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A Season of Growth and Change

It has been over 7 months since I last posted in this blog, so I don’t even know where to begin!

For starters, I moved to Mazatlan Mexico in April of this year, to serve as a missionary through Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Mazatlan. Coming here was a huge step of faith, because I didn’t know anyone here, had never even been to Mazatlan before, and on top of that, I was underfunded. By that I mean I hadn’t met the minimum amount of missions support normally required for missionaries to serve here. But I was close enough to that amount that I was allowed to begin serving as a full-time staffer. I serve in the media department, which to me is a privilege and blessing, because I love using digital media as a way of reaching people for Jesus. I’m very thankful that God brought me here, and for all the people here who made me feel like part of a family, right away.

YWAM Maz Staff

YWAM Maz Staff (and some visiting speakers, and a few other people!)

Being back on the mission field has been awesome, but I’ve also had some big challenges in the last several months, and it hasn’t been easy. The good side of that is, I’ve realized that this new season for me is all about growth and change… which is fantastic! God has been at work in me, and growing me so I can be much more effective as a missionary and growing God’s kingdom.

God has been working on my character, especially in the area of self-discipline, diligence and responsibility. And I sense that God has been pushing me to become more of a leader, and by that I mean to develop leadership traits and attitudes. I’ve realized that passivity has been a stronghold for me, and that I’ve been content to stay in my shell, so to speak, where I’m comfortable. The problem with that, of course, is that it hinders growth, and it can even cause Christians to go backward, instead of forward. Last night I read an awesome book called the ‘Freedom Manual’ and I went through the steps to shatter the stronghold of passivity (as well as fear).

The bottom line is, I want to grow and change and move forward, which is also what God wants for me. So I am in agreement with the work God is doing in me, even though the process involves “growing pains” and it isn’t always easy.

As some people who are close to me (or who read my blog closely!) know, I have felt sort of “stuck” financially for the last few years. This stuck season came after about 5 years of amazing blessing from God in the area of financial provision. Over the last 8 years, I was able to take 5 YWAM schools – 4 of them at YWAM’s University of the Nations in Hawaii, and one in Switzerland. Each one of those schools cost thousands of dollars, and that’s not including the airfare or personal expenses. So I learned first-hand that God provides for those He calls to do something, but we have to be faithful in what He calls us to do. The reason I’m bringing this up is to say that a few years ago things changed, and I went into a dry season, and for a few years felt very stuck. And now I think I finally realized why I wasn’t able to move forward.

I had prayed about this many times before, but I still wasn’t sure what God was trying to teach me. Recently, a new friend suggested that I try fasting along with praying. I fasted for 2 days (just drank liquids) and I came to God with a humble heart and attitude. I truly wanted to understand what God was up to in my life. When I did that, God opened my eyes and showed me that He wants to change my character. He wants me to change long-held mindsets and attitudes that NEED to change in order for me to grow and mature and move forward. The Holy Spirit brought specific things to my mind, things that I had done (or failed to do) in the last several years that highlight those old mindsets. I felt convicted, and I repented for all of those things. But it wasn’t about condemnation, it was about my eyes being opened to the things in my character that God wants to change, to make me more like Jesus.

So even though I’ve been going through some growing pains, I feel blessed and honored. Why, because I know that God disciplines those He loves. (Proverbs 3:11-12) And gently pushes us to get out of our comfort zones, and to be more than we thought we could be. So for that, I am very thankful!

I happened to come across a quote today, by C.S Lewis, on the topic of God growing us, and how that can hurt sometimes. So I’ll close here with this quote:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to?

The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Visit my new (missions-related) blog!

I recently finished a new website/blog that I set up just for my missions stuff. I currently have an opportunity to return to the mission field – this time in Mazatlan Mexico. I’m still in the support-raising phase, so if you are a believer and someone who wants to be a part of the Great Commission, please go check out my new blog, and please pray about sponsoring me. I also definitely need your prayers, as I go into this new chapter of my life.

Thank you so much, and if you do go visit, please let me know you did, by leaving a comment!

God bless!

the digital missionary

The Digital Missionary

I’m sooooo excited!

Since I moved back to Northern California, I’ve been going to a fantastic, excellent church that I LOVE!  Just going to the services the last few weeks, I’ve already been learning new things, meeting people and I’m even starting to get involved with the church.

Here’s what I’m doing (in addition to going to the weekly service)

■ An excellent weekly bible study called ‘Navigating the Interrupted Life’ based on the book of Jonah. (this study couldn’t be more perfect for me. It truly feels like I was meant to be in this bible study, but that’s a whole other story).

