Not mine, but Yours.

Easter is my favorite holiday. In my eyes, it reigns as the number one reason to celebrate, and I might even go as far to say it’s the best three out of 365 days in the year. Knowing Jesus was born makes celebrating Christmas pretty awesome, but His life would have lived up to skeptics’ expectations of Him as a good man or a prophet had He not done what He did this weekend many years ago.

He fed His disciples.

He prayed to His Father.

He was betrayed by His friend.

He was arrested by the government.

He was crucified by the people.

He died a sinner’s death.

And finally.

He rose from the dead.

jesus-cross_0

I can’t help but be reminded of my life without Jesus, the path it was headed down, when I think about this weekend. Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost when He came to the earth. And I was definitely someone who was lost. Usually, the grace-given redemption is what I focus on and celebrate during Easter. But this year, God has my eyes turned towards a different part of the weekend.

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” –Luke 22:41-42

I’ve noticed recently that I’ve started labeling myself as that girl who loves India, who has a heart for trafficking, who is working towards making her dreams (whatever they may be) come to reality. Any other thing that God brings in my path, surely, isn’t for me, isn’t where I’m supposed to go, isn’t what I’m supposed to do.

Let me tell you…this mindset is binding and suffocating. I have cut off any other possibility that God has in store for me because, if I’m truly honest, I’ve already told people that my life will be spent in South Asia fighting trafficking; I’m way too prideful in myself and definitely not trusting enough in God to say or do otherwise. Along the road, I’ve shifted my focus from God’s will to my own, identifying my life by a country, an injustice, a desire…and not by God.

41e1d4b3d3bdc4a2170da45e6bbbc54e

I cannot be an effective servant of God when I am glorifying the things in this earth. I need to step back, evaluate my perspective, and shift things around. I must loosen my hands and release the places, the people, the passions so I can identify and walk solely with the God who longs to be glorified through my life, and nothing more. For it is when I am directed towards the things of earth that they become the idols and the desires of my worship, which is the very opposite of why Jesus died and rose to life.

I don’t say this to share that I’m not going to South Asia to fight trafficking. Maybe that’s where God will lead me. Maybe it’s not. It’s not bad to feel drawn towards a specific country or cause. I guess this is more of a post for my heart to be reminded that God’s will is best for my life, even if it’s not what I have planned. To not be bound to my path, but to be open to His leading and guidance, which is where I will find the most peace. Ministry isn’t about a place or a passion; it’s about glorifying God and having His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

That’s what Jesus prayed the night before He died. Why wouldn’t I pray the same? Who knows where I might end up if God is holding my hand.

66314dc082c53d01b7e686dfbd9e6840

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.

This children’s nursery rhyme first appeared in a publication printed by the African Methodist Episcopal Church over 150 years ago, and the falsity of the second line astounds me. We sing this rhyme around the schoolyard as little children, warding off bullies and encouraging positive reinforcement. We are taught to shake off the negative comments and degrading words spoken by others, and tell ourselves that what others say, only if it is bad, doesn’t matter.

Words will never harm me. Even repeating that line in my head brings to life the image of an unruly fifth grader circling around a tiny second grader, poking his shoulder and giving him the up-down look of intimidation.

IMG_4256

When I was in high school, I took Pre-AP and AP English and History classes. Though I started off freshman year attentive and respectful in class, my teenage attitude and athlete arrogance began to rage its ugly head beginning junior year. I would sleep in class, draw pictures on my notes, and scratch up the desks with all sorts of designs. Even though it appeared I didn’t really care about school, I still listened to the teachers and paid attention to how they acted in front of the class.

They say junior year of high school is the hardest. On top of the intense load the teachers intentionally schemed to give you, you’re starting to look at colleges (who knows even where to start), trying to get involved in as many organizations as possible so that you look good on transcripts, taking the SAT and ACT (once…twice…three times). Applications. Scholarships. Housing. Financial Aid. What do you want to do for the rest of your life? Who do you want to be? Don’t you have it figured out yet?!

bbace9e2bcc102921fa345c127c2a6de

I distinctly remember my AP English class and looking around at my fellow classmates. For the most part, they were all in the top 25 out of 850 in our junior class, were involved in honors programs, and perceived me as less-than. Even though I was ranked in the top 150, I never felt smart enough around these people. Then one specific day, my teacher was handing back our tests we had recently taken on some American authors. As my teacher gave me my test, she bent forward, looked me in the eyes, and said to me, “You might want to think about getting out of this class. You’re not smart enough for AP English, and you should never major in English in college. Actually, I’m not even sure if you’ll make it in college.”

Words will never harm me. What lies! Words have done more damage to me than tearing my ACL or dislocating my shoulder or having a handful of concussions. Since my teacher didn’t believe in me, why should I believe in myself? I started to accept that I really wasn’t smart enough, which then began to overflow into the rest of my thoughts. You can probably fill in the blanks accordingly to what people have said isn’t good enough.

IMG_4250

In contrast to what my teacher said to me seven years ago, Naomi Zacharias, one of my favorite writers and author of The Scent of Water wrote:

But there is something in the human spirit—the desire to matter, to be seen,

to have someone believe in us—that resonates in each one of us.

