Low Food Security

Apparently, the USDA has decided now that we have no "hungry" people in America--
Just people with low food security.

Tell that to the homeless man (oh. excuse me. The man with low housing security) who is begging for food. No. He's not "hungry"
"Sir, you just have low food security. I'm sure you'll find better luck later"

Now, when they pass out and go to the hospital due to malnutrition, would you call that "Low nutrition security?"

And pray tell, when that man who started out with "low food security" dies....

Are you trying to tell me that he just has "Low life security?"

I don't know if you can read that statistic... So I'll help you out
"30,000 kids die EACH DAY due to poverty."

Good to know.


Prince Charming: Except from Authentic Beauty

"After years of convincing myself that all my searching for love had been in vain, a most unusual thing happened. I discovered my prince. All of my confusing female desires and seemingly foolish princess dreams now found their purpose…in him. This love story did not happen merely because of an amazing stroke of good fortune. It did not occur simply because I happened to be in the right place at the right time. This beautiful romance was made possible by something far more tangible, something that lies within the grasp of every young woman. The following account of the love story I discovered may seem like a surreal daydream, but it is far closer to reality than you might guess. So please don’t be tempted to write it off as unattainable. Your feminine heart may be much closer to finding true love than you think.

~ ~

He was someone who I had known for years. He had been a close family friend. He had many appealing qualities, but I had never really thought about him in a romantic way. It was true that he had a sensitive and tender side that I had seen on a few occasions. But he also was extremely passionate about truth and I felt that he sometimes came across a little too strong on certain points. To be honest, he intimidated me. It also seemed that he was a little too involved with “church stuff.? When I thought of him, I was reminded of Sunday School lessons with flannel Bible story characters or gold offering plates – this was not exactly the atmosphere for true love!
He was one of those people with a piercing gaze that can see straight into the depths of your soul. Because of this, I had gone out of my way to avoid him for the past few years. For some time now my life had been a chaotic mess of compromise and confusion. I didn’t want him to see what I had become. If he found out what I had done, I was sure he would sternly reprimand me and remind me that it was too late for me to ever discover anything more. But I soon realized I was very, very wrong about him.
I found him waiting for me by the apple trees near my back gate one day as I headed out for a morning walk. I was startled to see him there, surprised that after all these years and all the times I had ignored him, he still wanted to spend time with me. I gave him a tentative glance, and he smiled at me – a tender, intimate smile that made my heart lurch in spite of myself. I quickly looked away.
“Can I walk with you?? he asked in a gentle voice. I nodded, still avoiding his gaze, and he fell into step beside me. We made our way in silence for a while, listening to the occasional chatter of a squirrel or high-pitched
high-pitched chirp of a robin. I kept my eyes on the gravel path at my feet.
“I missed you,? he told me simply. Though it was obvious to both of us that I was the one who had put the distance between us, there was no hint of accusation in his tone. I bit my lip and nodded again, unsure what to say in response.
We walked a little further, and I realized his presence was both refreshing and comforting. I could feel his tender eyes watching me, silently telling me how important I was to him, though I could not figure out why. Nothing else was said during the rest of our time together that day, but I sensed that something more was about to happen between us. I just wasn’t sure if I was ready.
Our friendship slowly grew. The more time I spent with him, the more I realized how utterly different he was from any man I had ever encountered. In him, there was nothing of the sex-hungry glances I had received from the guys at school growing up, not a trace of the flirtatious teasing that had always surrounded me, and not a strain of the seductive charms I had grown so accustomed to in men. But somehow I knew that he loved me. That he deeply desired me. That he found me beautiful. I hardly dared to hope that I had finally found the one man that could fulfill those long-forgotten dreams of mine. Even if he could be my prince I was sure I had found him too late.
“This is completely crazy,? I told myself aloud one night as I tossed and turned in my bed. “He wouldn’t want someone like me.? I was convinced that his love for me would shrivel up in a second if he truly understood how many mistakes I had made. I didn’t think I could risk becoming attached to him. I had been hurt so many times I didn’t know how much more pain my heart could handle.
I had another worry. He didn’t live his life the way anyone else did. He stood out like a neon billboard on a lonely desert highway. He was mocked and misunderstood by quite a few people in my life. I knew he would not fit into my world, would not be accepted by my friends, and would not be at home in most of my surroundings. How could I possibly love someone like this? What did he expect me to do – walk away from everything in my life just to be with him?
I wrestled with my fears for weeks. He never pressured me to make a decision. He simply reminded me, in a hundred different ways, that he loved me and that he longed for me. He was infinitely patient, tender, and sensitive...the kind of prince I had dreamed of for as long as I could remember. He made the immature romantic wanna-be’s that had historically gained my affection seem like pitiful counterfeits. After seeing the real thing, I couldn’t believe I had fallen for such poor substitutes. But at the same time, I couldn’t help wondering whether or not he might just be too good to be true.
The more time I spent around him, the more something
something inside me desperately wanted to just surrender and fall into his waiting arms. But I was afraid to let myself trust him. I was afraid of what that decision might cost me.
Over time, gradually, like the moving of the hour hand on a wall clock, my guard came down. No matter how many times I pulled away from him, his love remained unmoving, like a majestic unwavering mountain overlooking a tumultuous ocean. I had even tried to convince him that I was not good enough for him. I’d told him in detail, with hot tears flashing in my tormented eyes, exactly what I had done with my life, heart, and body over the past years. But instead of judging me, I sensed he was inwardly weeping over every piece of my shattered heart. Coming face to face with this kind of infinite kindness left me stunned.
One morning as I was sitting alone on a bench in the crisp spring air, I felt him softly approach me. He didn’t have to speak. I took a long look into the unfathomable depths of love in his eyes, and I melted. With tears coursing down my face like a cascading waterfall, I fell into his arms and told him passionately that my heart belonged to no one but him. At that moment, my life, my pursuits, my friends, everything I had built my world around faded away into nothingness. None of it seemed even remotely important anymore. Nothing mattered now but him.
As I whispered my devotion to him, a brilliant peace crept steadily into my heart and began to quietly mend its broken pieces. His eyes were wet with tears of unspeakable joy. I felt like an eagle gliding freely along the majestic mountain peaks following an afternoon storm. I had finally found my prince. He had gallantly searched for me and rescued me from my horrible dungeon of captivity. He had loved me in spite of my wretched ugly condition. He had taken the filthy rags I was clothed in and given me the sparkling gown of a beautiful princess. His amazing love had fully revived my shattered, wounded, bleeding heart. And though I knew that now I must sacrifice all I had ever known in order to be with him, there was not a shred of doubt lingering in my mind. It was like giving him a pile of worthless pebbles and receiving a houseful of priceless jewels in return."
- Leslie Ludy, "Authentic Beauty"

