Monday, August 18, 2014

Don't Let your Seeds be Stolen!

Take a look at this picture- a good close look. What is wrong with it? So here is how the story goes. I was blessed to be able to go to the Indiana State Fair with some friends a couple of weeks ago. While we were there, I was given some seeds/ a kit to grow my own “Pizza Garden”, complete with tomato, banana pepper, oregano, and basil. With the guidance of my Uncle and Grandpa (I know next to nothing of growing plants from seeds!), I excitedly took a Sunday afternoon to swell the little seed protection pellets, mix the dirt, plant the seeds, and water them. I left them outside to get sunlight and checked on them every evening to give them water. I knew that I would have to bring them inside as soon as they sprouted so our lovely twin fawns would not see them as a delectible appetizer. One day, while skyping my best friend in Honduras, I gasped as I saw my three pots. All three had a hole right in the middle of the moist dirt. All three had the seed pellets exposed and filleted open. All three had all of the seeds missing. I could not stop from laughing/crying! It was a pretty hysterical sight! My first planting experience as “Master Gardener” gone to nothing…
As I thought of all of the Biblical connotations to this story, I drew a few conclusions. The story of the Sower came to mind (Matthew 13) along with several others, but you know what? Sometimes, I think that God just gives us experiences like that to remind us to laugh at the shortness of life on this earth!
Ironically enough, that Sunday we focused on time. On the way to church that Sunday, the song by Steven Curtis Chapman of the “Glorious Unfolding” came on the radio. Take some time to listen to the lyrics! They are beautiful. In the car, God was speaking to me through the lyrics of not forgetting that our time here on this earth is just a small piece of eternity. Gods kingdom is starting now! God pushed that thought in a little further when we listened to the podcast by Andy Stanley about time in Sunday School. His focus was on Ephesians 5:15-16 and about how we are called to redeem the time by focusing on what is truly important. THEN that night in my devotions, I opened up Jesus Calling to find (I will give you one guess…) Ephesians 5:15-16. When God hits me with a concept three times in one day, I think that it is time that I listen!  Time is precious! One minute we can be growing and the next minute we can be squirrel food! (For all of my IWU cohorts… I bet it was Phillip the squirrel!) Or if you prefer the Biblical analogy, we could be dried up, burnt grass. I pray that my every moment, I would live for something that counts- SomeONE that counts! That is my prayer for each of you as well!
“Be very careful, then, how you live- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17, NIV)

Remember, our time does not stop when we die, it just continues on for eternity!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Provision (Q. What do Moses, Gideon, Namaan, David and I have in common? A. Weakness.)

In the words of one of the ladies that I used to work with, “Wowza!” God is moving and speaking! As many of you know, I was praying for a “big thing.” I was praying and trusting that God would bring in my full funding by July 4, 2014. Unfortunately (or fortunately…), He chose not to, but keep reading!
I started out yesterday reading about how Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. We must stay connected to Him because He invites us to share a relationship with Him and God the Father the same as He has with His Father. Don’t read over that too quickly. He says “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” (John 15:9, NIV). This is the love that drove God to send a dove to hover over Jesus after He was baptized and to tell Jesus and the crowds of His identity with a thundering voice! This is the love that drove Jesus to willingly and painfully be murdered on a cross. This is the same love that rose Jesus from the dead! In that chapter, Jesus continues to say that God will give us whatever we ask in Jesus’ name. In my small vision of the world, I took that to mean my funding. He gave me so much more!
In WGM’s chapel, the speaker shared on the character of David, how he learned to ask for great things from God. He went from being a small shepherd boy to a great warrior to a king, because of His reliance on God. God was his refuge, his shelter in the storm. David thirsted after Him. Again, I took this to be a little looksee of the funding that I was going to receive that day. I thanked God.
When the note came that my funding had not fully come in, I was crushed. I was tempted-very tempted- to scream and God and be disappointed in His “unfaithfulness”. I did cry before Him. This is what He said. Little by little, He let me know that I had been focusing on the wrong things.
John Chapter 15: I focused on what God would give us materially. He focused on love shown in obedience.
David: I focused on the greatness that David became. He focused on the fact that he sought after God.
In addition, in my devotions truths started pouring over me. In Called, J.D. Walt focused on the life of Moses and how God let Him wait until he was pretty old to call him back to do His will. Walt ponders if this was to strip him of self-assuredness or the thought that he was saving the people of Israel by his own accord. Moses tried once to do just that. A man ended up dead, and Moses was self-exiled. Walt had us read Phil. 3:4-10 and list our accomplishments- the reasons why we think that we deserve to be called by God. He then asked what they were compared to the glory of knowing Christ. Answer- our resumes are NOTHING compared to the glory of knowing Christ.
God then asked my mom to email me about the story of Namaan in 2 Kings 5:13 and how he was told to do a simple thing in order to be healed. My mom said “But then his servants approached him and spoke with him. They said, "My father, had the prophet only asked of you something great, you would have done it, wouldn't you? Yet he told you, 'Bathe, and be clean...!' Like Namaan, so often we think we are only serving God if we are doing something great or if He asks great things of us. I think that He wants us to do the mundane stuff in His name and then He (God) will be great.
            Then God brought the life of Gideon to my awareness. The Lord chose Gideon in his weakness. God went on to tell him “you have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me saying ‘My own strength has saved me’” (Judges 7:2). With 32,000 dwindling down to 300 men, God made it very clear that it was all His own strength, not Gideon’s and not Israel’s.    
            Confession: I wanted glory. I felt able to do the work of God. Yes, I felt (and feel) called, but I also felt capable. Now I know that I am weak, but I am capable because and ONLY because I am equipped through Him.
Again, God laid it on the heart of someone to share with me about the armor of God. She shared to remember always to put on the armor of God and with Him we will win the battle.

