We Do Not Exist For Us

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I’m gonna cut right to it. I’ve been struggling and not just with returning from Guatemala. Within the first night or two of my week-long stay, God kept repeating to me what I needed to work on. The word came with an image of my hand in front of my face.  I get so caught up with making realistic goals and plans that I can achieve that I miss the great masterpiece He’s creating behind it.

I knew that until I removed my hand from in front of my face I’d continue missing His calling. Essentially, I was wasting my time. God’s plans are infinitely better than ours could ever be. And if it could be any more fitting, our team’s verse for this trip was jeremiah 2911

Here I thought that verse was speaking to the people of Guatemala. I couldn’t have missed the sign if I hit it with my car. The Lord doesn’t give us a burden or a passion and then rip it from us. That’s what I was doing. I was saying, “God, my plans are more tangible. They don’t require so my faith and trust.” I was missing Christianity as a whole.

Until we fully put our trust in Him and lay our lives down, we will miss our calling completely.

Hillsong UNITED is releasing their new CD Empires within the next week or so but their first single Touch the Sky completely floored me. There’s a line in the song that says

“I found my life when I laid it down.”

Daily, I need to lay my wants, my desires, my hopes and dreams at the feet of the One who can grant them. Jesus.

We don’t exist for ourselves. We exist to exalt His name higher.

40 Days and Future Projects

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This past week, I returned to Guatemala on my fourth trip only seven months after my last visit. A few weeks before leaving, I began praying that God would open my eyes to what He had in store for the group of us heading down. Like always, I encouraged myself and my team to not have expectations on what we were going to accomplish because that almost always never happens.

On Monday, we headed out to Altimira, the village Russ has begun transforming. About an hour into the day, it was made clear that this was now our village. We all had a part in building, praying, and believing for this vision to come to pass.

What I wasn’t prepared for was meeting Altimira’s pastor. Pastor Mynor is 27, loves his wife and young son, and is passionately in love with the Lord. He had told our group that prior to our group coming, he encouraged his congregation to fast for forty days and pray for our group.

Someone who the majority of us had never met laid aside himself and his congregation to pray for us. My head is still trying to wrap itself around that idea. I’ve fasted, for a day, and that was a challenge. I cannot imagine fasting for forty days for a groups of Americans you had never met.

While in Guatemala, our group built a church and Pastor Mynor a house. Seeing the immense joy and happiness on his wife’s, Sulema’s, face brought tears to my eyes. They had been paying 500 quetzales, roughly 65 U.S. dollars, for rent monthly. Now with their own house, they don’t have to worry rent, or making sure they have enough money.

This trip had blessed me in several ways. I met a bunch of people on Saturday, May 9 and by Saturday May 16 they had become my family. We’re connected through the experiences this week has brought us.

Our next project requires a ton of faith, a ton of prayers, and one incredible God who has the power to do anything. While touring Altamira, Pastor Mynor led us to the school. Right now, there are two school buildings that hold 150 children. They have over 200 children now attending school. The school has no bathrooms so the children just go anywhere they can.

Our goal is to raise $70,000 in a year before our trip in June. I ask for your prayers, for your donations, and ask God that he would lay on your heart what He wants you to give to the people of Altamira.

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Starbuck’s and Sunrise Church Services

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It’s four am and I haven’t slept at all. I’ve stared the my dark ceiling for the past three hours wondering why on Earth I’m still awake.

I bet you anything the culprit is Starbucks’ new cold brewed coffee in a size grande. (Which is actually pretty amazing.) I worked an eight-hour shift and needed a pick-me-up about halfway through. Turns out, that pick-me-up came four hours too late. So instead of wasting more time staring at the ceiling, I made my way downstairs to where my laptop was and here, I am.

Growing up in a Christian family, Easter is the greatest holiday. Well, I’m pretty sure it ties with Christmas. Every year, we are reminded of the price for our sins and the cruelty of Jesus’ suffering for our sake. Even now, I don’t think I can fully grasp the immense pain He went through.

