Blame the muscle relaxer :) 

Updates on my life: 
It’s been a few weeks since I last posted, and to be completely honest, I don’t really have a great excuse for that. 
God has been showing me so much these past few weeks, and I haven’t really known where to start writing. I am going to focus on two things in this post. 1st I want to update those not living day to day life with me on what is going on. 2nd I want to share what God is teaching me right now, and how he is working on me in the little things. 


First things first. Life update. 
This past month has been insane. Insane in that I feel like God is doing more in me and through me than I could have expected. This past month has also been crazy that I have been rear ended twice in a 5 day period, both in different cars, and am just trying to make it through this thing called life. 
I am going to blame any inconsistencies in my writing on the muscle relaxers that are helping me get through the pain that is currently residing in my lower back, even though I am trying my hardest to take them as little as possible. 
Following up a week of being rear ended twice, both while stopped at red lights, I was also brought to a place of humility as my two remaining pairs of jeans ripped one day after another. 
I realize that ripped jeans aren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but when you are on a ministry budget, trying to pay off student loans, all while trying to eat healthier than top ramen for most meals, it is not going to go down as a highlight of this past month. 
I always remember looking at adults as having it all together, and now as an almost 29 year old, I am wondering when that happens. Praise the Lord for Old Navy and their amazing clearance sales they were having as I ran to the mall 15 minutes before my ministry team showed up last Wednesday night. (Hallelujah) 
As life has tossed me lemons, and more lemons, I have wondered when I was going to get some lemonade. 
Second: What God is showing me. 
God is showing me that HE is faithful. Sure my back is in pain, and I had to buy some clothes that were not in my budget at all, I am seeing how God is showing me to be more dependent on HIM. 
It’s a crazy thought, because God has been showing me that for 2 years now, and I keep thinking there is nothing else I can give up, but He is showing me there is so much more that I am trying to hold on to. 
God is showing me that even the little things I am trying to hold on to are not my own. He is showing me that my finances are not my own, which includes my debt. 
Student loans have overwhelmed me for the past 4 years, always wondering how I will ever get them paid off. I spent a day last month with God talking to Him about my finances and giving Him all that I make, that my finances will be used for His kingdom, and that I will seek Him in what I do with it. As I spent this day with Him, i began that these past 4 years of worry, which to be honest, is still there a bit, working on giving the worry up, is honestly done in waste. 
God used Simpson to bring me to Redding, which means, He used those loans to get me to Redding. I am in no way advocating large amounts of debt, and I am in no way encouraging anyone to take out large amounts of debt, but I know that God used this to get me to a place of dependence on HIM and He is in control of these loans. 
It stresses me out knowing that I have to pay half of what I make each month to loan companies, but I also know that in my 29ish years of living, He has taken care of me each and every day. 
God is showing me that I need to ask HIM for my wants and needs, that I need to converse with Him daily about my struggles, that this pain I am walking through, it’s nothing to HIM and that even this He has control over. He is showing me that He is my GOD, and that HE is so much greater that I can ever Imagine. 
I am a work in progress, and this post, is messy with bad grammar and punctuation, but I feel like that represents my life right now, not a lot of punctuation, some interesting grammar, and a dependence on GOD to get me through the day. 

I realize this post is not supper happy or encouraging, but I want to be real, God has given me a passion to share my heart, and I am realizing that includes the mess. I am just so thankful that I have HIM walking in front of me, with HIS hand holding my hand letting me know its all going to be okay. 

Week ? Of 52: The Good Old Days

img_0004-1“I Wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.”

-Andy (The Office)

Over the past two weeks God has shown me so much about who I am, the community He has placed me in, and how each moment over the past 28 years of my life have built up to where I am today. I have spent time with family, I have seen friends I haven’t seen in years, and I have been surrounded by amazing people I get to do life with every day. In these weeks I have begun teaching a class focused on community, and have spent time dreaming up the possibilities of writing a book focused on community in the church.Through it all, I have realized more than ever that I am exactly where God wants me, and His plan is very much alive in my life.

I began this post with a quote that so many of us can relate to. We look back at the times when “life was good” often realizing that years from this moment we may look back and think, “dang, life was good.”

There are many moments that stand out to me in my life. I can look back at moments with my family up in Oregon, Christmas’ with Grandma and Grandpa as we decorated the house and made sugar cookies. Fast forward a couple years, and I can remember making it to state in swimming as a freshman in High School, or getting the lead in the school musical as a Sophomore.

