Tuesday, May 10, 2016

the unexpected on mars hill

We arrived safely in Greece, if somewhat lacking sleep, but we could pass up walking around the city on a beautiful evening. With camera in hand, I had one goal, get a good photo of the Acropolis during that photographer's, "magic hour" of lighting right before dark. Not knowing exactly where we were going, we just kept walking straight ahead with the Acropolis looming before us. We passed by quaint alleys and small restaurants packed with people.

 I thought finding a good spot would be hopeless and wished that I had looked up rooftop restaurants for our perfect view. As we kept climbing higher, we stumbled upon picturesque snapshots for the city and finally found a set of rough hewn steps leading up to a rock. I kept praising Jesus for this chance encounter with this tall rock that loomed over the city with 360 views and the perfect spot to see the Acropolis.

After taking a few photos, Bonnie and  I sat on the rocks and took some time to pray for our trip, for the safe travels there, for grace towards one another in the long hours we would be traveling together, praise for the beauty he had brought is to, but also for intentional conversations with the people we would and had already encountered. We prayed that our plans would come second to the plans that God was preparing for our trip and that we could use our time here as his hands and feet. That we would shine with his light here. After praying, we sat in awe of our surroundings and I told Bonnie that I thought the people sitting beside us might be fellow believers.

We couldn't figure out a way to start conversation, so we sat watching the sun setting, listening the some guys playing the guitar close by and our own conversations turned to trying to figure out where we were and also trying to figure out where the apostle Paul had spoken to the Athenians about the "unknown God" in Acts 17. "Wouldn't it be cold if Paul stood on these very same rocks" I said.

Then Bonnie, turning to the people beside us, asked if they knew where we were. It turns out that we were sitting on Mars Hill, also commonly called the Areopagus, the exact spot that Paul stood! When they saw our Bible open, we discovered that they were in fact Chrisitians and are here with YWAM. We sat together for hours as the sun faded and the city lights started to glow.

After sharing a meal together and much encouragement, we felt like we were on an adrenaline rush and spiritual high. What a blessing to run into fellow believers whose hearts are so wrapped around the Lord and where he is leading them. It was such an immediate response to the prayers we had been praying right before meeting them and can see God's hand already at work on this trip. 

In addition to James, Rose and Danny, we've gotten to me several other people who have also gotten the groupon deal, so we pray for intentional conversations with them over the next few days. 

For now, I'm sitting on a ferry in the Mediterranean headed toward Mykonos Island. 

Please join me in praying for our time away and for the people that God is bringing into our lives here. 



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

washed clean

Today we went to one of the barrios in Alajuelita - one of the poorest counties in Costa Rica. The neighborhood consisted primarily of Nicaraugians who had transplanted to Costa Rica for a better life. If the poor corrugated metal shacks where a better life for them, I can't imagine what life looked like before.

We had so much fun playing with the kids, but it was extremely dirty. We played in a dung filled, dust bowl with sewage water streaming down in rivers through the makeshift concrete gutters beside the houses. When we got there, children appeared from many of the rusty doorways and quickly ran out to join us in playing with the jump rope, coloring pages and games of tag over piles of abandoned rubbish.

I've been dirty before, but today I felt filthy, from the snuggles with snotty children, to the superfine dust that filled every crevice, I looked and felt utterly disgusting.

It's amazing how I shower ever single day and never appreciate it as much as I do on days like today. I feel like a person transformed. I've come away clean, no longer covered in the stench of this world, but have been made into something fresh, good smelling and sparkling clean.

What a picture of Christ's transformative work in our lives.

"We are all infected and impute with sun. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags." Isaiah 64:7

I once sat,  covered in the mire of my own sins. My identity was wrapped in this barrio of the world when Jesus came and plucked me out of my own filth to cleanse me from my sins.

"Jesus answered, 'unless I wash you, you have no part with me.'" John 13:8

"How lovely are the feet of those who bring good news." Isaiah 52:7

Friday, April 8, 2016


Recently I've been looking at the difference of living a life of expectancy and living with expectations. Although they may sound similar they're not quite the same thing.

