Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve

It's funny how Christmas changes over the years. My brothers and I were talking today about the fact that when we were kids, Christmas Eve was the longest day of the year. The Christmas Eve service (which is usually pretty short) felt like it was 5 hours long because we couldn't wait to get home and go to sleep... just so we could wake up! I was (and still am) a dramatic person, so Christmas morning was (and occasionally still is.. ha!) a spectacle at our house. I LOVE a good surprise. The years that my parents have sent me on a scavenger hunt on Christmas morning are some of my favorite memories.

As I've gotten older, some of the child-like excitement is gone, but it's a different kind of Christmas and I love it. I know it won't be like this forever, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

One day last week, I looked at Luke 1 and spent some time thinking about Mary. I can't imagine what she must have felt when an angel appeared to her and told her that she was not only about to be a mother, but that her son would be the Son of the Most High. From what history has taught us, Mary was young... she was a teenager and was probably scared out of her mind. Scripture skips most of her pregnancy, but can you imagine what it must have been like when she sat down in the afternoon, feet and back aching, and she thought about what was about to happen. I'm sure she faced ridicule from those around her for the fact that she was not married, but was pregnant. In the same vein, Joseph must have been awfully perplexed as well.

Scripture tells us that Mary seemed to keep it together. Somehow, I think I've missed Luke 1:46-56 until recently. Mary is visiting Elizabeth, who is about to give birth to John the Baptist. Here's what is says...

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
In this moment of great uncertainty, she gave praise to Almighty God. She trusted him when things probably didn't make sense to her at all. She allowed God to use her to accomplish his purpose here on earth and the only question that she ever asked was "how?" because nothing about this made sense from an earthly perspective. My study Bible says this, "Mary's entire being is caught up in praise to God. Mary herself is not free from sin but is in need of a Savior." Oh, if she only knew...

The Lord used a woman of no reputation to give birth to the Savior of mankind. 

As she arrived in Bethlehem to find that there was no bed for her to sleep in, what was she thinking? Not only does she not have a bed, but she goes into labor. I have a lot of friends who are pregnant right now, and I can tell you that none of them would choose to give birth in a stable. This teenage girl gave birth to Jesus Christ... the Messiah. He came to save, redeem and restore. He came to fulfill prophecies throughout Scripture. He came so that we might have eternal life.

Am I willing to do whatever the Lord asks of me like Mary did? While it's not going to be a virgin birth, am I ready to say "yes" to whatever he leads me to do? I pray that my answer is always "yes." We were created to be a part of God's story, but the choice is up to us.

Oh, that my soul would magnify the Lord.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

thanks be to our God

This weekend, Corley and I headed to Pensacola to hear Beth Moore speak at Living Proof Live. This is the second time that I have heard her speak live, and she was fantastic. I'm finishing up her Believing God study right now, and it has been a challenging, fruitful study. 

Our friend Bud just started a new job in the Lifeway Women's Events department, so he totally hooked us up with seats in the second row! I'm pretty sure we were beside ourselves the whole time. It made the whole room feel so intimate, and it was so easy to engage. 
I was a little bit excited to see my name on my chair!

with one of my best friends, Corley 
 She spent Friday night and Saturday morning walking through the book of Philemon. I'm sure I've read Philemon before, but I definitely never grasped the book until we walked through it verse-by-verse this weekend. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to sit under such powerful, thorough teaching from the Word.
listening to Beth speak
It was SO much fun to get to hang out with some of my friends this weekend! Even though we're all in different states, it's great to get together and catch up.
with Bud and Corley 
Corley and I both read the Living Proof blog, and Beth refers to her blog readers as Siestas. At the end of her events, they put up a slide letting the Siestas know where to go for a meet up. We even got to take a group picture with Beth!
our Siesta picture (we're on the top right)
Spending time in the Word in an environment like this is always refreshing and challenging. The thing that stood out to me more than anything else is something she said Saturday morning:
"That which makes us the most joyful is not always the thing that makes us most useful. That which makes us most useful will be the thing that gives us the most satisfaction and joy!"
How often do we look for things in life to bring us joy, when we are called to make good use of what the Lord has entrusted us with?

