Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds

Monday, November 25, 2013

Admiring God

On our road trip to Florida, dad and I took a detour to the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. I thought it would be worth the extra couple hours... I had no idea. Come with us...

 How they ever found these caves is incredible... it blends right in.
 We rocked the Cal Poly pride that day...
...then we jumped right in! Or rather, hiked in.
 God made this! From nothing! With his infinite creativity!
 As small of a space I was willing to be in... good thing the caves were massive!
Sorry the pictures don't do this underground world any justice.
 It was breathtaking to say the least.
AH! There are no words!
 Our hipster photo... this was his idea but I do love it.
 Thank you Lord for being so magnificent!
We recommend seeing it for yourself! I am still blown away by how evident God was in the majesty of it all.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Rollercoaster

Sometimes emotions sneak up on you and before you know it your eyes are welling with tears or your shiny whites are glittering through your widening smile. Sometimes emotions jump out at you and all of a sudden you either can't see through the salty torrents or you can't stop jumping up and down in excitement.

I have been having a couple months of the hit-you-like-a-load-of-bricks type of emotions. It could be a song, a picture, a taste, or even a turn of phrase that gets me. There I will be sitting and wham! I am crying. Did I mention that they are all of the sad, discontented nature of emotions? Yeah. My tear ducts are seeing a lot of action.

That is not to say that I haven't had incredibly uplifting times, or encouraging moments, or even days where I love my job and my life here. The happy is more common than the sad. But quite often I will hear a song I loved to sing in church in Mexico, or I will talk to someone in Spanish, or I will see an old picture of life in Porvenir... and the water works start, my heart hurts, and I am a basket case. It happens with memories of my family and my home in Temecula too.

Needless to say, I miss Mexico. I miss California. I miss people. I miss cool nights and small spiders. I miss Kenny's strawberries.

On the other hand, in week nine of my time here, I love the sunsets and cumulus cloud-ridden skies. The camaraderie I have found at work. The vision of teaching indigenous disciples to reach their own people with the Gospel. The produce stand by my work. The friends I have made.

If you could join me on this roller coaster, with prayer, I would appreciate it. It is worth it when you get to the loop-de-loops!

Friday, November 15, 2013

In Living Color

To avoid an overly long explanation of the past two months in Florida, I am going to take you through a journey in pictures. From cross-country road trip to today...
Welcome to my beautiful new state!

To get here, we had to make some stops along the way. This is the river walk in San Antonio...
...and this is my dad's hotel from when he would fly to New Orleans. 
We had to stop and get beignets at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans... 
...and of course I had to get my first taste of grits.
 After getting here I found my new favorite place for produce. I stop by at least once a week.
 I also made friends, this is Dexter. We like to chat.
 These sweet ladies are Sherylyn and Lexi. =) 
 At work, I get to fly in powered parachutes (I am starting my pilot's license this week)...
...and I get to edit videos and learn a ton about media.
 I am also making myself try new things in the kitchen (it was spaghetti squash this week)... well as new fashion trends with my co-workers (Ron and Trina). 
 I have new roommates...
 and I love them (this is Trina again).
 I also have adventures in our town of Ocala (Art Festival with Sherylyn)...
 and local historical towns like St. Augustine.
 This is the oldest fort in America...
and it was truly impressive!!! 
I still get packages that remind me of home (my mom designed and made this quilt for us!)... 
...and moments where I am truly excited for the fall weather. 
We have parties where we dress up... 
 ...and bond with all sorts of unique characters.
 I go on trips with work, that involve transporting flying cars...
...and then taking pictures of them.
Trips together mean bonding. We were packed into this truck for days (this is Brian, the media director).

 Turns out I love boiled peanuts...
 ...and Kentucky.
Did I mention I am learning a lot about Media?...
 Proof right here in an interview with Brian Fikkert, author of "When Helping Hurts."
 Brian and I designed our new booth for the conference. Paul and Gene (not pictured) helped us make it a reality.
 I wish we had these in Florida.
 Here are some more lovely people at a free NeedtoBreathe concert...
...and here are some other barely recognizable folks. Pink, the Mexican, is from China. I love her to pieces. Sherylyn was Big Bird.
Can't forget this one! This is Brian's family and I, we barley got out of that corn maze!

Happy Fall to Everyone!!!


