Having seen all this you can choose to look the other way, but you can never say again, ‘I did not know.’ -William Wilberforce

Today was a hard day. Last night I learned something which broke my heart. This morning I was told more details. It struck extremely close to home and involved someone I love dearly. I broke down in tears before the Lord, crying out to Him.

Today was a good day. I spent the day doing all the shopping for my Africa trip with Mom. We laughed, took wrong turns, had good discussions, spilled soda, got blisters from so much walking, enjoyed a beautiful day.

Now I’m sitting in my room……

…and I’m angry.

Mom and I watched a video this evening about a family of foster children. I cried through the whole movie. (Anyone who knows me well knows that this was probably the 3rd time in my life that I have ever cried during a movie.) When we got to the end I turned it off and sat there with tears still spilling down my face. I turned to Mom– “How can this be happening right now in our country…in our town?”

I was angry.

How can there be such violence? Such apathy? Such hardness and cruelty from those who are supposed to care the most? Such hatred? How can people fall prey to such evil lies? Why are most of us so calloused to what is happening so close to us? How can we go on with our lives unchanged?

I am still angry.

“Be ye angry, and sin not…” (Eph. 4:26 KJV)

“For man’s anger does not promote the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20 AMP)

I think there are two kinds of anger: a godly and righteous anger, and the anger of man. This anger I have is the result of growing closer to God and learning more and more of His heart. God is angered when those who are helpless, orphaned, strangers, and widowed are mistreated. (Ex. 22:21-24) He has given us the responsibility of reaching out to and not harming those who are mistreated and helpless, unloved and forgotten (James 1:27; Is. 1:17; Zech. 7:10).

It is so hard for me to look around and see such pain. To look at the people walking toward me on the street and see inside and know they are broken and hurting. To know that there are hundreds of children right here in my own state who are abused, unloved, uncared for, treated as garbage, and then separated from all the stability they have ever known (generally just their siblings) in an attempt to help them: they are scared and crying….and learning to be hardened. In a lot of ways, the plight of the foster children in the USA is just as bad or worse than that of a lot of the orphans in third-world countries. Just thinking about this causes me to rise up with righteous indignation. It makes me despise myself for the laxness that my life has been built on…the way I have turned and looked the other way so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it…the calloused attitude I have allowed into my life. It makes me go to my knees and cry out to the One who knows all about it…

I refuse to sit back and turn my eyes away from what is happening around me any longer. I refuse to leave it up to a nebulous “someone else”. I refuse to allow the calloused-ness to grip my life. God is teaching me to truly love the people around me…and giving me a passion to stop the trend of apathy in my own life. I choose to turn to God with this anger–I can do nothing with it on my own strength!

I pray that this anger would be turned into action, God. That I would stand up and let You teach me how to show Your love more and more. Don’t let me wallow in this apathy and leave-it-for-the-next-person attitude! God, continue to work in me…continue to break my heart. I long to know more of Your heart! Show me what I can be doing…open my eyes to the opportunities, Lord. For the past several months You’ve been asking me if I’m willing to do whatever it takes to serve You–to sacrifice my own fleshly dreams and desires–and to let the desires of Your heart fill my own heart…

YES. Whatever it takes…wherever You lead: I’m all in! There is no turning back.

I’m leaving for Africa in just over two weeks. The devil daily tries to infiltrate with thoughts of “You’re doing your part, Grace….go to Africa and serve. Then come home. That’s a noble thing to go over there and sacrifice your life for those weeks. What more could anyone expect of you?” I know those thoughts are not from the Lord, and they have no place in my life. The devil daily attempts to get me to believe countless lies…ones that would be so easy to believe. But the Lord has patiently shown me what these lies are and continues to shed His light on the things Satan never wanted exposed. Thank you, Lord!

It is a joy to know the Lord. It is an honor to serve Him. It is humbling to blatantly see my own unworthiness. It is thrilling to see and tell of His faithfulness. It is a life well spent which is permeated with a close intimacy with the King of kings and giving Him the honor that is due the Lamb who was slain! I will not say that that life is a bed of roses because that would be a lie. I will not say it is a life of ease and laughter. But it is a beautiful, adventurous, and fulfilling life. It is an action-packed life. It is a joy-filled life! I choose to embrace that life!

