Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday Morning Musings.

I woke up today and just began banging away at the keyboard. And of course, I feel so passionate about things I have to say at least some of it "out loud". Even if it's just to myself:.......

I want the Church to rise up and see things.  Understand that they really do have the ability to incredibly change this world. That there's power and resources never-ending at their fingertips. That whatever reason they have for feeling unqualified or daunted is not a problem for Him. And that God isn't going to force it on them, but they have to choose it, grab it, and run with it.  He longs to partner with us. To use us for mighty things and simultaneously give us an incredible and wild ride of a life. But we need to awaken to this. We need to get up off the "couches" of the lives we've created for ourselves and walk away.  Walk away from the enticing comforts of this world that are so good and remember the good is often the enemy of the very best. The enemy's stealthy and sneaky way of keeping us from rising up: "It's just a normal life. I'm a good person.. I tithe. I am involved at church.  My kids go to a Private school.  We volunteer in our community. My life doesn't look different than anyone else's!"……

Exactly.  We look like everyone else.  THAT'S THE PROBLEM. How in the world is looking like everyone else going to make any difference in this world?!
We weren't even created for this world.  LET'S STOP LIVING AS IF WE WERE!!!!!! I've been told "But it's not a crime to enjoy life. To live comfortably." No. It's not.  But the thing is we become stagnant. Distracted. And suddenly wake up one day wondering if this is all there will be to our lives. The living comfortably suddenly isn't the most amazing thing anymore.  It's because there's something in us telling us there's supposed to be more than this.

WE were made to be mighty warriors. Part of an army. Daily arising to work for and advocate our kingdom.  With fierce roars of war upon the one who has reeked havoc on this world.  Taking back the piles of ashes the Destroyer has created and watching as Jesus grabs them and creates redemptive beauty out of them. Healing the sick. Ridding disease. Rescuing the unseen and unheard that are trapped. (Yes. WE can do this!  Jesus said Himself that we are SUPPOSED to.  We have just forgotten!) Getting down and dirty in the gutter with the addict. Come on now.  This is a basic Sunday school question: Where would Jesus be today if He was physically walking this Earth.? You know the answer. Let's start looking like it, church.  For the Kingdom's sake. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Here's to ending it!

When I moved to Houston, I thought that perhaps this would be a wonderful year to begin networking with the mega-churches in the area that do a lot of youth ministry, women's ministry, and global missions. I knew Houston was huge and hoped for new ways to get involved in what I pictured my future probably contained. And I can see already that I was so right. And even more wrong.

 Last year I began learning about TheA21 campaign, an organization started by Christine Caine of Hillsong United. And right before I moved, I began her book called Undaunted. It's mainly about fulfilling the calling God has for your life. But part of it is about her journey into the work she does. When-through her words-I met the first group of girls she helped rescue from this modern-day slavery, I had my "Schindler's List" moment. Something shifted within me. Something came awake. Up until that point, I was convinced that working in Africa was going to be the thing I would forever be the most passionate about. I would have never dreamed of caring about anything more. And then this happened.

I learned that there are 27 million people enslaved in human trafficking today.
That every 30 SECONDS another person becomes a victim.

I learned that almost 100,000 children are sold into sex slavery every year in the United States. These statistics can be numbing numbers. But when you think about, read individuals stories, and consider what those numbers mean (180 people every time you watch a movie), I have a difficult time understanding how it doesn't shake you to your core. And the fact is the numbers are rising. This problem has been growing. And yes.  Even right here.

When I moved last month, I had learned all the statistics and was processing this in my heart. A bit shaken. Once I got here my team took me on a prayer tour of the city, something we do when a youth group comes for a missions trip. At that time they informed me that Houston is the #1 city in the U.S. for Human Trafficking because of the I-10 corridor and the Ship Channel. (Many of those trafficked are forced into and locked in shipping containers like sardines.) I was in shock. My roommate proceeded to point out several buildings the next week that are known to be trafficked brothels. And I had a flashback of being in Kenya this summer. There's a particular building next door to one of Agape's properties that for several reasons I'm positive is a trafficked brothel with CHILDREN. It all began sinking in. And I realized something. I have never felt so deeply about anything in my entire life. I can't stop thinking about it all the time. I want to crawl out of my skin it bothers me so badly. I want to scream and shout and stand on every street corner and make every person aware of this. When I pass what I know in my spirit is a brothel, I picture young children and young women-trapped helplessly in those rooms and it takes every ounce of energy in me not to burst through those doors and do something. How can we just pass by? How can we not DO SOMETHING?! NOW! These victims are chained up. Broken. Horribly abused. Crying out for help in their spirit. And unheard. Without hope.