I grew up listening to Carman. I have the majority of his songs memorized and just a few months ago, Olivia, my sister, and I downloaded a bunch of them to our iPhones.

Of course, this time of the year I’m reminded of his song “Sunday’s on the Way.” Carman mixed theatrics with a true and bold Gospel story.

This song chronicles what Satan was more than likely thinking after Jesus had been buried. You see, Satan thought he had won. That maybe finally, he had stopped Jesus.

But just like in the song, Jesus knew Sunday was on its way.

So as you rise to head out to Easter Sunrise services wherever you go to church remember that Christ is alive. He’s alive and well and living within us.

Happy Easter Sunday!

Unshakeable Faith

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Normally, whenever I’m driving or in a car there’s music playing. It’s almost always playing through my iPhone but lately I’ve been listening a lot to KLOVE. With everything going on around us, it’s very easy to be swept up and consumed with minute details of our lives.

On my commute several times in the past week, KLOVE has played an older song but the words finally meant something to me.

He Reigns by the Newsboys played through my speakers one morning. This wasn’t a new song to me. We used to sing it in my high school’s chapel frequently. But this time I heard the lyrics in a new light.

And all the powers of darkness
Tremble at what they’ve just heard
‘Cause all the powers of darkness
Can’t drown out a single word

When all God’s children sing out
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

Anyone who turns on the news knows evil is always lurking. However, now more than ever has the evil persisted. We have ISIS decapitating heads, destroying ancient holy sites, and decimating villages.

Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars in the last days. ISIS has made it very clear what their mission is.

Eliminate Christianity.

There’s only one problem in that plan of theirs. You CAN’T eliminate us. Just like the days of the early church when the Romans were persecuting Jews and Christians, the more they killed the more people converted to Christianity. It’s having the opposite effect.

I read a news article about the 21 Coptic Christians that were beheaded by ISIS and it got me thinking. Imagine just as the terrorists began killing the Christians they began praying. Crying out to God, just as Stephen did 2,000 years ago.

Living in America, it seems we’re detached from a lot of these issues. We see the headlines, the brutal videos, but do we really understand what’s happening over there?

This isn’t the first blog post that I’ve written about concerning about ISIS. It probably won’t be my last. Those 21 Christians, that were beheaded, the pilot that was burned alive inside a cage, and the thousands of other martyrs who chose Jesus are now united with Him in Heaven.

Their families mourn them here on Earth but they have reaped the eternal reward. ISIS has not made its presence known in America but if it does, or when it does, will we have the same unshakeable faith that our brothers and sisters had?

Here’s to you, Dad!

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I had a different blog post in mind when I sat down to my laptop this morning. It was one I had thought long and hard about. I even took a picture to upload. But I sat down I remembered what today was.

March 12.

For most it’s an insignificant date. Another Thursday in a countdown until the weekend. It almost slipped past me.

Almost.

For me it holds special meaning. Today would have been my Dad’s 68th birthday. I haven’t celebrated my Dad’s birthday in fifteen years. I was six the last time we bought a birthday cake, lit the candles, and sang Happy Birthday to him.

Years go by. I get older. The gap between my Dad and I gets bigger. Time and space is a massive hole that separates two people. Losing someone that young, you don’t quite understand the impact it has on you. Fast forward fifteen years, I’ll be twenty-two this year. My Dad has missed out on my whole life.

I’m not angry or bitter because it’s what God wanted. Somehow in His grand scheme of things, it was better to have my Dad up in Heaven than here on Earth.

I don’t get that. In this life, I won’t understand why I’ve had to grow up without a Dad. It’s something no child should ever have to do.

It’s molded me and changed me in ways I wouldn’t understand.

I have one of my Dad’s church notebooks up on my bookcase. Sometimes I take it out and read it just to understand more of the man he was. The man I don’t know.

He wrote in all caps. Tiny little letters and Greek symbols cover every inch of paper in that notebook.

His love for Christ was evident. Every page of that notebook was his love for Christ and what Christ meant to him.