When we are deeply satisfied in Christ and are making ourselves useful for His glory and purposes, there we find joy.

It's not on our terms.

I'm praying for contentment and satisfaction in Christ, so that I can be useful where he has placed me. I long for joy in Christ - not joy in this world. Thanks be to our God for his providence and purpose in each chapter of our lives.

I'll leave you with this... Travis Cottrell led worship, and I just can't get this song out of my head. I hope that you'll allow the Lord to speak to you through it. Travis Cottrell – Thanks Be To Our God (this link plays on Spotify)


Monday, November 14, 2011

faithful


I wish I could tell you all the stories of the Lord's faithfulness in my life, but that would simply take more time than either of us have. This semester has been one of stretching and trusting in a way that I've never experienced before, but I have seen the Lord move in ways that I could never have experienced otherwise.

At the beginning of this semester, I offered up my finances to the Lord and asked that he would guide and direct the spending of the money that I have (which, if we're really getting technical, isn't mine to start with). This is an area that the Lord and I have wrestled with, but I think I'm starting to get it. Working a part-time job (that I happen to love) and going to school full-time doesn't always pay the bills.

In September, I opened my mailbox one day to find a check from a lady who knows my parents, but whom I've never met. She sent me a check to help me finish paying for school this semester. Seriously? For the second time in my life, I was literally speechless... not because of the check itself, but at how BIG the God I serve is. He met a specific need that I had been seeking Him about.

Earlier this week, the Lord met a specific need that I had been praying about. If I told you what he provided for, you might laugh, but for me, it was seeing the Lord provide something I needed. I am blown away at His faithfulness in my life and in the lives of those around me.

I'm learning to be frugal... like cooking at home most of the time (which I'm learning to enjoy), avoiding Target at all costs, and watching where every dollar I spend goes.

I know that my need doesn't compare to the need of the children I met earlier this year in Kenya, but the same God that I serve cares for the needs of all of His children. He provides, he cares, he restores, he heals, he brings hope and he is faithful... all of the time.

Here's an excerpt from a powerful book I'm reading and a verse...

"Because I trust the Maker who told me I was worth more than a sparrow.
Because He loved me enough to rescue me when I thought I would never see the light of day again. 
Because His ways, you know... They aren't ours."
What Women Fear - Angie Smith

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" 
Matthew 6:26

I'm writing all of this to say that if you're holding back parts of your life from God, you're also withholding what he can do. When we surrender our lives completely, the Lord takes what we have and fashions it into something that we could have never made on our own. He takes the broken pieces and makes them whole. It doesn't usually happen the way that we would have imagined, but his way is so much better. Trust him.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

winter squash soup


I was watching Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network this week and saw this recipe and I just had to make it! It's pretty easy, and very fall-ish. I already had everything I needed, so it was perfect!

melt butter and olive oil in a big 'ole pan

chop up your onion until your eyes just can't stand it anymore. 

saute saute saute. until the onions are translucent (about 10 min)

peel (with a veggie peeler) then chop your butternut squash. just scoop out the seeds with a spoon.

add butternut squash, pumpkin and chicken broth to the onions. cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.

this is the part where if I was a real chef with a big kitchen, I would pull out my fancy food mill or immersion blender and whip this soup up. I, however, am a seminary student with a blender....

add the mixture to a food mill, blender (whatever!) and blend it up to combine everything together 
this is what it should look like when you're done blending

now add the half and half (I used fat-free and couldn't tell)

now, it has a more velvety texture. I added more chicken broth at this point because it was too thick.

finished product topped with a little bit of cheese!
well friends, there you have it. here's Ina Garten's recipe below. enjoy!

