Neither poverty nor riches.

Scrolling through Instagram the other day, I saw a post by a girl I follow that got my attention. It drew me into the truth and showed me something I needed to see. Funny how the smallest things can catch your attention. I have dwelled on it for days and have lost count on the number of people I have shared it with.

She posted Proverbs 30:7-9:

Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Financial security is a easy idol in my life. It’s rational, it’s responsible, and it is often enslaving. It enslaves me to bitterness, anxiety, ungratefulness, and doubt. I like our family to have more than enough, a nice comfy cushion between us and the red numbers. I want our debt to be paid yesterday, and I want to be able to buy whatever I want. I want to give money away abundantly. I want wood floors and quartz countertops. I want, I want, I want. And I worry, I worry, I worry. I worry about our family, I worry about what we will do if we have kids. Do I have to work? Can we feed them? The list goes on.

And then I read Proverbs 30:7-9. Agur asks for two things. The first will preach all on its own. But the second is that God would only provide him what he needs. Not more, and not less, but enough. It reminds of the Israelites in the wilderness as they wandered and each day the Lord would give them enough manna for that day and that day alone. And each day they would gather just enough for that day. If they gathered more than enough, it would rot and not be edible. So God only provided enough for that day, and they had to trust that each morning when they woke up, a new manna would be available for that day.

They had to trust in the faithfulness of God.

And I too must trust in the faithfulness of God. That He will provide enough for each day. I do not need to be anxious for anything (Matthew 6:34).

Truthfully, I don’t always trust that God will provide. I feel a need to make sure there is a plan B in case He does not meet my needs. So I plan, I save, I store up my treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19).

And he told them a parable saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)

This is not a rebuke to responsible, rational money management but rather a rebuke to the enslaving idolatry of financial security. A repentance for bitterness, envy, and doubt that spring up as a result. A plea of my own to live in thankfulness and trust.

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A Letter to the South Africa Team

To those who just came home from South Africa,

You must know first how much joy it brings me to belong to a church that has partnered with my home country. For those who don’t know, I was born and raised in South Africa. Not as a missionary. My dad is from England, my mom is from Zambia, and my brother and I were born in South Africa with no plans of ever leaving. It was home. Thank you for your faithfulness to Jesus that led you there to love on the people. He birthed that desire in your heart, and you were obedient.

Now, you are back in America.

I am sure you all had different experiences in South Africa. I know your joy. I have spent time there, with those kids, with Pastor Fola, and have experienced a similar joy. I want you to know something about South Africa. Where you went and what you experienced is unusual. Townships do not usually have open doors where you can just go in and love on the people there. You couldn’t just show up anywhere in South Africa and do what you did. I want you to understand that a man has labored years to build trust within that community and show the love of Jesus consistently and faithfully. In Worcester and in Avian park, we are enjoying the fruits of another man’s labor. Pastor Fola has spent years reaching that community. It is for that reason that we can go there and spend time with the people and wrap our arms around those precious children. I know you were inspired, how could you not be!

Now, you are back in America.

I know some of you might be struggling with being in America and seeing excess for what it is and dead hearts for what they are. I know it stings just reading the words, “Now, you are back in America.” And I said it twice! It might have stung like salt in a wound that is still healing. As hard as it is, please let me challenge you. We are here. For whatever reason, you, me, we’re here. In America. In Humble, Texas. I’m not sure what could be less appealing to a heart that has recently been stirred. But nevertheless, we’re here. For some of us, buying a plane ticket, flying back to Africa, and loving on the kids there, is a much easier thought than being here. But since we’re here, and God is sovereign, what will we do?

There are communities just like Avian Park right here in Houston, but we find something more appealing about doing the same work in Africa (this is a consistent struggle in my heart). It would take a lot of work to build that community with people here, to travel to the less glamorous parts of Houston, and build trust with the people, and eventually be able to love on the children. It would take years. Like it took Fola years. And it’s just nowhere near as cool as Africa. But is that the heart of Jesus?

Some people are going to be called back to Africa. Some will go many more times. Some might even move there. But some people are going to be called to Houston. Are you okay with that? I feel like I’ve arm wrestled God over this issue many times. You’re going to have to struggle too, wrestle with the thought, decide how you’re going to respond if you’re stuck in America for the rest of your life. I pray that we all find a way to be the hands and feet of Jesus wherever we find ourselves, faithful there, to labor persistently and joyfully. We will need to be determined to be in and not of. To love those who are rich but poor. Alive but dead. Who have everything they think they want but are in desperate need.

I don’t know how to do it. I’m praying that God will strengthen me for the work and help me to love like He loves. Here. And praying for an opportunity to go back and see my home and my people!

In South Africa, we sing a song. Shosholoza. Scroll down a couple blog posts for the link to hear it. Its not the national anthem, but it’s a close second. Shosholoza means go forward. It’s a song of encouragement. I pray that you all find encouragement as you go back to work and school and life here. The ordinary. But shosholoza. Go forward. In Jesus’ name.

Thank you again for going. Thank you for loving. Thank you for holding those precious babies and whispering in their ear the name of Jesus. Thank you for the photos.

South Africa needs the love of Jesus. America does too. Be faithful wherever you are.

Five weeks ago, I did something I never thought I would do…

I stepped down as the Lead Girls Pastor at Generation Ministries.

It’s hard to even type that statement, as I thought it would never be a reality. I guess I knew the day would come, but the fact that it has come and gone still steals some of my breath.