Spur me on to action, God! Don’t allow me to fall back into the old cycle of doing nothing. I want nothing to do with that kind of life…I say ‘no’!


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Africa

Four weeks until I leave.

I can hardly put my excitement into words. I’ve said “I’m SO excited!” 284,187 times in the past two months…and that just doesn’t describe how I actually feel!

And yet my heart is already breaking…

God is working on my heart concerning the destitute and unloved more all the time. During the quiet moments throughout my day, my mind travels. Sometimes to a dark dingy alleyway with a young child standing in an empty doorway–he has never experienced love. Sometimes to a crusty riverbank where a young mother with a baby on her back is trying to fill her water jug with the little bit of stagnant polluted water left. Sometimes to a rundown hut where a few children are struggling to stay alive without anyone to love them or care for them–they haven’t eaten in weeks. Sometimes to a broken home where children are being neglected and abused merely because they aren’t wanted by their father’s latest wife. Sometimes to a dingy building in the middle of a big city where girls are crying and no one hears them except those who have caused it. Sometimes to the person in line at the grocery store who is broken and hurting inside and doesn’t know where to turn.  These are all real pictures that have flashed through my mind in the past few days…my heart aches. Just last night as I lay in bed trying to get to sleep, tears rolled down my cheeks once again as I thought of the millions of unloved children, unloved girls, poor mothers who have to watch their children suffer and die… My heart is breaking.

I fall on my face and cry out to God….I wrestle to know how there can even be such destitution and pain….I plead to know what I can do, I beg to know how I can show God’s love to everyone I see. I pray and cry that God would take my life and break it…and to then rebuild it with His own hands. I pray that each day I would see God at work around me and that I would not be able to return to life as I previously knew it. I pray that self and flesh would have no place in my life…so that God may have free reign to use me in whatever situation He sees fit.

Humble me, Lord…and continue breaking my heart.

I long to be in Africa right now. I would leave today if that were a possibility… But, God is teaching me even through this time of waiting…showing me His heart, teaching me patience, preparing me to never be the same, proving His faithfulness over and over.

“I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. …Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. …As for me I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness. …I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength. …I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. …For Thou wilt light my candle: the Lord God will enlighten my darkness. …As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him. For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God? …Thou hast also given me the shield of Thy salvation: and Thy right hand hath holden me up, and Thy gentleness hath made me great. …The Lord liveth; and blessed by my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted!” (Excerpts from Psalm 16, 17, and 18)

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::announcement::

This is copied directly from an email I sent out earlier today…

Hello, everyone!

I realized that with just over four weeks left until I leave for Africa, I should probably get busy on putting this together–lots of people have been asking about it! To my surprise, though, there have also been a lot of people who still don’t even know I’m going to Africa–not sure how that happened…I only talk about it all the time. 😉

So, yes, I am going to Africa. I am leaving on January 19th and will be there for almost three months. If you would like to get email updates from me, please send a message to <ps18.31@gmail.com>…if you’re one of the three people that read my blog, I will probably post the updates there, as well, but I can’t guarantee it…so it would be better to sign up for the email updates. You *have* to send an email to that address if you want to be on the list, though…don’t just send me an email to this address saying you want to be on it–no guarantees I’ll get you on there unless you send it to that address. 🙂

Also, because of the realization that a lot of people didn’t even know I was going to Africa, if you have any questions or want to know more about it before I leave, feel free to write! I still have four weeks before I leave, and I absolutely love talking about what the Lord is doing! 🙂

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers!

Psalm 16:11

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Spent

I have been pondering the word “spent”. I’m not sure what sparked that thought in me, but…think about it with me.

In general, a lot of people use that word to denote time passing–people say they spent their day doing this; they spent their life pursuing that. Or that something was used–they spent their last resources on that; they spent their energy on such and such.

I want to be able to say at the end of my days that my life was spent serving Christ and bringing Him the glory due His name. I want all the time that passes and all that I have to give to be used for Him!

But. There is so much more to that word!

