Thursday, June 23, 2011

High Five!

10:13 PM
Tomorrow I'm flying Michigan, that is. My boyfriend, Creagon, is from Benton Harbor, MI and tomorrow we are heading to his home to spend 10 days with his family and friends. I've never been to Michigan and I'm rather excited to visit it now...especially with such a great reason! So my next 10 days involve sunsets on Lake Michigan, getting to know the people most important to my man, discovering a new state, taking part in what sounds like an elaborate Fourth of July celebration, meeting a ton of new people, and making some great memories with the boyfriend & family. And maybe a day trip to Chicago [haven't been there yet either!!]. So here's to hittin' the road, and look for updates & photos to follow!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Changes, Redirects and New Steps

9:37 AM
One of the great things about this missionary lifestyle is the fast paced, ever changing day to day. One day can look radically different than the day before. The spontaneity, the go-with-the-flow, all of it is part of the reason why I love this life. With that said, sometimes these changes can look like disappointments, yet prove to be the best plans all along.

After discussing it with my other team members and school staff, I’ve decided to postpone my trip to Asia until after the new year. This will allow me to be part of the leadership of the training school team in the fall, and help lead their outreach to Asia to fight human trafficking from January to March. Working alongside this team will help me to learn how to staff training schools and how to take leadership roles on outreaches. I will not only be an active part of the anti-human trafficking ministry we will do daily, but I also get to invest in the lives of my teammates, discipling & encouraging them in this process. I get to help walk students through the exact same training school experience that I had almost a year ago, which was 12 weeks in Orlando and 8 weeks overseas.

I believe that by postponing this outreach opportunity, I will have the chance to be the most effective in fighting against human trafficking in Asia. The students I lead will be multiplied exponentially, and many of them could be awakened to this injustice for the very first time. Thank you for all your prayers, your support and your encouragement. I could not be doing this ministry without you.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Wreck of a Week

5:42 PM
So, here's a rather long post recapping my past week...both from my perspective and my boyfriend, Creagon's. If its over the top with sappy's, well, because we've had an emotional week.

Creagon: Last fall I was trying to remember the names of the 50+ students that showed up for the Discipleship Training School at YWAM Orlando. One day at dinner I saw a smile that was very inviting so I sat next to her. I quickly realized she was something special. After introductions she said "So, you are Creagon! You have got to tell me more about this mobilization & communications thing you do for YWAM." Now this is not a typical pickup line, even in YWAM, but it worked for me! Interested, I found out that she has a degree in communications and has worked as a graphic artist for multiple ministries. Perfect right- cute girl, common interests, same place for the next three months - how simple could this get? But there was a problem .... YWAM Orlando asks all new students to hold off on starting new "romantic" relationships for six months. This avoids many headaches as many of our students are teens. Joy (I remember her name by now) was not a teen but willing to follow the rules during her initial training. On my part, lets just say that I followed the rules completely... but found lots of "work related excuses" to be near her. After spending twelve weeks in Orlando, Joy spent the first two months of 2011 in South Africa with her YWAM -DTS outreach. I was very curious to hear what her plans were when she got back.

"So I'll see you in a few weeks!" those were the words that put a smile on my face. Joy would be retuning for a program that when completed could lead to a long term staff position with YWAM Orlando. It also meant that there were no rules preventing our relationship from progressing. On her way back to Orlando I asked her if she would want to go to a church service with me....and meet my parents who were about to leave town. Looking back I will call that the first of our sixteen non-official dates. It was two months later when I officially asked her to be my girlfriend. Since then we don’t keep count of the dates, we just try to spend as much time together as possible. Last week this was easy as I was teaching about finding a financial sponsorship team in a course for future full time ministers - she was one of the students. (Insert your own teachers pet joke or song here).

Once the teaching was over, I took her out for a lazy Saturday at a book store and shopping. We finished the evening with sunset near a local lake. I dropped her off at her house and then started driving home. This is the last thing I remember before waking up in a hospital over two hours later.

Joy: 12:02am, Sunday, June 12, I received the scariest call of my life. My boyfriend, Creagon, had been involved in a serious car accident and was being rushed to the hospital. My heart stopped.

