Monday, January 31, 2011

The Journey

Some days I can't believe this is my life. 

In the past 3 days I have flown over 17 hours, passed through over 6 different time zones, and suffered from a severe case of jet lag.  In the past 3 days I have given up caffeine (we'll see how long that lasts!), ran a 5k through the Philippines, and gotten an hour long massage for 4 dollars!  My life is so random, and so crazy... and yet I absolutely love it!

Some days I can't believe that in the past 7 months I have lived on 4 different continents and been in 12 different countries.  Seriously, who does that?  What is even harder to believe is that now I can't imagine life any other way.  I can't imagine life without community. I can't imagine life without poverty.  I can't imagine life without my my beautiful, spirit filled, crazy, prophetic family of 64 people known as the "P-SQUAD".   

My life has changed so drastically in the past 7 months.  I think, speak, and process so differently.  The baby I was 7 months ago has grown up.  My heart yearns for things I never thought it would before.  My life will absolutely never be the same, and for that I am so thankful.

This journey for me hasn't ever really been about finding Jesus.  I found Him a long time ago.  This journey instead has been about learning to surrender, to listen, to speak, to trust, and to love in a way that I never knew was possible.  This journey has been about being exposed to and equipped for whatever God has in store for me after this race comes to an end.  I don't have a clue what the final 4 months will look like (seriously, only 4 months left?!), but I know that my God is a God of great adventure... so I can only imagine what he has in store!

Here's to a new month, a new country, a new continent, and a new season. 

 "It's gonna be wild, it's gonna be great, it's gonna be full of Me!"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


My bags are packed.  It's time to move on once again, not only to another country but onto another continent.  Usually about this time I start getting antsy to leave.  Usually, I am ready for the chance of pace and the excitement of a new adventure.

...but this month is very different.  

This month I can't help but think of all the people I am leaving behind.  This month I can't help but think about all the great and wonderful things that I will not have the opportunity be a part of.  This month I can't help but think of all the friends that will now be an ocean away.  This month it feels almost like leaving home again.

I think i've known for a long time that I had a heart for Africa, but that I just played it off as being the typical missionary place to go.  Then two months ago, I finally get here and after struggling through those months I was honestly kind of ready to leave.  Don't get me wrong, it had been a great experience, an irreplaceable experience... but one I was not really all that sad to see come to an end.  I had changed my mind about this Africa, I had decided it was not at all what I had expected, and again just thought that I had bought into the cliche of being a missionary here.

Then God brought me to Cape Town.

I never would have realized that in 18 days I would be able to feel like part of a community.  That I would develop lasting relationships.  That I would have such a yearning and a desire to see the hope of these people become reality.  Something about this place has definitely stolen my heart and I can't wait to see what exactly God has planned.  

"Where you lead me... I will follow."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stolen Heart

Cape Town has officially stolen my heart.  
Not only is it one of the most beautiful places in the world, the people here are absolutely incredible.  Cape Town is this crazy and wonderful mix of civilized culture meets traditional Africa.  
This month we have been hugely blessed.  My team and I have been working with an American couple, Andy & Leigh Myers (  Andy, Leigh, and their beautiful daughter Norah moved here from Vermont just about 7 months ago.  They both have a huge passion for the youth here in Cape Town, and have been working largely through an organization called Africa Jam.  The focus of this organization is to serve high-school age youth in some of the most economically disadvantaged townships in South Africa's Cape region. Young people in these areas regularly encounter violence, hunger, drug use, sexual temptation and the perils of HIV/AIDS and need help building self-esteem, developing life skills, and establishing a promising future.

Andy & Leigh have an intense passion for these teenagers.  They dedicate a huge amount of their time just hanging out with these kids, loving on them, and exposing them to real family.  One township that has really stolen their hearts is Khayelitsha.  Just for some background information, Khayelitsha is reputed to be one of the largest and fastest growing townships in South Africa, housing at least 500,000 black African residents.  This township was established in the 80's, during the apartheid when a large number of people were forcefully relocated to the outskirts of Cape Town.  Many houses in Khayelitsha are made up of nothing more than scrap metal.  Poverty has largely infiltrated this community.  But, hidden in this community are lights.  Hidden in this community are beautiful, God seeking, passionate teenagers and young adults with hearts that truly beat for our Lord.  
Those of you that know me know that I have a passion for this type of population.  God has richly, richly blessed my life.  God has showered me with love, with grace, and with a huge amount of stability... and I truly believe He has done so in order for me to be that for other people.  During the race, God has only intensified and expanded my love for this population, and this month I have definitely gotten the opportunity to extend that love.  This month I have been able to stand along side these precious, amazingly talented, beautiful children of God.  I have been able to sit and listen to their life stories, I have been able to spend time in intense worship with them (and trust me, they know how to rock out for Jesus!), and I have been able to join with them in prayer, allowing them to reclaim their identity in Christ and as a generation of world changers.  
Cape Town has stolen my heart.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Love of a Grandfather

