was poured out on His own Son so that He could call me His child. 

It's as if God asked: "Do you want to know how much I love you?"

There is no greater way that He could have demonstrated His love for us.

When you realize the incredible truth of the good news of Jesus Christ, you will have a burning desire to serve the One that has redeemed you. 

The reason that 11 people from the United States invested themselves in a trip to Indonesia is because we want to serve Jesus, and in doing so, become more like Him. We love Him, because He loved us first. There is an incredible need for the gospel to be shared. There is an incredible need for the love of Jesus to be demonstrated.

For a King that has laid down His life in order to call us His own, shouldn't we be willing to do anything, and to go anywhere to show our love for Him? 

A year ago, I would have told you that I planned to spend the summer of 2012 at home with my family. A year ago, I would have told you that I was too busy to add anything else to my to-do list. A year ago, I didn't know God had something else in mind. 

He chose to use Youth Missions International to send a team to Jakarta, Indonesia. He chose to use Ken and Linda Wakefield as the leaders of Team Indo. He carefully selected each member, and prepared our hearts for the things He wanted to teach us. He chose Sekolah Gracia and Abigail as our two main ministry sites, and worked out all the complicated details for us to impact, and be impacted by the people there.
God was the mastermind behind my trip to Indonesia. Every last detail had His fingerprints on it. 

This trip was just a short chapter in the unfolding story of all God has planned for me. He could have chosen to teach me about Himself through a summer spent at home, but He didn't. Instead He chose to take me all the way to Indonesia to amaze me with His love. 

I can't believe all the ways He's blessed me. He has proved His faithfulness and goodness to me all year long. Looking back at how God provided for me, and brought me to the place I needed to be in order to go on this trip leaves me short of breath. He is so awesome. I am so unworthy of His love! Praise God! He's not finished with me yet! One day I will be completed!

Will you surrender your life to the King of Kings? He will take you on an unbelievable adventure in order to make you more like His Son. 

Does that seem impossible?

God is not limited. 

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." 

-Philippians 1:6

Team Indonesia found an elephant :)

The creation pantomime at Sekolah Gracia

Quakdidllioso at Sekolah Gracia

Smile :)

Learning how to lay cement...

Duck Duck goose at the school :)


Braiding friendship bracelets at Abigail

Dishes at Abigail!

Peeling paint!

Painting :)

Swimming with Abigail
Team Indo
(Forget About Me I Love You)

Do you want to hear more about Indonesia?
Read the trip updates from my team leaders: Here
Read stories from one of the members of Team Indo (Ali): Here
Contact me for any of the following:
The journal I kept during the trip
A video recording of my presentation and slideshow (stories and pictures)
My support letters (recording God's faithfulness)
More information about Youth Missions International

Friday, May 4, 2012

Unbelievable. (part two)

"45 days."

45 days until I pack my luggage. 
45 days until my team meets at the launch point. 
45 days until I leave for Indonesia. 

Where has the time gone?

The excitement on my team is building as we continue to pray and prepare for what God has in store for us. We are amazed by His love as He trains us each personally through the situations of everyday life. He is so good to us! 

I was incredibly blessed to have spent a weekend with Team Indonesia in Oregon at the home of our team leaders, Ken and Linda. The time of fellowship was wonderful. We spent time in prayer together and being fed from the word of God. We got to know each other as we prepared our ministry tools and learned more specific details about what it will be like to stay in Indonesia for 3 weeks. I also got to hear about how the rest of my team has been doing with their preparation. It was VERY encouraging. FOUR members of Team Indonesia (out of nine) have raised 100% of their funds. (YAY!) We'll purchase plane tickets soon. 

My faith continues to be tested and strengthened through this experience. I wish I could tell you all the ways God is using this to change my heart, but I don't think I could put it all into words. Besides, I'm still learning

Here's one that I will share:

Trust God.

That is so easy to say! And so not easy to do. 

When I say trust God, I don't just mean not worrying. I mean complete and total reliance on Him to provide for my every need and fulfill His purposes for me.

That's huge! 

I had foot surgery on April 5th and have been on crutches for almost 4 weeks. If you know me, you know that I hate being limited. Recovering from foot surgery is very limiting. I knew that God was going to use this experience to teach me more about Himself, but I had no idea just how much He would teach me! 

I realized how incredibly weak I am. 

Not a fun realization. 