■ I’m going to be making videos for the infant dedications ministry. This is a volunteer position that I heard about. Up until now they have been doing a sort of slideshow type video, for the dedications that take place every other month. I’ll be putting together videos with clips of the parents talking, and the parents with the baby, photos, etc. So this should be fun, and good experience for me, plus it’s my way of serving the church.

■ I’m going to start going to a “life group” which is small group that meets once a week, to fellowship and talk about a book we’re going to be studying. The book is “The Secret Things of God” by Henry Cloud. I looked it up, and it looks very good, so I’m super excited about joining that group. Hopefully I’ll get along with the others there and make new friends.

This is just what I wanted… to be a part of a good church, so I can grow spiritually, learn and meet people, etc. So I’m stoked that I’m finally doing that. The only thing is, I’m not sure how long I’ll be staying in this area. It may not be a permanent thing, because I do feel like I’m supposed to return to missions, and I’m pretty sure I know where that I’ll be going (God-willing), but I haven’t yet blogged about that. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my stay here in the Bay Area (regardless of how long I’ll be here), see old friends, make new friends, and be a part of the fantastic church that I’m going to with my sister and bro-in-law. Yay God! 😀

I woke up this morning in a cloud. (literally)

…then later, some pretty great things happened. But more on that in a bit. 🙂

I’m currently living in a house that’s up in the mountains, in a gorgeous area. My room has a few big windows, and right by my bed there’s a huge window with no curtains or blinds. So at night when I’m lying on my back and I look up, I can see the stars, and on a clear night it’s a beautiful sight.

This morning I woke up and looked out the window and all I saw was white. I couldn’t even see the hills in the distance, just white mist everywhere. I guess because we’re at a high altitude, we were right in the middle of a cloud… at least it seemed that way, but anyway, the point is my first thought of the day was “I’m in the middle of a cloud… or some thick morning fog.”

I had some quiet time this morning, so I was able to do some thinking and praying. For some reason, I started feeling convicted about something. It’s a long story, but I’ll try to sum it up. I feel like I’ve been “stuck” for about a year and a half. In 2009, I took a 3 month class in Hawaii, that I felt I was supposed to take. It was an excellent class, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to come up with the entire tuition. While I was there and the deadline passed, the leadership decided to let me to stay and finish the class, but I signed a promissory note that I would pay off the remaining amount for the class within a certain amount of time.

The bottom line is, for a number of reasons I wasn’t able to keep that promise. I took time off from my (non-salaried) position at the YWAM location in Baja, to do free-lance work, so I could pay off that debt…but it seemed like I could never get ahead financially, and for over a year I felt so stuck. I wanted to return to missions, but I couldn’t, until that debt was paid off. I knew in the back of my mind that my last resort was selling my car. But I thought of good reasons for not doing that, so I had put it off. Instead of doing what I should have done, I listened to people, who said things like, “Don’t sell it… you’ll need a car, and you probably won’t get that much if you sell it.” etc, etc.

Meanwhile, over a year goes by, and I felt so stuck, and I prayed a lot about it… and I kind of “wrestled” with God over the entire situation. This may sound silly, but I pretty much felt that God should help me with the situation, because one of the reasons I took that class in the first place was because a couple years ago when I had prayed about taking a video class, what specifically came to me instead was “ABC” (the name of the class) and it was the next level of an incredible class that I took in 2006… So I really felt like I was supposed to take ABC. And I was. But it required something from me as well.

So this morning, one of the things I realized was how I got stuck. When it comes a plan God has for us, sometimes God doesn’t give us the whole plan all at once. It’s usually step by step. And if you don’t take step 1, guess what? You don’t go to step 2, 3 or 4. If you are disobedient in step 1, you go no further. And I’ve learned that if we have disobeyed something that God wanted us to do… then often, it’s more difficult to receive anything more from God, until we go back and fix that thing that is unresolved… And I think this is why I was “stuck” for a year and a half. Because I wasn’t faithful and since I didn’t take the first steps, God didn’t give me any further steps.

I was pretty much just like those unfaithful Israelites who were in the wilderness for 40 years, just going around in circles, instead of getting to the Promised Land. Except my time in the “wilderness” didn’t last quite that long. 😀

Getting back to today. So, this morning I prayed for confirmation that the reason I was so stuck was because I didn’t do what I should’ve done from the start… And I also prayed to hear anything from God, whatever was on His heart. But at that time nothing really came to me, so I got up and started my day.

A few hours later, I was listening to an audio cd of Joyce Meyer (a popular Christian teacher/speaker) and oh my goodness. The things she said were absolutely perfect for my situation, and it spoke straight to my heart.

Then, when the cd was over, I opened the bible, and by pure chance, I just happened to open it up to a book I rarely ever look at. Here’s the scripture that suddenly was before me, and it stood out:

“What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
For your loyalty is like a morning cloud
And like the dew which goes away early.”
– Hosea 6:4

In the above scripture, it’s God speaking to His people… basically saying, “Your love (in other translations it’s “loyalty” instead of love) is like a morning cloud, that is there for a bit, then goes away.”

