Run Wild

Come and see something with me…

You are at the grocery store. Aisles upon aisles with all of the foods, all the things.  It is back when the grocery store had those automatic coupon dispensers by each sale item. (they were the coupons between the newspaper era and the computer/phone era). They were at your left and right, ready for you to pull the coupon right out and be on your way. It was every kids dreamland of fun while stuck with their parent on a grocery run. Or at least it was for me.

You are running down each aisle. Hair wild. Arms flailing around, grabbing every coupon you can. If it is there, you are taking it.

Then there is an inside voice that says, You cant take all of those. It is wasteful. Do you really need that? You can do without it, dont you think?

You see that is along the lines of what my mom would say to me when I was younger grabbing all the coupons. Even if I didn’t need it – it was mine. Like a coupon for detergent –  no five year old needed detergent but it was there so why not? My mom would say “you can’t take all of them. We don’t need that so we shouldn’t take it.” Now for that situation that was probably true.

But what if that is the exact line the enemy is using against you when you see God’s goodness, His peace, His love.

Oh you dont need all of that right now. You are kind of at peace, you dont need to take more of it.

or

You cant have joy and revelation at the same time. Pick one.

What if that is the easiest lie he speaks to us? What if he is trying to distract us from a perfect Father that lets us take every “coupon”, every good thing? What have you not been taking that has already been laid out for you since the beginning of time? Because let’s face it the enemy would be pretty successful if he could keep you from living FULL of God. 

Peace. Love. Hope. Goodness. Victory. Healing. Joy. Wisdom. Holiness. Unity. Revelation. Faith. Strength. Freedom. Life. All of who He is.

That grocery store is the storehouse of all God is. And he is not withholding from you. You can take all of Him, every part of who He is, and it will never be “too much”. 

Don’t believe the lie whispering to you that you can’t reach for that victory or that you can’t take that peace. When you hear that remember – it is a lie.

“No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11

So run wild down the aisles and grab all you can because it is all there for you. He has already set it out for you – it is yours. 

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Reasons.

“Why do you love Joshua?”

Because I love him.

“Yes, but what made you love him?”

Because he is my son.

Standing outside of the local church building with the boys piled around the tuk tuk hanging out before a church service this was the question I was posed with. My mind began swirling with questions wondering why I could not find words for an “answer”.

You see, I am a person that loves words. I love what they can do and the story and emotion they can convey. I love to understand the

deeper parts of a matter; I like to dig into the why of life. This should be a question filled with words because it is about the love I have for my favorite person on the planet.

Where were my words? Where were the reasons to answer the question?

The rest of the evening was busy but these questions kept recycling through my brain because like I said I love to understand things. I took it to God in my thoughts. God, I should be able to answer that question with so many words.

“Have you ever heard someone ask a parent why they love their child?”

More thoughts swirling. Thinking back twenty-eight years of life. And not one memory had that conversation piece.

“Would you ever ask a parent why they loved their son or their daughter?”

No. That would the most odd question because a parent doesn’t need reasons to love their child.

“Exactly.”

Sometimes you have endless words to describe something and the other times words aren’t necessary. I realized I was in one of the latter moments.

And then the parallels clicked. Beyond my love for Joshua and your love for your child or significant person in your life is God, the Father, the creator of Love itself.

My love for Joshua didn’t come to be due to reasons. I didn’t decide to love him based on x, y, and z. There are tons of things I like and enjoy about him but it wasn’t because of those things.

God didn’t decide to love you because reasons that you control. He loves you because you are his kid.

He isn’t that boss that interviews you for a job and while you are sitting nervous he scans your resume to see if he wants to hire you based on your qualifications. He isn’t that boy or girl you have a crush on that has to be pleased or is waiting for you to do some knock out act of love before they love you back. He isn’t that person that loves you because they can benefit from you. His love doesn’t need your personality, accomplishments, or acts of service to be.

He has tons of things he likes about you. He enjoys your company and loves to hear your voice. He is cheering you on to go after your dreams and goals. He thinks you are funny, interesting, and unique.

But His love came before those things.

That day I was initially frustrated to not have a long answer full of beautiful words as to why I loved Joshua. And in that wrestling God reminded me of the hugest truth he wants us all to understand.

