Sunday, December 18, 2011

Traders

Christmas is a celebration of the Word becoming flesh and coming to dwell among us. Jesus traded the glory of Heaven for those he longed to be with on earth.

What are you willing to trade? 
  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oh, Beloved


“Know, oh beloved, that you were not created in jest or at 
random, but marvelously made and for some great end.”
-A Ghazzali

Friday, November 25, 2011

Give Thanks

Our Thanksgiving Tree
     Yesterday I had the privilege of preparing a Thanksgiving feast for my YWAM family here in Norway. It was so fun making all the traditional food for everyone at the base! All five of the Americans were hard at work in the kitchen---we even had three full generations represented, so it really felt like being back home cooking with a family. When it came time to feast, we shared with our 150-ish guests the history of Thanksgiving and asked that everyone write on a piece of paper what they were thankful for  to hang on our "thankfulness tree." It was so sweet to go up and read what was written throughout the meal. This was an especially difficult week for some of the families who were facing serious health problems and even separation, but yesterday was a day of truly miraculous breakthrough and there was much to put on the tree. A grateful spirit was thick in the air as we devoured our turkey and dressing, and I'm happy to report that in the end I was so full that it hurt (and as any good American can testify, that's how you know you did it right). 



     Here's some things that made it to the top of my thankfulness list this year: 1) Skype: the bridge of communication between me and those I miss and love the most 2) community: that even when I'm away from home, I still feel surrounded by a family 3) snail mail: I have a steady stream of letters coming into my mailbox from dear friends each week 4) creation: from the majesty of the Alps to the farmlands of Norway, it fills me with wonder and awe of the Creator 5) the journey: God's goodness as He patiently leads me forward into the unknown. Hallelujah! 


And just for good measure, I'll end with a song:


video
"Thank You" by JJ Heller

For painted purple skies 
For never telling lies
For giving all you had away
For crying when I cry
Ooh thank you... 

For changing autumn leaves 
The salty ocean breeze 
For coming down from heaven to save a wretch like me 
Ooh thank you... 

I can't understand why you left your throne
But I know that you came and you saved my soul... 

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Ooh, thank you 


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Starring Yours Truly

About six months ago, YWAM Germany filmed a promotional video for our various ministries and Discipleship Training Schools. They interviewed me about my ministry, Pick A Pocket, and then I totally forgot about it! Low and behold, I'm all over this thing. If you want to know more about what I'm doing in Germany, watch the video below. (Try not to judge us too harshly for the audio time-lapse! And the subtitles are pretty small so you may want to go full-screen unless you have an affinity for Deutsch. )

YWAM Germany on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Possibility


“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but
for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and
ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what
wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!”
-Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nations to Nations: Benny Prasad

With Benny Prasad at Nations to Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
Last week, my school traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to study the spiritual climate of present-day Europe with Tom Bloomer, the international provost of University of The Nations. It was an amazing time of gaining understanding about post-modern Europe through studying the history of Geneva and the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century which began there. We were able to visit the church where John Calvin preached as well as the home of Jean-Jaques Rousseau, the 18th century philosopher who greatly influence the French Revolution. 

While we were in Geneva, we also had the opportunity to take part in two Nations to Nations events. Nations to Nations is a ministry of YWAM that is seeking to restore the identity, dignity, and destiny of all peoples and nations through intercultural worship. These events are essentially huge worship gatherings where the different nations being represented are invited to lead segments according to their cultural tradition. For example, we had French rappers and hip-hop dancers performing, followed by a traditional African praise song being sung in Zulu. Among these diverse worshipers was Benny Prasad, an Indian musical prodigy and an amazing man of God. In 2002, God told Benny that he would travel to all nations of the world to share his testimony, preach the gospel, and perform his music. As an Indian, this is a virtual impossibility, but this year God's word to Benny was fulfilled when he performed in Pakistan, the 245th and final country, making him the world record holder. He has performed in countries as closed as North Korea and as remote as Antarctica. His story is truly incredible. Take a look at the video below to hear more about Benny:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Geneva, Switzerland

   
"These mountains, which have seen untold sunrises, 
long to thunder praise, but stand reverent, silent so that 
man's weak praise should be given God's attention."
 -Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts


Friday, October 28, 2011

Auschwitz: A Warning To Humanity

Hundreds of thousands of tiny shoes belonging to the child victims of Auschwitz. (photos by Kyrre Hovde)

