Friday, March 8, 2013

Moldova 2013!

Dear Friends and Family,

Each year as I sit down to write what would be the ‘traditional missions support letter,’ I reflect on what God has done and is continuing to do in my life, and I am humbled and astounded by His sovereignty and faithfulness!  I am so grateful for how He pursues each of us and leads us on our own unique path.  As I prepare for my seventh trip since 2009, my heart bursts with joy and awe – I never would have dreamed the Lord would lead me around the world like He has! 

This June, I am leading a team of 9 people to Moldova, a small country in Eastern Europe.  Moldova is surrounded by Ukraine on the north, south, and eastern borders, and Romania on the west.  It is the poorest country in Europe and is plagued by the problems generally associated with that area of the world.  Our team will lead an English Kids Camp for the children of God’s Design Church and the capital city of Chisinau.  English is an incredibly advantageous skill to have which provides us a great opportunity to invest in and love on the kids attending the camp!  “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:15

Many of you may wonder about Kenya – my heart is for my Kenyan friends, however it does not look like I will be able to travel to Africa this summer.  I am currently earning an endorsement with Fulton County Schools to become a Talented and Gifted teacher, which the last classes of the program fall during the time the education committee would travel to Kenya (late May/early June). However, a trip later in the year is not off the table!  If you are interested in learning more about sponsoring a precious child for a little more than $1 a day and changing the destructive cycle of poverty in Dandora, visit our website or please let me know!  I’d love to connect 25 children with sponsors this spring! 

With a servant heart, I am prayerfully preparing for my trip to Moldova! Please join me in taking part in God’s story around the globe and partner with me through prayer and/or financial support.  By God’s grace and generosity of donors, over half of my fundraising goal has already been met!  The remaining amount to raise is $1,400 by April 1.  If you feel led to give, please donate online here:

Most importantly, I am in need of prayers to serve, love, and give freely to the Lord's people around the world.  I am nothing without Him and His guidance, so please pray for eyes to see and ears to hear Him and His direction.

If anything about my journey intrigues you, I’d love to share more about what God is doing in Atlanta as well as all around the world.

Gratefully His,

Monday, January 14, 2013

For those who don't always get your calling

I loved this "She Seeks" weekly devotional from today.  Often, I find myself trying to justify the magnificent plan the Lord has for me to those who don't understand.  This is a great devotional on that subject!

When Those You Love Don't Get Your Calling}
confessions from a girl who has learned to love them anyway"

Who was that?" My friends exchanged glances as I clicked my cell phone shut. They walked in mid-conversation, and I'm sure what they heard was intriguing.
"My publicist," I said nonchalantly trying to downplay the fact I was a twenty-year-old college student with a book contract.
One of the girls snorted. When the other one shot her a look she sheepishly squeaked, "Oh. You're serious." There was an awkward pause. The ink was barely dry on my contract, but the uncomfortable affect it was having on some of my relationships was already sinking in.
As I've spent the last eight years navigating the balance between the two distinct parts of who I am (the fun-loving girl in your small group and the author of 10 published books) I've learned a few things that might be of help to those of you who are pounding the pavement and chasing your dreams.
1) It's possible to have close relationships with people who don't fully get who you are. The relationship between Christ and Peter is a perfect example of this. In Matthew 16:21-23 Jesus predicts His crucifixion. Peter's instant response is to proclaim he'd never let that happen. Obviously, Peter didn't understand the magnitude of what Christ came to accomplish.
2) It's possible to continue to love people who have hurt you in their ignorance. Peter's ignorant rant wasn't the end of their relationship or the closeness of it. In the very next chapter Christ invites Peter to be one of only three disciples to join Him on the Mount of Transfiguration. Christ was able to overlook Peter's inability to understand His mission and could see his genuine love.
3) It's possible to forgive those who never tried to understand. Christ's relationship with Peter was different. Peter knew that Christ was the Messiah - he just didn't know what that always entailed. He tried to understand. For the most part, Peter made a sincere effort. But there were others. Many stood in the crowd scoffing the day Christ hung on the cross. They never tried to understand Him or what He came to do. Instead, they labeled Him a lunatic and sentenced Him to death. These are the people of which Christ said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
You have a unique calling on your life that not everyone will understand. Some people will try to talk you out of pursuing it. A few will ignore any progress you make. Others will outright criticize it. In times like this you have to pray for grace and discernment — grace not to rip their heads off and discernment to know who is motivated by ignorant love and who is motivated by malice.
There will be times where you have to look the other way. At my wedding, my brother-in-law stood up for his best man speech and told people I wrote children's books (I don't). A few weeks ago I had coffee with a longtime friend and she looked at me and said, "What do you do all day, again?" Life is full of well-intentioned people who understand less about you than you wish they did.
It's also full of people like the guy I went on a date with in college who told me wanting to write books to teenage girls was a stupid life goal (dropped him fast). Or the woman who told me reaching teenage girls across the nation isn't really ministry since ministry only happens in the church (didn't stay at that church long).
As you work harder at fulfilling your God-given calling there will be plenty of awkward relationship moments. Learn not to major on the minors. Some things are worth laughing off (like my other brother-in-law telling me he uses my books for bathroom reading).
Love the well-intentioned but misinformed the way Christ loved Peter. Then go to God with those who outright hurt you and ask Him to give you a heart like His — a heart that can honestly cry Forgive them. They have no idea what they're doing.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Top 12 of 2012