Winter Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 1 (15 - ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 3 cups homemade chicken stock or canned broth
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup half - and - half
  • Creme fraiche, grated Gruyere, or croutons for serving (optional)

Directions

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy - bottomed stockpot, add the onions, and cook over medium - low heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add the pumpkin puree, butternut squash, chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer over medium - low heat for about 20 minutes, until the butternut squash is very tender. Process the mixture through the medium blade of a food mill. Return to the pot, add the half - and - half, and heat slowly. If the soup needs more flavor, add another teaspoon of salt. Serve hot with garnishes, if desired.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

legacy.

A year ago this week, a friend, mentor, and hero of the faith went home to be with Jesus.

Michael Smith's life was one that was lived well and lived to the fullest. He was a man of integrity who loved the Lord first and foremost, but right behind it loved his wife Kim and daughter Hannah. Although we weren't friends for a long time, it felt like it had been forever. Michael and Kim moved to Colleyville in 2007 while I served on the Student Ministry staff, and they quickly became some of my dearest friends. Hannah adopted me as her "big sister," and they just let me be a part of their family. We served together for the next year until the Lord called me to a church in Austin. Even after I moved, I still kept up with the Smiths and we got together often. Michael would always tell me, "one day, I'm gonna have you on my team again." Michael came to my church in Austin as our Disciple Now and Camp speaker in 2009, and I still got to be involved in their lives and ministry. 

Michael loved telling people about Jesus, and he lived out the Gospel in his life. He was an evangelist, and he loved teenagers. Countless students (and adults) were saved through his ministry, and I have met so many people over the last few years whose lives just aren't the same because of Michael's life. I know my life won't ever be the same because of Michael's impact and influence.

So many times over the last year, I started to call him up on the phone and tell him a crazy story or ask for ministry advice. I've literally pulled out my phone more times than I'd like to admit before I realized that I couldn't. Those have been tough moments. Michael's response would have been one filled with wisdom and a smart aleck remark. He would have said "holla," "get in their grill," and "what up, girl!" somewhere in that conversation. 

I've had the privilege of spending time with Kim and Hannah several times over the last year, and we've had so much fun. They truly are family to me, and I am so thankful to call them my friends. I stayed with Hannah last year during Michael's funeral, and I have some really sweet memories with her from that day. I'm still honored that Kim would ask me to keep Hannah, and I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else. 

Rob and I have talked several times over the last week or two and just shared Michael stories and laughed together on the phone. I know that for the rest of my life, every time I used powdered creamer in my coffee, buy a can of Yuban coffee, see a pair of Nikes, eat a piece of Johnny's Pizza, see someone "chunk the deuce," and so many other things, I'll think of Michael Smith. 

I'm a part of Michael's legacy. I will be one of the people who reminds Hannah about how much her dad loved her and share some crazy stories with her. I want to further the Gospel and make an impact that will last longer than I will. I hope that one day, people will look back on my life and say that I left a legacy of faith. I know that the Lord has called me to minister to students, and Michael's legacy is being carried out in my life and ministry. 

The greatest hope in all of this is that Michael is spending eternity with Jesus Christ, and I know that I'll be there someday too. If you don't know Jesus personally, I would love to tell you the story of how he has changed my life. It's why we have hope - Jesus conquered the grave!

"Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, 
always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
(1 Corinthians 15:51-58 ESV)


{above and below: with Michael on a church-planting trip in Costa Rica}


{you know, chunkin' the deuce.}

{Rob and Michael at Johnny's Pizza}


{Rob chunkin' the deuce}

{with Rob and the Smiths at the Fort Worth zoo for Hannah's birthday!}

{with Hannah - Spring 2011}
One of my favorite quotes will always remind me of Michael - 
"Man has begun to understand the meaning of life when he begins to plant shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit."
-Elton Trueblood
That's exactly what he did. 


For more information about Michael's life and legacy, visit One Epic Life.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Fellowship of the Unashamed


I am a part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.

I have the Holy Spirit Power. 

The die has been cast.

I have stepped over the line.

The decision has been made. 

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure.

I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, 
tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions,
plaudits, or popularity. 

I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded.

I now live by presence, learn by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, 
my companions few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. 

I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, 
negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I've preached up, prayed 
up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ. 

