JOSEPH AND THE COAT OF NO GOOD DOWNRIGHT AWFUL COLORS.

Z doesn’t write a whole lot, but when he does… its rad. Enjoy::

 

You know that time in your life where nothing seems to be going too right? That time where whenever something good actually happens there are about a billion other things in your life that suck so bad you feel like an octopus is stuck to your face? I have fortunately never literally had an octopus stuck to my face, but I can imagine that its thousands of little suckers probably feel about as painful and lousy as these billions of little things that just keep going wrong in our lives.

I think most people would say that they’re either there right now, or that they definitely know that time and they are super glad they aren’t there right now!

And who can really blame them! It really is a lousy place to be and no one would seriously choose to be lousy rather than happy, right?

It’s kind of like Joseph in the bible. I mean this guy has this crazy dream where he sees himself in a high position in the land to the point in which even his brothers are there and they’re bowing to him. Too bad no one told Joseph that his brothers weren’t all too fond of him being dads favorite son with the flashy cute coat, and when he told them that he had that dream something in them just snapped. After much debate these brothers decide not to kill Joseph and instead sold him off to one of the local caravans travelling about. And then this caravan decides to sell him to this dude named Potiphar. And then Potiphar’s wife tries to sleep with Joseph and he says uh no no. And then Joseph gets thrown in jail because Potiphar thinks that Joseph was actually trying to sleep with his wife. And then Joseph is in jail for many years. And then Joseph dies. The End.

Fantastic story isn’t it?

At this point most of you are going,” Um, is he reading the same bible that I read?”

Well the answer is yes, but here is my point.

How often do we as Christians cut ourselves short of the whole story?
How often do we let the billions of bad things rob us of all the good that God has blessed us with as well as the ending that he has promised us?

The answer my friends is way too often.

Too often we allow these things to creep up on us and then… and then… and then…

And then we don’t even see the good. We totally miss it. We don’t see what God could potentially be doing in the meanwhile and we are for sure not hopeful for what the end result will be because we are so focused on the negative.

In the midst of all the bad we tend to think that the only way our story ends is like that of Joseph and the coat of no good, downright, awful colors rather than the real story of Joseph and the coat of many colors. Which might I add ends with Joseph becoming #2 in the land because he interprets Pharaoh’s dream, his brothers come and end up bowing to him like his dream said at the beginning of the story, and oh I dare not forget to remind all of you that because of God using Joseph during this whole time Israel literally gets saved from a famine.

I mean WOO!

Now that is an ending to a story! Talk about God having a plan all along and knowing exactly what He was going to do with Joseph! I seriously can’t think of a better underdog story than that! (Except for Gideon, his story is just righteous(Pun definitely intended)) The crazy thing though is that we are promised that ending! We are promised by God that we will withstand through trials and tribulations of every kind, and no matter what on the back end we are going to come out victorious over those struggles.

So again I go back to my question, no one would seriously choose to be lousy rather than happy, right?

It all comes down to a choice, and it indeed is a choice.

In our family we have a running theme.

“Choose Joy”

And as I sit here fighting back tears looking at this chalkboard decoration on our wall that has this theme written on it, and I ponder over this theme that I have oh so struggled with for quite some time now, all I can really think to do is encourage everyone else who reads this to remember that joy is a choice.

And if we decide to not choose joy then we also decide to not trust in Gods ending to the struggle.

I think it’s about time that I put that chalkboard in a place where I can focus a little bit better on choosing joy for a while,

What about you?

To The Ends of The Earth

-Z

DEAR THE NEXT CHURCH MY DAD PASTORS

Since moving to Nashville I have had a hard time really wanting to settle down at a church.

As a pastors daughter I have around a billion emotions and opinions about the church, but recently Zach and I have finally decided to settle down at a church here and to my surprise it has been far more emotional than expected for me.

 

My dad has been my pastor since I can remember.

He is a GREAT pastor but an even better father to my three older brothers and I.

Up until I met Z he has been my best friend and my favorite super hero.

 

I also have the greatest mother in the universe.

She is a public speaker and an author.

My family has always laughingly said that my mom is a better pastor than my dad but while we laugh we all know it is true. She is his battery, the Great and Powerful Oz behind the curtain, and the best helper I have ever seen.

I have never even seen a professional sports team function together as well as my parents do.

 

 

 

This church Z and I have been attending is pretty rad.

It’s relatively small and reminds me of the church my dad served at in Birmingham before it really grew to what it was when we left.

This pastor is really awesome and a great teacher.

And he has a daughter.

 

I’m not totally sure how old she is but she’s probably somewhere around eight or nine.

This morning she was proudly wearing a tiara while she ran around the church as if it was her actual home.

She has a bit of mischievous in her little smirk.

And you can really tell she loves her dad.

 

Every Sunday our pastor goes to the alter during worship and the congregation is invited to pray over him.

I haven’t been attending this church for very long but every time I have been there this little girl makes her way to the front from wherever in the sanctuary she is and she goes and lays hands on her dad to pray for him.

