Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Why are my sisters such good people and I'm such an asshole?"

That is the question my brother asked me when he found out I was going to Africa. I laughed out loud for a good 5 minutes, but then it got me wondering about the answer to that question. I thought about what my sister and I were doing when we were freshmen in college and it was not much different from what he is doing. He is an athlete that likes to have his fun and occasionally go to class. He is the carbon copy of me 3 years ago. He will do something great one day.

My favorite thing to think about is how much people have grown over the years. It is so much fun to be able to watch the growth of others and I have been lucky enough to have a lot of consist ant people in my life that I have seen grow. But even the ones that aren't in my life very long (like the multiple volleyball players I coach every summer), to growth is evident and beautiful.

I'm at the age now where I can look back at my teenage years and finally admit to my parents how right they were- about everything. They were right about those boys and they were right about how only trouble comes after dark. They were right about the importance of grades and insignificance of popularity. They were right about the skimpy clothes and push up bras. I can't really think of anything they told me that was just flat out wrong, but out of everything they told me, the thing that stuck with me all of these years is their emphasis on individuality. I am almost positive they regret it now (especially my father), but from the day I was born I was taught to be opinionated, curious, and most of all myself, no matter what and they allowed me to grow.

I made a promise to myself before I got involved with campus ministries and bible studies and applied to seminary. I promised myself that no matter what I was told or what people said about me, I wouldn't change who I was. I knew that I would have a lot of views that would change and there would be small things about me that would mature and refine, but I wanted to stay who I was and that was really hard. It is not everyday you meet a devout Christian with bleach blond hair, tattoos, and piercings, but that's me. And on top of all of that, I am loud and I speak my mind. I am painting a picture that is clearly opposite of what the typical Godly woman looks like. And that is me.

That is the beauty of our God. He has made us individuals so that we can learn a little bit about Him from each person we encounter. If all of us Christian women were the same, we would learn nothing. From the quiet, reserved woman we learn submission and from the outspoken, opinionated woman we learn passion. We need both of these things and both of these women in our world.

I went to Jackson for my RTS interview this past weekend. I was pretty scared because I knew that some people would have an issue with who I was and the way I presented myself, I was just hoping that they could see the good in all of that and most of all see that I have a heart for God. I was afraid everyone there would be a weirdo with no social skills and I was afraid that they would expect me to be the same way. I was terrified that I would have to change who I was to attend that school and I was not willing to do that. I, once again, made the promise to myself that I would not change. It worked. I was myself the entire time. I did not hide anything about my past, I was honest about my beliefs, and they loved it. The man that interviewed me told me I had a rare spunk and an extremely rare confidence in who I was that most Christian women struggle with. He laughed at my jokes and thought it was cool that I had a nose ring. He liked my tattoo and he liked that I laughed a little too loud. I was officially admitted to the Marriage and Family Counseling program less than 30 minutes after my interview. The director of admissions has been there for 15 years and has never seen anyone accepted that quickly. I was the first person admitted into the RTS class of 2012.

I take no credit for all of this. I have to give it all to the Holy Spirit because he made Himself known through me and it had nothing to do with me or anything I have ever done. How cool is it to think that he made himself so evident in me that they admitted me right away? To think that they saw Him so clearly that they didn't see the tattoos or the hair or the piercings. They saw God's light.

So, I will officially be attending Reformed Theological Seminary in the fall and I am so blessed to have this opportunity. I cannot wait to be challenged and challenge others. I am ready to go and show them a completely different type of Godly woman. I am ready to go and glorify my Father the best way I can.

"No two men are just alike. Every new life is a new thing under the sun; there has never been anything just like it before, never will be again. A young man ought to get that idea about himself; he should look for the single spark of individuality that makes him different from other folks, and develop that for all he is worth. Society and schools may try to iron it out of him; their tendency is to put it all in the same mold, but I say don’t let that spark be lost; it is your only real claim to importance.
- Henry Ford

Monday, February 15, 2010

Return to Innocence (a wonderful song by Enigma...have a listen!)

So I made a facebook group to introduce my blog and my life and all that jazz a couple hours ago and I CANNOT BELIEVE that I am already having such great response. I have had several calls, emails, and facebook messages from people asking about my life and my trip and those questions mean more to me than anything else. I am getting support from people that I have not talked to in years and from people I have never even met. I am in shock. Seeing the Holy Spirit move in all of these people (believers and nonbelievers) makes my heart burn with passion and gives me assurance that I am on the right path.