Definitions:

exhausted: depleted of energy, force, or strength

drained of energy or effectiveness; extremely tired; completely exhausted

used up; consumed

I want to spend my life in serving God. I want every last breath in me to be used up for His cause; I long for every last bit of energy in me to be entirely used up in serving the “least of these”; when I die, I want my body to be completely exhausted from spending all my time bringing God glory with my life; I want all my resources to be used up and consumed on the things of the Lord; I want to have no strength left in me when my life ends from having poured all I have out for God; I want to die in the midst of service to God.

I want everything I have and am to be spent on serving, learning, growing, worshiping, wrestling, fighting the good fight. Giving up all that I am to be spent for Christ. I desire that there would be nothing left in me of myself–that I would give ALL that I have for Him! This is truly what I want for my life.

And I more than want it. I am desperate for it. I am fighting for it.

I was also thinking about the fact that this isn’t just something an obnoxiously radical Christian should be doing, either. This is the life the Lord has called each of us to live. His life was truly spent serving those around Him–and all of us. He gave us the free gift of salvation…..free for the taking for anyone who steps forward and takes it. It is free and yet it costs everything. Our life is entirely His in return for accepting that gift–and what a beautiful concept that is! It may sound like drudgery to those who haven’t surrendered… “I want to be ‘saved’ and not have to give my life to anyone else…what’s up with that!? Who does that??”

To me it is beautiful.

God, take my life–let it be entirely spent and used up on bringing You the glory You are so worthy of receiving!

Ephesians 6:10-18 . . . go read it.

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“According to your faith will it be done to you.”

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of my afternoon/evening just in sweet fellowship with my Lord. It was so precious. I spent a lot of time in prayer for some very specific things–one of those things was for God to push my faith to a deeper level, to stretch me, to not let me plateau. Well, lo and behold, within hours God answered that prayer.

And my flesh is fighting it tooth and nail. There’s been a mighty battle raging since then.

To the human side of things, it seems so stupid to give this specific thing up to the Lord and not try to make things happen through my own devices. But God is very specifically wanting all of my trust and faith in Him, and Him alone.

Can I do that? Can I trust Him with something that dear to my heart? When it comes down to actual real-life, do I believe that God’s promises are true promises?

My flesh interjects with desperate cries of “Don’t do it!” My heart says “The righteous shall live by faith.”

God is saying “Here’s an opportunity for you to trust Me. If you can believe, everything is possible to him that believes (Mark 9:23).”

Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief!

I say yes. I can and will give this to the Lord. He deserves my trust more than anything else in this world deserves it. Why would I choose to put trust in me over the Lord of the universe who sent His own Son to die for my sake?

This is definitely stretching for me–and at the same time it’s hard to realize that there are still so many areas where my flesh is so desperately trying to gain a stronger hold.

So, with the Lord’s help, I give Him this area that I’m so balking against giving up. The more I want to keep it, the more I need to give it over to Him. Completely.

I realize the lack of faith I’ve had in my life, and I refuse to let that linger. I cannot live a life set-apart for the Lord and still have massive areas that I refuse to trust to the Lord’s care. It doesn’t work.

My faith is in You, Lord. Entirely. Flesh will not gain the upper hand. Thank you for these times of stretching and learning and deeper levels of trust and hope in You! Oh, what beauty there is in trusting You!

In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. ~Ephesians 3:12

Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time. ~Oswald Chambers

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“But what can I do right now?”

  • Pray. Pray pray pray.
  • Find an organization to volunteer with (here in my town there is a large organization which receives lots and lots of donations–truck loads, even–and sorts them all out and sends pallet upon pallet loads of clothing, unperishables, etc, to other countries in need . . . and they are in desperate need of help from volunteers!)
  • This sounds simple and vague at the same time, but . . . see a need and fill it. Don’t wait for someone else to come along.
  • Spread awareness in your own community. Do fundraisers! (I know about a group of people who got together not long ago and did a fundraiser in their city–they received $30,000+ from it, and it was all donated toward facilitating adoptions.)
  • Look into the Big Brother/Big Sister program near you–change a young person’s life by investing in them and pouring love into their lives.
  • Stop with the trips to the coffee shop, ice cream shop, impulse buying, movie rentals/theaters, new clothes (most people have more than they need, y’know!), that CD you absolutely need, and any other unnecessary things you spend money on–every time you get the urge to spend your money on something you really don’t need, take the amount of money you would have spent and put it away somewhere. Then donate that stash to a worthy cause . . . you’ll be surprised how it builds up!
  • Refuse to stay in your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to do things that stretch yourself! Be willing to go outside of your own little world–even in seemingly little things like being willing to be friendly. Talk to people! Share your passion for Christ, even with another sister or brother in the Lord–encourage them!
  • Sponsor a child! Or two. Or three. Or a whole family.
  • These are just a few of the things I’ve thought of in the last little while. I’m sure you could come up with so many more, too! If we would just look around us, there is so much we can do if we’re only willing to roll up our sleeves and do it! Oh, what an honor it is to be able to minister to the needy and show Christ’s love to them! I pray that I would be brought always to a greater awareness of the need around me. Wake me up from my laxness, Lord!