He loves me, and you, not because of our merits but because we are his sons and daughters. His love is not contingent on current situations. It has and will always be love.

Now it’s time to live from that truth. We aren’t scrambling to gain his love. You can live from his love right now no matter if you think you have it all right or if you think you are a mess.

Live from his love for you.

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Holy ground.

It isn’t just the massively, overtly spiritual moments. It’s the joy. It’s love. It’s discovery of self and the world and the purpose of Life inside of us.

The enemy has sneaky tactics to turn our eyes from these moments. He deceives is to live for the big stuff only and to not see the small moments. We give in to not sitting still and seeing a moment in its true self. And not just our own moments but others. Let’s see with them.

You see, I have seen the ocean. I’ve been on a boat. I’ve seen waterfalls all over the world. I’ve done it. It’s beautiful to see but I forgot my first ocean view, boat ride, waterfall.

But it was Joshua’s (And his friend,

Nak) first of all of those. I knew this as I planned for the long awaited trip for them to visit down here in Kampot. I was trying to pull out all the stops. I wanted them to experience life, to see beyond their village, to live.

Yes, the look in their eyes when they first saw the beach was unforgettable. The giggles on the boat ride and their nervousness as they inched close to the waterfall’s edge I will never forget.

But it wasn’t really those huge moments that stood out the most.

It was playing in the sand and after I explained to Joshua that when I was a kid we would dig deep holes “to get to China” and I looked over and he was digging but to him he was going to America. It was his sand castle that resembled Angkor Wat. It was the quietness of the boys walking slowly through the water trying to spot shells in the blue clear water. It was driving up the mountain and them putting their hands out the window feeling the air. It was watching them hung over side the boat trying to get a good look at how it worked. It was when we went back to their villages and hearing them tell stories to their friends and family.

So much holy ground.

I realized that the holy ground moments were when they were just living. They don’t get to make sand castles and ride with windows down up mountains. It isn’t their norm and with teenager years it becomes less “cool”. But not this week. They let go, they laughed, soaked up moments, and lived like teenagers should.

Wild.

Their holy ground moments were better than my own. We forget that can be the case. We are so caught up with our own experience and needs that our let downs make us not able to see another’s mountain top.

I made lots of plans for the week when they would be here. Most of it went perfect but there was a moment when they were tired and wanted to stay in for the night. I had planned a beach sunset with fresh seafood (recommended by locals) and he didn’t want it. I was upset. I was let down. “He wasn’t going to get a full experience, he was going to miss out”, I thought.

It’s that easy. My letdown distracted me from his high point. He had saw the ocean for the first time that day and I was only thinking of him missing a sunset.

He was okay. He was more than okay. He was happy and content with his day, his holy ground moments.

I missed the point then and that is exactly what the enemy wanted.

Don’t let a letdown make you miss a holy ground moment, whether it’s yours or another’s.

Show up for people’s holy ground.

If you can show up for it and see it, I promise it will outdo your letdown or frustration.

Holy ground.

Known/Unknown

Am I going to the unknown or leaving it?

The more you travel and home becomes more of a bag that moves itself with you around the world you wonder if you are leaving the known and going into the unknown or vice versa sometimes.

“I am going home”

My mind whirls around, “Where is that exactly?”. Is the place I spent my entire childhood at, “home”? I do know it and it’s familiar but the more I travel the less familiar I find it to be. It feels different. It has moved forward in a life that I am not in, a culture that I only watch as a spectator from across the ocean.

Is Cambodia home? Yes, I love it and it is definitely a dream of my heart. But no matter what I do or the language I pick up there is still so many things I cannot wrap my mind around or moments that I remember I am different.

So which one is known and unknown?

I found myself in the in-between. I think my best thoughts (or at least I think so) happen on planes. I was watching as we roared through the clouds and the land below appeared. Sure I knew there was roads and buildings and people there but I had no idea what journey would be unfolding for me below. The last land I had seen was the other home, the other known/unknown; I knew it but I didn’t.

And I felt at home in the between. The known/unknown part, breaking through clouds, beholding the known parts and embracing the descend into the unknown.

Life is kind of like the ascending and descending. Always journeying to new places, new seasons in life, new adventures — all having some sort of familiarity but mixed with part unknown.