My top twelve for 2012:

This year I...

-fell back in love with education, embarked on a new endorsement to teach in the gifted program, and won Medlock Bridge's "Fun Run" fundraiser
-floated in the Dead Sea
-worshipped the Lord from the Sea of Galilee, Mount of Beatitudes, and walked the streets of Jerusalem
-sipped champagne from the balcony of my hotel room in Paris and saw the Mona Lisa up close
-carried cinderblocks and rocks to build a pit latrine and guest house in Haiti
-walked with tears streaming down my face through "homes" in the slums of Dandora and added two more precious children to my sponsorship in Kenya
-memorized the Lord's prayer in Kiswahili and French
-savored turkish coffee in a Muslim holy man's home in Palestine
-prayed with my mother, stepfather, and pastor before she was baptized in the Atlantic Ocean, publicly professing her love for Jesus and His salvation in her
-painted faces, blew bubbles, kissed, cuddled, tickled, and loved on kids all over the world
-stood amazed at the splendor of the Grand Canyon
-traveled ~42,000 miles and embraced every moment

Thursday, December 20, 2012


"Speak Lord, your servant is listening."   What an amazing position to enter into.  Freely and continually, He pours into us, but how often are we truly, really listening?

Putting the middle east into (a concise amount of!) words has been harder than expected, but it is by far one of the coolest experiences of my life.  I experience such incredible heights in such a short amount of time.  I still have  visions of rich sunsets, the scent of Turkish coffee, and the smiles of kids juxtaposed the alarming noise coming from competing minarets that is a constant reminder of the 1.5 billion unreached Muslim people.

1/3 of the world does not know the truth simply because it is hard.  Hard to reach, hard to enter in, hard to gain trust.  But God, only God, continues to open doorways into the souls of His people around the world.  What an honor to be a small part in that vision!

This past trip was incredible for so many different reasons.  I love how God is constantly surprising us, and working in and on our hearts in the least expected ways.   It's no surprise the spiritual transformation that takes place on short-term mission trips, but still every single time it astounds me to see how much more God pours into me than I could ever serve in the role intended or into the supposed school/people/environment the trip is targeted to reach and invest.

I found myself grappling with stereotypes I didn't even know that I held about people that I had never served.  I delved into a culture I knew nothing about, and asked questions in the most honoring way I knew how.   How often would you imagine yourself getting ready for bed in the West Bank wishing, "I wish I had a good Muslim book to read!" (true story).  While so much has not been revealed, it is clear that God opened my eyes to my brothers and sisters on the other side of the world.  Never did I think I would have a connection with people so far from what I centered my life on - the one true God.

