Serving: {A Piece of My Story}

Today I’m sharing my testimony at our weekly community group, and I found this post buried deep in the archives of writing I’d begun and never finished. So I thought that in light of tonight, it would be fitting for me to share a piece of my testimony with you. This is just a piece, but it is an important one and I pray that you are challenged and blessed by it.

It was my first missions trip and I was so excited. Truth was washing my soul and opening my eyes to what it truly means to follow Jesus. And it was sometime during the long bus ride home that I made the list…





My heart had been opened and changed and somehow my 15-year-old self knew that my actions must follow if the change was to be real. So I wrote the list…things to do, habits to change, new ways to live.

And we couldn’t have been home for more than an hour before I had my list out and was showing it to my Mama. I knew I was rushing but I felt that I somehow had to, that I had to let someone know and start forward on my list before it got piled under a dusty stack of books on my nightstand and forgotten.

I know that there were almost ten things on the list, but the first few, the only ones that I knew I absolutely needed to do and the only ones I remember, were about service.

I had grown up in the church. I’d co-run the tiny nursery as a middle school girl and I’d helped my mom in Sunday school classes and I’d volunteered at Vacation Bible School, but this time it was me choosing to serve because I wanted to. Because I had seen the power of serving and I knew I needed to be doing it regularly.

I needed to be humbled and stretched and changed in the way that only serving others can do. And so those first few things on my list…

Join the youth group worship team.
Join the youth group student leadership team.
Join the youth group outreach team.

And I’ve never been the same…

Because taking the step to put Jesus as a priority changes and challenges you. And taking the step to pour back out from what is being poured into you by God changes and challenges you to an even greater level.

In my young and passionate heart, a desire had been ignited. I had seen the power of pouring out all that had been poured into me, of loving the way Jesus loved me, of serving the way Jesus served me…and I knew I needed to keep at it. I could not have put it in those terms at the time, but I felt a difference in my desire for God when I was serving, and I knew I needed to keep that desire burning.

I’ve never looked back.
The steps of faith have gotten larger. With each step the need for Jesus grows, and I’ve learned that you can’t grow your faith unless you first step into a place where you can’t do it on your own.

And that is why I need to continue to serve. Because in a place of serving, I encounter obstacles I can’t face well on my own…people I will be unloving towards, projects I will give up on, physical strength that I won’t have when I need it. And so serving is intentionally placing myself in situations that I will need God’s strength and His Spirit in order to make it through well.

I will never reach a place where I no longer need to serve.

My heart needs the wake up call that it’s not about me. My soul needs the tangible reminder that in need God’s strength in order to serve Him. My character needs to be built in the way that only self-sacrifice can provide. And my walk with God needs the intimacy that only obedience can bring.



Service is obedience, because we are commanded by God to serve one another. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was choosing obedience and that is why I saw the blessings pouring out as I served.

Be blessed

Simply Work: {Lessons learned in Mexico}

A week after we got back from our Mexico missions trip, I sat up in front of our church and used more than my allotted four to five minutes to share a bit about our trip to Mexico and what God taught me.
Each of the six adult team members had a chance to share a piece of the practical side of the trip and one thing God taught them. I got to share about the daily schedule of the orphanage and so I thought I’d share what I learned with you…


Growing up as the oldest of six kids, I learned that usually, the more people in a household, the more structure and routine needs to be built into the schedule to minimize stress and confusion. And an orphanage with 14 kids is no different.

The daily schedule looked something like this…

6:30 – Wake up
7:00 – Breakfast
7:30 – School aged kids walk to the bus stop
8:30 – Kindergarteners are Driven to School
8:30-12 – Cleaning the bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen, and floors, doing laundry, meal prep, etc. (male staff do work projects)
12 – Lunch
12:30 – Kindergarten pick up
12:30-3 – More cleaning and projects
3:15 – Walk to the bus stop to pick up school kids
3:30 – School kids arrive home
4-5:30 – Homework time
6:00ish – Dinner
6:30-8:00 – After dinner chores, board games, alternating shower nights, getting ready for bed, and simply hanging out
8:00ish – Bed time

The whole place really ran like one giant family. The care and attention and love given by the staff were incredible to watch.