That is the beauty. Living in the in-between. Being okay with ascending mountains and hills and descending into valleys. We know what a mountain is like but we aren’t fully sure of the trail details and how the journey will feel along the path. We know the valleys and the wide open views of the expanse but we don’t know what we will do there and who we might meet.

It’s about knowing and not knowing.

Previous to knowing Jesus I considered myself as an atheist. I thought there was nothing before, now or after; just existing. But to an atheist, the knowing part means a lot. Facts and tested theories are appreciated, known outcomes welcomed. The unknown, not knowing, embracing the unseen parts of life — not wanted.

Maybe that is why now, this side of faith and knowing Jesus, I have come to love the thought of holding onto the unknown parts of life and of God. Mystery reminds me of my frailty and humanity; His character and words (the known) gives me the truth to clinch onto in the face of the unknown.

This isn’t just about traveling. This is you staring into a new season of life you have never walked through. This is that new job or promotion. This is your relationship with someone that has maybe hit a wall. When you can’t do something as you always have done it. When it won’t look like it did before. You know but you don’t know. It’s faith. It’s growing up and growing into yourself. It’s being heaven and earth. Mixing known with unknown.

“I am going home”

To me that means I’m going everywhere and anywhere. It could be a place I’ve already been or a place not yet known. It could be a season that is steady and understood or it could be stretching and challenge me to step out of comfortable familiar places and spaces.

So let’s settle ourselves in at home in the in-between of known and unknown. Let’s never box ourselves in or limit what life could be. Wrap your arms around those familiar thoughts and feelings, cherish them, but don’t forget to open those same arms back open wide to welcome in something different, maybe unplanned but most definitely worth it.

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Of One Vine

Who are we sometimes I wonder? Mercenaries or lovers?”

 This is a lyric from a John Mark McMillan song that is always floating around in my head as a sort of heart and gut check.

What am I doing? Why am I doing it?  Where is my heart? Where is my mind?

I find myself many times, taking a step back and watching the world as a whole.  We spend so much time in today’s culture of magnifying our uniqueness that we forget that in the sum of all of us we then make up the world. The world is not just one person, one idea, or one color of skin; it is in the totality of all of us that we are making the earth what is was always supposed to be – a place for God’s family. He gave it to us – which means each and every person you see pass you by on the street.

Why do we push up against one another? Why do we push each other away?  Why do we try to stay in our own small space and never see outside of ourselves?  Are we truly loving one another or just surviving?

“So this is my command: Love each other deeply…”

God has made life into the simplest vision statement for us and yet we miss it. We let our own opinion and ideas lengthen the chasm between ourselves and one another. Rather than bridging a gap, we increase the distance.

In the footnotes of that verse my attention was grabbed and I read a line that I wish I could some how speak loud enough that the entire world would hear.

“We are not branches of many trees, but of one vine.”

How beautiful to remember that we are of one vine.  He made us, we come from His heart.  We are all His dream and hope.  We share in that no matter our differences or choices that we make. In the beginning it all started with us being dreamed up in His heart.

Will we always have some sort of filter that we see through and experiences in our lives that make us have a certain perspective?  Absolutely.

Does that filter or perspective control you?  No.

After you see through your initial lens you have the power and ability to then choose a different lens. To see someone differently or maybe even to just see them for the first time without your agenda or arguments. I promise, you will then find yourself looking at your reflection. Because when you peel back the layers of the personality and characteristics of each individual, you will then find the common desires and dreams that lie within in all of us.

The desire to be loved and to love another. 

The hope to live out ones dreams. 

The fear of failure and rejection.

The deep desire for a friend and to be known. 

The cry in ones heart to be seen.

It’s in all of us. I promise you. We just forget that we are all the same in the end. We let point of views, opinions, and ideas cover that truth up.

There is so much hurt in our world that can be seen in each of our small communities. We don’t solve it by shouting louder our differences. We solve it by seeing our commonality. The resolve is in us choosing to look beyond the surface and see each other.

Knowing our sameness is the key.

I have a small challenge for you if you are up for it.

See someone without a bias or a motive.  Appreciate them, try to understand them, and most of all love them.

Because we are all the same in the end.

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Unconditional. 

