Thursday, December 31, 2009

it's a new year - i feel that deserves a post

I always feel weird when a new year rolls around. I can't really explain the feeling...just...odd. It's as if something is missing; as if I feel that something big should happen or some insane change should take place. And maybe it does at times, and maybe it will. But it might not.

January 1st is just another day.

Maybe it's that I feel guilty. Like I haven't accomplished all that I should or could have. Maybe that's true. But I don't think God wants me, or anyone, to feel guilty. The need for that was eradicated that scandalous day when He demonstrated the craziest kind of sacrificial love for a world that certainly did nothing to deserve it. That makes me weep. And I want to serve Him so badly, to reflect even the smallest piece of His glory, to pour back to Him even a drop of the love He so graciously and generously lavishes on me.

"We know what true love looks like because of Jesus. He gave His life for us, and He calls us to give our lives for our brothers and sisters. This is a portrait of true love. If a person owns the kinds of things we need to make it in the world but refuses to share with those in need, is it even possible that God's love lives in Him? Once God's love takes hold of a person, it is impossible for him to close his heart to his brothers and sisters in God's family. My little children, don't just talk about love as an idea or theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love." (1 John 3:16-18, The Voice).
That's how I want to live. I want to live like Jesus. I talk about love a lot, and I write about love, and I think and dream about love. I want to live love.

I think what I'm missing is the fresh feeling. Isn't the start of a new year supposed to feel fresh? It's a new beginning, a chance to try again, because we inevitably fail. But really, each day is a fresh start. The third chapter of Lamentations says that God's compassions never fail and they are new every morning. That's crazy! It also says that it's because of God's insane love for us that we are not consumed. Yeah, baby. Psalm 3:5 says, "I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me." Each morning that I wake up, it's because God has given me another day. That means that each day that I'm alive has a purpose. That means that I should be LIVING. If only I could think that way every morning. God gave me this day, He kept me alive, He allowed me to wake up this morning. That rocks.

I'm not going to make any New Year's resolutions. I'm just going to live. I'm just going to commit this year to the lover of my soul, my Lord that I've fallen so deeply in love with. I'm just going to continue to follow Him. Undoubtedly I will fail. When that happens, I'll just get back up again knowing that God's love is HUGE.

Welcome, 2010.

Monday, December 21, 2009

prepare for some rambling...

Sometimes I have deep thoughts. Thoughts so profound that I can't help but think how awesome I am and how I should become a writer and share my thoughts with the world. Thoughts so great I repeat them over and over in my head and marvel at my cleverness. But then I forget them. There's a book full of wonderful thoughts somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, if only I could find them.
So I decided to sit down and just type things as they come to me. Honestly, it kind of scares me. That doesn't make any sense, though, because I can just delete whatever doesn't sound clever. Because that's what it's all about, right? Cleverness, image, making sure other people see me the way I want them to see me. I know in my head that that is not at all what life is about, but somehow what's in my head doesn't always make it to my heart, or the nerves that control my limbs and my actions.
We all have our insecurities. We all have our flaws. And we all know that we all have our insecurities and our flaws. But we still try to appear flawless and confident. We walk with our heads held high and we talk as if we have it all together....but we don't. And we know it. If we could only show it...there's strength in transparency. We're meant to help each other. We're made to help each other. We're not made to face things alone. Relationship. Love.

It always comes down to love.


I'm learning lots of things through Mission Year. And it's good to be at home on break and to have time to reflect. It's weird to be home, though. It's weird to be away from Houston. It's weird to be back in the house where I was this summer, anticipating Mission Year, dreaming about what things would be like, feeling restless. Now I've experienced it - and it's changed me. My perspective has changed. Things I once only felt in my heart or thought in my head are things I now have lived and am learning to live more fully.
I'm learning the importance of opening myself each day to God.
I'm learning that it's pointless to have my own agenda.
I'm learning how terribly flawed and worthless I am.
I'm learning how abundantly loved and priceless I am.
I'm learning how crazy Jesus is.
I'm learning how crazy in love I am with Jesus.
I'm learning to love.
I'm learning to live.
I'm learning to live love.

I love you all. Thanks for reading my ramblings.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

glimpses and blurbs...

I don't have the time or the mental capacity at the moment to put together a well-written piece of bloggage. So I'm just going to copy some things from my journal to give you some glimpses of and blurbs about my thoughts and experiences recently...

