Friday, December 18, 2009

East Asia Vision Trip

Finally! Thank you for all of you who kept asking me for an update about East Asia. I finally have the time and the sanity to tell you about this trip and other events that have been happening in my life. As a short recap, this past Thanksgiving break I went with 13 other students from Madison to travel to a large communist country in East Asia. The purpose of our trip was to see how God is working in people's lives on the other side of the world and to share the gospel with students at one of the top universities in that nation. Here is a picture of our whole group at the Great Wall:

What I can say about this trip is that I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go. Honestly, it was a really hard week for me. My heart was heavy over the question "Why am I here? What is my purpose in coming to this country?" It was dirty - the ground, the air, the water. I did not speak the language and was even illiterate. I felt very far from my friends and family and anything familiar. And I was frustrated with myself for having been willing to "go anywhere" for God when I was back in Madison, but for not feeling that when I was in East Asia. I was confronted with my own sinful, selfish nature and the realization that there is a lot left to be done in my heart in terms of surrendering my full self to God. In addition to all of this, I was trying to picture myself serving for a year in a ministry role in this country. I really wanted to say that I would follow God's call and come for a year-long internship, but my heart was very hard toward the idea. Looking back, I'm not really sure that God was calling me to that place for this next year. I think he wanted to show me the contrast between my stubborn, unwilling, anger-filled heart and his merciful, loving and redeeming heart.

During the week that our team from Madison was at this university in East Asia, we did see God working in the people's hearts. It was not our purpose to go teach them; it was our purpose to listen to them and to love them. We spent most of our days going on the campus in pairs so that we could approach people as they ate or walked around and ask them if they would be willing to talk with us about life and culture. One day my sharing partner, Jenna, and I stopped a girl named Tracy. She said that she had a lot to do, but she was willing to do it later on in order to spend time with us! What a sweet girl - we were able to go through the gospel with her and she had some really good questions. She said that she would want to think about what we shared with her and we connected her with the international staff so that they could talk more about spiritual things after our team left.

Meeting the people was probably the best part of this trip. It was striking that most of them had no knowledge of Jesus. In America, many people have a lot of baggage attached when spiritual conversations are brought up, but people in East Asia do not have this baggage. Their government blotted out religion as best they could this past century so that the people may only depend upon the government for all of their needs. With no chance to accumulate religious baggage, the students responded as interested listeners when we brought up spiritual topics. They had genuine questions about this God that loves them.

So, I am back now and have been thankful every day for blue skies, the English language, and the new friends that I made across the globe. I don't think that God is calling me to East Asia next year, but he has given me the vision for how he will be moving in people's hearts in this country to turn around and touch people's hearts in the most unreached places of the world.

Thank you so much for your love, support and prayers!

Please feel free to ask any questions or comments. Love, Bridget

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An Update is Coming...

So, although I am a compulsive blog checker, I am almost certain that no one checks my blog compulsively, which is completely okay.
But if anyone would happen to look here for an update about my life and times, you would be disappointed. The update is that I've gone and come back to East Asia and am now in the midst of the final semester crunch. I would love to give you further details... when I don't have 10 things due that I should be working on. :)
So, until then...
You are loved.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Here's Life Senior Year

So, here it is. My last year - last semester - of college. I gotta say, it's been busy. Obviously - considering I haven't posted since September! And it's already November... oh boy.

Well, I honestly dislike giving laundry lists of the things that I have been up to. I'd rather talk on the phone (or even better, in person!) if you'd be interested in such things. :) No, my vision for this blog is to be an outlet for my thoughts, dreams, failures, hopes and prayers.

In just 2 1/2 weeks I will be leaving for a large communist country in East Asia. I am going with 14 other students for a week on a vision trip that will hopefully open my eyes further to what God's plan is for me and for His people around the world. I'm at the moment considering, along with a couple of other opportunities, spending a year in East Asia after I graduate.

You know, I know that wherever I end up, God is going to use me and help me grow in wonderful and unexpected ways. Sometimes I find myself just laughing at how worked up I can get over details of the future. It's all in His hands. I know that when all is said and done, I get to spend eternity with my savior. For the space in between, my goal is to love the way He does and to bring Him glory. It's going to be so fun. And really hard. But how could I live my life any differently and find satisfaction? Answer: I can't.

