Sunday, October 30, 2016

I found... People

Earlier this year, I set out on a grand adventure leading a group of five rambunctious teen and twenty-somethings around the world, ready to embark on the seeming greatest journey of our lives. With the fire of passion and excitement for Jesus and the nations in our eyes, we were ready to change the world, advance the Kingdom of God, and see his glory made known all over the globe. Our bags were packed and we were ready; by the time we arrived at the airport, I was so full of excitement I was sure I was going to explode. I love travel, I love Jesus, I love outreach.

And then, somewhere in the midst of those long flights and new food and beautiful places and ministry, I found something I didn't realize I was missing... people.

Not just a new stamp on my passport.
Not just a beautiful ocean, jungle, river, mountain, city.
Not just a new culture.
Not just the homeless.
Not just refugees.
Not just tourists.
Not just a restaurant staff.

But people. A person. A face, a life, a name, a story. Scooter. Ashley. Ahmed. Lily. Cherie.

Living, breathing humans who are not different than us. Who've been through good things and bad, and have dreams for their life.

In the midst of desiring to see God move in a large scale, I stood face to face with individuals. I stared into their eyes and saw pain, joy, hopelessness, dreams, loneliness, hunger, peace, fear, love. I heard their stories. I loved them, and they me... and we became friends. From this place of friendship I was able to share of Jesus, or just speak truth into their life.

Missions is people. People are life.
Missions is life.

Love people today, wherever you are. Stand up for the Truth. Encourage someone. Remind them of hope. Let them know they're not forgotten or alone. Really be there for someone.

Look closely, and you'll realize that the eyes of people you'll meet today look strangely similar to the eyes of people you'll meet around the world. Pay attention to them.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Moria...

Tonight I'm missing those times of spending eight hours a day talking with refugees...

Asking them what kind of clothing they needed, what their sizes were... Packing these never-ending stacks of yellow bags with their "clothing order"... Searching to find their tent out of hundreds... And seeing the smile on their face when we finally got to bring them the clothing they desperately needed.
Even constantly having to tell people "No, I'm sorry, we don't have [fill in the blank]"... Even when we would get frustrated with the inefficiency of our system (how are you supposed to logically clothe 4,000 people?!)... Even when we couldn't find their tents or they would scream at us for not having what they needed... 
 
I would take ALL of it back, the good AND the hard, just to be back there with those sweet, hurting, lovely people again. I miss walking around camp, simply smiling at them, watching their faces light up. I miss hearing "my friend, my friend!" every ten feet. I miss sitting in tents and units with my refugee friends and translators, just hearing their stories, playing cards, loving them, sharing a meal together. I miss goofing around with my translator friends and trying to learn their languages. I miss constantly carrying around a mini notebook and pen in my pocket to attempt to record the needs of everyone who stopped us so that maybe, if we had an extra few minutes, I could get them that shirt or pair of shoes that they needed. I miss seeing the miracles of more clothing arriving only an hour or two after completely running out of that specific item, of hearing riots beginning outside of our tent - but then dissipate within minutes after praying for peace.

Maybe it's a weird thing to miss, but I miss that overcrowded refugee camp called Moria. I miss my dear friends there... You are never far from my heart.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Every Conversation...

... Brings the potential for God to speak.

It's not always easy being on staff with YWAM. People enter and then leave your life every 3-6 months, and somehow in those few short months between hearts mesh together. But then they leave, and it hurts, and you start it all over again. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE what I do. I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Today was one of those days. My first YPDTS students graduated today! And it's this bizarre mix of feelings... I'm seriously SO overjoyed at all the Lord has done in their lives! He's grown them, encouraged them, changed them, loved them, challenged them, and this week has felt like one of sheer VICTORY. Seeing them again after they've been on outreach the last two months is overwhelmingly beautiful. There are so many areas in each of their lives that we'd been praying for, fighting for, desiring to grow in... and now two months later they're here, back, and it's happened! Jesus has DONE it! They are walking in so much more freedom and identity and love... the list could go on and on. I'm so proud of them, of their vulnerability with each other and the Lord, and the way they've allowed Jesus to push them out of their comfort zones to discover who they really are!

And yet, they're leaving. Some will be back in a few months, others I don't know when (if) I'll see again. And so despite the joy and victory, my heart is also so heavy. These dear sweet friends are gone, as quick as that.

Now I'm left here, pondering the last five months and all that has happened. Where did the time go? How did it fly by so quickly? And I'm reminded of the beauty of relationships. How sweet is it that the Lord can bring together complete strangers, and in a matter of weeks they've become close friends?!

