Wednesday, November 6, 2013

But I'm the victim!

Have you ever been hurt? Has your trust ever been betrayed? Have you ever been told that you aren't good enough? Have you ever been abused in any way - physically, emotionally, sexually?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions then you probably know how easy it is to operate with a victim mentality. Letting what happened to you define you and keep you shackled to your hurts.

Most of the students here at Happy Horizons Children's Ranch have been victims of sex trafficking, incest, rape, and physical abuse. They have every right to be angry and bitter and play the victim card.

But you won't find these kids feeling sorry for themselves. No, sir! They have a worship team. Every saturday they serve the families in their community. They have amazing talent - singing, playing instruments, art, dancing, dramas.

Today I got to tag along with one of the three community service groups. The community service
groups meet with 2-4 families, asses their needs, and decide who they should help. Today they chose to help an elderly woman. She is living with her grandchildren who are trying to kick her out. One of her legs has been amputated at the knee. She gathers coconut leaves that have fallen and makes hand brooms. The brooms are sold at 10 pesos each (about 25 cents). On a good day she sells 5. That's about a dollar a day. Barefoot and feeling neglected she longs to have a place of her own.

The community service group will be building her a home! No it won't be big or have running water and may not have electricity but it will be hers.

Watching all of this unfold in front of me made me speechless. How often have I felt like I couldn't help someone because I was busy hurting? How many people have I passed by because I was consumed by my fears of rejection? I was humbled today in a way that I haven't been before.

I am in no way discounting anything that may have happened to you or myself. Your hurt and feelings are valid. I am, however, challenging you to not let hurt and betrayal define you and dictate your life. Jesus has come so that we may have life to the full! John 10:10. God comforts us so that we can in turn comfort others. Don't keep your pain to yourself. Let it empower you to reach out to others that are hurting.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I met with a new friend this morning. Which is neither here nor there but, on my way home I randomly thought about my cell phone plan. I have unlimited texting, data, mobile to mobile, and I have over 3,000 rollover minutes. (I don't like to talk on the phone ha!) I don't have to worry about going over or reaching my limit.

As I was pondering this the Lord said to me "that's me. What I have for you is unlimited, too!"

Wow! How cool is that?! So many times believers and non-believers alike put limits on God. On what He has and on what He can do. One thing we have to believe and trust, though we may never understand, is that God is not bound by the laws of life, economy, time, or anything the way that we are.

God is the source to our resources. He longs to pour out his blessings upon us but we, in our humanness and ignorance, have put limits on Him. I messed up here or there so now God can't use me. I used to be involved in this or that so I'm disqualified. We limit God. We try to make sense of a supernatural, infinite being with our natural, finite minds.

Jesus was sent to this world to give of his life so that we can have unlimited, unrestricted access to the throne of God. Hebrews 4:16 says "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." So, because of Jesus, our "disqualifications" don't factor in to how God wants to use us or if he can.

Don't limit God to what you think He should or shouldn't do for you. His word is FULL of people that "don't qualify" yet that is exactly who God chose to use. Wanted to use. You and I are no different. If you are willing to obey then you, too, are limitless. Nothing can keep God from using you or doing crazy, unimaginable things in your life. 

Obedience unlocks the unlimited power, resources, and blessings of heaven.

Luke 6:38 says "Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use it, it will be measured to you."

Take the limits off of God and he will show you how unlimited his blessings are for you. When you spend your resources - time, money, emotions - on the things of God you will not run out. You don't have to worry about reaching your limit or draining your resources. God promises to give you a "good measure". Now, He may not provide in the way that you want him to or think he should but he will provide.

Your challenge for the day/week is to ask God where you have limited him in your life. Then, take the limits off and see what God does. I would love to hear your stories! Please share about a time that you have witnessed the limitlessness of God. 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tanzania Newsletter

Here is a newsletter that gives you a glimpse into the three months I spent in Tanzania.

Tanzania Newsletter

Check out my other blogs to read stories that didn't make it in the newsletter.
You can also follow me on twitter or friend me on facebook to keep up with what I'm doing and where I'm going.

Thank you all for your support!!! Prayers are appreciated more than you know. Your financial generosity makes it possible for me to live a life of obedience. I couldn't do what I do with our wonderful people like you investing in my life.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Have you heard the one about...

If you are someone who has never left your country it is probable that you would have a skewed idea of what other countries are like. How they cook, what their bathrooms looks like, transportation, language, markets, smells, etc.

I have had the privilege of visiting a few countries. With each visit I become more aware of just how little I know about other cultures. I wish everyone could experience many cultures. It is a gift that will change your life.

