Frye.

I keep trying to write this precious boy’s story, but every time I simply can’t. Within a matter of days this boy became like my son. When we first arrived in the Peruvian jungle, we all believed him to be about seven years old. Towards the end of the trip, we learned he was actually a malnourished twelve or thirteen year old.

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Picture Credit: Carlos Paillacar

When I first met him, the fierceness in his eyes, with such humorous joy hidden underneath, was all I noticed. Part of what we were doing there was running a Vacation Bible School of sorts for the kids, and my job was to choreograph little hand-motions and dances for each of the songs and teach it to them. From the first day on until right before we left, the moment our eyes locked, he would come up and dance with me. Energetic, full of spunk and mischief, as well as genuine love, this boy captured my heart within days. It’s been over a year, and I still think of him almost every day. His passion for learning both about the Lord and regular, straight forward academics is beautiful. With a single glance, the next prank on his silly gringa friend is planned, and when I stumble into the trap, his good natured smile lights up a room as he helps me out of the mess he got me in.

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Frye is on the right, Junior on the left.

What none of us realized until the day before we left was that, at least at the time, he was raising himself, living off what he could find. When I learned this, my heart broke in a way it hadn’t ever before for this amazing young man. His home village of Juancito is known for its hostility towards outsiders and drunkenness in the male culture, but you would never know this from watching Frye. Such effervescent joy in every circumstance, such hopefulness, willingness to learn…
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So this is my request to you, dear reader: pray for him. Pray that he maintains his hope in the Lord as he continues to grow and be discipled by the church there. Pray for strong, righteous male influences to come into his life. Puberty itself is hard enough; I can’t imagine it without someone there to look up to. And please, pray that he never loses sight of his joy-Giver. And whoever in your own life this post made you think of, take a moment to pray for them, too, and maybe even reach out to them if you can. 

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of Heaven.'” -Matthew 19:14

Until next time,

XOXO

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Making My Bed in the In-Between

Sometimes I just sit here and realize I’m living the life I dreamed of. As I write this, I’m sipping Kona coffee (hello, hazelnut latte!) in a little local cafe at a window overlooking the Pacific ocean as her waves crash into the lava rock. Depending on my mood, their interaction will either remind me of faith and flesh’s tug of war, or that moment when I can finally fall back into the arms of someone I love. Surrounding me are fellow students, each working on their own memoirs or photo series. Faintly familiar music hums in the background, overpowered by the sea’s song. The lack of air conditioning is slowly growing comfortable, perhaps even preferred. Birkenstocks have gone from relatively new to well worn in a matter of weeks. Glasses are scratched, watch broken in, and hair raggedy. And I have never been more content.

The dichotomy of adoring my present state and missing home is as present as ever, but I’m learning to find peace within that. My heart will always be half here, half somewhere else, but I suppose that’s both the beauty and struggle of being a traveler.

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Having my father come visit me this past week for my birthday confirmed that even more. Home is no longer concrete: it is purely at Jesus’s feet. Life is no longer concrete, so I lay that at His feet as well. While my father was here, Darlene Cunningham, wife of the founder of Youth With A Mission, Loren Cunningham, was speaking to us each morning. Perhaps the most impactful lesson she gave was that Jesus will always give grace right when it’s needed, not before, not after. Because of this, I refuse to worry about tomorrow. My flesh may yell and scream otherwise, but His Spirit in me is stronger and I refuse to give in to the subtle yet pervasive lie that God is not mighty enough to handle the life He gives me.

So I’ll take it all in stride; leaning into it, as my father would say. I’m learning to love this in between state of planning for the next adventure while gleaning as much as possible from the current. My God is able to do “immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20),” so I have absolutely nothing to fear. Instead, it’s a wild adventure with the One who formed my soul.

week four (7 of 8) week four (6 of 8) week four (5 of 8) week four (3 of 8)

Until next time,

XOXO

Proclamation

I honestly don’t know where to start with this one. So, let’s start with Jesus.

“Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:7

YWAM is kinda known for being a vessel God uses to reveal to people things about themselves they didn’t know were there. For me, that meant anxiety shrouded in arrogance.

It meant that when I came before the throne of God, I believed He would only accept me if I felt I was behaving a certain way. However, my head knew this wasn’t a right way of thinking, so my heart in pride believed I wasn’t trying to be this certain way, it was simply the Holy Spirit working in me because I’m such a good Christian and I don’t believe those lies like all the other “believers” in the room trying to earn their salvation (ugh, fools).

