Strong in the Father

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates

Getting ready to start a juice fast with some of the girls this week and I’ve been diligently seeking the Lord on His will for this. He spoke to me and showed me nothing like I’ve seen before, just as He always does.

Daniel 9:3 “I turned to the Lord in fasting and in prayer..{20-25} As I was praying, Gabrielle…came swiftly to me. “Daniel, I have come to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given, and now I am here to tell you what it was for you are very precious to God. {10:11-12,17,19} You are very precious to God. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your god, your request has been heard in heaven. “How can someone like your servant talk to you, my Lord? My strength is gone and I can barely breathe.” Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. “Don’t be afraid,” He said, “For you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke those words to me I suddenly felt very strong.”

Daniel knew his city was in danger of being destroyed and so he began to seriously intercede on their behalf. Fasting is a time of intercession and instead of ignoring his call, Daniel stepped up to the plate. God stepped behind his action and worked through his faith. The words Gabrielle gave to Daniel continually repeating how precious He was to God is so inspiring. What a reminder that every time we pray the Lord hears as well! “Your request has been heard in heaven.” God doesn’t ignore us, He listens to our words, takes note of every thought.

This passage encouraged me so much in my decision to take part in my first week long fast. The times I’ve spent with the Lord so far have been so uplifting but I kept feeling a wall. There was something more. When one of the girls approached me telling me she was taking a week to fast and asking me to join, I knew this was what the Lord was telling me to do. After reading in Daniel the next day, it was set in stone. God can move in anyone. Fasting is not the only way to hear God better. For this season I feel this is what He has for me. Taking this time before we have a lot of teams come in and seeking Him on how to more effectively minister, its a time to set myself apart. I am very precious to God. He hears what I say and in my request, He sent an answer. “Don’t be afraid,” He said, “For you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke those words to me I suddenly felt very strong.” He gives me the strength. Not just while I’m on the fast, but every day. He’s going to take care of me, all the time. 

SA sunset

Love the sunsets God designs for me 🙂

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Jeremiah 9:12 “…Why has the land been so ruined that no one dares to travel through it?”

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates, Missions

Hi partners, family, and friends! Hope you are all doing well and God is moving in your lives!

This past week has been the last bit of training sessions, and we finished the week off with a trip to Diepsloot and Kya Sands for kids ministry! It was an awesome time of loving on kids and teaching them about their wonderful Creator. Earlier that week we also went on a trip to Soweto where Nelson Mandela grew up as well as Reverend Desmond Tutu. We learned a lot about the uprising that influenced the end of apartheid and visited many historical spots. It was mindboggling to think it was only 25 years ago when everything changed. Nelson Mandela is still alive today. Most of the time in America, monuments are not resurrected until the death of someone who did something. It did open my eyes that the violence, drinking, and drug addiction that is prevalent here, is not the only idol.

As I was seeking the Lord on verses to pray over the nation, He opened my eyes to so many other things and I would love to share them with you!

{Just as a preface: Monday we went out into the squatter camps to share the gospel with the people who live in the shacks, for many of the interns first time. I was so excited to read these verses that I pray they opened eyes to see all the Lord has promised them and the lies that have been told – and see the real truth!!}

Malachi 3:2

“But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes.”

One of the ways we relate to the people is while they’re doing laundry. So commonly you can strike a conversation up with a woman cleaning laundry, learn more about her and her family and begin to make connections. One of the ways you can bring the Lord into the conversation is by contrasting how the soap that cleans the laundry is just like how God cleans our hearts. This verse is so true – no one can endure till the rapture occurs and certainly face God with a clear conscience.

V13-15

“You have said terrible things about me”, says the Lord. But you say, “What do you mean? What have we said against you?” You have said, “What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.”