But what really struck me throughout the trip was how hard they all worked. No one was afraid to roll up their sleeves and work hard at scrubbing toilets and mopping floors and doing dishes knowing that within hours everything would need cleaning again.





I tend to get so frustrated when the things I painstakingly clean get dirty again, yet in an orphanage with fourteen children and a large staff, nothing ever stays clean for long. And the staff never complained.

They did their work and they did it calmly and they did it well.

I couldn’t help by think of this verse…

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
Colossians 3:23-24

I came home from that trip humbled by an up close example of what it looks like to serve the Lord by working. And I realized that it didn’t just count as serving the Lord when I was sweeping the floor of an orphanage.

If God has called me to serve my husband by cooking and cleaning then that work is just as valuable to Him as serving orphans by cooking and cleaning for them.

Because I realized that the verse doesn’t say to work hard while “serving orphans”. It says to work hard at “whatever you do”. The point is to do the work God has placed in front of you and to do it well.

I’m praying that God will teach me to simply work hard at the work He has placed in my hands without complaining or anxiously rushing. I want to learn to simply work and to work simply for Him.

What has God placed in front of you to do today?

Be blessed

Math in Any Language: {Reflections from Mexico}

My Spanish is limited and her English was restricted to “hello”, but as I watched, I could tell she was half-playfully arguing with “A”, the staff member who was trying to get her started on a little bit of Saturday math homework. As she settled her nine year old self onto the concrete with a page of long addition and subtraction, I offered to help. A quickly agreed to let me help her.
As I started to sit down the little girl protested in Spanish, and I could make out enough of A’s words to understand that she was essentially explaining, “Math is the same in Spanish and English.”


So with a little bit of translation assistance from A (who speaks three languages), I helped her through the page of complicated-for-a-second-grader addition and subtraction.

Math is the same in any language…
…but I was still surprised by by how much harder it is to communicate simple, universal concepts when you only know numbers in the other’s language.

Math is the same in any language….and so is homework and trying to get kids to do every problem on the page and convincing them put their notebooks away properly when they’re finished.


It reminded me of the time, a year ago in this same orphanage, when I sat with three other American women in a little circle of Mexican women for a little mid-week bible study. We took turns sharing through a translator what a typical day looked like in our very different lives.

Mexico and America
So many differences
Cultures and languages
Opportunities and skin color
…and yet we all found that in the end our lives weren’t that much different at all.

We all took care of our homes.
We all cooked meals for our families.
We all got out of bed when we needed to and most of us went to bed late.
We all did chores and laundry.
We all struggled to find time for ourselves.
And most of us looked a little bit self-conscious to be sharing, wondering what the others would think.

And as I discovered that math is the same in any language, I was reminded that so much of humanity is the same no matter where you live.

The joys and struggles and heartaches and monotonies of the day-to-day don’t disappear in different cultures. They may take on different shapes and forms or be expressed differently in accordance with the culture you’re in, but they are still there.

Somehow the concrete reminder of this fact gave me a greater love for the whole of humanity.

And the words of that well known verse come to mind…
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

“For God so loved the world…”



And I’m thankful for the little glimpse of a different corner of the world. Thankful for the reminder that we’re all created in the image of God. Thankful for the reminder that the beauty of our uniqueness will never be so distinct that it will remove our ability to identify with each other. Thankful for the reminder that God so loves me and you and the people I’ve come to love in a rural town in Mexico and the people I’ve never met halfway around the globe.

Be blessed

Church Planting is… {Part 15}

Church planting is…
…about so much more than just our church.

Church planting is intentionally focused on the area we are called to, but church planting must also have a wider focus.
…a city focus.
…a region focus.
…a state focus.
…a nation focus.
…a global focus.
…a kingdom focus.


Church planting must start and must stay focused in closely on each individual person.
Their story.
Their struggles.
Their need for Jesus.
Their gifts and calling.

But church planting can’t be only focused on the individuals filling the seats week after week.

Because just like we as individuals loose focus and purpose when become self-centered and self-focused, we as churches will lose focus and purpose and perspective when we stay focused only on our own people
and our own programs
and our own problems
and our own calling
and our own church.