Unconditional Love.

How is it that when your child does something wrong your heart begins to love them more? How is it that the wrong things don’t outweigh the right? 

Our hearts and minds capacity for love overwhelms me. 

Most of you know who I am talking about when I say Joshua. He is the 14 year old boy in Cambodia that the Lord has connected me to in a very much forever sort of way. I have known him for over three years now and in that three years we went from strangers to friends to family. The moment he decided to call me mom (& I make sure he calls me mom #2 because his beautiful birth mother is still living and we both adore her) I was stunned and left speechless but yet my heart was in agreement with the connection he felt as well. Holy Spirit divinely placed and knitted us together, two people from opposite sides of the earth, brought together through Jesus love. 

When I first met him, he was shy and extremely bashful. He was reserved in giving out his trust and cautious of his actions towards others. Slowly but at the same time in the blink of an eye after living consistent in love for him, we were beyond the walls of acquaintance and comfortable within the barriers of our own hearts. He trusted me and I more than adored him. 

Years passed, he kept growing, love remained and a foundation was laid. I met his family members and he face-timed mine. I put pictures up of him on our Christmas tree and his mother hung up pictures of me in her home. It was a special kind of love, a mutual trust that was bigger than just me and Joshua. It was me calling his mother on the phone and addressing her as “Joshua’s mom” and her answering back to me as “American mom”. We are family. 

Just this past weekend he found himself in some trouble and, I believe, followed a not-so-great friends advice at school and he got into trouble. A trouble that involved police. A trouble that made him have to leave the children’s home he was staying at (due to his widowed mothers current situation).

And it blows my mind how at the first piece of news of what had happened my love for him grew and the walls of my heart contracted, expanding, making itself larger it seemed. 

Unconditional love. 

I knew Jesus loved us with this kind of love and he encouraged us to love with the same. I thought I had done that in the past but never did I feel the physical feeling of an expansion of love in the midst of an absolute wrong. 

I loved him more in that moment than before. I hoped greater and wanted to fight for him to the ends of the earth. (That love comes from Jesus’ heart – so take encouragement that He is giving that to you as you go about making your “wrongs” and “rights”). 

I say all of this to be honest with life. He isn’t perfect by all definitions but in my eyes he is. He can make mistakes. I post the sweet pictures of him and brag of my love for him — but why do parents feel any shame when our child does a wrong? Why do we put shame on them by us living in shame for them?

Is wrong wrong? Yes. 

Is making them relive a wrong right? No

Let’s be honest with each other in celebrations and defeats. Let’s show love in victories and hardships. Love only shown in success is not really love. Love given in midst of “wrong doing” is unconditional. 

Jesus gives us that for all of our “secret mistakes” and “private wrongs” — let’s not withhold that from one another. 

Right now is hard because we are figuring out the future and I am trying to speak as much life into him as possible. He needs good voices around him, speaking encouragement and not condemnation. Thankfully the trouble he got into was seen as a warning this time and no repercussions were made. I wanted to be honest, share in the details and struggles of life because we need to feel free and able to be honest with hard times. 

My love for Joshua feels greater and stronger than before, more sure than I have ever have known. I have no idea how it works like that but it can and does if we choose love over a pointing figure and down cast look. We can choose to see what we want. 

I choose him, his future, his now and his past. I choose loving him and hoping for him. 

Unconditional.

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And I Looked Up…

The world is always spinning, always moving, always changing. We are in constant movement and sometimes it feels like I can’t keep up, can’t find consistency. My mind thinks about how vast the world is and how at this moment while I type with darkness outside of my window the other side of the world is running under the warmth of the sun. I think about how I sit in my comfortable bed while I know thousands that sleep on the cold ground with nowhere to rest their head. I reminisce on life that has passed and dream ahead to what is to come all the while wondering about this present moment. What is consistent now? Will it be consistent later? What was consistent before?

Eleven Years Ago: Standing on a ledge in the mountains of Honduras, a small house church meeting unfolding behind me and all I am trying to do is make sense of the moment I am standing in. It feels too big for me and so unfamiliar. I don’t know what I am doing. Surrounded by trees, the wind, and a vast sky — I look up. I have seen those stars back home. I breathe in, breathe out – I know that sky.

