Thursday, December 23, 2010

worry much?

Anxiety. It kinda runs in my family. And honestly I haven't really noticed it in my life until a few months ago. It starts with this burning sensation in the pit of my stomach. And grows into something I think about constantly.

Lately I have been worrying non-stop about our trip to Mexico next week. I've had different dreams and nightmares about the trip. In one I am standing on one side of a chainlink fence watching people I know and I can't seem to get there. In another I get to El Paso and realize I forgot the passports, the paperwork, tools, and money.

I can't figure out the exact reason why I'm worried about it. I sat down and did the math today and we should have well over enough money to get us through the week. The house has also been paid for. I have an amazing team to work with. We have four full days to build the house.

Nope. Can't peg the reason why I'm worried.

But it's there.

So tonight I sat down and began to write out (in my new little journal Kristina got me...gracias chica!) all my worries. And then I turned to Luke 12:22-31. And this is what it says:

"And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you."

Immediately after reading this, the burning in the pit of my stomach eased. The nerves and a little anxiety are still there, but I think that it's God preparing me for next week. I'm talking about getting rid of the consuming anxiety and worry.

"Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you."

Am I seeking his kingdom in all that I do? Are you?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

the year in review.


This year has been one wild ride. I think I have learned more this year than I ever have in the past. About myself and about life.

In January I started what would be (so far) the hardest semester of my life. I took 17 hours of class, worked 20 hours a week, and taught kindergarten Spanish 2 hours a week. Let's just say I realized that I don't want to be a kindergarten Spanish teacher. I also started taking classes to get my endorsement to teach K-12 ESL (English as a Second Language) and if I have my choice, I will probably choose ESL over Spanish.

In late February I found out I got the internship I applied for with Casas por Cristo, and so I started preparing myself for what the summer would bring.

In March I headed to Acuña, Mexico to build my 4th house with Casas por Cristo for spring break. We took two teams and built two singles for a couple different families. It was so cold that week (40s) because it poured and we had all packed for warm weather. I remember Sharisse and I being on bucket duty and I just kept scooping rocks and sand to not think about how cold I was. I also remember laying on my cot at night shivering and not sleeping much. I can't even imagine living that way 24/7. Luckily my dad had packed an extra sweatshirt; even though it came down to my knees, I wore it and was warm.

In April, I finished teaching my kindergarten class and got to make each child a Spanish certificate, which they loved. The weird thing was, even though I struggled teaching so much, I knew I was going to miss those kiddos. I ran my first half-marathon in OKC with my time being 2:34. It was one of the coolest experiences ever.

In May, I graduated from Manhattan Christian College with my associate degree in biblical studies, and two days after finals ended, I boarded the plane for El Paso and what would be the best summer of my life (so far). My brother graduated soon after I did. I can't believe he is in college now!

In June, my dad came to El Paso to train to be a volunteer leader for Casas, so it was great to get to see him for a couple weeks! On top of the Casas internship, I went to church camp in June to help out with leading some high school students.

In August, I went to the Grand Canyon and finished my internship and came home only to have a week to rest and recuperate before heading back to K-State to start my senior (but not final) year. I think it was God's plan that this semester was a simple one, because I really had a hard time coming back from Mexico. I had only two Spanish classes, two ESL classes, one French class and no education classes, which are usually the more difficult ones.

In October, my best friend had her baby, Skysan, and I think getting to hold him was one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. Fresh out of heaven. It was like I was looking at a piece of God. I spent Halloween at a lock-in with a couple good friends, and spent most of my Saturdays at Bill Snyder Family Stadium watching the Cats play football. They are going to a bowl game this year!

I spent Thanksgiving at Cocoa Beach with my family, and got to spend some girl time with my sister, which was great. It was 80 degrees most of the time we were there. Amazing.

