Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

My week has been fairly busy. I've had things to do almost everyday but there has still been lots of time for bike rides and walks and book reading. And dance parties in my room. :)

Maria and I had a great "day of rest" on Monday. Tuesday nights, we have a Bible study called Focus which takes place at the home of a couple in the church. It's a nice little get-together. Wednesday of course we had church and I had the opportunity to introduce myself to the youth class downstairs. Hopefully sometime next month I'll be teaching the class on a Wednesday night. It will be fun. :) They're a crazy bunch of youngsters.

Thursday night I had my first leadership meeting here. They take place once a month and are basically just a touch-base with the Davis's and a chance to go over the calendar and bounce some ideas around. July is looking like a very busy month! But that's the way I like it. 

Friday evening I had the opportunity to experience Illinois Youth Camp. Brother Luke Levine was the evening speaker. He was great at connecting with the kids and his testimony was amazing! The kids prayed great in the altar. Also, to my surprise, Brother Gallion was there. He had a booth set up with info about IBC. Since I didn't know anyone from Illinois, I helped him out in the booth a little while the people I came with socialized and caught up with friends. I had a chance to talk to some girls about coming to IBC and told them my testimony about how God had worked it out for me. It was a lot of fun.

Today I slept until about 1. Before you judge me, you should know that I didn't get home til almost 3, and then I had to do some stuff before I went to bed. :) Anyway, I went with Sister Davis and a couple from the church to a nursing home/assisted living place and we did a hymn sing and a little devotional. It was a different place from where we were last Sunday, but as usual, we had a warm reception. We had music practice tonight for Wednesday night. Maria is deserting me for 2 weeks so another girl from the church and I are sharing piano-playing responsibilities. :o Afterward, Sis. Saponari and I went to a brand new grocery store that just opened up here that I completely fell in love with. It's called HyVee and it's like Harris Teeter and Trader Joes together on steroids and with a food court. Yeah...that's the best way I can describe it. Oh. And it has a Caribou Coffee. :)

Tomorrow we are having a Father's Day cookout following church. We're all supposed to bring a dish so I made my favorite summer salad. Spring greens and baby spinach with chicken, chopped almonds, crumbled  feta cheese, blueberries and strawberries. Served with Strawberry poppyseed dressing. Yes, I know you're drooling right now.

I wish I could be home for Father's Day tomorrow. I have an awesome daddy and I miss him. I miss my family and my church family. I miss my "padre" family and my IBC family. I have so many families all over the place. It makes me sad. But also thankful. So Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there. If you're with your dad this Father's Day, make sure you hug him! Not all of us have that luxury. Until next time...

p.s. My parents mailed my camera cord so pictures should be coming soon! :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Busy Weekend

Weekends are so busy around here! Saturday we had prayer and outreach and then a service Saturday night. I sang an old song that Sis. Ballestero used to sing called "I Give You Jesus." Such a great song. It went perfectly with the sermon which was about Jesus and all that He is to us. I love it when songs and sermons go together like that when you don't plan it that way. That's how you know God is in it! 

Sunday, we had several guests at church. We had a great old fashioned Pentecostal service in celebration of Pentecost Sunday. Sunday afternoon, Maria and I went to a nursing home in town and held a service there. I love nursing home ministry. The people are always receptive and sweet and it's a blessing to me to see how much they enjoy the service. Maria played and we sang some great old hymns. A lot of the people knew every word. Then, I spoke for a few minutes about being washed in the blood of the lamb, then moved through and spoke to everyone and prayed for them if they wanted me to (most of them did). Sunday night we had another awesome service, then we went to the Davis's house for a while and had Subway. :) They played a game which I enjoyed more by watching then I would have if I were playing. A couple from the church was there and they have a baby whom I got to hold for a while. It was a good time. :)

Since our weekends are so busy, Maria and I joke that today is our day off. It was a great day, too. I woke up to breakfast cooking in the kitchen. :) I grocery shopped, took a walk and had an overall great day. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks. I get to go to Illinois camp on Friday night and then we're having a car wash on Saturday.

Things are going great here but I miss my two homes. (North Carolina and Indy, in case you didn't know). I wish I could have been home for my little brother's graduation. He graduated from high school with honors on Saturday. Never made anything less than a B all through high school. So proud. :)

I can't wait to be back at IBC this coming year. If last year was any indication, this year is going to be an amazing year of learning and growth. God is good. 

I'm sure I'll post later this week about my experiences at camp and so on. Au revoir.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Apostolic Youth Corps: A life shaping experience

I just want to take some time and make an informal plug for Apostolic Youth Corps. It's been a wonderful blessing in my life as well as in the lives of others that I have observed.