Creagon and I have only been officially dating for 2 weeks at the time of the crash, but I’ve been his for much longer than that. I met Creagon nearly 9 months ago, at the very beginning of my first training school with YWAM Orlando. He was on staff, and I was one of the many new students that invades the campus every 3 months. While sharing about my life, my passions, and plans for my future with my small group leader, she suggested that I talk to Creagon, as many of our interests were quite similar. Then one night at dinner, I find him conveniently beside me. I began talking to him about what he did at YWAM Orlando, involving marketing, communication, recruiting and fundraising. I’m caught up in his passion for mobilizing the next generation into missions and can’t stop staring at his gorgeous blue eyes. I knew I was in trouble. See, YWAM Orlando has a policy for all new students to not start any new romantic relationships while in their first school. And, I already had my life all planned out. It didn’t include staying in Orlando and finding a boyfriend. After sharing with Creagon my plans for the future, he says to me “OK, I know I have a deep voice and all, but I’m not God, so check with Him first, but you should really consider doing a secondary school and coming on staff here.” I laughed it off. Little did I know then those were in fact God’s plans for me.

I found myself wanting to be around Creagon more and more during this first school, but knowing that nothing could or should happen. Heck, I didn’t even know if he was interested in me! Most days, I thought I was crazy because I’d read into the way he looked at me, how often he touched my arm, and the time he spent with me. It wasn’t until after I got back from my 2 month outreach to South Africa, and was about to begin my second school at YWAM Orlando when I discovered that, in fact, I was not crazy. Creagon calls me and invites me to hang out with him and his parents, and immediately i knew this was different. From that point on, we began hanging out intentionally and consistently, until just a few short weeks ago, he asked me to be his girlfriend. My heart soared.

I was trying to wrap my brain around the details of the crash that Creagon’s parents were giving me on the phone while frantically trying to find my keys, shoes, and directions to the hospital. All I knew was that he had been hit, found unconscious in his car, and was now being rushed to the hospital downtown in seemingly stable condition. My roommate drove me [quickly] to be my his side, and on the way I passed his car...and I lost it. The damage was so severe I found myself wondering how he could ever walk away from it. We get to the ER and another phone call from his parents confirm that he is awake, alert and stable and I begin to breathe sighs of relief. It was still almost an hour before I could see him. I finally get to see him and I was relieved to see his handsome face looking up at me. He was pretty out of it, blanking on details, and repeating himself and I suspected he had a concussion.

From more phone calls with his parents and Creagon’s fragmented memory, we began to piece together what happened that night. Creagon dropped me off at 11:15pm and began his drive home. Not even 10 minutes later, he was stopped at a red-light behind two other cars when another vehicle ran right into the back of him, and left the scene. The driver of the first vehicle saw what had happened, and immediately called 911. He went to Creagon’s car and found him unconscious. Unsuccessful in opening the driver’s side door, he went around to the passenger side to help Creagon out of the car, who had now woken up. Creagon was able to remember and recite his parent’s Michigan phone number, which the “guardian angel” was able to contact. Creagon’s parents began calling people at YWAM Orlando once they learned how serious the accident was. I was woken up from my sleep with this terrifying news. Creagon was taken away in an ambulance, still in and out of consciousness, then transferred to a helicopter and rushed downtown.
After talking to doctors and nurses, we discovered that he did have a severe concussion as well as seatbelt bruising. As scary as that sounded, what “could have been” was much scarier. He was released at 6:00am, and I was able to finally take him home. The next few days were a blur. I became something of a nurse/girlfriend. In between making sure he slept, he ate, took medicine when he hurt, went to the doctor’s appointments, I was helping him filter emails, find his car and get his belongings out of it, answer work texts & calls, and track down his missing driver’s license. Hence the blur.

The fog has finally lifted, and his recovery is becoming more and more manageable. His symptoms, while still present, are not as severe and we’re just preparing for however long this process will take. I’m just so grateful that he’s still with me. My heart rests.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Are You A Trader?

8:25 AM

This is the kind of missionary I will be.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Me and Demi Moore

4:47 PM
I never thought I'd ever have something in common with Demi Moore. I mean, there's always my secret desire to be a movie superstar and marry a much younger man and rock a shaved head. But that's not what I mean.