I, ignorantly, assumed that it was Americans that didn't know about other cultures. My last trip to Tanzania showed me that this isn't true. (I don't know why it would be.)

These are just a few of the questions I was asked...

Does the washing machine rip your clothes? Does it get your clothes clean?

Do people walk? (As opposed to driving everywhere).

Are there orphans?

Does it rain? Is it cold? Are there mountains? Are you familiar with this kind of weather? (It was about 73 degrees that day).

Do people have HIV?

Are there thieves?

I have a big grin on my face I remember the times and places these questions came up. I'm glad I got to be the one to answer them. I fear that movies and television shows and music from America paint an unrealistic picture of life in the States - not only for foreigners but also for ourselves.

If you don't have the opportunity to visit another country I urge you to take the time to research a country you're interested in. Talk to people who have been there. Try find a restaurant that has good authentic food from that country.  Some of the best people to talk to would be missionaries. They see the heart of the country - good, bad and ugly. They know the people. The sights. The smells. The sounds.

I can never say thank you enough to those of you who pray for me and support me financially. Without your partnership I would not be able to do what I do. You all play a HUGE role in me getting to do what I created to do. I am blessed to get to travel the world and experience different cultures. May the Lord bless you as you invest in what He is doing in my life!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.

Today is day 11 back in the good ol' U.S. of A. I am still adjusting and processing. One thing keeps coming to mind. There's no going back.

I can never go back to life before missions. Life before experiencing other cultures.

We sang this song at church on Sunday, "I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. Though none go with me. Still I will follow. No turning back."

At the sound of the first note of the song my heart jumped to my throat and tears filled my eyes. This song was a favorite of my late youth pastor, PT. As I reminisced about the few short years I had with him I realized that he is responsible for my missionary life. It was with him that I did my very first mission trip. It was a two week trip to the Philippines in 2001. My life hasn't been the same since. He showed me, not only a part of the world I have never seen before, but that I -ME- could some how make a difference. I could be part of God's plan to change lives, circumstances, communities, and generations.

Yes, I know there is work that can and needs to be done here. But God gives each of us an assignment, a role. My lot is to be an international missionary. There is nothing that compares to the feeling and fulfillment of doing what you know you were made to do. For me that is traveling to other countries and sharing Jesus.

Like the song says, no turning back. I've tasted and seen why God created me and I refuse to settle for anything less. Like the song also says, though none go with me still I will follow. Countless times I have felt like I'm traveling this road alone. Sometimes because there aren't many that choose this path and sometimes because people just don't/can't/won't understand. If following Jesus means that I will be alone on this journey-leaving my family, country, and comforts of home-  then so be it. I don't regret for a second the choice I've made to follow Jesus or to do missions.

My hope and prayer is that you, too, will seek what it is that God has created you to do. What is your purpose? Are you living that purpose? I have this theory. Whatever it is that you are passionate about- helping single parents learn how to budget, starting a group home, domestic missions, international missions, starting a non profit, teaching life skills to at risk youth, taking in pregnant teens, talking to your neighbors, interceding for our gov't/country, photography, sports, technology- whatever it is, THAT is your purpose. God has given each of us a passion. (And it may be something you're not good at doing so that you will rely full on Him). Some of us have suppressed it because it doesn't make sense or it's too late or whatever reason the enemy has tricked you into believing. As long as you are still here on earth God has an abundant life, adventure filled, purpose for you!

Pursue that purpose regardless of what society says or your friends say or your family. One of the many, many cool things about God is that He does 99% of the work. We don't have to be qualified or educated or equipped. All we have to do is obey. That's it. He will do EVERYTHING else. By everything I mean provide, equip, empower, enable, and cover you. He has more than enough and is waiting to pour it out on anyone whose heart is turned to him and is willing to obey.

I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dear Pastors, Stop!

In my search for a church home in Springfield, MO I went with a friend to her church. (Just between us, it felt more like a concert.) The end of the service came when the pastor invites (or is supposed to invite) the congregation to make the choice to follow Jesus. To my surprise and astonishment he said, "I'm not going to embarrass you by asking you to raise your hand or walk up front..."

Wait. What?? What just happened?

From that day, over a year ago, until now I have become more aware of these so called "alter calls". It deeply saddens me that pastors have associated choosing to follow Jesus with embarrassment. To me, that goes against everything Jesus is and the heart of the New Testament church.

Pastors, if we don't encourage people to be bold in making the choice to follow Jesus inside of the church how in the world can we expect them to live their faith boldly outside of the church? In the world. In a place that will chew you up and spit you out at the hint of you having faith in God.