Not only am I weak physically, but I am weak in every other area as well.  I do not have strength in and of myself. My strength comes from Christ alone, and that's a good thing! He is infinitely stronger than I am.
desperately need Him! Everyday, every moment of my life. I need His provision. I need His love. I need His word. I need His strength. I need Jesus. 

Why do I buy into the lie that I am self-sufficient? I'm NOT. 

One of the biggest reasons I signed up for this trip is because I knew that it would stretch my comfort zone. I knew that it would force me to rely on God instead of myself. 

Even though I haven't left the country yet God has already been asking me to trust Him in ways that are surprisingly hard. I never thought I had a problem with trust, until my trust in His sovereignty was tested

Here are just a few of the "hard" ways that God has called me to step out in faith:

  • My team: The fact that trusting God when it came to my team was hard for me, was very unexpected. I enjoy fellowship with other believers! But I don't enjoy being honestly vulnerable. And I have been very vulnerable with my team. They met me the day that my Grandma died and gave me their support while I grieved, and they served me during the team get-together when I was on crutches. I have been learning to trust God through my brothers and sisters in Christ. I keep being reminded that He demonstrates His love and care through them, and that's it's ok to be vulnerable. It's ok to rely on my team. 
  • Finances: I made a commitment when I applied for this trip to trust God to provide for my financial needs. When I was considering a trip with YMI my biggest hesitation was finances. Looking back, the greatest way God encouraged me and told me that this trip is really something He has planned for me, was through financial donations. They poured in. 
  • My Schedule: With a lot on my plate already, I was afraid of not being able to complete YMI assignments. I was afraid that even if I completed the assignments other areas of my everyday life would be neglected. I've had to (and still am having to) trust that God has my day planner, and He knows exactly how He wants me to spend my time. If I'm not able to do something then I have to trust that God has other plans for my time. My job is to serve Him faithfully no matter what. He is in control. 
  • My foot surgery: This is a big one. The reason that I had the surgery done now was because of the trip to Indonesia. I need to be able to serve without slowing my team down. I knew before I had the surgery that my recovery time might very well extend right up to our departure-but it can't extend beyond our departure or I won't be able to go! Right now I am trusting that God is going to heal my foot completely so I can work in Indonesia without hindrance. This has been a huge test. I am very tempted to worry about whether or not I'll be able to go, but God is faithful and I am trusting Him. 

Those are just a few ways, but God has a perfect record. He is always faithful, even if I don't understand His ways. I am excited to see Him provide! He isn't finished stretching, training, and teaching me yet! 

God is using this trip to Indonesia to mold me to become more like Himself. That's incredible! My Creator want's to change me to become more like Him. 

He is teaching me brand new things about Himself and I'm amazed by who He is. 

He is so good. 




"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

(Philippians 4:6-7)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him
and he will make straight your paths.
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
(Proverbs 30:5)

And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
(Psalm 9:10)

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
(Psalm 13:5)

But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand
(Psalm 31:14-15)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Unbelievable. (part one)

"Can you believe it?"

Have you ever found yourself in a situation that you simply couldn't believe?

That's where I am right now. 

Sitting at the computer with my fingers resting on the keyboard, trying to figure out exactly what I should say to describe the past few months to you. 

Let me start at the beginning. 

Last October I attended a ministry conference with some of the people in my church. It was a one day conference with a wide selection of workshops to choose from. About half-way through the day I started to feel lousy. I knew I was getting sick. With three out of four workshops finished I was ready to call it quits and go curl up in the car and wait for everyone else. 
But instead, I began wandering the halls of a huge, unfamiliar church looking for my next workshop selection. 
I couldn't find it. I guess I'm not too great at reading maps. Anyways, everyone else was already where they needed to be and I knew that I needed to figure something out or I would look really dumb walking into class late (I have my pride to think of, after all). So, I made a bee-line for the nearest door and found a seat in the back of the room.

I ended up in a workshop from a ministry called Youth Missions International (YMI). A ministry that sent young adults (teens and college students) on short term mission trips all over the world. The workshop was an introduction to the ministry as well as 2012 trip opportunities.

"Oh great." I thought. 
I just wasted my last workshop on something that I can't even use!

Within the first ten minutes of the workshop I decided two things:

1. It would not be possible (for various reasons) for me to join a team and go on a short term missions trip during the summer of 2012.
2. Even if it was possible, I didn't want to go with an organization I knew nothing about. I'd rather go visit a missionary I already knew, with people I was already acquainted with (like my Youth Group).


