Ephesians 3:20

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.                                                                                                                                                                                                   Ephesians 3:20

This summer was a whirlwind. The days were long, weeks were short, and the months were even shorter. I can’t believe I’m already home catching up with family and friends in person instead of face-time or texts. I have lots to tell everyone and figured this would be the most efficient way.

So if you look at my former posts, #konquerkentucky or WOAH…we’re halfway there, you can get more of a weekly synopsis but this is more of a summary of how the summer went for me and how I grew. So from the beginning you should know that I was skeptical. I went into my interview with LeaderTreks not completely sold, but I knew the Lord brought me there for a reason so I followed his lead. Therefore going into the summer and moving to Manchester, Kentucky for almost 3 months I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, how the Lord would move, or even if he would. That’s where my faith was weak. Fast-forward to now, Ephesians 3:20 has never been more applicable. God moved in ways that I never imagined, ways that I never asked for, because despite me and my selfish heart, God used it all for his glory.

I look back on the past 3 months and stand in awe. For starters, I am not a contractor. My dad and brothers have taught me the basics of tools growing up but I’ve never built a deck, laid a concrete sidewalk, laid laminate floor, or used a jack-hammer. But through Christ, and with 8 groups of incredible students all of this and so much more was done. Amanda and I had a motto for the summer “Jesus was a carpenter, Jesus lives in our hearts, thus we are carpenters”. It was a joke but there’s so much truth to it. God gave us the ability to learn about the projects and the confidence to coach the students through it. There were many wrong measurements, wrong cuts, broken tools, frustrated students and frustrated adults, but the beauty of it is that our project was to build all of these things and to help the people of Manchester, but our mission was so much bigger. We were there to develop the student’s leadership skills and ultimately make disciples. The projects were only the means to do that.

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This was an entire summer for us, but for most of the students it was just 1 week. It’s easy to think “how much of an impact could we make?” “Did they even feel God move?” “Do they even care?” but that’s where faith comes in. I was reading an article about a missionary named Dr. William Leslie who in 1912 lived and ministered to the people of the Congo for 17 years. He returned home feeling like he failed to make an impact for Christ and then died 9 years later. But then in 2010, over 80 years later, another mission team went to the same remote villages expecting them to have exposure to the name of Jesus but no understanding of Him. Instead they found a network of thriving churches throughout the jungle. They didn’t even have a bible in their own language so they used a french bible and had to learn french! You can read the whole article here, it’s really a great story of God’s faithfulness. So, I may never know the impact made this summer, it may not have even made a great impact. But I have to believe that the Lord worked through us and despite us to further His kingdom.

Some of my favorite moments this summer were conversations hearing about the student’s lives back home and how they’re going to implement what they’ve learned into their daily lives. I like to believe that will happen, maybe not right away but eventually. We got to hang out with almost 200 students this summer, and LeaderTreks had over 10 sites around the world, thats over 2,000 middle and high schoolers. The Lord can use each and every one of them. How exciting is that?!? Now my prayer is that they will allow Him to use them in mighty ways.

So for me, the biggest way that I grew was having more trust in God’s promises. Not only trusting them but identifying what He has actually promised and what the world says He’s promised. It sounds like an simple realization and something I should have already known, but seeing God’s faithfulness every step of the way this summer reminded me that He keeps his promises despite our unfaithfulness. 

Now, here I am at a coffee shop in Douglasville, Ga remembering how faithful God was and trying to trust that He will continue to be faithful.

This summer was incredible, more than I can put into words. LeaderTreks is an amazing ministry that allowed me to lead trips this summer. It was the vessel that the Lord decided to use for me to be able to pour into those students. However, I will no longer be working for LeaderTreks. The original plan was to work for them for the next 2 years but for some reason the Lord decided to close that door. I know the Lord used this summer for His good and for my good and prepared me for something. I may not know what that is yet or where to go from here but again, the Lord is faithful. We studied Daniel this summer and my favorite day was Wednesday when we read Daniel 3. It’s the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace because they wouldn’t worship King Nebuchadnezzar. in verse 17 and 18 they say “If this be so, our God who we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up.” I love this because we know the Lord is able to do whatever he wants, but if not, He is still good and we need to choose to worship Him and Him alone through our trials.