We have to be all about the individual, but we also have to be about the global mission that God is on.

We have to keep individuals at the focus of our ministry but we also have to remember that this world is bigger than the individuals in our sanctuaries each Sunday.

We have to know what God has called our church to do and we must not get sidetracked by what everyone else is doing, but we must also remember that God has called us not just to our local churches but also to the ends of the earth.

When we focus too hard on the people immediately around us, we lose perspective.
We forget God is working powerfully around the globe.
We forget that God controls the hearts of rulers and leaders.
We forget that there are needs greater than our own.
We forget what other kinds of sacrifice look like.
We forget the beauty of our own calling and we forget to celebrate the beauty of what God has called others to as well.
We forget that God is powerful and is working.

We forget that God is using all different kinds of people in all different kinds of ways and weaving it all together to advance His kingdom in ways we can’t even imagine.

So what can you do to make sure that your focus and your impact isn’t just local…that it’s global as well?

That is a question for both of us.
And for right now, my answer looks like this…

Our 2-year-old church plant has supported several other church plants and an orphanage in Mexico from day one, and it has been a core belief that we need to be physically and prayerfully supporting what God is doing around the world.


In just over a month, my husband and I, along with a team of 4 other adults and 3 kids will be boarding planes for El Paso, Texas. From there, we will be traveling into Bachiniva, Mexico to work serve with The House of Blessing Orphanage and their partner church, Calvary Chapel Bachiniva.

A year ago, as we were preparing to travel to the orphanage for the first time, I wrote a post about how I was learned that it’s okay to offer an opportunity for you to share the blessing and the fruit from the work God is doing in Bachiniva, Mexico.


So will you please partner with us in prayer?
And will you consider supporting us financially?
Or will you consider sharing this post or our fundraiser page with others who may want to partner with us financially or in prayer?

We are trying to raise $1,600 to cover the flights, lodging and food costs of the trip for my husband and I, as well as the cost of supplies for the orphanage that we will be bringing. You can support us on our fundraiser page or through purchasing a handmade product I will be selling through my Instagram.

I look forward to sharing what God will do in us and through us on this trip.

Be blessed

Chaotic Stillness in Mexico

I’ve been descirbed as quiet, shy, and reserved. And those are all acurate descriptions. But I’m also a full fledged extrovert (people person). I don’t quite understand how someone so afraid of people can so desperately need them, but I do.
And as I looked back over my most peaceful, most precious moments in Mexico last week, my extroverted nature was clearly seen. Because my moments of stillness were always full of people and life. I wish I had a picture for every one of these moments. Although pictures are worth a thousand words, but without the words you’d never know the joy and peace surging through my heart in these moments.

Watching ‘Cars’ with Louis. His eys glued to the tv, his head on my shoulder, his hand reaching up to pull my head down to rest on his.



Watching a group of ladies chatting and cooking in Spanish. And in the middle of the bunch the ever smiling Pastor Louis, hands dirty, chatting and laughing and shedding joy into everything around him.



Climbing dusty rocks to the top of thier own little mountain. Looking down at the patchwork of feilds and roads and house dotted here and there and then the town with the houses coming thick and close together. And around it all the hills. Craggy, bush and rock covered little mountains, purple and blue against the early morning light.


Painting the tan pants onto the mural of the little boy. Concentrating on every brush stroke so completely that everything else, the kids running in and out, the adults talking, the sounds of tiles being laid a few feet away, faded away. Worship music playing gently in the background and every ounce of stress pouring out of my body during those long, concentrated moments.

Sitting in the little office in the back with far too many people for the number of chairs, every person singing. And the voices and instruments kept lifting and swelling until I thought the room would burst, not from the noise, but from the fullness of praise and joy and glory and beauty of it all.



Little Antu falling asleep on my lap, her little black, Ethopian afro bobbed with each bump in the road, and my hand cradling her, trying to ease the jolts. And I meditated on the wonder of God’s grace, that an abandoned baby in Ethopia would be adopted by an American youth pastor and his wife, just to move to Mexico before her third birthday to start an orphanage for abandoned, orphaned children in Mexico.