Have you ever tried to limit God?

For the remainder of the workshop I had an internal argument discussion with God.

"I've been away from home two summers in a row! I can't commit another summer to being gone. I need to spend this summer at home." 

"Three thousand dollars is a lot of money. Not that You couldn't do it, Lord...But with the economy the way it is... Is it worth it for such a short mission trip?"

"I'm too busy to spend the next six months preparing for a trip, and completing required assignments. My plate is already too full!"

"My parents are not going to let me do this."

"I don't want to go."

In all honesty, I have no clue why I was so opposed to the idea of going on a mission trip with YMI. In fact, that's a little out of character for me. For two years now I have had the idea of going on a short term mission trip in my head. I did want to go on one eventually. But I had no intention of seeking one out at the time. 

By the end of the workshop I had come to these two conclusions:

1. Youth Missions International did look like a good ministry.
2. I would mention it to my parents and see what their reaction was.

When I stood up to leave I didn't talk to anyone from YMI nor did I take any of their materials with me, I just left. I figured I might look up their website later, depending on what my parents thought.

During the 3 minute walk back to the main auditorium God began to open my mind and heart to allowing Him to tell me what to do. 

God is so gracious. 

I did get sick that night and was in bed for four days trying to get well so I could resume my life. 
And I did mention YMI to my parents. They told me to get as much information as I could and to pray about it. They also told me that no, they weren't too crazy about the idea.

I did look up YMI's website. 
And I prayed. 
My parents looked it up.
And they prayed.
I presented it to my church family. 
And they prayed. 

A little over a week later, I found myself filling out an application to join a YMI team for a 2012 mission trip. 
Two days later, I was accepted. The only details I had were that my trip location would be somewhere in Asia, the financial need was around $3,300, and I would be working with children. I would meet my team and learn more details at the 5-day training camp I was required to attend. 

6 days passed quickly. 
But on Tuesday, the day before the training camp, my Grandma Ruth, who had been living with us for three years, was admitted to the emergency room.
3am Wednesday morning, the day I was to leave for the training camp, 
she passed away. ("It's unexpected")

I remember sitting in my Grandma's room at 6am, staring at the wall. Reeling from the death of a woman that I dearly loved.  In 10 hours I was supposed to leave for a mission trip training. All I could think was, 
"God, I can't go to this training. I need to be here right now with my family. I can't do this."

I had to make a decision. 

The Lord ministered to me throughout the day, and made it clear that I needed to go to the training. He wanted me there. So that evening I found myself in a group of strangers, mentally exhausted and emotionally raw, with fresh grief hiding just below the surface. 

The training was amazing. I met my team; an incredible group of 10 young people that burned with a passion to serve Jesus and a desire to be molded into His image. I also met my team leaders, a married couple that expressed the love of Christ so clearly that it impacted me in ways I can't describe. It was exactly what I needed. Jesus continued to speak to my heart all throughout week. It was definitely a time of stretching. Someone once told me that you have to be stretched in order to grow, and you have to step outside your comfort zone to be stretched. (That would involve being uncomfortable!)

We ditched our comfort zones within the first 24 hours of training camp.

I learned a lot about cultural differences, functioning as a team, sharing the gospel,  and falling more in love with my Savior. And that's just the beginning. Needless to say, I was totally unprepared for what God did that week. 


Have you ever tried to limit God to a level of predictability?

He is so awesome!

It's been months since the training. 
Between school, church activities, and life, I've been preparing for a mission trip and growing closer to Jesus every step of the way. 

I will be gone again this summer, but my summer belongs to God. However He chooses to use it, is fine with me.
Finances? Last night I received my final contribution. My funds are currently at $3,300, even though the fund-raising schedule set by YMI says I should expect to have only $1,650 by now. Money is not a problem for my Creator. 
Those assignments I was worried about? God has provided for every detail and helped me meet every deadline. 
And my parents? They're my biggest supporters.

Best of all, God has encouraged me and given me an abundance of joy! I'm excited! 

I'm going to Indonesia this summer! Can you believe it?

How cool is that?


"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
-Acts 1:8
(YMI's cornerstone verse)

NOTE: If you would like more information on my trip, and the process the Lord has been leading me through please comment below and let me know! I send out updates via mail or email every month.