When we see it clearly, when we feel it deeply, suddenly we’re all the same.

We’re all on the same side of the window.

The Word of God holds the most powerful and influential words that can ever pierce a human being’s soul. It has the influence to build and to break, to sanctify and to rectify. The Bible says to seek God’s approval and not the approval of men, to work as if unto the Lord and not unto men, to follow in the path of God and not the path of men. I strongly believe in these truths and stand by them to the very end. But I also believe that God speaks through His people to encourage others to do the things they don’t think they can do, to say things that they don’t think they can say, and to live a life that otherwise they wouldn’t dare to live.

So I say this today as a woman who has been told she isn’t good enough, smart enough, qualified or wise enough: I am for you and I believe in you. Whatever your dreams and desires are, do them. Wherever you feel God wants you to be, go there. Because not only am I for you and do I believe in you, but God does infinitely more. We all need somebody to believe in us because it is when people join together in the strivings of life that life actually happens.

For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and its shoots will not fail. Though its roots grow old in the ground and its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant. –Job 14:7-9 

IMG_4281

What’s the big deal?!

As far back as I can remember my first dream job was to be a police officer. Why? I wanted to drive fast without getting in trouble, of course. Growing up in the suburbs of North Texas, the only time I really saw cops were on TV in the middle of an intense car chase, weaving in and out of traffic and jumping medians just to do a u-turn and burn rubber. I’m pretty sure I could smell the tires through the TV as they made permanent marks on the streets and highways. Though I was set on being a police officer for quite some time, my dreams rapidly faded when my mom got pulled over in the middle of Tennessee for speeding. I had never seen her so upset in front of someone in authority, and I distinctly remember tightening my seatbelt and sitting perfectly straight to make sure I didn’t do anything to get in trouble with the police as well.

On the other hand, my brother grew up wanting to build fences for a living. His ginger curls would bounce as he carefully inspected our fence, making sure each board was up to his standard. I’m not really sure what changed that dream, but now he diligently works hard with DNA in order to find ways to detect cancer early. Though his present-day work still seems out of whack and uncommon, it has an admirable goal and end result. I’ve talked with other little kids and asked them what they want to be when they get older, and the gamut of responses always catches me off guard. From teachers and astronauts to Superman and the garbage man, there is one thing that I adore about little kids: they have dreams and aspirations that are uninhibited by others’ opinions and doubts, regardless of how ridiculous their ideas might seem.

56a588c8470cd67bdae27a6ea2e43f18

Just like I changed my major in college, I have bounced around numerous issues I felt I could conquer. Unreached people groups. Gypsies. Street kids. Prostitutes. College students. Poverty. AIDS. Bible translation. Trafficking. Alcoholics and drug addicts. Domestic abuse. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed that I can’t help but yell Jesus! from the bottom of my heart so I can calm down and refocus my desires towards Him. Upon recognizing that my heart has been molded to serve His people who have been trafficked, God has clearly stated that I need to go to those places to learn and understand not only the culture and the people, but also the spiritual atmosphere and His heart in the mix of it all. Hence, why I am traveling to Nepal and India in July.

It wasn’t until a recent conversation I had that I realized people might not understand why I need to go to Nepal since trafficking in India is daunting enough. So here is some information that will hopefully help you and others understand my desire to go to Nepal.

6672aef0ab826c213b5312e056decdc0

It is estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 girls are trafficked each year through the porous Nepali borders, only to be coerced into Indian brothels. This specific trafficking route for forced prostitution is considered one of the busiest slave routes in the world. For the most part, these girls come from poor, uneducated families in mountainous villages and are lured by false marriages or promises of a job or education. Their ages range from seven to twenty-four years old, and most of the girls are virgins, upping their value as a result of the lie that having sex with a virgin can cure sexually transmitted diseases. In India, Nepali girls are considered exotic, leading to a higher profit for the pimps. If India is not the final destination, the girls will most likely be trafficked through India into the Middle East for domestic service and other uses.

0ceba1d1763f137324649d6e7981acdc

Unfortunately, these realities are true for many places around the world. The Lord has created me into a woman for the people of South Asia, loving on the hurting and broken who are hopeless without Him. I believe that I was made for such a time as this and it is through His strength alone that I will proclaim freedom and restoration to His sons and daughters. My time in Nepal and India this year are intentional trips to experience the culture, to hear the cries of the people, and to listen to God share with me how He plans to claim victory over the evils in each of these countries.

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this? –Esther 4:14

40b4482da34ed7242fec910408a5bfca

I am so excited about this opportunity and cannot wait to see what happens during those two months! From the little girl who desired adrenaline on the road to a woman who desires peace in all the nations, I am humbled to have been chosen by God and will continue to seek after His heart for the redemption of His people.

What are your dreams and aspirations? What is keeping you from getting to them?

f77d7fef991ad70b15e1af43eb14cc83

Through God’s faithfulness, I have met my first goal that will cover all expenses for Nepal and India. If you are still looking for ways to contribute to this specific trip, my teammate Emilie is still in need of funds. We need to purchase plane tickets as soon as possible, so if you’d like to donate to her, you can do so here.

Note: all pictures were taken from Pinterest