All my life I've dreamed of the day when I would walk down the aisle, wearing a big white dress and gloves, with beautiful pearls around my neck and in my hair.
I've dreamed of meeting HIM. That guy who will sweep me off my feet and hold me and be there for me through everything.

But all I have to show for my search for this perfect man is a broken heart. Now that's not to say that every guy I dated treated me horribly, because that's far from the case! But in the end, I've just come out of the whole dating process in general scarred. I have painful memories and things I regret. I think back to my dream in a white dress and I have to ask myself...
Could he even love me? I mean, really. I've messed up so much. I am a failure... is there anyone out there who will love me like the princess I want so badly to be?

It's like suddenly I don't deserve a big white dress with beautiful satin gloves and pearls-- but rather a trashbag and a string of cheap plastic beads..

Who doesn't want what Leslie described? What girl would honestly turn away from that?

Stop telling yourself that you can't have that too- that she took the "last prince".

Although their story is absolutely beautiful, the memory that Leslie described was not of her and Eric.... but of a Prince so true and faithful that He will never leave, even though He knows her deepest secrets- jesus.

He knows everything about me, there's nothing I can hide from Him, even though I try. It's so hard to look Him in the eyes sometimes and say "please... I'm so sorry". I've caused Him so much pain-- yet He still stands there, waiting.

And He stands there waiting for you, too.

Every princess needs a prince. My one True Prince will hold me close and NEVER ever let me go. I have nothing to offer, but He loves me- every shattered and broken and tainted piece of me.