Finally. December. I ran my second half-marathon and clocked in at 2:08, which I was pretty excited about considering I only trained to 7 miles and didn't eat too well. I finished my 7th semester of college. 3 more to go. :)

I have been so blessed this year when I look back and see all the sweet things I got to do, and I'm realizing that life goes crazy fast. Do things that you dream about doing. Christ gave us life to have it to the full, so experience it!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

by giving up, gain everything.

To be really honest with you, I am struggling tonight.

I got to spend the evening at Chili's, my favorite restaurant, with some great friends (and for those of you who know me well, you will be appalled to learn I did not, in fact, order chicken crispers).

I started to feel cold because we were sitting by the door, and that's when I started saying, "Man, I'm cold." Take another sip of the pure water in my glass (because I can get it refilled whenever I want). Take another bite of the food on my plate that was enough to feed three people.

Get home to my apartment. "It is SO cold in here. I can't wait to go to sleep because I know I'll be warm in my bed!"

I ended up having to run out to my car to get something. It is 22 outside. It is NOT cold in my apartment, and this dawned on me when I came back in. We keep our thermostat at 63 (because for some odd reason it costs a BUNCH to heat this place), but still. That's not cold.

Many people, even here in the US, will freeze to death tonight.

I can't shake this. I can't shake what I have seen and I can't walk away from what I believe God is calling me to. I feel like I know people who come off the mission field and walk away from it and go on to different things in their lives. I'm definitely not condemning this, because God calls everyone to different things. But why me to missions?

I am terrified because in my heart I know that I would absolutely love to get to teach English in a Spanish-speaking country, but I know that it could very well end up being one of the hardest roads to choose.

I said I was applying for Casas next summer, and now I am debating. To be real with you, I did two months of therapy when I came back. That's how much I struggled. I cried a lot. I shut myself in. I slept all the time. I had nightmares. And people I look up to very much are telling me that it might not be the best thing for me mentally to do that again. And I know that's true.

And on top of that, I HAVE to find a subleaser and a place to store all my stuff if I want to leave next summer. And I have to find a place to live when I come back. Sounds small, but seems so big to me. Me of little faith.

But I will never be the same as I was before this summer. To tell you the truth I would like to get married, stay in Kansas near my family, teach elementary ESL, have kids, grow old. And that may be what God calls me to later. But not now. And it's tearing my heart out because it's not easy. My mom and I are so close and I am not ready to leave. I've lived within 2 hours of my family my entire life, and the thought of moving far away kills me but is so exciting at the same time.

Geez, I thought graduating high school was hard.

But I realize that in giving up, I gain everything in Christ.

I have been so blessed with amazing parents, an amazing family, great friends, an education, my own room, good food, a warm place to sleep, hot shower, freedom to follow Christ openly and not in hiding.

"Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more." - Luke 12:48

Please keep the homeless in your prayers this winter. I just want to say THANK YOU to the girls at Kappa Delta and everyone else who has donated warm clothing and electric blankets for us to take to Juarez. We are still taking donations! So happy that even more families will get to be a little warmer.

Monday, December 13, 2010

my eyes have seen the king.

"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: 'Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!'" - Isaiah 6:1-5

Isaiah's story always baffles me. He was there.

my eyes have seen the King

I took a class a few years ago called 8th Century Prophets and the main prophet we studied was Isaiah. I remember someone in the class asking about the crazy stuff some of the prophets did for the Lord. And his answer was something like, "I think all of us would too if we had seen him." These prophets feared the Lord.

In Jeremiah, God tells the prophet to not be afraid of people, lest God terrify him before the people. What would you do if your eyes had seen the King? Have you seen the King?

Our God is a beautiful God.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

i miss the past.

Lately I've been finding myself dwelling on the past. Okay, every day. And part of me knows it's not super healthy, but at the same time I know that it's good to reflect on what God has done in your life.

I was driving back to Manhattan from Wichita a couple weeks ago and a song came on (I can't remember which song...I think something by Matt Redman?) and I immediately got this tight feeling in my chest, because it was something that we sang at Survive.