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

I must go until He returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes.

And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. 

My colors will be clear.


-Author Unknown


"I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…" (Romans 1:16)




Monday, February 21, 2011

Ignorance is Bliss

While we were debriefing from the day, someone made the statement that "Ignorance is bliss" and they couldn't have been more right. If I hadn't seen the faces of the children, smelled what poverty smells like, or walked through sewage, I could be ignorant of the need.

Now that I have begun to take it all in, there's no denying the responsibility I have.

It was easy to forget about needs elsewhere, or to even forget to write my sponsored child before my eyes were opened.

I count it a privilege to be a voice for these children. They can't all get on a plane to come to your doorstep so you can see what poverty looks like. Even if I posted videos from everything we have seen, you still wouldn't completely understand. I thought I understood until I walked through the Mathare Valley slum on Saturday and visited the home of one of the sponsored children there. Ann walked us for at least 10 minutes through the slum to get to her house... and by house, I mean her mud hut. It was no bigger than 10x10 and the walls were made entirely of mud. While we walked through the streets, there was raw sewage flowing right where we were walking, and children were playing all in the area. The smell alone was almost too much to handle, but the sight was the hardest part.

I just had no idea.

Even after spending last summer with my friend Maureen (a Compassion Leadership Development Program graduate), I still didn't understand until I saw it for myself.


Our trip leader, Keith Bordeaux, took this picture as we walked to Ann's house.

This experience has been incredibly eye-opening to my role when it comes to taking care of those in need. A verse that the Lord continues to bring to mind says this:

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." James 1:27 (ESV)

We not only have a social responsibility to take care of these children, but it's a command from the Lord.

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves... Defend the rights of the poor and needy." Proverbs 31:8-9

children at the Mathare Valley slum project

It's my job. I want to be a loud voice for these children who are unable to speak for themselves.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

my heart is full

I had the incredible privilege today of meeting Vicky Mwikali, the 9 year-old girl that I sponsor through Compassion International. We have written letters back and forth for the last 3 and a half years, but I never dreamed that I would be able to meet her. I wish I could explain how nervous I was when we drove up... I spotted her in the crowd of children, bent down, and asked, "Vicky?" and she gave me a BIG hug! It was an instant bond. One of the Compassion social workers from her project (Monicah) came with her, so she introduced herself and told me how excited Vicky had been to be here today. I felt completely overwhelmed. Here's a picture right after we met...

We all headed into the Nairobi Safari Walk, which is basically a zoo, except that you can get much closer to the animals here! She held my hand the entire time, and we had so much fun. Vicky is very shy, and doesn't speak much English, but she understood most of what I said and asked, so it all worked out. When either of us got confused, Monicah was right there to translate. Monicah let me know that Vicky's mom sent her blessing, and she even showed me some pictures of Vicky's house on her camera! We took a LOT of pictures today.

While I talked to Monicah, she explained Vicky's home situation. Her father died not long after she was born, and she lives at home with her mother. She has four brothers and sisters still living, and one of her brothers died in December. She lives in a very rural area, and was very malnutritioned when she entered the Compassion program. Monicah explained that Vicky technically lives too far to be a part of the program, but they saw what great need she had and registered her anyway. Vicky lives 7km from the project, and she walks an hour and a half to get there every Saturday. She has a few friends that she walks with, but I can't imagine what that must be like.

Vicky is in class 3 at school, and Monicah said that she has progressed very well since she entered the program. She is much healthier, and her mom now has a job that is helping to provide for them. With some of the money they have received as birthday and Christmas gifts, they have been able to purchase mattresses for their home, goats, clothes, and other important items. Through Compassion, her mother has been able to start her own vegetable kiosk to sell some of what they grow. Monicah said that if it weren't for Compassion, she couldn't imagine Vicky's situation.

I'm writing this to you because YOU can make the difference in the life of a child. Sponsoring a child through Compassion helps to Release Children from Poverty in Jesus' name. Vicky is slowly but surely being released from poverty, and she wants to be a nurse when she grows up. Just $38 a month has changed her life, and it honestly has nothing to do with me. Compared to what we spend frivolously on so much, this amount is hardly anything.

