Friday, March 29, 2013

Funtastic Friend Friday: Sydney Jones

The first semester of my sophomore year of college was a rough one to say the least. I was doing my best to figure out really following Jesus and then also attempting to move through my world that was seemingly falling apart. Somewhere in that semester, my friendship with Sydney took off. Her passion for the Lord was evident and I was forever changed. I wanted to know Jesus more because of her. Second semester of that year was one of the most growing periods of my life and Sydney walked alongside me all the while and our friendship grew into something that only the Lord could do. Now, Sydney lives in the room across the hall from me in the McMansion. We get crazy on the third floor together, read etiquette books together, play dress up together, laugh together, cry together, road trip together, study the Bible together, and live life together. Yes, she is kind of a big deal. 

I am excited to share Sydney's post because I know that it's coming from a place of vulnerability. She writes honestly about some of her insecurities and the decision to set her eyes on Christ and watch those insecurities flee. My prayer is that we can be challenged to set our minds on things above and let the Lord reclaim what is His in our lives, leaving all insecurities at the Cross. 


Insecurity (n.) - Lack of confidence or assurance; self-doubt.

Yikes. That word is the absolute worst. It hasn’t been a super prevalent word in my vocabulary but when it is used, I want to run. Run far.

I had not really dealt with insecurities until my last relationship. I was a strong, independent 21 year old who didn’t care what others thought, and who was comfortable in her own skin. But then it all changed. I started dating a boy and my strong, confident self became an insecure and worried girl friend.

I began to compare myself to other young Christian women in romantic relationships. I compared who I was then to who I used to be. I began to place security in a relationship that was designed to be for God. I quickly learned that my conditional trust, my conditional security, was not security at all.

Throughout the relationship it felt as if Satan and I were in one of those “play places” and he was hurling those grimy plastic play balls at my face.

“You can’t do this. You are not worth this. You’re not like her. You’re not good enough. You’re not as great as you thought. You should just give up. This isn’t going to work.”

I’ve discovered that the issue with insecurity is that it causes our eyes and focus to be upon us.

In order to compare ourselves to others we are forced to focus on ourselves. When our eyes are on us, nothing is going to turn out well.

It is when our focus is on Jesus that insecurity flees.

When we focus on Him, no longer do we doubt our worth, but we are reminded that the security He offers us can never be shaken.

I have learned over the last 6 months that a deep sense of doubt about your worth and place in the world is never God’s will. It was not until after the relationship ended that I was able to say “goodbye” to these insecurities and “hello” to the confidence the Lord wants me to always enjoy.

To overcome these insecurities, I had to stop looking for security in the wrong places. I realized that my insecurities blinded me from seeing everything the Lord has blessed me with and not withheld from me. I had to claim the strength and dignity that is mine through a relationship with the Lord. I had to believe God is who He says He is and that I am who God says I am.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”- Isaiah 43:1b

Lord, Remind us that we are Yours. I pray that we would seek You amidst our insecurities. Thank You that Satan has no foothold in our lives because You came and You overcame. Thank You for being a God who is who He says He is and does what He says He will do. Amen.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Funtastic Friend Friday: Anna Ayers

This girl and guest blogger will always be Baby Ayers to me. I have lots of "Anna"s in my life, so she has been termed by the affectionate name of Baby Ayers. She got placed on my Young Life team at the end of my sophomore year of college and since that day has held a very special place in my heart. We have this whole opposites attract thing down; I am very much type "A" and she is most certainly type "B", but it works, and the Lord has blessed our friendship in abundant ways. Anna loves pigs, loves to snowboard, loves a mix of indie and rap music, loves mustaches, and loves her friends (very well, I'll add)... and because of her I have developed a love (kinda) for some of those things too. She is truly a daughter of the King and she is daily reminding me of the Lord's love for me; I could not be more thankful for her. 

Anna's post is definitely revealing her heart and some of the most recent things going on in her life. I have loved being able to walk along side her as she has had to make summer decisions. I am thankful for Anna's faithful obedience to the Lord, even when it's not easy and when it doesn't make a lot of sense. 


Just trust in the Lord. Lean on God and everything will be alright. Place your burdens on Him and rely on God for provision.

All of these sentences are lovely sentiments I have heard and said to friends more than a time or two. Trust and other fluffy words role off the tongue and are oh so easy to say. They are even pretty encouraging sometimes, BUT what happens when you are the one on the receiving end of statements like these? What happens when people are telling you to trust and all you want to do is grip tighter to whatever it is you’re holding on to? What happens when trusting is the last thing you want to do?

This summer I was given the opportunity to work at two amazing camps: JH Ranch in California and Lost Valley Ranch in Colorado. Both camps are beautiful places; both camps would take me outside of my comfort zone; but most importantly, both camps are dedicated to the mission of God and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, with all of these similarities there is one crucial difference between the two camps…money. To put it plain and simply Lost Valley is paid, JH is not.