So... here I go. I'm diving in... dive with me :)

On a quite unrelated note, but under the category of recent events... this is my new buddy Nathaniel. Simply amazing. Holding a baby is like physically holding God's grace. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Change in Seasons

Each day I have woken up in recent weeks it has started to feel a little more like fall. The air is cooler and the sun seems to be shining with an extra goldness that only comes in autumn. While the season of the year is changing, so is the season of my life. I have entered into my last semester as an undergraduate and the time has been sweet, but I can sense how quickly life is going to fly by me. I try not to take little things too seriously - like getting a parking ticket or having to buy ridiculously priced books. What has been increasing in importance in my life are relationships. With the women in my Bible study, with my family, with my coworkers. So many times a day God puts it on my heart to humanize the people around me and to see them with His eyes. That guy sitting in the grass looking like he's about to throw up has a name and a story. The girl who bumped into my friend and spilled her beer, blaming my friend - needs a lot of love. The drunk middle-aged people who don't realize that they are acting inappropriately - they need love. And me - quick to judge, to leave responsibilities for other people, and to get easily annoyed - I need God's love too.
My dear friend Cath, pictured above, leaves for Morocco tomorrow for a year and a half. She has taught me so much about what it means to live for Love and to die to self. I am so excited for this opportunity for her and this new season. What an absolutely amazing woman of God.
So... if anyone actually is still reading this, I'd like to hear from you. How are your seasons changing? What are you learning about or struggling with?
I used to think that once I got to college and figured out my life that the rest would be a cakewalk. I'd know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Now I'm just beginning to realize that living is what I want to do for the rest of my life - living and changing with the seasons.
May you all be blessed in your season of life.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Small Things, Big Love

Summer is dwindling down to a few weeks left in August and I have been left wondering what I have made of my months so far and what I will make of the weeks left. I find it really easy sometimes to fall prey to the lie that my worth comes from what I do and not who I am in Christ. What more could I do in my life that Christ hasn't already done? I mean, the guy was raised from the dead after dying for the sins of the world! Can I really outdo that? (The correct answer would be a blaring NO).
Well, one thing that I have done with my time this summer is read "The Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. There's a lot that I love about this book, but the one quote that has stuck with me most is actually from Mother Teresa...

"We cannot do great things on this earth; we can only do small things with great love."

God has been using this quote as a gentle reminder to me that it is in the attitude of my heart when I clean up dishes and in the sincerity of a gift that's what matters to Him - and not the quantity or frequency of which I do these things (although they are not insignificant).
I pray that God would use me to do small things with great love each day. It is all I can do - and even then only by His strength.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The End of the Beginning

Well, as of today my time in Milwaukee is officially over. This past week has been a blur of activity as the staff team prepared to hand over the project to the students. For all of Campus Crusade's summer projects, there comes a point half way into the summer that the staff appoint new leadership roles to the students and then step out so that the students can take over for the rest of the project. That point was last night for our project and it was a very proud moment for me to see the students stepping into their new roles. There are new project directors, Bible study leaders, committee team leaders, and administration leaders. Each student is vitally important to the body!

This is the end of the beginning for the students. Now that they don't have the staff holding them back, they will soar to new levels. :) Please pray that as they step into these new positions that they would strive to take bigger steps of faith in sharing the gospel and rebuilding the walls of Milwaukee. Thank you all again for supporting me in being a part of this amazing summer!

This summer so far I have learned a great deal. One of the hugest things I have learned is that... there's always more to learn (my dear friend Cath has also helped open my eyes to that).
Top 5 things that I have learned from my time in Milwaukee:
5. Being a staff member on summer project is not all fun and games... but a good part of it is :)
4. People are people no matter what part of town you're in. God values each of his creations!
3. Humility is one of the greatest blessings I could receive because it has helped me to let others love me and to love others as God loves them.
2. Poverty is not caused by just one factor. It is a combination of personal responsibility, natural calamities, and systemical oppression. I have looked into the eyes of people who have no homes or jobs or family to support them and seen great sorrow. I have also seen that same look of sorrow in the eyes of people who make more money in a day than I could in a year. Everybody is poor in some way - it is only through the richness of God's grace that we have hope.
1. The gospel is not just how I became saved. It is how I make it through each day. God loves me SO MUCH that he let his beloved son die a bloody death for the penalty of my sins. I have chosen his life over my own because I know that on my own I fail miserably in this life. And I need his life every day!

"For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified." - 1 Corinthians 2:2

Monday, June 29, 2009

Experiencing Poverty Firsthand

Thursday morning I woke up at 5:00 am knowing that this was my last opportunity to shower and brush my teeth for several days. This was knowledge that our 14 students did not share with me because our staff team had kept the plans for our Poverty Simulation under wraps. At 5:30 am our students were told that they were entering the next phase of project - our Poverty Simulation. They were given 7 minutes to go back to their rooms to collect 3 personal items that they would like to keep with them for the next few days (up to a week) while they would be homeless. The clothes they chose to wear would be the clothes they were going to wear that whole time. Their keys and phones were taken and they were kicked out of the building at 7:00 am and told not to return until 5:30 pm. Wow! Well, there are certainly a lot more details that went into this simulation, but I don't want to give too much away. I was the only staff member to also take part in the simulation, which included sleeping on a hardwood floor, eating an average of 1 meal a day, and not showering for the several days that our simulation lasted.

I can truly say that I would not have been able to understand poverty as I do if I had not taken part in this simulation. But living in poverty as a simulation is nothing compared to the realities that people face every day in the world. It's true that this experience was aimed at getting us to understand the physical poverty that people face, but its goal was also to show us the spiritual poverty that everyone has.