 

This morning in particular as I watched her little hand on her dad I was overcome with emotions I didn’t even know existed.

 

I didn’t know whether to pull her aside and tell her to run for the hills or to assure her that her father is actually a superhero and to never pass up an opportunity to pray over him.

 

At first I wanted to seriously tell her to take his hand and convince him to find an occupation where people are nice.

I wanted to tell her that if she continues to trust her dad he will eventually introduce her to her Heavenly Father and then there really is no turning back.

I wanted to tell her that if she chooses to love whole-heartedly like that, it really might end in her surrendering her life to the gospel.

I wanted to explain to her that following in the footsteps of ministers and pastors wives means that your doors will always be open,

you will love people a whole lot and those people will hurt you,

and even worse, they will hurt her family.

I wanted to tell her that her father speaks truth,

but that truth means abandoning everything.

That type of abandonment might mean living overseas separated from her dad, and that sometimes it’s really scary to have a dad that does what’s right instead of what’s easy.

 

In the same breath I wanted to tell her that he has the hardest and coolest job in the world.

He is doing a job that will impact eternity.

He is doing something that matters and that’s way bigger than himself.

I wanted to tell her that what he speaks is truth.

And that, while it is hard to believe, her Heavenly Father loves her way more than her earthly father will or ever could.

I wanted to tell her that that is the only type of love that is worth abandoning everything for.

And that one day it will seam a lot less like “loss” and a whole lot more like “gain”.

I wanted to tell her to love even when it hurts, and to do the right thing not the easy thing.

I wanted to hug her and tell her that it’s okay to speak truth.

I wanted to tell her that the church will hurt her family sometimes but Christ was hurt first and He understands that type of pain.

I wanted to tell her that one day she might be preparing to go to the ends of the earth with her husband, that her dad might not be able to talk about exactly where she is or what precisely she is doing in front of his congregation in order to protect her.

I wanted to tell her that it is all totally worth it.

 

Almost a year ago my dad stepped down as the senior pastor at a church.

I would be lying if I said any of it has been easy. Doing the right thing sucks sometimes.

I want so badly to protect my parents and honestly I never want him to pastor another church.

But I know that if he does, it will only be because God has called him there.

With that being said, I figured I’d write a letter to the next church my dad pastors just

in

case (:

 

 

Dear church… CONGRATULATIONS!

Your Pastor Search Committee has good taste! All kidding aside, I truly believe there is not a couple that is more qualified to love and lead you than my parents.

 

I know you’re technically hiring my Dad, but don’t get it twisted,

He comes with a powerhouse of a wife,

She is the most hospitable human you will ever meet and an awesome cook, there’s pretty much an open invitation at their house but either come hungry or don’t come at all.

If you’re looking for a super quiet pastor’s wife, you’ve got the wrong one.

She’s a crazy good public speaker, she has read the bible all the way through every year since I was like three, and she knows more about theology than many pastors.

Not to mention her and Jesus are on like a first name bases because she spends so much time talking to him.

She is patient, kind, encouraging and graceful, but quiet is not the word I would use.

 

He also has three incredibly intelligent sons, the oldest one is a pastor, the second one just graduated seminary, and the third is starting seminary now.

They all have the wisdom of my dad but the compassion of my mom.

And last but not least he has a super obnoxious and opinionated daughter.

And while I might live on the other side of the planet when you read this, I am crazy and will always only be a plane ticket away.

 

We are a package deal.

We would die for my parents.

And none of us are rookies at this.

… so buckle up.

 

 

…Truth is we all love the Body of Christ… The Church.

We are all devoting the rest of our lives to making disciples, and we are all sinners like everyone else just trying to figure out who God is what it looks like to pursue him.

We have been hurt by the church, as I’m sure many of you that are reading this have, but Jesus commanded us to love his people, so here we are.

We are all coming out of a time of healing and, for the first time in my life, are ALL in a period of transition.

Take care of my parents, they probably already love you more than you know.

Thanks for loving us.

 

 

 

 

 

I know this blog has been pretty different from my usual rambling on,

I try to end every blog with a more practical challenge to kind of explain the purpose of writing it,

But the truth is that this blog was primarily written for fairly selfish reasons,

I wanted to give a better look into my family for some of you guys

And I also promised when I started this thing that I would write about my real life and what this journey REALLY looks like and feels like for me,

but I also wrote it because it was really therapeutic for me personally.

 

I guess the only real application from all of this is that most humans know a pastor or minister’s family,

They’re real people,

With real feelings,

And most of the time they have some really real issues.

 

Pray for your church leaders,

and choose to love the church not because it’s fun, but because Jesus takes his bride seriously.

 

I PROMISE I WILL UPDATE YOU GUYS ON WHERE THE LORD IS LEADING Z AND I THIS FALL.

I can not promise that I will be able to say the specific location that we are planning on moving,

Just know that Z and I are currently (like literally tomorrow) having some pretty crazy meetings that could ultimately determine where we go and for how long.