If all of heaven rejoices when even one person commits their life to following Jesus then the church should do the same. The "alter call" time should be full of rejoicing and hope! The church is a place that has been set apart, consecrated to God. A place where believers come and worship together in unity. A place that welcomes anyone and everyone. A place where it should be safe to choose to follow Jesus without feeling embarrassed.

Can you imagine the Apostle Paul asking people to close their eyes and slyly raise their hands if they believe in Jesus and want to live for him? Ha! Yeah right. Yet, several times, when Paul shared the gospel- *no gimmicks, no coffee shop, no lasers, no smoke machine- thousands of people chose to follow Jesus. Yes, thousands.

As a church we should create an atmosphere of conviction rather than comfort. When God wants to change things in our lives (conviction) it is always for our good. It is always out of his deep, relentless love for us. Church should be a place of change. Change isn't comfortable. If we stay comfortable we won't change.

Pastors, fellow Christ followers, will you join with me in asking God to use us to create an atmosphere of conviction- at church, at home, at work? After all, it is God's sweet conviction and loving kindness that leads us to repentance. That turns our hearts to him. Will you join me in encouraging new believers to be bold in their decision to follow Jesus?

*side note: I'm not saying coffee shops, lasers, and smoke machines are bad. I'm saying we should be careful to not let them distract us from the tender touch of the Holy Spirit drawing our hearts to the Father or distract us from showing God the reverence he so deserves. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

My detox story. As told by me.

It's two months into my unexpected detox. I have not watched television, listened to the radio, or been to the movies. The power goes off randomly anywhere from 5 mins up to 22 hours. I have to warm up the water for my bucket shower. Sunny days means laundry day. Rainy days means water to wash, cook, and clean with.

It wasn't until about three days ago I realized I have been unknowingly detoxing from the pressures of American media and way of life. I have not been bombarded by advertisements that use sex to sell their product, commercials pushing consumerism and materialism, pressure to dress or act a certain way to impress, no one has taken my beliefs out of context and turned them into hate, and I haven't been exposed to inappropriate humor or behavior. I haven't used a washing machine, heater or a/c, toaster, microwave, or oven.

All of these things and then some have been so accepted in our society that it seems "normal" or "just the way things are these days".

I must say that I feel so free and light. Don't get me wrong, I love America and appreciate the opportunities that it offers. And the food! But, sometimes, as Christians, we have to examine the parts of the world that we have come to accept and participate in that don't honor God as far as media is concerned. Also, to examine if we are caught up in the flow of having to attain. There's even pressure to have gadgets to simplify our complicated lives. I can't help but think that the more gadgets we get the more complicated things become ha.

Being away from the media has shown me so much of the things in my life that offend God. I've also learned a much slower more simple way of life. I am learning the value of genuine community. It seems that there is a greater sense of community because of the simple way of living.

Now that I am aware of things in my life that offend God or try to distract me from him I can't just ignore it. I am looking forward to another month of detox and letting God continue to cleanse me and show me ways to have a simple life in the land of excess. Yes, I will thoroughly enjoy an actual shower and going to restaurants and grocery stores and sleeping without a mosquito net and the other great amenities of life in the States! I just don't want to get back to a place of needing them or the mindset that says I deserve them or being consumed by them, ya know? Good things lose their good-ness when they take our focus off of God even if it is only slightly.

A.W. Tozer says, "The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the "and" lies our great woe. If we omit the "and" we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing."

This "detox" has shown me the many "ands" I have been seeking along with trying to seek God. God and money. God and success. God and relationships. God and purpose. God and identity. The "ands" hinder me from finding God in the way that I want to and need to. In Him alone is everything I long for.

Friday, May 24, 2013

No shame in dancing naked

A few weeks ago I spent a week at Mwika Hope. It's an orphanage that Convoy of Hope provides food for. These children have seen and gone through things that no child should ever have to experience.

One child was put in a plastic bag and literally thrown away when he was born. His mom couldn't care for him and didn't know what else to do. But, we all know that there is no such thing as a life without purpose. God has plans for this young boy. A woman heard him crying and rescued him. As the years went by it was hard for the woman to care for him. She had heard of Mwika Hope and brought the boy there. He is doing well and loves Jesus. He's about 9 years old now. He knows that Jesus has a plan and purpose for him.

Several of the children were abandoned or orphaned or shunned by the community. Many of them are HIV+ as are their siblings and parents. You look at where these kids come from and the trials they are facing and it's easy to be overcome with sadness and sorrow.