Smelly, uneducated, lazy, oppressed, on the wrong end of calamity, and without hope. Physically, yes, there are many people in the world who fit this description. Spiritually, absolutely everyone fits this description:

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." - Ephesians 2:1-5

Beloved, without Christ we are all spiritually poor and there is very little that is appealing about us. But thank the Lord for his HUGE grace! He has made us alive in Christ!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Upside Down Kingdom

Our theme for this summer is "Upside Down Kingdom." This idea is based upon how Jesus lived when he walked this earth and what he taught. In his famous sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke these words:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Did you get that? We are blessed when we are poor in spirit, when we mourn, when we're meek, when we're insulted... Does that seem upside down in comparison to the values of this world?
Doesn't everything around us say that people are blessed when they get rich, look out for themselves, diet and exercise to be exactly the right shape...?

Our students get to experience firsthand how God's kingdom is upside down compared to what our world values. In our first weekly meeting last Tuesday night, our director Erick talked on exactly this topic.

In other events of this past week, I had a little fun with the girls in my action group by having them create small boats out of various materials that had to transport 3 stones across trays of water. But the girls couldn't use their hands:

Also, I was thoroughly celebrated on my birthday and throughout the week with lots of different sweets, gifts and other fun surprises :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In Full Swing!

Well, the students all arrived safely about 11 days ago now and it has been a whirlwind since. We have gone through hours upon hours of training, plus loads of free time! ( the free time was an exaggeration - that first week was rather tight with activities, but we did have a chance to play some games and get some custard.)
Let me introduce you to our students...

Above are the men (including staff men), from left to right:
Erick, Kirk, Enoch, Josh, Nate, Andrew, Ben, Chris, Jeff and Thad.Above are the women, from left to right:
Gretchen, Sarah, Heidi, Shira, Annie, Ashley, Kaylan, Megan and Elisa.

I am leading an Action Group, which is a fancy name for Bible study, and our group has five women. Sarah, Shira, Ashley, Kaylan and Elisa are the women in my Action Group. I am so excited about getting to know these women. They all have different backgrounds, but one thing they do share: they are all very QUIET. Man, I thought I was a shy person, but about 12 out of the 14 members of our group are extreme introverts! It was painful at times getting them to talk. The good thing is that in our small group, the women have really been opening up and it's so evident that God is working in their hearts.

This week 5 of the students are serving breakfast each morning at a local food pantry and are getting the opportunity to not only serve the guests, but also start conversations with the guests and with other volunteers about spiritual topics.
The other 9 students are either starting their full time jobs for the summer or are in the process of job searching. These students will be working every day with coworkers that they'll have opportunities to have spiritual conversations with.

Please be praying for:
-opportunities and boldness to share the gospel at the food pantry and at work places
-unity of the group
-God's preparation of the students to step into leadership once the staff leaves in July

Thank you all! I don't want to make my blogs too long and tedious to read, so I didn't include much detail, but if you would like to hear more, I'd be happy to share :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Meet the Staff!

From left to right:
Me :)
Andrea Urban - On staff with Here's Life Inner City - Milwaukee. She is our Associate Project Director, which means that she's our head honcho for the women and a stinkin' awesome social activities coordinator.
Erick Lettner - Campus director with Campus Crusade for Christ for the Milwaukee Metro area. He is our Project Director, which means that he's leading our men and is heading up our weekly meeting team.
Jeff Hoffman
- Director of Here's Life Inner City - Milwaukee. This man has an extraordinary heart for Milwaukee. He is around for the first 2 weeks of project and is helping with finances and a lot of behind the scenes work that he probably doesn't get enough credit for.
Kirk Johnson - On staff with Greater Iowa. I feel like Kirk is a surfer at heart because of all the "dudes" he throws into conversation. He is also helping lead the men and will be coordinating outreaches.
Kara Atkinson - On staff with Here's Life Inner City - Milwaukee. Kara has one of the hardest jobs, I think. She is coordinating all of our meals (wow!) and taking care of finances and coordinating with our ministry partners. This girl is not getting enough credit for her hard work.

This week has been great preparing for our students to come. We have gotten quite a bit done and have had some great times getting to know one another as a staff team.

The students arrive TODAY and we are just so excited to have them, although I think we're all kind of feeling a bit of "I wish we had more time to prepare!" But things are coming along for the most part. I've had so many details running through my head, but the most important thing that I've been reminded of is that God needs to be my number one priority. Without keeping that perspective, all these details are pretty worthless.

Please be praying for the students' travels today and that all goes according to God's plan!

Friday, May 29, 2009

In Milwaukee!

