Monday, December 31, 2012

Good News for ALL // Testimonies from my India Travels

Since I was out of the country, in a rather tropical part of the world, and we didn't set up our tree or decorations until about one week before Christmas I am still in "gear up" mode. I realize it is after Christmas now but my anticipation of the season has just begun to grow. So for now it's still Christmas time around here.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all peopleFor unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
// Luke 2:10-11 //
(emphasis added)

     See min 1:06. "He is for all mankind."

The separation is great between the privileged of first world countries and the impoverished of third world countries. But, contrary to sub-conscious belief, we did not earn or privileged lives by good deeds, nor were the poor born into a life devoid of privilege because of the lack of them. Class and rank, caste and income have nothing to do with our merit. Jesus chose to be born in the lowliest place. Rich, white Christians do not "own" Him. The persecuted Christians of the Middle East do not "own" Him. He is for all mankind.

The classic characters of the Nativity scene are varied, from a carpenter and young virgin, to hundreds of angels, from shepherds that were weather-worn and dirty, to the magi who bore extravagant gifts... but are those the only people who would have been welcome to visit the newborn King? Certainly not! He is for all mankind.

{I am sure there are many families that could tell the same story but my Pastor told this tale of his fascination with the Nativity scene as a child...} Imagine a nativity scene, set up in a special place in a home with young kids, with all the original characters positioned to be looking on at the baby Jesus. As the days to Christmas progress additional characters are added to the scene: a batman action figure, a transformer, a few Veggie Tale characters, a teddy bear, and a T-Rex all appear on the scene, trying to catch a glimpse of Jesus. No one turned away, all welcome to come and see. He is for all mankind.

Nothing has changed. Everyone is welcome to come to Him, He came to provide a way to the Father for anyone who would take it. No matter who came to Him, they all had to get on their knees in a very humble place to see Him. So regardless of whether we are from wealthy America or from desperate India, we are all humbled before Him, welcome in His presence, and invited to be co-heirs with Him. He is for all mankind.

This heart, our King's heart, His Father's heart -- a heart that is for us! -- is something I was very aware of during my time in India. I felt the depth of His love for people I had never met... I experienced His heart for America. Like you can sense and feel the love of people in your life, I assure you that you can sense and feel God's love for you, and that love is beyond description, beyond comprehension. I am certain that I only experienced a drop of the ocean that is His love -- and that drop was enough to knock the air out of me or cause me to soar. You are welcome to the fullness of that love. It is what motivated Christ to leave His home in heaven and be born as a human, to live among us and die for us. It is the gift offered to us by His sacrifice. It is what we celebrate at Christmas. May you know the love of God! He is for all mankind.

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
// Ephesians 3:14-19 //
(emphasis added)

--- --- ---

Happy New Year!
Happy, because JOY is not dependent on circumstance, only upon Jesus' presence.
He is for all mankind.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The beauty of change... // Day Two

In our day and age there is very little job security and a certainty of change. We need to be adaptable and stop thinking that a 9-5 job that you can hold for your whole life is the same thing as "security".
This isn't a scary thing, its a beautiful thing! 
It means that I can get a job I love, that I am well suited for (not just able to do), that lets me work from home, that doesn't pay me for my time but for my results, and that doesn't require a college degree. A job that will allow me to be at home with my family, to travel, to write, to photograph, to breathe, to work hard and be creative (without having to give 40hrs a week of my precious time). While employment needs in this country will continue to change over the course of my life, there are things about me that are changeless and those things are going to shape my job, my job will not shape me.

Once again, all photos were found on Pinterest.

