A Glimpse of Mi Vida...

It started with a missions trip to Camden, where my life and perspective were changed and where this blog began. Life has been a roller coaster filled with its ups and downs and I'm excited for the adventure and discovering what God has in store, even though I really dislike roller coasters... I am a Lady in Waiting...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tt = Testimonies

T is for Testimonies

We arrived at the church around 9am for service. The service started at 9:30am, but with Peruvian time it didn't really start until 10am. We started with some worship songs after we got to pray in small groups with some of the church members. After we sang worship in Spanish (which is beautiful by the way), Jeannette and Ariel shared their testimonies.

It was beautiful to see my team members share the lives with the congregation. Ariel went first and Jeannette translated for him and then she did her in Spanish. You could really see that the congregation was connecting because some cried and some sighed in agreement or sadness in the storeis. Afterwards another member of the congregation spontaniously got up and shared his story and the work that God is doing and shared about the love of God in his life. It was so beautiful. Then Mark got up and shared the Gospel, in Spanish. You could see the congregation moved by his words, God's words. The they did an "altar call" and six people and a baby in tow, came up to give their lives over to God. I teared up and had chills to see the work that God was doing through our team.

It was beautiful to sing in Spanish- to sing out to God in another language but still feel His mercy and grace and love.

I think testimonies are such a beautiful thing because they are love letters. Our life and what God has done in it are the love letters that He has written to His people. I want people to read my letter and to see what God has done. God desires for us to spread His Word and I think the easiest and most beautiful way to share our love and our testimony and to share God's love is through our life... what has happen, how has God moved and worked, what have I learned and why do I live the way I do? My life is a testimony of God's grace, mercy, love, forgiveness.

So friends, let us testify to the good work of God. Let us share our stories and desire to live our lives for Him so that we can be His perfect letter and that it is beautifully written because of how we live our lifes in pursuit of Him and as an example of desiring to be His disciples.

"4-6Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There's no end to what has happened in you—it's beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives." -1 Corinthians : 4-6

I hope that this blog gives light to the life I live and how God is a light in my life.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ss = Support System

S is for Support System

With the recent trip to Peru, my blog has been surrounded with my thoughts and ideas about Peru. I'd like to dedicate this blog to my team and to my donors... you have been the best support system.

Going into the trip, I was very nervous about my team. How would we function together, how would our strengths and weakness mesh? Would they get my jokes or think my laugh was annoying? How would we support each other? Would it be cliquey?... that was a huge relief when I got on Team Peru that I didn't really know anyone because I'd seen the formation of some other teams and I didn't want to feel left out on my own team since I'd been left out or stared right through by people on previous and other teams and at the church. There is nothing worse than the feeling of like you're invisible when you're at church for God and you're wanting to serve. Also, would I be supported by family and friends, church members and even members from my parent's church (who had supported me when I went through APU to Camden).

My words cannot even give God the complete praise of how well He worked every single detail and piece together on the team.

Not only did I raise all of my funds, but I raised above and beyond. I am so thankful to all of the donors, all of the people who paid for flocking and got flocked. Thankful for the friends and family that supported me. I want to thank a few really special people who would not have made this trip possible if it weren't for their prayers and generosity...

1) Lynette and Kelly- amidst getting married and moving into a new house, this lovely couple who I met in life group asked how much fundraising I had left. I told them that I had only $300 left but wasn't too worried that God would provide as we had three fundraisers still remaining before crunch time. Kelly who works in the same complex as me came into my work to say hi. He said that him and Lynette knew that I had been working extremely hard and wanted to support me, he then proceeded to write a check for the remainder of my trip. I cried. I could not be more thankful for these two amazing people, they are not only an example of good and faithful servants, but are also an amazing example of a Christian couple. Thank you to the McArthur's.

2) Two amazing women in my life. Charis Hueftle and  Priscilla Chau... two amazing women that I could not even fully describe what they mean to me or the impact they have made on me. We met in small group and they have been such an inspiration and a strength. Charis and her husband Dace were recently married and amidst their wedding aftermath and finding a home and jobs, they graciosly donated as well. This meant so much because I value and respect them and their relationship so much. Charis has always been there for me whenever I needed her and she is such a inspiration to push forward and to continue my relationship with God and constantly be in prayer and in the Word. Priscilla is my best friend and she has been such an encourager and emotional support for me. She made me a letter for each day I was in Peru, she doesn't do encouragement in that way. She encourages me in so many other ways. It meant the world that she took the time to pray for me, to wait patiently as I worked like crazy to raise funds and as I was busy with meetings and preparing for the trip. She took the time to sit down and pray and write a letter for each day that I would be away from her. What a blessing. To know also that she prays for me every single day, I couldn't ask for a better best friend.