I would love to sit here and say that I am a person who doesn’t care about money, who isn’t worried about finances and saving, but to say that would be a lie…So while God repeatedly put working at JH on my heart, I repeatedly ignored Him. On the outside I would say things like

I know that the Lord will put me where He wants me,

but behind that prayer I was thinking

I know Lord, you’ll put me where you want me, and I’m so glad you want to give me a job where I get paid…. Where I am already kind of leaning towards…. Thanks Lord!

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) like most fights I pick with God, He always wins out, always besting me for the better.

He wants me at JH, it’s plain and simple. I have been fighting and not trusting Him, but this is where He wants me.

In two months I will be in Northern California, in an unpaid job with no one I know, and completely out of my comfort zone. Am I positive that the Lord will provide? Honestly, I don’t know. But what I do know is that He has always provided for me in the past—so I am doing it, I’m taking this leap of faith, this dive into the unknown, and I am trying to trust God the best that I can.

Will it be the easiest way? Not at all, but what part of our journey with God ever is?  He doesn’t promise comfort, but he does promise that if we trust him, we’ll find ourselves in a place maybe far different than we could have planned, far greater than we could have hoped or imagined.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” -Psalm 143: 8

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Process

I have been debating what I wanted this post to be about for a while now. Many topics coming into my mind and then slowly leaving as I realize it's just not there. I do my best to write from an honest heart and share what the Lord is teaching me and putting on my heart. But this week, that seemed a little foggy and just not quite there.

A lot of things have been foggy lately. I been experiencing a lot of "half-way"s, "almost there"s, "not quite"s, and "one day"s.

There have been many moments of revelation, followed closely my many moments of confusion. A lot of ups and downs; goods and bads; ins and outs.

I want to write on something that I am learning or have learned, but I just can't get a grasp on any of it. It's just kind of happening and I am along for the ride.

It's a process. 

I'm more of a point A to point B kind of person, but right now that's just not how my life seems to be moving. God has me on more of a winding road, full of mini lessons, with little visibility up ahead.

I don't have a grip on much. Which is really scary some days and other days it is completely freeing.

I am beginning to see the value of the process... the process of knowing God more, the process of learning about ourselves, the process of seeing our sin, the process of being sanctified, the process of building relationships, the process of realizing God's perfect plan, and the process of growing the Kingdom.

I am typically more of an end result kind of person, wanting processes to happen as quickly as possible, but right now God has something else in mind.

I have to be in the process... as sloppy, difficult, slow, confusing, and frustrating as that is.

"...[You] have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." -Colossians 3:10

I emphasized "being renewed" there because it highlights the process. It's a process being renewed... not happening in just one coffee date with Jesus, or one day, or one week, or one month, or even a year... it's simply a process that will reach completion on the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).

So right now, the process is not making that much sense, but I am thankful that the Lord is not finished with me yet and that He is going to continue to grow me and stretch me through this process. I am clinging to Psalm 138:8.

"The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever-- do not abandon the work of your hands."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Funtastic Friend Friday: Kelly Cooper

The thing about this friend is that I only lived with her for three months the summer of 2011, but I simply cannot imagine my life without her. I first met Kelly when we interned together at Timber Wolf Lake my first summer interning. She is fun, quirky, a freebird, and wise beyond her years. Since knowing Kelly I think that I have laughed some of the most gut-wrenching laughs and also been the most challenged by her wise words. She taught me what it meant to be "smitten with the mitten" as I taught her to sing Carolina's alma mater. She somehow always knows what I'm really thinking and feeling and always asks the hard questions. I am so thankful for her and the way that she consistently points me back to Jesus. Kelly left for Bolivia for a year with YWAM back in September and I have missed her dearly and cannot wait for the day that I get to see her again back in the U.S. 

At the Baked Bean... our favorite place ever.
The gal pals of #twlk2k11

Kelly's guest post is nothing short of Coop fashion and I am just so thankful for her words and the way that she thinks. My prayer is that you are as challenged and struck by the Word of God as I was when I read her post. 


Dear friends and family of Jordan Abourjilie,

Isn’t it nice to think that this fact unites us all? There was the guy on my Young Life team a few years ago who would just sometimes giggle in the middle of our meetings. He would say, “I was just thinking about what the chances are that this group of people is together in this time.” God. God’s chances. And I like to think about this sometimes. It reminds me of our minuteness, and God’s greater purposes. Life is always for such a time as this. I think of this when Jordan asks me to be a guest blogger, because I think, “Me? Por quĂ©?” I remember that whoever the Christian is in the cloud of witnesses, what a nice encouragement it is to hear from them the testimony of God’s work in their life. So I suppose maybe I can share that, and pray that by God’s grace it’s encouraging to you. God’s chances.

I met Jordan in 2011 at TWL – the same time as Amanda Stephens (what a gem) – and learned all about North Carolina-lina; what true, intentional dedication to God and others looks like; and amongst many other things, what really really really caring for people with passion looks like out of the love of God (even when it’s difficult and confusing at times). For these things and more, I am very grateful for the friendship and influence of Jordan in my life – as I’m sure you are as well. I just wanted that to be known.

