Monday, April 17, 2017

the quickly approaching future


As the semester is soon to come to a close, some may have heard that I have been given the opportunity to fulfill my internship in the Mediterranian this summer and fall.

Background information before giving some details:
-I am still a student at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL
-This internship will go towards my degree as I continue pursuing "Ministry to Victims of Sexual Exploitation"

After finals here in Chicago, I will be spending just under 2 weeks in Mississippi. I will be on my way to Cyprus at the end of May. This is where I will remain until just before Thanksgiving. I will be a volunteer intern for an organization that offers residential after care for women who have been sex trafficked. They're goal is to "provide a path to recovery for each individual – psychologically, spiritually and physically so they can attain independent living." This is done in their after care center through teaching of practical life skills, counseling for healing, with Godly values and human worth being highly-esteemed. They also run a drop-in center where women can receive care even if not a part of the residential program. I do not have a full pictured understanding of everything I will be a part of, but I am thrilled to see it come to life over time, especially upon arrival. It is incredible to be stepping out into the ministry I've been preparing for. It is also, as with all new things, intimidating. I ask that as you read this and think of what I will be a part of, that you pray. 
Please pray for me and the role I will play, the adjustment it will be to a new culture, and the weight of the work I will be a part of. 
Also pray for those I will be working alongside, for their perseverance in doing well in ministry and my acceptance into what they are doing.
And of course, be praying for the women that participate in the opportunities the organization provides and those we never encounter.

I would love to further connect with you if you desire to hear more about what I am/will be doing (whether in Chicago, Mississippi, or electronically).Thank you for your interest in what I will be doing and for your prayers!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

crappy beginnings and happy endings



this morning i woke up at entirely too late of an hour (there's sleep, which i love; then there's sleeping in excess to a point of still being tired post-sleep, ya know?). i then got up and prepared myself for the day and headed out. i have a 15-ish minute walk to the 'L' (our "subway" that's only sometimes below ground) and around halfway there it began to rain. ok, then. the train had been having delays around the time i was getting close and when i get to the platform it's there! so excited that i had caught it, i made a run for it... and promptly missed it... alright... the next train was in 20 minutes *exasperated sigh*.  once finally on the train we were going slower than molasses because of "workers on the track". it was a daze of a morning/afternoon. i missed what was apparently a great chapel that morning and went to my one class. i attempted to work on a paper for over an hour to hardly any avail at all. because it had taken so long i missed the time slot of turning in some paper work that i wanted to turn in. then worked on homework with a friend who was gracious enough to help me understand phonetics (at least understand slightly more than i had previously). but what a beginning to September it had been.

sometimes i feel that one has to make a impressively conscience effort to be grateful, but after a while today seemed to just turn around on its own. there's something about the struggle that shows you the little things so much more. i talked with a friend about tangible things that made us happy: wearing sweaters that i can pull over my hands and fiddle with, little old ladies with umbrellas, perfect dandelions, just to think of a few. then went to dinner and was able to laugh with friends. homework this evening has consisted of reading through a few chapters in John and reflecting on the purpose that Christ has for His disciples, how could one complain about such?! today has been sweet in a way that only the kindness of Christ could cause it to be. sometimes all it takes is a good laugh with friends, a quiet moment with the Savior, and sitting in the campus coffee shop doing homework to cause one to be overwhelmed by the way i am known and provided for by God. from friends offering to walk me home or yelling my name across the plaza, to talking to Jesus on the commute or the smile of a friend, it's those that show me the love that the Father has for me in a way that i can hardly begin to grasp let alone try to convey. learning what it is to be grateful and it is good.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

humidity//humility

who said it could be august? what? i mean Jesus, i suppose...



this summer i spent my days in a collection of locations with a few different vocations (ok ima stop the rhyming now, maybe). after 4 weeks of summer school, that i'm sure the Lord used and had purpose for other than tiredness... i went back to my roots and spent most of my time in the 'Sip (aka the 601, aka MS, aka Mississippi). with a quick two weeks visiting a friend a couple plane rides away. and amidst the humidity i feel like Jesus has been teaching me some slow-process lessons and growing me in His-own-timing ways. in case you didn't gather from the title... that lesson would be humility: a lesson i'll never fully grasp.