Mali, Lord?

You know what my heart's answer is.

Keep me at Your feet, O Lord. 

Guide me that I may know Your will and that I will be given wisdom and discernment in this new opportunity. Lord, take my fall 2009, take my education, my heart, my LIFE and shape it as Yours alone- that I am not selfish or wanting, but that I am content in wherever You place me.


I praise you, Jesus

for You are the ultimate healer. I praise you for the peace and comfort you have given me the past couple days.

Heal us, oh Lord. Have mercy on us.

I love you, Father.


If you ask me

how I'm doing with this, don't expect me to know what to say because my heart changes every 5 seconds, I swear.
One moment I'm fine, the next I'm definitely not. I don't know. My heart is just in a weird place right now.

But the Lord is good, and I'm trusting that this is right. 

It just sucks for the time being.


Christian first. Baptist second.

I find myself gradually becoming more and more Baptist.
Had I said that last year, I think that would have scared me and I guarantee I would have run from it- but I love what the Lord is doing in my life, who He is shaping me into.

That being said, this past week has been really hard- I've gotten quite a bit of opposition from both non-Christian and Christian friends for my faith. I would be a horrible liar if I said that it didn't break me from the inside out. A few blogs ago I posted about being an honest and bold Christian, who isn't afraid to share the gospel. And I know a lot of the opposition to what I believe stemmed from that post and people taking me to be "too conservative." Here is me saying "Yes, I admit it: it's hard and it kinda sucks." Being rejected by your friends- especially those who share your faith- hurts more than I can explain, but I know that it could never compare to the brokenness I imagine Jesus felt when His people- His family, friends, people in the church who had known Him since He was a child- turned on Him to put Him on the Cross. 

My faith rests confidently in the Word of the Lord. Not in men, not in myself, not in some feeling I get after a good night of worship and prayer- but in the rock solid Word of God. 

Father, You are mighty and powerful. I praise You and I desire to glorify You in all that I am! I long to bring honor to Your name, even though I fail time and time again. Almighty, I've been so beat down by my friends this week. Friends, God, whom I have trusted in for many many things. You know how their words and actions have hurt me, but God I ask that you help me to stay bold in my faith. Lord, give me words to speak that are filled with your truth and balanced in love so that my tongue does not cut through ties of friendship. Lord, I need Your discernment to be able to pick out Your voice above theirs... and above anyone's! Your truth is the truth I base my faith around, not the human idea of a "relative truth". I know Your words in Provers 2:6 say "For the Lord gives wisdom: out of His mouth comes knowledge and understanding." Lord, I cry for your wisdom that I may see my faults. Silence the doubts that arise in my heart and tear them away with your truth. Father, I ask that you help me be humble to accept correction from brothers and sisters in You so that I may not hinder myself from learning more about You and Your awesome ways.

God, I praise you. You are more complex and more beautiful than I could ever imagine. Thank you for who You are, and for who You are molding me to be.


Darkness and Tree-shadows.

Who actually reads this? Pretty much no one. So I'm okay just writing for no one in particular.

I'm a wimp. I hate the dark. Which is strange, because I'm such a night person- I hit my prime around 11 or 12. But I do, I'm terrified of the dark. It reminds me that I am so alone and vulnerable. And you know what else I hate? The shadows that things make on the window when there is a little bit of backlighting- be it a streetlamp, or just the moon. It freaks me out and I just don't have good memories of shadows. Or windows. Or darkness.
So I have legitimate reasons. But still, I feel like a 5 year old.

Tonight, I'm watching the tree-shadows. These shadows don't dance as I've seen some do. They don't play and jump excitedly. These branches yell and push and pull. One of the branches on the tender tree outside keeps swaying forward and the shadow makes it look as though it is hitting a smaller branch repeatedly. I know how that smaller branch feels.

I'm not trying to use elegant words and beautiful descriptions, if I was I would be failing miserably. But, as I said earlier, no one actually reads this except for me. 

Tonight I want to hide under my covers, I want to run from this dark I know well. Everywhere I look there are shadows and windows and memories. Fear.