Today I feel the need to be a little bit nostalgic.  This past Wednesday, a wonderful man in my life, my grandad, went home to be with Jesus.  I write this blog with tears in my eyes.  Tears of sadness, but also tears of joy.  Tears because I will certainly miss this man, tears because I never got to say an official goodbye, tears because I didn't get in that one last hug... but also tears that celebrate his life, tears that rejoice in the amazing man that he was, and tears of joy as I picture him skipping (yes, skipping) happily along through those pearly gates.
It one of those times when I wish everyone I knew had met my grandad.  I wish that everyone I knew would have been able to sit and enjoy the blessings and the wisdom of this man the way that I did.  Words just don't seem to be enough to really share what he  has meant to my life.
As a small child, we spent a couple days a week at my grandparents house. I remember running up to the door each time, ready and excited for the day, knowing I would be completely and utterly spoiled!  Mamaw and Grandad's house was the best. no contest.  During those days, we would spend the morning with my grandma but I remember eagerly awaiting for my grandpa to get home from work.  I remember climbing up into his lap in his big, comfy recliner and watching whatever sporting event was on tv.  I remember the comfort and peace that was brought about just by hanging out with Grandad.

Even at 24 years old, every time I walk into my grandparents house I give my Mamaw a big hug and then walk straight to my Grandad's chair.  Even at 24 years old, he let me squeeze into the chair beside him.  Even at 24 years old, he let me climb up beside him and just sit.  We didn't always exchange many words, but he would always hold my hand and continue to rock back and forth, simply allowing me to be a kid just hanging out with my grandpa.
Not only did this man in my life exemplify what it means to be a wonderful grandfather, he was also an extraordinary father, husband, and man of God.  It's from my grandpa that my own father learned what it means to be a gentleman, what it means to be unselfish, and what it means to truly take care of your family.  Even at 81 years old, my grandad always opened the door for my grandma.  At 81 years old, he still got up and went to work every single day, always wanting to be able to personally provide for his family.  I even distinctly remember that at every meal we would eat my grandpa always made sure everyone else had food on their plates before he would fill his own.  My grandad was a true gentleman in every form of the word.
I sat down yesterday and made a list in my head of all the wonderful things I wanted to remember about my grandad.... I want to remember how big he would smile when we would banter back and forth.  I want to remember that how by the end of the day, he always managed to have at least one small stain on his shirt from something he had eaten.  I want to remember how he could never find his own reading glasses and would 
resort to wearing my grandma's instead.  I want to remember how proud he was off all his grandchildren, and how excited he was to hang new pictures of us in his office at work.  I want to remember how every Christmas he would suggest that we open gifts starting with the oldest first.  I want to remember how sometimes he would get so comfy in his big chair that it would take him three good rocks back and forth to get up.  I want to remember how much he loved the Arkansas Razorbacks and could talk about them all day.  I want to remember the look of admiration he would always give my dad, acknowledging just how proud he was of him.  I want to remember how he didn't have to say many words, and yet you knew that this man truly adored his family.

I distinctly remember when my grandpa found out that I was leaving for the race.  I think for a couple weeks straight he would call my dad up every day and ask him if he was sure this was something I wanted to do.  He was worried, as many parents and grandparents are, but soon enough he understood the importance of this trip in my life.  The last memory I actually have of my grandad is when we went out to eat with the family the day before I left.  As I hugged him and my grandma with tears in my eyes, I remember him saying to me "I'm really proud of what you are doing."  Even at 24 years old, those words spoke straight to my heart.
My grandpa was an absolutely wonderful man, and while I will miss him deeply... I choose to rejoice.  I choose to celebrate the fact that he lived 81 beautiful years of life.  I choose to celebrate that fact that for those 81 years he was surrounded by family and friends that loved and adored him.  I choose to celebrate that his life was one of greatness, one of success, and one of joy.  I choose to celebrate that his life here was only a small glimpse of the life he now gets to live for eternity.  I choose to celebrate the fact that one day my grandad and I will be united again, that one day he and I will walk along streets of gold, that one day he and I will dance together around a heavenly throne!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

5-4-3-2-1 BUNGEE!!

As most of you know by now, my team and I had the opportunity to visit Victoria Falls this past month in Zambia.  Upon researching the Falls, we found out that they just happened to have the world's third highest bungee jump!  If you know me at all, you know this is something I would not be able to pass up.  The opportunity to swan dive off a bridge at one of the most beautiful places in the world... what's not to like?  :)

When you are standing in line to bungee jump, a lot of things tend to run through your mind.  You try to process all the aspects of the jump, even though there is no way you can accurately feel what is about to happen.  In fact, the preparation for the jump is the fun part... it's when you waddle to the edge and hang your toes over that it gets scary.

As I was standing there waiting for my turn, I realized bungee jumping can actually be a lot like our walk with Christ.  Kind of a funny analogy, I know.  From the line, this lifestyle looks fun, it looks adventurous, and it looks exciting.  We like the idea of the challenge and the adrenaline of something new.  We stand in line, we even gear up, but its when we get to the edge that we are finally faced with fear.  The fear of failure, the fear of inadequacy, the fear of losing everything, the fear of losing control.  When we get to the edge, we realize that in order to take the plunge we have to completely and totally trust and rely on something greater than us to catch us, to save us, and to protect us.  

So instead of jumping, many times we stay in line.  We keep the harness on, and we think about walking forward... but we can't quite make the commitment.  We can't officially let go.

It's time to take the plunge.  It's time to stop just looking the part.  It's time to hang your toes over, take a deep breath, and finally jump.  God's ready.  :)
Bungee Jumping Video