So here it goes. God is NOT unfaithful; He is faithful! God is NOT unjust; He is loving. I confess that through this weakness of not being able to provide for myself, I have sought Him more than I think I have ever sought Him in my life. He is providing through each prayer, each word, each interaction. Our God is a God who provides!      

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Poured Out

Just this morning I was blessed to hear from two VIAs who came back from Albania. While they were there, their time was split between homeschooling two children full time and a brimming weekend of ministries through youth services and children’s Bible school. It could not have been a more beautiful transition into what I read in Called: Following a Future Filled with the Possible later on.
I opened the devotional book and stared at the page entitled: Called: From ‘How Much Do I Give?’ to ‘How Much Do I Keep?’. That is fitting, I thought. It went on to speak of the story of Mary- Mary who listened to Jesus instead of helping her sister in the kitchen, Mary whose brother was raised from the dead, Mary who poured a bottle of perfume that cost her a year’s wages over Jesus’ feet. Since I have always been more of a Martha type of a person, I have tried to pay attention in my life to the stories of Mary. This story stands out to me, not only because of the expense of the perfume that she poured on Jesus’ feet, but also because of all of the social norms and rules she broke in order to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It was not easy for her to come into where the men were eating, where her sister was serving the meal. She interrupted the talk, dropped to her knees and poured the perfume on His feet. She did not stop there; she dried His feet with her hair, leaving the fragrance to float through the air and permeate the noses of everyone in the room. If her act of interruption was not enough to get their attention, the attacking smell to follow surely would have been!

I am not saying that it is good to constantly break social norms; oftentimes they are there for a very good reason! But in those moments when I hear my Savior calling me to break out of my seat to go up to a stranger and ask them if I can pray for them, or to step out of my shift to help someone who is struggling to juggle all of the tables in their zone across the restaurant, I pray that I will heed His voice. I pray that I will pass on from solely being a Martha to being a Mary. Just as the VIAs spoke of this morning, we are called to serve, but to also go beyond that to obey. I pray that I will dote on my Savior just as “He lavishes His love on us and calls us His children” (1 John 3:1, NIV). Marys do not require a special profession; Marys require a special frame of mind and heart. Will you join me in being a Mary today?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


As I was doing my devotions this morning, praying for God to provide for others and for myself, He had me read once again some verses that He keeps bringing me back to. You see, today I was searching in Matthew for the section on storing up your treasures in Heaven as one of the themes for my MK kiddos may be “treasure boxes”. Right below this section, some blue highlighting caught my eye.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25-27, NIV)

This time it is not just the text that has stood out to me, or the fact that I have just been listening to the song of some of those very birds two minutes ago while walking the trash down to the curb, but rather something that I have written in the margin of my Bible right next to this text. “Summer 2013,” it reads. I smile with the memory that comes trickling into my brain with those words.