My life purpose is to be a wife, a mother and to care & advocate for vulnerable children. My passions are creating, sharing my heart, and travel.
How about you? Do you already do the work you love? In a world of constant change, what will remain changeless about you? I'd love to hear!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

When You Daydream... // Day One

I'm 20, I chose to spend my time traveling, serving and teaching rather than attending college, and I'm ready to start doing something I love for work. 
I began reading "48 Days to the work you love" by Dan Miller today. The chapter for Day One asked this question, "When you daydream, what do you see yourself doing?" Rolling my short-term and long-term daydreams about my "someday" into a photo collage, this is a glimpse of what I imagine. All photos were snagged from my Pinterest boards. Isn't Pinterest the best?

wifehood // county life // motherhood // travel // photography & design work // reading // 
adoption // cooking // cleaning // sharing our blessings with others // savoring moments // long walks //
fields & beaches // journals // tea // gardening // teaching // writing or speaking

Friday, December 28, 2012

I left my heart behind // Testimonies from my India Travels

I left part of my heart in India. It was so at home there, I couldn't convince it to return to the States.

For a girl who doesn't care much for change and gets stressed about the unknown, going to India, where the culture and climate is so opposite of my snug little Midwest life, should have been uncomfortable, stretching and maybe even miserable. There were uncomfortable moments, but they didn't last long. I was stretched, but in a slow and steady, almost unnoticeable, way, spread out over the entirety of the trip. I was miserable in body as I went from one physical ailment to the next over the two weeks we were there, but in spite of that I was so full of pure joy.

I loved waking up with the sun, watching the day become hot and hazy. I loved the cool concrete walls and tile floors of our guest house and the children's home. I loved the sound of prayers being chanted early in the morning (not to our God), thinking how many souls there are that are longing for my God -- the only true one. I loved seeing children's faces out our kitchen and balcony widows as they peered in, curious about the white girls inside, and tickled with delight when we smiled or waved at them. I loved getting in our quiet, faithful driver's van and waiting, with an excited expectancy, for his adult heart to let down its guard and surrender to the childlike yearning that stirs in him for the Father I have. I loved watching him observe us as we loved the people in our path, it was as delightful as seeing seeds planted and little green stems begin to sprout.

I loved walking into the children's home and feeling entirely in-place, not questioning that I belonged right there. I loved the exuberant and trusting embraces and greetings I was welcomed with each day by the kids. I loved to see on their faces a complete abandon to love. I loved seeing them light up when they recognized me, loved their hands sliding into mine, loved their contentment to sit on my lap and just be held. I loved giving all my attention to them one at a time, all my affection to each one who was in front of me, all my love for them gushing forth in prayers. I loved seeing the children learn and sing and play and create. I loved hearing them cry "Big Sister! Big Sister!" in Telugu over and over. I loved having my heart silently stolen by two young sisters at the home. I never got it back from them, and I never want to. I want them to have all the love I can give, forever.

I loved the chaotic traffic of those desperate Indian streets, and getting a peek into so many lives as we passed homes and shops and people headed somewhere. I loved every jaw-dropping glance of God's incredible creation. I loved feeling thankful from my head to my toes for every warm, delicious meal that was labored over for us three times a day. I loved being tired from my head to my toes every night to the point that even my hard bed with one blanket was truly warm and inviting. I loved every western toilet I encountered like you cannot believe.

I loved heart to hearts in our rooms with my team mates. I loved that God provided wifi for me to keep in touch with my family because He knows how important that is to me. I loved looking up at the moon and remembering how my mom, as she drove me to the airport, had said, "It's the same moon in India as it is here."

I loved the dirt that got on my shoes and clothes as I sat in the slums with children who spoke with me even though we didn't understand one another. I love that even now my flip flops are coated in red sand from our trip to the beach with the children. I love remembering that night on the beach at sunset, holding one of my darlings on my hip and having her lay her head on my shoulder, completely secure with me... And how on the ride home my other little dear was sitting in the seat beside me and nodded off so I scooped her into my lap and put my head back and we both slept the whole way back. I loved our goodbye, my darlings and me, how I hugged them tight, with one in either arm, they nestled their faces into my neck and I kissed their cheeks and they kissed mine and we all were FULL of hope and of peace. And as I said goodbye and whispered "I love you" in their precious ears, I was aware of a whole new level of love that one can experience. That is where I left a portion of my heart, and that is where it will stay -- there with my Beloved and our girls.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Door of Hope International // Guest Post by David

I never was one to want to take care of kids or want a future caring for them. In fact I asked God not to put me in that kind of ministry. Of course, God usually has different plans...

