I See Jesus in You

“Let’s move all the chairs into a circle,”

The classroom erupted into momentary chaos as everyone grabbed their notebooks, Bible, water bottle and chair (all at the same time) only to then struggle to make a vaguely circular shape. There’s a sense of excitement but also slight apprehension as people settle back into their seats and try to quiet down. There’s nervous giggles and quick glances around the oval ring of chairs. Everyone wants to know what the speaker is going to do. We all know that the speaker must have a good reason for causing such a disruption. He sits and waits patiently for everyone to settle down, place their things back under their chairs and hush conversations.

“I want you guys to look around the circle and pick a person. Once you’ve picked a person, I want you to think about how you’ve seen Jesus in them this past week.”

The atmosphere changes and people realize that they’re about to be encouraged. A slight tension still lingers as they quickly realize they also have to give encouragement. For some reason we all love to be encouraged, but it’s hard to give encouragement. We feel too vulnerable in that moment. Awkward, even. We feel like we might get it “wrong” – like encouragement could be a bad thing. So there’s a long pause. No one wants to speak up first and yet everyone wants to be the first to get encouraged.

Finally, the first brave student breaks the silence. And slowly but surely, the affirmations start to make their way around the circle. People are taken aback by sincere words and the general morale of the group is lifted.

Then someone says my name.

I snap my eyes over to look into their face. I have no idea what they’re going to say and my heart is pounding like crazy. For some ridiculous reason, I’m nervous. What could they possibly say? How have they seen Jesus in me? It’s almost as if I begin to doubt that Jesus lives inside of me. A thought just about crosses my mind: there’s no way they’ve seen Jesus in you…

I have to shove down the lies that come up to take away the kind words that haven’t even been spoken yet. It’s a never ending battle. I have to coach myself to receive the encouragement this sweet girl is about to give me.

I sit there and study her face, nothing but genuine care in her eyes, as she talks about how she’s seen Jesus in me through the past week. There was no spectacular moment she mentioned; no act of great kindness or display of love that she pointed to. Instead it was a simple, “I see Jesus in you just by how you live each day. It’s like you’re walking through your day, holding God’s hand and before you do or say anything you look up at Him and ask if it’s ok. That’s how I’ve seen Jesus in you.”

I was blown away.

There is no way she could have known.

There’s no way she knew that that has been my heart’s cry for over a year. I’ve longed to have a relationship with God that is simply seen in how I walk through the house, how I speak to people, how I make decisions. There’s no way she knew about all of the hours I have spent praying and asking God to give me a heart like that. There’s no way she knew.

I had to sit in shock for a moment.

Slowly, I began to believe what she said. Could it be true? And in that moment, it all became worth it. All the struggles, all the victories, all the hours spent silently sitting with God. I felt like a little girl who had just created a finger-painted masterpiece. She runs up to her Daddy and says “Look Dad! Look at what I made!” I wanted Him to be proud of me, to show Him what I had made. But really, I know that it was all because Him inside of me. And I was so thankful and in awe of how He allowed Himself to be seen through me.

As the encouragements continued, I was just amazed by how God reveals Himself through His children. It’s just like biological kids. Some might have their Mom’s nose, another might have their Dad’s eyes. The same is for us as Children of God. We each reflect a different piece of His character. Some of us show God through how we work. Some of us show Him through how we treat others. And others show Him through their joy. I looked around the circle, realizing that we’re all unique and yet we’re all Children of God and He is seen inside of us – even in ways we might not realize.

So let this story be an encouragement to you, my friend. Keep striving to become more and more like Jesus. You may not even realize how people see Him through you!

