When I answered the call to international work 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,
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 work.
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 international work, 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 international work 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 international workers 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