First of all, what is it? In case you are new to the UPC or have otherwise been living under a rock for the past several years, Apostolic Youth Corps is a program that allows young people to experience foreign and home missions work hands on through a series of long and short term trips that take place during the summer. You have to fill out an application and if you are accepted, you have to raise your own budget. If you need more detailed info you can visit the website:

I went on the AYC France trip in 2009 with 20 other young people and 4 chaperones. I had recently taken 2 semesters of French in high school and that fueled my decision to choose France. I knew absolutely NO ONE before the trip. We met in JFK terminal one, went through security and boarded our flight together. We flew overnight to France, landing in Paris at about 8 am. For the next 10 days, we saw incredible sights including the Eiffel Tower, the Lourve museum, a chateau or two, several walled towns from medieval times, the US memorial in Normandy and many other incredible things. We ate lots of delicious French food and took great pictures and shopped in cute little French shops and had an overall splendid time. Although these experiences were somewhat lifechanging, the more incredible experiences happened in the church services.

It was evident in that first Sunday morning service in Melun that the God that we serve in the US is the same God they serve there. Every service that we attended was powerful. The people were worshipful and exuberant and there was a tangible spirit of revival. We visited several churches. Some were larger such as the church in Melun and the two we visited our last Sunday in Paris. And some were much smaller, like the little church in rustic Longwy whose congregation may have been even smaller than our little AYC group of 25. 

We sang and testified and preached and did dramas. The testimonies and sermons were interpreted but the songs were not. The people worshipped like they knew every word and the presence of God fell despite the language barrier. 

One of the most memorable services we had took place in a Philipino church in Paris. They met in the 3rd story of a building and they had no air conditioning. It had to have been upward of 90 degrees in there. BEFORE the service started. After everyone crammed into the room and things got pumping, it was so hot, we were all dripping with sweat. We didn't even care. We still sang and shouted and danced in the presence of the Lord. I cannot explain to you what this service and all of the others did to me. My horizons were widened, my vision renewed and my faith strengthened. 

Another blessing for me was the opportunity to meet some of our foreign missionaries. They are some of the sweetest, godliest, hardest working people you could ever meet. Anytime that I get the chance to meet a foreign missionary I enjoy talking to them. They have wonderful stories to tell about how God has provided for them and the great things that have happened during their ministry. Spending 10 whole days with Brother Brochu as our tour guide and getting to meet the Nowaki's was a wonderful experience.

It has been 2 years since my AYC trip. I still think about it a lot! I've kept in touch with most of the people who went on the trip. Last year was my first year at Indiana Bible College. The only person on the entire campus that I knew was a girl that I went to France with. Needless to say she was my lifeline and I call her one of my closest friends today. During second semester, we were joined by another girl from the trip and next year yet another girl from the trip will be attending IBC. I've had the privilege of meeting up with several other people from the trip from time to time and even got to attend the wedding of two other AYCers. Today, one of the girls from that trip is back in France for 3 months working as an aimer. Two more people will be going back this summer as well to work as aimers. Another girl from the trip is on another trip to Spain for two months this time.

Obviously, I believe in AYC and it has had a positive impact on my life. I fully intend to go on another AYC trip some day, maybe a few of them, Lord willing.

So, to recap, AYC trips give you the opportunity to:
1. Meet new people and forge new friendships
2. Submerge yourself in a culture and language that is not your own
3. Experience that culture in an educational manner
4. Experience powerful moves of God in an unfamiliar environment
5. Experience hands-on missionary work
6. Meet missionaries and other wonderful people who labor for God on a daily basis
7. Establish connections and a base for future endeavors 

Even if you do not specifically feel called to a foreign field, it is still an excellent opportunity. So think about it. Pray about it. And then YOU GO!

Friday, June 10, 2011

My life in far...

So I was reading my good friend Abby Thompson's blog that she's been posting from France (which is completely awesome, by the way, and can be followed at ) and I realized that I've been somewhat slack with my blog-updating. And while it may not be as attention grabbing as France, DeKalb is a lovely little town and I'm having a great time working at the church here.

So far, I've done a few little projects to help around the church, cleaned the church a bit and sang in a couple of the services. I haven't played piano any but I know I will be doing that soon so I've been practicing a bit here and there to get back into the swing of it. 

