Monday, December 1, 2014

To Thrive.

I used to stalk the people I thought were incredible and dream about being brave like them, just walking away from all the normal to do what I love. Then one day Miss Beth hugged me and told me to truly be brave and be wildly me. And you don't argue with Miss Beth. So I did. And let me tell you.....Jesus truly is the wildest and most amazing ride of all time. And He truly wants us to live huge and bold, not stuck in the mold. I don't regret my life. Not for one day. Even the messy, ugly, horrible, embarrassing seasons. No...ESPECIALLY those. Because THOSE make me understand and relate to every other human being on a level beyond measure. I wouldn't trade that ability. Think about it. Walk away from the surviving and choose to start thriving.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Updated Update.

First of all, here's a video that my coworker from Elijah Rising created. It explains a lot!    



Next, I have more details about my trip to South Africa with PLAY. It looks as if I'll be leaving the 30th of December to ring the new year in South African style. And I'll be returning mid-April. That doesn't leave much time to gather all I need in order to make ends meet while there! I have raised enough to cover the flight, but we're still needing over $1500 for living expenses and the like. If you don't know about PLAY from Lisa being at Big Valley, I encourage you to look at the website or Lisa's blog. And consider becoming a part of the staggering work she is doing by prayerfully and financially supporting me. It takes every part of a body doing it's job to make things function the correct way. I literally can't go without you. That's the truth!
                                      Give at PLAY or send checks to:
PLAY
127 S. Presidio Dr
Gilbert, AZ 85233
"For Liz" in memo!


Monday, November 10, 2014

Home.

Home.
Even as I was recently saying "I'm coming home!" something in me wasn't settling with that. Part of me felt that Houston was home.  There's a side of me that slides right into the ways of Texan ministry and big hair. Of big, well, everything. The big city. The hustle and bustle. The size of and amount of churches. It's the stuff I've been involved in for the last decade, but from a distance. I know Miss Beth and her lot like the back of my hand. I know how to do the Southern thang. I know the crowd. I've worked with them before. I feel like I can be contented there forever. I can rock those boots.

 I return to Modesto and I immediately notice that there is a difference in culture.
And I feel completely at ease, speaking the language of all things Californian.....My clothing choices are considered normal again. I hike around the forest. I go to Yosemite. The familiar breath-taking beauty draws me in. Because my grandparents were forest rangers, I know the Sierra Nevadas like one knows their oldest of friends. It's in the blood. As we cruz along highways into the mountains I suddenly remember every curb and turn-off, the old unchanged land and stops that I spent my summers traveling as a child. And people here get it when I talk about needing to get "down south" as soon as humanly possible. They know I mean Disneyland. It's an unspoken around this state. And that alone feeds my overly-obsessed, child-like soul.
(They need a CR group for this Disney stuff. It's serious, people. Very, very serious!) 

But oh, Northwest, how I love thee. When I attended Ecola I completely found a vibrant freedom in the ways of the hippie and the granola. In no make-up, plaid shirts, and Northface clothing. I am so drawn to herbal living and homesteading and healthy eating and the green and rain and growth and life and small communities and the friendliness of Washington and Oregon. I try to go at least once a year for a visit. My body and spirit always receive a rest there like I have nowhere else. It's more than just soothing and calming. It's breathing deep of renewal all the way down to my toes. And I never feel ready to return. I could absolutely settle there.  

And then.....then. Then Africa. Oh, the beauty of her people! The glorious ways in which their spirit is strong, resilient, unbreakable, shining and glowing in consistent joy and the light of a culture as bold and beautiful as time. The ways of doing things. The order of priorities in society. The land. The wildlife. The music. The food. Within an hour of my first time there my heartbeat shifted to a new rhythm and I have longed for her since. 

Here's the thing about all these places.... 
In each of them, there is always this nagging element of just not quite being fully what that place or culture is usually about. No matter where I am, I think about the other places. The other parts of me that don't fully resonate with the ground my feet are upon. And I sometimes begin to feel a bit out of touch and out of place. Wondering why I just never quite feel all in one spot. Or all about one spot. And curious as to whether anybody else feels this way often. It's nice to appreciate several different places. It just also causes me to feel kind of outcasted. Strange. Like a drifter. Wondering to myself "Where exactly might 'home' be?" Where might I find a place of haven and rest? Where might I know I can always return and fully crash into being the worn mess of a human I can so often be? Where is safe? Comfort? Warmth? The feeding of my spirit, heart, and soul? Where does healing take place?  Where do I fully flourish in my giftings and ability to serve the Body in excellence? Where is my Eden? 

It's with a bit of grief that I have to admit to myself I don't exactly have such a place.
Yes, that sets a bit heavy on my shoulders. Yes, that hurts rather deeply. It makes me want to freak out just a little bit. Until I remember something very special that I've known and clung to over the years......
I may not have that one place of comfort that I always seem to perceive everyone else to have and covet so strongly. I may not have a spot to call my own or a haven to run toward. Not in land. But what I have is oh so much richer than the soil of all the above places combined. What I have is the very true and real ability to say that without a doubt and without any other options, Jesus is my home. He is. He is all the things I long and ache for. He is my past, present, and future. He is my safety, hiding place, comfort, all of it! He knows every little thing that calms me, brings me peace and rest. He gets me. He understands the love of too many places and peoples all at once. The discomfort that can come with all this. Not everybody gets the privilege of saying that their home is literally just Jesus.  In Jesus, things are so much bigger and better than they would be in any other place. And for that I am floored and thankful beyond measure. Should you ever hit a season of struggling with these things, remember the very real home we have in the Kingdom. Not just in our futures. But right now. Right here. And we can ask for it and live in it here. He is home. Because He is.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Nicole's Story.

This incredible and amazing video is a perfect picture of all I was entrenched in while in Houston. THIS is happening everywhere in our country, y'all, not just abroad. And I find it strategic that the person who introduced me to human trafficking runs the organization who made this beautiful picture of what it looks like right here. A21, my love for you only increases. Here is Nicole's Story.

Getting Along.

The last year was wild, mind-blowing, painful, challenging, beautiful, and simultaneously one of the hardest yet most amazing years of my life. And those things all drastically change a person. I've seen and experienced things I wouldn't even want to begin describing here. And you don't walk away from that unmarked. 

I've had a few curious friends wondering if I've "gone off the deep end". Worried that I've become someone who might make them uncomfortable. Who might do or even believe things that they'd disagree with. I mean, I grew up in an extreme sessationalist environment and spent the last 6 months living and working in one that is in every way sensationalistic.  I used to laugh at those on the other end of the spectrum from me. Judge them. Assume they were off their rockers. But after the last chunk of life, here's what I've learned....

Every end of the spectrum is beautiful. I can't negate the solidity of the traditions. I love liturgy. And I can't deny the ways in which I have now experienced the Holy Spirit at work in a Charismatic ministry. He's fallen so hard on me that I've ended up on my face in His presence...... My take and my response to the criticism I receive is this: "I love and serve the body of Christ. All of them. Every single denomination and kind. I
will not overlook the beauty of ritual and I will not quench the fire and power of the Holy Spirit. My desire is to see the body vibrant, alive, actively advancing the kingdom into the corners of darkness in this world. I long to see the unification of the Church and acceptance and learning from those who're not just like us.  Because if we don't flow out of a place of unity, our focus remains on ourselves rather than those out there who desperately need to encounter the hope and redemption of Jesus Christ." 