This week I traveled to Kraków, Poland with my School of Pioneering Leadership to study the history of the European church with Jeff Fountain from the Schuman Center For European Studies. As part of our teaching, we spent a day touring the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, a true hell on earth. The night before, I sat down with some of my fellow students to watch "180," an extremely well-articulated documentary comparing the silent holocaust of abortion to the horrors Hitler inflicted on millions of Jews during World War II (I've mentioned this documentary before, and I want to urge you again to please watch it if you haven't already). With that information fresh in my mind, I just lost it when we entered the memorial for the hundreds of thousands of child victims of Auschwitz. My heart broke as I saw the never-ending piles of tiny shoes belonging to precious babies just learning to take their first steps as their lives were snatched away by the gas chamber, starvation, and disease. 

One thing is clear to me: We have not heeded the warning; We still have not learned the value of human life. While "180" only accounts for those abortions taking place in the United States, Nurturing The Nations by Darrow Miller reports the even more alarming global total of 46 million abortions annually (about 126,000 per day...roughly the population of my hometown of Abilene, Texas). Miller notes that "God designed a woman's womb to be the safest place in the world. Sadly, this place of compassion has become one of the most dangerous places in the world for human life." 

As I stood weeping before this warning engraved on the Jewish memorial, I couldn't help but wonder if there will come a day when a similar memorial will stand to honor the millions of lives that never had the chance to begin, the stories that will never be told, the children--like those of Auschwitz--who have been robbed of their childhood. But unlike the world-wide ignorance of this holocaust as it took place during the war, we are all too aware of this multi-generational mass-murder of innocent children, and yet we do little more than put "Pro-Life" stickers on the bumpers of our cars. It's time we find our voices. You can begin by sharing "180" with everyone you know. You can also join me in searching for new creative ways to reach out to women facing this decision between life and death. I worry that the modern Church has become so focused on what we're against that we've forgotten what we're for in the process: hope, life, healing, restoring dignity, and introducing the world to a perfect Love which drives out all fear. Isn't that really what it all comes down to, fear and a lack of real understanding? Let's begin living as a people of hope, speaking the truth in love, saving the lives of innocent children as we cast out fear in the name of Jesus Christ. 



Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Reform

Last weekend, YWAM Norway sent out 50 teams to all 46 nations of Europe to intercede for the continent simultaneously. Can you grasp that? Young people standing in the gap, crying out in one voice to the God who desperately longs to be with the people of these nations. How beautiful is that? 

You might recognize this song, "The Reform" by Ascend The Hill, from our Koshe Project video. It's my heart's cry to see this song become the prayer, the reality, of Europe. Join with us in hoping for that. 

video
(Download this album by Ascend The Hill and many
 other great artists for free at ComeAndLive.com)

I open my eyes to the breath-taking splendor of brand new sky
I come with all I am
Heart pounding, and voice resounding
This is the sound of my rebounding
Coming back again
Coming back again
To you, God

The Creator's brand I bear
And forfeit the scars of love to share
This is the sound of foundations shaking
History in the making

This is reformation
This is love overtaking 
This is the sound of redemption
This is now, this is here

This is love overtaking me
This is love overtaking me
Overtake us God!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Holy Matrimony

Simon & Eline with all the YWAMers!
Last weekend I  made a trip down to Holland for the wedding of my two very good friends, Simon and Eline! *Side note---it's still amazing to me that a two-hour flight will take you all the way across the continent (such a shocker after growing up in the vast expanse we call "Texas"). Anyway, I've said it before and I'll say it again: YWAM weddings are special. To have friends coming together from every corner of the globe to bless this union and celebrate it together was such a gift for everyone involved. Not to mention the Dutch know how to throw one heck of a party! I dont think I've ever eaten so much good food in my entire life, and that's saying something coming from an avid celebrator of American Thanksgiving. 

The travel to and from was a bit sketchy, as we were flying through massive rain storms both ways. I experienced for the first (and hopefully last) time the thrill of hydroplaning into a tailspin on the runway amid the screams of frightened children. No thank you! But all in all, it was an incredible weekend packed full of quality time with friends from distant lands. I was so encouraged to hear about what God's doing in each of their lives, and I look forward to when we'll meet again! 



