Wednesday, December 11, 2013

128 Days, 16 Different Beds, and 10 Families Later...

Here's some pictures to catch you up on what's been going on

This is just a few of our kids in Fayetteville, GA. We all huddled up and shared stories before going into worship time.

A blurry memory of my good friends Karis and Trysta at our team Christmas party.

This is just a little snapshot of all the snow that was falling the day before Thanksgiving. We were in North Carolina and had a nice relaxing holiday together as a team.

My mom wishing me a happy birthday on FaceTime a few weeks ago.

This is the only coffee shop near the church we were in during our summit in Princeton, Kentucky last week. We loved going, it was very unique.

Every once in awhile Zac will give the kids a lesson on life sayings.

My roommate and I took the privilege of moving our host families "Elf on the Shelf" one early morning

This is my dear friend Austin. He's leaving for bootcamp to be a Marine and I won't be able to see him for a long time. Being able to travel with him for the past year and a half has been a blessing not only to me but the whole team. He's one of the most humble and loyal people I know and he will be greatly missed! 

If you're like me and you come from a background of warm weather where the sun is so hot it’s like an outdoor sauna.
Then you will not be able to relate to what I'm about to tell you.
When I first heard the rumors I was reluctant to believe them. I refused to listen or give into the fear.
Could this really be happening right now? Of all the times just a few days before we leave to go home for Christmas break. The weatherman had to say those two dreadful words that mean so much more than what it sounds like.

Ice storm…

An ice storm has the potential to wipe out all the electricity in the city, keep everyone from getting food, or anywhere for that matter. The last time an ice storm came to the city of Princeton everyone was out of electricity for three weeks. Fortunately, we never ran out of electricity but we did have to cancel three services due to weather. On Sunday morning my roommate and I were getting ready for service and just after I finished doing my hair and makeup (at six in the am) we get a text about morning service being cancelled. Needless to say we crawled back in bed and I slept until eleven that day.
On Sunday night however we finally had our last service and I had the privilege of being able to tell the kids about how Jesus died on the cross for us. Before I taught that night I made a quick post on Facebook asking for prayer and it made the biggest difference. Thank you so much for all who prayed for me!

The next day (Monday) we left from Kentucky to go to Michigan. There where twelve of us on the bus traveling together yesterday. We stopped for lunch at Subway and on our way back to the bus, as we were about to get on, there was shattered glass everywhere. Our bus had been broken into…
We all were immediately jolted with fear. As one by one people were stepping off the bus saying, “My Macbook was taken” and another, “My backpack is gone” I was scared to see if anything of mine was gone. I had chosen to sit in the far back of the bus and by the grace of God none of my stuff had been touched.
Altogether, three backpacks were stolen along with wallets, laptops, iPads, and other valuable things. Although everything that was taken is just stuff, what everyone was hurting most for was all of their memories. Thousands of pictures, videos, and even homework for some of them. What I hurt the most for is my friend who had her novels in her laptop. Year’s worth of work for her and its all gone.
You would be surprised by how the team handled this. With grace, nobody got mad and yelled. There was no fighting. Just a calm and disappointed spirit.
When the police came, they filed several reports and recorded what all had happened. But there was nothing else they could do. Even though something awful like that had just happened we still had four hours of driving before we would get to Michigan. So we cleaned up the glass and someone ran over to the liquor store and asked if we could have some cardboard to cover our broken door with. No sooner than later (three hours) we were driving on the highway with Vodka cardboard on the outside of our Life Action bus. For the last hour of our trip we all laughed and made jokes together about what had all happened. Yes, they were joking about it. They could cry, or whine, or decide to stay upset for a long time but instead they chose joy.

(Team member coming from the liquor store bringing the cardboard to cover up our broken door)

The best part of this story is that my friend Zac who is a diabetic had all of his medicine in his backpack. Whoever tried to take his backpack couldn’t get it through the small door and they had to leave it on the steps. Granted they took out his Macbook Pro. However, if Zac didn’t have his insulin he could have easily gotten blood poisoning before we could get to the camp and we would have had to take him to the hospital. Praise God.
(My friend Trysta and I snuggling up in a cabin at the camp the night before we went home for break)

So even though the Life Action Blue Team has had a rough start to our Christmas break, we know God is sovereign and continue to celebrate the holidays with joy.
I wish you a Merry Christmas.