Writing letters back and forth is a huge part of the success of Compassion, and many children are encouraged and inspired by their sponsors. There are so many who don't hear how beautiful they are or that they are loved by anyone, including their parents, so their sponsors are very important to them. It was an incredible privilege to meet and spend time with Vicky today, and to take her some gifts for her and her mom.


I could honestly keep writing for what seems like forever, but I still have a lot more to process. Please let me know if you have any questions about Compassion. I would love to share more with you. My heart is so very full after today, but I realize the great responsibility we have to take care of these children. Won't you consider being a part of what God is doing?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Compassion

Most of you know that I'm headed to Kenya next week with a team from Student Life. We are going through Compassion International, and have the incredible opportunity to visit several of their Child Development Programs and meet the team of Leadership Development Program students who will travel with us this summer.

"Releasing Children from Poverty in Jesus' Name."

This is the mission of Compassion, and I believe wholeheartedly in what they do. I have sponsored a little girl named Vicky for the last four and a half years. She is eight years old and and comes from a large family. We write letters back and forth, and she draws pictures to send in the mail. She loves to talk about her family, games she likes to play, and talks about Jesus. It is such an exciting day when I open up the mailbox to read a letter that she has sent.

For just $38 a month, you can make a difference in the life of a child. I was able to spend last summer with Maureen (who I wrote about in this post) and gained a greater understanding of how much Compassion impacts these children. Compassion not only helps children, it helps their families as well.

While we are in Kenya, I'm going to be able to meet Vicky! I'm packing a backpack of fun things for her this weekend to give to her once we get there. I honestly don't even know how to prepare for this moment, but I can tell you that I feel so humbled and excited.

Here's where you come in... if you're interested in sponsoring a child from Kenya, please let me know ASAP! If you act quickly, you can send me a backpack for your child, and I can make sure it gets to him or her. If you're interested in a child from another country, let me know that as well. I can get you the information that you need.

I hope that you'll pray about making a difference in the life of a child. You can be a part of releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name... one child at a time.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Where I Come From

People ask me all the time where I'm from. Each time, I hesitate and I usually throw out, "Well, I grew up in Orlando, Florida." I've lived a lot of different places, and my parents have moved around as well, so it's a hard question to answer.

Here's where I've lived:

Ft. Smith, Arkansas
Pineville, Louisiana
Orlando, Florida
Dallas, Texas
Colleyville, Texas
Austin, Texas
New Orleans, Louisiana
Birmingham, Alabama

Tonight, I'm going to my Louisiana roots (my dad's family is from the boot) and my last year in New Orleans, and I cooked up some Crawfish Corn Bisque. It's SO good and SO easy. I promise, this isn't turning into a recipe blog, but I do love to cook.
Here's the recipe:
2 cans cream of potato soup
2 cans evaporated milk
1 can creamed corn
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 t liquid shrimp/crab boil (you can find it by the fish at the grocery store - I use Zatarain's brand)
1 t Tony Chachere's cajun seasoning 
2 pkgs.(12-oz.) frozen crawfish tails, thawed
3 green onions, chopped

Mix all together and heat slowly until warm. Serve over rice to stretch.

When I'm making this for myself, I half the recipe. Tonight, I didn't have any creamed corn, so I just used a can of kernel corn. It's delicious! If you don't already have Tony Chachere's seasoning in your pantry, you have to get it... I use it all the time when I'm cooking. It's a great seasoning! 


If you make it, let me know what you think! You'll feel like you're in New Orleans... I promise!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Oh, Football.

I'm so sad that when today is over, it's officially the end of football season. I spent most of my Saturdays last fall watching college football, and I wouldn't change a thing. I love the SEC in general, and the Florida Gators in particular. I'm SO excited about our new coach, and the fact that we have a great new recruiting class. For now, I will spend my Saturdays wishing for the fall, in anticipation of great football and my favorite time of year.