Mama Mrina started Mwika Hope because of a dream she had. God told her to care for the children of her community that don't have anyone to care for them. Her husband is a pastor. Their church is on the property.

Some of the kids are part of the children's worship choir. Let me tell you something. When these kids sing and dance all you see in their eyes is hope. They aren't letting their circumstances define their future. They sing and dance with everything that is in them.

As my eyes filled up with tears I asked God why can't I sing and dance like they do? No, I'm not talking about physically haha. If you know me at all you know that I can't dance.
I'm talking spiritually. The hardest times in my life pale in comparison to what they have gone through and yet I have a hard time finding the joy to dance before the Lord like they do. God told me, "Joy is in the dancing. Freedom is in the dancing." I mentally battled my desire to be free and my insecurity of dancing.

Joy is in the dancing. That has played over and over in my head. Today I asked myself when was the last time I dance before the Lord? Danced because of what God has done. Danced because He is good. Danced because of the freedom He has given me.

Naturally, I thought of King David. He literally danced naked in worship to God. I, however, prefer to dance naked spiritually. Sometimes we put on this front like God doesn't really know all of who we are. He does! He loves us with an unfailing, relentless love. And, that my friend, is worthy of a dance. Like a child. Innocent and carefree. Twirling and jumping and expressing love and thankfulness to a God that isn't far removed from us but closer than our skin.

So, go ahead. Dance naked! Dance at church. Dance at home. Dance with your kids. Dance alone. Dance because joy is in the dancing. Dance because freedom is in the dancing.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Can't stop. Won't stop.

About 2 1/2 years ago I met my way cool BFF Mary Beth during my internship with Convoy of Hope. I often compare our relationship to that of David and Jonathan. A friendship that could only have happened because of God. The internship ended but we remained in touch.

We decided to do a devotion together via Facebook. She was in TN/MO and I was in California. We chose a study on John by Beth Moore. Changed my life forever!! Ever since then we have been doing bible studies regularly. Whether we are doing the same study or different ones we message our thoughts and responses to each other. This has made me so desperate to know God more and more. There would be gaps of a couple of days between studies and I found myself anxiously waiting for the book to arrive or eager decide which one to do next.

We have done at least 7 studies so far. Just yesterday we started No Other Gods by Kelly Minter. We decided to do this one together. Though I'm in Tanzania and she's in TN we can still encourage each other spiritually and discuss our journeys through these mini adventures with Jesus. Discovering mysteries in his word, learning more about his faithfulness, seeing things in our lives that need to change, encouraging each other to step out, asking questions without feeling judged, all things that draw us closer to God. 

It's safe to say I'm addicted! I don't ever want to not be doing some sort of bible study or devotion. There is no way to know everything there is to know about God but I want to spend my life getting to know him as much as I can!

Here are some of the studies and books we have done/are doing. I encourage you to do a study with a friend or a group. There is no limit to what God can do when we approach him honestly and openly. Find a person or 2-3 that you feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable and open with. Allow God to use the group and the devotions to stir up a passion in your life! 

Bible studies/devotions:
By Beth Moore:

By Kelly Minter:

By Lysa TerKeurst

By Lysa TerKeurst

By JoAnn Butrin

By Dave Donaldson

I hope you enjoy one, some, or all of these as much as I have. I also hope that your relationship with Jesus will be more than you could have imagined!

Monday, May 6, 2013

A little foreskin, a big responsibility

I've been here for about 35 days now. It would take 35 days to tell all that I have seen, heard, felt, tasted, and smelled. It's a lot let me tell you!

One day I had a conversation about thieves, drugs, gangs, and the Masai circumcision ceremony. That hour and a half conversation left me bug-eyed and thankful to be a woman and respecting the Masai men a little more than I had before.

I want to share with you what I learned about the circumcision ceremony.

As a woman I am not permitted to know some of the details. I'm okay with that!
This is what happens- according to my friend...

The boy decides when he wants to be circumcised. He approaches his father and tells him that he is ready to be circumcised. The father begins to beat him with sticks and "test" him to see if he really is ready. Asking, "Are you sure you want this?", "So you're ready to be a man?", and so on. All the while hitting him and making sure he is ready mentally and physically.

When the father can see that his son truly wants to go through with it he prepares for the ceremony.

The son is taken away from the family -no females are permitted to see him. With the father and few other men they start the ceremony around 2pm. The son is taken into the woods. There the men continue to torment him. Testing his mental and physical strength and determination.