It’s good to finally be home!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Home Is Where The Heart Heals

They will tell you that your second year in Life Action is easier than the first. In some ways it’s true… in other ways, this year has been really hard for me so far. I know that majority of the reasons can’t be helped. However, life’s circumstances get in the way and eventually you are dealing with a big mess. For instance, this past month has been a wreck and I can’t wait to get home. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love being here and teaching kids but right now Satan sucks and I’m ready to be back in Phoenix.

I’ll spare you my sob stories and fill you in on the good things that have happened recently…

This is the Hallmark Movie some of my team made. I told you I would share it but don’t forget it’s SUPPOSED to be ridiculously corny. That’s the whole point of the movie. We had fun making it so I hope you enjoy!


(In the beginning of the movie the girl finds out her husband has been missing in action for a long time and they finally declared him dead. So she is packing up to move back home with her parents)

I also bribed some guinea pigs into letting me take pictures of them while we were there. I was just itching to edit something and use my camera.
This is one of my favorites!

Not long after that it was time to leave Apex and we headed toward Fayetteville, GA where we are now! Which happens to be ten minutes from the Walking Dead TV set! My host family said they could take us there while we’re here, so I hope it works out. By us I mean all my roommates… All five of us girls have been staying together. My host family built their home specifically so that they could host missionaries periodically whenever someone needs a place to stay. So their generosity and kindness has spoken volumes to all of us girls. They are certainly an inspiration.

(Right before we left Apex)

(Hanging out in Starbucks and getting our holiday drinks)

This church has had smaller numbers as far as how many kids we’ve had in services. For Happy Heart City it’s been as low as two or three on the weeknights. Surprisingly low but we still teach and do everything as though we have fifty children. “Do everything with excellence” is something we continually strive for. Regardless of numbers the kids that do come we have had so much fun loving on them and teaching them about God’s Word!

This is our last full summit of the year before Christmas break. So when we finish here it will be Thanksgiving week and we’ll be going to Buladean like we did last year. Then going to another church in Princeton, KY for an eight day summit and I’ll finally be on my way home! I would and always do appreciate your prayers. They have seriously made an impact on my life and I’m incredibly grateful for that. In return if there is anything I can pray for you about feel free to leave a comment, message, or email me and I will be praying for you as well.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

North Carolina and the Hallmark Challenge...

Every church we go to we have a team activity to increase a bond between our team. For instance, we went to the beach at our last church, the church before that we played hide n seek (way more fun than I thought it would be).

This time our team activity was to make a Hallmark movie. We were divided into two teams and tonight we will watch the results of each teams hard work.

I cannot wait to show you how my teams turned out!

In other news, we are in Apex, North Carolina! Which happens to be a couple hours away from some family members that I have not seen since I was around eight years old. Gladly we found a day where we could meet for lunch and catch up. It was so nice to hear about all that they are doing and plan to do in the future. Unfortunately not everyone could be there but I got to see my great cousin and great aunt! It was truly a blessing!

Speaking of blessings... this church has had the most receptive kids I may have ever taught. They soak up the lessons and seem to completely understand how to apply it to their lives. One of the seemingly rare times that God lets you in on what he's teaching them.

Yesterday marked five years of marriage for my sister and her husband! I'm so happy for them and miss them very much. I miss my whole family very much. For those of you wondering I will be flying home December 10th! Just about 38 days away, but who's counting? I greatly look forward to being in my own room with familiar surroundings, people, and my own church that I miss very much!

A week from now we will be in Fayetteville, GA. Then spend thanksgiving in Tennessee like we did last year. One more church after that in Princeton, Kentucky, and I will finally be on my way back to Phoenix!

Until next time, you can see the most recent of things in my life on Instagram and Twitter!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stuart, Florida

Happy Heart City at Stuart Beach!

Stuart Florida has been sunny and warm.
But I'm so excited for that North Carolina fall weather! 

Don't get me wrong it's been great here. I've been to the beach a couple times and it was nice to get my feet wet. But this girl is ready to pull out her new sweaters, long sleeves, boots, long socks, scarves and all the goodness the comes with fall weather. Let's not forget coffee either. Lots and lots of coffee! 

We finished our third Sunday service Sunday night and wow, we are all amazed how its over already. But I'm not gonna lie, considering the first whole week I was here I spent laying in bed... I was ready to go a little sooner than normal. I was also really bummed out that I didn't even get to meet all the kids that came to Happy Heart City this summit. Still I have to rely on God's good and perfect will, knowing He knew I wouldn't meet them all, or teach all of my lessons, and so on. 

