Scholarship VOTE!!!

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates

Hey guys! I posted a short essay for a scholarship, if you can vote and share, I win by accumulating the most votes! THANK YOU!!!

http://takelessons.com/blog/2014/08/living-to-give/

 

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Team Season – Blasting Past!

Missions

This past week there was a team visiting from North Carolina. They were a blast to work with and because they were only here for a week we quickly jumped into ministry! One of the women from the team, Michelle, and I started talking with two women standing outside of their shacks. Both from Limpopo, we began to share life together. Mary claimed she knew God but as we delved deeper into explaining having a relationship with God she began to become quiet. I learned Elizabeth, the other woman had a son back home in Limpopo. “Elizabeth, how would you feel if a man came and tortured your family, killing them?” I asked. Elizabeth confidently replied, “I would be sad but I would survive.” “How would you feel if the man came back years later and said to you, ‘Elizabeth, I know I brutally hurt your family. Will you forgive me for hurting you? My heart is dying, I need a new one.. will you give your son’s heart to me so I can live?” After Elizabeth expressed the choice words she would share with him I nodded. “Of course we wouldn’t want him near us! He hurt us, why should we help him? Elizabeth, that’s what Jesus did for us. Even though we hurt His son and the bad things we did sent Jesus to die, God forgave us. Our words and decisions were the nails in his hands but God raised Jesus from the dead so we could know him.” Elizabeth gasped and sat back, taken back by what I had just expressed.

Ashley, Elizabeth, Michelle, Mary

Michelle jumped into the conversation, “Mary, Elizabeth, I know you know about God, do you have a relationship with him? Have you ever said with your mouth that God was Lord over your life?” Both of them shook their heads, still in shock of the realization of all Christ has done for them. They both gave their lives to the Lord and were so excited! We took a Polaroid shot of us all four together, celebrating the day the turned their lives to Christ: August 6th, 2013.

There are many things that make me love living in South Africa but my most favorite is when the teams from America share their faith with those in South Africa and they give their lives to the Lord! Praise God for the hearts He softens and ministers to!

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 🙂

First Day of Ministry and God is moving!!

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates, Missions

Monday was the first day in the squatter camp, Msawawa. I was so excited to enter the squatter camp and minster to the people. As we began to have conversations with those who resided in the community, one of the interns quickly made connections and seemed to easily have conversations with them. I stood in the background snapping photos, feeling defeated. I wanted to interject in the conversation and share His love. That was all, I simply wanted to break mindsets and spread his peace and wisdom. All the courage it takes to live one day here drains me. I’m not homesick. I’m getting along with the girls in my house. The Lord has been giving revelation after revelation in my quiet times in the Word with Him. Why was I feeling bound by a spiritual rope?

As we left the squatter camp for lunch (our house is between five and ten miles away, making it easier to drive home for lunch and rest up) we began to talk about our favorite and worst parts of ministry so far. I didn’t feel the need to interject since I felt that I had barely made an impact on the day so far. It was slightly discouraging, being the fact that I have been here before and yet was left unsure of what to say, how to continue conversations, and effectively witness. I had the head knowledge, but I didn’t have the experience. We were all sitting around the table eating lunch together when suddenly the Lord pulled at my heart, “Seek me for the words to say. I will tell you what makes the biggest impact.” I sat there in the middle of eating my ham and cheese sandwich, heart’s jaw on the ground at this awesome word. “God, you are so right! I have been so focused on seeking you and forgot to ask you be a part of the biggest reason why I’m here!” We prayed before heading out for another 2 and a half hours of ministry and I encouraged my fellow interns. “Listen to what they have to say. They can be talking and go on so many rabbit trails but the important thing is to remember the big picture and bring it full circle. Let them be heard out. They’ll hear you out in return.” With that we locked up and loaded in the car.

I climbed out of the van with a fresh perspective and as we walked through Msawawa and joyfully greeted everyone I came in sight with, ready for God to move through me. The first man we talked to was restoring an old wicker table. With one eye gone from a fence post falling and removing it, old raggedy clothes, and many missing teeth, he was a sight.

But God had intention for us to talk to Him.

Sixty-three and very much present for apartheid, Cori (one of the second year interns) began to strike a conversation with him. As we find out he restores furniture for a living, a skill his father taught him while growing up, Cori and I immediately saw a connection to the gospel. Unsure if I should jump into telling Him God’s Word or continue to relationship build with the man, I left Cori continue to get to know him better. She then began to share the similarities of how God fixes our hearts, just as he fixes furniture – that when He fixes us, we come back a few years later with scratches and dents, asking Him to restore us.