These moments were great, amazing, and they lead me to opportunities to find out more about who God create me to be. Later I was introduced to a group of people in college that became family, these could easily be referred to as the “good ole’ days”. Trips to the bay with Matt and Garrett, or late night mischief with Guz, and Jordan, Carl’s Jr. Runs with Ian and Kyle, or just long talks with my RA team about what God is doing in our lives. How could this not be the best it’s ever going to be.

But as I spent this weekend with family, and some of those friends that became family, I was brought to a moment with the Lord where He reminded me of the promises that He has for me. I began to look around, and though each moment is met with fondness, I am thankful that it only gets better from here.

Though many of us can relate to Andy, I would like to take a moment and remind us that when we are walking with God we can know that His promises reign true. We can walk in confidence that even in times of struggle, even in times of tribulation, we will look back with fondness of how God has worked in each of our lives.

Reflecting on those memories is not wrong, but when we dwell in those moments as “the good ole days” we miss out on the moments God has for us today.

I am so thankful for weeks where I am surrounded by people who I truly love and know love me, but if we were still in those moments of long ago, I wouldn’t be blessed with 5 Nieces and 2 Nephews. I wouldn’t get to see friends live out life long dreams and pursue vocational ministry. If we were still in the “Good Ole Days” I wouldn’t get to pursue creating community at Little Country Church, and God wouldn’t be placing writing a book on my heart. If we were still in the “Good ole days,” Jud and Scoot would still be running around as dinosaurs not realizing their amazing wives were just a building away.
So no matter what you are walking through, what ever struggles are knocking at your door. Remember, there will be a day when this was “the good old days,” and God will use this moment too to draw you closer to Him, and this moment will be a moment you can look back on knowing that He is preparing you for something great.

Week 16 of 52: God is doing work!

IMG_1368HBC 2017

A week has passed, and I still don’t feel like I have fully soaked in all God has done through HouseBoat Camp 2017. This weekend was one for the books. Between the rain and hail, we saw that there is always a silver lining. As we sat under tarps filled withlanterns, and soaked in the the nightly teachings, we were reminded that God is in all, and through all. Thisis the great adventure.

Last weekend I had an opportunity to see God working through 165 students lives. These students ranged from graduating 8th graders to graduating seniors. Each student with their own story, their own journey that God is taking them on. IMG_1376

Over the past 7 days I have purposed time to reflect on each of these stories. As I have sat looking back at each face, at each story, at each journey, I am reminded that we all have a story needing to be told. These students reminded me that we are here for the person, not the program. As I sat down with students sharing their heartbreak, I was overwhelmed with a desire to see their lives transformed, to see them experience God in a big way.

These students stories don’t end here, their transformation is not complete, and some are still lost, looking for something more, someone more. I continue daily praying that the seeds planted in their hearts do not come up void. These students have potential, they are strong, they are courageous and kind. These students have pain, they have been broken and hurt. Their hope is not in this world, our hope is not in this world. My prayer is that they discover this hope, a hope found only in Christ Jesus.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,  where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 6:19-20

I am challenged to look past the surface. As I sat with these students I was reminded that each of us has a story to tell, sometimes we just need an audience.

IMG_1375

When we make ourselves available to be used by God, He will use us. It isn’t because we deserve to be used, but because we realize that we have nothing to offer, and it is only in Him that what we do is used for the Kingdom. There are people around you that are hurting, people that look on the surface to have everything together. These people have a story, and their story is important. You have a story and your story is important.

I am challenged to be an avenue for the voice of those around me to be heard. Will you be a minister of the gospel, placing people over program. Will you be a place where stories can be told, where Christ can be shown.

I am finding the silver lining, I am learning daily how God is using me in ways I never planned. Sometimes all you need to do is be open and willing to the voice of God, even when it doesn’t make sense.

I am so thankful for the students brought into my life, those that were willing to share their stories with me. I am thankful for a God that uses me in ways greater than I ever dreamed. And I am thankful for Holiday Harbor Marina who rescued a generator after it plummeted to it’s demise in front of me. IMG_1366

Week 15 of 52: A Journey Not Complete

IMG_6365The story is not finished.

The the page is yet to be turned.

We often wait for the last page, realizing if we skip to the end we miss out on why the end happens the way it does.

We must embrace the storms, we must conquer the mountains, we must endure the hardships to truly appreciate the peaks.

This past weekend I was able to lead program for 165 students on Lake Shasta. We set 13 houseboats strategically on an Island where we proclaimed the gospel, sharing the hope found in Jesus Christ.

IMG_7095Every year we see countless lives transformed as we pack 4 days with friends, food, fun, and Jesus. This year was no different and I was able to be a part of seeing students experience God in a new way.