About a week ago our team went to see Donald Miller speak in Pasadena. He spoke about stories and life and living a compelling story. A story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. We are all characters. Unique characters. And we all want something. The fact is, however, that a lot of times what we want isn't worthwhile - it isn't something an audience would clap for. The "secret ingredient" to living a compelling story is to want something meaningful. Not a car or money or chocolate cake (well...maybe the cake), but rather to live like Jesus - to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, heal the broken, love the matter what we want, there will be conflict. The trick is to want something that makes the conflict worth it.


"This is a call to action, to make the world a better place in His holy name. Reach out and heal the broken, feed the hungry, clothe the poor. That's what love is for. It's not enough to testify with words. Reach out in love and the message will be heard." ~ Dutton Band

At Simple Feast on Sunday one of the men said to me, "We shouldn't have to tell people we're Christians - they should be able to tell by the way we live." True story. Let's live it out.


When I need encouragement, God bombards me with it. Through Leroy at our commissioning service and church, through Jenni during our one-on-one, through a homeless man I met at Simple Feast.
This man had a story that broke my heart: he was robbed, arrested, had a drinking problem, his sister died...but he said he should be able to get home soon because he'll be getting unemployment status and will receive money from that. He was blessed by my willingness to listen and I in turn was blessed by him. He said that he could see in my eyes that the Lord had blessed and called me and that there was a glow about me. It was so encouraging.


I love you all so much. Thank you for your continual prayers!

Monday, October 19, 2009

frustrations and blessings

I'm still unsure about my service site. Opportunities have definitely arisen - the possibility of helping my friend from East Africa learn English, volunteering with an after school program at Star of Hope, helping at Casa de Esperanza, helping a pastor near our neighborhood with a food drive...But I feel like if all of these things work out, I'm going to be spreading myself very thin rather than being able to really focus myself in one area and build strong relationships there. Please pray. Sometimes these things can overwhelm me and cause me to be blind to hope, but I need to keep things in perspective and fully trust God. He brought me here for a reason and He is sovereign.

There are a lot of good things going on as well that remind me of how rewarding this year is and will be. On Thursday night I accompanied Steven and David to a graduation ceremony at Open Door Mission, an organisation they're hoping to get involved with that helps men get their lives back on track. It was a beautiful ceremony and I was so blessed to hear the excitement of the men there as they shared how God is working in their lives and how they truly wish to change their situations. One man said to us, "It was no man who brought me out of the ditch, it was no man who took the cigarettes from my mouth, it was no man who took away my fleshly struggles - it was God." Amen.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Psalm 115:1

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness."

I honestly feel like I'm not doing anything. It's all God. God places people in our paths - East African refugees, awesome neighbors, people on buses and in parks...God blesses us with food when we're broke and art supplies when we need them. I no longer believe in coincidences. Every good and perfect gift, every incredible encounter or experience...It's all God. He gets all the glory. And that's exactly how it should be.

Let me tell you one of these stories:
At the end of the third week of September our team was out of money for food. That Saturday we discussed it during our team meeting. That day Lupe, one of our amazing neighbors, made us a Mexican meal and brought it to our house. That Monday Andy, the cook from Ecclesia, gave us the leftover soup from that week. That Tuesday Steven's family cooked us a meal and brought it to us.
God provides.

Monday, October 5, 2009

thoughts about becoming a nun...

Yes, this thought actually did cross my mind (and stayed there for a while) this past week. Allow me to elaborate:

Friday night and Saturday morning our team went to an Episcopalian church to hear Chris Webb speak. I am now his biggest fan. Katy and I are going to start a fan club - t-shirts and everything. ;) He said a lot of things that I loved. The big thing was "following Jesus without reserve." He explored how people have tried to live that in the past, focusing on monastic traditions, and also challenged us to look at our own lives and see what is keeping us from following Christ completely. So I've been thinking about my life - what's holding me back? I crave comfort: nice things, people who think like me, ignorance of suffering and injustice...but God is calling me to live on the other end of the spectrum, in simplicity and devotion to justice.
I was so drawn to the monastic traditions and lifestyle that Chris spoke of that for a while I entertained the idea of becoming a nun. Yeah, no joke. The more I thought about it, however, I realised that I don't feel called to be a nun. What I'm drawn to is their lifestyle of simplicity, discipline, and devotion to living in obedience to God. But I don't think that I, personally, need to wear a habit in order to practice that kind of lifestyle. There's a movement today called "new monasticism." This movement draws from the lifestyle and traditions of monasticism, but fits it more to the 21st century. They live simply, many choose a life of celibacy, and they are devoted to living like Christ. This is the movement I long to be a part of.

