Why I’m Wearing a Dress Every Day of December

If you’re living in the Palouse you may have seen me strutting around in a black dress these past six days. The same one. It’s a black sweater dress with nothing really significant about it, except the thick fabric I picked to brave endless cycles in the washing machine and the cold weather of December in the east of Washington state.

It’s been cold here, today the sky spit bits of snow that stuck for barely a moment before fading into the damp grass again, but we’re lucky to have maintained warm enough temperatures that the white dandruff doesn’t have the stamina to stick around. Something I’ve been particularly grateful for considering that my litany of allergies includes an intolerance to the cold that turns me into one massive walking welt-factory in freezing temperatures. A hindrance that is not particularly welcome during a season in which I have pledged to wear a dress throughout the entirety of December. So why subject myself to such torturous behavior?

The simple answer is that wearing a dress in the dead of winter raises eyebrows, and those raised eyebrows lead to conversations, and conversations breed opportunities to talk about advocacy, and advocacy is the avenue by which we must be approaching the victims of the systemically thriving business of slavery in the modern world. Continue reading “Why I’m Wearing a Dress Every Day of December”

A Letter to my Dad on the 13th Anniversary of His Death

Dear Dad,

Every year I wait for the sting to be a little less potent, but despite the well-wishes of others, it never gets easier. Every year that passes without you I lose more of you.

I forgot a long time ago what your voice sounds like, it wasn’t until last year when I found home movies that I heard you again, and I cried for hours because Eli sounds just like you. If I’m honest, sometimes when I see Eli I panic, because something in my heart still thinks that you’re going to walk through my front door someday and prove this is some sort  of elongated nightmare.

I think that I am more angry than anything else. I often look at the hand I’ve been dealt with so much disdain that it cripples me. I wonder why in twenty years I’ve lived more life than some fifty year olds, and more often than not this leads me to bitterness instead of empathy.

Continue reading “A Letter to my Dad on the 13th Anniversary of His Death”

Europe, It’s Been a Month.

I am currently positioned in the middle seat of a full airplane on its way to Washington, trying desperately not to jam an elbow into the ribs of my seat-mates as I transcribe this… so here’s to three hour flights (aka unadulterated writing time), too small public transport seats, and bladders the size of peanuts (see my future memoir for the time that I flashed an unsuspecting business man trying to muscle my way to the back of the plane – on a Washington-Arizona flight nonetheless; also that pun was somewhat intended…)

It has been just over a month since I came back from England and my heart hasn’t stopped aching since. There is something inside me that can’t let it go, even as I write this my computer window gives way to a sunset picture of King’s College on my desktop. Studying at the University of Cambridge was a literal dream come true, and besides the fact that it makes me feel like a badass because I can say that I studied at one of the WORLD’S premiere universities and survived, it was so much more than the academics that have left my heart yearning for the unimposing university. *insert wink emoji*

I was wholly unprepared for what I would experience during my time in Europe, and I am completely and utterly beyond grateful that I made the decision to be there. I cannot imagine a better, more life-giving and life-changing way to have spent the summer, my time at Cambridge was the hardest and greatest months of my life. I think that’s why I am still staring at pictures of formal dinners and thinking about rainy summer days on the daily.

And now that its been a few weeks, I think I’m ready to try to articulate the ways that living in England this summer has changed my life and the things that I have learned.  Continue reading “Europe, It’s Been a Month.”

Isle of Wight, U.K.

A few weeks ago I had a magical weekend, and I’ve finally got a spare second to reflect.

After a full week of classes in Cambridge, my friends and I took off for the Isle of Wight, an Island “forgotten by time,” as they say. A place of retreat into natural beauty and the sights and sounds of what I have always imagined to be the quintessential English town, all by the sea.

I was first made aware of the Isle of Wight by one of my professors from my home university who grew up on the island. She mentioned that I had to make a trip down while I was in England and after a little research and some help we figured out how to make the trek. I gathered a few friends from my program here and we were off. We left from London in the morning to arrive in the historic town of Portsmouth for a Ferry to Ryde.

From the moment that you arrive, it is a picturesque affair.
Continue reading “Isle of Wight, U.K.”

