I’m an Adult

Today, I feel like an adult.

The funny thing is, this doesn’t happen every day. And maybe this feeling is just because I felt like an absolute child a few days ago.

 

It started out as a beautiful Tuesday. The sun was shining and I was sitting on my bed reading my Bible enjoying the sunshine. It was peaceful. I was content. I had chicken breasts thawing on the counter waiting to be used for a great lunch I had planned for Ben and I. My heart was full. I was happy. And life seemed right.

Two seconds later, that perfect peaceful morning was flipped upside down.

Ben had gone out for a walk. I wasn’t expecting him back for a few more minutes and was hoping to finish up my reading and start on lunch before he came home.

Yeah. That didn’t happen.

He came bursting through the door.

“Something is not right!”

He startled me and I shook myself out of what I had been reading, trying to wrap my mind around what he was talking about. And then I realized he was on the floor.

I lost it.

I was instantly overwhelmed with panic. I ran out of our little house and into the base to find someone to help me figure out what to do. Luckily, our base leader Judy was a nurse before joining YWAM. At this point, neither one of us really knew what was going on, but we were both assuming appendix. He was laying on the floor right inside the door of the house, almost in tears because of the pain. He wasn’t breathing well, he was panicking, and every once and again his body would just seize up with the pain.

I was terrified and felt totally helpless.

There was absolutely nothing I could do.

We called for an ambulance and then waited the longest 10 minutes of my life. My mind was racing. On the outside, I might have looked calm. Sometimes I have a decent poker face. (Sometimes.) But on the inside… I was in chaos. It was as if all sense of reason just abandoned me and I didn’t even know what I was supposed to think about. Somehow, I pulled myself together enough to grab a few things and change out of the dress I was wearing into something more practical for waiting in a hospital. I grabbed a fresh sweater for Ben and his glasses and threw them in my purse.

The EMTs arrived and, after what felt like hours, they loaded him onto a stretcher and into the ambulance. I hopped into the front seat and we drove of to the hospital. During those 10 minutes, my mind was racing. How on earth was I supposed to handle this by myself?

I’m practically a child! I usually need my mom to help me make medical decisions! How am I supposed to decide what to do by myself?

And that’s when it started.

I cried out to God in that moment and asked for some kind of assistance. And slowly, peace began to creep into my heart. My body was still tense but my mind started to relax.

When we got to the hospital, the checked Ben’s vitals and reassessed where the pain was coming from. By this point, the doctor thought it was possibly a kidney stone. So they wheeled him out of the room and off to have an ultrasound done. I quickly called my mom which calmed me down immensely. It’s amazing what a mother’s voice can do. I went back into his room to wait for him to return. As I waited, the panic started to crawl back in. I looked around the room and just saw dollar signs. I thought about an ultrasound and saw nothing but dollar signs. And I know we have insurance but again I realized that I was just a child and I’ve never actually had to do anything with insurance.

In the midst of this worry, I began to declare God’s goodness.

I sat alone in Ben’s little curtained-off room of the ER and started mumbling under my breath. “You are always Good. You are 100% good all of the time. You are faithful. You are a provider.” I went on and on. And suddenly, the peace returned. The whole atmosphere of the room changed and seemed lighter. And in my mind, I just knew that no matter what, God was in control and everything was going to be ok.

A few minutes later, the rolled Ben back in and told us that it was in fact a kidney stone. Then all we had to do was wait for it to… pass through. And four hours after the initial shock, Ben was pain-free. He even asked to walk to get food instead of taking the bus.

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Even amidst my panic, God is not panicking!

Now as I think about it, it seems like it was such a small thing. But in the moment, the world stopped. It was one of those situations though that seem to transform you into an adult in minutes. You just do what you
have to do. And when you look back, you realize that it maybe wasn’t as bad as you thought it was in the moment and if you had to, you could do it again all on your own. (Obviously, I hope that doesn’t have to happen any time soon. I’m just saying if it did.)

