Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My African Adventure is About to Begin!

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6:23 PM
Outreach officially begins tomorrow. Tomorrow I arrive back in Orlando, FL and reunite with my team. I’ve really enjoyed this break, but I’ve missed them too. It will be so great to see them again. Then Friday we take off for North Carolina. We will be doing “mobile teams”, which we drive to various team members’ home churches to talk about what we will be doing overseas, promote YWAM Orlando, etc… So we will caravanning up to Greensboro, NC for about a week and a half, and ministering with 2 churches over there! Then we head back to Orlando on January 10th, where we have one day to regroup for AFRICA! January 12th we fly out of Orlando, with a quick stop in Atlanta, and then straight on to Johannesburg, South Africa! No big, just a 17 hour flight. Glad I have that Kindle! From Johannesburg, we drive about 2 hours north to Rustenburg, which is our first stop. We will be there for about 2 weeks, working with YWAM Rustenburg. Here we will be doing VBS, feeding programs, HIV/AIDS education, purity teachings, hospice visits, and more. Then we head to Labotse, Botswana, where our team splits in two. We will be doing everything from VBS & kids ministry, to teaching and door to door evangelism. We reunite 10 days later and head back to Rustenburg. After another 2 weeks in Rustenburg, we then east to White River, South Africa, located on the beautiful Kruger National Park. Here we will also be doing kids ministry, purity education, and working with Ten Thousands Homes, who provide homes for orphans. We will also have a time of debrief/reflection at the Kruger base to wrap up our entire outreach time. We arrive back in Orlando on March 9th!

I can’t believe the time for South Africa is finally here! I have been totally blessed by my time at home. I’ve connected with friends and family, and its been amazing. I’m so grateful for the network of support I have here at home, and the prayers that will be lifted up on my behalf.

My internet connection will be quite limited, so don’t be alarmed if there are not regular blog posts while I’m away. I will be typing up blogs regularly to be sure I capture everything, but I may not be able to post them all right away! Check out the YWAM Orlando website, as they will be posting updates from my trip as well.

Prayers requests would include safety, health, flexibility & adaptability, and for our team to just be effective tools for God’s work. I’m especially excited about being part of the purity/abstinence education. Please pray that we are able to clearly communicate this message and that it is embraced!

Thank you so much, and be looking out for my next update from SOUTH AFRICA! Send me an email if you’d like to join my email update list at joy2theworld82@gmail.com

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Very Missionary Christmas

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10:41 PM

I had a pretty unique Christmas this year! Since I'm a missionary in training and I'm about to leave the country for 8 weeks to live in South Africa and Botswana, and the usual lotions, DVDs, shoes, and electronics weren't on my list this year. I asked for a clothesline to dry my clothes on...a microfiber towel that will dry super fast and pack nicely....hand sanitizer & wet naps so I can attempt to remain germ free...Ziploc baggies for efficient packing...Downy wrinkle release for those clothes that just came out of my bag...Bananagrams game for those plane rides and long waits. So, yeah, not my normal Christmas list, but I have to admit, I was excited to get all this stuff. This is the lifestyle I'm going to be living from now on, and I'm so glad to start stocking up on some of this stuff! Of course, my family did get me some fun stuff too...Amazon & iTunes gift cards, and other goodies.

In addition to new Christmas traditions, since I didn't really have a new toy to play with today, I decided it was the perfect day to sew a messenger bag that I designed for Africa. So, I made that happen today, and I'm quite pleased with the outcome.


So, that was my 2010 Christmas! It was a small Christmas for me [my sister got a Wii, and I got a clothesline], but it was the perfect Christmas for me. Hope yours was as blessed and satisfying as mine!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmastime is Here

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3:29 PM
Christmastime is here! You can hear it on the radio, in the stores, and even in the air. In my 28 years of celebrating Christmas, I’ve had many different emotions surrounding this holiday. As a child, I remember being excited and feeling the “magic of Christmas”. I’d go to bed and the next morning, our living room would be brimming with gifts. I remember knowing about Santa Claus, but also knowing the true meaning of Christmas was the birth of Jesus. We celebrated both in my house. It was a joyful time. My little brother died when I was 10, holidays became a little less joyful for awhile. Our first Christmas after his death, we went to Disney World as a way to completely change the holiday for us. [Disney on Christmas, by the way, was waaaay too crowded!] It worked. Eventually though, Christmas regained its joy. Throughout my teen years, I associated the holiday with family coming in town I didn’t always want to see, and getting gifts I didn’t really want. [Typically angsty teen, I suppose!] In the last couple years, I’ve had even more mixed emotions. As I began traveling as a missionary 5 years ago, and visiting the poorest of the poor, I became disgusted with the amount of wealth and consumerism of Americans during Christmas. For 2 years in a row, I refused to buy gifts, but made them instead. One year, I bought only handmade items. And one year, I gave everyone cards that said instead of giving them a gift, I donated the money I would have used to building wells in Africa. [It went over surprisingly well!] And now here I am again, at Christmastime.