I had the wonderful opportunity of getting to watch Lindsey and Emma raise money for their Haiti trip. They had like less than 2 weeks to raise their money and they did it in ONE DAY. Prayer is so powerful in these situations and the Lord loves to prove Himself to us again and again...I think he likes to laugh at how doubtful we are. Lindsey, Emma, and Taylor will be going to Haiti in less than 3 weeks and they need your prayer as well. They have raised their money, now it is time to pray consistently for their safety.

If you have not seen the movie At the End of the Spear, you have to. I watched it with Lindsey the other night and while it would probably make most people scared to be missionaries, it just solidified our desires to travel the world and share the Gospel. Everything for me is falling into place and God is revealing a piece of His plan to me every day. Betsy and I received news last week that we got interviews at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. We are so excited and if everything goes as planned, we will be there for the next 2 years getting our master's degree in Marriage and Family Counseling.

All of this blows my mind because if any one of you would have come to me 2 years (or even a year) ago and told me that I would not only become a missionary but I would also being going to seminary, I would have laughed in your face and probably said a few four letter words. 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 tells about how we become a new creation after we come to Christ. Our old life is gone- no guilt, no anger, and no sadness- the past does not exist. More importantly, our past SIN does not exist. Our innocence is restored and our heart is forever changed. That is exactly what has happened in my life. The best part about it is that He is not done with me. I wake up every morning happier than I have ever been in my entire life because I know that no matter how perfect things may seem, this is NOT as good as it gets. Even in my struggles I have eternal love and support from the one thing that can promise it and keep that promise.

Please keep these wonderful people in your prayers...

Lindsey Caldwell (Haiti)
Emma Eberhart (Haiti)
Taylor Simmons (Haiti)
Drew Welchel (Mexico)
Neely Thomson (St. Vincents)
Rebecca Sokolove (Zambia)
Matt McCalley (Australia)
Laura Baker (Kenya)
Ariel Rainbow (Bolivia)

“One great, strong, unselfish soul in every community could actually redeem the world.” - Elbert Hubbard

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Following in my sister's foot steps...

Pamajo Tunaweza means "together we can" in Swahili. It was the theme of our project in Tanzania last summer and I thought it was very fitting for this trip as well.

As you can tell, I am following in my sister's foot steps...again. Not only with the blog, but with the idea of committing my life to something greater. While the something greater may be different for each of us, at the end of the day, we have the same goal: to make our lives mean something to someone. Now, unfortunately, I am not as funny as Neely and will not have as many inspiring and jaw dropping tales, but I hope that this blog does inspire you to go out and fight for whatever your something greater is.

My something greater is Jesus Christ. I have become a believer in the past year and ever since I have decided to surrender to the Lord, my life has taken a 180 degree turn and I have been put on the fast track in my walk with Christ. While it took me almost 21 years to surrender my life and heart, once I did, that was it. There has been no second guessing, no questioning, and absolutely no doubt. I know what I live for and as Jesus describes in John 17:3, my purpose is to know God and His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.

Now that you know a bit about where I am in my life, I have to tell you where I am going. I am going to Kenya this summer to spend time there as well as Uganda to do 5 weeks of a Christian adventure camp and then using the other 5 weeks to share the Gospel, work in orphanages, mentor Kenyan youth, and serve in any way that I can. I am doing this all with the intention of getting my feet wet in order to return with the same organization for long term missions. I also plan on attending Reofrmed Theological Seminary in the fall, but I'm gonna take all this one step at a time!

So now I know you are wondering about finances. Here is my answer- My Lord will provide. I know that all of this is crazy to a lot of you, but I cannot and will not ignore God's calling. While the finances will be a burden ( I need over $4,000 by May), I also know that money is a worldly object and God counts costs in lives not in cash. Having said this and to explain myself a bit better, when God chose to send me, He did not say "I'm sorry this will cost you a lot of money." Instead he said, "This will change many lives."

So what am I doing to help myself financially?

I always find myself frustrated with missionaries that ask and ask and ask but never contribute themselves, so I vow to not be that person. I have several things lined up in order to contribute to my financial situation:

1. I am having a VERY large "garage sale" and selling basically everything I own
2. I get 2 paychecks a month- one of those is going directly to my missions/seminary fund

Having said ALLLLL of this here is my last bit. I need your help. First and foremost, I need your prayer and I need lots of it. I need prayer for my safety, for my ability to follow Christ, and for my finances. Secondly, I need help financially. I am asking for these two things from family, friends, and my church, Seven Hills Fellowship. I truly believe that if I have the help from The Lord and all of you I can raise this money fast.

I invite you to continue reading my blog while I tell you how the Lord is providing and how He is preparing my heart for this journey. I also encourage you to contact me with any questions about my testimony or future plans!

Isaiah 6:8
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"