As darkness falls and the moon is the only light, they take the boy farther into the woods. One by one a man leaves the group. He begins to make hyena sounds and animal cries to scare the boy. The son is questioned, "where is so-and-so?" He doesn't know because it's too dark and he is in unfamiliar land. They tell him, "We killed him just like we are going to do with you" or "The lion got him". One by one they leave until it's just the father and son. The son is soon left alone. In the dark. Not knowing what is coming next.

Day breaks. The boy is sleep deprived and hungry. The men continue to test him. The sting of the sticks against the skin, the pinching, the mental games forcing the son to have the courage to go through with the circumcision or to back out and lose respect from the community and the chance to become a man.

Finally the time comes, around noon, to perform the circumcision. The son is washed and prepped. He mustn't cry or even flutter his eyes. They sit him down. Two men holding him at the shoulders. The father performs the circumcision. The son must remain brave and strong. If he even flinches he won't be considered a man.

The procedure is done. The boy the came into the woods has emerged a man. Now, he can no longer be picked on or told what to do.  For 30 days he is celebrated. Singing, dancing, and fed choice foods and meats. Once he returns to the community he has earned the respect of the men, women, and children.

My friend that shared this with me got circumcised when he was 13. Wow. And, ouch.

To become a man is a choice. It isn't at a certain age or if you have sex or when grow facial hair.  It's a decision that carries a lot of weight and isn't taken lightly.

Kinda gets you thinking about what you would do to become a man doesn't it? And, fellow women, can you imagine the angst of being away from your son for thirty days not knowing what is happening to him? I couldn't imagine. As painful as the process is it shows that manhood is a responsibility that is earned not just assumed.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Peace like a river?

I just got back from spending a week at the Convoy of Hope feeding program in Tanzania. I hit the one month mark while I was there. Has it really been a month already?!

Can I be transparent with you? The downside to being here alone is not having anyone to process things with. I am forced to be alone with my thoughts and ideas. The upside is that my prayer life has really improved. I think I'm better understanding the "pray continuously" verse in the Bible, ha! I have to depend on God to help think through all that I am experiencing here. It's a lot! A load that God is more than able to bear for me and with me.

My first day at the feeding program I was shown a nearby river. So, naturally, the next morning I went down there to pray, think, clear my head.

As I sat less than two feet from the water an old hymn came to mind. "When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul."

I watched the river to try to understand what makes a river so peaceful. Here is what I observed...
*Despite the many obstacles-trees, boulders/rocks, plants, land- it continues forward.
*The river doesn't know what lies ahead yet it surges forward, trusting the path.
*The plants and trees that are in and around it are lush and full of life.
*If you get lost (in the woods, hiking) the sound of a river gives you hope. There is life- food and water- nearby.
*Sometimes the river is gentle. Sometimes it is powerful.
*Through persistence the river can wear down/through the rocks that are in the way.

So it is with the peace of God. I have experienced many a breakthrough because of God's persistent peace. Trusting the path God has in front of me has brought me to Tanzania. If I ever stray, His peace draws me back to him. I have felt his soft gentle peace and his mighty rushing peace.

If you are facing a tough situation continue forward trusting the path. If you don't yet know the peace of God all you have to do is ask him for it. He will never ever run out and will never ever withhold his peace from a sincere heart.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

With Our Powers Combined...

Is this real life?

Am I really leaving for Tanzania in two days?

Can God truly forgive all that I have done and still want to use me?

Yes, yes and YES!

This Friday, Good Friday, I will set off for Tanzania!

I know I have said this numerous times but I am sincerely humbled, and deeply appreciative of all of you that have come along side me on my journey. Your thoughtfulness, advice, investment, friendship, encouragement, prayers, and financial investments have made a great impact on my life. Your partnership with me and with God make it possible for me to live the life of a missionary. The life that I was created to live! I couldn't do what I do with out people like you.

There are times that I miss my family so much it hurts. There are times that I cry as I take a bucket shower. There are times that the heat can seemingly be too much to handle. There are times when a western toilet would be like a piece of heaven. But.. I wouldn't change any of the uncomfortable circumstances for anything! I have never been more fulfilled than when I am on the mission field.

If you would like to keep track of what I am up to in Tanzania...

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Much love!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Calibrate yourself before you wreck yourself. No, wait...

Has your alignment ever been off?

How do you notice that it isn't quite aligned? It slightly moves off center, right? If you let go of the steering wheel the vehicle will begin to veer to the left or right.

This morning at our weekly chapel Michael Redmon was sharing the story of when Ezra asked God to fill him one more time. When he said that the word "calibrate" came to my mind. I started thinking about how, like our vehicles and devices, we need to be calibrated or aligned now and again.

