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Sunday, August 19, 2012

My Freedom Summer

oh, it's been a summer of freedom.

turned 25.
bridesmaid-ed in the wedding of best friends MA and Chance.
walked for Dove's Nest.
lived life with my life group.
went to Daytona Beach.
went to New York and loved seeing a college roommate get married.
camp rocked!
read for fun on the shores of sullivan's island.
love does.
spontaneously saw mumford and sons in tennessee.
set free tattoo adventures in johnson city.
set my sights on Rwanda.
played games and sang and danced and went on adventures and learned grace and was loved oh so well.

My feet have hit the ground and I'm in reflective mode. The fruit of the race - oh I can see it! - that people have marched and danced alongside me and the Lord has been oh so faithful to me.

What a freedom it has yielded. what an inexplicably peaceful, powerful, profound, holy set apart, joyful joyful beauty of grace.

A friend asked me the other day how the Mumford and Sons show was. And I honestly responded (and I meant it) that I had the time of my life. And she said, 'oh but when do you not have the time of your life?'
it stopped me. and it struck me.
because I remember a life when that wasn't the case! I remember a time when there were burdens and I didn't feel free and I didn't enjoy or adore and things felt heavy. I've lived that life and am running my way out of it.

oh because it is true that I am having the time of my life. I'm happier than I've been, I'm more joyful, I'm less afraid to fail, I'm less fearful, I'm more free. and it's about time!

I've lived a life of holding tight. Holding tight to plans and gifts and dreams and hopes. I've skated away from bold prayer. I've missed out because I think and overthink and think again. I've lined things up and I've said not now and I've fit into molds and I've crafted and planned. I've analyzed because I am an analyzer and I have not been hopeful because I am practical. It always made sense.

But sense. There's not much earthly sense when it comes to living a Gospel life sold out. It's messy and passionate and against the world and against your mind and against the lies. It's embracing and wholeheartedly living who you were created in the image of God to be. It's a new economy, a new sense, a new currency, a new joy, a new clarity, a new way. A new fight. A new freedom.

It feels a lot like having something lifted. A literal weight. I wish you could see the lens that I saw, the lens that I see, and the difference of the two. The grace of the two.


and I'm so excited about what to do with mine! about what He's got planned with mine.

and it's far from perfect. hahaha AND THAT'S OKAY. That's the grace filled beauty of it. That's the journey, the sanctified process, the running and turning to Jesus part. The power of the Spirit, the mighty warrior in me that rises up in the name of the Spirit. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Approach the throne boldly. Run this race with confidence. Receive mercy, find grace. Live by grace. Experience joy. Be set free. Be genuine. Show compassion. Engage in the mission. Live hopeful. Reject fear. Love others. Love them well. Live by grace. Move towards Christ. Walk in freedom.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free! Stand firm and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery! Galatians 5:1

Monday, August 6, 2012

This Girl is Going to :: RWANDA

Lately, I've been learning a lot about adventure. What does it look like to passionately use gifts for the joy, glory, and praise of the name of Jesus? What a way it has shifted my complacency, brought my passions and loves to light, and made me more aware of living in the flow of the Spirit!

I just finished reading a book called Love Does by Bob Goff - a lawyer/founder of Restore International, an organization committed to uncovering atrocities and injustices done to children. He's a pursuer of justice and an advocate for children. He's started schools in Uganda and brought over 200 Ugandan cases to trial of children who have been in jail for years and who were left forgotten.

The book was inspiring in every sense of the word. And what I keep thinking after I've put the book down and what Bob kept reiterating is that we get this life! Every day we wake up with the chance to fully live, to live fully in who He is and in what He has made us to love, and to do it together with God and with each other. We've got a chance to engage and in this urgency, we've got a chance to love. The people at home and the people who live on the other side of the world.

I remember a long time ago (back in high school - was that a long time ago!?), I read some books about Rwanda and in my little journal at the time, a semi bucket list, I wrote that, one day, I wanted to go there.

To Rwanda, that little country about the size of the state of Maryland in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa. Rwanda, that little country that borders Burundi, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo with a population of 11.7 million. Rwanda, that beautiful little country that experienced a heartbreaking genocide in 1994 that took the lives of over 800,000 people in a short span of three months. Rwanda, that beautiful country that has worked hard to rebuild itself and to rebuild relationships between its people.