Many of the African people seek a tangible God. They want something to show up right now, they want to hear, see, and hold God. So many cult churches offer a tangible power, but it’s not the truth. I have encountered people who question Christians and the church. “Some men create churches just for the tithes and offerings, preach and drive from church to church all day Sunday, and collect tithes and offerings for themselves.” We have learned from the Africans and many are upset by that. “Does God allow that? And if so, why? Wouldn’t it just be better to do our own thing than sacrifice our hard earned money for something fake?”

This is where I find my answer:

Deuteronomy 7:5b-6

“…You must break down their pagan altars..burn their idols. For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on the earth; The Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure!”

His own special treasure…wow. I am called to tear down those strongholds that hold the people of God back from Him.

For that reason I find this scripture so special:

Jeremiah 9:12

“Who is wise enough to understand all this? Who has been instructed by the Lord and can explain it to others? Why has the land been so ruined that no one dares to travel through it?”

Psalm 49:6-9

“Let the praises of Go be int heir mouths and a sharo sword in their hands. To execute vengeance on the nations,.bind their legs with shackles…this is the glorious priviledge of his faithful ones.”

Psalm 21:6

“You will capture all your enemies. Your strong right hand will seize all who hate you…”Although they plot against you, their evil schemes will never 12 For they will turn and run when they see your arrows aimed at them.”

What a verse of edification! {encouragement, declaration} I just felt God pouring into me that nothing was impossible through Him. He can do anything through me – I am a vessel in His hands. While the enemy may try to attack me with physical, emotional, and mental pain or scramble my WiFi so that I am unable to communicate with my family for a week, he can’t knock me down because God is my comforter. God’s word and blessing on my life gives me power to resist the enemy in all of his attacks – be it having communication problems with my roommate or a discouraging day on the mission field. Being a missionary is not just when I am out in the shacks talking to people – I am just as much, if not more, of a missionary in my own home.

Sweet, South Africa

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates, Missions

Ladies and gentlemen, I have arrived and am so excited to be here!

I was unsure of what to expect housing wise but when we arrived at our home for the next 11 months, I was in awe. Nice rooms with their own bathroom and a pool in the backyard. We don’t have everything set up yet (we gather groceries on our own for the first time this Sunday!) but it is coming together really nicely. All the interns are getting along and enjoying the company of everyone. Last night we hit the sack early, about 10:45pm and yet I woke up at four in the morning! The mornings are gorgeous here, though (as is most of the weather because it’s summer currently!) Sitting outside and watching the sunrise while spending time in the Word felt so refreshing.

Maybe it was the peacefulness, maybe it was the early hour of the morning, or maybe it was the full-hearted pursuit of God and completing His will – but I had an amazing devos this morning!! As I opened various devotionals, God began to speak to me about praise. Praising God can move mountains – even city walls! {Joshua 6:1-5; 20-21} “And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants.” {Jeremiah 32:39} Praise creates hope. Psalm 145 (and the last couple of chapters) brags on God and revives your spirit. “But joyful are those who the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord God.” {Psalm 146:5} “The Lord’s delight is in..those who put their hope in His unfailing love!” {Psalm 147:11} Praise generates peace (Psalm 147) and it also reminds us of His goodness things you’ve come through –He brought you out of- (Psalm 103:2). My favorite is one later on: “Violence will disappear in your land; the desolation and destruction of war will end. Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there.” {Isaiah 60:18} Praise opens the gates to the kingdom of God – in church, in your home, in your car, and yes, even in another country. How awesome that we can praise God and exalt and He will open doors and grace us with His mercy every morning. Hallelujah!

Since the trip down here can be so strenuous, Impact Africa is breaking us in slowly with briefing and allowing us to gradually take everything in and adjust to life as an intern in South Africa. They took the interns to the first (of many) malls in South Africa and we purchased our phone with air time as well as participated in the third annual Pick N’ Pay Scavenger hunt! {Pick N’ Pay is the equivalent of our Walmart}. I didn’t win…but it was still rewarding to find a few different things that sound like one thing but are actually completely different! “Baby marrow” isn’t what you think it is…it’s actually zucchini!