This year as I process the weekend, I look at my own process in ministry. 7 years ago on this Island a man I had barely met sat me down by a tree, it seemed as if we talked for hours, but the only thing Iremember him saying was that I was called to youth ministry.

I laughed in his face and let him know that I had no intention of stepping foot on a church staff. Over the next 5 years he reminded me of this conversation, he reminded me of the call that was on my life. A call to be an influencer in the lives of High School students, walking day by day, side by side as they experience God in a beautiful way.

This weekend, I am looking back at two years of vocational ministry. A journey that has been anything but easy. But an adventure that I would take again and again. This weekend I watched as students gave their lives to the Lord, I listened to the stories of those that have been broken, and prayed constantly for restoration.

IMG_8802I can’t believe I would ever deny that this is what God has called me to do. I don’t know where this journey is going, but I am seeing that the hardships, though not over, are all a part of me growing into the man God created me to be.

I am overwhelmed by the stories, and I cannot wait to see God move in the lives of these students as we continue growing as a body. Seeing God move in a huge way.

Thank you to each student that reminded me of the calling God has placed on my life, and thank you Chad for seeing it in me so many years ago. I will share more stories next week about how God moved in my life this past weekend, but I wanted to share how God reminded me of where He is taking me. I don’t know the time and place, but I know that God has given me a passion for high school ministry, and I needed this to remind me that this journey is not over.

God is good, all the time.IMG_9023

Week 13/14 of 52: A Tribute to Graduates

This post is all about the graduates in our lives. I had an opportunity to speak this week at an 8th grade graduation. That combined with Swan Wedding 2017, I have been crazy busy this past week. So here is a post to make up for the last two missed posts.

This is the speech I was able to give to the 8th grade class at Country Christian School last night. I hope you enjoy.

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken

 

Congratulations 8th Grade Class at Country Christian School.

I am so excited to be a part of your day, sharing what God has placed on my heart.

I want to take a look at the poem I just read. In this poem, written by Robert Frost we see a man coming to a fork in the road. At this junction, the man must make a choice, this choice is between a road that many have taken, one that is easy, one that will rarely be lonely. This road is wide, this road is even, and the scenes are what we can expect. This is the road we are told by society to take.

The other path is a path that is narrow, a path that is overgrown with branches and shrubs. This path is not taken often, the end result is unknown, and there will be times that you may want to turn back dueto the tough turain. This path is a mystery, a path that the world tells us not to take. This path can often be lonely, this path may lead you wondering why you took the path in the first place. Each step forward is a step into an unknown place. But when you walk fervently forward, you will get to see what few see, you will grow, you will be stretched, and in the end you will see how God blesses those taking that path less traveled.

As you look around this room you are surrounded by those that love and support you, you see your friends and family who have all had to make that same choice. Will I choose the road with a destination I can see, or will I choose that path that is less taken, will I trudge through the wilderness, seeking the life that God has called me to.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 says

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

As students at Country Christian School you have had an amazing opportunity to build your educational foundation in the truths found in scripture. Each class showing how Christ works in all and through all. This foundation is a launching point into your future. A catalyst into this journey we call life. Each of you responsible for the decision you make and the consequences that come with those decisions. Each of you being grounded in the truth of the gospel has prepared you for this fork in the road.

Like in a race, we must prepare ourselves for this journey.IMG_1308

What happens when the path we take gets too hard, what happens, when we are left alone standing firm in our convictions when those around us seem to be drifting away. The road I challenge you to take will not be easy, are you ready. Are you ready to stand firm.

I believe you are!

As each of us have seen throughout this evening, you are prepared, you have been trained, and you are ready to take on the road not taken. You are surrounded by a support system that loves you and wants to see you succeed. Each of you are surrounded by people who believe in you, who know that you have what it takes to run in a way to win the race.

As the summer turns into fall, each of you will have an opportunity to choose a path to step forward on. Will you choose the path that of least resistance. The one that is easy, the one that will get you a participation ribbon. Or will you choose the road not taken, will you endure the hard times, knowing that in Christ you can run a race to win the prize.

We believe in you,

McKenna

Bryleemae

Demi

Kaden

Marita

Dylon

Georgia

Ryan

Abigail

Emily

Presley

Irisa

Drew

Tristan

Lily

Elijah

We Believe in you!

Take the road less traveled, and though it may be difficult at times, I promise you, it will be worth it.

Thank you.

Week 11 of 52: A Week of Humility

IMG_1259Praise the LORD all you gentiles!

Praise the LORD all you peoples!