Don't tell me I'm living in a dream-world. Don't tell me we can't all get along. Don't tell me the old rhythms and practices aren't necessary. Don't tell me to quench the ways in which I've experienced the Holy Spirit move and breathe in my own life and before my eyes. Don't tell me God isn't into performing the impossible these days. He's into miracles alright. I know this because I AM ONE. Don't tell me this "world-changer" mentality is all just the hype that's going around. Last time I checked, God's Word says who wins.  Guess what? It's US!!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Updates, Open Houses, and South Africa




 It's hard to believe I'm home from over a year of doing intense ministry in Houston. One part of me hates being ripped away from all I've been entrenched in and the other part is mighty relieved to rest and be seeing the faces of those I love after so long. Even if it is only for 2 months.   

Yes yes it's true! I'm hoping to go to South Africa in January!
My friend Lisa needs some assistance with PLAY .
Go check it out! She's making a ginormous and eternal difference in the lives of many children. I intend to leave the first week of January for several months of helping Lisa with some camps among other things.
If you know me at all, you know I have a passion for Africa and am delighted in this opportunity. Hopefully you also know that I firmly see and believe in the importance of every part of the Body working fully together. That means that while I love the traveling and the ministry in other places, I also do not ever discount people who are here, working very hard, and faithfully supporting me in various ways. Because I quite literally live on that. No joke! I have video and pictures and so many pieces of the last year to share with you. Because of your support you are a part of these pieces. I'm having an open house on the 14th. Also, feel free to contact me if you're interested in seeing and hearing about it all. I'd love to get together and share my heart and life with you.

Here are my very real and very serious needs at this very moment.
Please think very hard about possibly entering into them.
Because by doing so, you are sowing into the work Jesus is doing in Pretoria.
In each of those children. And even in me. (Probably more than you know!)
Thank you and I love y'all more than words.

Needs:
1. Prayer. Major prayer warriors.
(I've got some junk going on. I can tell you more if you sign on.)

2. At least $3,000.  The flying is $1500-2000 and the other costs of living for the few months equal about $1000 more dollars. The flight itself needs to be booked NOW. (It's only 2 months away!)

3. A camera to borrow. My iphone 4 is an 8g with no memory space.
(Hashtag ministrylife)











Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Exhibit A.......

If there's ANY reason we do what we do around these parts, this is it right here: an email we sent out about a team I was delighted to be a part of on Friday night. When I was speaking with the young lady mentioned, I asked Jesus for a miracle.
And Saturday it came! Amen and pass me more cards..........


Dear Friends,
I am frequently asked why Elijah Rising does the work of intervention.  Is it worth sending teams into sometimes treacherous situations to reach women being exploited?  Allow me to share a testimony from a recent outreach. 
During October’s Fourth Friday Outreach, one team was deployed to an area of town on Bissonnet Street where young women are being sold. Nearly 100 business cards for a 24/7 helpline number were distributed. (On the street, these are called “hope cards.” And pimps have been known to call our outreach teams “hope people”!)

Outreach lasted late into the night, but no women chose to exit FridayOn Saturdaya call came in to the helpline. A faithful older saint was on the streets sharing the love of Jesus when she stopped at a restaurant on Bissonnet to rest her feet. Inside she spotted a young girl with an older woman, and an alarm went off in her spirit. Something about their appearance caused her to suspect trafficking.

When the “minder” excused herself to the restroom, this saint approached the young woman asking if she needed help. Pulling our helpline card from her pocket, she said: “YES! I need to find a way to call this number!”

This precious young woman—we will call her Kay—received three hope cards Friday night but was waiting for an opportunity to escape her traffickers’ glance. She was quickly driven to a police station for her safety, then to a stabilization facility where she is receiving wraparound care for her trauma. Kay is originally from the Midwest and was picked up by a nefarious truck driver only a few weeks ago. She was soon to be moved to other Teas cities. We reached her just in time.
So, is it worth sending teams into sometimes treacherous situations? It was worth it for Kay.

For justice,
Cat French
Founder and Executive Director
Elijah Rising

#LoveJesusEndTrafficking

Saturday, October 18, 2014

New Horizons

Two weeks from today I will be home!
I am elated at the idea of seeing everyone and connecting once again.
But before I even had the chance to say "I'm moving home to wait on His plan", the Lord began opening the next chapter. The happy dances are not containable (my poor, poor co-workers!) and I can't WAIT to share! 

I will only be home for November and December. And I want to see you. 
But things are also moving quickly and I want to make sure you know about it. 
So keep your eyes peeled. I will have open houses. I will have "meet-up" times where we can all connect. And I will announce the next amazing step in the adventure.  

Before I do anything, though, I have a few needs. Largely because of the next step. Any of these peak an interest for you?  Please let me know ASAP. Like....yesterday. The Lord is just moving too fast for me to sit around right now....
1.  I need serious intercessors/prayer warriors. I have some health issues that need healing, I'm already experiencing attack about the coming changes, I'm leaving one world and entering a completely new one, and I will need some serious covering.
If you are willing to intercede for me, drop me a line. 
2. A Kindle. Any kind. Mine got stolen and I'm about to be living in a way that doesn't exactly leave room for carrying books with me. 
3. A camera to borrow for several months.
I'll be wanting more than my iphone for pictures in the season to come. 

It will be so good to see y'all shortly. If you want to sit down and catch up, please let me know and we can get it on the calendar. I love each and every one of you dearly. 

Here's to the Kingdom. That is ever alive and active. Advancing and reconciling all things to Jesus. And to being a chosen part of that most brilliant adventure! 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Daunted.

"Trafficking 101 on wheels." That's one of the ways in which we (Elijah Rising) often refer to our van tours. You just book it and show up. We talk about the various forms of Sexual Exploitation right here in Houston and drive you past them as we're speaking. It's brilliant. And I am often surprised at the results. 

I'm not surprised that people are shocked. Horrified. Emotional. Even sick. 
That is how I felt and often get hit with afresh as well. 
What surprises me is that so many people come back from the van tours so upset about it, but are not heard from again. The reason I'm surprised by this is because after the first experience I had, I couldn't walk away. Something in me propelled me into doing whatever I could to be a part of the fight against these injustices. I have a hard time understanding why everyone doesn't react like this.

As I recently gave a van tour, I was asked why more people aren't doing something. Aren't helping. Aren't joining or offering their gifts. I had to stop and think very hard to answer that question well. I'm glad I was asked. Because I needed to consider it...

Daunted. That word is probably the best answer I could give. This stuff is an overwhelming world that we're not used to. Statistics and numbers are astronomical and sickening and the task before us seems daunting. THAT is why I believe people walk away. Their mind doesn't want to handle the darkness and evil associated with this junk. It's frightening to face it and realize it may make us fall apart and drastically change our life as we know it. There really isn't a harder pill to swallow. 

Let me say something to all of this. And because I'm passionate about so many things, this pertains to everything from trafficking to global missions to ministry to local outreach.......
You were wired and created for this stuff. Everyone's area of purpose is different. But somewhere in there is what you were made for. And when you first see it and taste it, you'll experience a mix of excitement deep in your marrow that you couldn't possibly describe as well as a daunted dread down in your gut. You know that you just glimpsed something that pulls at the very fiber of your being and you are supposed to be doing that. But you somehow also sense that this will mean giving up so much and changing the very way of life you are in the middle of. 
So you feel overwhelmed. 
Terrified. 
Unable. 
You begin to tell yourself you couldn't.
You're too unqualified. 
Unintelligent. 
You don't have the proper resources. 
You couldn't possibly have the time. 
It's impossible to give up what you're knee-deep in now. 
It's just too much or too heavy to handle. You'd fall apart. 
Maybe someday. Later. 
You're supposed to just pray from a distance. 
Need I go on? Oh, tell me this isn't true. Go on.
You can't convince me there is a good enough reason to keep from jumping in.
Fear may have you, but it doesn't need to have the last say. 
Take it from a girl who struggles with all the above. That stuff doesn't always go away. But as long as your "yes" is louder, you're beginning something that will turn out to be more amazing than anything you've ever experienced in your life. 