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Two Weeks Deep

I suppose I should give you all a quick little update on what’s been happening around the base! Since January 8th, we’ve had 11 amazing students living with us. They flew in from all around the world – Canada, the US, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands – and it’s been a super fun mix of cultures! That’s one of my favorite parts of DTS: being able to live in the same house with people from all over the world and experience different cultures around the dinner table! It’s super fun. 🙂

And these students are super fun as well! They’re energetic and up for just about anything at just about anytime. It’s quite enjoyable to watch them interact. Meal times can get a little loud and crazy with so many different conversations happening all at once, but it makes my heart happy because I know that the relationships that are being built over bowls of spaghetti are ones that will last for a lifetime. DTS is such a special time. It’s a chance to grow so close in such a short time. But the relationship is built on the common ground of wanting to know God more. So the friendships that come from a DTS aren’t just friendships that last for the 6 or 7 months; they’re friendships that last for a lifetime.

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SFDTS 2017!

So this is our crew! This is all of our students and most of the staff. I know. It’s a low quality picture, I know. (I know… what did I expect from an iPhone?) But the people in the picture are stellar. No fancy-schmancy camera could ever capture the great personalities that are in this group. It’s only been two short weeks, but I can already tell you that each of these people have found a spot in my heart and I’m so excited to see where this DTS adventure takes them!

Has it really only been two weeks?

On one hand, that feels right. But on the other, it feels like these guys have been here for a lifetime already. Lots of life can happen in two busy weeks! We had a couple of nights the first week to share stories and tell a little bit of how our lives have looked until now. Those nights are my favorite. Of course, we spring it on them right after they come, which can be intimidating (to say the least). But it’s a great way to bring everyone together and create an openness that isn’t really found anywhere else. And it’s fun to be able to hear where people come from – to hear about their family and friends, struggles and passions, their hopes and dreams.

Then after one week of settling in, we threw them all into street ministry! Last week, Davos hosted the World Economic Forum [WEF]. The town looks completely different for one week and there’s thousands of extra people walking around – big shot people who walk around in fancy clothes or are chauffeured around in shiny black cars. Our little ski town transforms quite literally over night! It’s pretty cool if you ask me. Since there’s so many people walking around town, we’ve decided that it’s the perfect opportunity to go out and bless random strangers! So we bake close to a thousand cookies, decorate them with happy little smiley faces and take them out to the streets of Davos in hopes of bringing some Joy into people’s lives! Our goal the entire time we’re out is to bless people and tell them that Jesus loves them. Sometimes, this goes really well. Sometimes, not so much. But it’s fun to push beyond our comfort zones and try something new. And it makes it worth all of the awkward interactions when someone is truly touched by our little act of kindness. Then we can pray for them and explain how much God cares for them and sometimes lives are changed by an interaction that happens on the street. This year, a few people our crew was able to talk with gave their lives to Jesus! And that’s amazing! Beyond that, I know lots of the students and staff were able to pray for many people, and it’s cool to know that God is working in their lives too – wether they recognize it or not.

Like I said, it’s only been two weeks.

[It’s already been two weeks?!]

We’ve already had some cool experiences. I can already see how people have grown. And it’s only been two weeks! It makes me so excited for what’s ahead. There’s no way to be sure of what God is going to do over the next 6 months, but I do know that it’s going to be good. I can’t wait! So stay tuned… I’ll do my best to keep you all posted. 🙂

 

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I Surrender

Like many people around the world, I started the new year off with a few resolutions and good intentions. Here’s to a fresh start, right? As my good friend Sarah will always say, “New year, new me!” Sounds like a good plan, right? So, of course, I covered my most practical bases. For example, I’m going to try to clean my house once a week, do my laundry more often than once every three weeks, and try to motivate myself to actually work out.

[For that one, Sarah and I actually came up with a good slogan: “Monday’s run day!” And yet, here I am on a Monday afternoon… typing out a blog and not running….]

A few weeks into the year and I have already realized: Good intentions only get us so far.