I want to thank everyone who made this summer possible. If you have prayed for me, encouraged me, or financially supported me, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. If you were a monthly supporter, I’m sorry that I didn’t fulfill the 2 years you expected. But thank you for believing in me and ultimately being obedient to where the Lord called you to give. The monthly payments have been stopped (if for some reason they haven’t please let me know ASAP) but I ask that all of you continue to partner with me in prayer. This may not be the last time I work in a ministry where I need financial support and definitely my need for prayer does not stop here. I’m in a place of unknown and that’s the scariest place to be but also the best. I’m unemployed, single, living with my parents again, and have no set plan. It’s terrifying but also exciting; I have no ties to anything and am completely ready to go wherever the Lord leads. So your prayers are more than appreciated, they’re needed.

Don’t worry though, I will get a job (eventually), because unfortunately we need money to survive in this world. And I’m incredibly grateful to my parents for continually supporting me and letting me live at home. I will not just sit and wait forever, but for now I’m taking time to rest and seek what the Lord wants over my own desires. Until then, it’s exciting to know that the Lord can call me literally anywhere and I am able to go.

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WOAH…We’re halfway there.

My hope is that you sang that to the tune of Living on a Prayer.

We are halfway through the summer and literally only surviving by the grace of God. Don’t get me wrong, it has been incredible so far but its exhausting, the worksite is difficult, and we are constantly being pushed out of our comfort zones as much as the students are.

And to top it all off I’ve been sick for the past few days and today I just had to stay in bed. It’s killing me to miss time with the students, but if I was going to get sick (which was inevitable) this was probably the best time with the best team. We have our 2 week team right now so I’ve already had the chance to get to know them all last week and hopefully I will feel much better by tomorrow. And one of our adult leaders is a mom so she brought me medicine and I am so thankful.

Okay so let me update you on the past few weeks:

Week 2: We finished the back deck on the home we were working on during week 1. This team had a slow start with not a ton of motivation but throughout the week they started to care more and finished very strong. Also something cool about this team, they are from Glen Ellyn which is in the same area I will be moving to. I really enjoyed getting to know this team, they already invited me to visit their church and possibly have connections for a place for me to live!!! God is Good! We were able to finish both decks on this house and serve this family in a great way. Since we were getting to the end of this project we had to find something else for the weeks to come. We had some options but a lot of them fell through. So one day at VBS our students were showing off pictures of the deck they built because they were proud of it, as they should be. One of the mom’s of some of the girls at VBS commented on how nice it would be to have a deck at her house. So of course I jumped on that opportunity. Amanda and I visited the house that saturday after the team left and as soon as we drove up we knew that is where we were supposed to be.

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Week 3: Again a great week with a solid team. They were from Michigan so they got here really late Sunday night so Monday we jumped right in and worked at the same house putting under-penning underneath the trailer and built a ton of wooden boxes to be used here at God’s closet. This team was a lot of fun but definitely had trouble focusing. It’s hard to get teenagers to focus in general and this team proved to be a challenge. However, they were extremely open which gave Amanda and I the opportunity to get to know them very well which helped us find the best ways to teach and challenge them. During the VBS this week we only had a few students show up, same as the last few weeks. However, it didn’t phase this team. They showed those 2 kids so much love and gave them a glimpse into the love God has for them. They finished their projects by Wednesday so we headed over to our new project and got a jump start. For this house we are building a 12×24 deck off the side of the house, taking out and re-doing their sidewalk, putting new floors in their kitchen and living room, and adding railing to their existing porch. This family is great and definitely someone that we want to serve. The parents have just adopted the 2 most beautiful girls and have struggled to keep up with the condition of their house. We are super excited to serve the Lord by serving them the next few weeks!

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Week 4: This is our first and only 2 week team. They are from Brandon, Fl which is cool because thats where my mom is from so I know the area pretty well. They also got here late Sunday night after a 15 hour drive so we got them unloaded and started bright and early monday morning. This team right off the bat had some obstacles. For starters, the majority of them are high school girls so there was a little bit of drama just in the first few days. they weren’t off to a great start but along with the adult leaders we were able to settle a lot of the problems and halfway through the week I saw a change in their attitudes. Not only did the team hove obstacles but the work project has been a doozy. We started to wonder if we’ve taken on more than we can handle. Nothing has seemed to go right and each step is taking forever. So this week I got really frustrated, not really with the team but more so with myself. If I don’t know how to do something then how am I expected to coach a team on it? and the problem is that I do know how to build a deck and lay concrete but for some reason their has been way more complications with these particular project. But again, the Lord provides. Amanda has given me a ton of scripture that she leaned on last year and reminds me to find encouragement through Christ and his word and not on my own ability.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

She’s also a great problem solver and people at Manchester Lumber graciously take all my questions and go through each step with me. This team has been great and patient and has gone back and fixed all of the mistakes with very little complaining. They have also gotten frustrated but throughout there have been great teaching moments and I believe we will be able to look back on this and see God working in some amazing ways. Also they homeowners have been on point! Since this is a 2 week team we work all day friday and saturday so the homeowners made lunch for us on Saturday! Grilled BBQ chicken, pork sandwiches, baked beans, pasta salad, and banana pudding!! This definitely gave the team a boost and we are so thankful the Lord sent us to this family.

