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.

Advertisements

Week 9 of 52: A Dream

This morning while I sat drinking my coffee in a local cafe, I had an opportunity to share my story. I entered the door carrying “Peace Child” a book written by Don Richardson, a missionary about a tribal community that went from “Cannibals to Christ Followers.” To be honest I am still working on the first page, but it opened up an opportunity for the young man sitting behind the cash register to ask the questions whirling through his head.

As I drank my coffee and ate my bagel, we started talking about the importance of international missions, how one person can step out of their comfort zone and transform a nation by simply being obedient to the call. He shared his experience doing short term work and how he desires to one day step back into the mission field spreading the word of God across the nations to unreached people groups. He is just waiting for that door to open.

IMG_1255.JPGAs we discussed life the conversation turned to me, what do I do, what is my passion, what is my dream?

These questions made me think, vocational ministry is still a new avenue I am on. As I sit here just two years into my journey at Little Country Church, I often forget to look back on why I took that first step. As we talked I was able to share my role of Community Life Coordinator to him, how God has allowed me to walk in my gifting, creating community, building a culture of hospitality, and being a part of stories. I was able to share my heart for KOINONIA, the idea of coming together for one purpose, having community and fellowship that point towards Jesus Christ.

It was in sharing these things that I was reminded of the answer to the second question. What is my passion?

My heart and passion is to see lives transformed. We live in a place where the average person has been broken down and beat up before they even leave the house. I want to see hope found for the hopeless. Not just a sense of hope, but truly realizing that through Jesus Christ there is hope! I want to see those that have been told they are worthless to realize that through Jesus they are made worthy! And I want to see those without a home to see that they are home in the Body of Christ!

We have an opportunity as believers to show our broken world that it is not too late. We can love greatly, speak life, share the truth, and trust that God is good. This leads me to the final question…what is my dream?

My dream is to not get lost in the walls of the church bubble, but to live as Christ. How we live speaks much louder than how we say we live. Will we talk about loving the least of these, or will we love the least of these. My dream is to see the Church be a place where restoration can take place, and through Jesus it does take place. My dream is to see people coming together in KOINONIA, coming together for the soul purpose of giving praise to the one true God!

As we talked about these things I was reminded why I stepped into vocational ministry two years ago. I took that leap of faith because God has given me a dream, and through that dream He has given me a passion. I love that I am able to walk in these passions, that God is using me to bring HOPE to a generation that lives without hope. I am able to LOVE deeply, not just believers, not just the desirable, but all people. Lastly I get an opportunity to show people that Jesus is alive and is moving!

Sometimes we lose sight of the journey we are on, but when we take a step back, we are reminded that God has us exactly where we are supposed to be! We just need to take that step, and see that our God is doing work!

Week 7 of 52: Climbing Mountains

IMG_0925.JPG
If you were to ask me 10 years ago when I walked out the doors of Hidden Valley High School, where I would be in 10 years. The words Redding, California, would probably be the last words expected to come out of my mouth.

Yes Redding has some beautiful lakes and streams, but there is nothing alluring about 110 degree temperature throughout most of the summer. Redding is hot, and besides it’s terrain, all it has to offer is In-N-Out. I didn’t see myself making Redding my home, I didn’t see myself finding a community of like minded Christian people, and I didn’t see myself making myself at home at a not so little church, barely in the country. I didn’t understand the appeal 10 years ago, I didn’t know that this adventure called life would lead me to a place I just didn’t understand.

Ten years later I have come to a place where I am starting to understand the appeal. I admit the beauty does not compare to Grants Pass, but again Oregon is God’s gift to America. I am starting to see why people move to Redding, despite it’s horrific summers. The trails and waterfalls, lakes and streams declare a creator, the town has a charm filled with history, and the body of Christ is alive and well.
What a difference a span of 10 years can make. The journey has brought me all over the world, living in 3 different states, at least 10 different residences, at least 10 different jobs, and many unanswered questions about where the journey is taking me. Over the past 10 years I have made countless connections, building relationships that have changed me for the better, seeing how we were all created differently but with one common purpose, to see that God is given the glory.

Saturday  I had an opportunity to spend the evening sitting around a camp fire near Whiskeytown Reservoir sharing testimony, IMG_1212spending time worshiping through music, and seeing how we can come along side one another in encouragement. This night was planned, but unexpected. Each of us came from a different place, a different back ground. Each person brought their own experiences, their own journey, and had an opportunity to lay it out in front of the creator.

As we went around the circle giving praise to Jesus Christ, for what He is doing in our lives, a friend of mine shared a statement that I want to share with you. “If you are climbing a mountain and only focus on the top, you miss out on the way up. What happens if you get turned around because of weather, are you going to focus on what you missed out on, or focus on what you got to see, what you get to see?” The quote isn’t exact, but the heart behind it is hopefully there.