I was watching some of my favorite Christmas movie classics [Love Actually, Elf, White Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas] and some of my favorite TV shows Christmas episodes [The Office, Glee, Community, Seinfeld, Friends] and I began to notice something. Amidst the shopping and the humor, the wacky traditions and the cheesy songs, I saw how the world sees Christmas. It’s a time to tell the people in your life that you love them. It’s a time to forgive each other and let go of past grudges. It’s a time to come together and help make your friend’s dreams come true. It’s a chance to believe in something bigger than yourselves. It’s seeing the positive in the world around you. It’s a time to give…not just gifts, but to your community too. It’s the one time of year that the world ceases to act like the world, but longs to live in the kingdom of God.

So for me this year isn’t about avoiding stores and boycotting malls, and its not about ignoring family traditions or trying to preach simplicity. It’s about embracing the world’s desire to live in the kingdom, even if just for a season. And to hopefully show them how they can live as though its Christmas everyday…with the love and knowledge of a Savior who was born this very time of year.

This video does a great job of explaining the world’s system vs. the kingdom of heaven’s system through the lens of Christmas. It’s a few minutes long, but worth the watch.


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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Letters, Love and Prayers Vol.7

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4:12 PM
Dear Family and Friends!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s the end of 2010 already! I don’t know about you, but this year has just flown by! I’m home in Tampa for just a few short days to celebrate Christmas with the family before heading off to South Africa soon. I finished the 12 week Lesson Phase of my Discipleship Training School recently, and I have to say, it was the most life changing 12 weeks of my life. If you haven’t been on my blog lately, check out the video recap I posted as well! But here’s just a glimpse of what God has been doing in me the past 3 months…
• Challenging His Lordship in my life. I went into this training with my own thoughts, plans, ideas and during this week on Lordship, God really challenged me to make Him Lord over all. I found so much freedom this week.
• Rich Hodge from Kruger, South Africa came in and taught our class and his week was pretty phenomenal. He talked about the importance of heart change, if we ever want to see any change in thoughts, emotions or behaviors. A good lesson not only for the people we will be ministering to in South Africa, but in our own lives too!
• I love how maturing in my relationship with Christ is a never-ending process. In a week with Steve Shamblin, he walked us through what a babe in Christ, a child of God, and a young man/woman of God looked like. I was humbled to realize how much further I have to go. But excited to press into God and reach new depths with Him!
• Dean Sherman, a YWAM big gun, came and spoke a week on Spiritual Warfare. Ironically, the truth that stuck with me from that didn’t have too much to do with spiritual warfare at all! Dean talked about the realms that are at work right now…the physical world and the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is not a place, but a lifestyle. Living as Christ did, living as though we have a King, is bringing the kingdom of heaven to the physical world. And it attracts people to God. Our lifestyle is our biggest witness.

So those are just a few nuggets I walked away from DTS with. I have so much more that I’m still processing and attempting to apply. I hope you know how much your prayers and support have meant to me during this time. It was so revolutionary!

Now what’s next? Well, South Africa! We leave January 12th for Rustenburg, where we will spend time doing children’s ministry, feeding programs, and hospice care. From Rustenburg, we will travel to Botswana, where our team will split into two. One group will do prayer walks and Vacation Bible Schools for the children. The other team [mine!] will travel another 4 hours and be doing door to door evangelism and teaching. After Botswana, we will be back in Rustenburg for a few more weeks, then head over to Kruger, South Africa. We will spend the remainder of our time here. We will be doing more children’s ministry, some light construction, and more feedings. We arrive back in the States on March 9th. It sounds like a long time, but I know already that it will fly by!

Here’s a few prayer needs for the upcoming months…
1. Safety & Health. Please lift up our travel to and throughout South Africa/Botswana. Also, please pray for the health of our team.
2. Team Finances. Several of my team members are still needing their outreach funds in the next few weeks. Please pray that God provides and they are able to ask the right people while home for Christmas break.
3. Ministry. We have several great ministry opportunities planned, but ultimately, we want to be sensitive to what God is telling us to do in these locations. Please pray for our planned ministry and the unplanned ministry. Pray for changed lives!
4. Personal Finances. My training costs are completely covered [yay God!], but I’m still needing a smaller amount to cover my bills while I am in South Africa. Please pray that God provides on my behalf as well, as He always does.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support. I am humbled that you are walking this journey with me. I’d love to hear from you, so please email me back or give me a call to catch up as well. Without my incredible network of prayer warriors and supporters, I couldn’t be living this amazing life God has called me to. THANK YOU!! I pray that you and your family are blessed this holiday season. Be looking for my next update from SOUTH AFRICA!!!



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Sunday, December 19, 2010

DTS Lesson Phase Recap Video!

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11:05 PM
video

Check out this totally awesome video I made recapping the last 12 weeks spent living and learning at YWAM Orlando!

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Muted

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11:15 AM
I haven't blogged in weeks. Not for a lack of interesting events, circumstances or moments, but just...because. I don't really know why. I'm nearing the end of the lecture phase of my DTS here at YWAM Orlando. I really can't believe how fast that came upon me. God is showing up in real and practical ways in my life. And He's asking some tough things of me. I've seen my faith go to new places. I've experienced growth in areas I didn't realize needed growth. I've made lifelong friends, and this is still the beginning of our journey together. But mainly I just feel like I'm trying to drink from a fire hydrant. So much is being thrown at me, spiritually, intellectually, socially, personally, that it is all I can do to catch it. So forgive my muted silence. The words will come again.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Relationships, Evangelism, Botswana, and Thanksgiving...Oh My!