Our time in Palestine was replete with ah-ha moments and beautiful revelation of God's character - again such irony.

Biblically speaking, I gained so much perspective as I traveled through the lands of our Fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  From attending church in Bethlehem, driving through the Judean hills, hiking the Mount of Temptation, and walking through the lands where David wrote, "I look to the hills, where does my help come from?" each time I my heart rejoiced in such a gift to be able to see this amazing place.

Some of the places we went:
-Church of the Nativity
-part of Nehemiah's wall
-Israel's current wall

-Mount of Temptation
-Zaccheus' house
-Sycamore tree
-Herod's palace remains

Historical (vs. Biblical)
-Bet She'an
-Swimming, mud baths, and lunch on the Dead Sea

-Mount of Beautitudes
-Jesus Boat
-worshipping on the Sea of Galilee

Golan Heights

-walking through the Old City (both the Jewish and the Muslim quarters)
-praying at the Wailing Wall
-Garden of Gethesmane
-Caiphas' house
-villa dollarosa
-Walking where Jesus journeyed and where the people gathered to listen to his teaching
-Mount of Olives
-Nehemiah's wall
-eating dinner overlooking the city at the Legacy hotel

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to truly plant seeds.  It's such a freeing perspective to know that I don't have to save the world and that I am not called to convert everyone I meet because we have a perfect savior that already did.  Part of His gift is allowing us to be a part of His redemption story.  And for this, I am grateful.  I saw beauty, experienced friendship, adventure, grace, brotherhood and confirmed my true dependence on God.


You can read the same verse, quote or book a million times, and it never hits you the same twice.  I've heard the quote, "We can never be satisfied with existence once we've tasted purpose" so many times, but tonight it hit me differently.  

In reflecting on 2012 and praying about 2013, I've continued to ask God what and where next?  I have dreams of orphanages and schools across Africa, a full-time ministry position, and a big family in the big picture, but ask with expectation for the Lord to lead me into the next year, one fully-dependent on the next.  I don't want to direct my own steps or ask Him to bless my plan.  I want to listen. I want to soak in His presence and hear Him in ways that only a father can relate to His daughter through true intimacy.  And with great faithfulness, He reveals the next small step.  I stare and listen with wide eyes, open ears and a willing heart.  The scripture I've been pouring over centered around release of self and submission to Him:  "Here I am Lord, send me!" (Isaiah 6:8) and "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word," (Like 1:38).  

This year has been one of great beauty and growth.  I've fallen in love with my career again.  I've battled boundaries in and out of work.  I've risked a lot for the Lord's will.  I've seen more places then I ever dreamed.  I've spoken more truth and honestly sought truth in order to grow.  I've had hard conversations.  I've also had some of the most encouraging, engaging conversations of my life.  I've entered into new friendships and honored those that have paved the way.  I witnessed the most enriching relationship begin to unfold:  my mother entered into the most significant relationship ever with the lover and pursuer of our souls.  I've seen things I wished I hadn't and walked alongside friends on the other side of the world who face great challenges each day, far beyond my typical struggles.  Can't decide what to wear? A student didn't do their homework? My sweet mother is calling again?! Why is it taking so long to get to work.  Will I have time to go to the gym between A, B, and C?  Then I think for a moment, I am woman with civil freedoms beyond all compare, educated with an amazing career - a privilege and a calling.  I drive in my car, along safe roads, with no real imminent threat to my life.  I live with so much freedom and opportunity.  I find myself thankful for perspective and quite frankly annoyed at my own forgetfulness and selfishness amid a Western world.  It is then that I am reminded that I am loved with an eternal love but a Perfect One who is sufficient at all times, faithful in all things, and somehow still loves me beyond all compare.   