This is why I feel like an adult today. Even if my house is messy, even if there seems to be a million things on my to-do list, I feel like an adult and I’m confident that I can handle whatever happens this week. Not just because I’m an “adult.” But because I know that God is trustworthy no matter what my circumstances say.

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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!

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. 4

This post is part four of a series. Here’s where you can find posts one, two and three.

 

The day we left for outreach was the day I realized I was falling hard.

We were in the airport – the five of us on our way to Bosnia for the next 14 weeks. I think everyone was a little tired and at least a bit nervous, so conversation was pretty sparse. Someone would make a remark every couple of minutes that would spark a mini conversation that quickly fizzled out into silence. Most of us picked up our phones or iPads and zoned into the world of social media. But these little conversations started to build my hope. I realized that if I said something or chimed in, Ben would look up from his iPad and listen.

Just that little bit of attention gave me hope that lasted for weeks.

And then it happened.

Two weeks into our 14 week outreach, we realized that there was actually something more than friendship on both of our ends. I remember we were sitting on the back porch of the apartment our team lived at in Sarajevo. We had spent the previous two days painting the interior of a house and the whole team was pretty exhausted. The students decided to watch a movie, but I wasn’t really feeling it. So Benjamin and I ended up sitting outside, staring at the five stars visible from our balcony while eating fancy cheese and crackers and listening to indie music. That’s when I decided what I wanted. That was when I made up my mind that we were more than friends.

We tried to ignore it as long as we could.

Both of us wanted to just do outreach and then talk about it later. But 12 weeks is a long time to pretend that feelings don’t exist. It’s like have an itchy mosquito bite. The more you think about not itching it, the more it itches.

The more you think about ignoring your heart, the louder it screams.

Halfway through the outreach, we felt like it was time. Ignoring the feelings had made it a bigger distraction than acknowledging them. We decided it was time to actually talk about things beyond the “I like you a lot” conversation that had already happened. It was time to decide if this was for real or not; if we were going to go for it or walk away.

That conversation went something like this:

“So. What are your dreams? Where do you feel like God is leading your life?” (We already knew the answer. We’d talked about it like a million times already. But we shared again anyway.)

“Do our dreams line up?” (You know… I think they do…)

“Do we want to do this? Do we want to… get married?”

Yeah. Yes. Yes we do.

“Let’s get married!”

That was our first date. We were sitting on a rock along the coast of the Adriatic Sea, the sound of the waves crashing in the background and we decided to get married. (Eating cheese and crackers, of course. That somehow became our thing. 🙂 )

Obviously since then, there have been more than a few ups and downs. Making a major life change in less than four months causes a bit of chaos – no matter how you try to avoid it. I hate to admit that I’ve cried more than I would have liked to. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never doubted if this is the right choice. But I keep coming back to what I feel like God has spoken. And I believe He’s told us to go for it. The night after Ben and I had our first little “chat,” I went to bed on an emotional high (maybe a slight understatement). I think I texted my mom for like an hour, letting my inner teenage girl freak out for a bit. And as I laid in bed, I felt like God spoke to my heart.

“Make your choice. Because once this starts, it’s going to go fast.”

It was a bit of reality amongst all of the raging emotions. But I made my choice. I chose Benjamin.

And He was right. It did go fast. Hard as we tried, we couldn’t slow it down. I think when God spoke that, He was trying to prepare me for the journey ahead. He didn’t say it was going to be easy. He asked me to make a choice.

So I did.

And I have to say, I’m happy with my choice.

In five days, I’ll walk down the aisle and say ‘I do’ to one of the biggest blessings that’s ever come into my life.

Yeah.

I’m very happy with my choice.

 

the end & yet, to be continued

 

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When You’re Not Looking… pt. 3

This post is part three of a series. Here’s where you can find parts one and two.