 

So please be praying for wisdom as we try to discern where the Lord wants us for this next season of our lives.

 

To The Ends of The Earth

-G

ALL OF MY FRIENDS ARE LIARS

I hate packing.

This is pretty unfortunate considering much of my life is lived out of suitcases, but none-the-less…

I hate packing.

I think I mostly hate packing because I have a clothes problem.

Compared to most American 20 year old females, my closet probably looks relatively normal and maybe even a little minimalistic….

But in like super-awesome-ready-to-pack-and-leave-with-just-the-clothes-on-my-back missionary world… I have a problem.

Like I can’t even fit all of my clothes in two suit cases even if they’re all in space bags….

Trust me I have tried.

So needless to say, packing was it’s normal overwhelming struggle this summer as I prepared to go to Guatemala for a month.

I began to mentally pack and think of what I needed and what I wanted while I was there weeks in advance (yes… it’s a process)

And I specifically remember asking Z MULTIPLE times to just give me a SMALL heads up if he had anything planned for us while we were gone… aka a proposal.

I HATE surprises and knew he was going to propose by the end of the summer.

I even tried to talk him into proposing to me in Guatemala just so that I would have an idea when it would be.

(I may or may not have a mild control problem)

He ASSURED me along with the rest of my friends that he would not be popping the question in Guatemala.

As I began to put my clothes in my suitcase I remember thinking “well at least I know he won’t propose to me in this…or this… or this”

Around three weeks later we were wrapping up our time in Guatemala and going on what I thought would be kind of a last “hoorah” in Guatemala for the summer.

We had been told all month about how pretty Lake Atitlan was but I definitely did not know what I was about to get myself into…

Lake Atitlan is this big lake thing created somehow by the three giant volcanoes around it.

It is one of the most green, lush, and beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.

Our journey to this grand lake started with a six hour bus ride.

After the beautiful ride down to the lake and much negotiation in Spanish about parking our car, most of which I did not understand, we somehow ended up at a dock of sorts.

Like the kind of dock with boats

Small, rickety, adorable ones…

IMG_2363

We eventually boarded one of said boats (one much bigger than the one in the picture) and proceeded to ride to San Pedro.

San Pedro is one of the twelve little Mayan villages that sort of surround the lake. After like thirty minutes of riding around on the lake we finally arrived at cute little San Pedro.

I totally wish I would have taken a picture of the dock we arrived at,

I was literally scared I was going to fall through one of the holes in the wood and break my leg.

Once we made it to the cobble stone road we walked for a while until we could get into tuktuks and headed toward our home for the weekend.

I think my favorite thing about San Pedro was the adorable Mayan family we stayed with.

They made us all traditional food all weekend and gave lots of hugs and were awesome.

The buildings in San Pedro all seemed to grow up instead of out, this families’ house was no different.

It.

Was.

Perfect.

The little room I stayed in with a few of my teammates was right next to a balcony with a hammock…

It is actually what dreams are made of.

The narrow cobble stone road under the balcony rang of tuktuks’ tiny little horns all night.

The entire weekend was relatively chill.

The only thing we really had “planned” were meetings with the entire team at night and one group picture on the dock the second day we were there.

I would just like to take a second to emphasize the fact that everyone I talked to on our team was adamant and persistent in assuring me that Z would not surprise me on this trip…

Needless to say Z and I were standing on the dock with everyone else right after our group picture when I asked him if he wanted to ask our friend Amanda to take our picture with the gorgeous view.

I smiled for the camera only to hear Z say… “I lied”

I think I was in shock for a second before I actually realized what he was talking about.

At that moment Z got on one knee and asked me to be his wife.

I SAID YES.

Shortly after I got done fighting back tears of joy I looked at our team that consisted of some of my closest friends standing behind Amanda, who was “taking the picture”,

and saw guilty, but extraordinarily happy faces.

(all of you guys are still liars, but whatever)

The rest of the day consisted of lots of coffee and a coffee shop were we got WiFi and called our families.

That night our favorite little Mayan family cooked us a celebratory meal.

It was perfect.

I tell you all this for a few reasons.

First, because many of you guys have asked me about our proposal story,

Second, I promised to be totally transparent with you guys through this whole life journey thing and I figured that probably included my soon-to-be marriage

And Third, there are some major changes that have already happened to this blog, as well as some even more major changed in my life and ministry.

Z and I are getting married in just a few days (AHHHHHH!)

To say we are a little excited/stressed would be the biggest understatement ever.

When I first moved to Africa at the beginning of my gap year in Swaziland I had the most “Just Jesus and I taking on the world” spirit…

This attitude is awesome and I totally believe God calls some people to be single for life, but for me it was more of an arrogant “I don’t need anyone” attitude than a humble trust in the Lord.

The more time I spent in Africa the more the Lord was rocking my world and the more I began to realize I just simply was not made to do this alone.

I remember specifically one morning looking out of a car window at the beautiful Swazi mountains with a full heart and lots to share, wishing I just had a partner in ministry to share this with.