Cori & the man

We then prayed for him for healing and a deep revelation and relationship with God, that He would spread the Word of God, as well as turn a deaf ear to false teaching. When we finished, another man called out to us at a shop next door. He asked us to pray for him and as we began to ask him questions he told of us how his back was in pain. The many children that surround in a squatter camp can be overwhelming. Another girl, about the age of 10 turns the corner with a pile of corn on top of her head and makes eye contact with me. She approaches me, asking what we are doing here. I tell her a little and the group calls me over to pray for the man with pain in his back. After we finish I turn to talk to the girl, {I later learn her name is Beautiful}. In my heart I feel she is supposed to take us to her mother, but I feel a hesitation. Am I being silly? I don’t want the rest of the group to think I’m being weird… Alexa (another intern!) speaks up and asks Beautiful to take us to her house. She quickly winds through the streets and alleyways, each house we pass we wonder if it could be this girl’s mother. When we finally arrive we see an exhausted, frail mother standing with a tiny baby in her arms. Her name is Edith and her two month old baby, Noise.

We learn more of each other, exchanging life and laughter we began to get into the deeper things of life. Edith shares she is trying to start her own business because her husband does not have a job. Families not having jobs are a common thing in the squatter camps so we elaborate on that for a moment. She wants to send her daughter to school but does not have enough money. We learn she is originally from Zimbabwe, where she married her first husband and gave birth to Beautiful. She then explains that when she moved here three years ago she remarried and now has another daughter. We ask why she moved from Zim and she tells that her husband was brutally murdered – six stab wounds by a screw driver in his skull and several kicks to the jaw, knocking most teeth out. “He lived ten days after”, she tells us. Edith continues to share that her first husband’s killer lives in a squatter camp not even 15 minutes’ drive from Msawawa. “Do you see him sometimes?” Cori asks. Edith nods and we’re all in shock as she begins to weep. We begin to comfort and pour God’s love on her and one by one, we start to pull out verses to edify her. Alexa, who has been missing her family and clinging to this verse personally, flips to Psalms 91. V2

“He alone is my refuge, my place of safety, he is my God, and I trust him. 4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 9 If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, 10 no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. 11 For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.”

Cori jumped in and shared (my personal favorite to hear her share) the story from EZ 16. It is the story of a woman who was left in a field to die as newborn. A man discovers her and sees how dirty and disgusting she is, yet believes in her potential. He takes her, nurses her back to health. Adopting her and giving her every desire of her heart, treating her like the princess she is.  She became vain in her beauty and began to give her body to men, prostituting herself to anyone who came along. 16:16 “You used the lovely things I gave you to make shrines for idols..” She went to sangomas and gambled, sacrificing to idols. Her father was so hurt that she did those things when her created her to be so much more. Yet he still loved her and wanted her to return to him, repent of what she had done.

Edith, Beautiful, & Cori

At the end of this story Edith began to sob again and began to tell of how she often felt God did not hear her prayers. “We are an answer to your prayers. We are here to tell you God hears you. He’s listening to everything you say.” Cori confirms.  I began to feel a pull to share this: “If Beautiful wanted a piece of bread, would you give her the bread she asked for?” Edith nodded and I continued, “Because she is your daughter, right? God is the same! You are His loved daughter, He wants to give everything He has to you! He hears what you say and has a perfect and great plan for you.” We embrace and all the team comes in to pray for her and her family. She repeatedly thanks us and asks us to visit next time we are there. We promise and take a deep breath as we walk onto the streets of Msawawa. God is so good. Never underestimate the little things.

If that little girl had not stayed to watch what was going on, we may not have been able to minister to Edith and her family and certainly change her life for eternity.

Brittany and Greta {2013 Seniors}

Photography

I had an absolute blast with these girls for their senior shoot. They’ve known each other their whole lives through mutual family members. We were out shooting early on a fall morning, capturing the last bit of color left in this season! Brittany plays softball, Greta is looking into a summer internship in Haiti! We had many laughs and a great time capturing this special time in their lives. Thank you girls for asking me to take your senior pictures!

The Palmer Family

Photography

I had a great time taking the Palmer’s family pictures, so glad we were able to incorporate the fall colors! They arrived color coordinated and flashing their pearly whites. Mrs. Palmer even had some fun ideas (love when that happens!) to incorporate and we had a great time. Thanks for letting me take your family pictures, here are my favorites from our shoot!

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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.