Sometimes it's killer being a night person. The midnight fear is always the worst. Lucky for many of you morning-people, you may never experience it. The midnight's fear is not just a fear of men, oh no. It's a fear of your past, of your future, of the trust you place in people, of the trust you place in yourself. It's a desire to be someone different, but knowing that nothing can be done until tomorrow. It's having the big branch hit you on the head over and over and over- with truth, pain, envy, memories, and worry. 

I'm not in the mood for tree-shadows. Not even if they danced for me. They almost never do. 
I'm not in the mood for darkness.  I hate the way it makes me stress.
I'm not in the mood for windows. But then again, I'm rarely in the mood for windows at night.

Really, if you want to get down to it, I'm not in the mood for anything. I'm just in a bad mood.



Can I just say:

that the Lord blows me away? I mean, seriously, the things that I don't comprehend about Him... they are limitless. I'm going back through Romans and finding all the different facets of the Lord, and I can't even begin to understand. I can't think about His wrath that goes alongside His unending grace and mercy; His incredible power- that mighty fortress of strength- that lies in one hand, and the lamb-like meekness in His other. God is so... crazy. So amazing. So perfect. So... I don't know. The 26 letters of our alphabet cannot form a word that fits Him. 

He is God.
He is.

Also, as I've been reading through Romans, I was given a key verse- it's kinda the summation of the first 11 chapters. The first 11 go through theology, while chapters 12-16 are the application of that theology. Romans 11:36 gives a perfect answer to the question "WHY??" 
"For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen."

Amen. I mean, wow. It's so true. Everything is for the glory of the Lord. Everything is from the glory of the Lord. Everything is His- so I need to make sure I am reflecting that in everything. 
It's beautiful. And challenging. More like beautifully challenging. I've had it written on my wrist for the past few days to remind me. 

My God? He's gloriously incredible.


Take this as you will...

Call me old-fashioned. Call me legalistic. Call me a CHRISTIAN. I dare you, but I get so frustrated with the idea that we can be inoffensive, passive Christians.
It CAN'T be done. 


And I'm not just making that up. It's Biblical. 
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!" Galatians 5:6-12

That doesn't seem like a shallow, lovey-dovey, hippie gospel to me.
Don't get me wrong- I love being a hippie and loving on people. It's what I do.
But love..without TRUTH? It's empty. 

We absolutely can not be afraid to step on toes. It's sickening. 
Mark Driscoll has a sermon called Death By Love in which he gets angry at the idea of being "inoffensive Christians." I like this quote a lot:
"At one of the largest churches in America, the pastor said 'We don't talk about sin. We don't talk about blood. We don't talk about death. We don't talk about hell. We don't talk about the cross- because we don't talk about things that people find offensive.'
Well then you don't talk about JESUS. And THAT is offensive

AMEN. We, as modern Christians, are so terrified of being conservative! We are terrified of being seen as crazy and heaven forbid we lose a friend because we shared the gospel.

But, friends- if you aren't sharing the gospel... your LOVE of your neighbor is POINTLESS. It is completely IN VAIN.

I don't care if you gave your life savings to the poor and fed 600 hungry in one day and drove your new friends to Walmart because they didn't have a car and don't know English well-- if you aren't sharing with them your faith in a way that doesn't sugarcoat the gospel, that doesn't turn Jesus into a long-haired, wimpy, girly boy... you are doing NOTHING to further the kingdom of the Lord.

 I recently watched a video by a popular pastor, in which he encouraged Christians to avoid words like "sin" and "repent" in connection with Jesus.

I'm sorry, but without "sin", there is no forgiveness. Without repentance, we can not meet with Christ. 
The gospel of Christ, His truth is being lost in the murky water of modern-day Christianity. It is being perverted to something so much LESS than what it is.

What are we so afraid of?

