Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sacrificial Giving

The last couple of months I’ve been thinking a lot about giving, and more specifically what sacrificial giving looks like. As an American, I have a lot of “stuff.” Some of it is more valuable than others, but none of it has eternal value. In the end, what I have on this earth is going to make absolutely no difference to anyone, so why don’t I always live like it?

My junior year of college, I stayed on skid row at the Union Rescue Mission for a week. Each afternoon I spent time helping with their program for homeless children who were staying at the mission. At the time, I had a red rubber bracelet that had some cheesy Christian saying on it that I wore most of the time. I distinctly remember that while we were playing a soccer game with the kids, a little boy, Junior, came up to me and asked me if he could have my bracelet, and I actually had to think about it before I said yes. Granted, it was only a couple seconds before I gladly gave it to him, but it really made me sad that I would even have to think before giving this kid, who had close to nothing, a stupid rubber bracelet. At this point, I determined that I never wanted to be stingy in my giving, but instead to be generous but also wise with both my money and my possessions.

Fast forward to the present…I was really excited when I found out that our Sunday school class had adopted a needy family in town. For about five days, I spent a lot of time in prayer trying to determine the amount that I should give. Since Friday was payday, I decided that I would give half of whatever my paycheck was to this family. It seemed to be a practical way I could live out a biblical command (Matt. 22:39), that if I was loving this family as I loved myself, I would give as much money to them as I kept for myself. So Sunday rolls around, I give my money and go on with life. The next week I realize that my student loan payment, my credit card bill, and my car payment were all due within two days of each other. One of my first thoughts was “if I could have deposited my whole paycheck into my checking account, I wouldn’t have to shuffle my money around.” As I thought about it more I was really convicted, and I realized that although I might have the concept down of actually giving money, that I gave without expecting to live any differently because of it. And it wasn’t even that I didn’t have the money, just that I had to move it around from different banks.

Since the Go Conference, I’ve also been thinking and praying about how much to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering this year. I pray that the Lord has changed my attitude, and that He will allow me to give with the right attitude. I think that I’m a little more prepared this time. I want to give more than I have in the past and I pray that it does stretch me.

I want to have to live differently and to give up some material things because of how I give to the church, to missions and to others, and I want to do it so that God gets the glory and to further His kingdom here on earth. I pray that I would not get caught up spending my money on trivial things, but that I would spend my money thinking about the fact that my treasure is not on earth, but in heaven.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What now?

As many of you know, after graduation I was planning on working full-time at camp through the summer, and then going to Zambia, Africa to a place called Koinonia Village in January. It seemed like God had opened all the doors necessary, and it was so perfect because I would not only get to go to Africa, but also help with one of the things I love most, camp! Once I was done with summer staff, I talked to my boss Dave, and he said that the trip was on hold because the missionaries we were going to work with decided to come home. Needless to say, I was disappointed, but it was clear that it was not God’s will, since everything that had worked out so perfectly was no longer an option.

Since then I moved home, back to Missouri. I’ve spent a lot of time praying and seeking the Lord’s will about the whole situation. I looked into going to Africa with other organizations a little bit, but at this point I haven’t felt led to further pursue those options.

My pastor at FBBC, Micah Fries, said something today that really resonated with me in thinking through the situation. He said,

“God is not interested in us trying to figure out the details, He is interested in our obedience.”
Maybe the Lord just used this process to get me to a point of full obedience, to the point that I am completely willing to go to a foreign country to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to those who have not heard. I hope and pray that I will be obedient to whatever He asks, whether it is to stay here in MO and to be content with the ministry He has given me here, or whether I’m called to go to Africa, or anywhere else on earth.

Another neat thing that comes from staying here, is that often when I explain to people that I was planning on going to Africa, they ask me why I wanted to go. This gives me the perfect opportunity to talk with people about Jesus Christ and to share the gospel with them.