I am in Bolivia for this year August 2012-13 doing a YWAM DTS (check), and now working at the ministry Operation Restoration with homes for adolescents who have decided to leave the streets. Most of the time it just looks like being a house mom for 4 – now 6 PTL! – girls in a home 25 kilometers from the city of Santa Cruz. They are a dream and a challenge all of the time. They all have different stories. They all are normal teenage girls – 12, 13, 13, 16, 16, 17. Sometimes it includes street work to encourage more girls to choose a new life. And I am a normal 23 year old, still learning lessons like we are all always learning, just now in a different country than usual.

“I want to grow every day. I want to know the Lord more today than I did yesterday, and more tomorrow than I do today. If not, what am I doing here?”
– wise words from my dear British friend Lauren –

So the latest thing that God has been touching my heart with is obedience. I don’t mean the obedience that I thought of growing up. I don’t mean the kind that says, “Do this or God is going to be disappointed.” I mean the kind where you remember that God has given a purpose for my days before my life began, and I get to joyfully live into that if I live into the simplicity of seeking the Lord’s will. I don’t mean seeking the Lord’s will in always expecting that he speak directly and clearly audibly (although I do believe he does that), then I would know exactly what to do. I do mean the kind where I realize that he is speaking all the time and if I pause to listen or read or ask him where to find it, I will. And it’s just not that difficult.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who is graduating from HOPE COLLEGE this year. She’s in the same position as many of you, I assume. She’s figuring out what she will do this next year. In that, God lead her to the campus prayer room on her walk home, so she obeyed and went. God told her to look for the blue dot on the world map, so she obeyed and looked for it. Of the entire exciting world map (this a woman who loves to travel and learn new cultures) she finally looked at the U.S. of A. Both Montana and her hometown in Michigan had blue dots. Woof. God showed her exactly where to go – she had recently been looking at a YWAM program in Montana. So she’s asking me for thoughts on YWAM and what I think she should be doing on Skype a couple of days later. And I say to her, “So your options are following this incredibly clear direction from God and going to Montana for YWAM next year and living in joyful obedience knowing you are completely in his will, or being obviously disobedient, and knowing even personally that you wouldn’t be satisfied because you knew God had something else for you. (though clearly God will still be with you…)” Recounting this story to a gal pal here later, I realized:

“He has shown you, oh man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you BUT to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6v.8

“…’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22v.37-39

Whoops. It’s just that simple. God has clearly given his commandment. No striving after it; just doing it. When I winge about not knowing what the Lord wants from me, or the direction for each moment of my life – when I make it so so complicated – he’s sat there saying, “But Kelly, I’ve already told you. It’s written. All over. Do you see? Will you obey?” So I quote myself back to myself, “So your options are following this incredibly clear direction from God…or being obviously disobedient and knowing even personally that you wouldn’t be satisfied because you knew God had something else for you.” It’s so comforting and clear. Thanks, God. So when I am freaking out because a girl in Bolivia at the girl’s home is completely refusing to do what I’ve asked her to do, or refusing to follow the rules, or because I don’t know whether or not I am meant to give my seat to so-and-so who just got on this cramped Bolivian bus on my way to work, I remember these simple things. I remember what wisdom from above is (James 3v.16-17). I am reminded to love others as Jesus has loved me (John15v.12). And MOST OF ALL I always need to remember two important things.

“’You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.” Isaiah 43v.10-11 – God has chosen me not to make ministries, not to do anything first and foremost but to know and believe him and understand who he is and my salvation in him.

It’s not so complicated. It’s what God wants: for you to know Him. He loved us first.
1 John 4v.7-13 v. 13: “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” – lest we forget that we have the Spirit of God IN US.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1v.10

So this is what I am learning and meditating on lately. This is what I am thanking God for showing me…again. And again. And again. Because just when I forget, God brings it back. This last bit from this past Sunday at my church here, which was really God saying, “Hey, girl (daughter of mine). I see you there. I remember that you are from dust (Psalm 103v.13-14), and how quickly you forget, and I am going to remind you about this week, and show you that I have been here all along with you, showing you these things.”

I know that this blog is long and that a lot of it has been scripture, but what use are my words if not rooted in the Word?

My prayer, then, is that we always stay rooted. Rooted in the word. Declaring that Satan will not tempt us to despair, or tell us of the guilt within, because we know the word of Christ, which tells us that he has made an end to all our sin. That we always remember that we are now alive to live for him, and we are free to live, free to dance, free to be, free to love him. Amen and amen.

From Common Prayer today:
Katherine Drexel, the patron saint of racial justice, said, “You have no time to occupy your thoughts with that complacency or consideration of what others will think. Your business is simply, ‘What will my Father in heaven think?’

I will finish with the scripture discussed in church on Sunday. May it be to you something beautiful to meditate on the work of the Lord:
1 John 5v.1-6.
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. AND THIS IS THE VICTORY THAT HAS OVERCOME THE WORLD – OUR FAITH. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Just one last additive, since faith is the victory that has overcome the world:
Romans 10v.17.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

Thanks so much for reading. Thanks for the encouragement and the testimony of God’s love that you are to others. Never forget the Spirit inside of you. Chau. Dios les bendiga.