Pick N' Pay Scavenger Hunt!

Wouldn’t be a trip to South Africa without chicken feet! Notice my grossed out grimace.. and yes this color is just from being in the sun during the morning. It’s so intense!!

Yesterday was our first full day of training which included going to the communities walking through the creshes (daycare) and learning more about the Baby Safe (which I was SO excited about from the beginning!) The more I learn about the programs Impact Africa has, the more I partner with them. Impact Kids is set up so strategically by Michelle Franzen. Based on the statistics in South Africa, she has orchestrated a very effective system. South Africa estimates that 4.7 million of its people are totally illiterate and another 4.9 are functionally illitierate (meaning adults who left school before grade seven.) Three million households, almost eighteen million people live below the poverty line (set at an income of only $35 a month!) Research shows that up to half of an individuals capacity to learn has been established by the age of four. With that mindset, Impact Africa opened up a preschool from ages 2-6. Most African parents send their children off to first grade without any training beforehand. They don’t know how to sit still, their attention span is short, and they lack the motor skills to excel. Impact Kids is well rounded with separate classrooms for the 2-3 year olds, 4-5, and 6 (sometimes 7 depending upon their educational development.) From 8-1 they are being taught with play breaks and gym in between lessons, after 1 they have free time and the cresh turns into more of an afterschool care, making the most of their attention span. Every lesson incorporates Christian values, scripture memorization, bible stories, songs, etc. They go above and beyond the requirements of the Gauteng (how-tang) school system. The school has really taken off and even in the beginning of the year (most of the parents wait to send their children to school till the beginning of February) the creshes are almost at capacity!

Some of the gals and I have shared stories and already encouraged and challenged each other in our faith. We’re enjoying each other’s company. The second evening before dinner we all stood in a circle hitting the volleyball back and forth. There is such peace in the household and we all are meshing so well. After dinner my roommate and I spent some time together and prayed for each other as we begin to settle into our new home here in South Africa. Last night we went to a braai (barbeque) with the Impact Africa founders, Rich and Michelle Franzen. We played games, swam, and at the very end were able to Skype with our families! It was so nice to be able to talk to everyone! Once we arrived back at our home all the interns gathered to pray together for our ministry and unity as a team. All in all, I’m enjoying my time here (you know, in the two days that I’ve been living in South Africa.) I will update you soon on more things that we are doing and how we all grow, as well as stories of ministry (which are in the weeks to come!!) Thank you all for your support and prayers, they are much appreciated and they have (and continue to) made a difference!

BIG Update!

Challenge & Revelation, Missions

It’s been a while since I’ve written to you all. My apologies, settling back into a life with two jobs and no spare time can be a little hectic.

The organization, Impact Africa, whom I ministered with while on my missions trip, has accepted me into their one-year internship program. I am so ecstatic!! I will be dedicating one year of my life to touching these people’s lives and changing the nation of Africa.

I have wanted to do this for over a year now and sitting here writing to you, my spirit soars. I will be ministering to the kids from the “homeless” camps, loving on them, teaching them, sowing into their lives and futures! I will be sharing the love of Christ with the men and women, moms and dads, in these camps.

While I was out ministering to these people, many of their questions were so deep. They cling to the Word of God and are hungry for answers! One man asked, “In the story of Moses and the burning bush, was God telling him to take off his shoes because the ground really was holy or was He talking about the hardness of his heart?”

WOW.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never thought about that while reading the story of Moses.

With less than three short months to raise $16000 for this trip, I need your help! You’ve seen and heard what is happening in this country, they so badly need the Love of God to be evident. I not only need one-time donors, but also monthly supporters who will largely fuel this expedition to touch the lives of those who have been abandoned by so many.

If you are interested in more information on how to partner with me, comment below and I will send you the information.

Thank you for believing in me and supporting me!

Trust. Faith. Destiny.