It is fun to think about all the ways that God can use me if I am content with where I am now and if I am creative in coming up with ways that I can help with missions wherever I am. Maybe the younger girls that I spend time with will be impacted by my passion for Africa and one of them will go someday. Instead of buying all my Christmas gifts from the mall, I’ve found ministry websites that sell things that African women make to support themselves, and so through giving gifts I can help support those women. I can bathe the African people in prayer from anywhere in the world. I can save a portion of the money I make now, so that if my dream of adopting an African child someday becomes a reality, those funds will be available. I pray that the Lord will continue to help me be bold with my passion for Africa, and that He will help me not waste my time wishing I was there, but instead, figure out what I can do to be involved right now.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Homesick for Africa

This is part of something that I wrote last year, when in the midst of loads of homework, all I could think about was going to Africa so I just stopped working on my homework, and typed out my thoughts. A lot has changed since then, but my passion for the African people remains.


Can you be homesick for a place you’ve never been? If so, I think I’m homesick for Africa. I want to go there, and learn from them.

Sometimes it’s all I can think about. At work, at church, at chapel, in class, in my room, in the cafeteria, there’s almost nowhere I go that I don’t think about it. At times I think I’m crazy for longing so strongly for a place that I’ve never been, but I know that the Lord has put that desire in my heart for a reason, I’m not sure why yet, but I know that nothing He does is without a purpose. Whether He allows me to go or not, I know that His sovereign plan is perfect.

A year and a half ago when I was home for Christmas break, I remember my mom asking me if I thought I would ever be interested in going to do mission work overseas. I told her flat out no. I had no intentions of going to another country, and that I felt my ministry would be here in the United States. Now if you asked me that same question, I would give you the exact opposite answer just as quickly as I said no before.

Some people tell me how it may seem glamorous now, but that when I get there I will realize how horrible it is and will hate it. They remind me of things such as snakes, huge bugs, mosquitoes, malaria, rats, sleeping on a dirt floor, no bathrooms, nasty food, etc. But I don’t think those things really matter to me – and I pray that the Lord continues to give me the grace to have that attitude. The American culture, the church included, is so caught up in living the American dream. They want to have a lucrative job that will impress their friends, drive a Lexus SUV, own a multi-million dollar home, have 1.5 kids and of course the newest high-definition TV, blackberry, computer, iPod, gaming system or whatever. Scripture says that life is a vapor and I don’t want to spend my “vapor” focusing on these things instead of on making an eternal impact in the lives of others, even if it does cost me my comfort. In the big picture, my temporary comfort is a small sacrifice in exchange for doing God’s will. I hope that I never value the things of this earth more than I value heavenly things.

I’m afraid of what will happen if the Lord does give me an opportunity to go. I know that if I go, I will not be the same person when I come back. At a village or orphanage I would find some child that I would fall in love with, and then I would have to leave…and they would stay. A chunk of my heart will be left there, but maybe that’s not all bad. In fact, maybe it is good.

Many times this semester I have laid on my bed and cried. The tears just pour down my cheeks. I have a picture hanging up on my wall of a little African child my friend Beckie calls Nemo. When I look at his sweet face, I’m reminded of the thousands of other children there who are growing up without the Lord, without families, without food, and missing out on a childhood because they are raising their little brothers and sister…and my heart breaks.

Maybe someday…

Monday, November 17, 2008


Well, a couple weeks back Candace tagged me to do this top five list. It is actually very appropriate, because not only is it a list of top fives, but it is also my fifth blog post on this blog! Here you go Candace :)

Things under $5 I couldn't live without...
- Moisture therapy chapstick
- Hand lotion
- Spray and Wash stain stick
- Toothbrush
- Ponytail holders

Most recently watched...
- Quantum of Solace
- Dan in Real Life
- The Office
- Leatherheads
- Ratatouille

Songs I could listen to over and over again...
- Jesus I My Cross Have Taken
- Let Us Adore Him
- Grace Unmeasured
- Wonderful Merciful Savior
- Inside Out...and probably at least 100 more haha