For HIS merciful kindness is great toward us,

And the truth of the LORD endures forever.

Praise the LORD !

This week has been hectic, so much so that this post is coming out about 4 days late.

As I sit here writing this, I look back at a week full of life, a week full of anxiety, and a week full of God’s continued faithfulness.

This week started off as I had some work done on my mouth. The process was nothing too extravagant, and it brought about two months of pain in my mouth to an end. Though any time you have any work done there is a bit of angst that comes along with the the journey, more so I was overwhelmed with the financial burden of having dental work done.

I don’t know if I realized what it really meant to be an adult until I had to trust fully that God is going to take care of the finances that come with the procedure.

During this time I have also been house sitting for a family at the church who have two very energetic dogs. I didn’t realize that dogs could be nocturnal, but these dogs proved that I don’t know everything. From barking and jumping on my bed to lick my face, my sleep pattern has been an adventure.

I don’t think that any one of these items would bring me to my knees, but the combination of life, lack of sleep, finances, and dogs constantly testing my stability and patience, I am brought to a place where I realize that I have nothing, and the LORD has everything. I am brought to a place of humility where I am reminded how blessed I am to be able to walk step by step, knowing that I have a good Father who desires to know me in a deeper way. IMG_1290

Through trusting HIM, I am able to see how God is continually drawing me closer to HIM, how each step that I take, He has built me a firm foundation to move forward in.

I wish I could say I have have it all under control, but that would be prideful and not true. What I can say is that HE has it under control, HE has my finances, HE has my hope, HE has my future.

Psalms 117 is very simple, praise the LORD, HE is kind, HIS love endures forever.

I am so blessed to know that even through this week filled with anxiety I am not alone, and I can, in peace, give that anxiety to the God who cares not just about me on a surface level, but cares about my finances, my mental well being, my dreams and passions. I get to serve a God who is bigger than my fears, He lives outside my understandings, and truly desires the best for HIS children.

So my prayer is this…

Lord, may I sing praise in the good and the bad, may I see your faithfulness when I don’t know what is next. Lord may I bring you glory in how I walk, each step moving toward you, even when I don’t know what that looks like. Lord may you be my foundation, may my life reflect your will. May I be a light in darkness, may I be truth where truth is not the accepted dialect. Amen

Week 10 of 52: My Dirt Road Anthem

IMG_1258Some days are meant for country songs and back road drives. These days aren’t planned in advance, they have no agendas, and have no schedule. Sometimes these days last a quick minute, sometimes these days last a weekend. On these drives a person is transported to a simpler time, a time where there are no deadlines, and tiredness is wiped away, you are reminded where you came from, and the dreams of the future flow like a river.

I am realizing the importance of these days in my own life. Days to rest, reflect, and to see how blessed I am to be doing the work of God daily. So often in my pursuit of having a relationship with Jesus I forget to observe to process. Seeing how each moment has lead up to now, how every failure has led to moments of triumph, how every unanswered question has led me into a deeper understanding of His unconditional love for me.IMG_1233

The purpose of these drives is not to dwell in the past, but to remember how God is continually doing work in our lives. Allowing us to move forward, seeing that through the highs and lows He is ultimately in the drivers seat. Sometimes the road doesn’t make sense, sometimes the road seems like it’s going in the wrong direction from what makes sense in our minds, but in the end the destination is just around the corner.

A year ago I knew that I would be working in youth ministry, I knew I would be planning camps, and that I would be stressing out over speakers and if the lake was going to be high enough. A year ago I figured I would be making a little more money and be able to start making a dent in my student loans. A year ago I thought that I knew the path that God had placed in front of me. Today, I am seeing how God has used this year of switchbacks and unknowns to draw me closer to Him. Today, I am seeing that by not working with high school students I am able to make a larger impact on the body of Christ, creating community, bringing people together, hearing stories, and getting a glimpse of how the body is meant to work.

IMG_0829It’s these back country roads that reveal to me that where I am today is not the destination, but where I need to be to continue on the journey that God has placed me on.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit interceded for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified. “

Romans 8: 26-30

These unknowns, these times of doubt and questioning if I had heard God correctly, have purpose in my life, they have purpose in the Kingdom of God. For all things work together for good.

IMG_0951I know that I used this verse a couple weeks ago, but it’s a verse that God has put on my heart these past couple months and one that not only hits me where I am at, but one that speaks truth. The storm you are walking through has purpose, and I pray that when we look back we see that the drive was worth it.

Today i don’t need to write pages, instead I am going to take advantage of the beautiful weather, my Whiskey Town parking pass, and the abundance of back roads in Redding, CA.