 

It was our last week on base before heading out on outreach. Since Ben and I were leading together, that meant lots of last-minute meetings to tie everything up. And somehow there was a switch in my mind. I can’t pin-point when it happened but I just became super curious. I just really wanted to know if Benjamin liked me. So I just started paying closer attention to how he treated me and how he treated the other girls. I probably went back and forth several times a day. Picture Courtney holding a daisy, pulling out the petals one by one, “He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not.”

That’s how it went. Over and over. Back and forth.

I was so confused.

So I finally decided to pray about it. Sometimes I get scared to ask God these questions. It’s a silly fear and I know that. But it’s not so much that I’m afraid of asking, I’m just afraid of what the answer is. And yet the point came when I decided that hearing the answer would be better then the emotional yo-yo I was subjecting myself to. And as I prayed about it, I started feeling more peace about the friendship I had with Ben. I even felt like God was saying that it was ok for it to keep getting deeper. I didn’t really know what He meant with that, but I figured it would be ok. I mean, if God was giving me the go-ahead, I must be in an ok spot right? And I figured it meant that Benjamin didn’t really like me either. So I just accepted that. We were just friends. Weren’t we?

But then He said something else.

For about a year, I’d worn a ring on my wedding finger. I had switched it from the other hand before leaving for DTS as a promise to God. When I put it on that finger, I decided that it was a commitment to remain faithful to God and to do my best to trust that He’d tell me when to swap that ring out with an engagement one. So I’d always joke about it and say that I was married to Jesus. Because in my heart, I was. I loved the ring too. I’d had it since I was thirteen and even if you could tell by the style of it, I still loved it. There was a little heart around an opal at the center. I wore it every day, all the time. And then I woke up one morning and the opal was gone. Naturally, I freaked out. But I promised God in that moment that even if the stone was gone, I wasn’t going to take it off until He brought some guy along to replace it.

So I wore it proudly. A gaping hole in the middle of a delicate heart. But I wore it anyway because I’d made God a promise and I didn’t want to break it.

But then that last week in Switzerland before outreach, God told me to take it off.

I think in that moment I knew what that meant. I just didn’t want to admit it. I took it of pretty reluctantly. I had no idea if I was ready for this. Somewhere in my heart, I knew that taking off that ring meant that my heart was available. And I had no idea if I was ready for that.

“Do you trust me?”

It was time to put those words into practice. Saying I trusted God was one thing. But would I actually act on what He was asking me to do? That’s what trust really looks like. And if I wasn’t willing to do that, had I really come as far as I thought I had? I reminded myself of all of the times God had been faithful in the past and reminded myself that He would be faithful again. If He was asking me to take my ring off, if He was telling me that it was ok for my heart to be “on the market,” would I trust that?

So I did it.

I took off the ring and gave my heart to God.

And that’s when I realized that Ben had already found a special spot in my heart.

 

…to be continued…

 

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…

When You’re Not Looking… pt. 1

A little over a year ago, I gave God my idea of relationship.

It was during my DTS and all week the speaker had been talking about God’s character. “His character is always consistent, but unpredictable.” He said that over and over throughout the week, challenging us students to look at our relationship with God and see where we were expecting Him to react in a certain way. He had this great analogy to go with his phrase. He described God as a bouncy ball. He said the bouncy ball will always bounce – that’s not the question. The question is where is it going to go once you throw it on the ground. So by Friday, we’d had plenty of time to think about where we tried to box God in by our expectations. During our last lecture time that week, we spent the whole hour and an half taking our expectations to the cross and laying them at God’s feet. Some people laid down their financial situations or their future plans.