At the beginning of last summer, I agreed to an unpaid internship with Shepherd’s Door part of the Portland Rescue Mission, for more Social Work experience. I was nervous when I took the position, as I knew that this 40 hour a week internship would not allow me much time to find a job and pay for my expenses and future year of college. God kept bringing this passage to mind, however, letting me know that He knew my needs even before I did. Guess what happened? First, Shepherd’s Door offered me a place to live with the internship allowing me to have all of my food and lodging covered. Then, partway through the summer, they offered me a part-time job to help with some of our other living expenses. That summer, God brought me not only a wonderful Social Work experience, time with family, and some additions to my family in Christ, but He also allowed me to have some money for College the next year! Currently, I still have around $5,000 to raise. How is this year any different? How can I worry? We serve a Good God! Jehovah Yirah is His name! 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


It is a bright red felt heart floating in a crystal glass. This was the memento that was given me on my surprise Quinceañera (15th  birthday party) by Vivian Rodriguez, the speaker of the night and the mother of my classmate. With this glass, she told me that this night marks the moment when I would be moving into the adult world. Many guys would come into my life, offering me many promises, but I would need to guard my heart until Christ told me to give it away.
In the seven years since that night, my heart has been broken many times. Don’t worry; this is not a depressing story or a country song, just wait for the redemption at the end! No, these broken hearts were not over my male heart throbs, though I did shed some of those tears as well, but rather in regards to countries, people.  
You see, when Doña Vivian spoke of guarding my heart, she spoke of guarding it from guys or impure thoughts or actions that would not glorify God, she did not speak of the fact that you leave a little part of your heart in every place that you live, with every person that you love. As I write this, my heart lies in four continents. God has blessed me with friends, with the ability to study abroad, with the ability to serve in churches. With the joy of every smile at meeting someone new comes the tears of having to say goodbye.
I was pondering this while sitting on the porch of my sister’s apartment in Honduras. I was asking God why once again my heart had to break, why once again I had to realize what it was like to desire to live in Barcelona, Honduras, Indiana, Oregon, Washington, Iowa, and Uganda all at the same time. Why I could not be there for every event in my best friend’s life.
He gave me an answer! As it started to rain-shine (when God lets drops fall out of a beautifully sunny sky), He reminded me of a piece of artwork that I saw in the Shepherd’s Door when working there last summer. No, it was not a painting; they were two vases filled with broken pieces of plates.  I thought that they were beautiful, but I often wondered why they were there. Then one day, I overheard my supervisor speaking to some of the new ladies that were entering the program. She mentioned that they were on the mantel as Ebenezers. Yes, the ladies were broken just like the plates, but God could redeem that and transform it into something beautiful. Those plates had a purpose!
Yes, I am a cracked crystal glass around a broken felt heart, but God can redeem me and transform me into who He wants me to be. God reminds me of the beautiful memories and friendships that I have in each of the places that I have lived. I would not change it for the world, and neither would He. He is going to use my brokenness. He is going to use my tears. He is going to use my experiences. He is going to use those relationships. Praise our Father because He is a God who does not waste; He redeems!

Romans 15:13 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Learning to Fly