So, I arrived in Milwaukee around 3:00 and settled into my room. Since I packed so efficiently, unpacking was quite easy. There is a staff welcome dinner at 5:00 - Speed Queen BBQ!
Admittedly, it's a strange feeling to be back in this place that is so familiar to me from last summer. I have mixed emotions of excitement, nervousness, and exhaustion. Please be praying that the Lord will humble me in my time here. I am so prone to pridefulness that I have actually seen the negative affects it reaps in my relationships with others. My time in Milwaukee is God's time and I want to be able to serve both the students and staff members with a grateful and humble heart.
Thank you all so very, very much for all of your support and prayers. I really cannot say it enough. The Lord certainly answers prayer and multiplies the small offerings of our lives. Without all of you, I would not be able to serve in Milwaukee this summer. I appreciate every one of you!
I will have more to write later, but I wanted you to know that Summer In The City-Milwaukee 2009 has officially begun :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Glory of it All

This morning three of my beautiful cousins came through town and I got to hang out with them, my sister and her son, and my brother, sister-in-law and their son. We only had about an hour together, but I just love how family can so easily come together. It was a little difficult to catch up on all the details of our lives, but I heard a bit about their lives. One thing that really struck me was how easy it was to start asking, "So, what's next? What are you going to do with your degree?" I mean, there's nothing wrong with this question, but the simple fact of the matter is that it's so hard to predict what the next few years will bring. And even beyond that especially. I told one of my cousins that I wish people would ask more about my current life and what's on my heart now. Because all we have is right now. And right now, I have a lot of passion for life and I'm happy where I'm at! And dear friends, I would ask you - how is your life? What are you passionate about right now? I would absolutely love to hear your responses. This blog doesn't have to be a one-way street :)
If you're not sure that you have a passion right now, that's okay. But I would love to encourage you with these words from David Crowder's song "The Glory of it All" :

Oh the Glory of it all is:
he came here
For the rescue of us all
that we may live
for the glory of it all
for the glory of it all

All is lost
find him there, find him there
After night
Dawn is there, Dawn is there

After all falls apart
he repairs he repairs

If you take anything away from the lyrics of this song, please take away that all is lost and broken without Jesus Christ. But he came HERE, to earth! And he repaired our brokenness so that we may have a right relationship with him. And now we are to live for his glory. Live for his glory!!! Be encouraged and be blessed.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's the Little Things in Life

After I got out of work today around 2:30 I dilly-dallied a bit before taking a beautiful walk home. The temperature was perfectly mild, with plenty of blue sky and sunshine streaming down on me. When I got home I caught up on The Office episodes of the past couple weeks. These simple things put me at such ease. It doesn't take much to make me happy, so I love to soak in the little things. A bit later in the evening as I was contemplating the homework that I had for this evening, I felt energized enough to go on a run so I could enjoy the sunset and weather before the day was done. Eventually I found myself on a very secluded nature trail and it was as if God was embracing me between the shoreline and the low-hanging branches. So glorious. I felt so good - so rejuvenated - I didn't want to stop running. For two splendid hours I ran, and prayed, and sang to myself!
Hopefully one day I'll run a marathon :)

If you would like to know how you can be praying specifically for me and for the students that will be coming on the Milwaukee summer project, here are a few ideas:
-Support raising (While I have my support fully raised, many of the students are just beginning to send out their letters. We have a big God. Pray that people would give generously to the students)
-Safety (The inner-city of Milwaukee, or any city for that matter, does have its dangers. Please pray for the residents in the city who experience the most victimization of crime, and also for the students and staff who will be living in this area)
-Open hearts (Going into the inner-city, students may think that they have a superiority to them because they are coming to help. An open heart will let students see the city with God's eyes and will humble them to learn that it will be the city that changes them)
-Unity! (A bunch of strangers coming together can be awkward and difficult at times, but we are called to be unified in Christ)
Thank you all so much!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

100% plus more!

Today, I received 100% of my financial support for this summer! Praise the Lord! PLUS more financial support that will be put into a scholarship fund for students who are coming on the project that do not reach their full support goal. I'm really excited that the Lord is providing in this way because last summer when I was in Milwaukee as a student for this summer project, I did not reach my full support goal and my support was completed through this scholarship fund. I would not have been able to continue my summer in Milwaukee without reaching my support goal, and probably would not be writing this blog right now if it hadn't been for people giving above and beyond their required support.

So, again, I thank all of you for all of your prayer and financial support! The Lord is moving in great ways!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Love of a Jealous Kind

Today I have been listening to my pandora (free radio on the internet) and this one song that I have heard before really grabbed my attention today. It's called "Jealous Kind" by Jars of Clay. I've always enjoyed the musical style of the song before but I was really driven to find out more about the lyrics today. They are:

I built another temple to a stranger
I gave away my heart to the rushing wind
I set my course to run right into danger
Sought the company of fools instead of friends

You know I've been unfaithful
Lovers in lines
While you're turning over tables with
the rage of a jealous kind
I chose the gallows to the aisle
Thought that love would never find
Hanging ropes will never keep you
And your love of a jealous kind
Love of a jealous kind

Trying to jump away from rock that keeps on spreading
For solace in the shift of the sinking sand
I'd rather feel the pain all too familiar
Than to be broken by a lover I don't understand
'Cause I don't understand