When I entered a situation that made me uncomfortable, such as living in a dorm with twenty other girls, I would draw back and search for ways I felt excluded. The reality was that I was retreating myself while they were all being welcoming and loving.

It meant that when Jonny and I began to get more and more serious, I freaked out because of all the what-ifs and pushed him away while clinging to his embrace, putting him through confusing turmoil because of my selfishness. All the while, he never failed to be comforting, understanding, and forgiving.

But God is gracious. In tenderness, He revealed the lies and the disparities cluttering the sanctuary of my mind and soul, our meeting place. Daily, He helps me sweep out and restore it. I’ll never be perfect, but soon this will be one more battle conquered.

Instead of focusing on all the tiny possible negatives, all the tiny what-ifs, daily I’ll engage the small, sweet moments of joy. Instead of wondering if I measure up, I’ll rejoice in each instance of fellowship with the souls surrounding and my Almighty God. Instead of allowing fear to reign in the dark corners of my thoughts, I’ll open the door for Jesus’s love-light to flood.

Love-light that breaks down social barriers and raises shamed adulterers to their feet, because who of us has not sinned? Love-light that opens blind eyes and heals crippled legs, but then says “Go, and sin no more.” Love-light that would be tortured to the point of death, all the while thinking of your face and crying within Himself “She’s worth it.” Love-light that cares more about His bride knowing and trusting Him than about anything we have done or could do, because we are His aloneAnd that overrides anything fear could ever tell me.

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Each Friday I hope to post a little update like this, complete with photos capturing the past seven days. And if I forget, I invite you to please hold me accountable.

Serenity_light and shadows Serenity_break all the rulesSerenity_one element

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Please excuse how out of focus this is; it was just too precious of a moment for me not to capture and share it.

See you next week!

XOXO

Out of the Dust

Last Friday we had our first media day, which also meant our first photo assignments! The assignments were to take two pictures capturing our dreams for this season, and two capturing our passions. Well, here you go!

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“Beloved.” “Intricate.” “Worthy.” All statements every Christian woman I know has a hard time believing, but is so true of all of us. My first passion: helping people see their intrinsic beauty because they are human.

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Society rushes around us so violently, telling us what to do and what to think, including Christian society. My first dream: learning to stand firm in my own self despite what others may say or think.

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It wasn’t until today that I realized the depth of truth in this statement, but I have always struggled with a mild social anxiety, fed by pride’s denial. My second dream for this season: learn to live without fear and starve the lion of egotism.

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So much of daily life is overlooked for its normalcy. My second passion: discovering and celebrating the beauty of the small things.

XOXO

Harvest

Stil
Quiet
Peace
The storm has ceased
I can finally
Breathe.

Life’s a tornado
I’ve been knocked to the ground
All is steady now
Still, I’m scared to stand.

So I lean into You
Let Your words rush over me
Fall asleep
To the rhythm of Your grace
At last, I’m safe.

I’m being ground
That the spices may come out
Though the winds assail me
And oceans as bullets
From the heavens fall,
Still I rejoice
In my only God
With each earthly blow
Let the blessings flow
That all may see and know
The beauties of
Your precious Name.

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A Teeny Little One

On my way to YWAM, I stopped in California to see my boyfriend. In short, it was amazing. Spending time with Jonny and his family provided some much needed refreshment, both in physical rest and spiritual rejuvenation after what has been, and now continues to be an insane season.

I had been to California twice before in early high school, but seeing it as a local felt so different. The juxtaposition of old, beautiful, rich history and fresh opportunity with dusty sins and barren, shallow hopes is astounding. Although the drought is fierce as ever, signs of life still remain in hidden corners.

While all of this was lovely, the most touching part of the trip was by far the Monfredas. I can’t begin to express the love I have for and felt from this family. From the moment I stepped off the plane, their hearts were open to me, showing me the purest, most generous tenderness of Christ.