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11:55 AM
Well I haven’t blogged in about a week or two, but things have definitely been happening! The week after the 50th celebration we had a video teaching on relationships by Dean Sherman. It was an excellent and relevant teaching. I heard a lot of the information that I used to teach in the classroom with IMPACT, but with Scripture and a Biblical perspective. That was pretty awesome. We’ve started moving forward in planning the purity ministry for our South Africa outreach. I was able to present our STD slideshow to the team, to help educate them on sexual health for our outreach prep. It was fun, yet a bit awkward, presenting that message to my peers for the first time. But helpful nonetheless!

The following week’s teaching was on Evangelism. Bob Felder came up from the YWAM Miami base, and gave us practical speaking points we could use while sharing our faith. So many times the reason I don’t share my faith is that I get hung up on what to say, what not say, how to say it clearly, and how to have it make sense. But Bob put all those fears aside and gave us a simple method to begin engaging people in spiritual conversations and follow it up with the gospel. We were able to practically apply the information as well, when we went door to door in our neighbors with the intent of sharing the gospel. It was terrifying and unnatural, nor would it be my typical approach to witnessing, but overall it was a positive experience that I walked away from.

Other awesome news regarding our outreach, we will be traveling to Botswana as well! Located just a few hours north from our Rustenberg, South Africa location, we will be driving up to Botswana to help begin planting a new YWAM base there! While our South Africa will be mostly “Westernized” with some modern conveniences, like electricity and internet, our week in Botswana most likely will not be. Regardless, we are all pretty excited to be adding this to our outreach!

This week was also Thanksgiving, and YWAM Orlando celebrates like none other! Tuesday night, we all went to Publix as a base and bought our groceries because everyone brings a dish. It was pretty entertaining to see 70 people I knew grocery shopping at the same time! On Thursday, 150 of us gathered together for a “family” meal. I’ve never seen so much food in my life! And it was all delicious! After the meal, the guys played some competitive football…the northern states against the southern states. It was a nail-biter, but the North pulled out the win! Other highlights of the game were the halftime show and the Craig & Dean commentary. All in all, quite enjoyable! After the game, we pulled out all the food again and ate dinner and watched Elf.


























Me and some friends left for Tampa on Thursday night as well, and I’ve been showing them around the area for the weekend. It’s so great to not only see my family and friends, but also to bring a little of my YWAM world into my home life. But mainly, its been great to relax and sleep in and enjoy the holiday. So that’s what’s been going on in my life. Hopefully I’ll get back to regular blogging again soon!

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

YWAM Southeast Conference & 50th Celebration!

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12:22 PM
This past week, we hosted the annual YWAM Southeast Conference for all the bases in the southeast, and that was followed by YWAM's 50th Celebration. And, we actually hosted it at our new property! YWAM Orlando has only owned this 198-acre property since August 31, 2010, and our team has been working non-stop on this land to get it ready for this event. It's been amazing to see the transformation of the property just in the 8 weeks that I've been here! The biggest blessing of the week was to see the property used not just for a "work day", but for actual ministry! To see people doing their quiet times down by the lake, enjoying a meal on a picnic table, and sipping coffee at The Depot, it was like a glimpse into the future of YWAM Orlando, and it was super exciting. For example, here was The Depot previously, and then transformed to be our coffeeshop/store!















Also, it was SO fun to meet YWAMers from all the other bases! Nashville had come down a week earlier to help us with some property work, and we all got pretty close to their DTS students. But for the conference bases from Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, Richmond, Louisville, Charlotte and Atlanta joined us as well. We were challenged by the speakers to care for our bodies in service to God, to get a vision for our own future ministry, and to be part of the next wave of missionaries called to the nations.

Then on Wednesday, we began celebrating YWAM's 50th Anniversary. Bases as far as Madison, WI and New York City came to be a part. And YWAM founders, Loren & Darlene Cunningham joined us as well! It was such a privilege to be part of this DTS that was able to celebrate YWAM's history as we look to its future. We got fired up for the call to the nations and knew we were here "for such a time as this." We finished the week with communion, a commitment to be part of the Great Commission, and prayer for the nations. It was powerful.


I put together a video of some of the highlights from the week, with photos from some friends and videos I took on my brand new FlipCam. So, check it out!

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Everything is Illuminated

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2:12 PM
One of the very first verses I memorized as a child was Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” It’s short, easy to remember and repeat when asked. Plus it provided basic truth about God’s Word, it’s a lamp and a light. Illuminating my steps. Awesome.

But this week I read this verse with new eyes. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Notice that first, the word is a lamp for our feet. Meaning giving us light for the next step. Then it’s a light to our path. Meaning its showing us what’s ahead. So often, even more so now, I want my whole path lit. I want to know the big picture. But God’s only illuminating my next step, giving me just enough light for my feet. And when I try to light my own path, I fail. Isaiah 50:11 says “But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.” Yeah, I really don’t want to lay down in torment anytime soon, so I’ll just hold off on lighting my own paths.