This weekend, we're having a revival here at the church with evangelist Brian Norman. Tonight we are having a bilingual service with the Spanish speaking church here. This should be exciting as I love the Spanish language and will get to speak it a little and, of course, sing in Spanish. Tomorrow morning we are having a time of prayer followed by some outreach. Tomorrow night, we're having another service at which I will be singing, and then Sunday I'll be at the two regular services here at the church, plus an afternoon service at a nursing home at which I'll be speaking. Needless to say, this weekend will be very busy for me.

I know I've already said that the people here are great, but it's worth mentioning again. The Davis's are very hospitable and kind and are making sure that I'm well taken care of. My roomie is awesome. She and I have lots of fun. :) She has a bicycle and there's another one in the basement of the church that wasn't being used so we walked them to the gas station today and put air in the tires and rode around town a little bit. It reminded me of being on Ocracoke Island, except there's no beach. :( My friend Kendra, who I know from IBC also attends church here and I've been able to hang out with her a little bit. That's always a good time. 

Amazingly enough, I've discovered since I moved to IBC that I thoroughly enjoy grocery shopping. Of course, having a kitchen here, it's been great because I've been able to grocery shop for myself and buy yummy, healthy things to make. (This paragraph is mainly for mom. ;)

This has been my life in DeKalb so far. My parents will be mailing me the USB cord for my camera and then I will be able to post pictures. I hope to do some fun stuff in the near future such as a trip to Chicago perhaps and maybe a trip to Minnesota! :)

Until next time:

"Where our work is, there let our joy be." -Tertullian

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"For man looks on the outward appearance..."

Countless times, we have heard and/or quoted the part of I Samuel 16:7 that says "...For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." (Amplified Bible) 

We often focus on the end of that scripture, taking comfort in the fact that God judges us by what's in our hearts and not by what we look like. It is indeed a comforting thought, for some more so than others ;-) However, I feel that we sometimes use this concept as an excuse to justify ourselves in our desire and attempt to simply blend in with the rest of the world even though we claim to be Christians. Brothers and sisters-God does look on our hearts, but, sometimes, I think we forget that mankind looks on the outward appearance. 

It's our purpose, as Christians, to bring glory to God in everything that we do. I Corinthians 10:31 says "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." (KJV) 

To bring glory to Him is to bring Him fame and honor and to make Him known in splendor, majesty and greatness. This very definition alone leads me to understand that it is not enough to simply believe in God's greatness in your own mind or even to just speak about it occasionally. But we must outwardly express it! Oswald Chambers said it well when he said "Not only must our relationship to God be right, but the external expression of that relationship must be right." Everything in our lives-from the places we go, the way we dress and conduct ourselves in public to our relationships and attitudes and the things we say-should be in attempt to bring glory to God. I Corinthians 6:20 says "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's" (KJV) 

When people see your outward appearance, do they see someone who brings glory to God? Or do they see someone who looks just like everyone else-sad and burdened down with the cares of life? Do they see a life that has been changed by the power of God's Spirit or a life that looks no different than any other life that has been ruled and ravaged by sin? What about your Facebook posts, your tweets, your pictures. Do they portray the life of a truly born again Christian?

Christianity is not a "religion." It's not just a label or title. It's a lifestyle. In calling yourself a Christian, you claim the name of Christ over your life. You represent Him to the world. It's our responsibility as Christians to bring glory to the name of Christ so that we can reach others with this wonderful gospel. 

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven." -Matthew 5:16 (KJV) 

Some helpful reminders :)

1. I'm not in this alone. I'm not the only person who has ever had to face this struggle or battle. No matter what the problem is, someone, somewhere has experienced it before me.

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man..." I Corinthians 10:13

"The thing that hath been, is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:9

2. As long as I have obeyed the biblical plan of salvation, am living a holy life, and am doing my very best to serve the Lord in every possible way, God is bound by His covenant to me. He is on my side. He is for me.

" kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord..." Isaiah 54:10

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11

3. I have comfort here on earth even when everything in my life seems to be going hiddeously awry. 

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

"I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you." John 14:18

4. My calling is not predicated upon my feelings, or my abilities. God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. If He has called me, He will validate my ministry.

"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." II Timothy 1:9

"For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." Romans 11:29

5. Everything will be ok. Even if my world is ripped to shreds and everything I've ever loved is taken away from me, I have the promise of an eternity with God. Heaven will be relief from stress and worry, eternal communion with my Lord and Savior, perfection and rest and gladness and rejoicing. When I am making sacrifices on earth for the kingdom of God, I am laying up my treasures in Heaven.

"But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where theives do not break through nor steal"  Matthew 6:20

"But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." I Corinthians 2:9

This was my Easter blog

Down at the cross where my Savior died
Down where for cleansing from sin I cried
There to my heart was the blood applied
Glory to His name!"