How are you wired? 
What injustices make your spirit cry out for change? 
Where should you be diving in?
Are you hiding from it? 
Take that leap today. 
Just believe Him to figure out your details.
You will never be sorry. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mountains High and Valleys Low.

How is today? Rushed? Calm? Too busy? Or filled with the gentle and quiet breezes of fall lingering in the air and Pumpkin Spice Lattes in the drive-thru? Maybe you're one of my African friends. The Weather is warming up. The trees are blossoming. It's beautiful.....
 If you're anything like me, the answer to that question can change drastically daily. Sometimes even between the alarm clock and lunchtime. Life is lived in mountains and valleys. We rarely stay in one place, right? Some of us rarely stay in-between those two extremes. We have big, massive, life-changing moments and we have deep, dark, "everything is dreary and it's never going to get better" days.  Seasons. That's not just for the Earth. That's how life is too. 

Do you ever feel a nagging feeling that maybe-just maybe-you will never feel the power of the "mountain-top" moments again? Do you wonder how you could have experienced so much excitement and overflowing joy at one point only to be struggling now just to have something to care about today? And what about the in-between? It all feels kind of messy sometimes, doesn't it? 

I awoke this morning from a dream in which I was coming home. This doesn't surprise me because I have plans to move home in a month but have been wrestling with it. I love the people I work with and they're intensely amazing. I hate to leave that. But as I woke up this morning with visions of being home, seeing everyone again, loving on them, diving into the community, I began to cry. Yes, I miss it terribly. Yes, I want to reconnect. Yes.  How do we deal with all the excitement and pain thrown into the pot? How do we deal with unknowns? With transitions? With the un-expecteds? With dreams not coming to fruition? And with carrying our mountain-top experiences with us rather than leaving them on top of the mountain? 

Several things popped into my mind. They helped. They reminded me. They speak:
1. It takes deep pain to recognize the joy of healing. 
(Those who has hurt the most will have the most to be overjoyed about. )
2. If you don't feel anything get low. Literally. Hit the ground and ask for it. 
3. When you don't have words or know what to pray, speak His words to Him. 
(There is a unique power that come with praying His words out loud to Him.)
3. When the last thing you feel like is praising Him, make it your first response.
(The walls will crumble. Your soul will awaken and respond. )
4. Turn off the noise and turn your eyes from you to loving on someone else.
(You'll begin to hear and understand Him in ways beyond what you thought. )

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Through the morning fog.

Maybe it's because my dad grew up on a farm and still arises at 3:00am. Maybe it's because I'm used to barista hours. Whatever the case, I've always gotten up way too early. Often Jesus speaks to me in my most early and exhausted of moments. Tired. Sore. Only halfway through my first cup of coffee. Barely functional. Blaring some kind of Kim Walker or Beth Moore at too high of a volume. And just waiting for Him to breath life into me for today. 

In those moments I often have this strange clarity that blares through the fog. I'm betting it has something to do with not thinking too much or being awake enough to analyze everything yet. Whatever the case, something hit me this morning in the midst of all that......

This whole mindset we all tend to go back to time and again. This way of thinking. This emotion we live under. This pattern of "In a perfect world, I'd be doing_____. If only I was good enough. Smaller. Bigger. Younger. Older. More. If I had the money. The education. The smarts. The gumption. The guts. The bravery. The ability. If I knew for sure that's my calling.......but not everyone gets to do big huge amazing things. Not everyone is called to be powerfully dynamic, audacious, drastically different and world-changing. I wish I could be like those people. Most of us don't have what it takes. That's for a select few.......Right?"  

WRONG. I may still often be a mess. I may have a long way to go. I know I have so much yet to learn. But I'll tell you again and again what I do know.......
YOU ARE MEANT FOR INCREDIBLE THINGS. Y-O-U. 15 years old or 80 years old. Single or 6 kids. It doesn't matter. His design and desire for each of His children is for them to continue His work here on earth. Powerfully. Intentionally. Differently than the Christianity we're often shown. So so so much more than all that. He has the greatest and wildest adventure for you and is itching to give it to you. You CAN be that person you look up to. That person you've always known is in there somewhere. It's more than a reality. And it's waiting for you. All you have to do is allow Him to give it to you. Allow Him access to all of you. And allow Him control of your future. Jump in the passenger seat and let Him drive. It'll be the greatest ride of your life. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

A little chat.

Recently I've been having this conversation with myself, with high schoolers, with college students, with young children, with friends, with parents, with co-workers.
it's that important. It's that constant. It's coming up over and over. And so here I document it. I have yet to find a human who hasn't needed this on a loop. And of those humans I need it the most......

You are not too much. 
You are more than enough. 
Not all is lost. 
There is more than hope.
It is not too late.
You haven't screwed-up too much. 
You are strategically woven together to be exactly who you are. 
Nobody can replace you. 
It would matter if you weren't here. 
There is indeed a glorious purpose for you.
You can still choose that path. 
You can still change the world.
You have an irreversible role to play. 
You can be undaunted.
You can be powerful.
You can do as much as that person you so admire.
That is His desire for you. 
Not to live in "nice" normalcy.
But to live a crazily and wildly adventurous life.
And when you let go and submit to that, you'll begin to experience life as you never knew it could exist. Beyond this realm. Beyond anything you imagined. 
that is the real you. 

"By faith Abel...."
"By faith Enoch......"
"By faith Abraham....."
"By faith Noah....."
"By faith Sarah...."
"By faith Isaac...."
"By faith Jacob....."
"By faith Joseph...."
"By faith Moses....."
"By faith Rahab the prostitute..."
"By faith the people passed through the Red Sea..."
"By faith the walls of Jericho fell..."
"I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again........ All these people were still living by faith when they died....."
[All taken from Hebrews 11]

"Blessed is she who has faith that what the Lord has said to her shall be accomplished."                      [Luke 1:45]

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Lessons from Pixar and Katy Perry.

Call me crazy. But every once-in-a-while I get a very large revelation from something very small like a dumb movie. Today I watched Monsters U. No surprise there. It was an "I really need the type of cleverness only Pixar can make" type of day. Then I was watching a few music videos. Yeah. Sometimes I do that. I'm a nerd. Anyway, I've been stuck on Katy Perry's Roar lately. (Oh gosh, am I admitting that out loud?! Hopefully it's worth it to make my point.) I can't help but totally love the song. Don't snicker-apparently I'm not the only one. It has 565 MILLION views. What's my point to that? Well, just that I had a moment of clarity as I watched it. I had a flash of understanding that the story today's audience has gotten through every form of entertainment is that it all depends on you. It's all about your ability. Your strength. Your self-motivation. Your "pick yourself up by the bootstraps" mentality. Add to that any form of a childhood in which you were taught that life is all about slaving away for retirement, and you've got a possibility for some serious bondage. I caught myself today feeling quite guilty. Guilty about many things. About where my life is. How I look physically. The fact that I am returning home and have nowhere to live, no apparent "job" set in stone, and zero money. Something about the combination of the movie (If you work hard enough you'll get to where you wanted to be. It all depends on you) and the music video (muster up your inner lion strength to become the beautiful & powerful person you want to be) didn't sit right. I became agitated. I felt like I am just not enough. I even began wondering and questioning what I'm doing. The commitment between Jesus and me. If I am really supposed to be in hardcore full-time ministry, why does it feel like nobody is interested? Nobody is knocking on my door? Maybe I'm not good enough. Maybe I need to prove myself more. Maybe I am just not finding enough places to apply to for my future. Maybe I ought to put in more apps. Work harder at this. Be even more loud and vocal. Get myself out there more. Self-promotion. That's what everyone does nowdays. It's a vicious fight to have the most people follow and know you. Be online more. research more......more. more. more. And suddenly I'm in a swirl of being so busy trying to "get in" somewhere that I am missing all the things that are happening right here in front of me for the next two months. If I do all that, my head will be in the future instead of the present. I won't fully immerse myself in the beautiful ministry I'm with for a short time. I won't enjoy my coworkers. My bosses. The amazing woman I am staying with. I will just be stressed, tired, and anxious. Is that the kind of thing He wants for us? Or would He rather us plant firmly in this season and moment, giving every ounce of ourselves to those before us, flourishing where we are, and fully trusting and believing that He's already mapped it all out? Isn't the striving just another form of unbelief? Of telling Him we don't trust or want to give up control of our future to Him? 