Anyways, here are some pictures from the trip 🙂DSC_0192DSC_0191 DSC_0187DSC_0178DSC_0174DSC_0168DSC_0162DSC_0145DSC_0033DSC_0026DSC_0020DSC_0016DSC_0015DSC_0304DSC_0300DSC_0297DSC_0010DSC_0009DSC_0309DSC_0308DSC_0307DSC_0281DSC_0278DSC_0277DSC_0270DSC_0266DSC_0265DSC_0264DSC_0262DSC_0260DSC_0259DSC_0258DSC_0257DSC_0254DSC_0247DSC_0238DSC_0237DSC_0235DSC_0231DSC_0229DSC_0208DSC_0217DSC_0218DSC_0220

There are probably some repeats from a previous post, and it’s probably pretty clear what my favorite view from the trip was, but either way I hope you enjoy!

XOXO

Hungry Hearts

Do You hear the sound?
Hungry hearts
We are one thousand
Crying “Holy, You are.”DSC_0264

Do You feel the rush
Hungry hearts
Grateful, we push
Forward to Your arms.DSC_0237

United purpose
Single Spirit
Fragrant roses
We lift our souls to You.DSC_0206

One thousand tongues
Words of fire
We lift our souls to You
Lift us higherDSC_0244

Joy resounding
From the trees, the sky
We lift our souls to You
Lift us high.DSC_0270

Do You hear the sound?
Hungry hearts
We are one thousand
Crying ‘Holy, You are.’DSC_0277

Here I am, Lord, Use Me

October 5th

Starting off with 8AM worship in the Ohana court (this big pavilion that couples as a basket ball court and basically whatever else you want it to be), today marked the first Monday of my DTS. Slowly I’m feeling my legs get used to the five-to-eight mile a day hikes over various hills and scorching hot pavement. Feet are blistered and calves are strengthening. Just the walk to the cafeteria is somewhat strenuous in the constant heat, let alone across campus. But I’m not complaining; somehow even the pain brings me joy, because it reminds me I am actually here. 

For the beginning of our lectures we had the privilege to meet Susi Childers, the founder of our DTS, Voice for the Voiceless, and hear her testimonies from how God told her to start V4V. Her main point for the day was that Christ has His own dreams for us and our lives, and that change never comes without risk, which blew me away. For some reason I had never thought about the fact that Almighty God has His own hopes and aspirations, beyond simple visions, but deep emotional investments in what our lives turn out to be.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” ~John 15:16

October 6th

Today was our second official day of classes, and once again, it was beautiful. Breakfast is always a bit of a toss up for me if I like it (I’m not a picky eater, but when it comes to breakfast foods, I am ridiculous), but this morning it was delicious! Cereal with eggs, sausage, pineapple, and Kona coffee! Following breakfast I usually try to go ahead and have some one-on-one time with the Lord, which more often than not works out perfectly. The verse He really used to speak to me on our date this morning was Psalm 96:6: “Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.” How amazing is it that we, as His children, get to walk boldly before Him and share in that honor and beauty? While I’ve been here at YWAM, that ever common concept of the Christian community of the veil being torn has sunk in on a whole new level, because everything surrounding me is utterly drenched and permeated in His holy presence.

Some of the concepts from class today that truly hit home were the facts that our cameras opening doors that would otherwise be shut. For instance, in a place like China we wouldn’t be allowed to outright preach the Gospel, but we could do an art exhibit that illustrates the Gospel through images, and that we have no authority in any of what we preach unless we are willing to sacrifice for the sake of it.

When it came time to close out our final lecture, Susi had us all pray Isaiah 6:8 as class, which was such a sacred and gorgeous moment. I know I’ll forget it. All of us standing there, over forty of us, as a class praising the Lord and offering ourselves as empty vessels to bring about His holy dream, whatever it may be. Forty humans with one calling, one hope, one purpose; at least for the next six months. The unity in this place is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Already this past week has been life-building, to say in the least. I don’t see how I’m going to be able to simply return to daily life back home after this, but I know the Lord will reveal what my next step after YWAM is to be, and I am so grateful for that.

And now I am off to the next adventure: dinner. I hope to be posting updates like these a few times a week, both to keep a diary of this season and also to stay connected with everyone. Until next time.