Our adventure is bringing the love and light of Jesus to His children, to serve wholeheartedly with the gifts we've been given, and to be refined and sanctified and to be grown so beautifully in the process.

I'm going to Rwanda!

I'm beyond excited, thrilled, and honored as I travel with 12 other Jesus-loving women to Rwamagana, Rwanda October 26 - November 4 to work at the Institute of Women's Excellence. This school was founded in 2006 for girls in middle school and high school. There is so much power in what education can do in rebuilding and in changing lives - especially for these women! We will be facilitating a conference for the oldest students and the faculty and we'll also get to see the seniors graduate (eeee! this is my heart. so excited!). We'll also be working with all of the students to collect information so we can help them get sponsors. Check out this website to learn more about the school and how to sponsor a student (http://www.seedsscholars.org/projects/institute_of_womens_excellence/).

We'll be partnering with ALARM (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries) to facilitate this trip. They founded the school and Seeds of Hope has been a major supporter of this school. Their mission is to empower African pastors and other leaders to bring hope and transformation to their communities.

Will you help me? Will you be a part of the adventure?
I want you to partner with me and partner with what the Lord is doing!

One of the ways you can help me is through prayer. Pray pray pray. Pray for the trip, for our team, for the students, for this country. Pray for me as I humbly travel. Only by prayer and only through what God can do can we be effective vessels of His Word.

There are also financial needs for this trip. The cost is $3,500 - each team member is responsible to raise this money through support. Gifts to the church, with an expression of preference to my trip, are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. If you are able to make a gift to the church to assist with the trip's expenses, visit our blog (you know I love blogs) where you can donate online (http://fhcmissions.org/rwanda2012/). If you'd prefer to write a check, let me know and I can let you know some more details. I deeply appreciate and am humbled by any financial gifts you are able to give. With my whole heart.

Thank you for reading this, for engaging in this mission of the Gospel, and for partnering with Christ in this new adventure He has given. I appreciate all your prayers, your support, and your friendships!

I love you all more than you know. You each mean the world to me and I am honored, humbled, grateful to walk through life with you!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Redefining Adventure

a little blog disclaimer :: these are parts of my faith journey, the ways I am drawn closer to the Father, what I am learning, how I am uniquely refined. what a beautiful place this has been! so hear me when I say that this is mine and may not be yours but may be yours and we are both free to love Jesus.

What I know as of late is that I am learning something fierce about freedom. It's so amazing the ways the little pieces come together to make a most beautiful picture - conversations, experiences, Scripture, people, words, books, writing, creation, other people's stories. It's been so, so fun to put together learning how to live without fear and choosing the peace of God and walking in freedom and moving mountains and living with hope and seeking adventure. It's all the same and it all points to a beautiful picture of a beautiful Christ.

I've always been somewhat of a rule follower. Not that I was perfect {whoa by no means}, but I.love.rules. I love structure, I love direction, I love order and plans. I've always functioned well that way. I was the kid who told her friends to please turn the radio station off because I don't listen to secular music. oh yes.

And oftentimes, through a course of questions that my mind quickly runs through, I assess a situation, look at pros and cons, decide what's safe, good, less messy, and then I'll go and do or opt out.
All of this, paired with my overactive mind, it makes for a lot of guilt.

And this is not to say that rules are wrong. Or that thinking is bad. hence the disclaimer. I think that's great! Clearly, it's who I am. I'm still that way - I believe rules are good and structure is beautiful. Real freedom can't exist without them.


it has spilled into my faith.
and one day I woke up {it was almost that sudden} and I realized I had a checklist. A mold. And God was less a God to be enjoyed and adored and loved and lived to the fullest abundantly and holiness had become about actions. And that beautiful life and beautiful Galatians 5:1 had sneakily slipped back into a yoke of slavery.
it's about Christ. nothing more, nothing less.

Do my subconscious checklists hinder?
Do I often over think myself out of situations and miss something beautiful?
What do I believe about God?
Am I free, moving forward, in His many promises?
We are called to live free - have I missed the big picture?

And so you've seen through many blog posts over the course of my year - the inklings of being free (if anyone tries to tell me 'be free' is the same as yolo, I will smack you). Freedom in Christ, in us being new creations in Him, there really truly is nothing like it.

And so lately, this one big collective journey has led me to learning about adventure.

I am dying to seek it!
I am dying for engagement. I am thirsting to fully live. I want spontaneity!
I want to take that mold, smash it, crash it, live fully engaged and fully adoring and passionately loving Jesus.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
because isn't that freedom?