The truth according to God's word is that He established a specific purpose for each of us before He even began forming us with his hands. And that purpose is beautiful and huge and intense.  More than we even know. He also promised us that He will never leave us of forsake us, that He has already given us all the power we'll ever need and then some in the form of His Spirit. A power that allows the most earth-defying things to take place if only we'll agree to use it like that. What we could be a part of is seriously mind-blowing. He promises us that His desires are to work all things out for our good and that He has a role only we can play in His grand adventure. None of these promises say anything about "IF you can be a good enough worker", or "IF you're powerful enough". Nope. Quite the opposite. He makes us strong. He makes us powerful. He makes us beautiful. He gives us that brilliant future filled with adventure and fulfillment beyond our comprehension. Nothing in that equation depends on our work or what we have in us. And I for one am currently rejoicing & extremely thankful for that. Because it is the most hope-filled thing any of us could possibly need to hear today. None of it depends on you. He's got it all covered already and it's brilliant. Let's just open up those clenched fists,  let go of the control we're grasping, and allow Him to show us incredible things today. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Stirrings.

Whenever there's a big move or change I get a bit emotional. I think it's because I'm naturally overly passionate. I end up super all-in with anything I sign up for.
That's not always a good thing. 
If I'm not careful to look out for it, I can end up captive to many issues:
The things I do being too much to me. Too important. Working overboard, too long, too worried about what my bosses think. Allowing what I do to become my identity. Being afraid to fail or not do things well.......... Dangerous water to tread. 

It's hard not to give in to these things right now. It's hard because I've never before been finished with a season in life and just hung out. Since I was 14, I had a job. Most of the time several at once. When I began thinking about staying around Houston a bit longer, I realized that meant I wouldn't really have a specific "title" to identify with. That's kind of a big deal. I didn't know how to handle that at first. Just being present and helping a ministry I believe in. Learning from them. Doing life in the trenches with them for a while. Being infused with the DNA of a group who live in the pit of an extreme battleground. And trusting that as this changes the very fiber of who I am and am becoming, there's a specific purpose for my future that doesn't rest on my figuring out a position or my provision. My position is now simply to be who he meant me to be. To fully know who that is and undauntedly stand in that authority. A loudmouth for change. A woman unashamed to be messy in my passion to see the Church rise up. And an advocate every day for those with no voice. A challenger of the normal. Walking through each day and doing this everywhere I step foot. That's all. The provision-where to live, income, etc..... He's got that. Some people are called to be the support and encouragement and "family" of those in the mud. The ones in the mud can't be there without them, right? Others know that their purpose is found in the thick of the sticky, deep, dirty places. Oh, why do I  have to be the one to tromp my pink cowgirl boots in the muck? I wouldn't have chosen this for myself. I was set on a career. I'm still in shock. But that's my purpose and I can't deny it. 

So much has happened within me this year that there is absolutely no going back now. I have to do this stuff with all of me and all my days. It would be easier if that weren't true. The reality is not easy to swallow. And I'm very scared. This unknown before me (and at my age!) tries to daunt and terrify me. Even tries to whisper daily that I'm a slob and a failure. But it won't win. Emotions can try all they want. They aren't my decision-maker and they aren't my dictator. (Remind me of this when I'm freaking out tomorrow for who knows what reason, okay? Thanks.) 

I'm beginning to process this last year and what I'm in the middle of now. It's still all a jumble and I'm a bit everywhere. I feel like I need some time to recover from the year but before I could consider it am dealing with some intense attack. People are broken and mean because of it. And the enemy is even meaner.
By the time I'm finished in Houston I'll need a secluded Island, endless PiraƱa Pools from Trader Sam's, (if you know what that is I will kiss you), and about a month of sleep, Disneyland, and counseling. It takes time. And time is okay despite what I feel or think. I may not know what's next. But I know this..........He doesn't call you somewhere and then fail to provide for it. And He doesn't put you in a place you aren't equipped to be. He promises that with Him, you can risk absolutely everything and He'll give you the wildest most perfectly fulfilling ride of your life. And I'm hanging onto those things with all I've got. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The thorn in my side.

The other day yet another person made a comment to me that I'm just so positive and happy and my life is so fun. I hear that a lot. In that particular moment, the comment hit me in the gut like I'd been punched. While I'm madly in love with Jesus & He is my everything, I don't get that way by having some sort of glamorous life. It's quite the opposite. Ministry, singleness when I want a family, alone-ness, working in deep and dark places, financial strain. These things are daily life for me. One doesn't fall madly in love with Jesus & get to know Him intimately without going through trials that equal that depth. So while I may have an adventurous life, it doesn't always feel that way. I have in fact had a hellish week and my emotional and mental state at the moment is, well, mud.  Oh, don't get too worried. That's the drama queen in me talking. (I lost count of how many versions of me live in my head at any particular moment. Welcome to womanhood and a former crazy.)

Here's the thing. I'm mostly a sanguine. I'm mostly ridiculously joyful. Now.  That wasn't always the case. That wasn't always me. Besides, y'all know how social media works. You show the good and never the hard. "Hey-look how amazing my life is! Look at all the cool things I'm doing!" Lies. Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? We'll post about every little good thing but Heaven forbid we speak up when we're a mess. We're only causing isolation and false representation of ourselves with that process. So, I have to say right now that I'm sorry for any way in which I have represented myself to be doing so so great and just skipping through the year like I'm in a musical. That's a lie. It's been beautiful but also one of the hardest years of my life. One that's left me exhausted & even wounded. Maybe that's why they say when you're a missionary you're "on the field." 

This week. This week was difficult. Very very difficult. Rather than posting pictures of the skyline or sunset or whatever, I'm going to be totally real here. I'm exhausted. I'm emotional. I've spent days painting some rooms in the former brothel that I work in. Things happened in those rooms. I had flashbacks of these things even though I couldn't have possibly known what they were. Yes-yes I'm serious. This is a thing! It happened.  This coming week I am ending my year-long apprenticeship with a missions organization and staying in Houston a bit longer to help the anti-trafficking ministry with some projects. I'm figuring out when I'm moving home. I miss friends. I'm lonely. I'm worn. I'm trying to let go of some things. I fight constantly not to work too hard for the approval of others. I still mess up and fail at a lot of the things I do. My past is being brought back up with full-force and I'm facing it, hurting, dealing with it. Yet again. It's exhausting. I'm dealing with a large array of emotions about that and leaving "the field" I've been head-first in. I'm trying to find where to go and where I fit. I have so much to process. Many people from one side are taking the "God says do anything as long as you are saving people" mentality.  People from another camp are steadfast in their "God has a specific design and purpose just for you" belief.  I'm pretty sure I know which opinion I'm going to cement myself in, but there sure are a lot of voices everywhere to wade through. 