but, man alive, can i look back over this summer and see so clearly the way the hand of the Lord has been shaping me. from the difficulties of struggling through summer school, transitioning from big city to small town again, and all the things that have taken place on those pesky mondays and sometimes seemingly insignificant thursdays i know that God has been teaching me about humility.

i mentioned that i flew a bit to visit and friend and the first full day that i was staying with her was quite ordinary. but it's pretty cool to see God in the ordinary isn't it? i went with her walking around her town and then we took her dog to the vet for some shots then went back to her flat and watched "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". and it was in sitting there watching windex being sprayed to fix everything, that that little voice that i love so dearly spoke. "I'd fly half-way around the world just to sit with you". mhm. deep truth. and every thought that i had of what it was gonna be like while i was with her faded. ministry is so much less about numbers and so much more about showing love the way Jesus would. and, yes, sometimes it does look like tons of salvations because numbers have significance, not for their own sake but because each is attached to a person. however, sometimes it looks like watching "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" on the couch after prayer walking and stopping by the vet.

post that trip, one of my greatest friends came to visit me in my toasty abode of mississippi. we spent a day in new orleans (n'awlins), hit up the coast (MS beaches aren't the best but still fun with the right people), and deeply enjoyed each others company (at least i did). one night as worship music played melodically (don't get cheesed out; follow me here) we sat praying and soaking up the moment and i thought again of that word: humility. and as a Bible school student, i did as a Bible school student does, and thought of a Bible story and read of Jesus washing HIs disciples feet (see john 13). immediately another time in Jesus' life came to mind, when He was flipping over the tables at the Temple (check out matthew 21). odd combo it seemed. but not necessarily, Jesus' entire life was portraying humility right? is He only humble when washing feet? only loving when with the children rather than when He rebuked Peter? and just like that Jesus turned my heart faster than the tables flipped. maybe i still don't get humility, or love, or what it is to be more like Christ. the phrase "sanctification is process" is more than a cop-out towards correction, it's true and praise God that He sees me as one worth pouring into.

so to wrap it up, i was reminded of something a teacher said back when I was in Colorado, "humility is having the right perspective of yourself" (or something similar...). humility isn't viewing yourself as lesser or greater than you are. and in Christ we are both to serve at each other's feet, but also are co-heirs with Christ and when Jesus saw His Father's house defiled it caused Him anger, because He knew His Father and knew His own authority. humility is a process. and piece by piece i feel like He's teaching me His ways.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

what washing dishes has taught me about the gospel


somewhere around three weeks ago i got a job.
#praisetheLamb
it may not be a glamorous job, but i am grateful.
so what is the job? i wash dishes at my school. yup.
to be slightly more specific, i am a part of the Dish Crew of Moody Bible Institute's Food Service department.

now there are a few things to tell you about this "crew". dish crew is a very fast paced job for the most part and takes some adjusting. (so basically, i'm still working on my #skillz) also dish crew is a family. food service is similar but dish crew is tight. like really tight. on any many occasions i have heard the group referred to as a family. it was something i had heard slightly before i got the job, but definitely something i had to experience.

so the gospel, how has washing dishes showed me more of the gospel?