And so I'm in this deep processing, learning period. storing it all up. God, whatcha got for me?

I have this amazing, awesome new friend who lives spontaneous to the max. He is all about adventure. It is refreshing and freeing and I think a beautiful way to live. And it rubs off and it leaks out of him and it spreads and it's contagious and I hope I've caught whatever he has. Living completely free in grace.

And then I remember the follow up with my life group after we prayed for months and months and worked for months and months and put together a prayer walk for Dove's Nest and raised way more money then we set out to raise, I remember one of my girls saying, 'doing God's will is fun!' I remember then and I remember now what an astutely wise and completely freeing observation that was.

And then I have another wonderful friend whom I got the chance to spend two hours yesterday in deep Jesus conversation over a Charleston cup of coffee. We shared journeys and learnings and celebrations and stories {what a gift to walk through life together!}. And as she's sharing a crucial part of her year, about God meeting her right where she is, and through a grasp elsewhere for significance, adventure, and identity,

she hears God say,
I AM your adventure.
oh the way God speaks through other people.

and then she says
spontaneity? isn't that really just abiding in and responding to the flow of the Spirit?

be happy right where you are.
because Christ is our adventure.

simple my mind is not. but that is refreshingly simple.

Adventure is redefined.
I'm terrified to miss Jesus in the adventure. I'm terrified to even use that word, like I'll get carelessly lost in seeking something that I'll miss Jesus. It goes against the way I've always been. But Jesus, He IS the adventure. A life lived sold out for Him, seeking Him - what an adventure!

It is found in experiencing Jesus.
read lots of books. take your time. create. write. run. laugh. go. do. make decisions. fail. fall. get back up. live by grace. sing. dance. do what you love. play. worship. serve. express your love for Jesus. love people. really love people.

I was on the beach with my mom and brother a couple of days ago and we were talking about future and finances and cars and apartments and all that stuff that makes me say 'I don't know.' But through the lens of engagement and adventure and freedom and no fear, it all made sense. It made perfect sense. what am I waiting for? Christ called us not to live afraid, but to live abundantly. Right where we are. In freedom. What an adventure.

Freedom allows us to be spontaneous in the flow of the Spirit because we are loved fully and fully loved. It allows us to not have to seek adventure for happiness or find thrills, but gives us permission to live life in a different way. A new way. And that way is full of passion, adventure, laughter, joy, gratitude, gifts, fun, in the moment passionately adoring God.

His plan for our lives is RIGHT HERE - right here in who He is, how He has made us, what He has made us to love, His Son, our passions, what makes us come alive. a most beautiful equation.

What has God uniquely inspired in you?
What do you love?
What are your gifts?

go out and do it!
the adventure is in Him!
if God's given you a calling, why not do it?
we cannot fail with Him.

I'm still in the midst of learning, but I've never known anything like it.

and the waiting - that ceases to exist! doesn't it? Because life is lived NOW. oh it has to be lived now! And if you roll no fear and earthly failure having little real significance and the peace of God all together, when you throw those things all in, then you've chosen to live life ALL IN. Fully engaged to the gift and adventure of life for Christ that we've each been given every morning to live.

being happy right where you are.
the adventure starts now!
wherever you are.
for you, friend, nevertheless.

Less about rules, more about Jesus. Less about checking things off, more about passionate living. Less about being afraid of the unknown of the big things in life, more about moving in freedom and not in fear. Fully in His plan for each life that is now and is sought in who He is + the gifts He's given. That gives us a hope and a direction. Follow Jesus and see how He has uniquely designed you.

Move towards Jesus.
That is my adventure.
And look how wonderfully that will turn out to be!

Adventurous people, to me, are the most brave. Because failure is silly and they live free falling into grace. They recognize gifts and beauty and passions and joys and they surrender those most fully and run headlong into the life they've been given. And most certainly, they understand that in suffering, there is fullness of joy.

So what I say to myself :: live your normal, everyday life free and with a sense of adventure. Approach situations, experiences, mountains with the belief that life is a wonderful gift and this opportunity placed in front of you is where God is. No fear! Take steps, take moments, and experience Jesus. He is most certainly in everything. Live new, live free, live brave because your story is made new in Him. And what possibly could be better than that?

"Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. He asks us what it is He's made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. and then, leaning over us, He whispers, "let's go do that together." {bob goff :: love does}