"If the professed convert distinctly and deliberately declares that he knows the Lord's will but does not mean to attend to it, you are not to pamper his presumption, but it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved. Do not suppose that the Gospel is magnified or God glorified by going to the worldlings and telling them that they may be saved at this moment by simply accepting Christ as their Savior, while they are wedded to their idols, and their hearts are still in love with sin. If I do so I tell them a lie, pervert the Gospel , insult Christ, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness." - Charles Spurgeon

Jesus, I want a righteous anger. I want to be furious about things that are not of the Lord.
I want it to disgust me. I want it to repulse me. I want to be so angry that I do something about it. Lord, forgive me for being afraid to step on toes and afraid of losing friends. Your glory is more than enough for me and I should be willing to give up all of my dignity for it. I know that your gospel is offensive and I know that people will be turned away because of it- but Lord, I don't want to stand in front of you and say that the things I did on earth were not eternal because I never had the guts to share your name in connection with anything other than a wimpy man-god version of who YOU ARE. God, you are MIGHTY. You are HOLY. You are more powerful than I could ever imagine. Help me to stop creating an image of you that is simply a man. Help me to be bold and to have confidence in the cross, to know that the cross is bloody and disgusting and that if I am not sharing the offense of that, then I am not sharing You.

Things you should check out:
Mark Driscoll's "Death by Love"
Charles Spurgeon's "The Offense of the Cross" 

I may have gone all over the place.. but I'd like to hear your response.
I love you, my friends.


Being polite... at any age?

I don't get it.

Okay. Here's what I get: I GET that I look young. I GET that "one day you'll be happy about it".
What I don't understand is why people feel that it is socially acceptable to point out how young a person looks.

Example from this morning at a garage sale:
Me: I’m just looking for an end table for my new place.
Homeowner: Really? Aren’t you a bit young to move out on your own?
M: I’m actually in college.
H: Oh! Are you getting excited about heading off to the dorms and meeting new people? Where are you going to be?
M: I’m a junior at OU… I just have my own duplex now…
H: Wow! You just look so young! Kids these days.

Gee, thank you. Thank you very much.

And then another favorite: I went to the doctors office back in April. The receptionist asks me- “Now, are you 16 yet?”
Um… I was 4 years ago. Does that count? A simple, “Can I see your license? I need the number for insurance,” would have sufficed. Again, I appreciate the thought.

So here’s my thing. Because, like I said, I know I look young. I know plenty of people do… but you would never walk up to a 40 year old after you found out their age and say, "Oh man. I thought you were at least 55!" You would be considered horribly rude! You would never tell an older person that they looked ancient- that would be distasteful. You wouldn't have to lie- just keep your mouth shut as to not offend.

So who makes it okay to tell people how young they look, before they are at an age where that might even remotely be considered a good thing? No 20-something wants to be told they look as though they could be in high school.
It makes me angry that people can get away with those things under the guise of, “Trust me, you’ll appreciate that when you’re older.”
Under that pretense, it would be completely okay for me to tell some old lady just how OLD she looked as long as I followed it up with, “You would have appreciated that when you were younger.”
Hi. Not okay.

I’m asking that you ALL show some respect- be it to someone older or younger, or even your same age. If you make a mistake when judging their age, don’t make a big deal out of it- especially if you hadn’t previously said what age you thought they were. If they tell you that they ares 23, keep the words “Dang, I guessed you were 17..max…” in your head. Don’t tell someone how much older/younger they look, unless you are absolutely POSITIVE that it would be taken as a compliment. I don’t care how old you are, learn to have a bit of tact.

That’s all. ☺


An hour and 15 minutes

I have one hour and 15 minutes until I leave for the airport.

Get excited, world. Get excited.

As I mentioned in the last post, please be praying as often as you remember for my team and for the hearts of people that we meet. I want to love on people that I meet, even though I can't spend one-on-one time with them. I want the Lord to be glorified through and through. As I sit here, working on lesson plans and chillin with Custis and Lauren, my heart is racing. I'm nervous to death. I'm afraid that I will say something wrong, or teach something in a fashion that doesn't get across what I want to get across... but the Lord will work no matter what.  The Lord is mighty and will work through my failures, thank goodness. 

Lord, work through my team and me this week. Let us glorify You, even when our human faults shine through brighter than ever. I love you, Father. You are Good, even when I am not. I lift up the lives of my team and I ask for safety. I ask that you put us in situations that are out of comfort zone, and will push us to cleave to You. Lord, reveal yourself to the hearts of those we come into contact with. If they do not know You, God, POUR OUT UPON THEM! Let the people's of the nations shout Your glory!