So I’ve been struggling to find a way to make these things stick. Because even if they do sound like silly New Years resolutions, I actually want to change and grow in 2017. But how can I do that when my life runs on a schedule that I can’t really change that much? Yes, I can manage my time better than I do (add that to the list of resolutions and good intentions) but sometimes the days just seem to slip away. I drag myself out of bed at six and it seems like only a few moments pass before I’m dragging myself back into bed at 10:30 that evening. I sound like my mother when I say this, but there aren’t enough hours in the day! I tell myself to prioritize, but no matter what it always seems like the things that I want to get done never actually get done and without even realizing it, it’s been a month and I still haven’t cleaned the bathroom once. (Gross.)

As I sit here typing this, I still have no good answer for how to do this better. But this idea begins to form in my mind:

If I can keep my focus on Jesus throughout the day, the things that need to get done will and the things that aren’t important… won’t. And that’s ok! But if my main priority is to glorify God in all that I do, then my priorities will line up with His. And from my experience, God is really practical. If we ask Him practical questions, I believe we will get practical answers! Even down to how to manage our time and organizing our days. (I mean, I believe He even has some good advice on what to wear today, but… maybe that’s just me… 😉 ) So maybe this should be my new resolution – to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, to keep my ear tilted to hear his voice, and follow his leading through the day.

Lately I’ve been hooked on All Sons and Daughters’ album Poets & Saints. The second song on the album, called “I Surrender”, catches my heart every time I hear it. The bridge goes like this:

Not my will,
but Yours be done.
Not my strength,
but Yours alone.
Nothing else,
but You, oh Lord,
I find everything in You.

I find everything in You.

Everything.

I want to 2017 to be the year that I learn to live a life totally surrendered to God. Then maybe I’ll finally be able to live up to those good intentions I have. Then again, maybe not.  But that’s ok. Because if I’m busy surrendering my plans to God – giving Him my good intentions – then all I’ll be concerned with is doing what He has called me to. And in the end, that’s all that matters.

Not my will, but Yours be done.

When You’re Not Looking… pt. 2

This post is part two of a series. If you missed part one, you can read it here.

 

From that moment in front of God and my classmates, I started to let God take my ideals and replace them with more trust for Him. Whenever I would start to feel sorry for myself (as lots of girls do… 🙂 ) because I felt hopelessly single, I would ask God to replace that with more trust for Him: trust that He would bring a man along in His own time and on His terms. I began to focus less on how single I was and more on who I was and who God had created me to be.

During this time, Benjamin and I actually started to become pretty good friends. He was a volunteer at our base and just always seemed to be around and ready to hang out. When I first met him, I thought we wouldn’t get a long at all. To me, he seemed way “out of my league” – even on a friendship level. I just thought we wouldn’t really have anything in common. But all of the sudden (I still don’t really know how it happened exactly) we were friends. He was the one skiing with me last year when I had my accident that put me out for the season. He came to the hospital with me and was a great support throughout that whole day and even through the rest of DTS.

And before I knew it, we were just good friends.

(In my mind, at least.)

There may have been a few times when I wondered if we were really just friends, Benjamin and I. I even remember my roommate Aleah telling me once that Ben “really adored” me. At that time, I was still trying to just focus on God and figuring out who He said I was. I didn’t have time for boys. And if I just told myself over and over that Ben didn’t actually like me, I believed it and it wasn’t something I had to try to figure it out. So basically, I ignored it – pretended it didn’t actually exist – and moved on with my life.

Fast forward to October of this year. I arrived back in Switzerland to staff the 2016 DTS and was so excited to see what God had in store for the upcoming season. I was back in one of my favorite places with some of my most favorite people and I couldn’t wait for the adventures ahead. I also felt like I was in a good spot. I could honestly say that I trusted God completely with my future – including marriage. I truly trusted that He had a good plan for me and I knew that no matter what happened, I would be ok with it – no matter what the outcome.