I have to believe that this injustice is something Jesus hates. Something He'd physically be stomping all over if He was walking across earth today. Something He'd be unstoppably active and vocal about. Without apology.
Wait!......... So then........ Why He isn't doing these things now?.....
Why is He allowing this?................ And then it hit me.

 WE are Jesus on Earth. We are called to be His hands and feet.
What does the LORD require of us?
-"To Seek Justice, Love Mercy, and walk Humbly with thy God." Micah 6:8.
-"But don't just listen to God's Word. You must do what it says.
  Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves." James 1:22.
God's Word talks openly and often about seeking justice, taking care of those who can't take care of themselves. Standing up for those who need it. Jesus IS at work. He IS diligently rescuing and redeeming. But only a small percent of those trafficked are rescued. That's inexcusable. And I wonder if perhaps, one of the reasons this hasn't already been stamped out is because not enough people are realizing that Jesus does wait for us. He does want and need us to be Him in this World. Sure. He could handle it on His own. But He CHOOSES to wait for us. He is allowing us the privilege to CHOOSE working for Him and with Him. He is allowing us to take part in what He's doing. He's waiting on us to choose this. What a blessing and honor! To work for the ONE who can't be stopped. To have the ONE who created this Universe on our side as we squash and eliminate the most horrific crime imaginable and the other crimes it ends up entailing. But we need to get going. Get active. The 30 million can't cry out for help. They can't get out. They NEED us. They need Y-O-U. We have the God of all resources on our side. We have each other. If the church came together with all of this truth in the forefront, we would be un-stoppable. I believe it's possible to wipe this out for good. I believe it's up to us. I believe it's up to YOU. You can make a difference. You can.

 I don't yet know what the future contains for me. But I am glad God moved me here where this is huge. I am glad for the year of developing relationships with organizations that are actively rescuing girls here in town and across the globe. And I'm excited for a future that I am convinced will entail working to end this. WE can and WILL be their freedom. I'd love to see you on that journey. I have resources if you're interested.

Monday, November 25, 2013


I've been wrestling with and talking lately about this pressure I constantly sense to have a life plan. My friend works here in Houston for a mega-church as a worship leader. She gets to travel a lot and do some of the coolest things. I'm quite envious of her talent and the job she has. And even she was telling me this week that she's been wondering about it lately. Feeling pressure to move up. Make her way. Have more income & stability. We both agreed that we feel like maybe if we just figure out how to get things good and stable, we would be doing God a favor. And we wondered out loud if even when working for a church there's pressure coming from within to move in that direction with life. Stability. The goal. 

But then my friend said something so simple yet so profound. She was talking about recently really worrying over it. In her words: "I was spending time trippin' over it for a while & then all of a sudden I realized what a waste that is. Because I'm the ONLY one tripping. God's not tripping. It's not as if anything I do to be more stable affects or improves His plan for my life." Yes. Exactly. 

It is a waste. We act like we can improve things. When in reality His plan is more brilliant than anything we could come up with in the first place. And the energy wasted on the much that could be spent on so many better things!  I guarantee stability and finances are the least of His concerns. He owns it all already. He came shift it around anytime He wants. 

With that as our focus, we can confidently go against the flow of the "normal" and practice perhaps the largest and most amazing act possible as the children of The King. Be still & breathe. It's not up to us. Let's stop functioning like it is. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Church and polka dots.

A few matching luggage bags. When I take them on vacation, I get teased for needing more than one of their space on the adventure. Funny how suddenly those same bags look so different when everything I own is in them. It becomes strangely daunting. I look at them. I remember dragging them through the dirt on more than several occasions in Mexico. Wondering if the airline would ever find them in South Africa. And on the way to Kenya, rolling them through 3 countries in 30 hours-always with the "click-click-click-click" of the wheels echoing behind me and bouncing almost hauntedly off the hallways of the airports at 2 or 3 am. 