One hundred other lovers, more, one hundred other altars
If I should slow my pace and finally subject me to grace
And love that shames the wise,
betrays the heart's deceit and lies
And breaks the back of foolish pride

When I read these lyrics through at first, I was still rather confused. But thinking about the heart behind them, I take them as a very intimate and personal wrestling that an individual is having with the Lord.
As humans, we have this nature that causes us to seek after things to fulfill ourselves - the love and attention of other people, success in business, raising healthy children... These things are not bad in themselves, but I think all too easily we put them first, before God. But God is a jealous God - he doesn't want our leftover efforts. He doesn't want to be our second (or third or fourth) love. Jesus took the full wrath of God's justice on himself because he LOVES us! This is a love that truly shames the wise of this world. This is a love that breaks the backs of our foolish pride. This is a love that I am unworthy of. So unworthy.

But so grateful. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Woohoo God!

Wow, I am floored by the Almighty!

This summer I have the incredible opportunity to return to Milwaukee as a student staff member for a summer project through Campus Crusade for Christ. I was on this project as a student last summer and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. This whole blog is basically the lovechild of my summer in Milwaukee.

Well, I am "woohooing" God because today I received some support checks in the mail that brought me to the half-way point of my support goal! And I only sent out my support letters last week! It's amazing to see how God is working in people's hearts to give even when it seems money is so tight in the rest of the nation's economy.

Thank you, my supporters!! I am eagerly anticipating being a part of what God is going to do this summer in Milwaukee.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Waiting for My Bridegroom

In Bible study, we're currently looking at Jesus' teachings and what they meant in the context of his surroundings and the historical time period. Something that I found really fascinating was the comparison that Jesus used of himself being a bridegroom who was leaving to prepare a place in his father's house for his bride. In Jewish custom, when a man was ready to marry, his family would gather the resources for him to pay the "bride price" for his bride. He would go to this girl and they would share a glass of wine together signifying the covenant of their future marriage. He would then tell her that he was going back to his father's house to build a place for the two of them to live. While he was away, this girl learned all that she needed to know about being a wife and waited eagerly for the return of her husband. She did not know the exact day of his return, but she was expected to be always ready.
I think this is just a really incredible picture of what God is doing for us, the church - his bride. He has committed himself to us and is at this very moment preparing in heaven a place for us to be with him. Coming to this realization that Jesus loves me so much that the "bride price" he paid for me was his life has made me desire to be constantly preparing myself to be ready for his return. Everything I do on this earth should be in preparation for the kingdom that I will be welcomed into in heaven.
This means that every relationship that I have is an opportunity to share God's love and to build up his kingdom here on earth. My life has purpose and meaning beyond the worldy pursuits of a husband, kids, a good job, retirement, recognition, health... the list could go on. These things are not bad in themselves, but without submitting them to God's will, pursuing them alone will never be fulfilling.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Big Break 2009

For spring break this year I went with Campus Crusade for Christ to Panama City Beach in Florida for a conference called Big Break. There were about 50 students and staff from Madison that took a chartered bus all the way down to Florida for the week and we stayed in beautiful villas with about 6 people per villa. Big Break is a national conference with colleges from all over, so we had about 975 students from all over the U.S. for our particular spring break week. (There are 4 total weeks of spring break that the Big Break conference lasts for.)
The first few days were a bit overcast and rainy, but the sun came out full force on Tuesday and lasted through the rest of the week for us, so
we were very thankful for that!
My typical day was waking about somewhere between 8 and 9, reading my Bible and praying while eating breakfast, going to the large group session at 10 to receive encouragement and training for the day's outreach. We had 3 awesome speakers - one who had lost his 23 year old son 4 years ago in the Iraq war. We learned a great deal about what it means to be a warrior for God and that we are constantly in a battle - not against people, but against the Enemy of this world. After this session we grabbed lunch at our villas and then headed out with our campuses to different locations along an 8 mile stretch of Panama City Beach. The craziest location was a night club called La Vela - it's actually acclaimed to be the largest night club in the United States. I have never seen so many beer cans in my life! Our goal at these locations was to approach peo
ple and ask them if they would take a spiritual interest survey. Most people were very receptive - I was only turned down three times the whole week by people who didn't want to take the survey, otherwise some of the other people who said no had already gone through it! By using this survey we were able to make a transition into sharing the gospel. Personally, I was able to share the gospel with at least 15 people the whole week. No one made a decision for Christ with me, but a lot of people told me that my conversation with them had been just what they needed and were definitely going to read through the information that I left with them about the gospel.
My most memorable conversation was with a girl named Taylor. One of the survey questions asks a person to choose three words to describe their life. One of the words that Taylor chose was "depressing." After I shar
ed the gospel with her, I went back to this question and asked why she had said that. She told me that she had a habit of letting guys walk all over her. I looked straight into her eyes and told her that God loved her and respected her and that her worth came from him and not from any man. She told me that was a huge lift to her self-esteem.
This story is just one of MANY amazing things that God did this week! And I am excited to share that as a result of this week's sharing we have at least 640 new brothers and sisters in Christ!!