Of course I know that today is THE day for football, but I just don't care that much. I love the Cowboys, but we desperately needs some help. It was a tragic moment when my roommate Alyssa (who also loves the Cowboys) realized that we're not in the right "region" to get Cowboys games every week. Who cares about the Falcons and the Titans?? Not us.

Anyway, I'm going to hang out with some of my SL friends this afternoon and watch the game, and my contribution is one of my favorite game-day snacks (or any-day snacks for that matter).... Cowboy Caviar!

Here's the recipe:
2 cans of black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can of whole kernel corn
1 can of ro-tel
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
2-3 diced avocados

Dressing:
1 T red wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
4 T lime juice
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 t salt
1/2 t black pepper

Mix all of the canned and chopped ingredients together (except avocado) and add mixed dressing. Chill. Before serving, add avocado.



Let me tell you... this stuff is GOOD and addictive. It's a great party food, and it's fairly healthy - lots of fresh ingredients.

If you give it a try, let me know what you think!

As for today, GO PACKERS! You can't be a good Cowboys fan and root for the Steelers (as Alyssa informed me).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mercy House

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you
    but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
 (Micah 6:8 ESV)

I'm writing to let you know about a ministry that is just getting started called The Mercy House. I am so excited about what God is doing, and can't help but share it with you!

Each summer, Student Life brings students to the United States through Compassion International to travel with us and tell their story to the teenagers and kids they encounter each week at camp. They are all graduates of Compassion's Child Development through Sponsorship Program and are now a part of the Leadership Development Program, which puts them through college (also through sponsorship).

The girl that traveled with my Student Life team last summer is Maureen Owino. She's from Kenya, and has a powerful testimony of growing up in absolute poverty in the slums of Nairobi. She was rescued from poverty because of the ministry of Compassion. The Lord is doing some really awesome things in and through her life, and during the summer, we prayed together about what God had in store for her after she returned home. I have to say that I don't know that I've ever been more challenged spiritually by any one person than I have been by her. Maureen knows and loves God's Word, and she believes it with incredible power and authority. I told her all summer that I wanted to be more like her, and it's because she so reflects Christ in all that she says and does.
"I thank God for poverty."
I overheard Maureen say this so many times this summer. 
She said that if it weren't for poverty, she wouldn't know Jesus.

"Your background does not determine your future, it shapes it."
Maureen's sponsors wrote this to her in a letter, and it's something that she lives by every day.


Maureen and me - Summer 2011


Backtracking, last year, Compassion sent a team of bloggers to Kenya, to blog about what Compassion is doing and raise awareness. Kristen Welch is one of those bloggers. She met and spent time with Maureen, and even came to visit her while we traveled last summer. Long story short, she and her husband felt led to open a maternity home in Nairobi, and God has made a way! They have achieved non-profit status, and are opening this year. Maurine is training in Ethiopia right now so that she can be the Executive Director of the Mercy House.

Here's where you come in. I'm trying to help Kristen and Maureen raise awareness for what God is doing in Kenya and will do through Mercy House, so you should definitely check out these links for more information and to see how you can be a part of what God is doing in Kenya!

Mercy House website: http://themercyhousekenya.org/
Kristen's Blog: http://wearethatfamily.com/
Maureen's testimony on youtube (from camp this summer): http://www.youtube.com/user/slblueteam2010#p/a

If you are interested in sponsoring a child through Compassion, click the link on the right or let me know! I would love to tell you more about it.  I have sponsored a little girl in Kenya for the last 4 years and it truly has changed my life.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January?