Sunday morning on my way into the church my roommie and I stopped at Starubucks for some coffee. I ordered my tall caramel machiatto like normal and when we arrived at the church my leader was still fighting a strong cold. She was supposed to be teaching that morning. However, I insisted she give me one of her lessons to teach that day because she also was supposed to teach that night. When you don't feel good you really don't want to do anything, and the idea of teaching all three lessons that day... well, you get it. 

So she asked me if I would teach that mornings lesson and as soon as we were done planning my co teachers and I ran to Starbucks as soon as we could. As you can guess knowing I had to teach and being as tired as I still was after my first cup... I ordered myself another tall drink and had downed it pretty fast. Believe it or not four shots of expresso in less than one hour did not work as fast as I thought it would. After a lot of prayer for the morning it was my turn to teach the lesson. I just want to give God praise for all of His help that morning. He was so gracious to keep the kids attention and to help me find the right words to say. Praying that all fifteen plus lessons we taught in the past two weeks will have made long lasting impacts on the kids as well as their parents.

Sometimes the hardest part about being in ministry is that you don't always see what God is doing in someones life. Or even sometimes the whole church. We may hear a story or two but God doesn't do the same thing in every place we minister too. There were a lot of people who said that  Life Action being in the church the past three weeks has been a blessing. That's pretty much all I've heard but I still praise God for it all. 

Bright and early on Thursday morning we will be all packed up and ready to go to Charleston, South Carolina for the night. Then the next day we will finally arrive in North Carolina.

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter to hear more about road life and whatever else I decide to post! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

From Missouri, to Florida!

After three long travel days, we arrived in Stuart, Florida! It is very beautiful here, and the church is right next to the ocean. How cool is that? There's also a Starbucks only five minutes from the church. Oh, how I've missed Pumpkin Spice Lattes.The Blue Team has some serious addictions to coffee but we especially love Starbucks. A lot of the team has gold cards and I'm working on getting one as well. So far I only have one star... but I hope to get a gold card by the end of the travel year.

The church here in Stuart, also has a private school that uses the same buildings. So they've asked us to run some of their chapels. During one of the mornings fifteen youth realized they didn't know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. One of the girls said she prayed a prayer when she was little. So our youth minister asked then why are you saying you need Jesus to save you. She replied, "All my life I've known about God, but I don't know God" That along with a couple of other stories there have been some miraculous changes!

If you haven't heard, I've been very sick for the past two weeks. I've seen a doctor and even the emergency room! That was an adventure. However, today I am feeling much better and the prayers of many have meant a lot! I hope to be able to go back to services and teach again soon!

Through two weeks of not feeling good at all and just laying in a bed, I keep asking myself,
"God, what are you trying to teach me?"

Well, today I believe I got my answer.

God has been convicting me of the words that come out of my mouth. Specifically in the area of complaining.

"Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining..."
Philippians 2:14 (AMP)

As you can guess, I'm very sick of being sick. I would like to be healthy enough to do everything again and eat what I want. That being said a lot of what comes out of my mouth are things to just complain about. Or even if I don't say them I'm thinking them. Every time I start to make a big deal of something God whispers in my ear, "Do all things without grumbling... and complaining..."

It's not easy and nobody's perfect. Yet, I definitely see my problem and I need Jesus to help me to be more grateful.

What are you grateful for today?

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus"
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Nets That Hold Me Down...

Last night I was reading in Psalms chapter twenty-five and as I read I realized something about myself. A lot of scripture has promises for certain types of people. For example, "He leads the humble in what is right..." or "Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit"
Usually whenever I read a verse like that I subconsciously think, "Well, I'm not humble enough yet to apply that to my life" or "One day when I'm finally righteous enough I'll receive that blessing" 

All those thoughts are entirely huge lies. Satan's convinced me that I'm not good enough to receive blessings from God's Word.

As I continued to read I came across verse fifteen. 
"My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net." 
That last part about God plucking me out of the net just stuck in my head so well, a light had come on for me.

I asked myself, "What are the nets in my life, that I need God to pluck me out of?"
So I wrote them down. 

1. The net of: Image
This is a huge battle for me as it is for a lot of people. Satan easily tempts me with the thoughts of, "you don't look bad but you definitely have some fat that you could get rid of. I mean look at her she looks good, you should probably try harder." thoughts like that, where I don't fully believe I look bad but thoughts that certainly don't make me feel great about myself.