Today was beautiful. I didn't even want to go to church because I'm a bit of a mess. And honestly? After being so involved at BVG for 17 years, one of my biggest pet peeves in having to be a newbie at church. I kind of butt against that with everything in me. But I went this morning. The greeter found out I've podcasted for 3 years but am new on campus and just enveloped me. She insisted I sit with her. And then the message. Oh, the message! I'm pretty sure Vernon followed me around with a camera before writing that. It took every ounce of energy I had to keep from sobbing all over the place like a baby. What a view! He talked about Paul and "the thorn in his side." He dissected what the transliteration meant. And he explained WHY the Lord didn't remove it. The thorn keeping Paul from being proud or boastful. And he speculated that maybe-just maybe-the reason why God doesn't just take away that one thing we're constantly wrestling with is because in it, we become desperate for Him. We long for Him. We need Him with everything in us. In a way we wouldn't if we just stopped struggling. Before Jesus radically rescued me, I was crazy. I was severely depressed and unstable. I ruined relationships. I was unhealthy. I lied all the time about everything. And that's only the beginning! I'd have to be a fool to expect that I will never struggle with falling back into any of this again. Many times I begin reverting back into a behavior of old. But now I see it. I recognize it. The Spirit doesn't let me go live in it. And as painful as it is, I'm thankful for my past. Because without it, I wouldn't see how beautiful Jesus is. How much He's redeemed. And while they're humiliating, without the occasional slips back in that direction, I wouldn't remember how human and frail I am. I need that reminder. It keeps me tender and real. Grace is God's kindness descending upon our midst. And if we aren't functioning in that spirit, we best be checking ourselves right quick.
Yes, talk about it. Yes, work hard towards a correction of it. But don't allow the setbacks and the slip-ups and the rejection you receive to dictate anything. Because they will only show His glory  even more.



Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday's Super Simple Secret Summer Skin Saver!

Sorry for the dorky title. I couldn't help it!

Earlier this summer I was in LUSH drooling and dreaming over all I'd purchase if I had a job and normal income. On the way home, I realized that I've been studying herbalism for a while now and I could start making more of this stuff on my own. I came up with this mask recipe and have been using it lately and it's one of the things that has truly helped my skin be healthier. I believe in it because all of the ingredients have amazing benefits on their own. Together they are kind of a powerhouse. 

Anyway, I wanted to share it with you. 
Try it a few times a week.
Tell me what you think! 

Ingredients:
Raw unfiltered honey. 
Raw unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar 
Calcium Bentonite Clay. (Healthfood store, Sprouts, Online.) 
Blueberries ( I like frozen during the summer. Feels good.)


Place ingredients in blender until consistency is able to be blended. 
(Like making a smoothie.) 
Blend in a blender. Done! That simple. 
Make sure you wash your face well before putting it on. 
Let it harden/dry. 
Wash off.
Place remainder in tupperware in fridge. 

Happy Healthy Skin to you! 



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Silver Linings.

Without beating around the bush, I'm just going to come out a say it. I deal with significant loneliness and deep heartbreak off and on. While I don't doubt in God's perfect plan for me, being a nomadic bohemian woman in her 30s and never having really even dated is not what a lot of my friends and acquaintances picture it to be as their minds paint a life of unusual glamour.  It actually can be severely painful and strangely isolating. Even when I'm at home, somehow it always feels like being a fish out of water. Now, I'm not saying this to be depressing or claim I go through things nobody else could possibly understand, blah, blah, blah........if you've read my recent series of shorts you'll see I am keenly aware of the fact that I am not alone in all this. (And the irony that I am saying that when speaking about loneliness is not lost on me either.) 
In fact, quite the opposite is true. Whether you are a globetrotter or a beautiful mother who rarely leaves her town and kid's schedules, we all struggle with these things and almost all of us have a strange sense of shame over speaking up about it. 

I was ranting this morning. I often wake up way earlier than I'd like because my mind clicks on and I begin obsessing and psycho-analyzing everything. (I can't help it. I was actually only a few classes away from a Psych degree before quitting college. Yeah. I'm deep, guys. Now give me some Disney!) I was telling God this morning that I really hate it when entering a season of specifically feeling like you are invisible. Of questioning whether you really even matter to the people in your life. Of seeing their newsfeeds and wondering whether they ever wish you were in that picture with them. (Yeah, it's lame. But we've ALL been there-fess up! Social Media is such a double edged sword. Great for communication. Horrid about making us insecure.) 
And I was kind of knocked breathless by what happened. 

He gave me a picture in my head. An imaginary scenario. In it, I was working for Him. He was my boss. We were at the office. He had handed me a certain job to manage. It was perfectly tailored to my gifting and talents. I loved it! There was beautiful chaos at work. People and noise everywhere, getting things done. It was a delight. 

One day, I arrived at work. Nobody else was there. The hallways were dark, quiet, and eery. I began wondering if I missed something. If everybody was off doing something I wasn't let in on. I tried to call some of my friends. No answer. I texted. Nothing.  I began feeling hurt. As if nobody cared about this work set before me. As if nobody wanted to hear, see, know, be a part of this thing that was extremely important to my life. This thing I felt my identity was kind of wrapped in. I got angry. I yelled. "Lord! Nobody cares! Nobody's around. This hurts. A LOT. I expected more from people. I expected to matter more.  And not one person shows up to work with me! I want who I am and what I do to mean something!" And you know what happened? Jesus quietly and gently sat down across from me. He listened completely. And He didn't say anything for a minute. Then, He leaned across the table, took my hand, and said "My Darling. I gave you charge over this task. You love what you do. And you love everyone buzzing around. But I told everyone not to come into work today.  Because I long for you to learn that waiting on and looking to those around you will not fulfill anything.  They are empty and human and looking to be filled too. They do not have the answers. They don't know anymore about what you're doing than you do. They don't really have anything to offer. You need to see me and me alone. I have every drop of whatever you need. And by not allowing others to be here right now, I get to have you all to myself. I get to renew you. Fill you. Love you. Be overjoyed by you. You are too special for me not to get you to myself for a season.  Can you be okay with this? Can you stop fearing? Can you believe that I am enough? Trust me. I have more for you than anybody else ever will." 

Well, that's one way to look at a season of loneliness! 
He's wild. 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday's Words Week 4: Social Entry

And we have yet another week of what I truly hope is something helpful for somebody out there. As I contemplated today's entry, I asked the Lord what I should share.  What other issues am I beginning to struggle with or worry about in regards to moving home? What do people in missions or ministry experience as they come back home from the field? As I walked the hallways of our offices this week, listening to the coworkers I adore, laughing with them, loving the crazy chaos, seeing them do things that endear me, I realized how comfortable and in my skin I feel here. And how I suddenly don't feel that will be the case back home. And there births our 4th issue:

Social anxiety. With this one, I will go as far as to say I'd put money on it. If you've been out on the field in a very different environment and you're returning home, you're feeling it. There's a sense that where you've been is "you." You are deeply connected with those who're head-first in this too. Everyone's worked together in something that only that group will understand at the core. Everyone there gets each other. They've laughed and sobbed and fought and prayed together. They've become a family. A strange one, maybe, but a close one none-the-less. And the person these people have influenced us to become is understood here. At home? Well, at home people are probably not going to realize at first that we are a completely different person. That we will be feeling more connected to the place we just left than the people we come back to. That we're going to think a bit different or respond to things in a way that's a bit un-orthodox from how we have in the past. We've talked through, grown in, and learned about things with a group unlike any other, so we're going to have moments of reacting to something and suddenly realizing nobody around us understands our reaction. It will be a bit unsettling. Old friends who are very familiar. New reactions and understandings. It's a strange dissonance. We're also going to experience a bit of anxiety over fitting back into circles we've been absent from. It's hard to see that everything has just gone on without us. That some of our friends are either closer or have grown away from each other. Circles that we once were intricately woven into look a bit different from the outside, and we may wonder if we're going to be able to find our way inside again. We may fear that we are forever to feel like an outcast. Getting back into the social world already buzzing around us may be daunting.