People who have influenced my life in a positive way...
- My parents
- Doc (Dr. Halstead)
- Mrs. Hotton
- The Hardwicke Family
- TC and Rosie Riley

Things that are always in my purse...
- Wallet
- Chapstick and lotion (refer to question one!)
- Sunglasses
- Keys (when I'm not locking them in my car)
- Pen

Moments that changed my life...
- Accepting Christ at 6 years old
- Glen Eyrie Family Conference when I was 13
- Summit 2004
- Starting TMC in 2005
- The Tatlock's adoption process

Obsessions I currently have...
- Africa
- Peppermint Mocha
- Making lists (ok, so I think instead of current, this is actually more a life obsession)
- Cleaning
- Peanut butter

Appliances and kitchen tools I can't live without...
- Cutco cheese knife
- Bosch electric mixer
- Dishwasher
- Crock pot
- Tea maker

Places I would like to go...
- Africa
- Washington DC
- Ireland
- Colorado
- North Carolina

People I who I would like to see their top fives:
- Beckie Woodfield
- Tracy Fries
- Katie Abbott
- Rachel Wilson
- Corine Thomas

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Summer in a Nutshell

Well, summer is officially over and I’m about to go home for three months. The summer was full of ups and downs, but overall I think that things went pretty smoothly, and I was definitely stretched in a good way. Maybe I'll expand on these some in the future but if not, here is my summer in a nutshell...
Here are a few highlights of the summer –
  • Making new friends and building relationships with both the new and returning summer staff.
  • Surfing with Dave and actually being able to stand up!
  • Rescuing Micah’s goldfish from the milk that he poured into the fish bowl.
  • Kayaking for the first time – we started out from Santa Cruz harbor and then paddled out past the boardwalk and the wharf.
  • Hanging out in San Francisco with Jeffrey and Keegan.
  • Using a nail gun (check that one off the bucket list!)
  • Helping and watching the cave and pyramid evolve into the awesome set that we used for our programs.
  • Getting to go shopping for program stuff including a trip to my favorite store, Toys R Us.
  • Getting to be in Rachel and Seth’s wedding in WV in July and the roadtrip out with my mom.
  • Watching Simon (who is from England) learn how to drive an automatic on the opposite side of the road in the middle of San Francisco.
  • Snipe hunting - sorry guys :)
  • Realizing I know the road well enough I can easily drive up the canyon without my brights on.
  • Reading through Spiritual Leadership again.
  • Working on the ropes course which allowed me to have more interaction with the campers.
  • Beckie, Erica and the Burton’s coming up to visit.
  • Going to the lake and hanging out with church friends on the boat, and attempting to wakeboard for the first time.
  • Getting permission to drive the golf cart - finally!
  • Getting rescue certified for the ropes courses.
  • Hanging out in the library parking lot mooching off the wireless internet.
  • Finding out that the coffee shop at the bottom of the hill has free wireless internet (hence this post)!
These are some things I’ve been thinking about lately
  • At the college and career Bible study, we’ve been going through Proverbs. A couple of weeks ago it was about money and they asked “if money was not an issue what would you buy?” All I could think of was a time last semester where I had realized and written that I want to live simply and never be slave to my possessions. I think part of this stems from Midwest culture as opposed to the California culture I’ve been living in for the last three years, but maybe it’s more my personality. I also wonder if this gets harder as you get older and acquire more stuff? I guess I’ll find out!
  • This weekend a couple was asking me about the fire and every time I talk about it I am reminded of God’s grace, protection, and His faithfulness, but I don’t remember and think about it nearly as much as I should.
  • This is the first time I’ve been here long enough that I forget how beautiful it is here and I don’t like it.
  • Finding a biblically solid and healthy church is difficult, and I realize that there will never be a perfect church, but how much imperfection is ok and at what point do you decide that moving on to a different church may be best?
  • We went to Vintage Faith Sunday night and Dan Kimball preached on spiritual gifts. There were a couple of points he made that really impressed me. First, I liked that he pointed out that just because you think your strongest "gift" is not evangelism, it doesn’t mean that it removes your responsibility to share the gospel. And not just the gift of evangelism, but in other areas too where there is a need and you can meet it even though it might not be your main spiritual gift. The second point that I liked a lot was that he explained how a pastor or shepherd is not just the person who gets up and preaches on Sunday mornings, but that a pastor is someone who intimately knows and teaches a smaller group of people. In a large church there is no way that the head pastor can know each person in his congregation deeply, so this is where others step up and lead a smaller group, get to know them and become their shepherd. I think this is a biblical concept that many churches are missing today.  So often we put it on the head pastor to shepherd the whole church, but that's why we need to be involved in a smaller community of believers, and why going it alone just produces bitterness toward the church.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Fire Update