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ And then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.'” ~Isaiah 6:8

October 7th

Daily I’m realizing the extent to which I belong here. Each morning as I show up for class the Lord meets me such an undeniable and beautiful way. Whatever worries I wake up with, He cuts down within minutes of the first lecture, and then continues to rebuild and water my soul for the rest of the day after that. However, as the day goes on of course the battles continue. As today dealt with our identities as God’s beloved children, the combat for me was much more subtle, and thus more emotionally intense than usual. Choosing to believe who God says I am over the lies spoken over me as I grew up (and I must say, I will be eternally grateful for the family I have who fought the with me and for me the entire time. Most people I know have these scars from their family, and the fact that mine are from the outside is gift I will always be thankful for) has been a daily, often hourly, decision. More often than not I fail. And when I do, the Lord is so insanely faithful to speak to me, whether directly or through someone in my life, to dispel the lie. Nonetheless, today was still a doozy.

But it was worth it. It is always worth it. 

Often staring those lies in the face requires more strength than I feel I have, but then there’s what our speaker Jo quoted this morning: “Sometimes all it takes is twenty seconds of insane courage (We Bought A Zoo).”

Sometimes accepting the fact that we are chosen by God requires just twenty seconds of insane courage.
Sometimes simply saying “Here I am, Lord, us me” requires just twenty seconds of insane courage, and then another twenty to actually follow where He leads.
And sometimes, when He leads you straight to the face of the lion-lie you’ve been believing, all it takes is twenty seconds of insane courage to denounce it forever, and then another twenty the next morning, and the next. But slowly it gets easier, and suddenly it’s natural.

And then, darling, you’re free.

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Taking Flight

October 2nd

As I write this after having missed my first flight yesterday evening, spending countless tears with my incredible man trying to get this one worked out, nearly giving up, sprinting through LAX, and finally finding my seat on the aircraft, it hits me: this is it. Life as I always dreamed of, as cliche as it sounds, is beginning now.

When I arrive in six short hours, I will be headed to University of the Nations for my first Discipleship Training School with Youth With A Mission. My feet only touched the plane after an eventful and completely wonderful ten days with Jonny and his sweet family. Long distance is a beast, but trips like these make it well worth it.
When your eyes first scan this post, the first few days on this honeymoon with the Lord will be through. Chances are, the rhythm will have been discovered, and I will be dancing along with it.
Currently, I am firmly planted in seat 12B, with fellow passengers soundly sleeping beside me.
Window’s wide open. Clouds look like the sea. Blue, green, orange skies, but the orange that is almost pink. His jacket around my shoulders, drenched in his cologne, reminding me of my second home. Assailing my mind are constant questions, vague condemnations. “Was this right? Even in the frustration, how could I allow that word I prayed I had forgotten how to say slip out? Will six hours feel like six hours, or twelve? Or two? Who will I be at the end of this? How much will have changed? Have I already forgotten my first Love?”
No. 
Grace covers all, so no more second guessing. Those words will not be allowed to escape my mouth again. The time will pass second by second, moment by moment, as it always does. I will be who the Lord intends me to be. Nothing will have truly changed, because Christ will still be sovereign. And though in the turmoil I have spent less time with my Beloved than I would have preferred, still, He carried me. Looking back on the summer, on September, I see His holy hand in everything. I see Him using Jonny to help be my stability. I see Him allowing certain stresses for the strength they produced. I see Him removing certain people for the sake of pruning, to produce more and healthier fruit. As I take flight with a happy heart and tired spirit now refreshed, I see His continued faithfulness.
October 3rd
Luggage left in LA. Wake up in a foreign bed at 6AM. Feels like 9AM. No clothes. No shampoo. Sunshine smiles from sweet roommates. Flowers as random welcome gifts (the little things really do mean the most). Breakfast overlooking the sea on one side, volcanoes on the other. Rhythm being found; no, I am being swept into it’s ocean tides. Fast friends from foreign cultures. Separate backgrounds, united purpose.
Bags are returned to me, unpacked, and I begin to feel more settled. Evening goes on. Among Christians numbering over one thousand, we break bread. Laughing as old comrades, we descend the hill to the city for some evening exploration. Night wears on. Feet find their way to what is becoming home.  Debating on the couch as sisters, precious hearts are revealed, and the array of rare flowers forming this bouquet starts to bloom. As wind in trees by a river of love, the Holy Spirit whispers into each of our souls. It is beginning. We are each on our own separate paths to discovering His purpose for our lives, and we are blessed enough to be able to watch as He does the same in those around us.
Pictures to come soon, I’m just having trouble uploading them since I forgot the cord back in the 305, in true Serenity fashion 😉