• Belize •

SubstandardFullSizeRenderMy passport just came in the mail, and I couldn’t be more excited!

About a month ago my friend and I stood watching our brothers play basketball. I was sharing with her that I would love to write the stories of overseas missionaries—what they’re doing, how the Lord is moving in and through them and reaching the hearts of individuals. I would love to use stories to connect God’s family.

After sharing this with my friend she simply asked,  “Do you want to go to Belize?”

There is a small school, Toledo Christian Academy (TCA), in the Yemeri Grove/Jacintoville area of Belize. The school, run by Belizean and American staff, accepts children in the pre-school age group all the way through middle school. The school is supported, primarily, by churches here in the States and relies on frequent short-term mission groups for the upkeep of their grounds and facilities.

The purpose of the school is to give students a foundational education, grounded in Scripture. Each school day is begun with a devotional time, and teachers use a biblically-based curriculum for the students’ subjects. The children have a full day of classes, sports, and fellowship with their classmates and teachers. (If you would like more information about the school, you can follow this link to their website: http://www.tcabelize.com/.)

May 2nd-10th I will be going to visit TCA, with a small team, to teach/help in the classrooms with the staff, lead devotionals in the mornings, work on building/painting projects, play with the kids, meet the parents, and fulfill the needs of the staff in any way we possibly can. Our primary goal is to be yet another group of believers, living Truth, in these kids’ world. (If you would like to keep up with my team in the weeks leading up to the trip and while we are in Belize, you can follow this link to our blog: www.teambelizeblog.wordpress.com.)

Part of the vision God has given me is to encourage and inspire believers to grow in their personal relationship with the Lord, and to speak truth into the lives of the lost. My goal is to take every opportunity God gives me to use my gifts to fulfill that vision. I firmly believe that this trip is an opportunity to put my vision to action in a specific way. 

Please be praying for TCA, the staff, the students, and the churches supporting them. They are doing good work in Belize as they touch the hearts and lives of children and families for the glory of our Savior.

Please also be praying for me as I seek to trust God even more. Ask him to put me in situations where I am compelled (yet again) to acknowledge that I live entirely by his faithful grace to me. 

“May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”- Romans 15:13, ESV 

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No Greater Truth

Jesus’ resurrection is something that I celebrate today, tomorrow, and every day that I breath. The reality of his life, death, and resurrection is the very foundation of everything that I believe. There is nothing more important, nor any truth of greater value than the resurrection of Christ. All hope, freedom, joy, and fulfillment is found in him alone. His life brings life.

He is not here, for he has risen. – Matthew 28:6

 

Comfort ≠ Quality

I am currently sitting on my bedroom floor (which is in desperate need of a vacuum) leaning against my sister’s bed in a rather uncomfortable position. I usually end up here, with my back against a metal bed frame, after I have failed to write anything even remotely close to intelligent while sitting comfortably. 

This is the place of last resort—where I sit after I have tried to write on every topic I can possibly think of. So, I have no option but to work in such a way that is physically tiresome, force myself to write something “good” and not move until I have finished. The odd thing is that this is the place that I have written some of my best blog posts (yeah, no, this is definitely not one of them)! 

The moral of the story: comfort does not equal quality. 

You should really read Donald Miller’s post. He inspired me to be uncomfortable when I write. 😉 

Stupid Hard Life

I have this bad fun habit of getting stuck on GoodReads scrolling through pages of hilarious quotes instead of researching a quote for a paper like I’m supposed to be. Sometimes I’ll find a golden one-liner and save it in my notes for a future blog post.

This is such a time.

“Life is hard. It’s even harder when you’re stupid.” ~ John Wayne

In the area of John Wayne movies, I have not followed in my father’s footsteps (meaning I’m not a fan), however, I will admit that he did have some brilliant lines.

My initial interpretation of this quote was to think some people are just born stupid, thus life is more difficult forchoices them. Please note the use of the word “them” instead of “me” within that statement. The quote then made me laugh because it was making fun of someone who I was not—a stupid person with a rough life. A few months later I re-read the quote, and I came away with a different interpretation: life is hard, and you make it harder when you do something stupid. Note the “you.”

Well, that interpretation made the quote a little less funny and a little more real. Because while I may not be stupid, I sometimes do and say stupid things, and the consequences are usually in the form of a more difficult life than what I had before. For example, I was stupid to procrastinate with two of my most challenging subjects, and now these last few weeks of high school are going to be much harder than they would have been if I had stayed on top of my studies earlier on in the semester.