Ten years ago I didn’t know what my life was going to look like today. I don’t know what my life will look like in 10 years. I don’t know what my life will look like tomorrow, but I would like to say if things don’t work out as I plan, or how I expect I will still be able to see how God is working in my life. I look back on these past 10 years and I see how each moment, each change, each unexpected twist, has helped me to be where I am today.

I look at the friendships that have formed me, encouraged me, driven me deeper into my walk with the Lord. I look at the houses full of roommates that have shown me how to live life with people, and how each co-worker has given me a glimpse into human nature.

This journey isn’t always pretty, it isn’t always clean. Like climbing a mountain, there are always snags along the journey, but with each snag comes a moment of beauty, a vista point that allows you to see a glimpse of the artwork of the Father formed with us in mind.

When the storm comes in and we are turned away from the peak, are we going to focus on that missed opportunity, or are we going to focus on what we got to experience. I am realizing that we aren’t always meant to get to the top, we aren’t always meant to stand at the peak, sometimes, it is the journey that God is using to reach us, it is the journey that God speaks to us, and when we are so focused on the top, we miss what He has planned for us.

I didn’t end up the man 18 year old Adam expected, instead I am becoming the Man God created me to be. It wasn’t the mountain tops that got me here, it was the switchbacks, it was the unexpected waterfalls, it was the caverns and walls placed in front of me. Sometimes we just need to pause and take a look at what God has for us here and now.

Take a moment and see what God is doing in your life. Are you the man or woman God designed you to be, or are you focused on the mountain top you didn’t get to stand on. Are you so focused on the missed opportunities, that you are missing the countless things God has placed in front of you? Take a moment, look around, and know that you are not on this journey alone!

Week 4 of 52: American Dream

In he spring of 2002 a new show swept the nation, leaving names like Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson as house hold names. Year after year lives were changed. Ordinary people, getting extraordinary opportunities to live the life of their dreams. All it took was one audition, 3 judges, and a dream to make a reality.

I was in the 7th grade when Kelly Clarkson one that first season of American Idol. It was the story that swept the nation, a Texas girl winning over America, showing us all that the American Dream was not dead.

A few seasons later I remember sitting in my Aunt and Uncle’s living room in Port Orchard, Washington as Carrie Underwood was predicted to not only win, but to do better than any other American Idol winner after she belted out a captivating version of Heart’s Alone.

These memories became dreams for me, not to win American Idol, but to find a job that I love, to find a life that I wouldn’t trade for the world. So many people in my generation went from being stuck in their small to being able to live out their dreams. All because of a simple show 15 years ago.

Some trade their small town for a dream of adventure, some seek financial stability or a family at a young age, and some just want to make the world a better place. Over the last 10 years since graduating high school I have been on a journey to find out what my dream is, what my passion is, what my calling is. I graduated college, worked a couple different jobs, and two years ago walked away from it all and stepped into vocational ministry realizing that my dream was inside me the whole time, my calling was there, I just had to pick up the phone.

My American dream is being stuck in student debt knowing that God will always provide. My American dream is knowing that every Sunday I get to see live changed with a simple hello. My American dream is knowing that I get to walk each day trusting that I serve a God who is greater than I.

When stepping out of higher education I didn’t know how it was going to work. I kept a part time job at Kohl’s to make sure all my bills could be paid. Then I heard God ask my if I trusted Him. When I stepped into full time ministry, I realized that in keeping my Job at Kohl’s I was only half walking in what God had called me to do. I realized that in keeping my job, I was not actually trusting Him, but trusting that I could take care of my self. A year or so later as I didn’t know what was next I began to look at jobs across the US. Seeing if ministry was in my future. I remember sitting at the computer and again feeling that nudge on my heart, “Do you trust Me?” I realized that in my calling to ministry, I still had doubts and still wanted to make my world make sense to me, instead of allowing God to work as He had said He would.

Every time I submit to Him, He provides in amazing ways. Every time I submit to Him, I am able to see my dreams come alive.

Last week in my post I talked about the importance of prayer. How we must seek God daily, praying to Him. This week I want to encourage you to listen. What is God trying to show you, how is He trying to work in your life? Are you allowing Him to move in you, or are you trying to be the one that keeps your world making sense?

My life isn’t always comfortable, my financial situation may not be exactly what I expected, but I know that I am always provided for. I just have to step in faith, step in front of the 1 judge, and He will make my dreams a reality.

Take some time, dream, see what God has put on your heart, and know that He is good.IMG_1130