Two years ago, I took a trip to Kigali, Rwanda in Africa. It was my first trip overseas so naturally I was very excited! At the missions house we were staying in while in Rwanda there was a mother who worked there with a daughter about 2 or 3 years old and what a precious child she was. We spent a lot of time with her when we were at the base. One day the girls on our mission team told me that the mother of this child was trying to get us to take her little girl Angelina back with us. Angelina’s mother was dying from AIDs and knew her child would be motherless if she didn’t find help. Well, of course we couldn’t take Angelina back with us. But a few days later God asked me a question that would change my life forever. He asked if I would devote my life to rescuing children like Angelina and the other street kids and orphans we spent time with. This was a hard question to answer because I never really liked kids and they didn’t like me.  But cheerfully I said yes and I haven’t regretted it since then. Now, not only do I love kids, but kids now like me even the ones I don’t know. At the beginning of this year (so January) the Lord put it on my heart to start Door of Hope Ministries and here we are. 

Simply put, we love Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and do what we do for His glory alone in accordance with His word. It’s because of the Hope He has given us that we desire to bring the message of Hope, the Gospel, to all those who are perishing. We have an unceasing passion to see an orphanage, school, church and maybe even a hospital placed in every country in the world and millions of lives eternally rescued through this ministry. We want to go where no one else wants to go to deliver the poor that cry, and the fatherless, and those that have none to help them... to be eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame. To be fathers (and mothers) to the poor: to search out the cause which we know not, and to break the jaws of the wicked, and pluck the spoil out of his teeth. --Job 29:12-17 
  • Rescue - We rescue the orphan, the widow, the lost, the poor, and the needy, not just physically and emotionally but most importantly by giving them hope through the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ
  • Establish - We establish Orphanages, churches, schools, and Hospitals
  • Equip - We Equip indigenous leaders to become Pastors and Missionaries
  • Adopt - We make Adoption possible and Affordable
We are of course not doing some of those yet, but hope to in the future. Also, we have a passion to come along side other organizations and help them in anyway possible. We aren’t trying to re-invent the wheel here, but want to simply wash the feet of other organizations if the Lord wills. We are one body and we believe we must start truly working as one. It’s not a competition to see who can get the most missionaries, most funding etc. It’s for one purpose, to evangelize the world and bring glory to our King. 

I, David, personally am the founder of this little ministry and, thus far, have been to Mexico City on a scouting mission. There we visited 2 orphanages in Puebla and spent most of our time on the streets seeing the need there. Currently we have missionaries in China working at an orphanage and caring for little children. 
Since we are so young our impact isn’t very wide yet, but this mission to India may be a door to something great!

We have the opportunity in May of 2013 to go to India to help care for 57 orphaned children. These children are the orphans of Christian believers who were martyred in 2008 during the Persecution of Bhubaneswar. Right now they live in what is equivalent to a one-car garage and receive very little food. We are raising $20,000 to build a 2400 sq. ft. building for these children to live in. While there we will be caring for the children (laundry, cooking, teaching, etc.) and hopefully helping to build their new home! This is a big task and we need your help and prayers to make it happen!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The necessity and the gift of Family // Testimonies from my India Travels

family |ˈfam(ə)lē|noun ( pl. -lies)[treated as sing. or pl. a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.
• a person or people related to one and so to be treated with a special loyalty or intimacy

   We are not made to be alone. It is amazing what you can get through, endure, and be content with as long as you have family. In India I met children who had been given up by their parents... but who were happy and secure because they had been taken in by a couple that became "Mom" and "Dad" to them. I saw kids who lived in a slum, exposed to the elements day and night, with little to eat, no sanitation, worn clothing, no toys, who spent their days begging... but they were happy and secure because they had parents and community; family.

   And as I returned home it occurred to me that growing up with a family is what has fostered security, confidence, and happiness in me. Where would I be without these people? These flawed, confusing, difficult, wonderful, beautiful, perfect people.