Me with my Supervisor's baby at her baptism
Click here to donate to ministries WGM MK-Tita Dunbar.
Wow! It is hard to believe that two months of your life can disappear so quickly when you are finishing your last practicum and saying goodbye to friends and lifelines that you have met along the way. In the months of March and April, I continued to work with Compassion International with the Child Survival Program. I learned so much under my supervisor, including how to perfect my home-visits, becoming more efficient with time and information. For fun and for an income-generating activity, I was able to teach the mothers how to make American pancakes. I learned how to teach more group lessons and was able to give one on how to grow a child's communication and cognitive abilities through telling stories.(Unfortunately, due to confidentiality, I am not allowed to share many of these pictures.) Then on April 14th, I had to say my last goodbye to the Compassion site in Lugazi. My heart will stay with them as they taught me, mentored me, and prayed for me! They taught me once again how God's family can be found all around the world.
Me with some of our roommates at UCU
The next two days held more goodbyes as the night of April 15th held the farewell event. As I walked up to the microphone to give a speech, I was shocked that the event held so many people we had known during our time in Uganda. Though the crowd was a little bit scary for giving the speech, it was a blessing to have our host-families, teachers, supervisors, site-personnel, and all of our honors college housemates from the university. Along with our departure, we celebrated the 10th year anniversary of USP (Uganda Studies Program) along with two staff members moving into different positions. We were blessed to have come when we did and to be able to meet the staff that we did! This joy of a family reunion came to an end as we all left very early on the morning of the 17th
Our mourning turned to joy and a flurry of activity as I was able to accompany Betty to her home in Kenya. I was blessed to meet her family and again was reminded of the family of Christ. I was struck by the sense of community in her village as "family" was a fluid word that included many extended cousins ​​and others who showed up at meal times and events. Everyone was included in the celebrations, and Betty and I were even able to cook for them! J
Betty's Family
My cousin and I exiting IWU for the end time. 
After a few days there, we flew home to Indiana for our graduation. That was a weekend that flew by! But praise be to God that I was able to graduate with honors surrounded by my fellow social work majors, friends, and family that came from all over the United States and abroad to attend.
     Now for the answer to the famous question that many have asked. I have learned a little more about the position that I will be filling in World Gospel Mission. May and June will be filled with raising support and prepping for the activities in July and August. In July, Mike Banks and I will start tag teaming orientation and MK camp. Initially, much of my position will involve reorganizing the kids' room at World Gospel Mission Headquarters and helping to write and organize a curriculum to prepare missionary kids who are about to leave for the mission field for the first time and to provide follow up care for reentry or renewal processes. I am excited to learn under Mike and the whole pastoral team!
      Thank you for your prayers and support! Please continue to pray for me as I am raising support as soon as I return to the United States from Honduras. I am still lacking around $6,500, but God has continued to bring me promises and reminders to trust in His Name. Take a look at Luke 12! He is teaching me to fly on His wings and in His time.  Though I do not know exactly how all of the pieces will come together, I am excited to see how He will work! He is the great Artist! 
Update 05/05/14: Sorry about the grammatical mistakes and nonsense that appeared previously in this post. Apparently, my default was set to Spanish, and it automatically translated multiple times, which caused some unique sentences. I think the problem is solved.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Prayer Letter

February 2014

                With no leap year, February has come and gone quickly! It is hard to believe that both January and February have come and gone so quickly leaving me about halfway finished with my internship with and my time here in Uganda. God has definitely blessed me with wonderful people to surround me and help me in my time here.
                The first group of individuals that God blessed me with are the other Uganda Studies Program students and staff that are here on the Uganda Christian University campus. Not only do they help me with processing day to day life and different educational trips that we take, the class that we all take on faith in the Ugandan context pulls in large topics for us to question our worldviews, culture, and faith to ascertain that we are placing God and not ourselves on the throne of our lives.  
                To cement everything that we learn in that course and over the last three years as social work students, I attend my social work internship at Compassion International in Lugazi, Uganda four to five days a week. At Compassion, I am working under a wonderful Supervisor who guides me in the Child Survival Program. We work with around 40 children ages 0-3 and their mothers making sure that they are surviving and thriving physically, spiritually, socio-emotionally, and cognitively. On a practical level this looks like visiting the homes of the mothers and doing short lessons with them, doing monthly skills training, monthly discipleship, and other activities ensuring that the mothers have the community and assets that they need in order to help their family survive. The above picture shows one of our mothers working on a chore chart with her three year old daughter helping to teach responsibility.
We celebrated the last week and a half of February by completing our rural homestay with a host family in Kapchorwa, Uganda near the Kenyan border. I learned so much more than just how to milk a cow from my host family and my host village. This week not only taught me about the importance of humility as I relearned seemingly simple tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and cutting vegetables, but also taught me the importance of being present with a family. I am amazed time after time how the family of Christ can be found all over the world. Situated in a little village on top of a mountain, I found a community that cared for each other as Christ cares for individuals and shares with each other as Christ called the Church to do.
I want to encourage us to do the same. In Philippians 2, God encourages us to be united with other believers being “one in Spirit and purpose” (v.2). We do not have to be half way around the world to serve Christ. He calls us first and foremost to be a community as loving and humble as He was (see Philippians 2).
                                                                                                                             In His Amazing Grace,