Mission to Manila!

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Hello friends! It’s been way too long. [if you’re just here for the Mission to Manila support letter, scroll down to the bottom of this post otherwise read on]

A quick update on the wonderful life of Ladybug….

I’m currently working full-time seasonally at YMCA Camp Lakewood as the Outdoor Education Assistant Program Director. What does that mean? I get to work in an office now [making schedules, learning about budgets, contacting group leaders, etc.], as well as hang out and teach kids about science, nature, and building great teams.                    11800128_1136471086368305_6344313716493508657_n               DSCN9849
This is my third year at camp, and I’m still having a blast and learning lots along the way. My plan is to stay here at least another year or so, but we’ll see what happens.

This coming January I will be heading to Manila, Philippines for about a month to volunteer with a missions organization. I’m planning on booking my flights in the next week or two!

You can read my support letter in the link below. I always appreciate your thoughts and prayers!

Manila Support letter

Thanks and message me if you have questions! ^_^

Human Trafficking Still Exists

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There are 27 million slaves in our world today. 27,000,000.

That shocked me when I heard about it at a Passion conference in 2012.

The End It movement works through Awareness, Prevention, Rescue and Restoration.
Check out their website at enditmovement.com and join my team to fight against the injustice of human trafficking by donating  here >> https://secure.enditmovement.com/team/Yogurt17

A mish-mash of thoughts

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[Sorry in advance for the random/un-connected-ness of this post. There were a lot of thoughts that I had a hard time stringing together…and this is the outcome of it.]

Joy. Sadness. Grief. Hope. Courage. Fear. Love. Anticipation. Contentment.
My thoughts and emotions bounce all over the place sometimes. At any given moment it could be anything from memories to contemplations, life at the present to the future, hopes, goals and dreams for tomorrow as well as the failings of yesterday.
There are days (like today) when I wish I had a way of letting people see inside of me, a way of showing my heart/thoughts in a way that would help people understand me more. If I were gifted with words, I would write a poem or song expressing my heart to the world. If I were more musically inclined, I would play an arrangement that let you hear the plenitude of my emotions.

I often find myself wishing that I had someone who really understood me, who knew as much about myself as I do. I wish for someone who not only complements me, but completes me. Someone who will spend time with me and be my emotional support. Someone who loves me even when I make bad decisions. Someone who thinks I’m beautiful and lovely even when I look awful and have a bad attitude.

Then I realize that I do have that Someone. [I know this would seem like a ‘duh!‘ realization, but I need it.]
He created me. He knows every little thing about me. He is my rock and my refuge, the One I (should be the first to) run to when life gets tough. He loves me enough that He died for me. And He holds my heart. (Psalm 139)

I wish I could say I never take my relationship with God for granted. It sure would save a lot of these ‘duh!‘ moments. But then there would be less room for improvement. I am thankful that God graciously gives chances for a new start every time I slip up.

Reading this post might drive you crazy because it’s not written terribly well (although I did warn you at the beginning), but maybe(?) it’ll give you a brief glance into me. And even if that’s not the case, ah well. I love Jesus!

There I was, Here I am

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If you asked me when I was in high school (or any time up to about a year ago) whether or not I liked outdoorsy things like hiking and camping and nature, my answer would have been along the lines of, “Yes, I love nature as long as it doesn’t invade my comfort zone.” That basically meant that as long as it didn’t involve bugs, getting dirty, sleeping on the ground, not having access to toilets and running water, or not having hot showers that I was alright with it. I refused to go camping or spend unnecessary time outdoors when there were swarms of mosquitoes or when the chance of getting ticks was likely.

Then there was that one time in the summer of 2012.

My family was spending the weekend at Prairie Bible Institute (where I went to school 2012-13) during the summer for their class reunion. The teens all stayed in tents (outside) while the adults stayed in the dorms (inside). Well, me being the person I was, chose to stay the weekend inside in my own room.

On that Friday, all the teens went on a float trip down the river. It was supposed to be an approximately 2-3 hour trip and then we would head back up to the school campus. Long story short, due to unforeseen circumstances, this group of about 40 kids (and leaders, of course) was out on the river (on inner tubes and a couple of rafts) for 9+ hours — with NO food, no clean water, no cell phones, no shoes, no dry clothes, no fire starting supplies, no shelter, or anything. There were plenty of mosquitoes however.

We were eventually rescued and had the best chili dinner I can ever remember. And I did end up going back to study there and having an incredible year (if you’ve read any of my other posts, then you’d know this already).

Why do I tell you this story? Because this past fall (to the present) I have been working in – get this – Outdoor Education. And what is one of the programs I get to teach? Survival Hike (a.k.a. how to be prepared to survive in case the unexpected happens). Do I now enjoy being outside all the time, hiking in the woods, building tons of fires and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes? Absolutely! Well, maybe not that last one. But it sure does make me appreciate when they’re not around.

