Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Stained glass masquerade

Lately I have been thinking a lot about being real with people. What would this really look like?
I will be the first to admit, the very thought of being 100% real with someone is enough to make me shudder. I will also be the first to admit that sometimes I really, really stink at being real with people.
Yep. I said it. I have a hard time letting people know how I am really doing. 

This is an area in my life that I DETERMINED to conquer. Preferably this year. ha! Now don't get me wrong, I don't have a deep dark secret or a really messed up life that I don't want people knowing. I'm talking about heart to heart, every day things. I so often find myself quickly answering "I'm great, how are you?" when someone asks me how I am. Sometimes, I am great but sometimes, I'm struggling. Sometimes I need to have a good cry and share what I'm struggling with. Sometimes I need prayer. Why are we as humans so quick to just give an easy, cheesy answer of "I'm great!"? 

In addition to working on being REAL with people, I want to work on something else as well.
I don't want to just ask people a predictable "How are you?!" and accept a casual answer. What would happen if we all started looking people in the eyes and asking "How are you really doing?" I have done this several times already and the results are usually quite awesome. The person more times than not, will end up sharing something they need prayer for or something that they need wisdom on. How cool is that!? I need to step this up, so keep me accountable! I have such a desire to look people straight in the eyes and ask them if they are okay. 

I feel like churches are the worst place for this. Yes, I just said that :) I need to preface this and say that I am NOT speaking badly about my church. I absolutely love my church and the people there. I'm just saying that week after week I go to church and see the same people. Week after week I feel like we all "go through the motions" but never really bother to ask how each other are really doing. It's "Hi, how are you...good and you? Oh good, life is busy but good" that's the same SHALLOW answer I say and hear all. the. time. Sure it's out of our comfort zones to actually ask people if they are really okay or if they need prayer but HELLO are we not called to this??! If we can't be real with each other in church, than how do we ever expect to minister outside of the walls of our churches? Please know I am speaking to myself here too!!! :)

Just two nights ago, I had the opportunity to step way out of my comfort zone and be real with two friends of mine. It was awkward and uncomfortable. It was not what I would call fun, but guess what? IT BROUGHT ME SO MUCH FREEDOM! After sharing my heart with these two wonderful girlfriends, I immediately felt a huge weight lift off of me. Ahh I did it. I was real with someone. Not only did I conquer being real, but in return I got SO much encouragement, advice and support! It may not be comfortable but I promise you, it will be worth it! 

I feel like I  have a few wounds that still need some healing in order for me to conquer this completely. Wounds from my childhood. Wounds from hurtful friends. Wounds from being hurt by people I trusted to not hurt me. But just because we have wounds (and we all have wounds, you are not the exception!)  that is not an excuse to shell up and not let our guards down with one another. 

I challenge you! :) I challenge myself! Let's be REAL with each other! If you're hurting, tell someone! If you're struggling in a certain area, tell someone! If you need prayer, ASK! I truly believe that if we did this, we would see a huge shift in not only our own lives but in the church as a whole. Let's stop being fake christians who act like we have it all together because newsflash, we don't! :) I am a broken person, you are a broken person. We are all broken people who without God's grace are nothing. 

Will you join me in being real? If you have any cool stories that come from doing this along with me, PLEASE share them because I would love to hear! :)

In closing, I would like to share some powerful lyrics from a song I know most of you know. It's an old school song by Casting Crowns (oh my gosh they are old school?!) but the Lord laid it on my heart today and it goes along with what I'm sharing :)

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin' so small

Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they'll soon discover
That I don't belong

So I tuck it all away, like everything's okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I'll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation's open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone who's been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who's traded
In the altar for a stage

The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart

But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be

Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay

Let's Be real,

Friday, August 24, 2012

Resurrecting the blog!