Once again with far too many people for the space, we had cramed into a little roadside torta stand, eating, laughing, talking, and drinking tall glass bottles of coke.


There is indescribable peace for me in the moments of noise and chaos and joy. Somewhere, in the middle of all the noise and hustle around me, my heart slows down till it almost stops, trying to soak in the joy and the beauty of it all. And every care in the world washes out of my heart and mind in that moment of people and noise and joy and beauty.



And I have nothing profound to say except that I don’t quite understand how my mind works, but I’m thankful for the places that God allows me to see Him and feel His peace so clearly.
I want to keep seeing peace in the chaos.
I want to keep finding beauty in the crazy.
I want to keep soaking in His presence with people and life and hustle and bustle all around.

Be blessed

Stillness in Mexico and Florida

{I’ll probably have a few posts full of long wandering thoughts and stories coming up in the next few weeks. I can never fully put together my thought after a trip to Mexico. But I hope the organized jumble I’m bringing you is a blessing to you in your life.}
My body responded to the sunlight streaming through the brightly patterned curtains, waking me, even though I would rather have slept in.


I almost never get to sleep in on Sunday mornings. But this Sunday, I didn’t have to leave the house until 9:30 am. So I slipped quietly out of bed, attempting to let my roommates, Colleen and Reina, sleep a little more.

I washed my face and applied makeup, moving slowly simply because I could. Before too long, I made it out of the girls wing and into the main dining room of the orphanage, just in time to kiss my husband good morning and goodbye as he and the other men left for the prayer and bible study before church.

Clutching my journal and cell phone, I headed for the coffee pot. I tried to pour out just a dab of creamer from the quickly dwindling supply…fail. The creamer would be gone by the time the next girl came for her morning cup.


With my cold, dry hands wrapped around the steamy mug, I headed to the patio. Pastor Daniel and Jason had been sitting out there yesterday in the early morning sun. It had looked lovely.
And it was.

The air had a definite chill, but the sun cut through the hazy cold just enough to keep me sitting outside. The still was almost tangible.


The whole trip I’d been anxiously searching for the peace and the still that everyone else kept talking about. I saw the slow all around me, but I couldn’t find it in my own heart. Everything in me had been planning and worrying and thinking and searching for peace in the stillness of the Mexico hills.

But this morning was different.
In the pale morning sun, I determined it would be different. So I opened my bible and read and reread the pages.
Jeremiah 23
Psalm 23
He is our shepherd.
He is our shepherd.
He is our shepherd.
He is our shepherd.


I forced my anxious heart to slow enough to question, to wonder, to listen, to breathe in of His goodness. And those few minutes in the early morning sun were not the most peaceful moments of the trip, but they were good. Because those moments reminded me of the importance of fighting hard for peace. And they reminded me, what an incredible grace gift these moments of peace are.

Still, I crossed back into the U.S. two days later and wondered why I hadn’t experienced the peace and the still of Mexico the way everyone else had. Until that first night back at home, when I noticed every car driving past on our busy street and the honking and the people and the music and the noise of the air conditioning unit.

I didn’t notice the quiet until I didn’t have it anymore…and a little part of me wished that South Florida was just a little quieter.

Yesterday morning I took my almost daily walk to Starbucks to spend my husband’s lunch break with him. It’s a block and a half walk that I relish, espeically when he has those early morning shifts with a lunch break about 8 am. The moment I stepped out in the damp, steamy air, I noticed it…the still. South Florida has still too.

The quiet around me was rare and permeating. I relished it.
Somehow, even a string of traffic rushing past couldn’t break the calm in my heart.
And my heart steadied with the realization, the calm isn’t out there…it’s in my heart. The world around me might be crazy or noisy, but my heart can be still in the midst of it all. Because He is my peace.
And my heart flooded with memories of the peaceful moments of Mexico.

I hadn’t noticed the peaceful moments when I was in them because when I was in them, I wasn’t thinking about being peaceful, I simply was thankful.

Because thankful is always peaceful.
Because thankful isn’t striving for peace for myself. It’s turning my attention away from my myself and onto the giver of good gifts around me.
Because good gifts don’t bring peace…the Giver of good gifts brings peace.

Be blessed

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