Then i wrote down
2. The net of: minimum
I'm captured by the net of minimization. 
Minimizing what God is capable of as well as minimizing how much time I spend daily with God. 

and lastly I came to the third net in my life that often holds me down.
3. The net of: I'm not good enough. 
I can't accomplish any far fetched dream because I'm not good enough. Someone is always going to be better than me so I might as well give up. 
I'm not good enough for God's promises and will never be good enough of a person to receive those blessings. 

After I wrote down all those nets that have held me back for so long I went through Psalms twenty-five again. I read it out loud, and spoke all the truths, blessings, and promises over my life. What a huge difference it has made in my life. Knowing that I can apply ALL scripture to myself and believe what it says. 

So I challenge you, give it a try. Look up a passage, read it out loud, and put your name in the verses. You might be surprised by what comes out of your mouth and think, "Wow, that's true of me?" Then write down the nets that Satan has thrown at you. What are the nets he deceives you with and have been holding you down? Let me know how it goes! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Staff Training, Changes, and Celebrations!

First and foremost I would like to acknowledge the one year anniversary of
The Not-So-Secret-Life
Its officially been a year of sharing stories of my travels, where God has taken me personally in my walk with Him as well as seeing others lives changed! The date the not-so-secret-life blog launched was on July 27th, 2012. I was preparing for my first year in Life Action and wanted a way I could connect with my supporters, friends, and family while I was gone. Thank you all so much for your support through prayers, donations, and encouragement! Anytime I'm back home and someone tells me they read my blog it means so much to hear. Knowing people are taking the time to read it as well as informing me that they enjoy it, has been incredible. So thank you readers, here comes another year!

While we were at camp several team members realized they were baptized before they were even actual children of God or some not at all. So it was a very cool experience to see so many people proclaim their love for Jesus in a great way together. 

This is my friend Kendra. She is my fearless leader in Happy Heart City! 

Had a great time catching up with my good friend Donna!

Blue Team girls movie night!

Blue Team newbie, Christy. 

My friend Ryan (on the White Team) and I pretending to be bad helpers as an example of what NOT to do in kids clubs. So much fun!

My B E A UTIFUL new closet on our new truck! I have one less suitcase this year thanks to my closet! 

A view of Life Action's Camp property.

As you can see training camp was a blast and "short" five weeks in Buchanan, Michigan. When I arrived at the camp I literally felt like I was home! The relationships God has given me in this ministry are incredible. Choosing to obey God by joining this ministry has never been so rewarding. During the first week of training we had our annual, “Revival Week” now known as, “Seek Week”. As we train to bring revival into the churches, Seek Week is a great time for us to experience personal revival. This year God brought to my attention how my personal quiet time had been gradually declining in intimacy. Slowly it had grown into just a few minutes before I went to bed. I would read a verse or two, sometimes without even knowing what they meant. Sometimes I would not even crack open my bible, because I knew I wouldn't take the time to understand it.

At the end of Seek Week, where everyone from Life Action headquarters is present, all three road teams etc. a lot of other important people and a full room with a live stream on the internet for other people to watch the service... They set aside a time at the end for testimonies of what God has done in your life during the past week. After watching several people go up to the stage and share what God had done in them...God was continually poking my heart, and making it beat so fast I couldn't ignore Him. He wanted me to get up in front of everyone and tell them all how I had been investing little to no time in the God at all. To the point of not even caring enough to want to change my current circumstance. BUT He is good and won't let me live like that forever. So, after getting continually poked... literally my friend was physically poking me to get out of my seat and get up to the stage. Well it worked and I confessed that I was where I was and didn't care until a few days prior.

That being said, I'm very grateful for God pulling me out of my lazy stage of life, that's so easy to get stuck in. I'm happy to say, my personal time with Jesus has grown since then. And if you are where I was, God wants to spend time with you. He's more sad that you aren't spending time with Him than He is mad. God is a jealous God, that made you fearfully and wonderfully. I will admit that after I got in front of everyone I still struggled for awhile and still am trying to get back into a healthy habit. If you think of it, I would appreciate your prayers as I ask God to give me a heavy thirst for His Word, and that when I read it He will speak to me. 

Tonight I'm praising God for a great service. We are in our first church of the year in Dexter, Missouri and tonight I taught the kids what sin is. Sin is anything I think, I say, or I do, that displeases God. I give God the praise for making the words come out of my mouth with clarity in a way that I could not have done on my own. I'm very grateful anytime He gives me grace for a lesson... which is most of the time. I also praise Him for giving me the feeling of inadequacy to teach. It keeps my eyes on Jesus and reminds me that not only can I not teach on my own and that I need Him for everything.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13