I love you, Father.
I love you, friends :)

I am praying for you and missing you.


Art that breathes... and other rambles.

((This is a 3 part blog. I have three completely different things to address, I just haven't had any other time to get on. Okay, that's partly a lie. I haven't had the words to address them in. See part one.))

I don't remember the last time I really just poured out into my art. 
I mean, woke up that morning, got out of bed, and raced to my camera or to my pencil, ready for the day. I miss that.

I miss the feeling of a stack of blank paper, ready to be written on, and actually having ideas flowing from me. I miss the feeling of the film winding and already having 15 more shots pictured in my head.

This dry spell is taking a toll on me. 

I want to write and I want to take pictures. I want to create something from my inspiration- but I feel like I have none. A good friend of mine and I have talked about how when she's painting, it's such a sweet alone time with the Lord... and really, it's the same for me. It's a place where the Lord can meet me and I'm open with Him. A lot of my work has never been seen by anyone but me, simply because it is my place of intimacy with my Lover. What is keeping me from meeting Him there anymore? 

Is it fear of failure? Lord, I miss having time with you in my art. I can see a lack of drive in my photography, my writing, even my voice. 

I want to meet with you. I desire to spill my passion for you onto a new canvas, I just need you to open me to what you are pouring in, because I feel like I'm closing myself off to you. I want art that breathes your truth to the nations.

"He put a new song in my mouth,
   a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
   and put their trust in the LORD."  Psalm 40:3


I've been asked a couple times about my name. Taraji527.
Taraji is a word that the Lord laid on my heart a couple years ago, as he begun to point me in the direction he wanted my life going. It's a word that reminds me of my joy in the Lord and how much love He has for the world. Taraji is swahili for "hope for".  As many of you know, I have a slight bit of an obsession with Africa. In fact, I'm getting an african footprint (like this http://www.ualberta.ca/~saga/images/shirts/old/footprint2.jpg) tattooed on the top of my right foot with the words "Taraji 527" written through it. It is a reminder to be in constant prayer for the peoples of Africa, and the world. I have HOPE that the Lord is working, even in the darkest places, those that seem hopeless. 
The numbers 527 are important to me because of Isaiah 52:7.  "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'" You may have caught this, but I also have a thing about feet. Hah. Some people hate feet. I love them. In fact, I started a photo series called "Beautiful Feet" once. I would like to one day finish that. It's funny that I love feet... because that's one thing I hate about myself. I have funny looking feet. I danced for several years and ran track for a long time. My feet are NOT what I would call "beautiful feet", yet the Lord tells me that they are! Crazy. That verse, and that number, has been everywhere for me recently. License plates, clocks, I wrote a check the other day for $52.70. To me, 527 is a sign of peace in the Lord's plan for my life and joy in His heart for the nations.
So there you have it Taraji527.  ... And feet ... 

(Side note. I just talked to Blair a minute ago and she said she saw a guy today with an Isaiah 52:7 shirt. Crazy times.)