The blunt truth is that most of the problems in my life are my fault, and not someone else’s. Trust me, I would love to blame someone else, but the reality is that I am stuck with my own personal choices.

Take responsibility for your mistakes. Don’t complain about it. Learn from it. Move forward.

All There

For the last 4 years (it’s actually 3, I took last year off) I have participated in homeschool speech and debate competitions around Southern California. I have learned so much about effective communication, writing speeches (writing period!), performing for others, how to handle stress, how to think clearly on my feet and much more. This year, because of my heavy academic load and basketball, I am only competing in three events, one of which I perform alongside my sister.

I have to admit, at the beginning of the year I was not very enthusiastic about participating. My priorities really fell more in line with school, maybe a job and my basketball team. As much as I enjoyed the tournaments and my friends in the league, my heart was just not in it. Then, after a lot of prayer and discussion with my parents I decided to stick it out for my senior year—if only for my little sister. I know that in the next 5 years she has to compete she is going to be incredible, and by taking the time to do a speech with her gives her the motivation she needs. I also had an idea for another speech (an original script for a dramatic piece) that I knew could be a lot of fun to work with.

Yet, in the 6 months since I made the final decision to compete, I still have those occasional moments of “I really don’t want to do this.” This week I have had that feeling…majorly…and there is a tournament tomorrow. Then, I think of an attribute I admire in my dear friend Gabby—a deep commitment to whatever she is doing wherever she is. It does not matter if the “whatever” is a paper, a basketball game, a test, a job or a conversation, her full attention and all of her energy is focused on completing, competing and doing well. She is all. there. Nothing keeps her from doing what God has put before her. (Thanks Gabby. I love you.)

All there. God never tells me to go half way, does he? In his word he does not call me to kinda, sorta maybe put some effort into what he has called me to do. Ever. No, he has given me clear instructions to follow where the Spirit leads and then just go hard through whatever might come my way. Then I take a step back, look at my speeches, and realize that I a passive attitude is not appropriate. It does not mean that my goals have to be to win, no! My goal for my duo (the speech with my sister) is simply to have fun, to make people laugh and to spend quality time with my little sister. My goal for my original/open interpretation is to portray a message of the love God has for us through a simple story, to grow in my ability as a speaker and to conquer some of my own personal pride. If I “do well” by making it to quarterfinals, semifinals and beyond….cool! If not, I will be content, because I know that each time I give a speech in the next 2-3 days, I will be all there, because that is what I am called to do.

Not Needed…Wanted

I truly think that God has fun deciding how he’s going to reveal his message to me. I cannot help but smile when I see how he perfectly orchestrates the lessons he wants me to learn. He builds strongly on top of what he’s previously taught me by speaking to me through his Word, the Holy Spirit, my daily circumstances and words from the Body of Christ. This week, God has been using all of his “means” to show me how big he is, and how utterly small I am.

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It began with a simple prayer as I cried out to God feeling weak in my emotions. As I prayed he reminded me that life is not about me; it never has been, and it never will be. He struck me with the truth that his love for me, his faithfulness to me, his gift of salvation and the Holy Spirit are not things that I deserve. No, they are the opposite of the wrath, rejection and Hell—eternal separation from his presence—I deserve for my rejection of him. Perspective, right? While I have been given the joy of living on this earth, I must remember that “my life”—school, basketball, speech, relationships, family, books, writing, hobbies—is HIS life.

He continued his message with 1 Corinthians 10:23-33

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

While God was not speaking to me about glorifying him specifically within the context of this passage [go read it], it caused me to ask this: what is my mission from Christ?

Matthew 28:18-20

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

Not much about me, huh? All about bringing people to Jesus. That passage brought me to grips with the fact that the craziness of my life is to be harnessed into perspective—into right thinking.

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The final reinforcement of God’s “lesson of the week,” came in the form of a simple one-liner from my dad in the middle of lunch with some families after church today:

God doesn’t need anything from you. He just wants your love and obedience.

God doesn’t need me and he doesn’t need you. He’s got it together. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present. He is the beginning, the end. He doesn’t need some fragile human to love him.

No, he, in his grace and love has decided to reach out and seek relationship with me. I have the joyful privilege of obeying him out of a willing heart through the strength of the Holy Spirit. All for him.