The best news is that I was able to pass the role onto a woman that I am most confident will be ten times the pastor to the girls at Generation as I ever could have been. And in that, God is so faithful.

Why did I make this decision?

The best way I can answer that question is with Isaiah 30:21: “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” The simplest answer is that I heard God whisper, ‘it’s time and here is the path, walk in it.’ In all His faithfulness, He provided me with a new job that I love, enjoy, and find myself challenged everyday. And the best part is that it’s a new mission field. A new place where there are hearts that have never heard or treasured the gospel of Jesus Christ.

My heart is still the same. Years ago, the Lord gave me a heart for young women. To pastor, shepherd, encourage, love, and care for them. It’s still my heart. I will continue to strive to be faithful to the call on my life that God has so preciously given me. I will never take it for granted.

This season is different. But it is good. God is faithful. And I covet your prayers. As always.

 

What I learned in the wilderness.

Over the past couple months, I feel like there has been an epidemic of Christians feeling like they are in the “wilderness” spiritually. They feel parched, dry, hard, and desolate. Me too. For whatever reason or purpose, spiritually I was feeling dehydrated and would cling and devour even a drop of knowing that God was near.

If there is anything I have learned since knowing Jesus, it’s the truth that knowing Jesus does not guarantee a life free of hardship, struggle, and turmoil. Rather, knowing Jesus has given me hope in all of these situations that I didn’t have before.

And this time, in the wilderness, God was gracious enough to show me a purpose for it.

This is the Scripture He has placed over this season in life from Deuteronomy 8:

“And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (vs. 2-3)

(Side note: Deuteronomy 8 is one my favorite chapters, so read the whole thing if you get a chance. So good.)

The wilderness is not just for us to suffer, but for us to hunger and thirst. Desperately. And in that desperation, when God comes in and feeds and gives us drink, we are reminded of how desperately we need Him.

Life can make us easily forget. The wilderness causes us to hunger and thirst for God, to long for Him. Then we find ourselves crying out like David did in Psalm 43: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Desperately. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Mt 5:6).

The wilderness teaches us how to hunger and thirst for God. Desperately. And when He comes to quench, we will be satisfied in Him.

On the year of five and twenty.

Today is my 25th birthday.

Typically, I love birthdays. I let everyone know as they approach. I go so far as to celebrate my half birthday mid-year.

This birthday, different story. It’s been the first birthday that I felt the weight of age. So, I tried to ignore it as it quietly approached. I couldn’t avoid it though, and well, here it is.

This birthday hasn’t been as scary as I thought it would be though. And today, although feeling old, I am also feeling loved. Loved by Jesus. Loved by my family. Loved by my friends. And all of these mean so much to me. So many kind things are said to me on my birthday, and this year has been no different.

 

Thank you to all of those that love me, despite the fact that I am getting wrinkles.

 

Thank you to God that though I may be poor in pockets, I am rich in love.

Thank you to God that as my body gets closer to death, my spirit grows more alive.

Thank you to God for giving me 25 years of life, and I am praying for 25 more.

Shosholoza.

South Africa is beautiful and broken country.

South Africa is my home. It always will be.

Today, we are heading over there. This morning my cousin Lindsay that lives over there called. She called to talk about something else, but our trip came up. She said to me, “People born in Africa will always consider Africa their home no matter how long they are away from here.” Yes. It will always be my home even though I have now lived in the US longer than I lived over there.

So today, I get to begin the trip home. My heart leaps every time I think about it. It’s been two years since I was there last. There is just something about being on African soil… I am heading over there with a team of 13 other people. We are going over there to share the gospel, meet the needs we can, and tell them about the one that heals every brokenness and overcomes every circumstance.

I left South Africa an unbeliever, so every opportunity to return with the truth of the gospel is exciting. I feel like I am returning to where I was once dead with life and hope. And I get to return with a group of people that are so important to my life. The girls on this trip are some of the most precious people I have had the opportunity to do ministry alongside. What an awesome opportunity.

We need your prayers. Pray for safety, protection, a smooth journey. Pray for strength, courage, and for boldness.

Pray for us as we go forward.

Pray for us as we “shosholoza”.

Don’t lose heart.

Facebook is a constant reminder of what my life may have looked like had a followed a “normal” path.

I may have had a “normal” college experience. Hung out with my “normal” friends. Do “normal” things for someone in their mid-twenties. Take “normal” vacations. Make a “normal” salary for working a “normal” job.

And yet, I find myself living a life far from normal.

Normal is just an idea though. But it’s an idea that can tempt me to believe that somehow I am missing out on something. However, with three gentle words, the Lord rebuked my selfishness.

Don’t lose heart.

Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

In all honesty, what I do gives me so much joy. It’s hard to imagine doing anything else. I have so much love and hope and faith for the girls. I am so proud of them. I care so much for them. These same emotions are what make me frustrated, anxious, stressed, and worried. I want the best for them and to see anything else is not easy. And yet, God reminds me to not grow weary in what I do. He tells me to never give up. He quickly reminds me of the joy found in Him and Him alone.

For those reading this that have also given up a “normal” life: Don’t lose heart. We have a Savior who gave everything. He kept silent and endured an excrutiating death so that we may have life. He did it for the joy set before Him, and so do we. Don’t chase a “greater joy” that is rather an unrealistic temptation. In Him we find our fullness of joy.

I’ll leave you with Hebrews 12:1-2: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, andlet us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus,the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”