At first we don't really notice that our vehicle is off. We unconsciously counteract it by steering against it.  We don't really know how bad it is until we let go of the steering wheel and the vehicle changes lanes like it has a mind of its own ha. Before we know it we have a flat tire due to the constant fight between driver and wheels.

Life can be like that can't it? We don't really notice that we are heading slightly off course. Maybe we make a few subtle choices here and there that we thought weren't a big deal. Unknowingly those choices caused us to veer off course. Those choices lead to less subtle choices. And now we we're fighting just to stay where know we should be but aren't aligned to continue that direction.

Wear and tear on the tires, tire pressure, potholes, and hitting curbs can all cause wheels to be knocked out of alignment.

Similarly, loss, insecurity, pride, other's choices, life in general can cause us to get knocked off course.

Sometimes, in life, we need to let go of the steering wheel, accept the truth about where we are, and allow God to center us.To calibrate us. Align us. He doesn't expect us to keep things together on our own. In fact, if we could do life on our own he wouldn't have given us Jesus.

If you know the Lord take this time to examine where you are. Ask God if you are still heading in the direction he has sent you. Are you still next to Him? Have you started to veer off?

If you do not know Jesus. Take this time to begin a relationship with him. He is a gentleman and will not force himself into your life. He will, however, knock on the door and wait for you to let him in. Without him we will look to people and things to help us make sense of who we are. True fulfillment is only found in Jesus.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Warning: this might offend you.

It's bad enough that people on facebook post pictures and stories and want you to share them to prove that you love Jesus but why do they have to add "most of you won't repost this but the few of you that really love Jesus will."?! Seriously?! Because that's how we show our love for Christ? You have got to be kidding me!! We prove who Christ is to us by how we represent him in real life. Not by simply clicking "like" or "share". Anybody can do that.

Why have we allowed Christianity to be watered down and sugar coated like this? It really bothers me. I am less than perfect and know that I am nothing without Christ. I have made more mistakes than I'd like to admit but liking a picture on fb doesn't change that. Only forgiveness and the grace of God changes that.

Our lives should be the evidence of our belief in God. Even still, believing in God is only the beginning. The demons believe in God -- and shutter! We believe in God and have to like a picture? No thanks. That's not the Christianity that I want.

We sometimes forget that it's God's loving kindness that leads to repentance. Not guilt or shame. Those are NOT of God. We should never make someone feel guilty or shameful. How was it that you came to know Jesus? "It is by grace that you have been saved through faith in Christ Jesus." It is a gift. Not everyone will choose to receive this gift of grace but that is between them and God. Our responsibility is to love God and love people.

Jesus was a rebel. He went against religion. He gives freedom from religion. For us to promote anything less than that goes against all that Christ did for humanity.

I'm not saying that liking or sharing anything about Jesus is bad or wrong but I think we can do more to share our love for Jesus. When we see Jesus face to face he isn't going to ask how many likes or shares we contributed to on facebook. He will either say well done my good and faithful servant or I know you not.

Thank you for letting me vent. I just don't understand the guilt trip with pictures and stories that want you to prove you love Jesus. Jesus never ever makes anyone feel guilty. We shouldn't either.

End rant.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sara's Recs. Thank me later.

This blog is inspired by two things. 1) a blog that a friend of mine posted and 2) it would be selfish of me to not share what has been shared with me.

If you follow me on twitter or are friends with me on Facebook you most likely have seen many posts and tweets about/from books or devotions that I am reading/have read. I want to give you a list of those books in the case that you were interested in experiencing them as well. It is my hope and prayer that they will impact your life like they have mine or more so!!

Throughout God's word we are told to seek wisdom and knowledge. I believe that these books will help you to do just that. They have given me a deeper knowledge of who I am in Christ, who He is, and have shown me many of the hidden treasures of God's word.

1. It's one thing to hear about the adventures of the "overboard" Christians and think "I wish I could do something like that". It's another thing to actually do it! Regardless of your age, past, financial status, current circumstances, education God wants to take you on your own adventure with Him! Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson is the book that will set the fire under your seat!

2. Have you ever asked "who am I?", "what is my purpose?", "what makes me different than the rest?"? Soul Print by Mark Batterson will help you seek and find answers to those very questions. It's important to know who you are. When you know who you are you are more confident in what God has planned for you.

3. We have all heard that prayer is powerful. Am I alone in getting distracted or remembering everything that I had forgotten throughout the day during prayer? I have a feeling the answer is no. In  The Circle Maker by... you guessed it... Mark Batterson he gives you tools to have a more effective prayer life. No, there is not a formula to prayer. Yes, there is a power and faith that comes with better understanding prayer. If you desire to feed your dreams and starve your fears this book is for you!