It showed me how much more I need to be in tune with God.The legacy my father left is unblemished. My Dad leaked Jesus to everyone and everything he touched.

I want the same to be said for me.68th bday blog post

Seasons of Waiting

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I walk across campus to get to my early classes and normally that has no effect on me. However, with the bitter wind chill that whips at your face, numbing it within seconds, the trek has become a daily feat for me.

Like so many other this time of year, I long for the warm summer nights and the days where you don’t have to warm your car up for fifteen minutes before you go anywhere. Winter has always been a season of waiting for me. Everything seems paused, at a standstill. The trees have given their last breath of life for several months and the bird migrate somewhere warmer.

Oh how I wish I was a bird sometimes.

Much like winter, I feel I am in a season of waiting. I’m young in many aspects of the word but I am an old soul. Once I took a quiz to find out my “true age” and got forty. I wasn’t sure what emotion to feel.

My whole life I’ve wanted only two things. Well, I’ve wanted several things but these two have always been constant.

I’ve wanted to write books.

I’ve wanted to be a mother.

Ever since the fourth grade when I wrote in a daily journal for my teacher, I knew I wanted to write. Fast forward eleven years and that’s still on my list.

But lately, it’s been the latter. I’ve always loved kids and desired to have a family. Where I work, I’ve been in the children’s sections the majority go my shifts. I love seeing little kids’ faces light up when you hand them the book they were looking for, or when an expecting mother comes in and asks for recommendations on starting a mini-library for her first child.

I see all the books I loved as a kid, Corduroy, Jamberry, Go Dog Go and my heart yearns for a little one of my own to share my love of books with.

All in God’s timing

That phrase has haunted me, given me encouragement, and confused me all in a span of a few minutes. For one, God’s timing is completely different from ours. What’s years for us probably feels like minutes to Him.

People have said, “He’s saving a great one for you.”

I get that but sometimes it’s frustrating. Why is He saving him? Can’t he just drop him in front of me and go “BAM! There he is Hannah.”

Another common phrase I’ve heard is, “This is where your faith comes into play. Have faith and trust God.”

While I understand both concepts and somewhat agree with them, I can’t help but get at least a little discouraged. Motherhood has always seemed like a far off dream. I’m in the middle of my college years and it’s not feasible right now.

I’m still a kid myself and at the end of the day just like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:34-

An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.

For this season of my life, I am dedicated to the Lord. He knows my heart better than myself or anyone around me. He knows exactly what I need and when I need it.

Even in the Small Things

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Months ago I prayed, “Lord, I pray whatever Your will may be, I would find peace in it.” I had just returned from my third trip to Guatemala and like every other time, re-adjustment was difficult. I’ve always had a heart for the less fortunate but it wasn’t until I began going on short-term mission trips that my eyes and heart were truly opened to the need.

I’ve written several blog posts about my sponsor child, Kenny. Over the course of a year and a half of sponsoring him, I’ve come to love the little boy a whole lot. While adoption isn’t tangible physically yet for several reasons. (There’s a ban on Guatemalan adoptions, I’m single and only 21.) The weight never quite goes away. I found myself praying for Kenny a little more each day. That if the door ever opened, I would be blessed. But also, if the door remained closed, I would still be blessed.

Just a few days ago, I found out that Kenny is now a part of a family in SafeHaven Village on the campus. The news was shocking at first because like most people I had certain plans in my head. SafeHaven Village is such an amazing opportunity for the orphans as HOL. It’s family style orphan care that is changing these kids’ lives. They are no longer orphans. My heart is overwhelmed with joy in hearing that Kenny is now a part of it. He’s happy, laughing and smiling. It makes me smile to know that even when I cannot be there he is loved. He is so loved.

I was reminded of my prayer and a peace settled over me. God’s plans are ALWAYS so much better than anything we would’ve planned for ourselves. In a little over four months, I’ll be back in Guatemala this time, with my cousin in tow. I’m eager to see hearts changed, including mine. I’m excited to see how Kenny has grown. I’m excited to be apart of something great.