I have one word to offer. One word that will be of great help to those trying to love on us and be a good friend as we return: Patience. Please have patience as we navigate a muddy road of returning to a social life. Patiently allow us to weird out over things that seem insignificant. Patiently invite us to things until we're comfortable enough to say "yes." Patiently give us permission to messily re-integrate in whatever way we need. It will take time. But we'll eventually find our groove again!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wednesday's Words: Week 3

Welcome to week three in the installment of shorts about missionaries coming home from the field. This week I am going to talk about an issue that is big with every person serving in ministry or missions: The Pedestal.

It is extremely common for many people to have a rise in friend requests, followers, and communications from people back home once they are on the field in missions or hardcore ministry. It's hard to decipher whether people really want to love you and be your friend, or whether they are enamored because you're doing something so unusual, "cool", "amazing", etc....

Once home, people often approach or speak with missionaries as if they are some kind of special big deal. Almost like a person interacts with a celebrity. This is very difficult for several reasons:
1. Just as any "famous" person will tell you, we're just people. We don't have something incredibly amazing about us that makes us any different than you. We just got told to go somewhere else and do something a bit different. And we chose to obey. (Sometimes we didn't even do that but were dragged into it!) That is all.  We don't have some magical power or insight. We don't have a super-connection with Jesus that isn't available to you.  We often begin to hear things like "You do so many crazy things. I'm just stuck here and don't do anything amazing." Or "I wish I was powerful and had gifts like you do." This is so hard for us to hear, because you don't have to live in Africa or work in a brothel to have your days filled with stories so wild you can't even share them. You don't have to be "specially called" or anything weird to have a connection with Jesus that enables you to see or even be a part of things like prophecy, knowing things you humanly wouldn't be able to, sudden insight into the redemption you have authority to speak onto a person or place, etc......you just need to realize He wants to hand you these things and ask the Holy Spirit to anoint you. Then you need to carefully heed the anointing and walk under it. That's it. Period. We're not special. We just walk with Him. (And really probably because we're desperate for His presence and healing in our lives.)

2. We need healing, not draining. Being immersed in another culture or serving in full-time ministry means we're worn. It means you pour your whole self out every day. It means you get up early to inconveniently be the first one there. It means you stay late and work when nobody realizes how much you have to do. And it means you've had to fight some huge emotional, mental, and spiritual battles on a daily basis. Often for others who don't see or appreciate it. The nature of this work is completely exhausting. (I don't mean to sound negative. I pop out of bed every day giddy like a little child over what I get to do.)  Sure, we wouldn't trade it for the world, but we're tired.  Often, friends of people in ministry seek to spend time with them because they hope they'll have some kind of deep insight to offer about their life. Some wisdom and help. 
But when we're returning from a season of being knee-deep in this stuff, we've just come out of battle. We may have some PTSD. I'm not saying this flippantly. I mean it in all seriousness. We need permission to be a mess as we heal. We need to know it's okay not to be this wise, put-together spiritual guru with deep insight for your lives. 

Ways you can be a good friend: 
 There's some themes here among all the weeks: 
1. Protect us. The best way to be a friend is to stand up and protect us from people who may be draining and not quite understanding. Be our advocate. 

2. Remind us from time to time that it's okay to need some time of healing. Remind us to be human and not to act as if we're not. 

3. Help us plan some fun, refreshing things. Movie nights. Drives. Beaches. 
This will help us breath and restore.

Stay tuned for more next week.....

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wednesday's Words: Week 2

If you didn't read last week's post, I explained that I would write a weekly short about coming home from the mission field. An insider's view on what their missionary friends are going through as they return. Go read it right quick. Then pick up here.....

This week, I wanted to mention the "What now?" factor. 
Often times, when returning home from the mission field, it's because we've finished a season of some sort. We are coming back to rest and to seek out our next step. It may be tempting as a friend to be asking about our plans, what may be coming next. What have we looked into? Applied for? Where are we headed? What's going on in our lives? There's not something inherently wrong with this. At some point, it's good to ask this. We need to know you care. The struggle comes when we've just returned home and are trying to catch up with everybody. We have several people a day to see, and often, every single person immediately begins asking these questions. This is hard for several reasons:

1. We may have returned home because a project was finished or a lack of funding. This means we were probably pulled out of a place we loved deeply and felt at home in. We may be mourning that loss and needing some time to learn to love being back again. Being asked what's next can be a bit like rubbing salt into that wound. Our hearts are tenderly missing those we just left and we may not be *quite* ready to picture a new place and new faces. 

2. Even though this is never the intention, when friends automatically begin asking about your plans as they see you, it can sometimes feel as if it's not exciting just to have us home. When returning, we need to know we were missed and that we are desired right where we are at this moment. Just for being us, not for what we can do. When we know what the next step is, believe me. We'll tell you! We'll be so excited, we'll be shouting it from the rooftops. (Well, tweets and status updates.)

Ways to be a good friend with the "What now" factor:

1. Understand that we may not have wanted to come home at exactly this time and that we may be a bit sad about it. Ask what activities we can do together to ease this. Ask us about people we worked with. Let us tell you stories. They're usually quite interesting and fun!

2. Simply celebrate that we are home right now. 
 Focus on the current moment with us and make the most out of the time we are here. Have some fun. Celebrate. Plan nights out, roadtrips, and adventures!

Stay tuned for more next week.....

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday's Words: Week One

It looks as if I shall be returning home in roughly 7-10 weeks. For how long I do not know.
As I've been thinking about this, the first thing that comes to my mind is a strange kind of unsettledness-almost a fear-of trying to re-enter the world I once lived in after being gone for a year. And after the kind of living I've been doing. I may not have been out of the country during this time, but the things I've done and the way I've lived very much reflect that kind of experience. (I work for a missions organization, I live on raised support, I spend every day at the mercy of bus and train schedules, I live in a low-income area, my housing is an old church building, and I spend my extra time in a former brothel learning how to fight trafficking.) 

I have so many friends all over the globe who've done this for years. Missions. Ministry. Moving. Coming and going. I've barely begun and I can't imagine what it's like doing this long-term. 
So I had an idea. 
I'm going to write a post each week about these issues. Short installments. The whole point is for those of you at home to get an extra "insider's view" into this whole world. To truly have a view of what your friends and loved ones who do the missions thing may be going through as they return home. And to be able to support and love them well. 

With that, I will dive right in.

Issue #1: Identity/Reverse Culture Shock. When a friend has been working in missions for any period of time, regardless of whether it's stateside or global-they have gone through a deep time of change. As they depart from the season they've been head-first in, they are not the person that left you. Inevitably, they will be very different. And they will have some culture and re-entry shock coming back to you. Just like they did when they departed for this journey, they are quite literally exiting one world and entering another one completely. It is a hard mix of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual challenges to return home after working in these environments. Things that used to be normal are suddenly a luxury. Your friend is not trying to be snobby or "better" than they used to be, but the way of recent life has just caused a shift in the way they are used to doing things now. The habits, pace, and focus of those around them at home-even if they are the same as when your friend left-may suddenly be a very different culture than what they've been doing. And may be hard to adjust back to. This is often referred to as "reverse culture shock" by missionaries. Being removed from the place they were staying may begin a delayed process of realizing how different, hard, or amazing certain parts of life "in the field" were. A process that will need to be walked through. 

The best way to be a good friend and to love on them is to:
 1. Understand that they won't be the same person and embrace it. Notice the beauty in the changes! Learn from the changes. Glean from the things experienced.
 2. Be graceful and gentle rather than demanding. Don't push for instant or large amounts of time with them because they happen to be home. They will probably want to process things a lot at first. Sometimes that means a lot of alone time. Sometimes that looks like spending time on the phone or visiting with other people in similar fields. This doesn't mean they've suddenly made new friends and want to be with or speak to them more than you. It means they need to walk through a hard transition with someone who's physically done it. And don't be surprised if they seem less excited about doing things you may have once gone crazy over doing together. It may take time for their emotions and mind to adjust to the environment they have suddenly found themself thrown back into. They are going to need time to figure out how their new identity fits into their old life. They'll need time alone to process what's going on inside as they transition. Ask them questions. Try to understand what things were like for them. There were probably things about living situations, the job, and being separated from home that have left a mark on them. That hurt. Get to know this. Pray for them and with them as they work through what they've been through. Find out where they are experiencing "dryness" as a result and be an advocate for them filling those areas again. Also, notice the new things they may have discovered and grown to love. There may be a new item or habit that they are now into or interested in that may be foreign to you. Learn about. Take the opportunity to learn something new and beautiful. 