Five Years Ago: The base in Pemba, Mozambique has had a power outage and we are all left to find a way to spend the rest of the evening without any electricity. Inconvenience turned into beauty as dozens of us gathered around our mud pueblo and began to sing freely, dance wildly, and live fully; and as I danced with no awareness of my surrounding my head whipped back and I looked up – and I knew that sky.

Two Years Ago: Eight months in to a crazy journey all over Southeast Asia full of border jumps, airplanes taking me from country to country, and culture déjà vu, I found myself up in the mountains of a small village in the Philippines. Eight months in and three months to go and the exhaustion was setting in and the desire to be alone was increasing. Walking out to the pebble-cemented porch, coffee and journal in tow, I looked up – and I remembered that sky.

One Year Ago: Discovering yourself and the inner parts of who you are can be exciting and at the same moment terrifying. In the midst of that discovery you just want to feel normal, to release a deep sigh, to breathe in and out and feel okay. Emotions running all over the place, I ran up the stairs of my white pueblo house overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, music and glass of wine in hand – and I look up. I rest in that sight.   I know that place, and I release a deep sigh.

Now: Back in the town I grew up in after years of traveling and being away is lonely no matter how much you try to keep up and stay in the loop, you are still playing catch up. Everyone is similar and you are… well you don’t quite know. Days come and all feels well and then days crash in and you remember the places you went and the people you met and you look around and wonder… what am I doing here? Today was one of those days and I knew before the day was done I had to go out and be with the sky. So there I went and I looked up. And I knew that place.

I realized looking up that it was my consistency. No matter the years that had passed and the places I had been it had always been there with me. And it wasn’t just the sky of stars and the moon that was my consistency. I thought back on all of the times I had looked up and found peace – it was always Jesus’ way of calming me and reminding me of home. Not home as a physical location or people but Him.

While I have been trying to rack my brain on what is consistent in life, I found it tonight sitting on my back porch by simply looking up. And no matter how many questions I have and days that crash in on me, I have realized in a greater depth of how He is my consistency.

No matter where I go the sky is there. And no matter where I go He is there with me. The sky may differ a little in appearance on different sides of the world but it is still the sky. Seasons of life may have me asking different questions but the answer is always the same – He is my consistency.

“It shall be established forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is faithful.” Selah. Psalm 89:37

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You Never Lost Your Seed

I have been having conversations with the trees lately. I know, the warning has now been issued for all: crazy lady talking. A new-found, deep respect for these pillars that are jutting up from the ground has stirred up in me. Conversations and observations have been spiraling as I have been watching life make itself become Spring.

It has been three years since I have been in America to witness the transition of winter to spring. And it is a change like no other, yet it happens every year.

Every year, at winter, a tree loses all of its physical embellishments, its decorated leaf accessories and every year, with Spring, it gains them back. But in the middle of the losing and gaining there is stillness, waiting. And that lapse in time is not one of excitement; it is quiet, the sun shines less, and the conditions can be harsh.

And all of the sudden I saw my life in the existence of the trees. Except they were doing a much better job at trusting the wait, they had a stronger sense of knowing that they would get back what they lost, that they actually never lost it. I, on the other hand, was questioning and wandering in the wait. I was focusing so much on the “loss from winter” that I was not looking ahead for Spring.

Every year you could give up, you could lose all of your leaves, what many would say is your beauty, and you could decide to reject the nutrients that you are pulling from your inner most being and fall over. You could do that, but you don’t. You remain in the midst of winter. How do you do that? How do you stay in the middle of something that isn’t so great, not so beautiful?

This is my typical hammock conversation with the trees in my backyard. I am well aware that they are not going to respond back to me but it is in their simple existence that speaks the most profound statements. It seemed like one day, before Spring had showed itself in full strength, I was looking up at bare limbs in a leafless view and then I turned around and they were full of lush, various greens.

When and how did you do that so quickly? Where did you get all of that from, just yesterday you were bare?

I was so fascinated that me being me, I had to began to read into the seasons of trees. My eyes narrowed in to one line: “They die when winter comes, but their seeds remain, ready to sprout again in the spring.”

And just like that hope began to have its own Spring within me.