3) The Bishops. Kris and Brian. They are the biggest blessing I never knew until recently. To give you a short back story. Brian and Kris worked with me a Trunk or Treat two years ago and I never knew their names or if I would ever see them again.  They were hospitable and the reason I decided to continue attending CCV and desiring to serve. Come to see them over a year later, they were my friend's aunt and uncle. They have been so encouraging and I have loved talking with Kris over lunch about God and the importance of prayer. Then they gave me the shock of a lifetime when they donated a couple hundred dollars to my trip. Thank you Kris and Brian, you continue to impact my life and my desire to serve. People like you continue to change the world through your hospitality, one person at a time.

4) Lastly, I am so grateful for the support and prayers of my life group. Not only did they come to my team's send off prayer and night, but we all went out for froyo after small group. They have been praying for me for weeks and then were so encouraging and made being home easier after returning from Peru. They allowed me to lead a small group after I returned and share every little and big detail of Peru with them. I am so blessed to have each of them in my life and could not ask for more encouraging women in my life. Love you, girls!

Now team time and the inspirations in my life in Peru...

Jeannette and Stacie- they were best friends on the trip. They laughed and cried with me on the trip. We flocked together and bonded before the trip and we made fun of Ariel and laughed at his jokes when necessary. My favorite moments and memories of Jeannette were when she shared her testimony and seeing her engage and laugh with the kids. Jeannette shared her testimony and it was so beautiful to see her cry and to see the congregation connect with her. They got to see how God has worked through her despite her upbringing or circumstances. Testimonies are a beautiful thing. Jeannette speaks Spanish and is going to school and training to be a teach and you could see that show through her love for the kids. She had such joy as she communicated and played with them, as did Stacie. Stacie embraced the kids with such love even though their was a language barrier. She danced and sung and you could see the joy within her as she grinned ear to ear. Stacie was such an encouragement to me, especially on the days that we went walking and I was struggling. She would wait for me and encourage me with her words, she made me feel as if I wasn't the only one feeling the pain of the altitude or millions of stairs.

Nate and Brigette- what a lovely and fun couple to be on the trip with. Nate was our co-leader and brought such wisdom and strength to the table. He made sure we were always in order and always on time and schedule. Nate also allowed me to join and participate too when he would take over the camera or responsibilities, so that I didn't feel like I was missing out or feeling left out because I was in-charge of the church's team camera. Brigette, wo(man) did we have some great times. We stayed up late together and work up early together and we laughed like there was no tomorrow. We had deep conversations and many "pillow talks". She was such an encouragement to the whole team leaving us daily RPI's (random post its). She understood me and talked me off my emotional ledges or cried with me. I cannot imagine the trip without her, she laughed at my ridiculousness and I at hers. Love you, sesi mami.

Taunee and Jessica- wo(man) do that possess more strength than they will ever know. Taunee is so strong-willed and laid it all down to just follow and be on the trip. She laid down her motives or agenda and I value and admire that so much. She just wanted to be a servant and follower on the trip, to go where she was led. I don't think a lot of people have the strength to do that, to release their control and hand it over to someone else in order to serve. Taunee also was so encouraging on the Waynu Picchu hike because she gave me something to look forward too, she'd announce how much further we had and just inspired me to push forward more and more. Jessica is a might amazing woman as well. Not only is she so smart and wise, but she is also so compassionate. We have had some great conversations, especially since being back from Peru. She has been like a big sister to me and was an amazing encouragement in doing the puppet show together and taking some weight and stress off my shoulders, but she was also such an encouragement on the hike. My favorite moment on the hike with Jessica was when Ariel when to take a photo and out of exhaustion and the desire to cry she just kind of held me and kissed my forehead. She pours out such knowledge and wisdom and she is going to make such an impact on so many people.

Mark- Maaawwwwkkkk. Dad, as I refer to him in my heart. Mark has been an amazing encouragement to me and I could not imagine my life without him and his family. They have truly been a blessing. Mark had been praying for me and asked me to be a leader in training on the trip. He has been a mentor and has discipled me and guided me in my leadership and in my walk with God. He has been an amazing example to everyone on the team and I can without a doubt say that he has encouraged and supported every single person on the team. It was so beautiful to see Mark play with the kids and to speak Spanish fluently, the kids just loved him. There is nothing better than see joy on a child's face and it reflecting back onto yours. I think one of the most encouraging moments for me was atop Waynu Picchu as I cried and hyperventilated and couldn't see or breathe, he just stood there with me and tried to calm me down and offered me food to eat so I wouldn't get sick. Then he and Ariel helped me down the mountain with each and every step, showing me or tell me where to step or offering me a hand. I don't think  I've ever been more emotionally or physically more encouraged than having two awesome men of God, hold my hand through difficulty and pain and guide the way. God really blessed me with Mark and Ariel.