Words

Recently, as my sophomore year of college has met its end, I have been thinking about a variety of different things, and I figured I might as well word vomit them onto a webpage so that the entire world can see the frantic mush that my brain has become.

This is basically the sales pitch versions of random thoughts that I’ve had or things I’ve been processing recently.

Continue reading “Words”

Sophomore Slump Almost Did Me In

I survived the first semester of my sophomore year… barely.

Its been over a week since break began, officially leading to the close of the first semester of my sophomore year of college, and in the time that I’ve been back home with my family I’ve already had two hysterical crying episodes and lost sleep over the horror of the semester that unfolded much to my chagrin.

Between a twenty credit workload, a failed quest for a profitable job, living off campus and paying bills for the first time, medical failings, fractured relationships, professors without my best interest in mind, a university system which failed to advocate for me, a GPA on a steady decline and the weed out classes for my major it’s safe to say that this semester traumatized me.

I failed a lot this semester – academically, in my friendships, in my own faith, in basic humanity. I have very seriously considered calling it quits — pulling the blanket over my head, holing myself in, and hiding from the world.

I think that my brain is actually broken. I have been trying to write this post for almost two weeks now, but the simple function of formulating sentences has become a luxury which my brain rarely affords. What little sleep I get is permeated by nightmares of the past semester and the horror of returning to do it all over in the Spring. My family has more than once commented on my state of disarray, but I feel powerless to change it. Sophomore Slump has become my kryptonite.

This semester feels like a season of life that is never-ending.  I am in a constant state of longing to be anywhere and everywhere else in the world, and somehow recognize amidst that that God has placed me uniquely where I am at, now. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bitter.

Bitter is actually an understatement. I think that I am pissed at God.

This past semester he called me to a new church, pulled me out of relationships that I loved, and has continuously confronted me with the nastiness in my own heart.In the pressure and nonstop mundane of college, I’ve been able to push Him out. To tell Him I’ll deal with my heart when I have the time, that I’ll spend time seeking Him after I get my life in line. But I never got my life in line. It continued to crumble, and I continued to run from it, at a price.

 

When I am put under extreme amounts of stress, just like I believe most normal people also do, my body starts to shut itself down. Subsequently my body goes into panic survival mode, and this semester I wound up having almost three or four panic attacks per day until I completely blocked it all out. The anxiety attacks mostly manifest themselves in shaking fits, muscle spasms and an accelerated heart rate, sometimes accompanied by a flare up of my asthma. Naturally, when my body begins to panic I become anxious, further feeding the vicious cycle, and on and on it goes.

I am so tired from contracted muscles and the mental stress after an episode that the last thing that I want to do is get back to the school work which has piled so high its led to the physical decline of my health. I am so tired.

And I have never felt farther from God.

In trying to do the right thing I hurt the people that I cared about more times than I would prefer to recount. In striving to live right I refused to deal with my own crap and continuously hurt the people that I love, failed them over and over because I was terrified to be disappointed in their failures. I have realized so many things these past couple months – but the biggest thing that I’ve realized is my absolute terror of commitment.

I have sabotaged so many relationships because I thought I was doing the right thing. Not consciously, not out of spite, but something in me is convinced that I am not worthy of love from the people that I love and therefore I must sabotage the relationships I care about before I’m disappointed.

This semester I wanted nothing but to just completely shut down. The ultimate extrovert who is me was so terrified of spending time with others that I would rather spend my time bent over vomiting up my anxiety than trying to find the corner of a room where no one can see me.

I neglected to pray because I thought that I was too far away for God to hear. I neglected to dig into the Word because I lost my enthusiasm for it. I neglected my own well being because I was too tired to deal with it. I was stressed to the maximum and with that came second thoughts that sent me questioning everything.

Do I really want to keep going? Is the effect that school is having on my physical health enough to call it quits? Am I a quitter? Do I believe the promises that I have been speaking to others on God’s behalf? Do I genuinely believe that God will never leave me or forsake me? Do I believe that God cares about me?

I know the truth. But I am having a hard time believing it.

Without God what hope do I have to keep pushing?  With a lost hope in His plan I have no interest in foraging forward.