In Exodus chapter 12, God gives Moses very detailed instructions for the children of Israel to follow for the passover. Each family is instructed to kill a spotless lamb, cook it (according to very specific directions) and eat it, and to apply its blood to the door posts of their home.

vs. 12-13 "For I will pass throught the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgement: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt."

The blood of the spotless lamb spoke for them. It showed that they had been obedient to the instruction of the Lord and because of the blood He witheld His judgement from them.

Most Christians understand the parallel made in the New Testament. They understand that Jesus is the spotless lamb, slain for the sins of humanity. They understand that the blood of Jesus speaks for us, that it covers our sins and exempts us from the judgement of God. But they miss one tiny concept. One tiny concept with huge implications.

In order for the blood to be effective, it had to be applied to the door posts.

In order for His blood to be effective, it has to be applied to our lives.

Yes, Jesus did all of the hard work at Calvary. Yes, he paid the ultimate sacrifice for all of our sins. Modern Christian doctrines (i.e. Universalism) would have us believe that simply because He died and rose again, every person who has ever lived, who is living now and who will ever live is automatically saved. This is not the case. It takes some effort on our part to apply His blood to our lives.

So how can the blood be applied to your life? The Bible gives us specific instructions for that as well...

1. Believe.

Hebrews 11:6 says "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."

Belief is only the first step, but it is a vital step.

Most people stop here. However, the Bible teaches us that the devils also believe in God. Are they saved? (The answer is ‘no’) When you truly believe that Jesus is the spotless lamb that was slain for your sins, you will be ready for step 2.

2. Repentance.

II Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

Repentance is how we apply the death of Christ to our lives by dying to our sins and to our flesh. It is how we show God that no longer do we wish to live in sin. Repentance is a 180 degree turn. It is not meant to be a half-hearted apology, but rather a sincere expression of a desire to leave a life of sin behind and to begin a new life following Christ.

3. Baptism.

Mark 16:16 "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

John 3:5 "Jesus answered, verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

This is how we apply Christ's burial to our lives (Romans 6:4). The Greek word “baptize” means “to dip or to dye a thing.” Therefore we understand that we are to be baptized by immersion.

In Acts 2:38, Peter tells the crowd on the day of Pentecost to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Acts 4:12 tells us that the name of Jesus is the only name under heaven whereby we must be saved. Therefore we understand that we are to be baptized in the name of Jesus. There is no other acceptable method or formula for baptism.

4. Receive the Holy Ghost.

John 3:5 “Jesus answered, verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

Acts 2:38 tells us that when we have repented and been baptized that we shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is how we identify with Christ’s resurrection.

In Acts chapter 2, when the Holy Ghost first fell, the Bible says that they all spoke with tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. In Acts 10:45-46, Peter knew that the gentiles had received the Holy Ghost because they “heard them speak with tongues.” Whenever someone received the Holy Ghost, they always spoke in other tongues. Speaking in tongues is the initial sign of being filled with the Holy Ghost and is therefore essential.

5. Live a holy life.

II Corinthians 5:7 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
When you have believed, and applied the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus to your life, you have the power to live a life free from the effects and penalty of sin.

Once you have obeyed God’s instructions and applied the blood to your life, it is then that you can live under the protection and blessing of the blood.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This is me catching my breath

...And I can finally breathe...

Ever since I made it to Illinois yesterday afternoon I've been so busy, but finally I have a chance to sit back and reflect on the past couple of days. 

I know a lot of you are wondering about how it's going here so I'll give you some of my first impressions:

The Davis's are wonderful people. They've been extremely hospitable and kind and I can tell that working with them this summer is going to be rewarding.

I'm staying in an apartment attached to the church that the Davis's formerly inhabited. It's a cute little apartment. I share it with the church's minister of music, Maria, who I can tell is going to be a lot of fun living with. I have my own bathroom and we share a kitchen which is quite nice. I plan to cook lots of yummy food in it. My room is completely unpacked and set up, which will allow me to sleep easier tonight. That and the fact that I'm reeeeeaaaalllyyyyy tired. :)

DeKalb is a charming little town. The church is in the residential area. There are sidewalks down every street and lots of trees and flower gardens which make for a lovely afternoon stroll. Not too far from the church there are lots of places to shop and eat. They pretty much have everything, which pleasantly surprises me. 