Lastly, but definitely not least:
In 2 days and 7 hours, I will be driving to the airport to leave for Haiti.  Yes. Haiti. Les Cayes, specifically.
I'm pretty stoked :) I listened to my Haitian Bible Songs cds last night on the way home from Falls Creek and I danced, sang really loudly, and just got excited for what the Lord is going to be doing while we are there.
In case you have yet to hear about the trip, I'm going for 10 days to Les Cayes, Haiti, with 5 others from my church. I'm the youngest.. the next two are in their 30s, then one in his early 60s, and then two in their late 60s. Not exactly my normal crowd to hang out with, but I couldn't love my group more. We will be going to teach music in a camp that the missionary has run every summer for the past 16 years! I will be helping with the choir, as well as teaching voice and helping in the beginners piano class. Additionally, we will have devotionals in the morning, and I'm hoping that the Lord will provide sweet opportunities to really talk with the Haitians and find out what their background is and how they see the Lord working. I'm telling you this in order to ask for prayer. Some things specifically:
1. Safety. That may seem like an awfully "mom"ish thing to ask for prayer about- but Haiti doesn't exactly have the best reputation as far as sexual assault and what not. I think thats one thing that the Lord is going to work with me on, just trusting Him for my safety. Not being dumb and just trusting anyone I meet, of course, but not being afraid to step out and go to a place that is slightly scary for a 20 year old girl who has had issues with that in the past. Sometimes I struggle with the idea of living in a poor country and how dangerous it might be for my family (if I'm lucky enough to have one!), but who am I to turn God down simply because I'm frightened?! Psssh.
2. Communication. We will have a translator there with us, but there will still be a huge communication and cultural barrier! Living with an international student this summer, I've realized that I'm not as good at breaking past that as I'd sometimes like to think I am, so just prayer that it wouldn't get in the way of us sharing the gospel.
3. Worship! There is this wonderful quote in this book I'm kind of obsessed with (Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions) that says "Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exist because worship does not. Worship is ultimate, not missions..." I think that sums it up well. We are there to glorify the Lord on high. As a music nerd, it's easy to get caught up in the details of composition or the imperfections in the piano piece, but we are not there just to teach music. We are there to worship and to bring glory to Him.
4. Humble hearts. (which also ties back to worship) Pray that my team and I don't get caught up in what we are doing that we forget that He doesn't need us. He doesn't need ME or anyone else to go and teach these men and women. His name will be known no matter what. That quote I just mentioned goes on to say "...because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over and the countless millions of redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more." 
God could use the next person, or the next, it doesn't matter who he uses. His Will will be done, and He will reign forever and ever, even after my time on earth is up, after every person I meet on this trip's time is up. It matters not. What matters it that He is Lord and His name is perfect.  

I know that the Lord is going to work a lot in us and through us next week, and I can't wait to be there :)

Okay. I guess that's about it. Sweet.  I love you all, and I'm praying for you specifically.

Lord, I just lift up my life to You tonight. I am ever grateful for how You have changed my life and turned me away from my shameful past. I give up my selfish desires to You and ask that You take hold of my heart. Take hold of every piece of me- my passions, my creativity, my voice, my LIFE, God. I praise you for giving me a voice to sing with, a mind to write with, and an eye to see your beauty. Find me faithful in how I use the gifts you have given me. I surrender them to You and only You. Take those talents, Lord, and waste them up on Your glory. 
Father, pour out your blessings upon the readers of this blog. Allow them not to hear my jumbled thoughts, but to hear YOUR voice coming through. Lord, work in the every beating of their hearts. Your plan for them is so perfect, so beautiful, so intricate and amazing. I love them as my own family and I know that my love for my friends and family is NOTHING compared to Your heart for them, for the people of Your kingdom. Let me see Your kingdom, help me express Your love and beauty and truth. 
Ruin me next week, I'm begging. Allow me to never again see myself the same. Allow me to never again see You the same. Break my heart for the people I meet and rip me to pieces when I think about the lost sheep. Don't let cultural barriers frighten me away! In fact, make it so that I strive even harder to communicate the urgency of Your gospel. Keep me humble and worship-minded, and focused on You, Father.
I love you, my glorious King. My heart wanders sometimes, but You hold it next to Your own. Thank you.



An ache so strong it consumes me

I long desperately tonight. Every single thing in me cries out for the peoples of this world to know Your name.

Jesus, I'm crying for you. I'm crying for your people, Lord, please.

Why do you have me here? When the only thing I desire is you and the advancement of your kingdom throughout the people groups living in the unreached nations, in the slums, God, in the deserted corners of the abandoned warehouse? I want to see Your name exalted in the regions that have not been touched with Your truth. Why do you still have me in America, Lord?

I placed my heart at your feet. I'm waiting on you to tell me where. Please tell me where. 

I wake up crying for your people who are lost in darkness and in a world without hope. Pierce the dark, God. Pierce it with your light.

I want to be there to hold a candle, if nothing else.

Isaiah 49:6-  "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."

Isaiah 52:7- "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'"

Nahum 1:5-  "The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it."

Habakkuk 2:14-  "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."

Haggai 2:7- "And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts."

Mark 13:10- "And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations"

John 10:16- "And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd"

How can I ignore the call? Lord, Here I Am. Send Me.