I never lost anything; dreams remain, passion remains, and life remains, even in the midst of what doesn’t feel like my dream. In the end He remains in me, which means hope and love and peace remain too. His goodness is stored up in my roots, my trunk, and my limbs. Even if I stand in a season of winter, like the trees do every year, I am standing with life stored up in me and before you know it winter has passed and spring has come. Without my winter I would have never known the sweetness and gift of spring.

I must say, I like how Spring weasels its way in.  It doesn’t scream or make its appearance loud and known.  It is a gradual day to day change of growth from the appearance of nothing to something.  I like that there isn’t the pressure of making a production of itself and its coming forth.  It just is and it just comes. And that lets me know my winter to spring isn’t full of striving and clawing my way through —  it is submitting to the moment and allowing it to happen. 

“For now is the time, my beautiful one. The season has changed, the bondage of your barren winter has ended, and the season of hiding is over and gone. The rains have soaked the earth and left it bright with blossoming flowers. The season for singing and pruning the vines has arrived. I hear the cooing of doves in our land, filling the air with songs to awaken you and guide you forth. Can you not discern this new day of destiny breaking forth around (IN) you?” Song of Solomon 2:11-13

Life is here, right now, in me, in you – even if you feel like you are in winter you never lost your seed of life and hope.

Know Your No.

Choosing the easier road is so much more desirable.

Choosing the more understood path makes more sense.

Choosing the quicker route gets you there faster.

Yesterday, I was unexpectedly contacted with the opportunity presented to me to lead a team to Thailand and Cambodia for three months. It would be college students serving a ministry in the two countries, just like my World Race experience. Immediately upon reading the message, my heart began to leap and dance and then also shake with nerves. Is this right? Should I say yes to it? Is this the direction I am supposed to go in right now?

On paper it seemed perfect. I mean, what was not to love about it? It’s Southeast Asia (specifically Cambodia), community, ministry, adventure, and Jesus. There wasn’t much fault to find in it. Sure, yeah, they were asking me to commit within hours and leave this month. Last notice really isn’t difficult for me. Spontaneous adventure like that feels natural.

So you would be shocked if I told you that I said “no” to the opportunity? Are you shocked? I can hear it now, “but Anne-Michael, you love Asia and most definitely love Cambodia? You love missions and adventure and leading?” all said with a perplexed face.

Yes, I do, to all of those things. And me saying no doesn’t cause them to cease to exist. I hit so many walls of untruth while I was contemplating and asking the Lord about what to do.   Untruths that I was giving in to – but I also recognized more of what I truly want.

Me saying no, in actuality, means saying NO to:

>>The pressure of pleasing people. I don’t look very “put together” right now in life. And not having next steps planned can be scary to me and others.  If I would have said yes to this trip it would have been giving in to the pressure of pleasing those around me, just for the sake of having something I am doing.

>>Fear of being idle or stuck. In my own mind, I don’t like just being home with no spoken directive, trust me it isn’t fun. I could easily have jumped on to that trip and ran away from transition and being home. It would have been SO much easier.

>>Fear that my dreams won’t come to be.   Your mind gets to you sometimes; you think, “oh, by saying no to this, am I ending the possibility of my dream coming to pass?” In which you remind yourself that God is much more sovereign than my one decision.

Me saying no, really means I said YES to:

>>The challenge of remaining and finishing a season of transition. I don’t give myself enough grace. This time around coming home at the holidays, I forgot that I was in transition and just forced myself back into the flow. (Warning: If you are coming back from a cross-cultural setting, don’t force yourself back in!) Now that the holidays ended I am remembering that I have only been home a month and a half – I need to allow myself to be in transition.

>>Choosing a time to myself. My hopes of moving overseas are very real and the expectations for that to happen within the next year so this is a time I can be a little selfish and choose myself. I can be home, have a job, and work on me. Yet again, I deserve that. We all deserve to work on ourselves, because you are important to you!

>>Last but not least, family. In the past 3 years I have been overseas more than half of that. Saying ‘no’ to going on another short-term trip was me saying ‘yes’ to using this time for family and friends that I have been away from for so long. I want to cuddle all the babies and spend the time that I can, when I can.