I just finished reading the story of an awesome YWAM couple, Floyd and Sally McClung, whose ministry lived this out as well. In the 1970’s they were traveling through India, and met American teens, far from home and begging for money. They were disillusioned hippies, following the Hippy Trail through Europe and the Middle East looking for enlightenment, and finding drugs, sex, and disease along the way. The McClung’s felt God’s call upon their lives to show Jesus to these lost and searching souls. Over the next 20 years, they followed God’s voice step by step to Afghanistan to Amsterdam, loving these fringe kids and society dropouts in the arms of Jesus. At times they were unsure of what their path was or where their next steps going to be, but their faith and trust in Jesus kept them walking.

I can really relate to that. It seems like all God is lighting up for me now is DTS. But my steps afterward just aren’t lit yet. And I’m having to trust in His all-knowing wisdom and perfect timing to light things up as I go. Patience is sure better than lying down in torment, I say.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Letters, Love & Prayers Vol. 6

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9:19 PM
Dear Family & Friends,

I can’t believe its November already! Time has just FLOWN by here in Orlando. If you haven’t been keeping up with my blog, God is doing so much in my life through this lecture phase of training. Hearing the Voice of God with John Bills the first week was so revolutionary to how I approach God. It’s such a simple concept and so crucial to our faith, yet it always seemed so elusive...the voice of God. Now, recognizing His voice is a regular part of my day. The week on Biblical Restoration, taught by base director Michael Berg, was absolutely beautiful. We had the opportunity to move out from under the oppression of unforgiveness and past hurts. Favorite line of that week was “Hurt people hurt people, healed people heal people.” Our school leader, Ezra Griffiths, spoke on Lordship the following week. Another challenging and life changing week that had me praying “God, anytime, anywhere, any place...I’m yours.” Humbling. We also learned about the “Mighty Nations” in our lives, or our strongholds, from Mary Sliter as we prayed for freedom. Last week, Al McBryan taught us on the Character & Nature of God, which was so intellectually challenging and exciting. I cannot wait for the upcoming weeks of classes!

Class with Michael Berg, YWAM Orlando Base Director

Coming up the second week of November, we have the privilege of attending the YWAM Southeast Conference and the 50th Celebration, which is being held at our very own new property! YWAM bases from all over the southeast will be joining us here in Orlando for a week of amazing worship, teaching, prayer and intercession on behalf of the nations. We will be also celebrating YWAM International’s 50th Anniversary. YWAM founder Loren Cunningham and his wife will be joining us for the celebration and dedication of our new property. I’m super excited for this event! It’s such an honor to be a part.

Also, our outreach to South Africa is approaching, and I’m looking forward to it more and more! South Africa is a land of many extremes - very wealthy and complete poverty, highly educated and total illiteracy, excessive availability of food and total starvation to name just a few. There is also the very real problem of racial tensions and the pandemic of HIV/AIDS where 61% of all deaths are related to HIV/AIDS. Our team will be going to South Africa with a heart to show all that Jesus stands for; compassion, justice, giving to the poor, relentless love of the sick, comforting those who are in mourning, and those with no hope.

As you can see, the needs are huge. I feel so privileged to be able to go to South Africa and bring God’s grace and mercy to those who have never known it! Through your prayer support, we together can have an eternal impact on these needy lives! Being part of this DTS, I have not only gained statistics about the suffering people around the world, but I’ve gained a heart for those people, children of God, who have faces and dreams and passions.

So that’s what happened so far here in Orlando and what’s to come. Please keep up with my blog for even more posts and updates as I journey through this time. Some areas I would appreciate your prayers are:
• Increased discipline. Now that the newness has worn off, and we settle into real life, please pray that I’m continuing to be consistent with studying, memorization, reading, communication, and spiritual growth
• Continued support. I am still in need of the ground fees for the South Africa outreach, which is about $700 And also, that my awesome monthly supporters would remember their monthly pledge & continue to give faithfully. [You can give through PayPal at my blog, or mail a check to Watermark Church, P.O. Box 7925 Tampa, Florida 33673]

Thank you so much your prayers and your encouragement. I appreciate you so very much.

Me, Katie and our new roommate Mikaela, from Sweden!

Kadie, me, Victoria, Katie and Mikaela waiting for class to start

Playing speed beach volleyball during rec time. I totally dove!

Hanging out at a YWAM open mic night!

Night out at City Walk Orlando with my DTS friends

Staff and students preparing to work hard at our new property.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

God is Real

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10:34 PM
Ever need a moment just to KNOW God is real? I sure have. I’ve believed in God since the age of 5, and have been serving Him since 16. He’s shown up time and time again in my life, and I truly believe I’ve encountered Him in a real way. But over the last few years, that sure-fired confidence has waned, and all I wanted just to know that I know that I know that my God is who He says He is.

And that’s exactly what He did for me today. God showed up in such a personal and private way that there is NO DOUBT in my mind of who He is. Man, did I need that confidence! I feel like I had been walking blindly in faith for so long, and I was growing weary. Today was like a warm breeze just waking me up. God pursued me today, and I heard Him. And I got to encourage a fellow sister that her word from God was dead on, which lifted her spirits as well.

I was too excited not too share! I love God-moments!