Never underestimate the power of family. Never take them for granted.
Family is invaluable.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Break my heart for what breaks Yours // Testimonies from my India Travels

It is Christmas time! For me that means snow falling, it means Christmas music playing in the background, it means the only light in the house coming from the kitchen where mom is hard at work and the tree all strung up with twinkle lights, it means marveling at "Emmanuel" and the gift of His presence. Christmas time means shopping when no one knows and wrapping special gifts to shower my family with on Christmas day, it means knowing the delight of giving. Christmas time means that the gift catalogs from World Vision, Compassion Intl., Gospel for Asia and Samaritan's Purse have come in the mail, it means I am spending my free time pouring through those pages looking for how I can best bless people who have so much less than I do during this time of sacrificial giving and abundant blessings.

I just returned from a trip to India. There is a lot of need in India, for physical things like food and water and shelter and medical care, for emotional things like rehab from trafficking or abuse or abandonment, for spiritual things like breaking free from the bondage of Hinduism. Everywhere I went we were bringing ourselves, bringing our time to pour out as an offering before the feet of Jesus, bringing our voices to sing songs and speak blessings and tell testimonies, bringing what we could to bring physical relief such as a meal for a community or first aid supplies for people with burns and no access to medical care. Everywhere we went, as grateful as the people were for our fellowship and our gifts, what their hearts gnawed with hunger for was prayer, was Jesus.

Here in the U.S. we sing, "Break my heart for what breaks Yours, everything I am for Your kingdom's cause" and while I was in India I prayed the Lord would show me what it is that truly breaks His heart. I was actually surprised to find that it is not the physical poverty these people find themselves in that breaks His heart... His heart is for the impoverished souls. I saw a lot of need, an overwhelming amount... but I was not overwhelmed by it. Far from it. What my senses (spiritual and physical) were overwhelmed by was the undeniable presence of God hanging thick in the air everywhere I turned. I was overwhelmed with a spirit of rejoicing as I saw hungry hearts for Jesus and open hearts for truth all over the place. I was overcome with praise as I saw so many who want to hear and believe and live in the Good News, and that no matter how few messengers of that News there are it is Jesus who mobilized them and uses them and makes them effective. Jesus is doing this work and whatever part He has us play in it, accomplishes His purposes.

So, with that reality burned into my heart and mind, I believe very strongly that the purchases I make from gift catalogs this year ought all to be Bibles. The request I would like to set before you, as my readers, is to pray about sponsoring a missionary. The workers are few, but Jesus does provide workers and they have needs to be met while they work. You can be sure that they are taking no thought for their life as they spend every day ministering Jesus, ministering life, to hungry souls all over the world. A small financial gift each month is hardly a sacrifice for us, but it would mean a world of difference to them. Take my word for that. I have seen the tremendous impact monthly sponsorship brings to lives. So there are two ways to get involved in the kingdom's cause this season once your heart has been broken by what is currently breaking our Lord's heart:
1) Purchase a print. One for one: each print purchased provides a Bible for a hungry soul!

2) Sponsor a missionary. GFA is at work in the desperate streets of India (and all over Asia) and your monthly gift is key to reaching hearts that are just waiting to hear Jesus' name!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Overland Missions // Guest Post by Leah

“Any Road, Any Load, Any Time”-- Overland’s Motto
By Leah Morford
*The information contained in this post does not reflect the opinions of Overland Missions as an organization, they are merely my own thoughts and opinions.
Can you hear them? Are you listening? Don’t you hear the cries lifted on high? It’s the sound of those who are perishing without the hope of Jesus. The cries that wake me up in the middle of the night, begging me to come and bring the Light. It is the desperation of hearts trapped in darkness, who do not know the way out of that dark place. A foreshadow of an eternity separated from the Father. Though they do not even know it, their soul cries out for deliverance. Do you hear it?

We call them the unreached. All over the world there are those who have never heard the precious name of Jesus. People walk in hopeless situations, overcome by their own weaknesses. And even if their consciences testify that they are lost, they have no idea where to go to become found. It is these people that my heart beats for, because the Father’s heart beats for them. Jesus’ final words before departing were, “Go into all the world…” Jesus paid the price for them ALL, and He longs that they should all know Him and come to repentance.