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Simple Expressions of Love

Proudly waving the Norwegian flag in my new sweater.
     Because my practical needs feel more tangible in the mission field, I tend to only ask God for the necessities and skip the rest, but last week I really felt that God was challenging me to ask Him for my heart's desires. While my "heart's desires" cannot be summed up in a nordic sweater, this was the one token of my time here that I really wanted, so I asked for it specifically: white, pull-over style, loose and comfy with the traditional silver buttons. To my surprise (and it's sad that it was a surprise) God didn't respond with "Seriously, Laken? I'm kind of trying to deal with the whole mass-famine-across-Africa thing right now. " Instead, I simply heard, "Faithfully look in the boutique every day until I provide your sweater." So every afternoon I've gone down to look for my sweater in the boutique (a room in the YWAM base where people can leave behind clothes to bless others with). Today I went down, and sure enough, there was my sweater neatly folded on top of a pile of t-shirts. It's exactly what I requested! I was told later that a sweater like this would normally cost around $175, and mine looks like it might never have been worn. It was such a good reminder for me that, like my earthly father (and I have a great one), my Heavenly Father wants to provide more for me than just food in my stomach and a roof over my head, that sometimes He wants to give me something just because He can. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Elskede Jesus

I love Norway. I love that every morning when I step out my door, the crisp fresh air hits my face and the prayers of faithful servants float down from the Upper Room. I love seeing the sun glittering on the surface of the lake in the distance and the clouds settling low on the hills. I love the thick, green, weed-less grass and the colorful Norwegian cottages. I love that 54 degrees farenheit is picnic weather. I love the rich heritage of this nation. I love this culture and these people. 

Most of all, I love their beautiful language. This song, Elskede Jesus, is so on my heart. I had a dream the day before I came to Norway that many people were standing around me singing this song. At the time, I thought it must have been the language of angels because I'd never heard it before. To my great surprise, this song actually exists and was written by girl named Marie Hognestad (who does have the voice of an angel, even if the language was only Norwegian) who's serving with the prayer team here at Grimerud. How beautiful is that? Oh, Lord, how you woo me!

video

Here are the lyrics in English:

Beloved Jesus
No one can compare with you
Beloved Jesus
You are the only one for me

You are the glorious Morning Star
Chief among ten thousand men
You live in a light no one can approach
You are the First and the Last
Ruler of the kings of the earth
Your beauty surpasses all I can think of

So come and take your place on the throne of my heart
I crown you as king of my love
Come and take your place on the throne of my heart
I crown you as king of my love

Beloved Jesus
You are all my heart aspires to
Beloved Jesus
There is only you who satisfies


Thursday, September 29, 2011

An Argument For Life

Take thirty minutes out of your day to watch "180," a documentary which makes an extremely compelling case against abortion. I was moved by the content and impressed with the solidarity of the arguments made by New Zealand-born Christian minister, Ray Comfort, who within minutes transforms the view points of many pro-choice men and women.
 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Vikings And Brown Cheese And Fjords, Oh My!



Last week I made the journey from Germany up to Ottestad, Norway (near the capitol, Oslo) to begin a School of Pioneering Leadership. The school consists of a three-month lecture phase where, together with 20 other students from 13 different nations, I'll learn about the principles of pioneering new ministries within European culture. The curriculum is incredible so far, even in this introductory phase! We'll be hearing from seasoned missionaries who have pioneered entire regions of the world, academic scholars in the fields of politics and history within Europe and language acquisition, and others who are simply passionate about seeing the Kingdom of God reign over this continent. I'm so excited for what's to come! 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Koshe Project Goes To Camp

The 13 girls of the Koshe Project with their signed permission slips for Camp.
Exciting news from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia! A few weeks ago we posted on our Pick A Pocket facebook group about an opportunity for the 15 girls we work with through the Koshe Project to go away for summer camp in the countryside for a week. Literally over night we were able to receive full funding from supporters, activists, like you! So for a mere $40 per girl, they were able to leave Addis Ababa for the first time in their lives, breathe fresh air far away from the garbage city where they used to work, and spend time learning about God with other Ethiopian kids. Many of them remarked that it was the first time they felt like normal kids and not "from the trash." By the end of the week, ten of them even gave their lives to Christ. WOW. It's so incredible to see the changes that are happening in the lives of these girls, and it's such a privilege that we get to be a apart of it! If you want to know more about the Koshe Project, watch this beautiful video made by Pick A Pocket artist, Stephanie Eatherly:


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Love, Sweet Love.