The church is small but there is a spirit of Revival at work. The services today were great. I sang a special tonight which went well, I think, despite my nervousness. The people are friendly and kind. There are several young people my age. Most of them are married and there is an abundance of babies and young children. I mean, there's a ton. It makes me happy.

Well, there are some of my first impressions. I'm sure I will update you all again once I experience more of this lovely town.

And, now, I will go to bed. And probably sleep for days. Goodnight, World.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

All the cool kids are doing it...

This is me caving into peer pressure...
I mentioned on Facebook a few days ago that many little pieces of my heart are scattered around the globe and that no matter where I am, I am always missing someone. Since that post, several of those little pieces have requested that I make myself easier to keep up with as I go on my own little adventures. I hope this blog will suffice. :)
This is a big week for me. After an extremely short three weeks at home in my beloved North Carolina, I'm bidding my family and friends and beautiful Raleigh adieu and moving approximately 15 hours away to Illinois where I will intern at a church. Needless to say, I am excited, scared, nervous, sad and thankful all at the same time.
Simultaneously, some of those "pieces of my heart" are going off on their own adventures. I feel that a few are worth mentioning in this post.
One of those pieces lives in Virginia Beach. She's not going anywhere new or experiencing any great change in the near future, but she has one of the larger pieces of me and is worth mentioning simply because she is amazing. She deals with things in her life that would make some people bitter, but she only allows them to make her stronger. The change I've seen in her this past year has been larger than she probably realizes. She's using stumbling blocks as stepping stones and taking control of her own destiny with the help of God. And I'm proud of her for it.
Another large piece of my heart belongs to a very small person who recently began a new adventure in Texas. She's a student at Texas Bible College and during the summer will be living in the home of a pastor, his wife and their little girl. The little girl is a special needs child that my friend cares for. She has been gifted by God with a patience and a compassion for people that I've never seen paralleled. I know that she'd love to take the summer off, come home and see her family and friends, but she never complains. She just works, cheerfully, with a smile on her face and a song in her heart.
Thirdly, there's a wonderful lady with whom I had the privilege of spending my freshman year at Indiana Bible College. Shortly after I move to Illinois, she will be moving to a new city in Indiana where she will be taking a position and starting a new life. I know that she will excel immediately as she's very talented and very lovable, but I can't imagine the emotional roller coaster ride that she must be facing, beginning this brand new job in a new city all alone. But, with Proverbs 3:5-6 as her mantra, she'll accept the challenge. And she's my hero because of it.
Then there's my dear Starbucks buddy who's moving from her beloved Minnesota to begin a grand European adventure that will primarily be set in France and which will last the duration of the summer. She's perhaps the one I am most jealous of. (Okay, there's no "perhaps" about it. I'm extremely jealous!) She's been dreaming of this and planning for it for quite some time and her dream becomes reality tomorrow. I met her almost two years ago in terminal one of JFK airport a few short hours before we and 23 other people boarded a plane and flew to Paris where we spent 10 life changing days together. If I'd not met her on that trip, I would not have known anyone my first semester of IBC, and, shy as I am, I would have been miserable! I appreciate her friendship and wish her all the best on her adventure of a lifetime.
Lastly, I will talk about a friend that I am leaving at home. We're about the same age and we've grown up together. When we were teenagers, well...there were times when we didn't exactly get along, but I never disliked him. Now, he is one of my best and dearest friends. He went through a period of time when he wasn't exactly living like he knew he should, but I've watched him change these past couple of years. Being away for several months and then coming home, there have been times when I have almost felt like his mother, as the pride at seeing what he has become overwhelms me. He's shifting from a crowd follower to a bold leader and he's branching out and trying new things in God. He just recently auditioned for the North American Talent Search and with voice like his, I'll be shocked and appalled if he's not one of the finalists. More than his talent, I'm so proud of where his heart is. That's where his adventure lies.
Obviously, there are so many more that hold those little fragments of my heart, but these five have grabbed my attention this past year. I am blessed to know them and to call them my friends and my heroes.
So as I begin my move to Illinois tomorrow, to a place I've never been, surrounded by people I've never met, stretching myself emotionally and spiritually, I know that I'm in good company. And I know that at any time, I can reconnect with these people, heart to heart, whether in Virginia, Texas, Indiana, North Carolina, or even France and tap into a network of support and love and prayer that not very many people are so fortunate to have.
Yes, it's scary out there. And, yes, I'm nervous to the point of nausea sometimes. But I get to go on some of the grandest adventures of a lifetime. And I wouldn't trade this life for anything!
I hope you enjoy this blog and those that will follow as I update you often (hopefully) on the adventures of this beautiful life that is mine.