My life has been filled with a list of expectations, but unfortunately expectations don't fly solo. They always come with an equally big list of disappointments and broken dreams. We dream about how events will be, we want to look forward to certain things, but when life doesn't bring you the list you expected, it very quickly goes from something exciting, to dejection and disappointment. Eventually, I tend to turn to complaining, because things just didn't happen the way I expected.

Expectations are are all about me and the outcome that I want.

I wrap layers of expectations around events, life experiences, and future hopes, but when the wrapping paper is stripped away, I'm faced with the ugliness of the events.

Expectancy comes through looking towards God and the plan that he has for my life. It rests in the hope that I have in a plan that is infinitely more detailed the my own.

God doesn't doesn't cover up the gifts he has for us. Our loving father gives us life experiences in their raw form. Just as they are, good, bad, scary, beautiful, and joyful. Sometimes these gifts come through hardships, and sometimes through the beautiful interchange of another person who culturally is so completely different than you.

Life experiences can color your own expectations. What I look forward to and what my friends expect may look completely different.

As I prepare to go to a new country, I've tried to set aside my expectations to be open with expectancy to the experiences that God wants me to have. I want to experience each gift that he has prepared beforehand for me. I know there will be challenges and joys to experience, but I am fully expecting that God will use each experience to teach me and grow me.

In order to experience this, I have to be open and adaptable to God's plan. I must die to my own plan, and in humility consider myself a tool and instrument in God's greater plan.

So as I pack my bags and prepare to leave to visit a new culture, I want a fresh expectancy for what God wants to do in and through me. I desire a heart filled with compassion and eyes open to ways to serve others. I expect that God will give me the right words to say to the people that I meet and boldness to say the words he gives.

"Do not say, 'I am only a youth;' for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command  you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord."
-Jeremiah 1:7-8

I want to be open to be used in any way that God wants me to be used. Open for activities not going as I planned and adaptable to those surprise, unexpected moments. With arms outstretched in expectancy, I look towards the cross and
the real work that Christ may be doing.



"Be a learner not a knower. Be a server not a master. Be a listener not a speaker. Go with only the expectations that you are open to God’s plan and you want to be used in any way he wants to use you. Go with the heart that you have been sent by God. Act like a diplomat of God’s kingdom, because you are."

-Mike Pettengill

Friday, March 25, 2016

in a blink

As I begin to welcome in the new year, I fully realize that it's late -March and has been months since I've last written. This past season went in the blink of an eye. One moment, there was snow dusting the ground I closed my eyes and when I opened them again, I realized that the dusting had changed to pollen and the daffodils were blooming beside the house.

What has happened to the time? At the beginning of the year, I like to start with a one word resolution, and this year's word was engaged. My desire for this year is to be so fully involved in the world, the people, my job and other things that are around me. I want those "blinks" in my life to be so full of life that it wasn't a wasted span of time where I sat on a couch doing mindless activies, but a moment that sped past because it was so packed with life.

Though time seems to speed by, I've been able to slow time down through the lenses of my camera as I relive those moments.

With my job, my brain has attempted to make some sort of order of the somewhat haphazard schedule I've been in. My brain has categorized the previous weeks by the trips I've gone on and the span of time spent in-between.

In January, we took our group to the farm for a few restful days filled with skeet shooting, sitting in front of the fire and playing card games together.

A week later, we had a heavy snow at camp, so we had a few fun days of playing in it and welcoming several new lambs here at camp.

On January 23 at 4:56 (1.23,4:56) in the afternoon, a group at camp got together for a polar bear plunge.

We went on our biggest trip in February to Colorado and Utah. Part of the trip was academic as we got to learn about the feasts of Israel under Wayne Weissman, a Messianic Jewish man. We spend several days skiing at Winterpark before heading to Utah for an adventure packed week of canyoneering, rappeling, hiking and mountain biking.
Playing Broom Ball at Timberline Lodge

On top of Winterpark with Kristiana

At Broken Arch in Arches National Park, Utah

Each night we had incredible sunsets 

We returned for a couple of weeks of class, then headed to Camp Canaan in Rock Hill, SC.

And in the in between weeks, we've gotten to do a lot of volunteering, the entire group went through wilderness first aid training and have gotten a few other adventures in the mix.

Today is the last day of class before our spring break, then we have a week and our entire group will head to Costa Rica.

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog--it's here a little while, then it's gone.

-James 4:14