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Study Hall

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5:50 AM
It's been awhile since I've been challenged intellectually. College was several years ago now [and not really that challenging] and high school is becoming a faint memory. I've always loved studying and research though. I really enjoy getting excited or passionate about a topic, and throwing myself into that topic and pursuit of knowledge. I did that when I was first informed informed about human trafficking a few years ago, but even now I'm researching that topic all that much. My pastor, Tommy, at Watermark is a pretty intellectual guy and his sermons are definitely thought provoking, but I only hear him once a week, and now only when I remember to update my podcast.

But this week's teacher at DTS, Al McBryan, rocked my intellectual socks off. We were studying the Character and Nature of God, which is a daunting topic to say the least. But Al's approach was so bold. We jumped all over Scripture, from the Greek and Hebrew roots and back again. We discussed questions like "Is God good?", "Will God send truly good people to hell?", "Why did God forbid Adam & Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil", "Where did evil come from?", "Are some people predestined to become Christians?", and SO much more. With each discussion, Al took us further and further into the Word. I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, and waking up in a world whet with desire for knowledge. I had forgotten what it was like to want to study the Word of God. A few years ago, I could have given you several theories on LOST, but not one thought on Paul's writing in Romans 9. I used to avoid spiritual and/or theological discussions, partly because I always avoid confrontations, but partly because I didn't have much of an opinion other than what my pastor [or the one I happened to be listening to that week] would tell me. But I feel challenged to read the Bible with new eyes. I see the New Testament with an Old Testament perspective, and vice versa. This week the Bible became more than a book of good ideas from Jesus and rules for me, it became an adventure. A book of endless possibilities on worldview and lifestyle choices. It became a weapon I can wield against Satan's attacks. It became a love letter from my Father. It's alive. I can't wait to see what I'll learn next!

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Light Reading

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5:39 AM
For those of you still caring and/or keeping track, I'm at 39 books completed in my great read 50 challenge! Still a ways to go, but the end is in sight. I believe I'll make it. Here's a recap of some of the books I've read since starting DTS.


Is That Really You, God? By Loren Cunningham
So this book was required reading for my YWAM training school, so this wasn’t necessarily a “choice” read, but a “required” read. But after I read the first chapter, it became all I could read! I loved reading Loren’s journey of faith to launch YWAM, this network of missionaries I am now a part of. I was inspired and challenged by his faith in God, and his ability to consistently seek and hear God. One of the fundamental elements of our journeys as Christians is hearing God. This book gave personal experience, Biblical teaching, and wise counsel on the topic. I recommend it to anyone wishing to grow in this area of their faith.







Radical by David Platt
Someone gave me Radical before I left home for my 6 month training as a missionary. The tagline of this book is “Taking back your faith from the American Dream”. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, because I hadn’t heard of this author, and sometimes book covers are just flat our misleading. But this book was amazing. David Platt is a pastor of a mega-church in Alabama. But what I love about his ministry is his heart for the world. As I am currently in this intensive missionary training school, it was a comfort and encouragement to read something outside of my school readings that further confirmed the path I ‘m going down. It’s like, hey God, thanks, I needed that. Platt talks about how we are not called to share the gospel with the world, but commanded to. He calls out the American church on their watered down, comfort motivated version of church, and gives examples of what church looks like overseas. He ends the book with a year long challenge, involving prayer, reading Scripture, giving sacrificially, serving outside of your city, and experiencing community. The whole time I read this book I was nodding and underlining and agreeing. I hope more believers are able to get their hands on this book and really understand some radical Christianity.

A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers
I thought I would take a break from some required reading and read something fun in my 50 books challenge. I’ve read a few books by Francine Rivers, my favorite being Redeeming Love. I will always give this author a chance because of how much I LOVE that book. I’ve heard remarkable things about this series, called the Mark of the Lion series. A Voice in the Wind is the first in this series. It follows the story of Hadassah, a young Judean Christian living during the worst persecution of Christians, after the destruction of Jerusalem. Her timid, yet bold, faith immediately draw you in. When she’s sold as a slave to the Valerians family, they become her mission field, their names always on her heart. The daughter, Julia, is sinful and selfish, but really begins to value Hadassah’s quiet way of service. The son, Marcus, is arrogant and ambitious, but sees another side of Hadassah…her inner and outer beauty and falls for her. Hadassah is constantly tested by the family, their influences, and the culture around her. She truly believes Jesus is Lord, and lives out that belief every day. The end of the book is a cliffhanger that makes you want to run out and start book two, An Echo in the Darkness, almost immediately. I love good character development, and Rivers doesn’t lack in that department! It’s amazing how far back this story is set, yet how modern the immorality seems. Rivers also writes relationships and passion in a way that is not vulgar, but authentic and felt. I can’t wait to finish book two!

Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers
Spoiler Alert! The follow up to River’s Voice in the Wind picked up not long after the first book ended. Marcus, wrecked with grief over Hadassah’s apparent death, begins searching for answers. When Rome and Ephesus offer no solace, he ventures to Judea, to Hadassah’s hometown, in search of this God she died for. Hadassah, miraculously surviving her showdown in the arena, begins working with the doctor who helped her. She soon realizes that not all ailments are physical, and begins offering spiritual healing to the hurting. It’s this calling that brings her back to the home of the Valerians. First Pheobe, then Julia, and finally Marcus. I almost enjoyed this book more than the first one, because I felt like there was resolution. I really connected with Marcus’ passionate search for God, and was challenged by Hadassah’s quiet servant-like faith. Great follow-up and even better conclusion for the characters I came to know and love.