There are no words to express how excited I am about marrying Z, but the truth is I am even more elated to be following Z to the Ends of the Earth sharing the gospel.

He is an incredible partner in missions, my best friend, an awesome fiancé, and will be an even better husband.

I am so excited to not only be able to share my journey through this blog but to begin to share ours.

As far as what our future in ministry looks like, I will be continuing on in my journey and so will Z…

We are going to continue to live in Nashville and minister to the refugees here.

Next fall my two years in America with our organization will come to an end, and as of right now we are planning on finishing my final-two-years in the Middle East.

…All of that being said I almost feel like God is allowing us both a partner in crime and then saying, “It’s time to get to work!”

We indeed have much work ahead of us and need all the prayers we can get.

Please pray for us as we begin to lay the foundation for our marriage.

Please pray for our fundraising, we have lots of work to do financially before we will be able to move overseas.

Please pray for our wedding, that it would not be a celebration of us, but a celebration that God has chosen to use normal humans to bring His gospel to the Ends of the Earth and that He has given Z and I a partner to go on this journey with.

We are so thankful for you guys and love you more than you know.

To The Ends of The Earth

-G

A PROMISE GOD DID NOT MAKE

When I answered the call to international missions I knew God was calling me to share the journey and to ask as many people as I could possibly contact to be a part of it and to take this journey with me.

When I started all of this I made a promise to the Lord, you guys, and to myself that I would be transparent and honest about my walk and about the many adventures the Lord would take me on.

That includes the victories and the failures.

And that, my friends, is the only reason I have dragged myself to my computer and opened up my blog once again.

The Lord has a really cool track record of throwing me all over the world and speaking to me, this summer was no different.

My summer in a short list looked like this:

The Dominican Republic,

Louisville,

Nashville,

Louisville,

Panama City,

Dallas,

Nashville,

Guatemala,

Nashville,

Alabama,

Nashville,

Louisville,

Africa,

Louisville,

Nashville.

Alabama,

Mississippi,

Nashville.

Two weeks ago today I was on the long journey back from Africa.

I finished unpacking my bags from the summer just a few hours ago.

Right now I am sitting on my bed listening to kids in my living room and outside, playing and yelling in many different languages.

Today I am reminded that at this moment, this little refugee community in Nashville is home,

and not only have I been able to go to the nations this summer,

but the Lord has brought them to me.

God, in His word, makes some promises.

He has promised to give us eternal life in Christ, if we follow Him.

He has promised to love us.

He has promised us that He is working all things together for our good.

He has promised us that He has overcome the world.

One thing that God does not promise us is closure on this earth.

The Lord never said, “do what I tell you and I will explain it all”.

He simply says “follow me”.

Today I am thankful for closure that I don’t deserve.

Around six years ago I sat in a Sunday school room in Birmingham Alabama and heard about Swaziland, Africa for the first time.

Through a long series of crazy “God moments” a few months later I ended up on a plane headed to Africa to go serve alongside of some of the people in that team meeting.

While I was on that trip God began to move my heart towards international missions.

In my short twenty years of life I have had three major seasons of life and they consisted of three different places I called home.

I grew up in Alabama.

While I was there my Dad pastored a church.

This is the church God used to call me to missions, and these are the people I started going to Africa with.

The next season probably began when I was a senior and my parents moved me to Louisville Kentucky. Dad was called to another church.

The Lord was teaching me to love my family and to let go of being a child.

Two weeks after I graduated High school I moved to Africa for a year.

Many of you took this journey with me through this blog, and lots of prayer.

I can not even begin to explain everything God taught me there but I can say with full confidence that God taught me to love in the dirt in Africa.

If you would have told fourteen year old me that was sitting in that Sunday school room so many years ago that I would eventually lead a trip just like the one I was hearing about, to Swaziland

WITH MY FAMILY

I would have called you crazy,

But that is exactly what happened almost a month ago.

This was not just any trip.

There were four people from Dad’s old church in Alabama (season one).

Over twenty people from the Church Dad used to pastor in Louisville (season two).

And we all packed our bags and went to Swaziland (season three) on August second.

Since I moved back to America there have been many tears shed about leaving Africa.

(and I would be lying to you if I told you that I am dry eyed as I am typing)

Over this past year I have had far more questions than answers.

I have been far more confused than assured.

And I have felt lost much more than found.

As I sat on the long flight to Africa wondering how in the world I even managed to get on that long flight again,

I asked the Lord why He was even bringing me to Swaziland again and how in the world so many different parts of my life were on that flight with me,

I knew then God was preparing my heart for closure.

It was almost as if He was saying, “You have ten days, it’s now or never”

Even now I can’t help but weep over the reality that when I first stepped foot on African soil I was just a rebellious kid in Africa without her parents at fourteen trying to figure out what this word even was

and where I belonged in it.

A few weeks ago I played in that same dirt, with some kids I have literally been able to see grow up,

And who, in some ways, have watched me grow up.

