Some days I feel as if my life is just passing me by. Where did 2010 go? I did a lot this year, yet it still feels as if I was just ringing in the new year last week.
I traveled to Israel, England and Africa. I went to Gatlinburg three times and Orlando more times than I can count. I photographed the filming of a movie. I bought a condo. I got a promotion. I saw my two roommates get married, and served as Maid of Honor for the third time (I’m going to write a book – Always a Maid of Honor, Never a Bridesmaid). I fell in love with a little boy named Joel. I learned just how deep my desire is to adopt. I learned patience. I learned the importance of knowing people’s stories. I could go on and on…
But the biggest thing that has happened in the past year or so has been in this heart of mine. I can mentally walk through the steps that the Lord has brought me to where I am now, and it excites me to see His hand at work.
In the summer of 2009 I started a personal Bible Study on the Threads study Interrupted. Earlier that year I had shared with my Bible Study group about how I felt the Lord had begun to give me more mercy for His children, rather than my usual gifts of prophecy or discernment. They encouraged me that He had a purpose behind it and I was excited to see what that purpose was. As I read, studied, and discussed this new passion for the “least of these”, God began to change my heart.
It seems as if He was working in our little small group, and we all began to understand the needs of our city. Many of us read Same Kind of Different As Me and began The Granola Project. We served at the Food Bank when possible and got up super early to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving morning. But I knew that I could do more.
I went to Birmingham in November 2009 to visit some college friends and attend Brook Hills’ Secret Church. That Sunday morning, David Platt was continuing his Radical series (which is now a book that I believe every Christian needs to read, if you’re ready to make some major changes in your life). He spoke on the call that the Lord places on our lives to be radical and courageous, and as I prayed I told the Lord that whatever He would want me to do, wherever He would want me to go, I was willing. I felt a strong sense of His Spirit that day, and I knew that He had big plans for me.
This was the biggest step of faith I believe I had made at that point. You see, as a teenager in the youth group, when a speaker asked us to make commitments during the invitation, all I ever remember them saying is, “Don’t worry, its not like God is going to call you to live in a mud hut in Africa”. So of course there was this fear instilled in me at a young age, as if God is some sort of sly, vengeful God who looks down and sees a heart committing to live for Him and throws it on the first plane to the bush countries of Africa with no preparation or resources. It caused me to fear commitment as a teenager, because I didn’t know what it was I was committing to, and I assumed it would be “the worst thing possible” (Africa). Over the years, He has shown me what it means to be committed to Him. It isn’t as legalistic as I once thought. It isn’t boring, it is exciting! It isn’t a list of rights and wrongs, it is walking hand in hand with a loving, merciful Savior.
So there I was, standing in the worship center at Brook Hills, overwhelmed by His presence, ready to do whatever He wanted me to do. The following January, I attended Passion in Atlanta. The conference in general was hectic and felt like youth camp, but the highlights of the event made it worthwhile (ie John Piper, Beth Moore, Hillsong United, the Prayer Room, and the Go Center). Specifically while at the Go Center, I felt my heart being pulled towards the various charities that were featured. Frances and I took our time in every station. In fact, after I mentioned it on Twitter, Matt, a friend from college, messaged me on Facebook and asked me to meet him in the Go Center, but I never did get a chance to catch up with him. When I returned home, I sent him a message apologizing for never finding him and, knowing that he did a lot of work in Africa, I briefly mentioned that if he ever needed someone to go to Africa to take pictures or just to wash feet, I’d be there.
Little did I know what a difference that sentence would make in my life. Matt soon responded to inform me of an upcoming summer trip working with orphans in Uganda. After I read his message, I ran down the hall to tell Marie and Jonathan that I may be going to Africa and asked if they wanted to join me. Jonathan said “Yeah, I’ll go!” When I told Frances about the possibility, she told me that she knew the Lord was going to do something big in my life after what we experienced at Passion. After a few days of prayer and fasting, I was sure the Lord was telling me to go, and the $150 down payment was paid. The moment I pushed the “Submit” button on the payment, the Lord told me that I would not have to pay another cent out of my own pocket. And what do you know, He was right. In fact, He went above and beyond what I needed and my shots and supplies were paid for as well.
As you have seen in past blog posts, my life will be forever changed because of that trip. On the flight home from Uganda I moved to the emergency exit row where passengers had been moved from because the TVs weren’t working. I couldn’t sleep. My mind was racing as I was attempting to process everything that I saw and did. One thing I remembered was what I was told as a teenager. And I smiled at the thought. My heart will forever be tied to Africa, and in no way does that terrify me. Now I wait for what He has next. Is it adoption? Is it marriage so that I can finally adopt Joel? Is it moving to Africa? Is it continually doing short term missions? Or is He keeping me here to do His work? I don’t know yet. But I do know that He will be with me and He will prepare me for whatever is to come.