Ariel- First off, Happy Birthday. Ariel blew me away on this trip because he always had me laughing but I really got to see his compassionate side. He stayed behind with me with every step that I took as I struggled to move or breathe. He taught me how to use my inhaler and had heartfelt conversations with me about missions and life and God's calling. My two funniest memories were on the plane to Peru, something that happen that only Ariel and I witnessed amongst the team or he witnessed first. Then playing Apple to Apple with him and the team, there is no science to the way he plays. One thing that I am most appreciative for is that I think I got see a glimpse of the Ariel that God sees. A part of who God wants and desires him to be and I'm not sure a lot of people get to see that side. I am also grateful because Ariel helped me both up and down my biggest struggle in Peru, all while caring my backpack as well. Ariel, you my friend are an extreme blessing and I am so thankful we're friends. This trip would not be possible without you.

So thank you to everyone for your love and support. I love you all.

Rr = Realization

R is for Realization

I sat there, with tear stained cheeks on that red couch and let out a prayer. My emotions were coming at me in waves over the past few days. Now I sat there with maybe six hours of sleep and I began praying and then the tears flowed down my cheeks. I didn't understand how it had happen nor had I ever expected it, but here I was early in the morning. I came to the realization that I was in love...

...in love with the city of Cusco. In love with the country of  Peru.

A night or two before my roommate asked me, how are you liking Peru? She had been to Peru on travels of her own three times and I got see the love in her eyes and through her smile. I've mentioned more than once that I thought my heart had always been for the inner-city of the United States but then here I was in Peru by God's grace. I was slowly coming to discover that my desire and love wasn't for the inner-city but is for those in impoverished areas, for those in need of God's love.

As I prayed for the city that morning, I also prayed for our missionaries Ricky and Tracie, and I prayed for our "one life" and his family. The tears began to flow down my cheeks and that confirmed what had been stirring up in my heart and head. The tears confirmed my attachment and love for Peru.

But also I was falling more and more in love with God, my Prince of Peace. As I cried, I opened my devotional and read my love letter for the day.

This place has just captured my heart. Knowing the kids come from broken homes and just desire to be loved, breaks my hearts. Things like verbal and sexual abuse happen, drug and alcohol abuse is so prevalent yet goes unspoken though you know it exists. It was like that in my house, the drug, alcohol, verbal, and emotional abuse was affecting who I am and was causing me to fight for my life... that fight brought me closer to God. I was able to find family and parents and brothers and sisters in the church. Yet the abuse went unspoken because if it was ever whispered I feared of what would happen. They were in pain and lashing out, and I was in pain for the fear that they striked in me if I ever told. But my testimony (my letter T) is so important to share because people can relate and I can be God's love letter to the people. My life and the way I live it is God's love letter and testimony of His love and grace, of His desire for me to know I am His daughter and that I am loved beyond all measure.

I had my struggles in Peru, but they caused me to fight harder like I did in my youth. The language barrier challenged me to try and work harder to connect and make an impact. It's like the Beatles' song, "All You Need is LOVE". Love is all they need. To get a hug, for someone to play with them, to give them attention. Love is all they need.

I left Peru knowing that I must come back. Now I face the crazy emotions of the things that went on in Peru and working through and processing them. I will write more of those things at a later time. I am praying through all of this change that  I feel is in progress and I am also praying about going back to Peru next summer. I ask that you pray for me as well and pray over the things that I have mentioned, but most important pray for our missionaries, Ricky, Tracie, Jorge and their families.

Thank you.

"He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of job." -Job 8:21

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Qq = Queen

Qq = Queen
To be a queen is a longing of my heart, but let me explain. I desire to be a queen, but before you are a queen you are a princess. I am a princess, but not in the spoiled and lofty way one may think of. I am the Father’s daughter, His princess. I desire to be in love and to be loved and to find my prince charming, so on and so forth. But before my prince charming of “human form” this is my Prince, my Prince of Peace and lover of my soul. He longs for relationship and I long to be in relationship… with Him above and before anyone else.
I have been going through this amazing book (recommended by my life group ladies) and it is my Prince’s love letters to me. It is beautiful. We look to God as our king, but we also have the view in the relationship as His bridegroom. It is more than just to have an intimate relationship with my Father… but also to have an intimate relationship with my Lover, the lover of my soul. It is a desire to that we be so in love with Him through both views.