This time, with a fiancé,

with a passion for the nations,

and a peace,

knowing that I am a slave to righteousness

Knowing that following, and sometimes following blindly,

Is not just a phase but it is the call Christ has on my life.

MY PLACE IS NOT ON THIS EARTH.

But so long as I am here I can rest assured that the Master I am following knows what He is doing

EVEN WHEN I DON’T.

On one of the days I recently spent in Swaziland I was able to see some of the kids (who aren’t really kids anymore)

that I have known for years.

Many of them speak English now.

I wish you guys could have seen their faces when I told them I was getting married.

One of them insisted they get to cut the cake!

They were all laughing thinking about dancing at my wedding.

While the laughs came to an end one girl in particular became very serious and told me while I will have many people in person at my wedding,

she wanted me to remember that hundreds of my Swazi friends will be there in spirit.

All she asked is that I remember them on that day and remember that they wanted to be there.

While every one of these seasons on my life have been awesome.

They have all come with their own challenges.

There are days where I ask the Lord if any of this even matters.

There are days that I seriously feel like I have accumulated more losses than wins in my twenty years in life.

There are days I want to quit and get a real job so at least I will have steady income.

There are days that I want to discourage people from considering missions full time or from even going on short term trips because going means loving and loving is not always pretty.

Loving people hurts.

But, my fellow misfits,

A few weeks ago I was sitting in the dirt in Africa,

With some kids that have watched me grow up,

With some young women and missionaries that have chosen to love me,

And while loving hurts sometimes, God has taught me sooo much from it.

GOD DOES NOT HAVE TO ALLOW US TO LOVE,

He does it because He loves us,

Even in our fourteen year old brokenness.

I often tell people I don’t have a big enough imagination to have led me to where I am today.

I am so thankful for a God that brings broken people to the ends of the earth for His glory.

When I left Africa a few days ago I knew God was ending a beautiful chapter in my life.

Today I am thankful for closure,

But I am even more thankful for what God is about to do.

I don’t know where you are.

But today I want to challenge you to be thankful for your season.

I want to challenge you to be thankful for the struggle, God is molding you.

I want to challenge you to GO.

I want to challenge you to love even when it hurts.

I want to challenge you to rest assured that God knows what He is doing even when we don’t.

And I want to challenge you to thank God even now for what He will do in the seasons to come.

As for me,

I have a wedding to plan!

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME ON THIS JOURNEY,

None of this would be possible without you guys.

While this summer has been crazy, I know that I have not been traveling alone because so many of you guys’ thoughts and prayers are with me.

Thank you again for everything.

I am looking forward to many seasons to come with you guys by my side.

To The Ends of The Earth

-G

BLIND

The ocean freaks me out.

Ever since I was a kid I have been amazed and in awe of its beauty as well as completely terrified of it’s depth and ability to destroy.

Not to mention all of the life and mystery it holds.

Last week I helped lead a trip to the Dominican Republic.

The DR shares an island with Haiti.

It.

Is.

Beautiful.

Our hotel was right off the coast of the Caribbean Sea.

DSCN1946

This was our view from the hotel.

All week long I felt like God was trying to give me a lesson in just how creative and massive He really is.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the ocean…

The depths of the sea gives me chills, the same shores that we put our feet in and play in are part of the same body of water that has depths that are not reachable by humans

The deepest depths of the ocean would literally crush us.

There are creatures down there that humans don’t even know about.

Just imagining the deafening silence and darkness in dark trenches of the ocean is cringe-worthy.

If you are around an ocean it is impossible to miss.

The salt water has a certain smell.

The air has a certain humid weight,

There is not a sound in existence that is as recognizable as waves crashing… the sound of a body of water so large it consumes the horizon, coming to an end, right at your feet on a sandy beach or on silent rocks. What a strange and beautiful end to such a gargantuan creation.

The reality that the God and Creator of the ocean is the same Creator and Lover of little-flawed-me is hard for me to wrap my mind around, and was especially hard last week when on that beautiful island.

On one of the nights I was in the DR last week, I sat down under this straw-hut-looking-pavilion-thing with a fellow M to have what she would definitely call a “life talk”.

It was the time of night where it was really dark.

The moon was hanging just above the horizon and the sky was so cloudy you almost couldn’t see it.

Under this pavilion in the daylight, you can see a clear picture of where the lush Dominican mountains meet the ocean, you can see the shore and it is really really loud.

But this particular night, you couldn’t even see the light of the moon reflecting off of the water.

I knew the ocean was there.

It was undeniably the most obvious thing about that night,

I could hear the loud waves hitting the shore,

I could smell the salt,

I could feel the humidity,

But I only knew the general direction of the massive ocean,

If you gave me a rock I don’t know that I could’ve even hit the shore.

This was one of the most confusing experiences of my life.

I KNEW THIS MASSIVE THING WAS THERE IT IS LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO MISS…

I just couldn’t see it!

In my frustration with the moon not doing its job,

I began to see precisely what I needed…

The past year of my life has definitely been the most confusing time of my entire life.