Can someone please tell me where January went? Between taking a seminary workshop in New Orleans, a crazy busy month at work, traveling to Boone, NC for our Student Life Ski weekend, and house-sitting, it has flown by, and the next few weeks promise to be just as crazy! I've got a family wedding in New Orleans, trip with SL to Chattanooga, and our Compassion trip to Kenya in February (more about Kenya to come)! You're only young once, right?? According to the boys I'm watching this weekend (5 and 7), I'm not a grown up because I'm not married yet. Well, shucks! I guess I'll just stay a kid for a little bit longer ;)

Have I mentioned yet how much I love my job? If you don't know, I'm a Ministry Event Coordinator at Student Life, which means I spend the year planning and preparing everything for a summer full of camp! Once summer hits, I'll travel with one of our Directors and a summer staff to put on 11 youth camps all over the country. We will be one of five teams on the road this summer. I had the opportunity to serve with Student Life last summer and it was an incredible experience. We got to see God move in the lives of countless teenagers and adults, and He got all of the glory for it. At this point in my life, I love to be behind the scenes. All of this prep work is much more fun than it is actual work, and I absolutely love the team I serve alongside.

One of my biggest responsibilities is working with our summer staff applicants, and it's so much fun! I love reading their stories, talking to them on the phone, and emailing with them to make sure everything's all set for them to interview with us for a summer position. If you have any college-aged friends who are looking for a ministry opportunity this summer, send them to our website for more info! Tell them to hurry though... the application deadline is January 31!

I've found an incredible church home at The Church at Brook Hills, and I feel blessed to be able to hear David Platt preach every week. Today's sermon was incredible... you should definitely download and listen! I've joined the choir, and absolutely love it. This has already begun to be an incredible chapter of life, and I can't wait to see what else God has in store...

I'll leave you with a few pictures of recent events...

This is the truck we took to Student Life Ski last weekend - packed to the gills! 

Matt, Ryan, and Ben setting up the Servant Life booth at Ski... ha!

Worship with 750 students and adults at SL Ski!

Lots more to come... keep checking back!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Obey

Don't you wish it was easy to obey? To automatically respond with, "Yes, God!" anytime he asks anything of you? Oh, goodness... so do I! Unfortunately, it's just not the case, and I have a strange suspicion that it's not going to change anytime soon. Ha! As believers, we are called to obey, no matter what it may look like to us on the outside. When God says, "Go" we just go.

I feel like the word Obey is one that the Lord is constantly bringing to my mind... I think it's because it's at the heart of our relationship with Him. He desires for us to be faithful in everything, but we can't do that unless we are walking in obedience. In my mind, obedience is putting feet to our faith. If we really believe, we will obey. If we really trust, we'll obey. It's as hard as putting one foot in front of the other.

Did you read that last sentence? Even if you did, read it again.

It's as hard as putting one foot in front of the other.

Some days, it's just plain hard to move your foot. It's often easier to waste time than to obey, it's easier to sleep late than to obey, and it's easier to do everything else that we had on our to-do list than to obey. See my point?

Obedience isn't usually the easy thing, but oh, it's such a sweet thing. There is such peace in knowing that you have been obedient to God.

In his sermon on Sunday, my pastor (David Platt) made the point that Jesus is worthy of absolute surrender, and it's just so true. He can be trusted. He is good! 

When we choose to obey, we are surrendering our lives to Him... even if it's just one step at a time.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 
For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
(Luke 9:23-25 ESV)
 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

the queen of good intentions

Well, here I am. I've decided to give blogging another try, and this is where I'm camping out. I feel like it's aptly titled... "Story of my life." In case you're wondering, that's what it's going to be. I'm not an absurdly interesting person, but I serve a mighty God who is living and active, and I'm a part of the story he has written, and I can't wait to share it with you.

I have been known as "the queen of good intentions." I have books on my shelf that I have read most of, but haven't finished, and I have a big stack of books that have yet to be opened.


There are projects (like the scarf I tried to knit) that just sit, unfinished as well.



I tend to over-commit myself and have the best intentions to do things that eventually never get done.

It's my prayer that this will be a year of finishing. I don't want to be known as "the queen of good intentions" anymore, but I want to finish things, and finish them well. I have goals that I want to accomplish, and I can't wait to see how the Lord is going to use each of them to stretch and grow me. 

So, this first post is going to be short and sweet. Stick around though... there's more to come. Life is good and God continues to be faithful.