Belief = Trust

John 14:1
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me."

According to the ESV Study Bible: "believe" means/denotes "personal, relational trust."

Our belief in God demands that we trust Him. If we don't trust in Him then how can we say we believe in God? What are we believing in if not the fact that the creator and keeper of all things is trustworthy?

"Believe in God" here is translated as imperative command. We are commanded to believe and therefore trust in God.
Do I?
Do You?

The Difficult Beginning

From my journal my first three nights here:

Obedience is so easy when you are excited. When you are just as ready for God's calling as He is to give it. Obedience is not easy when you are scared, or overwhelmed, or even tired. Even more so when you lack the trust you need in God's calling being perfect for you.

But where we are weak, God is strong. And sufficient. And personal. And in control.

"Relax in my everlasting arms. Your weakness is an opportunity to grow strong in awareness of My Almighty Presence. When your energy fails you, do not look inward and lament the lack you find there. Look to Me and My sufficiency; rejoice in My radiant riches that are abundantly available to help you. Go gently through this day, leaning on Me and enjoying My presence. Thank Me for your neediness, which is building trust-bonds between us [...]"  - Jesus Calling, Sept. 27

I felt so overwhelmed when I finally got here. I was battling the flu, tiredness from three days of driving cross country and hotels, and a load of spiritual attack. I knew my dad was leaving the next day, making my move final, and I felt out of place being the newest person here. My pride, insecurities, and fears were wrapped all into one knot in my throat, threatening to make me cry and collapse into pieces.

Dad held me together a little but by acknowledging how hard it was, saying the family would visit, and giving me the option of coming home if it didn't work out. God held me together the rest of the way by reminding me of my need for trust in Him, founded in all the ways He has provided for me before.

"Pour out all of your energy into trusting Me. It is through trust that you stay connected to Me, aware of My Presence. Every step on your life-journey can be a step of faith. Baby steps of trust are simple for you; you can take them with almost unconscious ease. Giant steps are another matter altogether: leaping across chasms in semi-darkness, trudging through the valley of the shadow of death. [...] Focus your attention on the path just ahead of you and on the One who never leaves your side."  - Jesus Calling, Sept. 25

And He continued to provide for me. In an overwhelming amount of ways. At the end of my third day here and I already had built great community, found a hill to run on (it's the little things), gotten to know the area, been to a home group, realized on the river, forged ties, had great weather, and seen the beauty of Ocala. God has made this home and shown me grace in every day. I feel connected, mostly settled, and so blessed to be here because I know God has asked me to be be here.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Moving to Florida

I am officially leaving for Florida in a week (the 22nd to be exact) and in the midst of packing and support raising stress I still have moments of pure excitement where I have to dance down the hallway. Yet I still feel like I am all over the place with letting people know what I am doing. So this post is going to try to succinctly lay it all out. 'Try' being the operative word...

{1. } Here is a video Steve Saint and Brian Reed made for me to explain
I-TEC {click here} and what I am doing with them!:

{2.} One of the other things I-TEC does is make a flying car that is jungle trail capable. Here is the most recent video of the Maverick, that I got to
help with when I visited a couple weeks ago:

{3.} This is how I told everyone I was coming. I did a play off of I-TEC to make I-TMEC and we designed our own flying car
like the one above... sort of:

{4.} Here is my new address!
It can always be found on the side of my blog over there ---->
13454 SW 53rd St.
Ocala, FL 34481

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Decision-less Update

I get the question a lot from people, "what now?" As it nears the end of summer I ask myself this one daily. But what do you say when you don't have a plan, or a next step, or anything concrete to offer? I usually say I am waiting to see what God provides. These past couple weeks however, I have changed my tactics. I have looked at the doors before me that appear to be open... and I am walking through them.

What this means is that I have seen God provide places for me to step out in faith and I am now prayerfully taking those steps. So far I have had a no, a maybe, and a go for it. So I am not returning to Mexico, I am applying to Global Recordings Network, and I am flying out to Florida on Sunday to check out I-TEC. As I go on these faith journeys I am realizing that there is a lot to be learned from letting the Lord lead in the midst of action. I spent a great two months of summer seeking God's plans with no sure answers. I don't feel those months were wasted. Now I am in a month of actively seeking the things that God revealed to me in that time and even with the uncertainty still at play, I don't feel my actions are wasted either.