For those of you who don't know, Survive was the church camp I went to in high school at SOTO (Shepherd of the Ozarks) in Arkansas; but the awesome thing was that it wasn't just a church camp. It was a week that challenged you physically and pushed you past your comfort zone; it pushed you spiritually, and I can say that I have never felt God move so strongly anywhere other than I did at Survive. I met Christ there and I saw people come to Christ whom I never thought would.

I can still smell the cabins and the river if I think hard enough about it. I can hear the chants of the different tribes that we were put into for the week. I can feel the wood from the travois digging into my back as we carried our tribe members down the river. I can remember the fear that hit me as I walked a rope 30 feet above the ground. I can remember hiking to the Goat Cave during free time with my friends and pulling Kyle down the river because he broke his ankle. And I can taste those delicious chicken enchiladas that Linda always made for us.

And I'm telling you when I smell bug spray the first thing I think of: night mission. You could walk out of the cabin and almost suffocate in the cloud of bug spray everyone left behind. Or if you wanted to smell it all the time all you had to do was step into the boys room because they never fully understood the "only apply bug spray outside."

But the thing that will always remain the most vivid to me is sitting in the meeting room of the big cabin, listening to Jeff teach us from the Word and watching as it hit people and seeing the Spirit move in peoples' lives. I listened to students as young as 12 or 13 telling stories of what God was doing in their hearts and watched as friends came forward to be prayed for and to confess sin.

Gosh. I miss it. I haven't been back to SOTO in almost 3 years. And when I think about it I think how much God has brought me through since then.

I keep all my journals and as I read back through things from that first summer at SOTO I fall in love with God all over again. I was so on fire for God when I left that week, and I haven't lost that fire, but rather it is a more constant, steady fire.

I think about Survive and my old youth group often, because I believe that God worked great things in us and still is. I believe we had something that a lot of youth groups don't have, and that was a drive to lead and a drive to make our lives look different, not just on Sundays, but EVERY day. And it was awesome. I lived for Wednesday nights when we all got to be together and be challenged.

I don't really have a point here I guess. Just feeling extra-nostalgic today. And if you are reading this and you feel like God is calling you away from something that you feel is amazing, it's OK. Follow Him. Because we all have to grow up. The seed gets planted and then it has to grow. It has to go out and be planted in others. I had the worst freshman year of college because I missed high school so much, but if none of us had ever left, God couldn't prepare us for the future in what He wants for us.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

time waster.

Back in January of 2007 I made the decision to get a Facebook, like many of my friends did. At first I would get on maybe once a day to check and see what was going on, but as the months went on and I left for college I found myself becoming even more and more addicted to it.

It's an addiction. And a dangerous one.

For the last couple weeks I have been battling with myself over whether or not to close it, when I finally came to the conclusion that it was time to leave the Facebook world, at least for a little while.

I was convicted.

I was convicted because, and I'm not kidding, I spent upwards of two hours a day on Facebook. Two hours.

Now I know that there are people who spend way more time than that on Facebook, but that's up to them. I told myself when I left high school that I wanted to be a world changer. And I can tell you it's not going to happen by me sitting on Facebook for hours on end.

Next semester, I don't want to just get by in my classes. I want to learn as much as I can so that I can be prepared because I can tell you that as a future ESL teacher I have a long road ahead of me. I can guarantee you there will be students in my classroom whose parents came to this country illegally. I will not deny any of my future students an education and I have to be able to stand up for them and have the research to back up what I say.

There will be principals who tell me that my students are not allowed to speak their first language at all while in the classroom, which I know already (from the small amount of research I have done) can be detrimental to their learning experience. And so I must be able to tell those around me why it's important for students to use any language they need to so that they can understand and learn.

So for the last two semesters of my college career I will be spending time preparing for the real world instead of wasting my time on Facebook.

Also, my Jesus is coming back for me someday and I won't be sitting on Facebook when He does.