And wouldn’t you know it, Benjamin was back to staff, too. As our staff training went on, there would be these moments. I don’t really know how to explain them. We would be hanging out as a staff group and these random thoughts would pop into my head. They would skitter across my mind and they startled me every time. It would be a thought like, “Oh, did you see that? Did you see what Ben just did? That’s something you’ve said you wanted in a husband.” I never knew what to do with these thoughts or even where they came from. This was after I’d told God multiple times that I was not on the market when it came to boys. I was here in Davos to disciple the students that came through and to grow in my relationship with Him – not to chase after boys.

So these thoughts couldn’t be God, could they?

Since I didn’t know what to do with them, I just ignored them. Shoved them off to the side and decided I was crazy. My mind was just being a stereotypical girl’s brain and I could get over that. All I had to do was ignore them and just keep focusing on God. But these thoughts got my wheels turning. I started to think about what I actually looked for in a spouse and what God thought about my “list.” As the year went on, I began to realize what my heart really wanted. I wanted someone to dream with. Someone to grow with and to follow God alongside. My daily prayer became, “Lord, I want someone to dream with. Can I have someone to dream with? But give me patience. Help me to focus on what You’re doing in this season.”

Then one Sunday afternoon in March, it all began to click.

It was the week before we left on outreach and all of the sudden I realized what was going on.

 

 

…to be continued…

It’s…. It’s been a while…

Sorry guys… It’s been too long. I’d say it’s been busy here (which isn’t a lie) but that’s not an excuse. So here’s my written apology and my commitment to you: I’m sorry for not communicating well and I am going to strive to do better. My goal for this upcoming season is to post at least twice a month, just so you can stay as updated and as informed as possible! Please have grace with me, because life here at the base gets crazy quickly, but know that I am going to do my best to uphold that commitment on my end.

There. Now on to what’s been going on the past month.

Has anyone else realized that Christmas is in 8 days? I just realized that at the beginning of the week. Que the last minute shopping and holiday craziness before flying back to Minnesota to visit my family in a few short days! I’m beyond thankful for the chance to go home to visit my family for the holidays. It’ll be 9 days full of family, friends, late nights, too much food, and copious amounts of coffee. And I refuse to feel guilty about indulging in any of the above. 🙂

Besides the realization that Christmas is actually right around the corner, the past month has been full of so many things – some good, some hard, but all of them at the exact time God intended them for. I’ve been realizing that the past couple of days. God’s timing is perfect. And it’s a beautiful thing when we let Him take control of what happens when. Also, how much freedom is there in not having to control things? Much. Much freedom. For which I am grateful.

This week we’ve been focusing a lot on freedom and breaking fear of man. We’ve had some wonderful, intense worship and prayer times as a group, just spending time in the Presence of God and enjoying Him together. This morning we spent some time praying for the Snowboarders and Freeskiers DTS starting in just a few short weeks. We declared things and claimed things; things for the base, for the students, for us as leaders, and for the city of Davos. We prayed against the fear of man and declared that there is no shame in looking like a fool for Jesus. That’s the line that keeps ringing in my head today: No Shame. If you haven’t heard United Pursuit’s song, Head to the Heart, you need to. Go look it up. It’s just good.

As a team, we’ve also gone through some hard days and have really realized the value of unity and what it means to actually be unified. For myself, I’ve been reading a book by John C. Maxwell called “Developing the Leader Within You” and and while it didn’t really address unity directly, it talked about what it means to be a leader and how to lead effectively. First of all, the definition given in the book of a leader is someone who has followers, but also someone who influences people. And in my opinion, the whole book just continues to talk about how influence has to start with yourself. That’s what I’ve realized. If I want people to trust me, I have to be a trustworthy person and trust others as well. If I want our team to be unified, I need to work on cultivating a spirit of unity in myself and create an atmosphere that fosters unity. Now, it’s not all on my shoulders, but it starts with my attitude. And I realized at the beginning of this week that I haven’t been a very trustworthy person the over the past few weeks. That’s on me. The only person that can change that is me. So instead of blaming other people for the lack of trust or lack of unity or lack of whatever, I realized that I need to start taking ownership and responsibility of my own actions and improve the parts that need improvement. That takes humility. It takes being willing to apologize to people and ask for forgiveness. Then it takes the wisdom to ask God to help me fix the places in my own life that are out of whack.