I know God called me to Nashville,

I know He has me where I need to be,

I know I’m where He wants me…

But if you gave me a rock, I could only throw it in His general direction.

It is just so hard to SEE.

90 percent of the time I feel mostly alone or out of my mind.

Like every other day I am asking God what the heck He is doing.

BUT I KNOW HE IS THERE.

I can “smell the salt”…

I promised you guys when I started this journey that I would be transparent and honest in keeping you guys updated on what God is doing in my life and in the communities where He has me serving.

But I almost never know what I am doing.

HALF THE PEOPLE I AM LOVING DON’T EVEN SPEAK MY LANGUAGE.

But I know He is here.

Life is crazy right now…

This summer alone I am going to have traveled to three countries.

I just got back from the Dominican Republic.

I am going to be spending the month of July in Guatemala.

A few days after I get back from Guatemala I am leading a trip to Swaziland, Africa.

And as soon as I get back from Africa I come back home to Nashville where I will be continuing to serve the refugees in my community.

That’s not even beginning to mention all of the random trips all over the states this summer in between my country hopping.

YA’LL, I WANT TO FREAK OUT.

I have NO idea what I am doing.

I seriously can’t help but laugh when I try to explain my life to other people.

I sound like a lunatic.

I feel like God has the wrong chick.

I feel like I am continuously telling Him I am not cut out for a life as beautiful and adventurous and stressful and heart wrenching.

But I can smell the salt.

I know He is here.

And I know He has a crazy record of using broken people.

The same God that dug the depths of the ocean called my name, I am done telling Him He has got the wrong girl.

Who cares if I could hit him with a rock…

Even if He showed Himself to me in broad daylight the truth is, I have bad aim anyway.

I have completely lost my mind,

But I know He wants to use me.

I know His very identity is love.

And I know this summer is His.

While I had originally planned to write this to tell you guys about all of the awesome things God is allowing me to do over the summer over seas as well as in Nashville, I know to act like I have this awesome calendar of travels would be a lie.

Missions is scary and crazy.

I am constantly falling apart.

AND I KNOW I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE.

I want to encourage you guys that the God that created the massive ocean,

The God that literally placed the earth precisely where it needed to be in order to maintain life,

The same God is totally obsessed with you and has the most ridiculous, scary, incredible plan for your life.

I am so relieved that we don’t have to know the depths of the ocean or even be able to see the shore, He does.

The ocean totally freaks me out.

To The Ends of The Earth

-G

 

 

HATING THE CHURCH

Four years ago if you were to ask me how I felt about the church I would’ve probably told you that I hate it.

I am a pastor’s kid.

Growing up I felt like there were always around a zillion people in my house.

There were constantly people who wanted my parent’s attention.

I literally had to wait in line to talk to my dad after he preached on Sundays.

My dad could never go to my dance competitions on Sundays.

My mom was everyone’s counselor.

I felt like I had to be at every church function in the history of everdom.

And people had really unrealistic expectations of me.

If I were being honest I would tell you that I felt like the church took my parents away from me, and even worse, I felt like the church didn’t even appreciate them or their time.

I saw the good the bad and the ugly.

And for a very long time I felt like it was mostly the latter two.

I didn’t like the church and I definitely didn’t trust them.

Let me take a second to stop and say I have the best parents in the entire universe… like I really do honestly believe that.

My dad is a fantastic pastor and an even better dad, so much so that it is literally hard for me to understand how my heavenly Father can love me more than my earthly parents do. That kind of love hurts my head to even think about.

My mom is the most supportive, beautiful, and down-to-earth human I know, and I seriously pray that I can be half the mom she is one day.

The problem wasn’t really my parents or even the church.

The problem was me.

I was so quick to jump on the “everyone in the church is a hypocrite” bandwagon that I didn’t even understand that broken and messed up people were the only reason the church even exists.

So let me just give a big “duh…” to people who feel like the church is full of people that show up to church on Sundays and have their lives a wreck.

I fully understand that the church also has people that are totally fake and act like they have it all together, but believe it or not, Christ died for them too.

PEOPLE SUCK…

But that’s what ultimately unifies the church, right?

We all NEED Christ.

In Mark chapter two, verse seventeen Jesus says,

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

If I could speak to my younger self I would tell her something like this…

“Wake up. Of course the people in the church are messed up, it is full of humans, and every one of us needs Christ, whether you like it or not. The church was designed for the broken. YOU ARE JUST AS BROKEN. You need Christ just as much as everyone else. Start to look at these broken people as a blessing, listen to them when they try to help you not make the same mistakes. Stop getting mad when these people come into your house. Shut up and listen. YOUR PARENTS AREN’T IDIOTS. They are some of the most Christ-like humans you will ever meet, they have dedicated their lives to acknowledging that they are broken, and taking what God has taught them in their brokenness to teach other people and allow God to speak through them. The church was never supposed to be perfect, love them anyway and allow others to love you. The only thing you have in common with most of these people is Christ, and that is enough when you are finding your identity in Him. People in the church are going to hurt you and your family, get used to it. Learn to forgive as Christ forgave… and stop wearing so much eyeliner, you look ridiculous.”