God often moves and speaks in the context of relationships. Think about that for a moment. God often moves and speaks in the context of relationships. And how often do we just hop on our phones? Or "not feel like" saying hi or talking to someone?

I'm reminded of the importance of being intentional with every person in every moment. Life comes, and life goes. If we don't take the time for a smile, hello, or conversation, what are we missing? A new friend? A deep conversation? Encouragement? I don't want to miss out on any opportunities the Lord has for me because I'm too busy not wanting to be bothered! I want to love well. I want to be intentional. I want to pay attention to each and every moment, not missing an opportunity the Lord might have for meet someone new, love someone, or be encouraged by them!

Will you join me in being intentional? Don't let life pass by missing out on beautiful opportunities. Every interaction with someone - whether a stranger or close friend - has the potential for encouragement, beauty, hope, and love.

Join me! Let's learn to love well.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

An Open Letter to all #travelers with #wanderlust

Let me start by saying that I would identify myself as one of you. I too am a #traveler with #wanderlust. This past week I visited my sixth new country, which happened to be Mexico (and can I add that their tacos really ARE as good as everyone says?!), and today I just booked tickets to travel around the world from March through June, adding six more stamps to my passport! I love everything to do with travel, adventure, the adrenaline of exploring new places, and the mystery of the unknown. I live in Denver, Colorado, and if a few weeks pass that I don't have a chance to sneak away into the mountains for a hike, beautiful drive, exploring, or SOMETHING, I feel like I'm going to go crazy. I study maps for the fun of it, and google random cities just to see their pictures.

I know you, traveler, understand the feeling of wanderlust. There's nothing like the urge to just go - to anywhere - just to see, taste, touch, feeling, and experience everything this world has to offer. And I will agree wholeheartedly, there truly is nothing like the feeling of standing on top of a silhouetted mountain, or exploring a vividly green jungle, or watching the sun set in its vast array of color over the ocean waves. There really is something that touches our soul about nature; and not only nature, but cities. And places. And people.

But the more I travel, the more I see, the more places I go, the more I realize that there is actually something that tugs at my heart even deeper than this feeling we describe as wanderlust, and the joy, fulfillment, and beauty we experience upon reaching that desired place. I'm beginning to discover this passion deep inside of me that far surpasses any #wanderlust. 

I had a revelation this morning that if I keep trying to dream up my own life, I'm actually limiting myself. Because there is Someone who knows the world, and knows my heart, and is actually dreaming even bigger than I could have EVER imagined.

And that someone... He is someone special. That someone is KING JESUS!! How sweet that name is, how kind his heart! He reaches down from heaven - God and man in one - and comes to us, picks us up, covered in mud, out from the darkness we shamefully hid in; he brings us into the light, infuses us with never-ending life, and claims us as HIS own. He brings us into his house, treats us as his own children, and adopts us into his family forever! Because he's the King, we become royalty - surely not because we deserve it, but simply because he choose to lavish his loving kindness upon us! And as we live with him we begin to look more and more like our new family and less and less like the dirty beggar we used to be. The King even goes so far as to put his seal of authority and power in us (the former beggars!), and gives us the assignment of ambassadors - to represent his goodness to those still dying on the streets and release his goodness into the world. All he asks is that we walk around as "mini-Kings", looking like him, to show everyone who the Father is, and invite them to join this family - which, of course, is hardly a sacrifice! I surely don't want to go back to dying on the street. And so it is with this joyful, rescued, freed, redeemed life, I get to spend eternity praising this King and proclaiming his love and goodness to the hurting, broken, dying world.

And this, my fellow travelers, goes far deeper than #wanderlust ever could. There are only so many places you can go in the world... but the beauty of Jesus is never ending. Ironically, when we say yes to Jesus, the King, and lay down our own desires for our life, eager to live with him and look like him so people can know his goodness - we actually end up doing even greater things than we could have dreamed on our own!! Because it's really not even about us. It's about Him.

We used to be beggars dying in the street, remember? But no longer...

"You see, we don't go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let there be light in the darkness,' has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves." 2 Corinthians 4:5-7

"So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!'" 2 Corinthians 5:20

So come. Join me in this great adventure of magnifying King Jesus above all else. Follow him, listen to him, trust him. Say yes when he asks you to give everything. He gave everything for you.

My #wanderlust is for the King of all Kings, Jesus - and I will spend my life worshiping him and inviting every heart on earth to be a part of this family. This is what your soul was truly created for, dear traveler - don't let the world steal your true purpose. As you embark on your many adventures, may your #wanderlust be not only for places and people, but also for the King.