Stay tuned for more weeks of thoughts! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Check Engine Lights

It's 4:00am. I can't sleep because my world's been simply exploding.
Let me just talk about one of the revolutionary things that happened this weekend.

I attended a conference with some of the people from Elijah Rising-the anti-trafficking ministry I'm interning with. I didn't want to go. I didn't even wake up that morning planning to go. I was just pouting to myself because Miss Beth was doing a conference in Lubbick, TX and I wanted to be there and only there. But, the ladies talked me into attending. I went the first night thinking that it would be sort of weird and that I would just go for the one evening. Little did I know it would bring me total freedom.

Among the many things that happened, one big thing stuck out to me. I guess I've heard it many times before. But for some reason, it totally sunk in this time. The speaker was talking about a check engine light in a car. And how a person deals with it in one of two ways. They either see it and stop to figure it out, or they ignore it and pretend it isn't there as long as everything seems to run okay. Most likely because they don't understand it all and they're afraid to diagnose and asses things. They don't want to face the problem. Of course, that's the route I take. In fact, for a year before I left for Houston, my little red 1999 Nissan has had a check engine light on. And there were no good explanations upon examination. It ran fine. So I ignored it. I did nothing. I didn't want to face whatever the problem was. The thing is, the check engine light is a warning signal. It goes off to tell us that something deep down in the flow of the car isn't healthy. And while you can plow forward with the light on and keep going, you'll hurt things in the long run. You see where this is headed, right?

You know that we have some form of a check engine light in our lives or our spirit. And when it lights up, how often do we stop to examine it's cause? Or do we keep plowing forward because we're afraid to face it? I had a big blaring light on in me for several years. Something was never settling. Something was always screaming inside me that I should halt the brakes and pop the hood for a good deep inspection. But I didn't listen. I felt the pressure of making ends meet and taking care of myself financially, figuring out a path and plan because that's normal, and trying to be put together and involved in ministry enough to make God proud. I was utterly exhausted and worn out. I honestly thought that I wasn't allowed to slow down. That slowing down and saying "I need to take a while to breathe and be lost and deeply question what's wrong" is not okay. To me, that meant weakness. Or being a waste of space and time when God needs me to minister to others. Anybody else relating? This problem is why Jesus plopped me in the middle of Houston, Texas before I knew what hit me.

If I would've considered the ramifications of giving up my income (even though it was practically nothing) and car to come live on support in an old church building and tromp all over town alone on hours of bus rides, I would've run the other way. This is NOT what someone pictures for herself, and at my age. But as the year has progressed, I've had my heart opened to the depth of my works-based mentality and wrongly painted pictures of what ministry and serving Jesus look like. It turns out the check engine light is on for a reason. And this weekend the diagnostics team went to work. I realized I have been operating completely on a system of always having a plan or a back-up that I'm considering at every moment in the back of my head. There's hardly a night that passes where I don't lay my head on the pillow and immediately think "I could always go back to _____" or "if things don't work out I will just go _____ and do ______". And I am not pleased with myself at the end of the day unless I've poured myself out hard in ministry.

Elijah Rising's DNA is justice prayer. Surprisingly their success in fighting trafficking isn't usually tied to physically going in and acting at brothels. No. Their heart is to minister to the heart of Jesus Christ-who alone can right all wrongs. This is a wildly new angle of ministry that I have honestly never experienced. To spend the majority of my time and energy ministering to the heart of Jesus? Praying? Praising? Exalting? Worshiping? Loving? Seeking? Learning about? Sitting with?
Being present with Jesus and focussing on Him as my ministry?
"Yes. But how is this doing anybody any good?"
First, Jesus is worthy of ALL honor and praise all the time.
We could never even grasp the extent of that truth.
Second, through prayer and petition we may just move the heart of God and angels. No. I don't totally understand how this works. But it's talked about a lot in scripture. We are called the Children of God and Brides of Christ for starters. That's literal and means we are handed the sword and power of the courts of God Himself. This is something that should be blowing our minds and changing the way we walk and operate in everything. Why we choose living in defeat all the time instead is baffling to me.
Thirdthe more time we spend on Jesus, the more filled with His heart, mind, and power we become. And then when we interact with others, we are able to much more clearly and effectively serve and minister to them. In so many ways the American Church has got this all backwards. We are taught the urgency of being signed up for enough "ministries" at church to fully be pulling our weight. I used to spend all my time at events. Now I don't even go to church often at all but I spend all my time with Jesus. The more I study and worship Him, the more in awe of Him I become. And out of that, I sense when my bus driver, clerk at Kroger, and coworkers are stressed out or sad and I can stop and offer them the hope I am overwhelmed with. That is justice work. Bringing all things into redemption and reconciliation with their creator. Not beating down doors. But being present and willing to usher people into the Throne Room of Jesus. Facilitating an encounter with Him that will leave them forever changed. THAT is what I want to be about and only about for the rest of my life.

Monday, June 30, 2014

To listen.

There are a bunch of blogs out there lately that have spoken about the whole singleness thing. Most of them are written quite well. Almost too well. This is NOT going to be another one of those.
In fact, I'm even surprising myself here in what I'm about to say...

I love reading the points that are made. I agree with just about everything said. And I'm the first to admit I too share in some of the bitterness that comes with being single and hearing the cliche lines over and over from well-meaning women in the church who are honestly trying to help and encourage me but don't realize by their words they are telling me it's my fault in various ways. Sure, if one more person tells me this time is for the Lord preparing me for marriage (I'm not mature enough yet), it always comes when you aren't looking (Stop desiring what God wired you for), or I'm fortunate because I can go anywhere and do anything (Yes but I've actually been told I can't move to Africa because it's too dangerous for a single woman. Besides, you have no idea how haunting it is to do life completely by yourself. For YEARS), I just may scream. But I'm seeing a pattern emerging lately that I want to stand up and speak against. 

The reason I said these recent blogs are almost too well written is because in the name of discussing current relevant topics, people have become very crafted at wording things with an angle of cleverness that disguises the thread of bitter judgement that has begun to spin into some ugly cloth. I actually see a pattern evolving of young adults beginning to judge the older generation and the youngly married. We begin to think we are the ones who truly "get it" and are going to go change the world. We're the ones going to African orphanages and working in Indian back-alleys and rescuing the unseen and unheard. They are the ones living their entitled lives in the white picket fences. I can say this because for years, I've been that young embittered 20-something who thinks I have this thing down while everyone else chooses the easy route. But I couldn't be more wrong. And the quicker I admit this the quicker I will learn to see the beauty all around me. I would never be able to go all the places and do all the things that I have if I didn't have friends who are at home with careers. Working "normal" jobs and living "normal" lives. I may have all the drive in the world. I may truly have the ability to go start my own ministry in another country. I could even have the most brilliant plan in the world to end injustice and hunger. But without those who are PAs and nurses and homemakers and teachers and accountants at home fervently praying for me and cheering me on and believing in me with their financial support, I can do absolutely nothing. And if I judge them for staying where they are and doing what they're doing, I'm saying that I don't need or desire their support in my life. I'm claiming that I don't see the beauty in what THEY do and stating that it isn't good. Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 both talk about the necessity of each person being a unique part of the body of Christ. If you're an ear, don't try to walk. If you're a hand, don't try to smell. Just be who you are and flourish in that! It's not as if God made a mistake when He created you. He didn't. He can't.