Galatians 4:7
"So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God."

remember how i said it was pretty fast paced? well, that made for a very hectic (and not gonna lie pretty overwhelming) first day + a bit. it still is that way somewhat but i'm adjusting. being the newest addition to the crew and coming in right before the end of the semester (two more weeks let's go!) has had its own set of challenges. everyone knows each other. they all know each other well. they function as a family. i'm new. i came in alone. the semester is almost over.

my perspective to begin with was very much survival mode. i want/need a job and this is the opportunity i have. it's only a month and then it'll be summer. i won't be like everyone else, they are a family, but this is just my job because i am being tagged onto the crew so last minute. it's just a job.

a job.
work.
it's just what i do.
work.
"slave".

now i'm not gonna say that everything is entirely different. but i have been extremely grateful to the crew for the way they have accepted me. from playing games and singing in between runs to showing me how to take out the trash, i am slowly but surely seeing what it is to be a part of this "family". 

and in case you didn't know it, Jesus is an incredibly sassy and funny individual. He has used this at such a timely point in my life. "Grace, you are so much more than a 'slave' to me. you aren't just a human made to complete a job. i didn't bring you to this point to just do a work. you are a child. you are My child."

yesterday, i was put on "silver" for my lunch shift. silver is the position on dish crew that takes all of the cups off the conveyer belt and puts them into tray things, they also pick up silverware (therefore the name) and mugs. it is a difficult job to pick up on in that you have to learn quickly how to most efficiently pick up lots of cups and put them away. as i begin and lots come at once i here a few people who had just finished their shifts cheering me on and even giving me pointers. i may not be as comfortable or known as everyone else, but i am not a slave. i am child, in a family, growing and learning more and more each day. it's been a humbling lesson, but to see this idea of servanthood and sonship so practically has been a blessing. so if anyone from dish crew reads this or makes it this far at all, thank you.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

fully in love



it's 12:34 am. i fly back to Chicago tomorrow after two weeks of spring break (take that state schools). and i haven't finished nearly as many of my academic assignments as i had hoped. yet, here i sit at my computer not writing that paper, but writing on here. sometimes this is just how it goes.

life update looks something like this:
-my sister got married (big whoop-whoop and congrats to the couple)
-i am annoyed at the question of when i'll get married
-the answer is no time soon
-as in no time at all soon
now that that is all settled and clear... let's all move on.

summer of 2014 i had the opportunity to road trip with some friends to Kansas City, MO for a few days. while there we spent some time in the prayer room at IHOP (nope, not the pancakes one). i remember, at one or two in the morning one of the leaders of the set sang the chorus by Jon Thurlow that goes,

"i just want a heart that is fully in love"

there are a few other words and golden pieces of greatness in that song.
but that phrase is repeated over and over and over again. and i love it. so much.
and it's where i'm at right now. many times i feel that studying the Bible and learning about Christianity, although great, can be difficult. if Christian is a title, missions an occupation, the Bible a textbook, then what on earth is my faith. because more times than i'd care to admit that is the place i end up in.
mindless routine.
i need to read this many pages in the New Testament so that i can mark off my reading requirement
i need to write reflection questions for this passage for an assignment
what are the different views on this doctrine so that i can finish my paper
i must __*Bible/Christian/Jesus thing here*___ so that i can __*academic something here*___ and then move on
but that's not it.
that is so not it.
what ever happened to the simplicity. when did a degree come above "a heart that is fully in love". may it never be... but some days it is. and it breaks my heart.
but that chorus still rings in my mind sometimes. even more often may it resound in my heart and spirit. because that's why i go to school. not for a piece of paper at the end, but because i want to follow Christ in whatever He leads me to. and in following Him I love Him even more.
it's simple really,
i just want a heart that is fully in love.



Monday, December 14, 2015

what do you want

This wasn't exactly the question I expected when I sat down after (all but one of) my exams this afternoon. I grabbed my Bible, journal, pen, and music to spend some alone time with the Lord and after a few moments of reflections and prayer I felt this question, not harshly, but genuinely,

"What do you want?"

uh... Excuse me, Maker of the Universe sir, what? Why does this matter right now? I'm trying to pray and repent and get my life more together. I am trying to pass exams and apologize for not living and being the way You called me to at all times. I don't think that You should be asking me about the things I want. All these things and still I felt the question,

"Grace, what do you want more than anything else?
The desires of your heart, given from My heart, will be fulfilled.
I promise. Trust Me."