I began going through this book “His Princess Bride” by Sheri Rose Shepherd before Peru and it really helped me while was there and currently. It is an amazing feeling to feel loved, especially when someone gives you a note of encouragement or even a love note. When someone professes their love for you, I can only imagine what that will one day be like. But this book is filled with those note and love letters of compassion, desire, encouragement, and praise. The letters are scripture based as well. I’ll have to find one to share. But for the meantime, I love those letters because they are eternal and everlasting and they are pure and intimate truth from my Creator and my Love.
I have love letters written on my heart for God and for my Prince. But I plan to begin an actual journal and book of love letters and prayers and desires to my Prince about my prince. I will write of my prayers for him and desires for our love to be centered around Him and for our marriage to be a representation of the Lord’s love for the church. It will be filled with the longings and desires of my heart for my future relationship and husband. They will be letters to Him. But I one day plan to give it to my prince charming who will have been provided by God and who will love the Lord as much as I do, if not even more. This book will hopefully be an encouragement to him and a symbol and bookkeeping of God’s fulfilled promises that have been placed on my heart. It will show that I’ve been praying for him and about him, before I even knew who he was.
For now I shall be a princess, a lady in waiting… waiting to be queen and walk hand in hand with my king, loved by our King.

Stronger by Tyrone Wells

After having an emotional tiring and trying night at home. My friend posted this on my wall... :D

Tyrone Wells
Album: Tyrone Wells
Title: Stronger

Lighten your load friend sit by me
Tell me all about your day
The night is falling and words are free
and you're a friend of mine

You're running on empty it all seems wrong
Your loads too heavy this roads too long
You're doing your best just to hang on
And you're a friend of mine
Yeah, you're a friend of mine

Lean, lean on me as I lean on the one who's stronger
Lean, lean on me I'll lead you to the one who's stronger
Lean, lean on me

Life is so easy when you were young
Songs of love and joy were sung
But your love is lost and your joy is gone
And you keep wondering why
As time keeps flying by

Lean, lean on my as I lean on the one who's stronger
Lean, lean on me I'll lead you to the one who's stronger
Lean, lean on me

I'll do my best to be here for you through the years
But I can't carry all your hidden pain and fears
But there is one who wants to wipe away your tears
He is waiting

Lean on the everlasting arms of Jesus
Lean on the everlasting arms (2x)

Lighten your load friend sit by me
Tell me all about your day
The night is falling and words are free
and you're a friend of mine

Lean, lean on my as I lean on the one who's stronger
Lean, lean on me I'll lead you to the one who's stronger
Lean, lean on me

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oo = Oxygen

O is for Oxygen

Apparently my brain has a lack of oxygen because in my excitement to write the letter P for Peru, I seemed to glaze of O. So a bit backwards, O is for Oxygen and why I love it so.

Being in Peru, I really valued oxygen because I was always gasping for air. With the elevation at 11,300 feet, my not entirely fit physique and asthma... I was a gone-r in Peru. Did I mention everything is stair and hills and then more stairs, going uphill on stairs, both ways... no matter where we went. I survived... thankfully and luckily.
The stairs down to the church after the walk down hill from the road.

I really do appreciate oxygen for the obvious reason of breathing and it allows me to live life. But having to breathe it in more deeply and slowly helped me on this trip. It helped me to slow down truly, instead of rushing through my trip. Here in California, we get so caught up in our swing of life where we have the "suburban legend of busier is better". Well, I must say false. Busier fills my life with the desire to feel needed or appreciated, when really... I know I am. My value and worth comes from God, as my redeemer and creator. I shouldn't need to fill my calendar and have everything scheduled to the perfect detail, but we often get so caught up in trying to make sure we have enough to do. I honestly don't need the distractions. Do I give into them? Yes. Human nature and sin and fall of man, causes me to stumble. But what do I do to change that, to really live life out for God's will? Peru taught me about the simple life.  And I'm still processing everything from Peru, and I am still a work in progress as well.

I must say that there is nothing more amazing and more beautiful than just serving, completely and utterly bowing on my knees in prayer to serve and worship my Creator. I experienced that in Peru. I didn't have to deal with my alcoholic and drug addict father who tries to continually succeed in something that only pushes our family and his finances further away from reality, I didn't have to be consumed and stressed by the job that I hate... I got to be me. The me as God's daughter and a princess. The me that finds pure joy in serving and being with people. I got to partake on an amazing adventure as a bridegroom of Christ. To feel him providing every step of the journey and to know He provided every deep and weezing breathe than I  took in. That He provided the strength to push my weight up each and every stair with one foot after the next despite my complete exhaustion and frustration with my pace. He granted me with some amazing team members who didn't waste their breathe in talking to me and encouraging me and giving me the strength to continue to push forwards.

