Can’t Say Goodbye

Challenge & Revelation, Photography

Wow. The past year and a half has been quite a whirlwind! Thank you to you all who try and keep up with the small notes I have time to put up (as you can see, it’s been a while!) I’ve missed blogging about the events and people that I meet here in Africa but God has been teaching me a lot this season about living  in  the  moment.

Some of you may know but I’ll summarize for those of you just jumping into this quirky girl’s life of adventure. I have been with Impact Africa for a year and a half as an intern. My job is a bit of a catch-all but in my time spent in South Africa I have not only made friendships that will last a lifetime as well as organized trips for the orphan-vulnerable children we have at our schools in several communities and planned weekly crafts, stories, and picked up the large amount of food that feeds all (close to) 200 children! I’ve learned much about blog writing as I wrote blogs for the organization as well as leadership through leading mission teams and coming back to “guide” this year’s interns. (I say guide in parentheses because there were definitely times they were guiding me!) I’ve helped teach an English class we set up for people in the community to help provide better job options and battled through wanting them to desperately know English as well as questioning if teaching was in my future. I’ve grown in compassion as I watched people try to hold their lives together without Jesus and then turn to Him and begin the journey of learning to trust how great He truly is. I’ve also struggled with the thought of never leaving and keeping these people under my wing forever, but I know that’s not God’s plan.

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Today I am returning to the States to prepare and begin college at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Part of me can barely contain the excitement, the other can barely hold in the tears. As I alluded to before, this season has been a bit of a tricky one. I feel that every time a season ends God’s grace seems to pull back a teensy bit so you can see what living life outside of His will is like (just in case you decide to change your mind and do something else.) Even in the moments I wanted to run away from the situation at hand, God always provided strength. While I was humbled, He was exalted and that is what I live my life for: His glory.

Some people say when God shuts a door He opens a window, but I believe God gives us the choice at times. Both will work just fine, but one is closer to His heart. These past six months have been difficult, but God refined me in so many ways. He gave me the choice to come back or to go back to comfortable Ol’ America and I didn’t come back because it was easy. I came back because I knew this is what God has planned for the rest of my life: missions. In whatever aspect that may take. Thanks for journeying with me during my time in South Africa. So this is not good-bye. Missions is an overflow of the heart and that’s how I live my life now. And for South Africa? It’s just a, “See you later :)” Can’t wait to see the new adventures that await us!

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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 🙂

Forgive and Let Go.

Challenge & Revelation, Uncategorized

This morning as I was driving home from church a thought occurred to me.

There will always be drama around you, it’s your reaction that determines the outcome.”

In high school (you know, a few months ago) I always bragged that I didn’t have any drama. I later realized it was because I made the decision I didn’t have time for it. When a situation arose where people were taking sides, I avoided it. Now, I see things a little differently.

Drama populates every circle. You make the choice to either side with whomever you’re talking to or find out the real story. Let’s be honest, most of the time the first version of the story you hear, isn’t the real one. So what do you do when a friend comes to you crying and hurt, spouting out how this person lied to them and destroyed their dreams?

Listen.

A true friend listens when support is needed. You don’t have to side with this person (even though, some may take your head nod as an agreement..) People need to be heard out, get the garbage out of their head that keeps harassing them. Others say what they need to say, but continue to circle one thought like a vulture with it’s intended prey.

The key is to focus on what they’re saying, comfort them, and help them rise above it. Drama can cloud a mind and often leaves people disoriented and confused. It can act like tear gas, dropping you to your knees in surprise, sinking with you to the floor. The tear gas blurs your vision and can cause disorientation, confusion, and sometimes panic. When exposed to tear gas, the best thing to do is stay calm and not rub it in.

What does this have anything to do with drama? When you’re offended, what is your immediate response? Do you respond in anger or do you keep calm? It may sound simple but take a deep breath. It’s harder to remember this than you think. The last thing you want to do when dealing with a stressful situation is to dwell on it. Constantly turning over the situation won’t fix anything, and dwelling on your hurt or anger will only make the circumstances worse.

You don’t have to be apart of it. Feed the peace, not the strife. 

Some friends will look to you as their voice of reason. Some may need you to stand taller than the attack and pull them up. Our words were meant to uplift and never condemn. There is a difference between having an opinion and accusing. Watch your tone, and be careful in your phrasing with words. When someone is already surrounded by drama, they can easily become offended.

With that said, don’t tread so lightly that you become an enabler. Allowing people to see the reality is never easy and there may not always be a right moment. Pray about it. Say what you have in your mind first, think it through, don’t let your tongue flap in the wind. Self-reserve can be the most modest and respected attribute of a person.

Okay, those are my thoughts for the week/day/whatever. You know 🙂 Have a great week, guys!

Getting Fed Up Is Easy.

Challenge & Revelation

Sorry I haven’t written in a while…been a little preoccupied.. :/

Trusting God is hard. It’s a small truth, but a big one at the same time.

Probably my biggest struggle is remembering to turn it over to Him. Nobody is perfect. When you’re believing for something, it takes faith and trust. But how do you feed that faith? Walking in His love. Recently, I’ve come to realize I need to walk in love more. Sometimes those critical thoughts of others overtake you. Whether it’s out of response because you’re hurt (been there too many times recently) or because you feel you’re better than them. Anger and pride have no part in God. Yet those thoughts plague us and we accept them as our own.

–You mean those aren’t my thoughts?

Of course not. They’re only yours if you accept them. Satan speaks to us in first person so we’ll take what he says as our own thoughts. Just because you read the Word and have a personal relationship with our awesome God, does not mean you don’t fall.

–But how do I turn those thoughts captive? They haunt me with their taunts, I feel trapped by their persistence.

They don’t have authority there. Once you tell them no once, if they continue, that’s harassment. They have to leave.

It may sound extremely simple, but it was hard for me to put that into practice. Satan attacks us out of our insecurities, fear we’ll never find a significant other, fear we’ll never be good enough, fear we’ll never get out of what so relentlessly haunts us.

You have to let go. Turn it over to the King who has planned your path before you were conceived. When I first let go, I was okay. But after a crazy week of trying to be strong for myself and others around me going through trials as well, I fell apart. I went back to the despair, the hurt, the isolation after feeling like no one cared to ask how I was.

And then a friend stepped in. One who had been where I had been. Who years later still faced situations that tested her strength. Words cannot describe how thankful I am to God who sent me a friend that could understand just exactly what I was saying and encourage me to never give up on the Word I knew God had told me.

As weeks passed, I began to hold my head up emotionally and pursue God with fervency. Relying on Him was the best decision I had made. I think, through the stress of finishing school and everything that came before and after graduation, I forgot.

So, I’d like to challenge whoever reads this, all two of you. Ha.

God created us for companionship, right? This week, instead of telling whoever first, let’s thank God for the good experiences and lift up the bad ones. I don’t do it enough. Maybe you do. Would love to hear if this challenged you and what the results were.

God bless 🙂