An update on my service site: I'll basically be starting new this week. I'll still be helping out with the kids on Sundays, and my focus will still be on ministering to children, but I won't be working with the Children's Ministry at Ecclesia during the week. This week will probably consist of me contacting different organisations in the Montrose area (where Ecclesia is located) and trying to form connections with them and their children's ministries.

Monday, September 28, 2009

always learning

Last week, my second week at my service site, was....frustrating. The thing about working with the Children's Ministry is that the ministry part really only takes place on Sunday. The rest of the week is preparation - organizing, photocopying, researching, planning...definitely not relational. And definitely not what I'm here for. So I was frustrated. And close to tears a couple of mornings. I'll hopefully be starting at another service site this coming week and things will become more concrete and routine...

Saturday was a joyful day filled with sidewalk chalk, snow cones, snoopy comics, and flute/guitar improvisation. It was an encouraging day and I praise God for that. He definitely used that day to lift my spirits.

The other night I was thinking about how much I'm learning about the way I see people and the way I should see people. I'm learning to love people for who they are, no matter where they've been or what they've done. I'm learning to love them because I see Jesus in them, not because they are broken and need to be fixed. I am broken, we are broken, and we all need to heal, to heal each other and depend on one another. We are all made in the image of God and if we learn to release ourselves from the chains of judgement, self-righteousness, comfort, status quo, social boundaries - we can see Jesus in everyone. We can see him in the devotion of a homeless couple who stick together even when things would be easier if they separated, in the creativity of a homeless artist, in the contentedness of those who once lived in abundance and now have nothing. When Jesus hung out with tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners, He wasn't hanging out with tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners - He was hanging out with His friends, beloved children of God.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's a God thing :D

Tell me, what are the odds of this: On Thursday I was introduced to a woman who is a refugee from East Africa, my favourite part of the world, where I grew up. She doesn't speak much English, but speaks Swahili, so when the people at Ecclesia heard that I knew some Swahili, they introduced me to her. My Swahili is extremely rusty, but we manage to communicate in Swenglish with a lot of hand motions. She has lived in Houston for two years now and is struggling. Her husband left her to care for her 5 children alone. She is living in government housing and until recently has not been able to find a job because her English is not very good. Praise God that Ecclesia is giving her a job cleaning the church once a week, which will provide her with enough money to pay her rent and more. She is an extremely sweet woman who hugs a lot. ;) This was definitely a God thing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Homeless in Houston

I apologize in advance if my thoughts in this entry are scattered and lengthy. I've been in Houston for a little over 2 weeks now and we have done SO much! This is my first chance to update this blog and I know I can't fit in everything I'd like to. *deep breath* Here goes:

Before coming to Houston I had tried to track down what my mailing address would be with no success. My brother Robert teased me, saying that our directors were going to make us experience homelessness firsthand. He was more right than he though, although that wasn't the way it was supposed to be (but since when do our plans work out anyway? "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." ~ Proverbs 16:9). So our first two nights were spent in a small apartment above the pastor's garage. It was awesome bonding time, with all the girls staying in a small bedroom with only 2 beds and the guys sleeping in the living room.
2 days later we were off to Atlanta for training. It was there that I discovered that everyone who signs up for Mission Year is insane. For real. Seriously, giving up the comforts of family, friends, money, and familiarity to live on an extremely small budget with a team of other insane people (8 others, in my case) in order to form relationships and community with homeless people, broken families, poor families, people affected by racism, abuse and other forms of injustice. Who would do that? Jesus would do that. And He is the center of our faith, He is our example, and He is our comfort, the One to whom we cling when everything else is stripped away. It isn't easy, but it's worth it. Comfort has become uncomfortable in light of the injustice and need that so many others face.

I have so many things I could write, so many thoughts and stories swimming around in my head. I'll share just 2 of them with you now. Both stories are from Sunday afternoons when our team helps out with a ministry to the homeless called "Simple Feast". A group from Ecclesia church here in Houston takes a meal to a park where a lot of homeless people go and we serve it to them and eat with them, talking to them and learning their stories.

The first time we did Simple Feast we met a family with four children. The youngest boy was full of energy and was doing all sorts of cartwheels and handstands. After a while he sat down next to me and I said that he must be tired. He looked at me and replied, "No, I'm just resting for a while and then I'll get right back up. Because I never give up, whatever I do, I never give up." I was so impressed with his perseverence.