Making Jesus Lord by Loren Cunningham
My second required book of my Discipleship Training School with YWAM. Loren’s second book was about laying down our rights to serve Jesus. It’s a principle that has been taught and expounded upon here in DTS, but even reading the words in this book gave me a fresh perspective. I loved the quote “I want to be noticed in Heaven and feared in Hell.” It sums up the impact I want my life to be here on earth. And someone doesn’t get there, I can’t get there, without total abandoned surrender to Jesus Christ. It’s much easier said than done, but I’m just taking it day by day. Great book though!

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Worship & Warfare

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4:59 PM
Every week we have a prayer focus on a different country from around the world or an injustice. During lunch and dinner, we have "prayer points" which give us specifics on what to pray for each country/cause. It's one of my favorite parts of the day [not just because its when I'm eating] because I feel like it's really giving us a heart for the nations and what's happening around the world. A different staff person leads each week, and its usually someone who has been to and ministered in that country. On Thursdays, we have an extended time called Worship & Warfare. We sing and worship, and then spend some time in extended prayer for these nations. We've prayed for Turkey, as there's a YWAM Orlando DTS outreach there right now. We've prayed for the Dominican Republic, as a YWAM Orlando staff family is about to move to our base there. We've prayed for China, as several staff have lived/served there.

This week we prayed for India. I loved this week because first of all, I've been to India, so I had a first hand experience of the people and a sense of the country. Also, because part of my DTS is going to India on their outreach, including my friends Stephanie, Amanda, and Adam. So we prayed over their outreach and were able to learn more about what their ministry focus would be. One focus is human trafficking! My heart broke all over again for these victims and this injustice. Here's a powerful video they showed that I just had to share with you. Watch and join with me in prayer for these enslaved.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

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9:58 PM

Well, I’m another year older today. I turned 28. It’s rather odd to say, because I feel about 21 still. If its true what they say about being only as old as you feel, then I’m doing great. Plus, I’m pretty sure I don’t look 28 either. In fact, most people I’ve met at YWAM were pretty shocked I was that old. A compliment, I suppose. Probably tomorrow sometime I’ll post some birthday pictures from the weekend. But for now, I’ll just reflect.

This time last year, I had just come back from Cambodia, and was still in full swing with classroom presentations and clubs at IMPACT. I had pretty much decided that I’d be moving back to Cambodia at some point and was trying to pick my DTS. I was living with my friend Ashley in our own 3 bedroom house, and loving the independence. I had also started a second job at Borders bookstore in the cafĂ©, which was also pretty fun! I celebrated with friends and family.

The year flew by, and now I’m 28. This year, I’m not working anywhere and am fundraising to pay my bills. I’m living in a house with 8 other people and sleeping on a bunk bed. I have two drawers and a third of a closet to my name. I’m in the middle of the lecture phase of my DTS and am being wrecked every week with what God is teaching me. I spent the weekend with my family and dear friends. And loved every minute of it. But I’m pretty sure in the world’s eye…I’m a failure. Good thing I don’t measure success by the world’s standards.

So what will the year of 28 hold for me? Well, more of this awesome lecture phase of DTS, that’s for sure! And then 8 weeks in South Africa. After that, the rest is God’s. Here’s what I hope to accomplish though:

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,” Isaiah 61:1

“Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” Ephesians 6:19 – 20


If I can accomplish these things this year, it’ll be a good year.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Original Design

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4:42 PM
Ever wonder who God originally designed you to be? Not the person the world shaped you into, but the creation that God formed, knit together, wove in our mother’s womb [Psalm 139]. It’s so easy to let the scars that sin and this world and Satan have left on us define who we are today, and yet claim we know who God made us to be. But what if we could ask God who He originally created? Well, can’t we?

This week our YWAM leaders prayed over each of us individually and asked God to reveal our original design. And He did! Now before you start thinking I’ve joined a cult and am getting my fortune told, don’t worry, its not creepy at all. It’s just going to God in prayer, and asking Him to speak on the behalf of someone. It’s actually pretty exciting!

I prayed with Jesse and Kristen, two school leaders whom I’ve had very little interaction with. Immediately, they both said God told them my name was not a mistake. God intended me to reflect his joy daily, by name and spirit. They also saw that I was creative and inventive when it came to dealing with the attacks of the enemy. God has given me the ability to see sin for what it is, and expose it. I’m His “warrior princess” [like Xena…haha] and beautiful. My words, through either writing or speaking, carry truth and I shouldn’t be afraid to uncover the lies of Satan. Finally, Kristen got the word “diligence”, which I almost laughed at, because I am far from diligent. I struggle with discipline daily. But as she prayed into it further, she saw me working diligently in peace. And I thought that was a pretty big deal. God didn’t design me to struggle against laziness and apathy. Those are Satan’s tools to keep me inactive and ineffective for the Kingdom. And I refuse to let him manipulate me anymore. What freedom.