So many of my friends are moms with young ones at home. You know what? That's the hardest job in the world. I have NO EARTHLY IDEA how difficult that is. And some of my friends are nurses in a fast-paced and high-stress environment. I can't imagine what that entails on a daily basis. My "adopted" older sister in Jesus is a missionary in South Africa. There's no way I could grasp what that contains-even after both my trips. One of my closest friends is married and a homemaker. I didn't have any opinion for several years, and then one day I began to see how much my view of marriage and homemaking and ministry to ones community had changed. I had somehow begun to look at marriage differently. I had begun to ask for different things when praying for my husband. And I had started to be okay with asking for specifics. With looking for a certain future. Just by being married and doing life and making her home, my friend and her husband have been teaching me how amazing and beautiful it can be. What to ask for. And that if you wait for the right one, he won't slow you down in your dreams but propel you forward.

All of this to say, we are too quick to judge those around us. Too quick to think we know what they should do different. What they need to hear. Instead of trying to give advice or just shooting for the common ground when hanging out, why not ask genuine questions? It's the places that are tough for each person that they really need conversation, love, an ear, and a shoulder over. I should be asking my friends what the hard and painful parts of their lives are. What is challenging about parenting? About being married? About South Africa? What hurts deep down in that one spot that never gets talked about and makes you feel alienated? And instead of trying to sooth it or flounder around for a word that seems to sound nice, why am I not praying with them and for them. For those things specifically. Why am I not saying, "I have no idea what it's like to be you. Tell me what you wrestle with. Tell me what hurts. I want perspective. And I want to stand tall beside you and pray loudly and with passion over you." The way I understand it, if we're all different parts of the body, we may have some spiritual authority over the part our dear friends are struggling with. An authority to speak new live and breath over and into that area of their lives. That's WHY we're all woven into such unique tapestries. To be strong where our sisters are weak. But instead we avoid those conversations and stick with all the safe topics that don't require the vulnerability to ask someone what's really going on. 

I'm interning for an anti-trafficking ministry. And I haven't spoken about it in detail because the place we're at, the things we do, and the experiences I'm having are intense. And hard to explain. The office was a brothel a year ago. The kind of work done is deep. When you're literally fighting evil and praying down satan's army, you begin to come up against all kinds of crazy. You'd better suit up because you've entered a roar of war going on in the Heavenlies. One that doesn't push a pause button when you leave for the day. In fact, it often acts up more in the non-work areas of your life. You have headaches. nightmares. I've literally had a vision hit me out of nowhere involving a prostitute. Your mind and emotions can be shaky from the demons that are now after you. You begin to learn that this is now daily life for you. You're in. You know too much to walk away. And you don't want to. But you also realize most of the stuff happening most people don't and won't understand unless they're doing this too.

A friend from Modesto recently moved to Houston. Through church she was told about our organization and the things we're doing in the city. She immediately messaged me and said "I was just informed about all you do. Girl, you are in a dark place and I want to know how I can support you." She then proceeded to take me out for a beautiful day in the city in which we enjoyed each other's company and spoke about the heartache we each deal with. She just moved to the 4th largest city in the country. She's a mom of 3. She is trying to establish her family here while missing home and church and family. It was so beautiful to hear her heart and to have her care and listen to me as I talked about the struggles I'm dealing with. She teared up and told me she could never understand what I go through every day. That moment touched me so deeply. And I realized that is how it's supposed to be. That is the attitude we ought to take with each other. Rather than thinking we understand where others are or what they want to hear, let's just listen to their story and their heart. Let's get uncomfortable enough to simply pray with them and over them. Let's be different from everyone else. They have enough everyone else's, they don't need more. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The update and stuff.

Time for an update. Here's a quick 5 minute nutshell.

And here's the links I talked about:

For my fundrasing page:Gofundme
To purchase my paintings: Lizeesline


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Arise.

For years, I've struggled with feeling like I'm too much and not enough all at once. 
Even and sometimes especially in ministry. 
And I think we all experience this. Some more often than others. 
Feeling these things isn't a sin. Not at all. It's what we do with it that matters.
I got so tired I began throwing a fit. Sorry if that's too much for some of you to handle. I'm just being real here. And really? I'm a mess. We're all a mess. I began kicking and screaming. I spent at minimum several years telling the Lord I didn't want to feel that way. And I didn't want to change who I am. I wanted to be able to be fully me and not ashamed. Not too much, too loud, too big. And not feeling as if I'm falling short, either. I don't know that I've ever been in a situation in life in which I felt comfortable to be fully me before. Something always makes me feel I have to rein it in or strive to be better or more.

And then.  (Oh, how I love a good "and then." You know what I mean?)
And THEN I found Elijah Rising
I get to work in a building that was a brothel last year. 
I get to help with van tours that educate our city about trafficking.
I get to assist in the organization of what we believe is the first trafficking museum. 
And I get to be me. Here, they would never feel as if I am not enough or coming up short. 
And being too big or having too much muchness? Not a possibility. 
I wish I had time to tell you everything about this place and this internship. 
But for now I'll just share what they've been teaching me.....

You are not too much. No-you're not.
You are enough. 
Jesus designed you with the gifts and the personality you have. The last thing they are is a mistake. Too often we feel we have to tame ourselves to avoid making others uncomfortable. To be normal. To fit. 
Listen: Would He hand design you with a personality that'd need to be tamed? No. He doesn't make mistakes. It's society that makes us feel the need to pull back from flowing in the fullness of how much we are. Jesus wants us to move freely in our muchness. He intended on it when He made you. 
We aren't ultimately made to be what the rest of the world has become. Therefore, if we are all we are designed to be, we will look weird to the world. We will make others uncomfortable sometimes. But that's okay. Do you think deep down they're looking for the same thing they see everywhere else? Or perhaps, just maybe, they are looking for exactly the difference you have. 

What would happen if we refused to be put into a box? If we all realized that whatever we've been doing hasn't been working and we took that step forward? If we were willing to throw up our hands and completely let go of our ideas and plans of who we are supposed to be? If we stopped worrying over what our friends will think and allow the Holy Spirit free rein? Yikes. Did I just say that?! Did I just talk about the thing we all skirt around? Yep. I went there.
Guys. The Holy Spirit real. He's so powerful that Jesus said once we had Him we'd do even greater things than He did. Y'all- GREATER THINGS THAN JESUS?! I'm not making this stuff up. He has gifts for each person. It doesn't need to be an argument. It's in scripture. Let's just let Him at us already. Don't you think He's worthy of letting go of everything and just saying "Spirit, come!"Let's allow Him room to make us who He wants with whatever the heck gifts He so chooses. As long as we realize we can literally heal disease and move mountains with our words and our fingers. Let's cease being afraid of Him and be excited about having these abilities instead. Let's stop making excuses and become the person we're meant to be. Bold. Powerful. Undaunted. Not like this broken world. But like some Kings and Queens who know in the future they'll rein over this earth. And in the meantime, get to rein with their King over the powers of evil that are roaming so heavily over it. Kicking them out. Tearing them apart. In the business of redemption of all things. Because they can. And with that power, have decided not to go back to settling for less. 

This is Him calling you. Step away from whatever that reason is that keeps you from the big huge dreams you once had about changing the world. That reason? Whatever it is, it's a toxic poison. Turn. Walk the other direction. Be brave. Be big. Understand the totality of who you are in Christ. Let the Holy Spirit have full rein. And go start shaking the Earth with His power. There's a reason you always dreamed those huge plans to be a world-changer. Before adulthood drowned out the voice, you knew you could. That hasn't changed. Arise and go.