I thank the Lord for it all.  For what He has taught me, what He is doing, and for allowing me a small part in His grand story of redemption and love.  I thank Him for my friends in Palestine, Kenya, and Haiti - for each of them so humbly and generously opening their hearts to me.  For teaching me and giving me a small taste of His purpose.  For opening my eyes through their stories.  I thank the Lord for the fun - NYC, the Grand Canyon, the mountain retreats, the lake weekends, trips to Florida, a Chicago reunion, a lavish trip Paris and a whirlwind time in Israel.  For a little girl in a big world, I am certainly being chauffeured around by the best tour guide ever - our Creator!  

I fail often, fall short, and forget the radical grace bestowed upon me everyday.  But this life is a journey and a gift I am willing to share.  Follow along as He reveals my journey piece by piece.

How are you reflecting on 2012?  What are you doing to intentionally seek His plan and listen to be able to discern His will?  Are you willing to listen?  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Preparing for Israel!

Hi friends!  As I prepare for our trip to Israel, I want to say thank you for your encouragement and prayer!  I know for some, your initial instinct still brings fear and worry.  By God's grace, I am not worried whatsoever.  I have complete and total trust in the Lord for this trip.  Each time a fear crosses your mind, please turn this into a prayer... let God transform you from a worrier to warrior!  As Paul tells us in Phillipians, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

While I am traveling, I will have access to email, but it is monitored by the Palestinian Authority.  Please do not mention the words missionary, missions, Muslim Outreach, conversion, etc.  Please also be mindful of anything you post on facebook as well.  Our trip is purely relational - we are going to continue to plant and nourish seeds of hope in the hearts of our Muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine.  It is not our mission to try to convert the people of Jericho.  Our only mission is to love extragantly and without boundaries.  "For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them." - 1 Cor 9:19.  and 2 Cor 12:15 have been guiding scripture, "I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?"  God's word assures me no!  "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another... God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit." 1 John 4:11-13. I will write more when I return, but for all intents and purposes now, I am a disciple of Christ traveling to tour the Holy sites Israel. 

Please cover us in prayer as we leave on Friday, Oct. 19th and return on Sunday, Oct. 28th.  Appropriate Gator-related emails are encouraged.  :) 

Be blessed, bold, and covered in truth and grace! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Yall know me best, and yall know my deepest desire is for my family to know and embrace the perfect Love of Christ.  I battled, begged, and finally gave their salvation back to Him last summer.  I had to let go - Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, would draw them in.  I knew my Jesus was big enough.  I've prayed and trusted, and grown deeper in my relationship as I entrusted Him to draw them in.  I've cried and sought Him through the battle for their souls, finally resting in His timing. 

4 years (the exact same weekend!!!) after I accepted Christ, my sweet mamma, who yall have been praying for over the last 4 years, accepted Jesus into her heart!!!!!!!!!!!  I cannot praise Him, His perfect timing, or His word enough!!!!!!  God has been so active in our lives lately, and it's been beautiful to hear my mom bring up God, to recognize His presence, to be seriously excited for me to go to Israel...  She mentioned that God has been present, we just had no one to teach us.  She also mentioned that as she was wishing our little church at home had Starting Point, then realized 14 new life groups are starting right now.  So Cindi is going to bible study tomorrow morning. On her own.  Without my prodding.  She's facing her fears and trusting in the Almighty.  The best part was she said, "I used to want this to be closer to you, but now I want this for me."  My mom WANTS Jesus, desires Him and His word, and wants to understand.  She came to Christ through James 5 on Sunday.  So here is the praise - another soul saved!  I'm so overwhelmed with joy, peace, and His love.  Thank you for praying. Thank you for encouraging me, and reminding me during the times I forgot.  And finally, thank you for celebrating this with me. Please pray that the enemy's lies would be blocked from her ears and heart, that she would be encouraged, and that she continues to seek God in ways that are relevant and meaningful to her. 

Oh, and another praise:  my dad received his biopsies back today - he is cancer-free as well!! 

The Lord is always good, but today, I feel like His favorite.  Thank you God for all that you do.  May your name be exalted!!!!

Wrapped in His Perfect Embrace,