Scenes from the long ride to Basel!
Last weekend I had the privilege of witnessing the wedding of two of my friends and ministry leaders, Josh and Ruth Elke! YWAM weddings are always extra special because beloved friends gather from every corner of the globe, reunited to celebrate the joining of two lives, by means of impressively budgeted travel and extremely creative housing. In our case, it meant packing into a rental car at 5am and pounding the pavement until mid-afternoon. We reached our destination, Ruth's family farm in Maulburg (near Basel on the border with Switzerland), just in time to participate in the "stag" and "hen" parties, help with last-minute cleaning, and transform their barn into a reception hall.

The day of the wedding was a toasty 85 degrees fahrenheit (my apologies to the Texans who, I'm sure, are scowling at my use of the word "toasty" in reference to anything below 100), and not a cloud in sight---perfect for such a happy occasion! I wish I had a copy of the vows to share with you because they were absolutely beautiful. It was so fun listening to the fathers bestow their wisdom on Josh and Ruth in their different languages (Josh is American and Ruth is German), and to see their families come around them in prayer. I'm confident that many will be blessed by this union!


Monday, August 1, 2011

The Anthropologist

I dont know how many of you are as in love with the stylings of Anthropologie (the store, not the study) as I am, but if you're an artist of any kind, you'll want to take a look at this video. Featured in The Anthropologist---the newsletter of inspiring individuals distributed by the clothing store each month---photographer David Eustace uses a unique (and absolutely stunning) meathod of motion photography to capture the graceful movements of Scottish Ballet's principle dancer, Tomomi Sato. (...I apologize in advance for the creepy background music they chose to use)





Friday, July 29, 2011

Skateistan

We serve a creative God. Take a look at the transforming power skate boarding is having over the youth of Kabul, Afghanistan. This video is 9 minutes well-spent. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pick A Pocket Retreat 2011

The whole group after a day of team building (hence the war paint).
Last weekend we had our annual Pick A Pocket  retreat! Because we're all constantly traveling and involved in different projects and training schools, this is the one time of the year when we're able to come together for fellowship and refreshing. Uli's parents were nice enough to let us camp on their land in Bavaria (southern Germany), so we rented huge 12-man teepees from the boyscouts and set up a little Pick A Pocket village of sorts, complete with camp kitchen and fire pit! 

We spent time in prayer and worship together, but we also took time to be silly and play games. We even had a Survivor-esque team building day where we put on our "war paint" and ran around in the forest completing challenges (my team won, of course ;-]).  Through all four days it was raining and 55 degrees (12 degrees Celsius), so when we weren't playing ultimate frisbee or red rover, we were all huddled by the fire talking and laughing. It was so good. The retreat was a great way to welcome in our seven new members, look back on what God has done, and look forward to the vision we have for the year to come!



Saturday, July 16, 2011

Visitors Galore

This has been an amazing season, a lot of credit for which is due to the many visitors I've been able to receive in the last months. As a missionary, it's so encouraging to have friends from back home "come and see." Sometimes it can feel like I have two separate worlds: where I came from, and where I'm ministering; And I think it was God's intention in sending me out that those "two separate worlds" would get to know each other a bit. So to have visitors from one world show up in the other has really helped me, personally, to bridge that distance. Here's a tremendously tiny overview of the sojourns I've had the privilege of hosting:

Kaitlyn & Stacy's Easter Visit
My friends, Kaitlyn and Stacy, visited for Easter weekend to round off their time studying abroad in Europe. It was a fun adventure that began in Berlin with some sight-seeing and thrift-shopping at the incredible Mauer Park Flea Market. Then we took the train to Prague for a quick 24-hour blitz through the city! The Easter Market was in full speed when we arrived and we ate yummy kebabs in baguettes and drank gluwein to the soundtrack of Czech polka music in Old Town Square.