Things are looking a lot better today. The fire continues to have a growing percentage of containment, and right now it appears that the Koinonia will be fine. Dave went up last night to check it, and said that the main problems will be smoke and all the debris that fell onto the grounds. Dave seems really optimistic and was talking this morning about the possibility that we would still be able to have the outdoor school come next week.

A friend and I were talking about a week ago about how being a witness to others, does not just mean preaching the gospel to them. Our biggest witness often comes through relationships and our love for others. When we sacrificially love others and take opportunities to meet their physical needs, this lays a foundation that is needed to further share the gospel. John 13:35 says “by this all men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” It is my prayer that we will do this at Koinonia in the months to come. The Lord has been gracious in sparing the area right around camp, but other areas in our community were not so fortunate. Please pray that we will be examples of Christ’s love through our love for others in our community, and that we would have opportunities to help those who have lost their homes or had other damage in any way that they need it. This could be an awesome opportunity for us to come alongside our unsaved neighbors and be a light for Christ through our love for them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Different Type of Camp Fire

This morning a fire broke out in the mountains near the camp I am working at this summer. We evacuated 180 kids around 9:00 this morning and then waited until we were told by the firemen that we needed to evacuate around 11:00. Right now, there are over 500 firefighters working on putting out the fire but because of the high winds, it is still 0% contained. Over 3,000 acres are burned and they are now saying on the news that it is very possible that the number could rise to 10,000 acres. The last update we got, the fire was about 1.5-2 miles from Koinonia, but at that point the camp and Dave’s house were safe. One of the board members said that because of the direction of the wind, unfortunately camp is in the direction that the fire is heading. We were supposed to have Memorial Day Family Camp this weekend, but unfortunately it isn’t going to happen. Some people at Twin Lakes Church arranged for all of the camp staff to stay at a local resort, so we are all safe and God was gracious in allowing us to have a smooth evacuation process, and that all of the campers and staff are safe. Please pray that God would protect all of the people working to fight the fires, and that as many homes as possible would be saved. Also, pray that Koinonia would not suffer much damage from the fires and that the summer programs will be able to go on as planned.  Most of all, pray that through this trial God would be glorified.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Back to Blogging

It's official, I'm starting a new blog! I don't promise any great words of wisdom, and I'm definitely not going to write each detail of every day in my life, but I do hope that through my words on this blog, that I will give testimony to God, and that above any other purpose this blog may serve, that it would bring glory and honor to Christ.

The title of my blog comes from one of my favorite books, When God Writes Your Life Story. It is a simple book to read, but has some deep insights and is very challenging. The book explains the Christian life as an endless frontier. Eric Ludy says,

"We get one step ahead of the culture and then, for some strange reason, stop all forward movement. The majority of us may be one step ahead of the world when it comes to purity, spiritual disciplines, knowledge of Scripture, and understanding the problems of society. But what if being one step ahead of the world is ten thousand steps behind where God desires to take us?

Unfortunately, today's Christianity breeds settlers rather than pioneers. It has bred men and women who no longer comb the wilds of God's grace. And it's time we realize that knowing Christ is an endless frontier - a frontier into which we have taken but one measly step."
It is my desire that this blog will be an encouragement to others to continue traveling the journey into the endless frontier.