4. We did this 30 day journal with our intern teams. Each day you read a story from a missionary to an unreached people group and it ends with a group to pray for and a challenge for the day. If you are unaware of unreached people groups or have a burden for them then Live Dead Journal is just what you need!

5. If you grew up in an AG church you may have thought the AG stood for "always guilty" and not Assemblies of God ha! In Permission to Speak Freely Ann Jackson compiles art on fear, confessions, and grace. It is for freedom that we have been set free not for shame or guilt. As Christians we sometimes forget where we came from or where we would be if it weren't for grace. Ann Jackson challenges us to speak freely - about who we are, who we were, and who God is making us to be!

6. I have done two studies by Kelly Minter. Nehemiah and Ruth (which unfortunately isn't available at the moment). There is no way that I can tell you just how much grew spiritually and in knowledge of God's word because of these studies. Even though we can never know at that there is to know about God I am excited to spend my life getting to know as much as I can!

7. Pretty much anything by Beth Moore will rock your world. She is a huge inspiration to me. Her influence on women has opened up the door for God to do some mighty things! I have done her study on Esther. Little did I know that soon after I finished this study God was going to use it as my first sermon. I was in Kenya and the night before church I was asked to preach. Sunday morning I woke up to an brain overload of Esther. I took that as a hit that that was what God wanted me to share that morning. Many women made Jesus Lord of their life that morning. Not because of anything I did but because God knew what I would need to say at that time and prepared me a few weeks prior. Evidence of God's great grace and divine provision.

8. Lastly I am currently doing Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit by Beth Moore. What better evidence of our relationship with Jesus than the fruit of the Spirit? I am one week into the six week study. Whoa! It's intense! If you don't want to be a lukewarm Christian this will help you to deepen you relationship with Jesus and others.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

What do I have in common with King David, Ruth, and Rahab?

I am finishing up my second devotion by Kelly Minter. The first one I did was Nehemiah and the second is Ruth. I highly recommend them. There's no way that I can tell you all that I have learned, the understanding of God's word that I have obtained (and the greater awareness of the fact that it is impossible to learn all there is to know about God), the impact these studies have had on my relationship with Jesus, and my new sense of pride in being voted least likely.

There is club that the heroes of our faith didn't realize they had started and were key members of. I call it the least likely club. Least likely to succeed, to be picked for the team, to serve God, to be noticed by God, to do anything significant for the Lord, to get married, to rule a nation.

Wanna know the back story to the 12 tribes of Israel? (Genesis 29:14-30:24)

Jacob falls in love with Rachel but was deceived and given Leah on the wedding day. After seven years Jacob was finally given Rachel. Leah had sons and Rachel couldn't have any. They start this competition to give Jacob sons. In Rachel's desperation she had Jacob sleep with her maidservant. Twice. She got pregnant and had two sons. Somewhere along the line Leah had her maidservant sleep with Jacob. Rachel finally had two sons. Altogether, they had 12 sons. They made up the 12 tribes of Israel. Rachel, Leah, and Jacob's love triangle was least likely to produce a nation.

Gods people are a product of two jealous,competing sisters, two maidservants, and one man!

Ruth. A Moabite woman. (Moabites were enemies of Israel; God's people). After the death of her husband, brother in law and father in law Ruth moved to Israel with her mother in law, Naomi. She worked hard gleaning in the fields. She made Naomi's God her own. God redeemed Ruth through Boaz. Ruth is the great grandmother of David. An enemy of God's people. Foreigner. Widow. Poor. Least likely to marry an Israelite and set forth the Lord's redemption plan for all mankind. She even has her own book in the Bible.

King David. The youngest of seven brothers. His father didn't even bring him to the line up of Samuel anointing the next king. But, God saw his heart. He wasn't a war hero, a buff barbarian man, but a young fifteen year old shepherd boy. He was definitely least likely to be king.

Rahab. A Canaanite prostitute. Most likely had a survival mindset. Just trying to get through the day. No idea of her worth. Want to know what makes her significant enough to be mentioned in the Bible? She helped God's people, had a simple faith in God, and, here's the kicker, is in the genealogy of Jesus!!!!!

I grew up very shy and timid. I would stutter and sometimes cry just from talking to someone or in front of the smallest group. Leaving my mom was never an option. I didn't go to college and haven't take any Bible classes.