The point of this isn’t to showcase how much I now enjoy ‘getting my hands dirty’ (although I really do) or how excited I am about going backpacking this spring, but rather to point out a greater reality – that God can use even the most trivial of things to mold us and change our perspectives, to open our eyes to the things unseen. He can use all of our experiences (pleasant or not) to prepare us for the future and to help us out once we get there. God can use the most earth-shattering events as well as the things we wouldn’t think twice about in our lives to teach us and reveal Himself to us. Maybe there are things in your life that you’ve done or been through (a class, a float trip, a heartbreak or loss, a break-dancing tournament) and now you’re thinking that it might have been a waste of time or energy because it’s not currently making a difference in your life. Take heart, my friend.

Because there I was that summer, SO miserable that we got stuck out on that river, and here I am today teaching kids the importance of survival skills and being prepared; using the example of how unprepared we were on that trip for the unexpected to happen. There I was taking (what I thought were the most random and possibly even unpractical) classes at the community college, like Arabic and geology, and here I am using them today – not just in my job, also in finding little things that I have in common with people that I meet in everyday life. There I was, wondering why I had to see my grandfather suffer in the hospital from cancer? What good could possibly come out of that when it hurt so much? And here I am, realizing how easily I can relate with people who are, have or had family in the hospital with cancer, because I know what it’s like.

So live life, and soak up as much as you can. You never know when your extensive knowledge of Furbies will come in handy.

2013 in a (slightly larger than normal) Nutshell

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Last year went by in a blur of laughter with friends and family, new experiences, and doing things that I didn’t think I would have done. With only a mere three blog posts in 2013, I may have a bit of catching up to do this year. But we’ll just start with a brief rundown of 2013:

The year started as I ventured back North to Alberta to finish a year of Biblical studies at Prairie Bible Institute. That entire year was better than I could have ever hoped it would be – I formed new friendships with some of the most encouraging and incredible people I have ever met, became part of the sweetest church family, got to show off my embarrassing lack of ice skating skills, had many much needed heart-to heart convos, and learned a lot about myself and forgiveness.

In the summer I came back to the States with the full intentions of getting a job and saving up to move right back to Alberta so I could be closer to my friends there.

I soon found out, however, that when I try to plan out my own way, God often comes along with His plan for me.

I spent the whole summer volunteering in different venues, including doing office work for a retired missionary couple from my church, spending a couple weeks as a sub for the CEF summer coordinator, and interning/teaching at FBC Raytown for their camp/VBS program.

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Although it wasn’t what I planned, it was a really great summer and I wouldn’t trade it for what (I thought) I wanted instead. Rather, I was able to spend time with my family (esp. my dad, who I hadn’t seen in almost a year), see one of my close friends get married, and reconnect with friends in the States. And I was able to learn from and spend valuable time with Mrs. Drown who, with her husband, had a been a missionary in Ecuador.

Since the fall I have been living 90 miles south of St. Louis at a YMCA camp in Outdoor Education. I basically spend my days working with groups (mostly kids) teaching educational programs including (but definitely not limited to): archery, geocaching, survival hikes, water ecology, team-building, Underground Railroad, orienteering, high adventure courses, ziplines, and nature center (snakes, rabbits, turtles, etc.). This job has been really fun and not only have I learned a lot, I’ve been pushed out of my own comfort zone in new ways, like leading campfire and having to address large groups of people really loudly. If you know me well, you know that I’m not typically like that, so it’s been cool to see what a difference it makes even in boosting my own confidence level.

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Looking back at the year that was, I am thankful for who God is and the ways in which He has worked – for laughter, for restored relationships and new ones, for being our reason to hope and forgive (Jesus Christ) and for loving us!
As for what 2014 holds, stay tuned….

Soli Deo gloria!

The Road Not Taken (R. Frost)

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Love this poem by Robert Frost….

The Road Not Taken

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~Robert Frost

Love, Forgiveness & Hope

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“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:7-21)

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:1-8, 11-12)

“The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

“The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21)

I read these passages this morning (and in chapel)…just reading & thinking through them and being convicted of my own hypocrisy. 😦

It’s so easy (and natural) to talk about love, forgiveness, the things in life we’re working on, how God is at work, and what we hope for him to do in us. But when it comes down to actually changing old habits, coming clean, admitting our faults, making things right with people (in person), and loving people…it’s hard stuff!

I find myself continuously falling short of what it means to truly love others and put them before myself. I am continually in need of forgiveness.

There is hope for me yet! Thanks be to to God for his goodness, faithfulness, and love for each of us!

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10)