    Lots more ideas at this website I just found: http://www.familiessavingorphans.org/fso/waystohelp.cfm

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    Having seen all this you can choose to look the other way, but you can never say again, ‘I did not know.’ -William Wilberforce

    My heart is so full, but I feel like there is so much inside my mind and heart that I don’t even know where to begin. (And my ‘e’ key isn’t working properly, so it makes typing anything lengthy a bit frustrating.)

    My mind is full of so many ideas and thoughts about how I can serve the Lord with my life. Where do I even start?

    I was reading in James where it says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” That seems pretty straight forward to me. And, to look at the statistics in my last post–the need is great.

    It really is the passionate desire and purpose of my life to give all up for Christ. I refuse to let my life go to waste. I refuse to get caught up in the laziness and calloused-ness that living in ease in America so facilitates. I say no.

    I know that I am serving the Lord where I’m at right now. I have put other things in my life on hold while I help out with a big project which I believe is going to be huge in furthering God’s kingdom and spreading the gospel to the world. I love where I’m at and how God is working.

    But I feel it so strongly laid on my heart to “Go.” To give up everything. To minister to “the least of these.” Am I willing? Am I going to let my dreams and desires get in the way? Am I going to let something as noble and worthy as “but I’m serving God wholeheartedly right where I’m at!” get in the way of answering what has been laid on my heart?

    I know life lived in and among the wretched-ness of the poor and destitue is not easy. I’ve read things that make me go pale and get sick to my stomach. I desperately try to cling to the idea that “surely other, better-suited people will go!” I grasp wildly at the thoughts of “I’m needed here!” My head says “There’s no way that could be good for you to experience with your health the way it is.” But where does trusting God come into the picture?

    Trusting God doesn’t come into the picture . . . it is the picture. Is there life outside of giving all you have to the Lord and trusting Him with everything you are? Anything else is death.

    So I make the decision to go . . . to give up a life of ease . . . to embrace the God-given passion in my life to help the orphans especially. And I am so excited to see God work. My heart thrills.

    I am such a blessed girl. I have been given so much. I am loved. I am loved beyond measure. I have the support and care and love of the best family a girl could ask for. I have a circle of friends that love me–I can’t imagine life without them. I have been showered with so much love during my life. And now God is asking me to share that with others . . . to spend my life in pouring out God’s love into the lives of needy, hurting, broken people.

    My heart aches when I see the plight of the orphans in the world. Millions of them. Many starving to death every day. Many being exploited for manual labor or sex slavery. Some being neglected and looked on as cursed just because they are from their father’s first wife. Some being pushed aside in the adoption process simply because they aren’t “white”. Many dying simply because they haven’t had a bath in their life and their bodies are eating away at themselves. 3 year olds taking care of the family cooking while the 8 year old goes out to try to beg money and food. Tears fall unheeded as I read about these poor children . . .

    We can do something! No matter what your place is in life, you can do something! Not everyone is going to go overseas. Not everyone is going to start an orphange. Not everyone is going to adopt. Not everyone is in a financially stable situation to donate funds. But look around you . . . there are options! If you don’t believe me, or are having a hard time finding things you can do . . . ask me. I’ll find something you can do! I’ll make a list, even. 😉

    (I am generally not one to post videos in my blog, because a lot of people take advantage of that . . . but, this video is touching and heart-breaking and really touched something inside of me.)

    Having seen all this you can choose to look the other way, but you can never say again, ‘I did not know.’ -William Wilberforce

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