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So week 5 is underway with the same team. Hopefully I will start feeling better so I can jump right back in and help with the projects and hang out with the students. If you would, please continue to pray for us. I don’t want Amanda getting sick since we share a room so pray for our health and also that the Lord will work through us to finish these projects and to challenge the students well. We are studying Joshua during this trip and he’s been a great example of following God no matter what and our prayer is that we will do the same and the students will be strong and courageous like Joshua not just on this trip but when they go back home and they will follow God wherever he leads.

 

Thanks for your prayers, packages, phones calls, and texts!

#konquerkentucky

The first week is officially over.

I couldn’t have asked for a better first team. The adult leaders were on point and the students were high performing; Amanda and I were blown away.

The students literally exceeded our expectations when it came to the worksite. We had daily goals in mind for them but it was up to the students to plan, set goals, and execute the work. We figured they would get the first deck mostly built by the end of the week. But no, not only did they build the front deck early, they completely framed and hung all of the joists on the much larger back deck in preparation for week 2. Their focus wasn’t on just finishing the task we gave them, they wanted to do as much as they could to lay a solid foundation for weeks to come. How great is that?

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After a long week of hard work, Friday we finished at the worksite and drove to Natural Bridge for a hike. I was super concerned about this because Amanda and I tried to go last week but my knee just couldn’t handle the incline. So the plan was to hang out in the park and wait for the group to return. But if you know me, you know I’m stubborn so with the help of some hiking poles (Thanks Pastor Ken) and encouragement from the team, I made it to the top with very little pain! Some of the students were not used to this kind of activity or the elevation so it was a challenge for them as well. Bust like every challenge they faced this week, they persevered and finished strong! Then of course we headed to Miguel’s after for the most amazing pizza…

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Our study this summer is on Daniel. My prayer is that these students leave here wanting to look more like Daniel because he strived to look more like Christ. Daniel and his friends faced all odds. They were taken from their home, made to serve other kings, pressured to conform, and punished with fire and lions when they refused. Despite all of the obstacles, they were bold and confident that God of heaven would provide them with wisdom, protection, and strength. I want these students to leave here, not confident in their abilities but confident that they serve a God who is able.

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I’m sad that the first week was over but I’m excited to see what week 2 brings. Please continue to be in prayer with us for these students, the people we’re serving, and Amanda and I. Thank you so much for the prayers and encouragement so far!

 

Also, if you’d like to send us letters/packages/etc here is our address for the summer:

PO Box # 1380 Manchester, KY 40962

ATL → CHI

WE MADE IT!

Mom and I left on Saturday, drove to Tennessee to see family for 2 days, then made the trek to Illinois. We arrived on Tuesday and its been a whirlwind since then.

Wednesday we spent all day exploring the town I will soon call home. Wheaton, IL is a really great place with lots of character. My favorite place we visited was the Wade Center. The Marion E. Wade Center of Wheaton College is a research collection of materials by authors such as: Owen Barfield, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, and others. I may or may not have freaked out a bit. I LOVE The Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and so many other works from these amazing authors. At the Wade Center they have both C.S. Lewis’ and J.R.R. Tolkien’s desks, along with many of their possessions. They also have  a wardrobe form Lewis’ childhood home that is said to have inspired “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe”. So here’s a few pictures for those of you that care as much as I do.

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Thursday was spent with my team learning new skills that we will be using at our mission sites this summer. I learned how to frame a wall, measure out and dig space for a patio, and add trim to drywall. This summer my group in Kentucky will be building many decks, so learning how to use the circular saw and how to measure correctly for a foundation was vital. I still have a lot to learn and we will be training more starting tomorrow!