This week has been awesome. God’s blown me away so many times and I love it. I’m thankful for Grace. I’m thankful for Love. I’m thankful that I get to be a part of the YWAM Davos team. I know that the Lord has brought us all here for a reason and I can’t wait to learn more from each one of these wonderful people. They’ve become family and this house has become my home. And for that, I am thankful.

In closing:
I’m flying home to visit my family in just 5 short days!! I would love if you guys could pray for safe travels.

Also, continual prayer for unity – that it would grow stronger and deeper.

And prayer for the students coming soon! Pray that all of their finances would come in and that they would be surrounded by support from family and friends. We’re so excited to welcome them all here in a few short weeks!

Amsterdam!

We went to Amsterdam!!

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Houses along the water… gorgeous

 

The base in Amsterdam hosted a DTS workshop, designed for DTS staff to come and learn more about what the essence of at DTS is and also to learn from each other. There were around 40 YWAMers, representing around 10 different bases across Europe. We all came together for one week full of lectures, discussions, and even practicing some of the elements of a DTS together. It blew me away that 40 complete strangers could come together at one even and still feel so close and like a family. And it was amazing to have all of that wisdom to pull from! Some of the people there had been involved with YWAM for longer than I’ve been alive. It was so good to hear their insights and also see that even after all of those years, the fire was still there. They still loved what they were doing and were walking in the calling God had placed on their lives so many years ago when they first did their own DTS. It just got me to thinking about where I’ll be in 20 years. Truly, I have no idea whatsoever, but it made me excited. Excited to be in their shoes and look back in 5, 10, 20 years and see where God has taken me. I can’t wait to see where God ends up taking this adventure. Judging by the fact that I’m living in Switzerland right now (and never would have dreamed of that… ever), I have no idea where it’ll end up going. But that’s part of the excitement, right?!

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We walked 20 to and from the base each day. While that meant walking for 20 minutes right after rolling out of bed, the view made it worth it.
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Jordie-B-J leading the way on our adventure!
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Our schedule was pretty busy all day every day during the workshop. But we finally got to explore the city a bit Friday afternoon!

 

Ok, so that’s why we were in Amsterdam and even amidst all of the crazy business of the workshop, it was still a great week. We learned a lot, but I felt like we also got to bond a lot as a team. Eight of the ten of us were able to go, and it was so good. I don’t know about you, but I love getting to hang out in places out of the ordinary. Maybe this is just me, but I feel like it helps you to bond more and just connect even deeper than normal – depending on where you are, I guess. But that’s what I felt like this week was for us as a YWAM Davos team. It could have also been the 16 hour bus rides we took there and back. (I do not recommend that method of travel for any one else. Ever. Having said that, it was worth it. So worth it.) Or it could have been that one night when we found a room away from the rest of the people at the workshop and just hung out and let all of our pent up energy loose. Being a part of the shred culture, we tend to have just a little more energy and excitement than most “normal” people. So when we were a part of the group, we tried to hold most of that in – just so we didn’t scare people, really. But one night, we just all needed to let it go. So we found a room where we could be our normal crazy selves and let loose. It was loud. It was pretty crazy. We laughed a lot. But we also got to get a little serious with each other and pray for each other. I don’t know what everyone else felt, but for myself, that was the biggest highlight of the week. It just made my heart happy to be able to connect with these guys that I get to serve with for the next year in a setting where we could just be ourselves and let things like praying for one another happen naturally.

I’m excited to spend the year with these people. Like really excited.