I would greatly appreciate your prayers this next week as I venture to the other end of the US of A to see if the Florida door is open or closed. Either way, I am excited to be able to experience a part of missions history by visiting I-TEC. I am also curious to see how this Southern Californian reacts to the humidity. And I am very much encouraged by the support I have received to get there. Thank you for buying apple pies everyone!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Impacted by the Word: Part 3

By the end of looking at David and Samuel's stories I figured I was done for the day. But then I started reading my usual book of the Bible and opened to Luke 22. God had one more example for me, it was easily the most powerful.

Here, Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, brings home the idea of trust in the more modern context of the New Testament. He reminds us of the New Covenant of Salvation in Luke 22:20, giving us the chance to see His love and perfect sacrifice for us. Then he goes on to show us, that on top of giving us life eternal, we are also given everything else. Verse 23 reveals the disciples' answer that they have lacked nothing in their service to God. Sent out with nothing, they lacked nothing.

All of this shows me that we are more than well provided for. And my only response to being reminded that all of my needs, desires, and eternal life are provided for is... peace.

What a trustworthy God we serve!

Impacted by the Word: Part 2

After being floored by Samuel's trust in God, in circumstances where God was giving information only as needed, I became hungry for more examples of faith challenges. David was the logical next step and God quickly showed me how David demonstrated trust in God even more!

It would be fourteen years, after being anointed by Samuel as King, before he would actually step into that office. Fourteen years of sheepherding, being persecuted by his brothers, working for a deadly bi-polar monarch, running for his life, and living in exile fighting bands of warriors. (And these are just the well-known events.) I would have doubted the Lord's calling many times in those years if not permanently rejected my anointing as King. In my case, missions would be a thought of the past if it took fourteen years for the Lord to place me in the field. Instead, David continued to seek the Lord the entire time and in doing so killed Goliath, defeated armies, attracted the beaten and bruised to himself (1 Samuel 22), had the world's best bromance, saved cities, showed mercy to his #1 enemy (twice), and became King of God's chosen people.

Fourteen years of verses of David inquiring faithfully after the Lord for His plans and God's guidance. David was faithful, just as he understood God was continually faithful. David never asked God when he would be crowned, nor if he would ever be. He lived presently, asking after the Lord for every step.
"David inquired of the Lord..."
{1 Samuel 23:2+4; 30:8}
[2 Samuel 2:1; 5:19+23]
(1 Chronicles 14:10)

How much I wish this was me! I want to inquire of the Lord in all things. Big and small. For even more than fourteen years. God is worthy of that level of trust too.

Impacted by The Word: Part 1

The other morning was one of those times when God drew me into His Word and continued to bring me further and deeper through the stories of the Bible. It was exhilarating, as it always is, to see these ancient words come alive in my life.
"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12
The first story I was lead to was that of Samuel. This was a man who could literally go on coffee dates with God and speak to Him clearly. They had an incredibly special relationship.
"And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground... for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord."
1 Samuel 3:19-21
Yet, when sent to anoint a new King of Israel the Lord told him nothing other than "go and do it." (1 Samuel 16) The prophet of God had to go into a family, with the whole town watching, without a clue what or who he was looking for. Can you imagine getting to the end of the line, not knowing David exists, having rejected all of the sons set before you? I would doubt that I ever heard the voice of the Lord at all, much less correctly. I would question if I should have come and would feel directionless.

But the passage reveals none of those thoughts. Samuel instead pressed on, and in verse 11 asks for the son he trusts in the Lord to provide. Another son has to exist. Samuel trusts in God's direction enough to know His plans will come to pass as He had said. Verse 12 shows God giving Samuel an answer; a King to anoint, to fulfill the calling God gave him.

There is so much to be seen here:
how Samuel could have decided on many brothers based on pretty convincing details (vs 6),
how God's plans played out perfectly (He knew David was there),
how Samuel never seemed to doubt that God had chosen someone not immediately before him,
and how even a chosen prophet of God has something to learn about how God chooses people and what matters to him (vs7).

But, of all that, I see most readily the trust of Samuel in the Lord's timing, provision, and voice. Where I would fail, and am failing, Samuel shows that the only way to succeed is to persevere in trusting the Lord. In all that He is and all that He does.