Recently, God has been teaching me a lesson in loving the church.

When I got to Nashville I was not in a hurry to get involved In a church anywhere, but over the past few months I have been overwhelmed by all that God is teaching me about how much He loves the church and how important it is that we realize who exactly the church is for, and more importantly who it is made of.

I’m relearning what loving the church means, and if you have church-trust issues like me, I want to encourage you to really pray through what the Bible says about the purpose of the church.

Please do not let stereotypical-church-problems keep you from what God might be trying to teach you through a body of other broken people trying to figure this thing out with you,

Sooner or later the body of Christ has to start getting honest with each other and learn how to love the broken together,

Lets

Start

Now.

I LOVE YOU GUYS!

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THE LOVE AND SUPPORT!

YOU GUYS ARE RAD!

 

To The Ends of The Earth

-G

LOVING JENGA

Sometimes love sucks.

I know everyone has different seasons of their life… and for whatever reason for the past month, trying to be loving has been much harder than usual.

There are a few events in particular that I believe have been teaching me hard lessons about love recently:

The first one started with me walking into a gas station a few weeks ago.

As I approached the counter there was a really loud and obnoxious argument happening between a woman and the employee behind the register…

She was arguing loudly with him over some discount that resulted in what I understood to be a TEN CENT difference. I’m fully aware that this stuff happens when you work with people,

and the lady might’ve been having a bad day,

BUT it wasn’t the argument that annoyed me most about this situation…

It was the fact that written in large bold letters on her hot pink baseball cap was the name “JESUS” followed by a bible verse.

The second one happened almost a month ago. I was invited to a worship service at a church by some people who were playing worship music outside close to the place I work.

I was told that the service would be worship music only, and that no one was going to preach;

it was going to be a bunch of young people singing and playing instruments, worshipping loudly and freely…

Sounds awesome right?!

Well after worship a guy came to the front with a large white board (which always makes me nervous) and was preparing to give a message.

I will spare you the gory details but between the

“Beyonce is possessed!”

“don’t hang out with sinners!”

“If you watch pg13 movies you are going to hell!”

and,

“I had to repent for even READING a description of The Walking Dead”

I wanted to throw his white board in a wood chipper.

God’s very existence is love.

Jesus’ entire message was love.

In both of these instances I couldn’t help but want to shake these people and yell “BUT WHAT ABOUT LOVE”

Unfortunately because of these experiences recently, and a few other things I won’t mention, I have grown really bitter and annoyed with people…

Which is pretty ridiculous because the very thing I’m getting angry with them for doing I am beginning to do myself.

I started to feel like Jonah when he was pretty much throwing a temper tantrum screaming to the heavens “But God, these people suck!”

Such a loving thing to do… right? **sarcastic voice **

A few days ago I was sitting in my living room looking at my bookshelf, and I was reminded of a bible lesson I taught the refugee kids in my community around a month err so ago.

The lesson was about the Tower of Babel.

I used the game Jenga as an illustration for the story,

But before we played the game I looked around at all of the different cultures and languages represented in the room and got a few of the kids to write their languages on the blocks.

After they got done writing down all the languages we played the game…

Like every other game of Jenga…

at the end

the tower falls.

After the tower fell and all the kids screamed and giggled, the languages were scattered on the floor.

As the Jenga blocks were all over the floor

I looked at the blocks that were covered in messy handwriting representing all the different people groups and nations in that room,

And I felt like God said to me “look at all of those I love”.

Although that seemed obvious at the time,

I now know what He meant,

and that He knew that I would be sitting on my couch, just a few nights ago, finally ready to listen to what He is trying to say.

I have such a small understanding of people,

I am not capable of seeing into the ugliest part of our souls, but God knows us, EVERY part of all of us,

literally every people group that those blocks represented and more, and still loves them unconditionally and all I am capable of trying to do is love the people He has put in my path, even if they are wrong,

and I struggle arrogantly to even do that.

I am constantly blown away by Gods love, even if it means teaching me a lesson via Jenga.

This life is so short, guys.

We are so limited on our own.

But Christ’s love is big enough to cover this globe, this universe, and more.

We are asked to join in this journey of love, whether it is to the ends of the earth, or in our local gas station, and I’m pretty stoked about it,

YOU GUYS MAKE THIS JOURNEY EXCITING,

Thanks sooooo much to all of you guys that are keeping up with what is happening here in Nashville

I wouldn’t be able to be here without all of the prayer and support.

 

I LOVE YOU GUYS

To the Ends of The Earth

-G

THE WHOLE THING WAS BLUE

I took Sunday-school for granted.

That’s right, I said it mom and dad…

Being a pastor’s kid I grew up going to Sunday school every Sunday.

And when I say every Sunday I mean E V E R Y Sunday.