That was an incredible way to spend such a huge chunk of my day, but it was great to be able to go back to my villa in the evening and have dinner with friends and then have one more large group session to hear some of the day's sharing experiences.
Below is a picture of me and my friend Jen going through an outline of the gospel with some girls that we met on the beach.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Seeking the Lord

Tonight I heard three successful businessmen talk about how they live out their faith in the marketplace and how living as a Christ-follower can be challenging, but incredibly rewarding. One thing that struck me the most is their advice to not rush to the next thing; the next semester, graduation, first job, marriage... to just be constantly seeking the Lord and resting in His plan. He's got big things for me, but I do find myself just wishing that I was out of school already and doing what I'm "really made for." But the fact of the matter is, I'm really made for right now. I'm not promised anything else. I may not wake up tomorrow morning. And so I seek the Lord. Right now. And every moment; when I sit and when I run, when I eat and when I work. Whenever, wherever I am in this world. I will be thankful and I will not rush through the best days of my life. For each day, I am determined, will be the best day of my life.
I will cross each bridge as it comes. :)

Friday, February 27, 2009

By Your Side

This is a song by Tenth Avenue North that has really been drilling itself into my mind these past few days. Sometimes I find myself feeling incredibly lonely. Almost lost in my separateness from any other being. But these words are the best reminder that God is already holding me. Where will I run? Where would I dare dream of going? Why am I trying to earn grace when I already am overflowing with it?

Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands and my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world's sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life
I want to give you life

Cause I, I love you
I want you to know
That I, I love you
I'll never let you go

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jelly Beans

Today, I got to talk to my two year old nephew on the phone. He is currently potty training and gets very excited about his accomplishments. Our conversation went as follows:
Cayden: "Hi B-B"
Me: "Hi Cayden, what are you doing?"
Cayden: "I'm gonna poo-poo on the potty!!"
Me: "Oh wow. Cool, good job! What do you get for going poo-poo on the potty?"
Cayden: "The red one!" (Jelly bean)
I couldn't be prouder. It's funny how perspective tends to shift in life. Who'd have thunk that I would have been so delighted to hear about bowel movements?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Why Filled? Why Sent?

This is a post that I have been meaning to write since I started my blog. Why did I name it this, "Filled and Sent"? Why and how am I filled? And sent? What does that even mean?
My friends, on a day like today, I feel the truth of these things to my very core. Today I met with a friend that I work with to have lunch. Over the fall semester we had gotten to know one another and often joked around. She is a phenomenal woman, very hard-working and very funny. I love the stories that she tells. I have been praying for her since early on in the semester because I greatly desired for the chance to share the gospel with her. And today seemed like the perfect opportunity! I was thrilled to have the chance to get to know her even deeper and to be able to share God's love with her. We started eating and she said to me, "so what's been going on in your life?" And instead of taking a deep breath and praying for the Holy Spirit to speak through me, I stumbled over my words and my thoughts. In somewhat rough, yet enjoyable conversation, I tried to explain the love that I feel from God and how my "life has been changed" and my "eternal perspective." Stumbling and stuttering through, I felt like I was completely failing. And just plain chickening out of telling her the truth of the gospel in plain English. But in God's grace, I was allowed to see a bit of her heart. She told me that she is becoming bored with her life - it's always the same old routine on weekends (going out, drinking...) and she feels like she needs a new group of friends. She wants to have a real meaning for her life. If that's not a blatant cry for the gospel, I don't know what is. Thankfully, she is super sweet and didn't mind my stammering. Our friendship, I hope, will continue to grow as I show her more of God's love. I do love her as a precious new friend and I pray that despite my failures that she would come to see God and know his love for her, and her need for him.
But I still haven't answered the question. Why filled? Why sent? This summer I learned about one of the most crucial aspects concerning my relationship with God. Let me try to make an analogy. Imagine that you are brewing a full pot of coffee, but you have only put in enough grounds for one cup. Now, you'll certainly be able to brew the coffee, but it will be very weak in flavor. And no matter how much water you keep adding to the brew, you may keep making more "coffee," but it will get weaker with each brew if you don't add more grounds. This is how I felt in my relationship with God. I felt like I was this over-brewed pot of coffee that was weak. I felt frustrated that I couldn't produce a "stronger brew" - a deeper faith, on my own. But what I discovered this summer is that I wasn't being continually filled by the Holy Spirit! When we first become Christians, the Holy Spirit comes and fills us. But this is not a one time deal - we are to be continually filled by the Holy Spirit. Paul even gives it as a command in Ephesians 5:18, "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." So, back to the coffee example. There's no way that you can keep making coffee that tastes remotely decent if you're not continually filling up with new grounds. And there's no way that Christians can be effective or feel empowered if they are trying to follow God based solely upon what they possess within themselves. When I realized this truth this summer, I was absolutely floored. Oh, how I had been feeling so frustrated and exhausted from trying to live out my Christian life based upon my own efforts! But what incredible freedom I felt in letting the Holy Spirit fill me with his power and his strength. Now, each day I have been able to recognize my incredible need to be filled by the Spirit. The first necessary step is to confess any withstanding sin that I have before God. If sin dwells in my heart, then the Spirit cannot fill me. Some people like to call this "spiritual breathing." It is exhaling out all of the gunk that I have been letting fill me and then inhaling the Spirit and offering to him the reigns of my life once more. This is something that I try to do multiple times a day. Constantly I stumble and need once more to go through this process. But my is it worth it!! And this how one can measure a Spirit-filled life: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." - Galatians 5:22 When you take inventory of these 'fruits' in your life, you can tell if you are truly letting the Spirit fill you, or if you are still "brewing weak coffee."
I applaud you highly if you have read this far. The second portion of my title is about being sent. It's great to be filled by the Spirit, but that's not the whole story. After Jesus had risen from the dead, appeared to his disciples and was just about to be taken up to heaven, he gave them very important instructions. "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.' " - Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus has sent me (and you, if you are a Christ-follower!) to go make disciples of all nations. Every single person on this earth needs to know about Jesus and his love for them! That is a HUGE thing to command. It seems pretty scary thinking at the vastness of that command and the fact that we might be "stepping on toes." But listen to these verses from Romans 10:14-15, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!' " Woah, baby. I don't know about you, but that hits home for me. And so I am living as a sent one. In my apartment, in my classes, in my workplace, in my Bible study, with my friends, on a bus... every day, every moment, for the rest of my life. I am a sent one for the gospel of Jesus Christ so that every nation will have a chance to call on the God who has loved them enough to give his only son for them.
This is why I am filled. This is why I am sent.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Our Great God!