This semester broke me in so many ways, and as I have continued to lose sleep over it these past weeks I wonder what the future can hold. But there is one thing that I know to be true:

Its okay to doubt. Its okay to be scared. Its okay to be confused. Its okay to not feel great all the time.

But I don’t get to live in that.

This semester sucked, and theres no doubt about that, but perspective is a game changer. Away from Pullman I can think about things separate from the University, I can think about the long term, and with that in mind I can’t wait to get back to campus and kill Spring Semester.

Until next time, wonder on.

The Change in Summer Plans

I sit here in the midst of dead week composing these words because they have gone unaddressed for too long and I feel awful about it.

Earlier this year I told all of you that I had committed to a discipleship program called “Elevate.” I was going to spend ten weeks in San Diego learning how to live missionally and dependently on the Lord. Previous to this I heard the Lord’s calling me to give my summer to him, and when I heard of Elevate a few days after coming to terms with His command for my life I jumped into the program almost uncomfortably quick – I figured that if God was calling me to give my summer to him, this must be the way.

But my heart ached as I prepared to go. I sent out my support letters and spoke to my family and friends without joy because there was something amiss in my heart.The further that I progressed toward leaving for the summer the more burdened I became. It’s not because I believed the project to be poor or have the wrong intentions, but the more that I processed the less excited I was – this was the type of thing that I should have been ecstatic about! And yet, my heart was incredibly heavy. There was something about it that I felt was wrong.

So I took my concern to the Lord. For weeks I prayed and fasted and processed, begging the Lord for clarity. I was so frustrated. I couldn’t understand why something that was designed to be so great and God honoring would lay such a burden on my heart. Naturally, I tried to ignore it. The more that I heard the others talk about it I convinced myself that I would be okay, that I could be as excited as they were. They were all stoked out of their minds and I was just trying to force a smile. I felt wrong about it and I couldn’t figure out why.

I wasn’t sure what my options were. I felt awful resigning from the project when I had already sent out support letters and committed, but at the same time, I was growing more and more worried as the weeks led to the event. I knew that if I went I wouldn’t have an open and happy heart – I would have been closed and frustrated with the notion that I didn’t belong there. And that’s not what God calls me into. He calls me into a gentle vulnerability and joy, and I was feeling the polar opposite.

And in the midst of the processing and begging the Lord showed me his face in a beautiful real way, even when I fought him.

I believe that the Lord gives a choices – not because one is right and the other is wrong, or because one is better than the other; but simply because he loves us and wants to see us thrive. I believe that the Word of the Lord is alive and active. And I believe that because of Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf I have the Holy Spirit alive and active in me.

And the Holy Spirit brings with it the gifts of the spirit, in which the Lord gives us a discerning heart. And as I prayed through the process of understanding what the Lord was calling me into I recognized his heart in calling me out to the Nations.

I believe that we thrive when we pursue our passions passionately – and try as I might, the truth is that the Lord just hasn’t set within me a heart that is as passionate about urban missions as it is for people of the nations. That doesn’t mean that God cannot use me, nor does it mean that I lack the desire for urban missions – simply it means that my heart was designed with a passion for the nations and a desire to walk alongside my brothers and sisters of different nations.

And so I have decided to back down from the Elevate project in order to take a missions internship in Burma, South Asia. It is here that I will get to walk alongside college students for ten weeks to teach conversational english and serve at a local coffee shop run by the Assemblies of God missionaries in the capital. In addition I get to work with the children’s ministry and live with the long term missionary – FOR TEN WEEKS!

I am enthralled by His personal pursuit of my heart. He pursues me via my passions and desires, and gives me clarity when I am silent and quick to listen to his call. It has been a trying couple months in deciding how to address my heart concerning my summer plans, but the Lord has been faithful to allow me to go where he calls me.

This does not mean that Elevate is bad and this internship in Burma is the only God-Honoring way to spend my summer, but rather it means that it is more suited to my own passions and desires. I am beyond stoked for this experience and I am incredibly faithful that the Lord is going to use it in a big way for his glory.