A few years ago, her and Ashton Kutcher launched the DNA Foundation, an organization crying out against modern-day slavery in our world. I love when celebrities grab a hold of a justice issue and really stir up the general public [think Bono, AIDS, and Africa]. That's what Demi and Ashton have been doing for some time now with this issue that gets my own heart racing. Recently, CNN has joined the fight too, with their Freedom Project initiative. In fact, later this month, CNN will be airing a 60-minute documentary featuring Demi Moore and her recent trip to Nepal to bring awareness to the slavery happening there. You can understand my excitement, as I too will be traveling to Nepal later this month. Demi and CNN recognized the tragedy that is happening everyday in this beautiful country nestled deep in the Himalayas. And just like they are standing up and saying "No more!", so am I.

Help me and my team get to Nepal by donating $300 or some other today right here on my blog through PayPal. Your donation will secure my airline ticket and the funds needed to spend 7 weeks living with and loving the people of Nepal, and bringing the freedom of Jesus Christ to them. Will you join my support team today?


The Calling

2:48 PM
This blog is not a tribute to the great band of the 2000's, The Calling, whose classic alt rock hit "Wherever You Will Go" spawned sappy romantic montages in movies for years to come. Although, that is a possible blog topic for the future. But I digress...

Nope, this blog is about the previous week of teaching in my School of Ministry Development [SOMD] here at YWAM Orlando. Dean Sangrey, my school leader and training director here at the base, spoke in my school about our personal calling and how it effects our future ministry. Plenty of people can do ministry without a calling, and still accomplish much for the Kingdom. But the sharper we can make our calling, the more effective our lives will be. If we know what we are aiming for, we are more likely to hit it.

So we spent past week in class discussing why a calling is important and how to discover that calling. Asking yourself questions such as what is your personal history, your talents, your spiritual gifts, your acquired skills, your desires and your values can really help give you a clear picture of where you are called. For me, there's a lot of overlap between my personal childhood and interests I had in childhood to what I am burdened for today to what I value. I saw the common thread. And I knew I was getting close to a calling.

Dean also challenged us to write a mission statement for our lives. A mission statement is a written down reason for living. It's what we want to be remembered by. It's not our job, our role or our to-do list. Here's mine...

My mission is value, defend & restore freedom and truth to those in captivity.

As we moved from mission statement to vision, I was able to dream about what it would look like if my mission statement is lived out. And I began to see more of what I'd be doing here at YWAM Orlando. My most obvious passion and what is driving me into missions is the desire to see an end to human trafficking. Freedom. But freedom isn't merely physical. It's spiritual, emotional, and mental as well. I desire to bring freedom to others in all aspects. Whether they are enslaved in a brothel in Asia or studying as a middle-class college student here in the States. When Jesus preached his first sermon beginning His public ministry, this was His message:

"God's Spirit is on me;
he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, "This is God's year to act!" - Luke 4:18-19

Freedom is the key. It's what is taking me to Nepal this summer. It's what is bringing back to Orlando in the fall. It's my calling.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Up, Up, and Away!

12:51 AM

Here it is, June already and later this month I'll be flying off to Nepal for 8 weeks! This summer, I will be traveling to Kathmandu, Nepal, where I will be fighting against human trafficking and modern slavery in one of the darkest countries on the planet. Nepal's children are being sold by the thousands to the sex trade in India every year. I will have a chance to change that this summer. I'm pretty excited about this opportunity, and even more excited to be purchasing our PLANE TICKETS next week! But, I still need the money to make that happen! Using the PayPal link located on the left of my blog, you can donate directly to my support fund. Partner with me by donating $300 or some other amount today.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

God in Hollywood

3:52 PM
Every week here at YWAM Orlando, we as a base do something called "Worship & Warfare". It's a chance for us corporately to get together and worship and pray for a nation, an issue or an injustice. I look forward to these days each week, because its when we get to pray what is on God's heart for these places and people. And also I just love learning about countries and how to pray for them! This quarter we've focused on Libya, Ukraine, China, West Bank/Palestine, and more. But today was my favorite Worship & Warfare. We didn't focus on a country, but a sphere of influence that is heavy on my heart...Arts & Entertainment, specifically Hollywood. Almost any conversation with me will reveal my love of movies, music, TV and entertainment. I even keep up with my own entertainment-focused blog just for fun! So when I heard we were praying for this city and this industry, my heart was immediately captivated. Here's some things I learned today...