Quite differently this time, they seem so small. Sitting there busting at the seams  with clothing and pictures and a few special trinkets I have hauled halfway across the world. It sinks in that this is what's left to my name. I stare at them. I think about the fact that one month ago I had 4 times this much stuff, a room of my own, and a car. Every time I went to Target, I'd run into people I know. Every day at work, I knew the names of hundreds of people I made drinks for. And on a Sunday morning I could walk into any room at church and find "family." 

Everything is so different. Constantly transitioning. I haven't even unpacked my suitcase in the last month. I moved to Texas and then went to New York for 5 days and then came back to a project that involved moving locations across town. (I finally get one wall of a bedroom tomorrow.) Today I sat at church and didn't know a soul. And I didn't recognize any faces at the store. I had some moments of almost panic, just wanting to lay eyes on someone who knows me. Who I have history with. Longing for the hug or shared glance that ends up being an entire conversation.  

As I was struggling today with wanting something familiar, I realized I did have it.  It may not be a hug or the words of my friends that I am missing, but there WAS something I know right in front of me today. The Word of my King was taught. I sang songs I've known my entire life-the depth of "here I raise my ebineezer" just as powerful here as anywhere else. And there was something else this evening that I found comfort in. One other thing that has been old and familiar to me during the last 30 days. It's those danged polka dot suitcases. Oh, hey, old friends. Thanks for strangely being with me in yet another new place. Thanks for being consistent. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013


I recently began reading the book Undaunted by Christine Caine. I've rarely had a book capture my attention so quickly and entirely the moment I opened it. This is from the first chapter: 
"I offered no excuses that day, but I did know that there were reasons. Reasons that, when we hear God's call, when we feel that gentle (or not so gentle) urging of God's Spirit for us to make a bold step, take a risk, serve others, save a life, commit-we so often hold back. 

It's because we don't feel empowered. 
We don't feel qualified.
We think we lack the courage, the strength, the wisdom, the money, the experience, the education, the organization, the backing.

We feel like Moses when, from out of the burning bush, God called him to speak for him before Pharaoh. And Moses answered "Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent....I am slow of speech and tongue......please send someone else." (Exodus 4:10-13) 

Not me, God.
I'm afraid. 

Not long ago, that is exactly how I would have responded. But it has never been my desire to be daunted, to be afraid, to be unable to respond to God's call. Is it yours? I doubt it. I think that you, like me, want to be able to say instead, "here I am Lord-send me." We don't want to sound like Moses, stammering around in search of excuses. And we don't need to. Because, just as God gave Moses exactly what he needed to accomplish great things for God, he will equip us in just the same way. If he calls us to slay giants, he will make us into giant slayers. 

God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called."  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The secret life of our Newsfeeds.

Recently, I've been more thankful than ever for Facebook, Instagram, and snapchat because it allows me to stay connected with everyone I love even though there are miles, time zones, busy schedules, and contacts being lost on my phone. However, I've had an inckling about something that I haven't heard a lot of people discuss. I was analyzing this issue the other day (because that's how I do), and I think I stumbled upon something that seems so simple but is so deep.......

The newsfeed. What if I told you that your newsfeed (or equivalent on Insta and snap) was much more of a destructive tool than you think? Some people would claim it doesn't effect them at all. Some-like me-if I am completely honest and real- can examine their actions and emotions in response to hanging out online often and see it. Here's what I mean......

1.) When I'm on often, scrolling through my friend's posts, I don't realize it at the moment but something shifts within me. I will many times walk away from my phone with a sinking negativity about my life. Or a jealously of everyone else's. At this time in my life, my Newsfeeds look very much like this: "Baby. Baby. Baby. Engagement. Baby. Baby. Wedding. Baby. A bunch of people I love together whom I've lost contact with. Baby. New boyfriend. Baby. Travel. Baby........" You get the picture. It's hard for me to see this every time I log on without feeling badly about myself and my life. It's not as if there are many others my age I know of who are completely single; trying to be as healthy as possibly and flourish as largely as they can. It can be even more painful at moments to see all the high schoolers you once mentored getting married. I want to be married and have kids SO badly. And now. (Honestly. I'm not old, but I'm not that young for having kids either.) I've come to a conclusion that Newsfeeds can rub this in my face & cause me to play the comparison game which will destruct my self-confidence. And I wonder if I just have a weird issue with it or if there are others out there who are being affected a lot by this too. Maybe feeling at times that their life is not exciting or good enough when looking at their friend's daily posts. 