Just because there are benefits in saying no, doesn’t mean that it was entirely easy. The thought that I could be in Cambodia in March was insane and it took a moment to grieve. At the same time, saying no feels powerful – especially when that no is the harder but better choice.

My eyes and heart are set on being with family while stateside, working on myself, and making steps towards long-term Cambodia. I thought I knew those things but after turning down that opportunity, I realized it even more.

I learned a lot about myself in the whirlwind of those two hours from receiving the message to my final decision. I learned that I am getting past people pleasing now and I am moving more into a sureness of who I am and where I want to go.

I chose the harder path, the one that doesn’t have clear answers.

I chose the harder road, the one that kind of doesn’t make sense but yet it does.

I chose the harder route and I don’t regret it.

Most of the time easy doesn’t take us to where our dreams become flesh – it just alleviates us of remaining patient in the waiting for that dream. Think about what you are dreaming for you, for others, and for long-term – position your yes and no around those dreams.

Know your NO, it will be worth it.

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Love: His Full Expression

It has been months since I have written anything. The occasional jotting down of scrambled thoughts finds itself on a small notepad but nothing I can ever finish. I’ve pondered, “Why? Where has writing gone? My safe haven for letting my heart speak, why are you silent? Why have your fingers locked up and your words frozen?” But before I could even find the answer to the question I would push it away, almost too saddened to know the answer.


“Delightfully loved ones, if He loved us with such tremendous love, then loving one another should be our way of life! […] But if we love one another, God makes His permanent home in us, and we make our permanent home in Him, and His love is brought to its full expression in us.” 1 John 4:11-12

Reading this late one night, just in an attempt to read some sort of scripture for the day, this halted my eyes from going any further. It was my answer looking back at me. It was a backwards way of answering my questions but nonetheless I knew what it was.

You see, I had stopped writing and letting my heart speak because my heart was too grieved for words. And still is at times. Since being home in America it has been so difficult, to see the division, the separation between one beautiful human and another beautiful human. Whether it’s politics, race, religion, violence, you name it – the separation is agonizing.

Within reading that verse from 1 John, I was reminded of the beautiful potential we have when we choose to love one another. Not only does violence cease and arguments fade into the background, but also His FULL expression is made in us! And for me that is the most beautiful, poetic, love story I believe we will ever know.

I think about myself, how undeserving I am and was for His unending grace and limitless love. I had made (and still do make) many mistakes, my judgments are wrong, I jump to conclusions at times without understanding someone or something better. Years ago, I didn’t look nice on the outside, I probably appeared hateful and maybe scary to some back in my days of all black (which I still love), chains, and dark makeup. But that is simply just style, nothing that you should fear. I am sure my words would’ve hurt you, full of filth and demeaning conversations. But those were just words, and if only you knew the rejection fueling each of them. Somehow in the midst of all of that, He still saw me and gave me Love. He chose to unify Himself with me, even when I wasn’t “right.”

What an extraordinary moment it could be if we would all see each other, all of our rights and wrongs, goods and bads, and still give Love. It says that in that moment that His Love is brought to its fullness in us. Just by the simple act of choosing to love rather than argue and point fingers, the very nature of God becomes fully expressed in US, people, messy, beautiful humans expressing God because we love.

His love is not expressed in our judgment against one another. It isn’t brought in our hateful social media postings. And it isn’t seen in our violence and slandering words.

It is fully expressed when we decide that love is more important.

More important than opinions, you know, the one that you are “absolutely right” about. Don’t let that be the mountain that you die on, walking over people just to make it to the summit and realize your opinions in actuality don’t make for good company.

More important than just your plot of land, there is a whole world that goes much further than the street you live on or the country you reside in. Look out bigger than yourself, allow yourself to see other’s realities.

More important than past events that have already come and gone, like the argument you had with a coworker last week that you are remaining bitter about – it has come and gone my friend, and today can be different. Today is different.

Writing has always been a way for me to hope in the midst of the brokenness I see and I think I know I let the division and disunity that I experienced coming back to America keep me from that. But I choose hope still. I want to see His full expression – I want us to choose to love one another.

“But one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood. Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love – yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.” 1 Corinthians 13: 12-13

Keep the faith even when it looks doubtful. Remain in hope, because there is goodness to be discovered. And choose love, because it is the most valuable thing you can give to the world.

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