"...the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed." - Romans 13:11

Monday, December 6, 2010


Well...I can't believe it's here. December. I have been wrestling all semester with faith, with the fact that every day I get to come home and get in my warm bed, I get to go to a job where I make more in a day than many families around the world make in a month, I get to eat at least three times a day, and if you know me you know I eat way more than three times a day.

You all are probably sick and tired of hearing me talk about Mexico, about poverty, about being changed. I wanted to say, "I'm sorry,"...but really, I'm not. You don't go through something like that and not let it change you. Last week I came home, got in the shower, and stood there in the hot water literally feeling sick about myself. Why do I get to sleep in an apartment where even when the heat isn't on I am not freezing? I know people who this winter will not get to shower because the water is freezing.

I have been changed spiritually but what scares me the most is that I'm not sure people see it. I'm not sure I show it. I come home and instead of doing homework I flip on my favorite show or get on Facebook. And I don't know how to break out of this funk that I've gotten myself into. There's a song by Barlow Girl and the lyrics are, "How can we be silent, when a fire burns inside us?" Why am I silent? Why, when I know the girl sitting next to me or behind me in class struggles so much with life? Why will I talk about the fact that I hate writing papers, or the great deal I got on a pair of jeans, instead of how much Christ loves YOU? Why can't I step out? This is something I struggle with DAILY.

God has carried me so far this semester. I left in May unsure of myself, quiet, and with a lack of self-confidence. I came back in August an emotional wreck, changed forever, newly confident in God and in His calling on my life, and now I stand here four months later and say, "I am stronger. I am ready to be used by You." But why don't I see it?

Last weekend I got the opportunity to go to Dallas and run a half marathon. It was a blast! Sharisse+Liz+Aubrie navigating Dallas=lots of laughs and confusion. My mom gave me one of those TomToms navigation system things and it is HILARIOUS. By the end of the trip we were mimicking him (yes, him not it).

"Keep left, then keep right." - TomTom "WHAT THE HECK DOES THAT MEAN?!" - me "Keep left then do a pirouette in the middle of the highway, then take the motorway." - Liz+fake British accent

I am very glad Liz is from Denver, or Sharisse and I would have been very lost. Sharisse and I were good at jumping on the beds of an expensive hotel room and testing out the pillows. I was good at eating, sleeping, and forgetting Raphael's packet in our hotel room so we had to go back and get it.

I had a blast with my friends this weekend. I am so blessed. :)

I'm not sure how running 13.1 miles is a blast, but when you cross that finish line, it's one of the best feelings in the world. I am hooked. As I was running I was thinking about how everyone was getting along. Everyone encouraged one another. Spectators held signs like, "I'm cheering for YOUR PR" and people I didn't even know were reading my bib and saying, "Go Aubrie! You're almost there!" People wearing different sports teams, people of different backgrounds, people in Santa suits and banana outfits, 80 year-old men and high schoolers. Whether people were cheering or running, we were together. Running in a marathon with 20,000+ other people is one of the most awesome experiences ever. If you haven't done it, you need to. "I'm not a runner," isn't an excuse. I was the one in high school track that would do ANYTHING to avoid the 80-minute Saturday morning runs. And if I had to go I complained the whole way. Hundreds of people in wheelchairs, and people with prosthetic legs, people who are blind run these marathons. I'm telling you, it's awesome. So sign yourself up! Who says you have to run the whole thing? Or at least get out and cheer during a marathon!! Those high fives and smiles at mile 10 make you think, "Okay, I'm almost there! I can make it!"

I just wanted to do a quick post and let you know where I'm at in life. Please, leave me a comment about where YOU are and what I can be praying about for you (I'm not kidding. Please do it!!) I filled out my application to return to Casas for a second internship...and I am very excited yet broken-hearted at the same time. Excited because I love it there, broken-hearted because I will be leaving my family again (however, there's always the possibility that door won't be opened and I will be here next summer). But I guess that's part of growing up. I am so blessed to get to see my family as often as I do. And blessed that they are so awesome. I think my dad makes me laugh every time we go out to eat now. He will say just about anything!