2.) I am having more of an issue lately with people being on snapshot and Instagram while hanging out. I feel like it does two things: a.) tells the person they're with that snapchatting and instagraming other people is more important than good conversation and making memories & 
b.) robs THEM from learning and maintaining healthy face-to-face relationships.  

Maybe I'm a very strange person. But I have an inckling this whole newsfeed thing might quietly be more destructive than we think if we're not aware and careful. That being said, I have no plans to cease my use of these things. Just to be very careful of allowing them to impact me I'm certain ways. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The beginning

Greetings from Houston! 
Wow. So much has happened in a few short weeks. I've been trying to get to know the city. It's a transition to be without a car. Taking the Metro requires extra planning and extra time. (It took me several hours to get to church today. But oh, was it worth it!) 

The apprenticeship has started off well. All the apprentices from the U.S. went to New York for 5 days of training. It was wonderful. Tracee, who is in charge of the apprentices, Nicole, who's with our Philly site, and Dan, the president of CSM, both spoke on a vast array of subjects. After having spent time with them, I can honestly say that I am 100% behind this incredible organization. Their heart and mission and way are so healthy and good. I have an unbelievable sense of peace after being in a room with them hearing their heart for several days. 

This next year is beginning to take shape. Jesus has begun to place the pieces of the puzzle together for me in wonderful ways. The goal for the year is to really dig in and try to get to know myself well. Learn my giftings and grow in them. I get to serve my community and be Jesus to them while learning more about being a leader. Part of what the year should hold involves community at a church and mentoring by people doing what you want to. 

 I attended church for the first time here today. I went to a church that I've followed and podcasted since it's birth 2 years ago. I was apprehensive about just walking in and being comfortable and connecting with anyone. It's not as if I'm used to going to new churches all the time. And walking into one where I know no one is TOTALLY abnormal:) 
Fortunately, everyone was extremely friendly. Several young ladies my age introduced themselves immediately and invited me to small groups this week. And I got to speak with the pastor and wife right away-whom I know from a distance. And Miss Beth attends and it's always fun to chuckle a bit with my "Momma". They spoke about loving the orphan. About entering into the pain rather than just trying to fix it.  About how Mercy enters in and heals from the inside out. It sits in the pain with someone. About being undefiled and pure and how we have to enter into a defiling situation with our purity to be HIS hands of healing. I wish all my friends who are adopting and fostering could hear today's message. Y'all should podcast it. 
Anyway, I felt so at home and I'm thankful for the beginning of a new community. 

The next project is a ministry partner. What I get to do is volunteer my time 20 hrs a week to a local outreach of my choice. It's looking like I found a promising one. There's a large park with a rec/community center and they have many activities from after-school programs to senior citizens card nights. I am looking at volunteering there; helping kids with homework, helping seniors out, AND......(drumroll please)......I'm hoping to start a Zumba program there!!!! Yeah! I'm very excited to be reaching out to the community and establishing relationships with everyone who comes. If there's time and interest I may even consider wanting to begin a community theatre program. 

That's the nutshell for now. Things are vastly different than they were at home. But it's good here and God is up to huge things. I'm eager to live simply and more quietly and to grow in my gifts and love of Him.

If anyone reading this feels so inclined, I definitely appreciate prayer. I'm in a huge city alone. I need peace & confidence being so independent. (It can feel strange & daunting at moments). I need community to establish very quickly. I need smooth planning for my outreaches. I need more financial support. And I need Jesus.  To show up. To be HUGE for me. To continue healing MY wounds and ugliness and ministering to my spirit. Because I want to do this life right. Meaning-filled, significant, powerful, and dynamic. For the Kingdom. 

Thank you for being The Body. Thank you for who you are in the Kingdom. Thank you for being YOU. 
I'm crazy about you!