Krisi's Post-Grad Adventure & Treg's Pop-In
When I arrived back in Germany after my trip to Texas, Krisi was there waiting for me! After graduating a couple of weeks before, she decided to take a month-long sabbatical to Europe and I was lucky enough to be one of her stops along the way. We read in a hammock in the woods, took picnics around town, and watched a lot of movies in the evenings. Then our friend Treg, who was studying in Prague post-graduation, came for the last few days Krisi's time in Herrnhut! It was so fun to have them both here at the same time.
Kori's Furlow From Romania & Treg Strikes Again
The perfect conclusion to this marathon of visitors was Kori & Treg's mid-July stay. Kori has been working as a missionary intern for a ministry in Romania, and Treg has just finished up his certification to teach English in Prague. It was a much-needed break for all three of us! First they came to Herrnhut for a few day's rest, then I headed back with them to Prague where we dropped Treg off to catch his bus to the Ukraine for his next adventure. From there, Kori and I enjoyed a leisurely three days of exploring the city, resting at Sir Toby's Hostel, and other funtivities, such as the Harry Potter premier and karaoke night with some other missionaries we met in a bookstore! Tons of fun. Then she went back to ministry in Romania and I returned to ministry in Herrnhut. Lovely. 

WOAH! That was a marathon of a report back. Bottom line: Come for a visit! You wont be disappointed. :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Apathy

This is just a really beautiful video I stumbled upon the other day. I love the cinematography and the message. Take a peek!




Friday, June 24, 2011

Logistics For The Lord

The Logistics Team with our handy-dandy announcements assistant, Katy. 
Since coming on staff with YWAM Herrnhut I've really come to see how God can use the things I'm passionate about to bring heaven to earth, whether that's photography, baking---or in this case---logistics.

I had the opportunity last week to go with our base director, Cory, to the University of The Nations Equip Leadership Conference in Vienna, Austria as a part of the logistics team. We headed down to Vienna four days early to meet with the conference leadership and to coordinate everything from  accommodations to clean-up. It was great for me to be able to work under these more experienced (*cough* older) YWAMers from across Europe. Not to mention the content of the conference turned out to be extremely relevant for me and the direction God is leading me in.

The theme of the conference was "partnering and pioneering," so we were able to hear from many speakers on those topics. I was also able to sit in on a couple of incredible 8-hour seminars: one about Children At Risk...who are they, what are the psychological effects of their circumstances, and how do we effectively interact with them as missionaries in a way that is healthy for the child; And another about Extending Grace to Muslims in Europe...how do we correct the cultural stereotypes that have effected our hearts towards Muslims, how do we bring the Church to a place of forgiveness and grace towards Muslims so that there can be reconciliation, and how do we approach Muslims with love and friendship. They were incredible, and in many ways, life changing. I didn't realize how passionate I was about those topics until I began discussing them with our speakers, but I know now that both will play major rolls in the ministry I do in Germany. 

All-in-all, it was a much needed week of hearing God's voice, getting inspired by the testimonies of missionaries working in other parts of Europe, and just general encouragement! I can't wait until next year. :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Homeward Bound


Well, I was fortunate enough to snag a last-minute flight to where the stars at night are big and bright (*clap clap clap clap* deep in the heart of Texas)! 

Anyhow, with an extended layover in Orlando to visit my friend Bernard and his family, I managed to sneak in a two-week trip back home to Texas. It was such a special time with my dad turning 60, my granddad turning 90, and nearly all of my friends graduating from college and, inevitably, spreading out across the country to fulfill their post-grad dreams. I couldn't stand the thought of missing all of that! I'm so thankful that I didnt have to. 

Granddad's 90th was such a fun celebration. Our entire extended family came in from all across Texas, and combined with all of our family friends, it was quite an affaire...nearly one hundred people in all. It's so rare to have everyone all together like that. I was able to touch base with people I haven't seen in years! Not to mention Granddad gave one doozy of a speech. 

At the Hardin-Simmons graduation.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Freedom For The Captives

Not For Sale Campaign is working on the frontlines in Romania to provide shelter, education, healthcare, counseling, and vocational training to survivors of sex and labor trafficking. The after-care of these victims is essential for keeping them invulnerable to being re-trafficked. This week they've launched a new campaign to raise $50,000 to maintain the freedom of 50 survivors. For the allotted $1,000 per survivor, they'll be provided with everything needed for a year of rehabilitation and re-introduction into society. This is an amazing opportunity to participate in a very tangible way to restore the life of a man, woman, or child emerging from the darkest recesses of our world. Click here to donate.


