Sunday, October 31, 2010

Study Hall

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!


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Light Reading

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!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Worship & Warfare

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.


Thursday, October 28, 2010


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

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.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Original Design

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?


Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Lesson in Planning

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.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Video Update

11:00 AM

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


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Learning Biblical Restoration

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.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Letters, Love & Prayers Vol. 5

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 & 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.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Heart for Africa

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.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weekend in Photos

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!!


Friday, October 1, 2010

Spiritual As You Want To Be

5:06 PM
We just finished our first full week of teaching here at YWAM Orlando. The amazing, incredible and anointed John Bills was teaching us on Hearing the Voice of God. It was the perfect first week of teaching to launch us into this training experience. Being able to hear God’s voice is crucial for any Christian, but someone considering missions? It’s necessary. So John spent 5 days, about 3 hours a day, instructing us and leading us on this topic.

I don’t think I’ve ever actually been taught on hearing the voice of God. I had heard people talk about hearing God’s voice, but no one has ever taught me how. Or what to expect. Along with the teaching this week, I read our first required reading assignment as well, Is That Really You, God? by YWAM founder, Loren Cunningham. Through this book I discovered how influential hearing God’s voice was and is in launching YWAM. Through Loren’s story, John’s teaching, and my own personal desires, I was inspired to dive headfirst into this teaching and see what God had for me.

And God did not disappoint. I discovered that God is always communicating to us, we just have to stop and listen and ask Him to speak for us. He longs for conversation with us. It’s like the anticipation that builds when you haven’t talked to a loved one in awhile. That’s God. Just waiting for us to wake up, or stop what we are doing, and communicate with Him. Such a different heart perspective that I had on God previously. I always saw prayer as my chance to confess everything I’ve done wrong and tell God what I need. I never used it as a tool for Him to speak to me! That’s probably the most exciting thing I took away from this week of teaching. But I’ll try to give you a few more nuggets, just so you can have an idea of the depth of this week.

- Jesus doesn’t need to be made Lord in our lives. He already IS Lord. All we need to do is accept His Lordship.
- There are 4 distinct voices that we hear: voice of God, voice of the enemy, voice of others, and the voice of self. We must be vigilant in distinguishing which voices we are listening to and obeying.
- The primary way God communicates is through His Word. Other ways include an inner voice, an audible voice, peace, daily devotions, leadership, other believers, visions, dreams, angels, songs, and even more! The key to recognizing what is from God is to check everything against Scripture and by knowing the character of God. He is not of confusion and fear. His words bring life and peace.
- The enemy knows the damage we can cause to this world, and his greatest tool against us is apathy. He does not want Christians in active communication with our God. Because that leads us to action.
- Intercession is standing in the gap for someone or something. By being an intercessor, we are praying just a little bit of God’s heart.
-We will be as spiritual as we want to be. God isn’t holding himself back from us. He longs to be in close relationship. It’s our diligence and willingness that brings us into that close relationship with Him.

Obviously, there’s so much more to these thoughts than what I’ve listed. I have pages and pages of notes from this week. If you want to know more about any of all this, let me know!

I seriously can’t believe this is only the first week! I’ve said it several times already, but if EVERY WEEK is like this week, I’m not gonna be the same person who leaves Orlando. Seriously. I’m getting wrecked.