 

YWAM Amsterdam is set up with a main base in one part of the city – a huge building called Du Port which was built years and years ago by some Christian organization as a hostel for the sailors that would come to port in Amsterdam. I think everyone knows that Amsterdam is one of the sketchier cities in the world. So Du Port was built as an alternative for sailors to come stay in, instead of all of the other hostels in the city, which were located close to if not directly in the Red Light District. So that’s the main base. Right next to a beautiful canal and not too far from the train station. But from that, they also have a few different buildings not too far from the base, still associated with YWAM. Aleah, Jordie, Joy and I got to stay in one of those buildings, called The Lighthouse, which was a 20 minute walk from the base.

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This is a picture taken out of the living room window of the apartment we spent the week in. On the left is a cathedral or something of that sort. And then just to the right of that building is a brothel. It broke our hearts the first night we stayed there. The foot traffic on the streets is insane until about 5 in the morning, and the amount of people we saw walk in and out of that building brought us all to tears. I don’t think any of us had ever witnessed anything like this before. And it broke our hearts. We sat and cried for about an hour and prayed the biggest prayers our hearts could muster for the women and men caught up in this way of life… caught up in thinking that this is ok. That it’s normal. I sat there, tears in my eyes blurring all of the red neon lights together, and felt helpless. What can I do? I kept thinking. What could I do that would possibly put a damper on an industry that has been thriving for hundreds of years? It seems like a hopeless situation.

But I know that our God is the God of Hope.

Amen for that!

Even if there’s nothing I think I can do, He can do more. He sees the big picture. He’s bigger than human trafficking. And He loves those people more than I ever could.

In that truth, I take hope. He invites us to partner with Him to fight the injustice in the world, even if that’s just through praying. And prayers are powerful, this I know for sure.

I don’t really want to rant about this too much, because there are plenty of other blog posts out there that have done that much better than I ever could. But I want to encourage you to join me in praying for those women and those men caught up in living in that way of life. It breaks the heart of the Father, and we have the privilege of asking Him to change things. So let’s do that! Let’s ask Him to change the things that break His heart.

 

 

Back to Davos

Greetings Friends!!

We’re back! Back in the land of chocolate and cheese – otherwise known as Switzerland!

swiss alps and lake
swiss alps and lake

Thank you to everyone who was praying for travels this earlier this week! It was probably the easiest travel day that I’ve ever had. Besides a slight hiccup with my booking (something got switched somewhere and it wasn’t caught, so I was put on a flight that arrived in Toronto after my connecting flight had already left. No bueno.) which was sorted out pretty easily in Winnipeg, everything went perfectly. Checking in, connection times, and getting through security quickly and easily. So thank you all very much for your prayers!

And in case you were wondering, I think jet lag is a little easier to handle the second time around… or maybe I just knew what to expect this time. 🙂 It helped that I had an overnight flight on my way here (I left Toronto at 11 pm and landed in Europe the next day at 10 am) and thankfully got to sleep for most of it. That made transitioning to the time difference here a lot easier, which was nice.

It’s been so good to be back here at the base! Back in the places where I’ve felt God stirring and moving in my heart so much and back with some of the people who have shared in the journey of DTS with me. I’ve gotten so stoked to see what He has in store for the rest of our time here! This year is going to be awesome. I can’t wait. Because if there’s one thing that I know, it’s that God is super rad and His plans are the best. We’re all pretty excited over here.

We haven’t done a ton of stuff yet, since most of us just arrived on Thursday. We’ve just been hanging out, getting caught up with returning friends and getting to know new ones. My prayer for this time that we have the base all to ourselves is that we would grow together and really become family. I know that God has drawn each of us here for a reason and we’re going to learn so much from each other. And it’s going to be good! So if you all would join me in praying for that – growth and unity as a staff – and that God would draw in the students He has planned for this school. It’s going to be a crazy year, and I’m glad that you’re joining the adventure with me in prayer!

Thank you all for your prayers and support.

God is so good!