That week, God had begun to show me that I had a very structured idea of what a dating relationship should look like. I think I expected what most people would consider “normal” – or something along that line. I expected to meet someone and get to know him as a friend for maybe a year or two… then if there seemed to be some attraction, maybe start dating after that. And then after one or two years of dating, after we were both good and sure that we wanted to, we’d get engaged. Then we’d be engaged for six months or a year or so and then get married and live “happily ever after.” As God began to show me that, He began to challenge me on that. I felt like He was asking me if that was His way of doing things or my own. I was pretty sure it was my own, but I saw nothing really wrong with that formula, so I left it. I thought it was healthy. Wise. Smart. Why rush in to something that you’re committed to for life?

Then on that Friday morning, as the speaker was explaining what he wanted us to do, a question hit my heart hard:

“Would you marry someone you’ve only know for six months if I told you to?”

My heart just about stopped.

That was crazy. Only crazy people did that. You don’t just marry someone after knowing them for six months. That’s just a bad idea. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t a question of if I was spontaneous enough or daring enough, but rather it was a question of if I was willing to trust God that much. Was I willing to just jump when He told me to? Not because I was necessarily sure, but because I trusted Him completely.

So as other people started speaking out these things that they wanted to trust God with more, my heart was pounding out of control and sweat was trickling down my back. I believe that our words have power; when we speak things out loud, it makes a difference. And I believed in that moment if I said these things out loud, God would hear them and would take them seriously. So I was nervous. It’s hard to let go of things we like to feel in control of. And that’s where the trust comes in.

It was time for a leap of faith, and I knew that.

Then all of the sudden, it was time. It was one of those moments when you just know that you have do act right now. Something just stirs inside of your heart; there’s an intense burning and you know that now is the moment. I remember kneeling there and speaking out these words in front of all of my classmates:

“God, I give you my idea of what a relationship looks like. And I trust You. If you tell me to marry someone and I’ve only known them for six months, I trust You and I’ll follow through.”

You know how sometimes you say something that has been bothering you for a long time and you instantly feel better? Like a huge weight has been lifted off of your shoulders?

Yeah, this wasn’t like that.

I didn’t really feel any differently and in all reality I didn’t really expect anything to happen out of that moment. But like I said, I believe our words have power. And I believe in that moment, God saw my act of faith and He heard the words that I said. I think He was proud of me then, too. I also think He saw what a difference this heart attitude would have in my life. Because it was then that I started my journey of truly letting go my idea of what a dating relationship should look like. That’s when I started to let go of my right to a husband and trust that if God wanted that for my life, He’d bring the right guy along at just the right moment.

And wouldn’t you know it….

That’s exactly what He did.

 

….to be continued…..

Cultures

One of my favorite parts of my job is being able to experience different cultures. First of all, I’m from the smallest of small towns in the most northern part of Minnesota. So just coming to Switzerland is a cultural difference. Even though our center is located on the edge of a smaller city, there are still many differences in culture. (As well as typography…)

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Minnesota, USA

 

I always say that there’s a lot of similarities between Swiss culture and American culture, but that mainly comes from the fact that we’re both Western cultures. There are still quite a few differences, despite a small overlap. And that’s what makes life exciting most days. A bit confusing and frustrating at times, but for the most part it’s good. Experiencing different cultures broadens our perspective of life and it helps me to realize that there isn’t just one “right” way of doing life.

So United States to Switzerland, cultural difference number one.

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Davos, Switzerland

 

But beyond experiencing Swiss culture, we also get the opportunity to experience other cultures when we go out on outreach. The past two years, I’ve had the chance to travel to Bosnia and Croatia. Both times I’ve been there have been amazing experiences getting to know people and learn more about their culture.

This last year, we spent lots of time with the people we met at each location. So we got a pretty good taste of how people do life in different countries. It’s an amazing experience! But my favorite part of outreach is getting a taste of how people from other cultures encounter God. I loved being able to attend church services – even if they can be long and in a language I can’t understand – just to be able to worship together. Just to be able to experience God together. In those moments, you don’t need words. Your hearts are simply joined together in a moment as you realize that you’re all worshiping the same God. That’s a feeling that has never left me. I love it. And I think it’s something that sticks with a person throughout their life.