That being said, for those of you who have walked alongside me as I prepared for Elevate  – either financially or prayerfully – I am so incredibly thankful for each and every one of you. If you supported me with your finances it is important to me that you get all of your money back and I will be contacting you shortly, and for those of you considering this route, I would ask that you prayerfully consider walking alongside me in this way as I serve overseas this summer. Needless to say, I still need copious amounts of prayer.

From Ecuador to the Dominican Republic to Mexico, I can’t wait to add Burma. I’ve just purchased my tickets and made my travel plans – everything a test of faith in a huge way. Let’s continue together to reach the world for His glory. Thank you for your support!

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Dear Future Self

Dear future me,

I’ve been thinking about the woman who I hope that you will be…

I hope that you never stop craving adventure. I hope that every moment  you spend dreaming of the things that you will do and the risks that you will take never cease to bring a smile to your face. I hope that your camera never slips off your neck and you constantly thirst for the adventures that the world has to offer to you.

I hope that you travel. I hope that you realize that the whole world is yours for the taking, and I hope you realize that you’re allowed to take it. I hope that you go everywhere and do everything and make a habit of saying yes instead of no (within reason – remember that!).

I hope that you never lose sight of your first love. I pray that as the years continue you grow more each day into the woman that He has created you to be. I hope that prayer never ceases to flow from your lips and  that the hope you have in Him never escapes you.

I pray that you are a woman who is so unapologetically herself that she shakes the very foundations of the world. I hope that you know that you are not too much and you are more than enough. I pray that you embrace the quirks that God created you with and use them to love those around you best.

I hope that you never stop caring. I pray that you never let the pain of caring too much stop you from caring at all.

I pray that you begin to believe it when you are told that you are beautiful. I hope you learn to free yourself from shame and believe the kind words that others gift to you. I pray that your heart  overflows into your smile and you learn to love the laugh lines around your eyes.I pray that you learn to love your little nose, and wide hips and crooked smile. I pray that you know how deeply and breathtakingly beautiful you truly are.

I hope that you recognize the respect that you deserve and you make a habit of never settling for anything less.

I hope that you never doubt your passion. I pray that it leads you to love often and love well.

Dear future self, I hope you recognize how lovely you really are. j-mid

Elevate Update: What is Elevate & The Challenge of Urban Missions

It’s about time that I talk to all of you about a little thing called Elevate…

What Is Elevate?

Here is the official definition:

Elevate is a 10-week spiritual leadership project located in beautiful San Diego, CA that provides you an amazing opportunity to explore God in community. It is a time to learn biblical truths and practical skills all in the context of missionally-living, Christian community. Elevate students will live together, learn together…and maybe even work together. Each student will work a 30-40 hour week, attend large group sessions, study the Bible in “family groups”, participate in a local church and develop lifelong relationships. If you are looking to have a life-changing summer, Elevate is the place for you.

However, I think that this just barely begins to illustrate the weight of this opportunity.

This is a summer project uniquely designed to teach the body of Christ how to live missionally and intentionally for the Kingdom. As a part of the program each of us is required to get a job in the city where we will work a minimum of 30 hours a week to bring the gospel into our work place and learn what it looks like to be a hardworking and faithful servant outside of the church. In addition to that we will spend our weekends working with local churches and inviting people into our homes for “house parties” (barbecues and hangouts) to invite those in the San Diego area into our community.

For those of us who are a part of the Project we will spend Monday-Wednesday night in classes being discipled and learning how to love bigger, better and further. This is an incredible opportunity for each of us to be discipled by those in our church, grow in community, and foster a perspective reminiscent of Romans 1:16 – it is my prayer that each and every week challenges each of us to live boldly for the gospel.

Basically, this is a ten week program designed specifically to draw near to the heart of God and experience missional living like you never have before.

Why Do I Feel Called To Be a Part of It?

To spare you all the details I’ll begin at the beginning of my Fall semester. I had this weird tugging on my heart that God was asking me to give my summer to Him; and to be honest, that is the last thing that I wanted to do. As an Arizona girl I wanted to save up all of my money to go and spend my summer back in the place that I know with my friends. I wanted to be comfortable.