Hey friends! :-)
I am blowing the dust off this blog  and  finally going to start this up again! Please, please, please hold me accountable! I am known for starting something and not finishing it, hey we all have our issues! ;)

I feel I need to start blogging again to just process all that is happening in my life. This summer has been  one (amazing) blur! God is so faithful to his word! How do I even begin to describe to you just how much God has shown his faithfulness to us this summer? Bare with me as I try! :)

After a year of praying, planning and trusting God for the finances, Chris and I went to Alaska on a missions trip for 2.5 weeks. A little history for you...Alaska has been on our hearts since the day we started dating and that continued on into our marriage. Chris had led a team of teenagers to Alaska before we met and then the month we started dating he was in Alaska pioneering a new trip, visiting different villages and establishing relationships with the tribal leaders there. Our first year of marriage, we continued to have Alaska very heavily on our hearts and we just prayed for the right timing to GO! In case you didn't know, God has definitely called us to be "goers" :)

At the airport leaving from Tampa! It was 4am and we were a little tired. hah!

 For years, I have felt called to the Nation(s) but Alaska has always been a common ground in both Chris and I's hearts. After much praying and preparing, we left this July for our missions trip there! Words cannot describe how excited we were. It wasn't just a common excitement but a deep, deep anticipation to see what God did in our hearts while we were there. We both knew that God was going to reveal some specific things regarding our future ministry and calling while we were in Alaska, and that is exactly what he did! Praise him! :)

Chris and I went to Alaska as "Global Partners" for our friends who have an established ministry there (check them out on facebook: Last Frontier Ministries). They were in need of some extra help while a large team of teenagers from Teen Mania Ministries came for a missions trip. We honestly didn't know exactly what our role looked like, we were just eager to be used and walking in the will of God.
For months we were told that we would be working in the village of Minto so that became our prayer focus. We even wrote about it on facebook and in our support letters. Well, isn't it just like God to turn your plans and ideas upside down?! :) When we landed in Fairbanks and our friends picked us up from the airport, they told us that they had decided to put us in the village of Nenana instead of Minto. Chris and I both felt it was right and we again, just wanted to be used and in the will of God! 

When you trust God fully and trust that he will put you right where you're supposed to be, it is such a wonderful feeling! So Nenana it was! We had a wonderful trip working along side of the team leaders and teenagers and being the Global Partners. One of our duties included meeting with the tribal leaders of the village each morning to see what ministry or work project needed to be done. We both really enjoyed that responsibility and it was fun to play a more "behind the scenes" role than we are used to playing. We basically just served the team leaders and team in any way we could and each day was different.

Our awesome team! We came to really love all of these teens so much!

 So even though the trip was meant for us to be there to help, God had so much more to reveal to us! 
Chris and I had a good amount of "down time" to really pray and seek God about our future ministry, and there was one word that kept popping up in our spirits continually: ALASKA.
God began to break our hearts more & more for the people and ministry there and we were starting to feel like Alaska was home. I did not want to leave. I have always loved my different missions trips but have always been excited to return home, until then. God began to open our hearts more and more to the idea of doing more ministry in Alaska and possibly even moving there one day. :) 
It was such a beautiful time, between Jesus, my husband and I. 

This is my favorite picture from our trip to Alaska, we got baptized together as husband & wife!!!! :) It was so symbolic in so many ways, and truly a moment I NEVER want to forget! :)

We don't know exactly what the future holds or what our missions in Alaska will look like but we are called and yes, we must GO! :) I haven't wanted to say this (my pride and flesh were getting in the way!) but we have a STRONG desire to go back for follow up ministry in the winter. Yes, this means raising the money to go and just being real, I don't "feel" like putting ourselves out there again to our family and friends and asking for financial help but guess what? It's not about me!!!!!! :) If God says GO, we MUST be obedient. So to be continued!! :) Please pray for us! Pray that God will provide the finances to go back in the winter and pray that God will continue to reveal exactly what our missions in Alaska will look like. We are so excited and ready! :) Thank you to everyone who has already loved and supported us, whether it be in prayer or finances. We couldn't do it without each and every one of 
you! :)