I am in transition in life, with little idea of where God is leading me. The question is, Do I trust like Samuel?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Significance of Rice

What does a single grain of rice mean to you? 
A bowl of rice? 
A 20 pound bag?

[To me it means an object to vacuum up, 
a rice bag to keep my toes warm in the winter, 
the potential for a wet computer to be restored to life.]

[To a impoverished person it could mean a small morsel, 
the only meal they get this week, 
a feast.]
This hit me hard tonight and has left me sleepless. Tonight my spilled water glass rendered a beloved's laptop useless. So I ran to Walmart with my sister and bought 20 pounds of rice on the off chance that it could suck out the life-killing-water. One tub, a giant bag, and a prayer (with hands laid) later and I am sitting here wondering where my heart is.

In the midst of pouring out the rice my sister made the comment that I was pouring out a "banquet of food for a Haitian." I felt my heart rip out of my chest. Here I am... sitting on my floor... trying to revive a computer... with someone's food. Food they will never see and that I take for granted as a source of technology protection.
What does that mean?

It means I take a lot of things for granted as much as I try to be missionally minded. It means I am still horridly unaware of what it means to be poor. Though I never will grasp it fully. It means I am so unbelievably blessed to have been given the life I have. It means I will now save this rice and put it to good use. It means I will not think again that I am in need. I am in want. There is a difference. Huge difference.

It means I need to be more compassionate, and aware, and prayerful. It means I need to let God move more and me less. It means I need to be giving gracias more. It means I am sad at myself. It means I get to experience grace tonight. It means I am looking at rice a whole lot differently.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Not My Gifting

Teaching kids. Not one of my talents.

How do I know? I tried it last week with third graders. For three hours. In the local elementary school. Teaching English. Without a credential.

I was exhausted by the time I got home and my feet killed. I wanted a shower and a nap and could hardly concentrate on anything for the rest of the day. In only three hours those 8 year olds made me feel like I had competed in a triathlon. How do teachers do it? How do they answer the endless stream of questions? Get the kids to stay in their seats? Prevent the whole class from erupting in endless conversations?

I don’t even think English speaking children would make me any more effective. I simply couldn’t do that every day. 

They are cute, very cute. In fact, I would love to hang out with them. At recess. But in the classroom they were all energy, questions, and “teacher, teacher!” It was a little overwhelming after the initial few minutes of me explaining why my foot was broken, that my nickname is Pelusa (fluff), and that Club AmĂ©rica had played an awesome game of fĂștbol the day before. Half the little boys in the classroom enthusiastically agreed with me on that one. 

And the enthusiasm continued. Little girls wanted to sing for the class then refused to once all eyes were on them. Others wanted to correct how I played “Simon Says.” Others thought I needed to check every single answer in thier workbooks as they finished them. One little boy thought a girl’s book, backpack, and eraser prize belonged to him. By the time I got to that situation her things were safely stowed underneath his backpack, under his seat. 

Then when the school ran out of water I had 20 kids looking at me to solve the problem of their chocolate covered hands after we made graham cracker houses. I knew I should have brought wipies! We used paper, some resourceful kids found some water, and we got back to being on the verge of complete chaos. Granted, we were probably much farther from chaos than I thought but, for someone who loves order, it was so hard to not have them all quietly working at their desks.

Eventually the bell rang and my best intentions of filing out to the gate in a line were shot the second I opened the door. I only had three or four kids still near me by the time I got to the gate myself. Once I saw parents scooping up thier little ones, I looked for the two white kids in the school and we walked home together. After that it was a strait shot to the Via packets and a comfy chair. 

From now on, I will leave teaching to much more capable hands!

My Valley!

To prepare for one of our marketing trips, I drug my friend Jonathan (“Tatan”) all around town in the buggy to take pictures of our area. It was a blast to bomb down the dirt roads with our camera bags strapped firmly to the frame and the dirt destroying our faces. We made more than a few rapid stops, to capture random horses and grape vines, and we did a lot of yelling in order to hear each other over the wind and engine. It was a great day and I was so proud of our work when all was said and done. Here are some of my favorites that show how gorgeous Porvenir really is:

My fearless companion...

In the buggy!
One of mine... I love barbed wire.
One of Tatan's... such cool crosses!

A local winery!