PS. If you are reading this and have donated/prayed for our group going to Mexico this winter, I am so grateful and the team is too. Thank you for helping us give a family a home in the 20 degree weather. One of the biggest misunderstandings is that it is warm in Juarez this time of year. It was 19 there the other night and there is a three year waiting list of families who have signed up for a house. If you'd like to know how you can go build or get on a team, please let me know. Please pray for me, Kalynn, Sarah, Stephanie, Sharisse, Heather, Micki, Lehr, Raphael, and Alexis as we build for Eustaquio and Maria December 27th thru January 1st.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


So, I've been messing with the background of my blog, and if you haven't noticed, I have no clue about anything to do with HTML. I kind of like the map theme, so I guess I'll keep that for now.

Today is Saturday, and on most Saturdays, I like to clean. I enjoy it. Weird, I know. My mom sometimes tells me I might hate it someday when I'm constantly picking up after children. I guess we'll see.

I found a huge pile of mail that's been sitting in our living room for, oh, about two months. I sorted through it, and since I knew that most of it was junk, I tossed it. But at the bottom was a letter addressed to me, in my own hand-writing. I couldn't remember why I'd sent myself anything (but with my crazy mind, who knows?) So I tore it open and when I unfolded the letter I remembered. Five months ago I was at church camp and one night we were told to write a letter to ourselves about what God was doing in our lives that week. I feel like, even though this letter arrived at my apartment two months ago, I opened it at just the right time.

I'd like to share it with you:

"Dear Aubrie,

It is June 25th and you are already halfway through your internship at Casas. You have learned to try to seek inner beauty as God calls us to do in 1 Peter. God has spoken a lot to your heart regarding your future and on being patient; on laying burdens down and looking ahead; on treasuring life because as you saw at the nursing home yesterday, it passes quickly.

You have seen the same thing happening to students this week as happened to you five years ago in the Ozark mountains at Survive. God is doing some amazing things here in Mexico and at the camp, but one thing you've've been so dry. Seek God. He is our healing water. You'll probably be back at school when you get this. Keep going, even if you hate it. God will use it. Think of Mexico and think of all the orphans and children you can hopefully one day teach.

Don't forget about this camp and these kids. Pray for them. Pray for Mexico. Love yourself as God has made you. Love others. Be patient."

I can remember writing this letter without a ton of thought, because all week at camp I was thinking about how I was there to help those students and I wasn't there to let God change me too.

Well, something else I do on Saturday is tailgating. And watching K-State football. I am so thankful for my wonderful family. My parents still take care of me. I'm not sure when the day will come when I am fully taking care of myself...scary. And then tonight I am in charge of two sixteen year-olds, aka my sister and her best friend. It's gonna be a blast. Probably because I still think I'm sixteen sometimes.

Friday, November 5, 2010


I think we all, no matter our beliefs, know that there is more than this world. We know that more exists. We know that deep down, we were meant for more than what we see before us.

September and October were a blur for me. Trying to process this summer and do homework at the same time just made the days blend together. I am coming out stronger. I still have days where my heart feels like it’s about to shatter….and, you know, I can’t put my finger on what exactly it is that makes me so sad. Is it the fact that I know that thousands of people will die today because they have no food or shelter while I sit in class? Is it that I miss the people I became so close with this summer? Is it because I see my friends’ lives beginning to go places and mine just seems to be on hold? Is it because I love my family and want to move home and spend time with them but at the same time I want to be in Juárez loving on those precious children?

I think it all comes down to one thing: we are not meant for this world. I don’t know if you’ve heard it, but I’ve been listening to “Heaven is the Face” by Steven Curtis Chapman over and over again. If you don’t know, his little girl was killed in an accident a couple years ago; this song is written about her and heaven. It’s a tear-jerker, but it’s beautiful.

I read through the comments on the video on YouTube and they are full of pain, yet hope at the same time. People who have lost children, parents, friends, and other family members. People clinging to God and people searching for God. People desperate to just be near Him.