Impulses and sensors go off thinking, "PROSPERITY GOSPEL! WARNING! CAUTION!" But then I stopped. This is Biblical (Psalm 37:4). Not that God is some big red jolly Santa in the sky with magical powers, but that He changes us and really those desires that we have in our hearts that are from His heart are promised.

And truthfully (and slightly cheesily) my desires can be boiled down to 3 things.
For God to receive glory in my life
To adventure with Him
To be satisfied in Christ

So I prayed and really broke those things down.

for God to receive glory in my life
"Baby girl, you don't even know. You just don't even know."
When we truly live in the constant state of this being our desire, when we live with this thought on the forefront of our minds, we can't even see the impact we have. We don't really comprehend the difference it makes to smile at that guy you pass on the sidewalk. We don't know what it means to someone when we tell them a truth from the Lord that we see in their life. We can't understand the ripple effects and change that is sparked when we are faithful in small. The big things matter. Of course they matter! If the Lord puts it on your heart to present the Gospel, Do it! But if the Lord asks you to refrain and be patient and share simple truths of who He is, do that just as faithfully.

To adventure with Him
"Trust Me. No matter where you go or what the circumstances, not a day will be any less."
#boom. Ain't got anything else to say about that.

To be satisfied in Christ
"Welcome to the inception that will forever be your life with Me. Remain in Me and you will be satisfied... but you'll also be forever wanting more... but you'll be satisfied."
I was watching a teaching by Todd White one day and he said something to effect of "If God is not your Father, you'll always be an orphan." I wrote that down and continued to stretch it out.
"If I am not your Father, you'll always be an orphan. If I am not your Mentor, you'll never learn what I have for you. If I am not your First Love, you'll never be satisfied and whole." Satisfaction is not something that I can come up with within myself, find in another person, or will to be present in my life. Satisfaction is a state of peace within and contentment. And Christ Himself is our peace (Eph. 2:14), He's my satisfaction.


Monday, September 14, 2015

hi, my name is Grace and i have no idea what's going on

does it catch anyone else by surprise?
I told Jesus that He could have every day of my life.
and, to be honest, I'm really not entirely sure what all has happened since then...

sometimes I stop and realize that it's absolutely insane. nothing short of madness, what has happened in my life, where I'm at, and how I got here. I really don't know how it all happened and came together aside from one thing person, Christ.

sometimes I get to share stories and my own mind gets blown away by what God has done. sometimes, let's face it a lot of the time, I dream of the limitless possibilities that He lays before me. I marvel often at the worthiness of Christ to go, be, and do anything He leads me to.

then sometimes I moan. straight up I forget. I forget how I got to where I am. I forget why I live in (presently) Chicago. I forget where Christ has brought me from and lose that small glimpse of what He has for me beyond the present. I forget the past, present, and future promises. I lose the vision, which really means losing  the focus being on Jesus. 'Cause really why else? Why else has my life played out the way it has? Why else take this course? And I lose my perspective more times than I care to admit. My focus turns to immediate things. I focus on making good appearances in my beginning impressions, making a good grade, and other "good" things. It brings me to moments when I obsess over the trivial. The problem is when I forget why. I become so un-content and lose the closeness with God. It all becomes so fleeting just like Solomon talks about in Ecclesiastes. But God is so faithful. And it perpetually blows me away. He draws me back. He gives me fresh vision and purpose. He reminds me of where I've been and how He has carried me. He stirs up hope for the future. He gives me the faith for the present. Real talk, even at a super Christian school, you can talk about the Bible, Jesus, etc. all day and never say a word to Him. So *raises hand* guilty. And in case it was ever in question, I couldn't do this in and of myself. I love adventure. I love the craziness that is my life (most of the time, Jesus help me though). However, 100%, when I try and do this in and of myself, I don't just trip a bit, I fall flat out on my face. But, praise God, that He laughs with me at my pitiful attempts, utter mess-ups, and humbling stumbles; then He picks me up as we chuckle and start strolling together again.

So here's to yet another shift of perspective, Jesus be my focus. again and again.