So the other night when I was in the kitchen preparing dinner, all of the sudden the words from a Croatian worship song popped into my head. I know it’s a song that’s been translated into Croatian from English, but I don’t know the English words. So as the words came back to me, I just stood in the kitchen, chopping onions and singing out the lyrics on my heart.

Isuse, budi centar
Moja nada, moja pjesma,

Isuse, Isuse 

I don’t understand Croatian. I have a bit of an idea of what the words mean, but when it comes right down to it, I have no idea what I’m singing. But God does! And that’s what blows me away by how great He is. He fits into every culture. He created every language. And He knows every single person on this planet and loves us all the same. And He loves it when we come together just to worship Him. When we put aside all of our differences and simply enjoy Him; He loves that.

I believe in those moments, even if the worship is in Croatian, my heart is still full because I believe that in those moments we can feel the joy God feels. We can feel His delight in our praise.

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Worship in on Outreach

 

Sarajevo Round 2

Sarajevo, Bosnia.

It’s a beautiful city.

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In my opinion, at least. If you look close enough, you can see all the bumpy scars left from multiple wars – both in the physical and in the emotional. There’s so much hurt left over from a country that was torn apart. To outsiders, it looks like no one wants to move on. It looks like people in Sarajevo are hopeless. But if you look close enough, you’ll notice that there’s still hope. There’s always hope. As long as God loves people, there will always be hope. But sometimes our circumstances change how we view things. In the midst of pain, it’s hard to look for the hope. It’s hard to look past the wounds and see a life that’s beyond what we can see at the moment.

That’s how it felt with outreach sometimes. It felt like there was so much hurt in the city, how could we ever make a difference?

But if you look past the pain…. If you can shift your focus so you’re looking for hope instead of pain, you’ll find it.

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The outside of the Rafael Center – where Robert and Sandrina hold their fellowship and also where the children’s center is.
Robert and Sandrina have been living in Sarajevo for a while. They run fellowship and were in the beginning stages of starting a daycare/children’s center. The hope they have for their city is contagious. Even as we were doing labor work, I could feel my attitude begin to change. As I saw Robert’s hope, I began to catch the vision he had as well.

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The beginning of the Jungle Theater… where we would spend many hours painting art work and constructing a tree from styrofoam.
The beginning of starting a ministry is hard no matter where you are. It takes lots of work and lots of perseverance. When things don’t turn out how you had planned, it takes patience to push through and find another way of doing things.

As the weeks went on, sometimes it felt like we weren’t getting any where. It felt like no matter what amount of work we put in, there was always more that would need to be done. But holding on to the hope kept us going.

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The inside of the Jungle Theater.

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Watching “Bambi” in the Jungle Theater!
In the moment, it’s hard to see the impact we have sometimes. But looking back, we can see what our work accomplished. For one thing, we were able to build some good relationships with the people we worked with. And for another, we got to see the children’s center up and running when we left.

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The first kids camp to run at the new children’s center!
When we arrived, that building was empty. And when we left, it was full of colorful things for children’s to play in. We even got to play with kids for a few days!

For me, the growth I saw in my students made the whole trip worth it. When we left for outreach, we were all pretty comfortable with each other. But as time goes on, you see every side of a person when you live close with them. And there are moments when you are absolutely convinced that you can’t stand the other person. Every outreach team goes through that. But it makes it so much more amazing when you come to the end of outreach and you realize that you love each person on your team so much. Not because they are perfect, but because of who they are and who God is in them.

For me, that’s what makes outreach worth it. At the end of the day, Sarajevo still needs lots of love. But if I look at what God has done in the students and in me, it makes the whole trip worth it.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself.   – 2 Timothy 2:13

That’s what I learned. For me, that verse talks about trusting that God is moving, even if it doesn’t look like we expected it too, He is.

Because He is still faithful.

Always faithful.