Eternal God, Unchanging, Mysterious and unknown.
Your boundless love unfailing, In grace and mercy shown.
Bright seraphim in endless flight around your glorious throne.
They raise their voices day and night in praise to you alone.

Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!
Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!

Lord, We are weak and frail, Helpless in the storm.
Surround us with your angels, Hold us in your arms.
Our cold and ruthless enemy, His pleasure is our harm.
Rise up, O Lord, And he will flee before our Sovereign God.

Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!
Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!

Let every creature in the sea and every flying bird;
Let every mountain, Every field and valley of the earth;
Let all the moons and all the stars in all the universe
Sing praises to the Living God, Who rules them by His Word.

Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!
Hallelujah! Glory be to our great God!

Monday, January 26, 2009

This was not on my list of "To Do's"

Of course, a good blog post is never planned out too far in advance, I find. It's just when that certain moment of clarity or inspiration hits that one just has to share. I'm really excited about this semester, I have decided. My classes seem to be decently interesting and not too difficult and it looks like I will have a good deal of time to spend with some of the women in my life who have become very dear to me. I am part of a Bible study of 11 women - 2 being our leaders. Tonight we decided that our goal for the semester is to draw closer to one another as we strive to grow closer to God. We want to take risks and show love to one another. My personal desire is to feel that by the end of the semester, it will have to be by physical force that I shall be separated from these women because my love for them will have grown so strong. More than my love for them will be my love for God and how he has used them to change and shape my heart over those couple of months. There is a lot of work to be done in my heart still.
Now, for some reason, I just feel that a post isn't complete if I don't have a picture to go along with it. So, I will share this picture of some lovely ladies - some of whom are in my Bible study. Goofy and beautiful.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cast thy Burdens

"Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." - Psalm 55:22

O burden within me, please be cast off onto my Lord
I cannot bear the weight that you bring
My soul sags when it wants to soar
Let me forgive where I need to forgive
Bring me love where I have stopped feeling
Humble me so that I may not hold myself over anyone else
Like a shadow my burdens block the Light from shining fully
I need thee, Lord, I need thee

Monday, January 19, 2009

Midnight Musings

Dear friend,
I am feeling physically tired at the moment, but also inspired to write and muse. Perhaps this is not the wisest or most responsible decision to be making right now. This I will learn, I am sure. My friend, where are you when I want you to be right here with me in my greatest state of vulnerability? What dreams are you dreaming tonight? Perhaps you have caught glimpses of me. My God is the only one that I can always count on. Oh why do I doubt him? Lord, I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief. Surely, my friend, you do not know me as well as my Creator. Thank you for recognizing that. Thank you for bringing Him glory in your life.
With a tired body and a soul thirsting for the One who truly satisfies,
Good night

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


So, it may seem to anyone who is reading my blog that my posts are mildly random, but in my head my method makes sense. Before I started sharing about specifics in my life, I wanted to lay some of the foundationals, like the major characters. This blog is sort of my own little story, I suppose. Anyway...
I really enjoy God's breathtaking creation and I try in many ways to capture an essence of it, mainly through photography. I have quite a few pictures that I would love to share, but I will choose just a select few. I love sifting through these images because I just praise God all over again for the beauty that he has created and it just brings a simple joy to my heart.