Friday. Oh friday. This was a tough day for me. Our entire team has been planning a Run, Walk, Crawl. Which is a run from Wheaton to Chicago (23 miles). Everyone made a goal, then you go as far as you can on the trail until you get on the train to the city. For those of you that know me, know that I am NOT a runner.Not only am I extremely out of shape but I also have a problem with my knee and have been getting cortisone shots. So this was not something I was looking forward to. I actually think it was what I was most worried about. I hate being bad at something and holding others back, and that is exactly what happened. I was asked to be in the front, because I was the slowest, so that it would be easier for our team to stay together for the first 2 miles. So when I walked, everyone walked. I slowed the team down. I was hurting, I was embarrassed, and I was angry with myself. I know that this sounds irrational but I wanted to be a part of the team and be good at it. However the team was amazing, I never felt any of this because of them, It was all in my head. Afterwards I realized that this is what I asked for. I asked God to surround me with a community and opportunities that would push me, challenge me, and get me out of my comfort zone. And that was just a run. This summer will be intense. I will work hard, I will be tired, I will fail, I will probably be embarrassed and angry at times. God will use all of these things to better me, yes, but it’s not about me. This summer I pray that students will be transformed and that God will use me as a vessel to lead them. And if one student is impacted, it’s worth it.

SaturYAY. Saturday was so much fun. Mom and I were tourists in Chicago. We hailed a taxi for the first time, took a architectural boat tour through Chicago River, and stood on ‘the ledge’ of Willis Tower. Chicago is so different from Atlanta and I loved every minute of it.

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Next week will start our week of training, the interns arrive on friday, we leave for Kentucky and then the summer officially begins! It’s happening fast and I’m excited to see what God has in store for us!

ONE WEEK!!

This weekend I went to my brother’s graduation in South Georgia. He graduated from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Ga which has a special place in my heart. I started school there in 2009 and It was so weird being back there.

ABAC was more than just a school for me, it was where so many changes happened. I figured out who I was and who I didn’t want to be. I fell deeper in love with Jesus. I found my best friends who became sisters. I developed a passion for student ministry. And even though I didn’t know it then, the Lord was preparing me for the plans He has for me now.

Thinking back on all the changes I went through I am reminded of how faithful God has been. Even when I was so overwhelmed of the unknown, He was ALWAYS faithful.

And here I am again. Amidst so many changes and so many unknowns.

The friends I made in college are now finding their way in their careers, a few are married to incredible men, and one of my best friends just had a baby! Oh how things have changed…

And now in just  • one week •  I will be moving to a new state and starting another new season of life.

I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes 3

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These changes are scary because there are so many unknowns, but we know that God is in control and that is so exciting! I can’t wait to see what God has in store for all of us and I’m so thankful I get to be apart of these seasons.


 

One less unknown: I’m happy to report that I know where I will be trip leading this summer

K E N T U C K Y 

My amazing co-leader and I will be working in Manchester, KY leading students on mission projects, hikes, and leadership training.

I have a few specific prayers that I would appreciate all of you keeping in mind:

  • Safe travels. My mom and I will be making the 12 hour trip to Chicago on Saturday. We’re breaking it up into 2 days to make it easier. So please pray for NO wrecks, no problems with my car, and that we will not drive each other crazy. Also our entire team will be traveling to Kentucky for intern training in a few weeks and then dispersing all of the world. So please keep us in your prayers as we all travel.
  • Students. Each team will encounter a new group of students every week for the entire summer. Pray for their safety, and that their hearts are open and ready to work hard and be transformed by Jesus.
  •  Amanda and Me. My co-leader (Amanda) is incredible and I’m so excited to spend this summer with her. Please pray that we are open and prepared for the Lord to use us. Pray for our health, safety, and sanity as we work hard this summer serving in Manchester.
  • Clay County, KY. Manchester is in Clay County, which is one of the poorest counties in the US. We will be doing many mission projects in the area so please pray that we can meet these people where they are and meet some of their needs. Most importantly please pray that if they don’t know Jesus we will have the opportunity to not only tell them how incredible a relationship with him is but show them with our actions.
  • Finances. Myself and the entire Summit Staff at LeaderTreks are fully dependent on support from our friends, family, churches, and community. If you aren’t able to donate, please be in prayer that others will be obedient to what the Lord calls them to give. If you do feel led to give you can do so here.

I can’t thank all of you enough for your support throughout this journey. I’m excited to get started and will update you as much as possible this summer.

Faith over Fear

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I get scared. A lot.

There are a lot of things that scare me: snakes, rats, the guy dressed up as the Easter Bunny at the mall (that costume is seriously creepy).

But more than anything I’m scared of change. The unknown. It scares me and excites me all at the same time, which is a really odd set of emotions. It’s like a roller coaster, terrifying, but so much fun!

Moving 11 hours from home, not knowing anyone and having a completely unpredictable income is the biggest and scariest change I’ve ever made.

This big of change comes with a whole new set of fears:

  • What if I’m not good enough?
  • What if no one likes me?
  • What if I don’t raise enough money?
  • What if I don’t find a place to live?
  • What if I hate it?
  • What if they hate me?
  • What if something happens at home while I’m there?