Too bad God isn’t too keen on the idea of comfort when it comes to His kingdom. I often say that it makes me uncomfortable if people are comfortable following Jesus, and here I was, swallowing my own words as God continuously pressed into my heart the idea that my summer was meant to be bigger than the comfort that I craved. I wasn’t sure what it all meant, in all honesty, I was supremely confused because I had no idea where to even begin looking for a way to give my Summer to Him; and I guess – because my head is hard as brick – I sort of figured that if I didn’t find anything then I could kind of ignore what He was asking me to do in light of the summer that I could spend with my friends.

God must laugh at me a lot, thinking that I have control over things. The Big Guy has a sense of humor – in a few short weeks I sat down to coffee with a girl who I barely knew at the time, but has since become one of my most treasured friends, and she began to tell me the story of her summer … which she spent at Elevate.

It was in that moment that I began to say okay. Of course, this okay came after a lot of bargaining (too bad that that’s also a joke). I knew what God was asking me to do, and when I finally decided to let him send me I felt this sense of peace…

Which leads me to now, almost four months later. Why do I still think that I am called to be a part of this project? As the school year has gone on I have learned more about the program and found myself increasingly more invested in the idea of being sent out in a way that I never had before.

Missional Living…

I have a heart for missions.This is no secret.

I have been so incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to spend weeks outside of my own country (and continent) bearing the image of the Lord and carrying it to my brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. In the past few years alone, I’ve been privileged to make it to Ecuador, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic – and it was through these experiences that I began to feel the Lord’s tugging on my heart in the realm of missions.

Between my Junior and Senior year of high school I found myself fulfilling the role of “missions intern” for my home church in Arizona, and it was there that I began to really understand and investigate the merit behind missional living. I was saddened by the face that so many of my other brothers and sisters in the church approach missions with an almost careless mindset -looking to fulfill their Christian duty, throw a couple hundred dollars at a charity, take a picture with an orphan and then go on living their lives in excess, never again thinking about the people they stood alongside in other parts of the world (here’s a cool article discussing this idea).

This burdens my hearts in ways that I cannot even communicate. Throughout the summer I read countless articles, listened to stories and read numerous books discussing God’s intent for missional living and it rocked my entire world. In that same summer Arizona was struck by a series of wildfires, and one in particular left us with a staggering loss of 19 brave firemen; the majority of which came from our little town – Prescott. In the aftermath the entire town rallied together, and our missions team in particular was a central force behind the community outreach. In many ways it was here that I began to see the impact of urban missions.

Urban missions.

What does that even mean? I’ve put a lot of thought into this and the definition that I have developed is: anything that you do in your own community to help those who need it. This may be working at the local women’s shelter, or serving at the food bank, or even mowing the lawn for your 90 year old neighbor. The possibilities are broad.

And in a way, that’s exactly what makes this kind of serving so scary. For me, since I am so passionate about it, serving outside of the country in foreign lands has become a more comfortable example of missional living than serving those in my very own town.

And that’s exactly why I need to do this. I care about the children in the Dominican as much as I care about those in San Diego, but I haven’t been given the chance to serve the people of San Diego yet. This summer is my chance to change that. It is my opportunity to take the mundane tasks and patterns of life and turn them into a testament to my faith in one of our nation’s most lost cities.

It will be challenging. It will be heart breaking. It will be terrifying. And yet, not one of those things is a deterrent for me, I’m excited to push myself to learn how to live in a way that is everyday missional. I’m excited to create relationships with the people that I will meet and walk alongside in California, and mostly I am excited to share God in a brand new way.

Prayer Requests

Some of you have already received letters from me, and for some of you this is the first time that you are hearing about this trip. Regardless, each one of you can join me in prayer as I prepare to spend my summer in California as an operative for His kingdom! This month I am praying for three things:

  1. An open and tender heart. A spirit of gentle vulnerability that lends itself to the molding of my heart as I learn more about my Savior and serve his children throughout the summer.
  2. Patience. If you know me at all then you probably already know that this is not a spiritual gift of mine. I am taking the initiative now to begin praying for patience as I am sure that I will need endless amounts of it throughout this entire project.
  3. Boldness. I am praying that my team is bold for the gospel and rocks the foundations of San Diego for His glory.

Please join me in praying for these things!