Monday, April 18, 2011

YWAM is Not For Sale


Renee Hong, one of our graphic design students from the Marriage of The Arts DTS, created this amazing video for our Not For Sale conference way back in November to raise awareness for Human Trafficking. Well, this week CNN picked it up as a feature for their Freedom Project iReporter short films. So cool to know that we really can be a voice for the voiceless in the media! Check out the article here >> CNN iReport On Modern Slavery

Friday, April 15, 2011

On Pain & Beauty

The Grey Goose

"He was suddenly overwhelmed by the revelation that what makes life worth living is, precisely, the emotions. But, then -- this was awful! -- maybe girls with their tears and laughter were getting more out of life. Shattering! He checked himself: showing one's emotions was not the thing: having them was. Still, he was dizzy with the revelation. What is beauty but something that is responded to with emotion? Courage, at least partly, is emotional. All the splendour of life. But if the best of life is, in fact, emotional, then one wanted the highest, purest emotions: and that meant joy. Joy was the highest. How did one find joy? In books it seemed to be found in love -- a great love -- though maybe for the saints there was joy in the love of God...So, if he wanted the heights of joy, he must have, if he could find it, a great love. But in the books, again, great joy through love seemed always to go hand in hand with frightful pain. Still, he thought, looking out across the meadow, still, the joy would be worth the pain -- if, indeed, they went together. If there were a choice -- and he suspected there was -- a choice between, on the one hand, the heights and depths and, on the other hand, some sort of safe, cautious middle way, he, for one, here and now chose the heights and the depths."
-Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Prague: Observed


This weekend I took a little solo-vacation to Prague in the Czech Republic. I just needed a few days of rest with no agenda and no stress. It was amazing! I stayed in my favorite hostel, Sir Toby's, tucked away in a quiet little neighborhood, and roamed the city somewhat aimlessly for four solid days. I read for hours in the palace gardens, rode the trams all over the city just for the heck of it, struck up conversations with strangers in coffee shops, and generally soaked up the splendor of Prague in 65-degree weather. Magical. I highly recommend it. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Feeling Fancy


“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. 
This is to be my symphony.” 
 -William Henry Channing

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Africa

The team and congregation after a typical 5-hour church service in Arua, Uganda.
At the end of February, I had an amazing opportunity to make a last-minute pastoral visit to a team of our Discipleship Training School students in the north of Uganda. At long last, I was able to set foot on the rich red earth of Africa! The whole experience feels a bit like a very bizarre, very beautiful dream. I was only in-country for seven days, two of which I spent making the cross-country bus trip from Kampala in the south to Arua in the north. 

While I was with the team, I was able to spend time one-on-one with each of the students and their leaders, hearing their testimonies of what God had done in that time and generally helping them process their experiences. I was so amazed and blessed by what I heard, the incredible things God had revealed to them in their time in Africa, the visions and callings the felt for their futures. It was so life-giving for me to hear their hearts in that way! 

I also got to join in with the local ministry the team had been pursuing since arriving in Arua. We shared testimonies hut-to-hut in the villages, prayed over the sick and the dying in the HIV/AIDS hospice, preached at the prison, led children's programs, and served in practical ways around the YWAM base. It was inspiring to see this team so full of passion, working hard together, motivated by the love of Christ. 

My time there was so short, but it was packed full of blessings and joy. I hope it's not too long before I'm back there, walking barefoot on that rich red earth, again. 




Sunday, January 30, 2011

"S" Is For Sunday

Adventures on Slow Death hill.
"S" is for Sunday...and snow-shoeing...and sunset sledding. Based on that sentence alone, I'm sure you can surmise that today was a great day. If that doesn't have you convinced, then I'm sure the photos I've included of today's adventures will. 

After living here for more than a year, I still can't get over how beautiful this place is! The view from the top of  Slow Death compels me to praise God for this incredible landscape each morning as I make the descent into the forest. While I love the small church fellowship I meet with on Sunday mornings, I can't help but think as I look out across this field of snow washed in sunset...what greater cathedral for our God than this? 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Home

A great song just got better. Soooo cute. Just try not to linger too long under the description of the video posted by the creator (nothing says "kill-joy" like a father exploiting the cuteness of his daughter to pay for student loans).

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Dark Side of Chocolate

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, and with it comes the buying and selling of lots and lots of chocolate! Unfortunately, the majority of the world's chocolate is produced through trafficking and child labor. Companies like Hershey's, Nestle, Dove, Lindt, and Toblerone have a very lax policy regarding these issues, and children as young as 7 years old are being forced to work the cocoa farms of West Africa every day.