My biggest fear on thisjourney is, what if I’m not capable?

The devil knows these fears. He knows my weaknesses and how to get in my head with these thoughts. He’s been doing it for the past few months in a big way:

 

December: I let my co-worker and good friend borrow my car. He wrecked my poor Camry. It wasn’t his fault and everyone involved was safe. A few days later when the insurance company went to look at it, it wasn’t there. It was STOLEN from the salvage lot!

January: While driving my mom’s car, I went down an embankment on a rainy night and flipped it after being ran off the road. Again, I was completely safe.

February: After the insurance money came in for my Camry, I was able to buy a Jeep Liberty. I had it for one week and someone rear-ended me on Friday night.…Atlanta traffic. Again, safe, but very frustrated.

 

3 cars in 3 months

 

I am now scared to drive. I question my judgments, my abilities and other drivers. You don’t really think about it, but you have to have a lot of trust in driving. You have to trust your car won’t breakdown or run out of gas. You have to trust the other drivers aren’t texting, and actually know how to drive. Ultimately you trust that no matter what happens, the Lord will keep you safe. When I wasn’t able to trust the car, the other drivers, or even my capabilities, I was able to trust that the Lord would protect me.

I have to learn to do this in every situation. The Lord will protect me, provide for my every need, and be with me every step of the way. The devil can put as many fears in your head as he wants, but God can outweigh any of it if you have Faith in Him. We may not be capable, but He is. He will find a way to make something beautiful out of the wreck (literally and figuratively).

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

-Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

As for all the other fears in my head: I’m choosing Faith.

BIG NEWS

I’m so excited to officially tell everyone that… I AM MOVING TO CHICAGO! I know what you’re thinking:

“Its going to be cold”

“That’s really far from your family”

“What are you doing there?”

“Why on earth would you do that?”

I know, I know. But if you know me, you know that I prefer the cold over the South Georgia summer any day and I will wear lots and lots of layers. My family and friends will be 11-15 hours away but it’s just a short 3 hour flight, and plus this gives them a place to come visit!

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In Chicago (Wheaton, IL to be exact) I have accepted a position on the Summit Team of a ministry called Leader Treks. This ministry believes that strong leadership is void in the next generation, especially in the church. So they made it their mission to create intentional training, curriculum, and experiences to help develop students into strong leaders with a biblical foundation. The Summit Team uses these tools in the environments of mission trips and wilderness trips where myself, and the rest of the summit team lead the students through the training to become better leaders. The program is for 2 years where i hope to not only help develop the leadership skills of the students but also my own.

And lastly, why am I doing this?

I have asked myself that question many times in this process and I only have one answer: God’s will. I have always wanted to travel and move out of Georgia, but Chicago was never somewhere I would have picked out. I didn’t seek this particular line of work, and wasn’t even looking to go back into ministry. But the Lord has bigger plans (Proverbs 19:21). I have used the Leader Treks curriculum once before during my year as a youth leader. I was still on their email list and would get updates on sales, new curriculum, etc… I never paid too much attention until one day the tag line read “don’t know what to do after college?”. And as you read in my about me section, I have been wondering what I’m doing for the past year since college. I’ve been working in a bagel shop, living at home, and constantly searching for a job that would use my degree. I’ve come up empty time and time again so when I read that email I felt the Lord speaking to me right then. At first it sounded cool, I would get to travel and actually do meaningful work but I had so many questions and concerns. Once I got the courage to apply it all went so quickly. Before I knew it I was flying to Chicago for a face-to-face interview and was being offered the job!

Since then it’s been an absolute whirlwind. There have been many, many setbacks (which I will have a follow up blog for later) but through it all the Lord has prevailed. I will be in Illinois by Summer to start the trips but I have much to do before then. Since this is a ministry, I will essentially be a missionary. Which means I will need to raise the majority of my funding that will be used as my income for the next 2 years. I know it sounds crazy to leave a full time, paying job for something that is so unpredictable. But to me that’s the beauty of it; I will have to fully rely on God, more than ever. I know that He will send the right people my way to join me on this incredible adventure.

If you are interested in hearing more I would love to meet with you in person, by phone, skype, or email. I also will be sending out letters if you would like to leave me your address. Click HERE to leave me your contact info and I will be in touch soon.

If you are already on board, click HERE. This will take you to the Leader Treks website where you can give a one time donation or set it up to be monthly.

I want to already say THANK YOU! Whether you are financially supporting me or sending prayers and encouragement my way, I thank you. I cannot do this without you and I am forever grateful.

I will try to update this as much as possible so you can follow along on this journey.