-Back in the 1920's, when Hollywood was putting together the MPAA [the people who rate our movies], church leaders and pastors were invited to be part of the board. Hollywood looked to the church for input on content and morality. It was the church leaders who backed away from this commitment, seeing it as 'secular'. What a lost opportunity...

-There are Christian talent agencies in Hollywood! Believers who are committed to the arts and having an impact on Hollywood are helping upcoming actors, models and talent find work and get their start in the industry. AMTC is well-respected in Hollywood for locating quality talent.

-Los Angeles, translates to "The Angels" or"Message Bearers". Sadly, the message they bear today is one of immorality, pride, promiscuity, and idolatry. But wouldn't it be amazing if the message they could bring instead was one of truth, humility, glory & reverence to God. That's what we prayed for today.

We also prayed for celebrities in Hollywood right now that are believers. There are actually some there!

Tony Hale, best known for his role as Buster Bluth on Arrested Development [one of my FAVORITE shows] is a believer in the entertainment industry. He is an extremely skilled actor and is open about his Christian beliefs. Here's a quote he said in an interview: "...The majority of my conversations are about breaking down stereotypes. Unfortunately there’s been a lot of abuse of Christianity. But I’m excited to help break down those stereotypes. Even if it’s just to say, “I understand. Most of the Christians with the microphones are the wrong people to have the microphones. But if we’re going to talk about Christianity, let’s talk about Jesus: who he was and what he taught. Because that’s who I follow.”

Zachary Levi, star of NBC's Chuck, is also a Christian in the industry. Here's some of this thoughts on living out his faith in Hollywood. "The atmosphere in Hollywood in general is very anti-conservative, very anti-Christian. The liberal segment of Hollywood, which is 80 percent of it if not more, they look at Christians as hypocrites that are false and fake. The tough part is that in many cases I can’t argue with them. My job on my set, I believe, is to first just love people and gain that trust with people where they know that I really do love them and care about their well-being, so that when they are running into problems, they will hopefully, at some point, come to me and ask me, “What is your peace all about? What is your comfort all about? Where do you get your love? Where do you get your talents? And I can turn to them and say without blinking, “Jesus Christ.” You can’t just come out there and say “Hey, I’m a Christian, and I’m gonna beat you into thinking the way that I do.” You can’t do that. It’s not about manipulation so much as it’s about getting in on someone’s life on the ground floor. So more than anything, that’s what I’m trying to do now. Just build relationships with everyone that I work with."

There's obviously more Christians in Hollywood, many we don't even know that are doing what God has called them to do in this city of darkness. If you'd like to join with me to continue to pray for Hollywood, check out the Hollywood Prayer Network for directed prayer topics, people, and issues straight from Hollywood. And let's watch God do miracles in this city!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Prices and Costs

4:36 PM
"A revivalist will disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed." Glenn Sheppard, a modern-day revivalist, shared this with us this past week as he taught about the price and cost of revival. When most religious people hear the word "revival", they immediately think of a super long prayer meeting that starts on Sunday and ends Wednesday night, with engaging worship and long-winded teaching. But that's not what a real revival is. A real revival is the sovereign work of God among His people bringing them from cold, carnal complacency to true Biblical Christianity. It's a difference between knowing the Word of God and the God of the Word. It's not being religious in our world, but being Jesus in our world. Glenn talked about the price of revival, what you "pay" to obtain it, such as desperate praying and humility. He then discussed the cost of revival, what you "pay" to maintain it, such as instant, joyful obedience, the willingness to be identified with all of God's matter who they are, choosing the place of no reputation, and taking the time to seek God's face to discern the things from Him and the things not from Him. Often the cost of something is greater than the price.

I was really challenged this week by how much passion I live for God with. Glenn, or Papa G as many lovingly call him, has been passionately serving the Lord for several decades. And his passion is contagious. He told us this story from the book "One Divine Moment" by Robert Coleman that recounts the revival at Asbury College in the 1970's, about a businessman in New York City in a moment of selflessness was mistaken for Jesus. And that image has stuck with me all week. I desperately want to live a life where I could be mistaken for Jesus. This week's teaching pushed me into a place of greater intimacy with Christ, and I don't want to stop here. I want more.