What can you do about it? You can watch this trailer for the documentary film, The Dark Side of Chocolate, where award winning Danish journalist Miki Mistrati investigates the conditions of chocolate farms in Mali and the Ivory Coast. Even better, you can purchase the full DVD for a donation of $5 here. Then you can support smaller fair trade chocolate companies, like Divine Chocolate and Theo Chocolate, by ordering your Valentine's treats from them this year!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ruthless Trust


One of my favorite books is Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning. It's such a beautiful depiction of the unfailing love of God. This exert is a prayer I pray often...thought you'd enjoy it too.

I surrender my will and my life to You today, without reservation and with humble confidence, for You are my loving Father. Set me free from self-consciousness, from anxiety about tomorrow, and from the tyranny of the the approval and disapproval of others, that I may find joy and delight simply and solely in pleasing You. May my inner freedom be a compelling sign of Your presence, Your peace, and Your love. Let your plan for my life and the lives of all Your children gracefully unfold one day at a time. I love you with all my heart, and I place all my confidence in You, for You are my Abba. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NestRest

Alright, so this is a follow-up to my post about wanting a portaledge treehouse. This alternative will appeal to those of you who are perhaps less climb-savvy: the NestRest. These magnificent hanging baskets are made by a German outdoor furniture company called Dedon, and I'm in love. I want to spend days and days laying around in one of these just reading and napping. I love the idea of having one hanging over water, but realistically there's no practical way that guy got in there from the shore. Regardless, in my dreams my NestRest would be over some beautiful bit of water. Again, it's stuff like this that gets me through these dreary winter days! Hopefully, it'll brighten yours as well.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wake Up, Sleeper!



Last Tuesday I drove to Dallas and got on my plane to Frankfurt. It was harder coming back this time! Everyone says the second time is the hardest because the initial excitement has worn off and you just miss everybody that much more. I definitely agree. Of course, now that I'm back at the office and doing what we do, I'm so glad I'm here. The one thing that's been killing me is the jet lag! Usually I dont have too much of a problem with it. I just throw myself into routine and my sleep adjusts accordingly. But this time around it's been horrible.

The first night I slept for 17 hours without waking up. Yikes. Next night was pretty normal. Then I couldnt sleep at all so I stayed up through the night. Then I slept 14 hours. Now I'm up writing this at 4:30 in the morning because, you guessed it, I can't sleep! BAH!

One thing I've learned is that in all things, God is speaking. Even if it's just a little murmur. Here's what God's been murmuring to me these past few days:

I think we all go through seasons in our relationship with God. We have days when we have a furious longing to know Him and be known by Him, and we have days where God is just an afterthought. I think my life will be spent trying to make that first bit true for me every day. Right now, the reality is that I sometimes go into these deep spiritual sleeps. That kind of sleep where you sleep so long that you wake up feeling more tired than you did before...the kind where you feel compelled to fall into complete lethargy and the day just sort of floats by. Well, that's where I was at when I came back to Germany, this sort of spiritual lethargy. But still God murmurs. I kept feeling this call to "wake up" that went beyond my jet lagged state. Then, at our staff prayer yesterday, God gave me a verse, Ephesians 5:14. When I looked it up it said:

"Awake, sleeper,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you!"

I feel like just reading those words broke my trance. It woke up my soul in a way. If anything, it was God's way of reminding me that even when I fall asleep, He doesn't. He's still there, patiently pursuing me every day.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!


Oh, man. What can I say? 2010 has been the most incredible year of my life so far. I did a million things I never thought I'd do. I had the opportunity to travel to Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Switzerland, and back to America! I moved permanently overseas. I have my dream job. I work alongside 100+ of the most amazing people I've ever met. My office is literally a castle.  I even got to come home for Christmas for the first time in three years! And it was the best Christmas I've ever had. So full of people I love, old and new friends, much-missed family, and a ton of other blessings. 

It makes me want to cry just thinking back over everything God's brought me through! I always say that this year was the start of me living to make God's dreams come true instead of my own. But as silly as it sounds, it's just now hitting me how much better His dreams really are for my life than the ones I had for myself! I'm so excited to see what 2011 holds. Stay tuned to find out...