How many breathes do we take each day?
17,280-23,040 per day
The average person takes about 15 breaths a minute. So, 15 x 60 (minutes in an hour)= 900 x 24 (hours in a day) = 21,600.So I take 21,600 breathes in a day... with all the weazing in Peru, more for sure... what do I do with those breathes. Do I wasted them on gossip or meaningless conversation? I would challenge myself and you that we would use as many of those in meditation and prayer to God, that we would whisper His name with some of those. That we would use them to shout out in praise and worship, to whisper thanks with adoration. I pray that we would even use some of those breathes for rest, to silently rest in Him. To take time and think and just being quiet, to not be distracted by our facebook, or blog, or cell phone, or what latest television show is on... but to stop and just breathe and rest.

Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God".

So let us be still and take a deep breathe in...... and out..... in............ and out..... and whisper..... thank you Lord, for this oxygen.

I thank you Lord, for showing your existence with each breathe that I take and I pray to stop wasting my breathes and time on worldly gain, but to envelop it in your Word and presence and wisdom and peace. Amen.

Pp = Peru

P is for Peru

You have no idea how long I have been awaiting to get to the letter P, I've been saving so much to talk about too. I am sure you have been waiting for me to get to Peru as long as it has taken me to get here.

My journey for Peru began a few years ago...
In 2007, I went on a mission trip within the United States. Now you might what, what are you talking about? Missionaries don't work within the United States, or there is so much going on in the world. Well, if you didn't know Camden, New Jersey is the poorest city in the United States and the fifth most dangerous. It was my sophomore year of college and a seed was planted for service. A seed that had been planted as a child, I grew up serving in my home Lutheran church. But in 2007, I took a huge leap and went to Camden for the summer with several university students to serve and tithe our whole summer. It was a life-changing experience. I went into having expectations that I would change the people and save lives and impact the children there. But really they taught me everything... they taught me patience and grace when I had to teach a bible class filled with eighth grades who couldn't sit still for the twenty minute lesson and one of which called me a bitch as they were kicked out of my class for misbehaving. I trusted and followed God, he not only provided the money for me to go but I raised above and beyond to allow me to see the needs of the city and summer camps and to help financially meet them. I did this for three summers. I fell in love with Camden and the people. I love seeing my children grow from being shorter than me to now towering over me and becoming leaders in the ministry. I thought my heart would always be for Camden.

Last year, I didn't even think twice about applying for a mission trip with my church... the answer was no. I wanted to go to Camden. But God did place it on my heart to support friends who were going to trips. I wasn't working and I managed to support at least three friends mainly in some financial way be saving, some where grateful and sincere in my sacrifice and some were not. I ended up going to Camden for a few short days while I was passing through the East Coast for a wedding. Even for those few days, I loved being with those kids and in the city. The time was not nearly long enough, but a nice thing is that I can keep up with them via Facebook. Oh, technology.

Well, this year as the time approached to apply for a mission trip I was more involved in college ministries and was considered a leader in many areas of the church. After being asked to consider applying by some friends and pastors, I began praying. Knowing that if I went, my family would not be supportive, I still applied and prayed to God that if I was accepted that He would provide a direction and guidance throughout the entire process. I prayed for faithfulness and I prayed to remember that if I was meant to go that I would find a way in going despite my job and finances and family. I would work my tail off in fundraisers, volunteer, and pick up extra nanny shifts and makes small contributions to a fund the trip. I needed to be accepted first, however.

I was accepted to may dismay. As I argued with God in prayer and requests of what team I wanted to be on, I realized there was an attachment to the email... saying what team for me to be on. It was the one I pleaded for. PERU. The team got together and we began working on fundraising, from flocking to support letters to car washes. I hustled for myself and the team and I made it... I did it. But honestly, I didn't do it. He did it, God provided it all, like He said He would. He desired for me to go to Peru to be transformed, to be shaken and stirred up, to be inspired and to gain new direction.

Well, as I finish this letter P it's not quite done...

I have just returned from Peru a week ago and I am sure I will not continue to stick to the alaphabet blogging because I want to blog about Peru and the things that happen there... but I do want to complete my alaphabet... so we'll see if I can creatively pull it off or I'll press the pause button...

Stay tuned...