Everything that Jesse and Kristen shared resonated with my soul. I knew it was from God because it was line with His character, didn’t contradict His Word, and filled me with a spirit of peace. I can claim these truths over my life, and even go back to God myself and ask Him how else He originally designed me to be. Will you find this sense of freedom too?

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Lesson in Planning

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2:07 PM
So, this is the week I realized that I am an idiot.

We talked about Lordship this week. We learned what it looks like to give Jesus complete control of our lives. We discussed the world, and Jesus’ heart for the nations. And we were challenged in all areas from worship to work ethic to be diligent to Christ. And then I realized I’m an idiot.

I came DTS with my plans. I would finish training in March and then I would prepare to move to Cambodia. I would work in Cambodia for a year plus, and then I would ask God what to do next. That’s a lot of “I” and “my” in those plans. This week’s teaching forced me to look at my own security in the future.

As weird as it sounds, I’m a planner. I may not plan all that far ahead, but I do plan. In college, I liked knowing what classes I was taking what semester. I prefer the security of knowing what’s next. So, when God called me to missions, I did what I knew to do…plan. I had the ministry, the organization, the country, and the base all lined up. Here’s some verses I recently found that reveals God’s heart towards our plans…

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3 [NIV]

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 [NIV]

“We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” Proverbs 16:33 [NLT]

I thought that this DTS was my stepping stone to that future. But since being here, I’ve discovered its not a stepping stone…it’s a launching pad. The spiritual principles/skills I’m learning here are redefining my relationship with God. And it hurts a little!

Now I’m not saying that God didn’t call me to Cambodia or to fight against human trafficking. Because that burden is definitely still on my heart. This week just opened my eyes to the fact that if Jesus is truly Lord of my life, then all those dreams, burdens, and passions I have to give back to Him. And then wait upon His timing and His planning for them to come to pass. And maybe it will be like I’ve planned. But maybe it will be something greater than I could ever imagine.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Video Update

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11:00 AM


Video from the last week or two here at YWAM Orlando.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Learning Biblical Restoration

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3:59 PM
Just finished our second week of teaching here at YWAM Orlando DTS. The base director, Michael Berg, spoke about Biblical Restoration, the Father heart of God, and the power of forgiveness.

One thing I’ve learned about YWAM recently is that there is no shallow end! My faith feels like its been thrown in the deep end. And just like a child learning to swim, I was scared and flailing at first, not sure if I would stay afloat, but then my Father’s hands found me and held me. Last week hearing the voice of God rocked my prayer life, and this week being able to experience forgiveness and the Father heart of God has set me free.

Here’s some of the key points that I really found helpful, beneficial, or just empowering:
- Hurt people hurt others – healed people heal others. That’s why forgiveness and healing is so important! God wants to set us free so we can set others free [Isaiah 61].

- Intimacy with God isn’t about saying “no” to sin, but its getting so close to Jesus that desire Him more than anything else.
Quick story about that point. I actually experienced this this week, before Michael even made this point. As you may know from my blog or just talking to me, I LOVE TV and movies. And one thing I initially struggled with before coming to DTS was the letting go of my weekly TV shows. It’s something I really enjoyed. But here at DTS, I have both the time and access to watch the TV I want [which I wasn’t expecting], but I find myself choosing NOT to, and instead opting to read more, or talk to my roommates, or just pray or worship. Not saying watching TV is a sin, but it used to be something I chose over Jesus all the time. Now, its different. I like this balance a lot more. I may not be able to tell you what happened on The Office last week, but I can tell you what God revealed to me during intercession yesterday! This is a good place for me. I needed balance.

- Serving God is not what you can do for Him, but what you can do with Him. It flows out of a relationship, not fear or obligation.

- Probably the most powerful analogy Michael used was comparing God to a mother eagle. Weird, right? In Deuteronomy 32:11, it says “like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions” talking about God and the Israelites. So we learned the process that a mother eagle goes through to teach her baby eaglets to fly, and in nature itself, we saw a beautiful picture of God.

- Sometimes God protects us from tragedy, and sometimes He protects us through tragedy. HUGE realization there.

- Psalm 68:5 calls God “father of the fatherless”, and we studied the attributes of God the Father, and how at times our earthly fathers could have warped or damaged our view on our Heavenly Father.

Forgiveness was probably the biggest part of the week. We learned what forgiveness is and what forgiveness is not. We all have past hurts because sin doesn’t occur in a vacuum. When people sin, it hurts other people. So to move back to the place of fullness and rightness with God, it is essential to forgive the people in our lives who have wounded and scarred us. We release them to God, and we find healing and freedom.

What this looked like practically for us was a time of small group sharing. We had a list of 15 – 20 people that could have potentially hurt us [father, mother, brother, sister, classmates, teachers, etc…] and then we prayerfully shared the wound with our group and prayed out loud to forgive them. And this is only the second week with these people. Needless to say, it took trust and transparency. But at the end, it was beautiful. Some people even carried themselves different and their countenance had changed. At the end of the night, we had a fire, which we could burn those lists we made. It was a final act of releasing them God. We could never again gather those ashes and put that list back together. It was dust.