In these pictures:
1) God said good night with a richly painted sky one evening as I visited the Caribbean.
2) The angles of the flowers catch the sunlight in the most delightful manner, and I also love the delicacy of both the fly and the daisies.
3) Multnomah Falls, Washington. God is brilliant.
4) Clearly God is raining down his love through sunshine on the city. :) He is God of the city!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Love is a Many Splendored Thing

There is no possible way that I could go into as much detail in this blog as I'd desire to in order to properly describe my precious friendships, but I need to at least mention a little bit about them. And this particular post is also geared toward the women who have been especially significant in my life this year. The list of my beloved friends does go longer, but there has to be a cutoff somewhere!
This past summer I spent 8 weeks in Milwaukee on a summer project through Campus Crusade for Christ. When I was there, this gorgeous woman on the right was appointed my discipler. Andrea Urban is one of the most, if not the most, amazing women that I have ever met. She has lit up my life with laughter and has made me feel incredibly special with her love. She loves working in the inner city and she serves with incredible humility. Andrea speaks truth like no one else I know. She's also a delightfully playful child at heart. I know that I can always count on her.

This is Ms. Kara Atkinson. I also met her in Milwaukee while on project. She has been an intern with Here's Life Inner City - Milwaukee for the past year and a half. What I love about Kara is that she never takes herself too seriously. While we have a great deal of fun joking around, I've also been able to experience the depth of Kara's heart. She, too, has a heart for the poor and she serves faithfully. Kara can be amazingly and bluntly honest, and I love that about her.

God works in spectacular ways. The summer before I went on project to Milwaukee, my dear friend Cath Skroch was there on project and Andrea was her discipler! At that point, Cath was not a dear friend - she was barely an acquaintance. But by the amazing work of God's hand, he brought our lives together in a powerful way. Because of our individual bonds with Andrea, we were immediately able to fall into a close relationship this year and Cath began to disciple me! She is the most gentle and gracious creature that I have ever experienced. And I think that God has given her red hair to match the passion for life that burns within her.

I absolutely adore my roomie, BJ Molzahn. How could someone not love that face? BJ is hardly ever without a smile, which just shows the heart of joy that resides within her. It doesn't matter if we are keeling with laughter or listening to each others woes or somewhere in between, I take delight in each moment that I get to spend with this beloved daughter of God. Besides her smile, the first things that come to mind when I think of BJ are skinny jeans, her scarf, music, foreign accents, and a passion for living each day and stretching to attain all that God has for her. I look up to this woman tremendously.

Oh my - how beautiful and sweet it has been to grow deeper in my relationship with the lovely Annie Deutsch. I see a lot of myself in Annie - quiet, reserved, hesitant about which way to turn next, longing for more depth in life. I see Annie as a flower who is blooming before my very eyes! She serves other people with love and humility. I am amazed and awed by her athletic abilities :) There is nothing inauthentic about Annie and I'm always learning more from her and about her. What a blessing!

Friday, January 9, 2009

A snapshot of my heart

Do you ever think about what people might say at your funeral?
I asked this question among a group of friends the other day as we sat intimately in a fort that we had created with childlike giddy. It can be awkward to tell people what you really think about them to their face... but really, how sad would it be if you just assumed that they knew what you thought about them, but they were unsure and you lost that opportunity?
I think this has been my greatest undertaking recently. I'm not in any way perfect at it. In fact, I fail quite often, but my heart begs for me to try.

To the right is a picture of my beautiful, amazing and only sister Bethany (and nephew Cayden). Just after Christmas I had been the opportunity to sit down with her and have an open, loving conversation the likes of which we've never shared before. This is something that I have been hoping and praying for over the past couple weeks. And perhaps you're even reading this now, Bethany, and so I want to thank you deeply for being my sister and my friend. I want us to be friends forever. I want you to know that I love you and cherish you for the person you are. I think you're really cool and I look up to you so much!! And it's weird to tell you that in person, but I hope that with practice it will come more easily. For the unknowing reader, Beth and I are six years apart, and I can mostly describe our relationship growing up as a "love/hate" relationship. But I'm all about the love now :)

I am thankful that I have begun to see all that could be in a relationship with another person, but I do regret what time I may have wasted with my mom and sister especially growing up. I feel that with the friends I have now it is so easy to be open and loving with them, but there is this chasm of "the past" that holds me back from being completely vulnerable to my family. I feel that it might be inevitable to let myself be hurt in order to heal what may be festering within them. Sarcasm rips me down and it makes me not want to reveal my whole heart, but I feel that if I am expecting a full, unabashed love from them, I need to be the one to first step out into vulnerability and envelop them with the Love that completely covers me.

Oh, sweet Love of the Father. How tangible you are in my life. I'm so thankful that I am no longer my own, but fully God's. And this is not some rant of a girl just to draw attention to herself. That is the complete opposite of my intention. I am nothing compared to God and if anything can be taken away from these words that I write it is that God deserves all glory and recognition. I am astonished at the intricacy with which he has knit Creation and I love that I get to experience my fellow humanity with a deeply intimate love.