Though the Body of Christ has existed for over 2000 years, there are still SO many people who have never been touched by the Gospel. How can this be? As His body, we must fulfill His heart’s desire; we must preach the Gospel and make Disciples throughout the ends of the earth. 
This great commission, this calling is why I joined Overland Missions. Overland Missions was founded by Philip Smethhurst, a man from South Africa who has devoted his whole life to seeing the nations reached with the Gospel. Philip first caught this vision for ministry while serving in the South African military and was stationed in Angola. After serving in the military, he traveled throughout more than 40 countries in a period of 6 years, bringing the message of Hope to countless people. In 1999, Overland Missions was birthed by Philip and his wife, Sharon.
 The vision of Overland is to reach the most rural, neglected, and isolated people of the earth with the Gospel through evangelism, discipleship, and humanitarian efforts. Our mandate is “to reach 200 sectors by 2020”. A sector is a portion of a country (about 10,000 sq. km) designated to be reached until the Gospel has had its full effect in that region, leaving it sustainable and thriving. The ultimate goal is to leave no portion of the earth untouched by the effects of the full Gospel.
It is my honor and privilege to serve with such an amazing organization and family as Overland Missions. I have served with Overland in Zambia, Cambodia, and Vietnam. I have witnessed the glory of God touching the earth. I have seen people healed spiritually and physically. People overcome by evil spirits have been delivered by the authority and name of Jesus Christ. With Overland, I have walked in the footsteps of Jesus and seen Him faithfully fulfill His promises. I will never be the same, and I can never live any differently. As long as I’m alive, my life is about loving God and loving as many people as I can into the Kingdom of God, by His grace and power!

Interested in how you can be a part of this?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Some are celebrated, some forgotten. Why?

One of my dear friends is having a baby. I have prayed for and rejoiced over his little life since the day I heard he was conceived. Hundreds of people, family and friends, have waited expectantly for his appearance, they have been ready to rally around and support his parents and to shower him with blessings. This is how it ought to be.

Half way around the world a woman is pregnant with a sweet baby girl, perfectly formed by God's own hands and designed for great purposes. Her family and friends surround her with threats and pressure to abort the baby because it is a girl and they don't want the future burden of providing a dowry for her. No matter how much the mother wants to keep the baby, unless she leaves her family (which will make the rest of her life more miserable than if she stays), they will find a way to get her to abort the baby or they will beat her so she miscarries.

At home in the U.S. we happily buy gifts for new baby. As his community we want him to have everything that he will need, and plenty of extra things too. Toys and books and adorable outfits will fill up his nursery in no time. We will hold him very carefully and rock him gently to sleep, we will teach him to say "please" and "thank you", we will do what we can to keep him safe and out of harms way.

Over here in India children are being sold into prostitution by their own parents, kids are put to work as beggars and maimed to look more pathetic to passersby, there are children living (yes, it is their home, their nursery) in the city dump. They do not know they are loved, they do not know there is hope, they do not have anyone to raise them, they do not have their basic needs met and they certainly do not have anything extra or pretty.

--- --- ---

I don't know if you see something that I do not, but I just don't get why some children are celebrated and others are forgotten... why some children are prayed for and other are cursed... why some children are born into loving and safe homes and others will be sold or orphaned before they can tie their shoes (which they won't have to begin with). I am so grateful that there are people and organizations that care about reaching the forgotten, abandoned, trafficked, enslaved and orphaned children in the world. Let's stand with them.

In the near future a friend and I are throwing a baby shower for the forgotten children of the world. We are collecting donations to send to several different orphanages and ministries that are at work caring for and providing for children who have nothing and no one. We would like to invite you to attend the baby shower from right where you are! We will be registered at Target and Walmart. If you would like to shower "unwanted" children with love and blessings along with us please RSVP to Miss.Mills @ hotmail . com and we will provide you with the information you need to access the registries and the address you can send the gifts to. (As I am currently in India, and have little access to wifi, expect a delay in hearing back from me. I will be sure to respond to your email next week!)

There is no reason why we can't "expand our borders" and show our care for the orphan and street child much like we show our care for new babies in our circles in the States. Join me!