So that’s been week 2. I can’t even begin to imagine what’s in store for week 3.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Letters, Love & Prayers Vol. 5

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8:13 PM



Greetings from YWAM Orlando! I’ve been here for about a week and what an experience it has been so far! I tried come here with as little expectations as possible, to get the most out of the experience. But this past week and a half has exceeded any expectations I would have had!

Evangel Church, our classroom home

There are about 60 of us here training at one of YWAM’s training schools. 20 of us are Compassion & Justice DTS focused, with our outreach planned for South Africa. About 30 are in the Classic DTS, with an outreach planned for both India or Jordan [they get to choose!]. And then there’s a secondary school going on as well, called School of Ministry Development. These 10 students have already completed a DTS, and are now part of additional training and equipping school. We’ve experienced such a unity and bonding just in these first few days! I’ve met some pretty amazing people!

Compassion & Justice Team 2010

Students and staff live in houses throughout 2 different neighborhoods in Orlando. I have 2 roommates, Katie & Victoria, [started with 3, but one actually went home this week]. Two staff girls, Kylie & Ashley, share another room and us 5 share a bathroom. A young married couple, Barbara and Marni, live in the other room along with their little baby, Eirikur [pronounced like Eye-ri-coor]. We’ve become a great little family!

Prayer for John Bills, the first week's speaker.

The training itself is so much more than I could have imagined! We start each morning with a personal quiet time, from 7am – 7:45am. It’s early, and I kept thinking, how would I fill 45 minutes with God when I can’t even keep my eyes open or form a coherent thought this early? But I turn on my iPod to my handy worship playlist, and just begin to pray, and ask God to keep me alert for this time with Him. And it works every time. 

We have nine weeks total for lectures here in Orlando. Each week has a different topic and a different teacher. The first week we are learned how to Hear the Voice of God, but upcoming weeks include teachings on Biblical Restoration, Lordship, The Seven Mighty Nations, Nature & Character of God, Intimacy with God, Relationships, Evangelism, Maturing in Christ, Spiritual Warfare and Inductive Bible Study. I am blessed to be here. 

Other aspects of training include a time of worship & warfare, in which we sing and praise and have a time of intercession for our team, our outreach countries, and the upcoming ministry opportunity. We also have what’s called CR, or Community Responsibilities. This could be anything from meal prep, to mowing lawns, to answering phones to stacking chairs. These 10 hours each week are to continue to grow us in ministry opportunities and increase our servant’s hearts. Every Wednesday afternoon, the entire staff & students of YWAM Orlando drive out to the new 198-acre property that has just been purchased for the west campus. This base will allow YWAM Orlando to be in one spot, from staff to students, instead of spread out through the city, like we are now. So we have the opportunity to make this abandoned church camp facility beautiful and usable again. We have geography class, Bible verse memorization, and required reading too! So needless to say, I stay pretty busy, and by the end of each day, I fall happily into bed.

Morgan, Linnae, me and Rachel before the work begins!

So that’s just a little glimpse into what my life looks like here in Orlando. Please keep up with my blog for even more posts and updates as I journey through this time. Some areas I would appreciate your prayers are:
• Continued spiritual growth as these next 9 weeks are an amazing opportunity for God to really grow me closer to Him.
• Support! I found out that my South Africa outreach costs went up by $500, so any additional supporters would be such a blessing. And also, that my monthly supporters would remember their monthly pledge & continue to give faithfully. [You can give through PayPal at my blog, or mail a check to Watermark Church, P.O. Box 7925 Tampa, Florida 33673]
• Unity. As our team grows closer together, that we don’t let personalities types and pet peeves drive us apart, but that we continue to grow in unity in Christ.

Roomies Victoria & Katie...love these girls!

Thank you so much for being part of my support and prayer team. I truly would not be here without you! I am forever grateful.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Heart for Africa

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10:11 PM

I was never one of those missionaries who longed to go to Africa. I’ve met so many aspiring missionaries or justice workers whose hearts had been burdened for Africa. That’s never been me. I’ve definitely wanted to visit…but I wouldn’t have called it a passion. So once I found out that our outreach was going to be in South Africa, I began to pray that God would give me a heart for its people. And after being here just a week and a half, I believe He is stirring in my heart, especially when it comes to HIV/AIDS.

Did you know that 3 million people die of AIDS every year? That’s like 20 747’s crashing every day for a year.

14,000 people are infected everyday with this virus. That’s about one every time you take a breath.

150,000 people die every month in Africa from AIDS.

These are the hurting people I have the chance to visit and bring hope to. I was already pumped up last week when I found that I’d be a part of bringing the message of sexual purity to the women of South Africa, but after hearing these facts, my heart has begun to break for this continent. These people NEED a message of hope and deliverance. And I get to be that messenger. What an honor.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weekend in Photos

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10:19 PM

Went back to Tampa on Friday & Saturday for my new baby cousin's shower! Meet Ansley Gabriella Rhoades. Isn't she precious??


Saturday night, I headed back to Orlando in time for a bonfire with my DTS buds!

On Sunday, my totally awesome roommate, Katie, got a new camera. So we just had to make sure it would it take good pics of us!


Then Sunday night we went to church at Status, the young adult service at Discovery Church in Orlando.

All in all, one great weekend!!

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