Yesterday we helped out again. One man we met only spoke Spanish, but communicated his story to us with the help of translation by Katy, one of our team members. He told us how he came to faith and then sang worship songs for us in Spanish. Right before we left he prayed for us. I have no idea what he said, but it definitely left an impression on me. We were there to help them, but he blessed us so incredibly. God is present in surprising and beautiful places.

Our team is made up of 9 people. 5 guys (David, Isaac, Sean, Steven, and Stu) and 4 girls (Andy, Bonnie, Katy, and me). It is a huge blessing for me to have Katy on this team. Katy is also an MK. She grew up in Mexico and was working in Paris last year. The craziest thing is that her brother, Peter, graduated with me from Black Forest Academy! That connection was a confirmation from God that this is where I'm supposed to be and that God is watching out for me. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

and the journey begins...

Tomorrow at 6am I embark on an incredible adventure to inner city Houston. It's real.
I'm so excited but at the same time I feel nervous and overwhelmed and as if I'm in over my head. I guess I am. And that's ok, because that's when Christ's power is most evident in my life. With that being the case, I want to be in over my head always.
I can't shake the feeling that my ministry this year won't just be a temporary thing, but the first step of a crazy lifestyle. Crazy in the world's eyes, at any rate.
Bring it on.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Home. I think most MKs – all TCKs, for that matter – will agree that ‘home’ is an elusive concept. What is ‘home’, really?

A lot of people try to define ‘home’ in various ways: “Home is where your heart is” “Home is where your rump rests”…etc. But in a practical sense, what is ‘home’? Where you were born? Where you spent the most time? Where your family is? Where you live at the present moment? None of these really seem to work for me – I was born in Kenya, but never lived there; I spent 14 years in Tanzania and love it, but the people I love most are no longer there; my parents are missionaries in Germany, but they’ll be in Arkansas for a year; I currently don’t ‘live’ anywhere. So where is my home?

Philippians 3:20 states it rather nicely: “But our citizenship is in heaven…” As a follower of Christ, I know that my true home is in heaven and that my true self is not of the flesh, but spiritual. Praise God that I don’t need to know where my ‘home is on this earth because I am not of this world – I’m an alien, baby, a citizen of Heaven.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Faith and Skydiving

So, skydiving. I’m certain there are marvelous parallels to be drawn between this experience and my walk with God. I just need to use my brain, which can sometimes be an issue during the summer…

1) Patience: before I could do my tandem we had to wait for the skies to clear up. My jump was cancelled altogether on Friday (June 12) and on Sunday (June 14) we again had to wait a while for the rain to pass. Often my life is like that with God – I get excited about doing something or I want something to happen and am praying about it, but ultimately God’s timing is perfect. It’s hard to be patient, but it’s worth it. God knows what He’s doing.
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:13-14)

2) Preparation: once the weather had cleared up, I had to get geared up (like my rhyme there?). Nothing would be more stupid than jumping out of a plane without the proper equipment (although it would certainly give you that craved adrenaline rush). Our life of faith is similar. Ephesians tells us to put on the full armor of God. Although our lives may seem comfortable at times and we may believe we’re okay without feeding ourselves with God’s word or we have nothing to pray about, that’s a lie. Spiritual battles are constant and if we’re not prepared, we’re giving Satan an easy job.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand agains the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but...the powers of this dark world and...spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God...the belt of truth...the breastplate of righteousness...the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace...take up the shield of faith...the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:11-18)

3) Faith (I wish I could’ve made this another ‘p’ and been all pastor-like): no matter how many times a person has jumped out of an airplane, each time they do so they’re taking a risk. There’s always a chance that something will go wrong – the chute won’t open properly or the landing will go badly. Yet they do it over and over again. As Christians, we often have to take such “leaps of faith”. Our futures are uncertain and we never know when problems will occur. But we have an assurance much greater than that of skydiving gear – we have the love and protection of the Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, the Greatest Love of all. So just tell me where to jump…
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Sunday, May 10, 2009


After hearing that I would definitely be doing Mission Year, my mom recommended that I read a certain book about a German missionary named George Mueller. His lifestyle truly amazes and humbles me. He lived trusting God day to day, never knowing how long he would remain in one place before God led him to move on. When he prayed, he did so with faith, being certain that God would answer and provide. God always did, even when it seemed like there was no possible way Mueller could get what he needed.

One time, Mueller needed money to buy Bibles. So he prayed specifically for God to give him 20 pounds with which to purchase them. That very day a woman came to his door and handed him an envelope. Inside the envelope was exactly 20 pounds. Mueller asked the woman if she wanted the money to be used for anything specific. She answered that she wanted him to buy Bibles. Praise God!