Literally unless my limbs were falling off my parents would drag me into Sunday school whether I was kicking and screaming or not.

I knew all the stories…

Jonah got swallowed by the big fish because he was being a punk.

God told the lions to be friends with Daniel.

Adam and Eve just haaaad to eat the fruit and listen to the snake.

Noah was quite the sailor… etc. etc. etc.

And if I were being honest, after the 20th time hearing these stories, I was bored by them.

I thought it was understood that everyone knew them.

Obviously as a somewhat-adult, I now know that a large portion of the planet doesn’t know these stories… But I don’t know that this became very real to me until last night.

Every Tuesday night we open our doors to the refugee kids in our community and invite them over to sing some worship songs and listen to a Bible story.

Last night our story was about Noah and the ark.

I wish you guys could’ve seen the faces on the kids when my roommate explained the insane series of events that happened to Noah,

From all the animals getting onto a huge boat, to explaining to them what it would look like for God to flood the entire planet.

One of the kids pointed to the globe we have in our living room and asked if the entire thing would be blue, (I was super impressed by that visual)

Once we got to the end of the story and explained that God sent a rainbow as a promise, and that the world was eventually green again they seemed relieved to hear that God has kept His promises, not just the one about the flood, but all of them.

…as the night came to a close I realized a few things.

First, I was so thankful that I got to experience some of the kids hearing this story for the first time.

Second, I was thankful that some of the kids had heard the story before.

And third, that there was still something to learn from this story, even though a younger me would swear that it was the same every time I heard it.

Which brings me to my past week…

I got home from a short trip to Alabama last week to my apartment being, for lack of a better word, broken.

My AC was out, my hot water was out, and my sink was broken.

Not to mention, I was finishing up a few classes in school, work has been hard lately, and every time I turn around it feels like I am either hearing about a bill or actually receiving one…

But I think my breaking point was a few nights ago when I felt like my head was about to explode so I, naturally, decided to eat some hummus… and as I grabbed the bag of pita chips out of my pantry it occurred to me that mice had broken into my brand new unopened bag of pita chips and eaten them.

As I sat on my kitchen floor with my crumpled up and mutilated bag of pita chips, I knew I was coming to the end of my rope.

I AM FULLY AWARE THAT THEY ARE JUST CHIPS AND I WAS BEING DRAMATIC but I had a bad week, okay?

I am memorizing some of Luke 12.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, not about your body, what you will put on.

For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.

Consider the ravens, they neither sow not reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.

Of how much more value are you than the birds!

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?

Consider the lilies, how they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, o you of little faith!

Do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.

For all the nations of the world seek after these, and your Father knows that you need them.

Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. “

(be careful what you memorize from God word… He’s likely to teach you something)

Everyone has days were the “mice eat your pita chips”.

But God is still good.

He is the same today, as he was when he painted the first rainbow in the sky.

He has promised to be with us, even when our apartment is broken,

And he keeps his promises… Just ask Noah.

Thanks for dealing with my scatterbrained thoughts,

Thanks to you guys that are supporting me through this journey.

To the Ends of the Earth

-G

COUNTRY MUSIC & ALL

“I know you called me to the nations, so why are you bringing me to Nashville Tennessee, I DON’T EVEN LIKE COUNTRY MUSIC.”

That was pretty much my exact prayer when I found out that I would be starting this new journey in Nashville.

I knew that was what God wanted,

But I have a “why?!” problem when it comes to taking direct orders from

Well…

Anyone.

As I drove into my apartment complex, my new home,

I was overwhelmed by all the beautiful,

and different,

faces.

Kurdish, Syrian, and Burmese kids were all playing outside.

A few hours later I got a knock on my door and opened it to find a beautiful Sudanese woman staring back at me welcoming me in what sounded like the most beautiful African accent I’ve ever heard…

As I layed my head down for the first night in my new home I began to weep…

I had been so hesitant and almost irritated because God called me out of Swaziland to a refugee community in the country music capital of the world.

I was just so sure that God called me to international missions.

I though for sure I was going to be living out of a suitcase and plane hopping for the rest of my life… or at least be somewhere with a different language.

(I am so dumb when it comes to planning my own life.)

So there I was, laying in my bed journaling, when it occurred to me that I was doing what God has called me to do,

I was reaching the nations.

They are just at my  f r o n t   d o o r

Christ brought the nations

To

Me.

Tuesday night we had out first “outreach night” in my apartment complex.

It consisted of endless games of tag and soccer with some of the most beautiful kids I have ever met, from all over the globe.

The night ended with singing, praying, and of course…

Popsicles (:

No, I’m not thousands of miles away from America,

No I am not living in a hut (this time)

No I am not getting my passport stamped,

But this what “missions” looks like for me today.

This is what my going “to the ends of the earth” looks like right now.

What’s yours?

We see such a small picture of God’s giant plan.

I’m so glad He holds my schedule even on the days where I don’t necessarily trust Him with it…

Country music and all.

 

To The Ends of the Earth

-G