Now, I'm a missionary. I have traveled the world (without my mom I might add). I have spoken at women's conferences, preached, shared the gospel with unreached people groups,  and helped lead teams. All of this is not because of any training or education. It is simply because God uses the least likely to do the unimaginable. If God believes in me then I must believe in His ability to enable me. I am nothing without Him.

If you think or have ever thought that your past disqualifies you then think again. It not only doesn't disqualify you but makes you a member of the least likely club. If you are obedient and faithful you will leave a legacy and a story that will inspire generations!

My name is Sara and I am proud to be least likely!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The coolest people I've never met.

Never underestimate God's ability to use people you don't even know to change your life.

If you know me even a little bit you know that I like The Office and Twitter. So naturally I follow Dwight Schrute (parody of course). About three-ish years ago Dwight was tweeting about this cool new social media site called "Simler". It was sort of like Facebook meets Twitter. I decided to check it out. It was there that I "met" a few people that I in turn started following on Twitter.

Sadly, Simler didn't take off like it was expected to. Even though Simler wasn't around I still stayed in contact via Twitter with the people I had connected with.

It was around that time, 2010, that I decided to do the internship with Convoy of Hope. I was plastering Facebook and Twitter with my fundraising efforts. Some of the very first people to donate to my trip were the people on Twitter. People I've never met in real life. People that only know me from social media began to invest in what God was doing in my life.

Fast forward a few months. I may or may not tweet about my love for bacon and The Office often. Because of that a friend of mine introduced me to a friend of his that loves Jesus and bacon and The Office. She lives in China with her family. We started following each other on Twitter.

Fast forward again. I'm in Springfield, MO doing the internship. I'm nearly $3,000 short of my budget to go to Kenya and only 5 days to get it all in. I put out one last plea via email, FB, Twitter, and texts. To my surprise the woman that I was introduced to just a couple months prior donates $570!! Along with her donation and two very significant donations I made it to Kenya.

That internship led to me moving to MO to be a bus driver which, through a series of events, led me to become an AG missionary working with Convoy of Hope. I have always been very genuine and honest about what I'm doing, who I am, and what I believe. I have found this to be a way for God to include people from all over the U.S. and the world in my journey. In MY journey. Little ol' me. 

From 2010 until now $1,000+ has been donated to my missions trips from people I have never met outside of Twitter. 

Most recently, my friend in China introduced me to her friend that lives in Tanzania! Whoa!! And the world keeps getting smaller.

The people that I have "met" on Twitter have made a huge impact on my life. They may never know just how much their support means to me. I may never get to thank them face to face but I am confident that God will bless them more than I ever could.

I wanted to share this story because I am continually humbled by how much God cares about the little details of my life and the big desires of my heart. There isn't anything too small or too big that He doesn't see. If it matters to me it matters to Him.

A huge thank you to everyone who has invested into my life whether it's praying for me, encouraging me, listening, donating, calling me out, pushing me, or not letting me give up. It is my hope and my prayer that God will use me to inspire others to do the impossible. To do what can only be done because of Jesus.

I am truly blessed!

To donate click here

Sunday, January 27, 2013

It'll do you some good to take once in a while.

Take time...
to spend with the ones you love.
to invest emotionally into the hurting people in your family, work, community.
to breathe in fresh air. Long enough to really experience your surroundings.
to appreciate what you have.
to remember the funny moments that are gone too quickly.
to challenge the media.
to pray.
to make a difference.
to forgive.
away from electronics, social media, technology.
to live out your dreams.
to learn.
to get to know a stranger's story.
to understand someone with a different point of view than yours.
to change what you can and accept what you can't.
to share your story.
in the presence of God.

Take responsibility...
for your actions.
for your choices.
for your words.
for where you've been.
for where you are.
for where you're going.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

This is me.

Soo...  I have decided to use blogging as an outlet for my thoughts. Be forewarned I am not politically correct. I do, however, try to be biblically correct. I love Jesus. I am imperfect. I have a passion for Africa. I have four tattoos. I speak in movie quotes. My favorite sense of humor is dry, witty humor. Bacon. Pepsi. The Office. I'm socially awkward. I love jeans and chucks. 

Some (or all) of you might be wondering why I chose the name Jimney's Cricket. We all know that Jimney Cricket was Pinocchio's "conscience". But who influenced Jimney? We are all subject to influence. At any given time we are influencing others and being influenced by others. Who are you letting in your circle of influence? Who is being influenced by you? 

As I am growing and maturing I am beginning to understand just how crucial it is to surround yourself with people that you can glean from. Learn from. And allow yourself to be in a position to impart knowledge, to listen, to invest, to mentor. 

That's me in a nutshell.