Morning cloud? 😮 I quickly remembered that the first thing I saw this morning was that I was in the middle of a morning cloud or heavy fog… And I remembered my prayer from the morning, asking God to speak to me whatever was on His heart.

I sensed that God was specifically getting that across to me through this scripture. It not only spoke to my heart, but as it sunk in, it convicted me. Because I realized it was true. The truth is, for the past year and a half, I hadn’t been going to church regularly… because when I was in Baja, there wasn’t a good English speaking church near where I lived. There WAS one that was about half an hour away, but I only went occasionally, not regularly. And the truth is, I expected God to fix my situation and provide what I needed for that class, but now I realize I was hesitant to do my part. My part, I’m pretty sure now, was letting go of something that God had given me in the first place. (My car was a gift)

So I felt convicted, but at the same time, thankful that God answered my prayer this morning. And amazed that the God of the universe was basically saying to ME that He wanted more of my love and faithfulness..in a more steadfast way, not like the morning cloud I woke up to today.

Later, in the evening, I went with my sister and her family to the Saturday night service of the amazing church I’ve been going to since I moved up North. I really love this church… everything about it is fantastic, the music, the people, the teachings…It’s an anointed, growing church, that also has a lot of ministries and things happening. My sister and I are going to start a weekly bible study next Wednesday. I’m really happy and excited to be here, because I really sense that this is a new season and so far I can tell it’s going to be great.

The coolest part is…After being stuck for SO long…stuck in the ‘wilderness’ just walking around in circles, so to speak, I can finally see that that “wilderness” season is almost over. I have learned some important things through all of it. Just obey God in the first place. It will save SO much time, and if you don’t, you’ll just keep yourself blocked from going further…. So don’t let your love and loyalty be like the “morning mist”…but instead more like the steadfast love that God has for us.

AMEN!

Goodbye, Mexico (for now.)

I’m about to start a new chapter in my life, and I’m super excited!

I’ve been in Mexico for a little over 3 years, and I love it, but it’s time for me to move forward. For part of my time here, I was serving at the YWAM base in Tijuana del Mar, and that was a blessing. I met some very cool and wonderful people, and it was a time that I will never forget. As some of you know, I took a few months off from my position there, to take a class at the YWAM headquarters in Kona, which I felt would help me be a better missionary, and also to grow spiritually. That was another awesome experience, even though at times it was very difficult. I originally planned to return to my position at the Tijuana base, but due to some financial problems, and some other things I needed to deal with, my plans changed, and I stayed in Mexico, but instead doing freelance design work from home… And during that time, I did a lot of praying about God’s will for me.

To be honest, this past year has been frustrating at times, for a few reasons. And working from home, although it has its good points, also has its cons, one of them being that it can be very isolating. So, I’ve been wanting a change, and really ready for this particular chapter of my life to end. So as you can imagine, now that that’s finally happening, I’m very excited! But I will miss Mexico so much. I love the people here. I love the food, I love being near the ocean. I love the laid-back atmosphere here. And I have always felt at home in Latin American countries… so who knows, maybe God will bring me back here, when the time is right. If not to this particular YWAM location, then maybe to another here in Mexico. I would definitely come here to Mexico again to serve in missions, if there is an opportunity, and if I felt it was God’s will.

But for now, I’m going to return to California for a while. (Northern California) It will be great to once again be near old and good friends, my sisters, my niece and nephew and other loved ones. I’m planning to go to my sister’s church, and I’m VERY excited about that, because I’ve been there a few times, and it truly is an awesome, fun, anointed church. It’s a big church that has a lot of great people, and people go there from all over the Bay Area. So I’m looking forward to getting involved there and being much more active, and maybe even getting a job there, in addition to my freelancing.

I am leaving very soon (tomorrow is my last full day) and I feel sad that I probably won’t be able to say goodbye to some of my friends here in Mexico. 🙁 But I know we will see each other again at some point. Especially if I return to YWAM, as some of you know that’s such a small world! And I will definitely be coming down to Baja again to visit, since my folks live here, as well as other relatives who have homes here and come down a lot.

I want to ask whoever is reading this to please pray for me. Please pray that I have a safe trip up North, and that once I’m up there, getting re-adjusted to the States will go smoothly, and that I will get freelance work, or possibly an additional job, and also meet new people. 🙂

Thanks so much and God bless!!!

PS – I probably won’t have my own internet connection, at first, when I get up there. So if anyone notices that I’m not on facebook, twitter, or other places, that’s why. But you know me – being without the internet for long is unthinkable, so hopefully it won’t be too long. 😉