Challenge & Revelation

This wasn’t the really the first idea I thought I’d write about for my first blog post. It’s supposed to be quirky, fun. But, these are my thoughts, too. I hope you’ll continue to read my feelings, convictions, and adventures. There will be plenty of those I’m sure. Let me tell you where my story has been taking me lately.

Most kids “know” what they want to do when they grow up. Heck, I thought I was going to be a worship leader when I was 16. Toured colleges for it. I loved the classes, the teachers. But it was missing something.

A tech department.

No photography courses? I turned my back on that college and continued to pursue God’s bigger plan for my life.

As months passed, my passion for photography grew. I was given a Nikon D3000 for Christmas and little Ms. Amateur was born. That camera was glued to my hip. A few months later, I began doing little “shoots” with my friends, learning more about camera angles and techniques. Summer rolled along and my church deemed me the event photographer. At 17, that was a HUGE honor! I interned with the tech guys during that summer as well, constantly expanding my knowledge of lighting, camera settings, and post editing.

By the time October came and passed, I had a few professional shoots already on my belt for families and seniors. I was in my element and blossoming. Not to say that I didn’t get discouraged. Believe me, there were times I was discouraged if I could really take this to another level. What if I was always going to be the amateur with a nice camera? I certainly didn’t want to be the kid who delivered overpriced point-and-shoot prints. So I pushed myself to continually grow, I was where I needed to be and that was all that mattered.

The drastic difference from where I was when I first had my camera to now is amazing.

April 2011Image

June 2011

ImageImageCompared to my latest shots of June/July 2012

ImageImageImage

Hard to believe just a little over a year has passed. I love what I get to do. The hard work, time, and money I put into this is well worth my while. And I’m excited to see where God takes this. I’m striving to be the best I can be. His favor surrounds me.

As of the past year, my heart has been calling me to Africa. An organization, Impact Africa , visited my church and I was drawn to their year long internship program. As a kid, I was intimidated by missions. You hear so many horror stories, you never want that to be yourself or someone you know in such scary situations. That’s where God changed my heart. Those that are meant to stay and minister to the people here, in America, that’s okay. Because it’s their calling. I feel a pull in my heart to travel and minister, capture the realities that many Americans don’t even know about today. Even I know that I’m not completely aware of all that is surrounding me.

As of May this year the opportunity was presented to me to go on a missions trip for several weeks with the same ministry I had felt a pull towards before. A family friend from the church we attend is heading up the trip and is aware of my passion for photography. Not only do I get to go to Africa, I get to take pictures, too! What a blessing. God has shown himself in every way. You see, fundraising for the trip had started before I graduated. I decided that if I was supposed to go, it would still be possible to raise funds after I graduated.

As I sent letters out and deadlines passed, a fraction of the payments needed came in. A big deadline was approaching before I left for a week long vacation and if I didn’t make this payment they wouldn’t be able to hold my seat on the plane for South Africa. A day before we left, the several hundred dollars I needed to make the payment was sent to the church offices in my name. If that isn’t the hand of God, TELL me what isn’t!!

Trusting God was always a hard thing for me. Completely handing something over to Him and saying, “I’m not going to worry about this anymore. I’m resting it at your feet, standing in faith, and speaking those finances in. But I won’t waste my time worrying about it.” is a VERY hard thing to do. But why do we make something so simple as refusing to worry, so complicated? I didn’t fully grasp trusting Him until just recently. Honestly, I don’t think I completely understood until my dad sat me down and began to tell me how much he cared for me and wanted to provide for me in the future. Teenagers, much less, adults, don’t seem to fully grasp how much their parents care about them until they’re gone.

If the God who created the whole world, couldn’t handle or solve our problems, wouldn’t we know already? Try it out. Turn something over to Him and when it crosses your mind, pray about it. Thank Him for giving you wisdom and favor in the situation.

Those are my thoughts for the day/week/whatever.