God never lets us down; we let Him down when we fail to trust Him. God, grant me greater trust in You.

In the words of Casting Crowns, “What if His people prayed?” If all Christians prayed earnestly and fervently with the trust that George Mueller displayed, we would see amazing things take place.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” ~ James 5:15-16

As incredibly encouraging as this is, it often overwhelms me. There is so much in this world that needs prayer – churches, schools, governments, families, friends, believers, non-believers, homeless, orphans, slaves, leaders….the list goes on. Fortunately, God again provides.
“…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” ~ Romans 8:26-27
Praise God that He doesn’t put all the pressure on us! (If that were the case, things would be hopeless) He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us and to plead with God on our behalf when we are unable.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


This school year, emotionally and spiritually, has been the one year of my life that most resembles a roller coaster. The image may be cliché, but it’s extremely fitting. It has been a year of excitement, anxiety, passion, and apathy as I approach a major transition (*gasp* the dreaded ‘t’ word) in my life. Where will I go next year? What will I study? Where is God leading me? Is this feeling of being called to ministry really from Him? Questions, questions, questions….it has been a year of questions.

Near the beginning of the school year, we had Spiritual Emphasis Week. The thing that stuck most in my mind was the speaker’s challenge to ask God to do something radical in our lives. I did. Little did I know what that would look like or where it would lead me.

In February, I learned about a program called Mission Year (to learn what this is visit It sounded fantastic to me from the very beginning to spend a year devoted to loving people. It seemed to fit with what God had been placing on my heart about the importance of relationships. Yet I was in torment – this was no easy decision. It would mean putting off college (which had been my plan for right after high school for the past who-knows-how-many years) for a year. It would mean drastic change. Wasn’t that what I had prayed for?
I wouldn’t let myself embrace the idea too quickly.

The beginning of March we went to Nürnburg for high school retreat. My expectation for that weekend was for God to show me whether or not Mission Year was something I should pursue. I knew He would not let me down. Sure enough, during the worship sessions and small group times, God spoke to me through songs and verses:
Ø “I will lift my eyes to the Maker of the mountains I can’t climb” – not only is God able to help me overcome tasks that I am incapable of, He CREATED them. So why ever should I doubt?
Ø “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” (Luke 1:45) – that seemed pretty straightforward. STOP DOUBTING.
Ø “My weakness only brings to light the arms of God, such strength and might.” – yes, I’m weak, but God SHINES through that weakness!
Ø “No matter what tomorrow brings, there’s strength enough for today.” – it can be exhausting to live a surrendered life, but God provides the strength we need. We may not have the strength to last a week or month or year, but He gives us strength for today. One day at a time.
Ø “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6)
That weekend, I decided to apply. I knew that if this wasn’t God’s will, He would close the door and I would not be accepted to the program. What did I have to lose?

I applied on March 17th. Then came the waiting period. In the midst of the waiting I went on a week long mission trip to Kenya. Back in November, when I signed up for the trip, I did so with the hope and expectation that God would either confirm or completely deny the calling I felt to ministry. Throughout the week He consistently confirmed it and granted me peace about it. On March 30th, I finally prayed a prayer dedicating my life to God’s ministry, whatever form it may take. Surrender is freeing. After that I was even more excited for Mission Year – but I still had to wait. Anxiety and impatience were very present. I constantly had to remind myself that God is in control. He has a beautiful plan and purpose for my life, so what reason do I have ever to be anxious?

After what seemed like 10,000 years (only a slight exaggeration), I received an email of ACCEPTANCE on April 29th. The next day was my birthday and one of the girls in my dorm said that this was my birthday present from God. I still don’t know which city I’ll be in, but I’m so excited. Not a day goes by now that I don’t thank God for the opportunity He’s given me. I’m so thrilled…ECSTATIC…to know that He wants me – a doubtful, selfish girl who constantly makes mistakes – to be a part of His work. He doesn’t need me, but He wants me. Sure, I still have my fears, but I’m excited to see how God proves those fears unfounded. He will provide.

Throughout my Mission Year I’ll try to keep this blog updated so that you can see how God is working in my life and the amazing things that He accomplishes, even through a weak and insecure sinner like me.

The title of my blog "Gold in the Garbage" refers to the fact that though I may see myself as worthless and full of sin, God sees something beautiful and precious in me and He will work through me despite my faults.