FUNDS UPDATE

As of February I have raised $415.78. In order to be fully funded I need to raise $2,584.22 more to reach the program cost of $3,000.

Official things

The official website of the project:http://www.elevate2015.com

The official website of the church:http://experienceresonate.com

Elevate 2015 from Resonate Church on Vimeo.

If you have any questions at all please, please, please don’t hesitate to ask them! Either through Facebook, twitter, commenting here – the possibilities are endless! You can find my contact info in the “About Me” tab at the top of this website if you need it 🙂

I love you all, Happy March!

How I Intend to Make 2015 the BEST YEAR EVER

I’m slightly *cough, completely, cough* obsessed with the movie Tangled. For my eighteenth birthday party (as a college freshman, mind you) I had a Tangled themed party where all my friends ate off of Rapunzel plates and we smashed a Flynn Rider piñata. These sort of shenanigans have become commonplace in my life –  as such, I’ve found that Rapunzel’s celebratory “Best Day Ever” phrase has become a regular occurrence in my daily vocabulary. So, in honor of the new year, I thought it only right to share how I plan on utilizing all my “best days ever” to create the best year ever!  Without further ado… my realistic resolutions for 2015:

Nurturing my Gentle Spirit & Being Vulnerable

Being vulnerable and gentle, in any scale, is a terrifying feat. Sharing your heart often feels more like signing your life away than reaching out to the people that you love – not to mention the fact that society has ostracized being vulnerable as nothing more than a burden which impedes the experience of life. I’ve listened to those lies, and I’ve realized that I’m really good at being really honest about/with other people, but I don’t allow myself that same liberty. So this year I’m resolving to put a stop to it. As intimidating as it is, this year to be a learning experience in how to cultivate a gentle spirit. It’s something that I have to really work at, seeing as my natural disposition is to punch before asking and pull before giving – but this year, in it’s newness gives me the basis to begin to nurture my nature – even if it’s a different part of it than I’m used to.

Cultivating Relationships

As a freshman in college my life seems to be a steady stream of introductions, as such, I find myself locked in this world of perpetual acquaintance-ship mirroring the “week of welcome” rush. As 2015 will encompass the tail end of my freshman year and the beginning of my sophomore year, I believe that it’s the perfect time to begin understanding which relationships are important to me and which relationships I want to spend time cultivating. Whether this is grabbing coffee with the girls, or giving up a night to play video games with the guys, or making “family dinner” so that we all can hang out – I want relationships to be a primary focus this year.

Spending More Time with God & In His Word

In November I finished my study of Jeremiah, and realized how interested I am in the grand story of the Bible, so I decided to start from the very beginning. In 2015 I would like to read every book of the Bible, not necessarily cover to cover, but every book.  Through the past couple years I’ve realized the hunger that I have for God’s word, and the understanding of it, and I want this to be the year that gives me that foundation. In addition to that, I want to be intentional with the time that I spend with the Lord – whether that be through quiet time or periods of prayer. I want to rest in his pursuit and I want to strive to pursue him as ceaselessly as he pursues me.

Giving my Summer to God

I’ve decided to be a part of a short term mission this summer where I move to San Diego, California for ten weeks… and I am beyond thrilled!! To give you a basic run down (because I plan to write an in-depth run down in the future) I am moving to California for the summer to share the gospel with the people of San Diego by becoming a part of their culture – this means getting a job in the city, living in the community, and assisting a church plant in the area. It’s an amazing opportunity, and I am excited to share the experience with all of you, and even more excited to walk by faith into an unforgettable summer devoted to the Lord through Resonate Church’s Elevate in 2015.

Writing for Wonderlust

Here we are, a brand new creative outlet in the new year and I couldn’t be more excited to watch it grow. This year is going to be a blogging-blitz of adventure tales, musings, and praises and I am excited for you to be a part of it with me! There are so many different series that I am excited to share with you – my first being “Imprints” which will be launching at the end of this month!

I’m thrilled by the prospect of this new blog. There are so many stories to be told, and adventures to be had, and they can all be a part of this corner of the web, and that’s more thrilling than anything that I could hope for. 2015 is a new year full of new opportunities, and I’m excited to take Wonderlust along with me.

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So let’s make this the best year ever!