I was talking to Kevin (another intern) the other night and I think that we both agree that this summer was so hard to come away from because we got a small glimpse of heaven in the sense that we had true community. I’ve never been around people who are so quick to call out all the junk in your life, but encourage you to change. I’ve never been around people who are willing to give up everything to chase after God and what He’s doing in this world. Life is so much more than we make it sometimes.

Last night at Challenge (my campus ministry), our speaker talked about how Jesus is the only thing that satisfies. Eternity is a long time…so if you’re reading this and you have no clue who Christ is, He wants to know you. Eternity is a LONG time. It’s forever. It doesn’t change. This world isn’t going to last. We get our short time here and then we leave. I want to see you there in heaven. I want to spend eternity with all of you. Anyone who’s reading this.

Paul said that it was his hearts desire to know Christ and to know his sufferings (Philippians 3) because it was worth it, because he gained eternal life through him. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get there. Seek Christ. Give up the things you put in front of Him, because it’s just not worth it. By giving up, gain everything.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Well, I feel like it's been forever since I last posted. Life has been crazy! I was talking to a friend about wanting to get together this week and I realized I don't have a free night until next Sunday!

I have been doing so much better since I got back in August. I went through a stage for about 2 months where I wasn't sure how I was going to make it to December. And now I'm here. It's almost November and I'm feeling more like myself again, just even more dependent on God.

I've still been asking myself why I was sent to Mexico this summer. I might have said this before, but I feel like I was called there even before I went for the first time. I can remember wanting to go on a missions trip with my church to Juarez in 2006, and I didn't get to go. When the team came back and showed the video that Sunday at church, my heart was racing and I felt sick to my stomach. I knew I wanted to be there. So I applied for the next trip in 2007, and had the time of my life that week. I can remember playing with those kids and my heart breaking when we left Mexico at the end of that week. I came back again in June of 2008, again in June 2009, again in March 2010, and then of course did the internship this past summer. I'd say that might be God trying to tell me something. I've been praying about it and so have others, and I feel a great sense of peace in applying for next summer. I need to stop forgetting that God is big enough to close that door if it's not his plan for me!

A friend of mine gave me the advice to just apply and pray that God opens that door, which is what I think I am going to do. The weird thing is, building is not my passion, but Mexico is. And I have the feeling that just being there in the summers is going to open a door to something that includes my passion, which includes teaching and the impoverished.

I don't think that after this summer I can just apply for any job here and be completely happy. We all know that when you go against what God calls you to do, you're unsettled.

I think one of the most amazing things about God is that He gives us passion for something. I am passionate about Mexico and would love to see other Central/South American countries. However, for example, I really have no desire to go to Asia (and I don't mean that offensively at all), but I know so many who are just as passionate about Asia as I am about Central/South America. I have friends who are passionate about the children and people of the United States. I have friends who are so passionate about different things, and it's so amazing!

Whatever your passion is, whether it's traveling, writing, doing hair/makeup, speaking another language, use it to God's glory! He gave you that passion for a reason, so don't go against it. Just make sure it's a godly passion, and that you're not pushing him out of the picture!

So, I've been doing much better in general. No more crying, no more feeling sad every day because I'm not in Mexico. I'm planning a trip back in December and right now we're just working on raising the funds. God is humbling me in that over the past month we have raised $2000 out of the total $5000 that we need. He is so good to us.

Please remember the people of Mexico (and those all around the world) in your prayers as winter sets in. So many people will not make it through today because they have no food or shelter.

There's a world outside
That is burning
While I'm turning blinded eyes
While I stand by

I won't survive
To live this ordinary life
I'm not alive
To live this ordinary life

And I will try
To see this world I live in
With Your eyes
To love this world You've given
With my life
To see this world I live in
With Your eyes
To love this world You've given
With my life

-Starfield "Ordinary Life"

Saturday, October 2, 2010


So last Saturday I was at a K-State game (I guess I do a lot of thinking there apparently). If you didn't see on the news, there were some pretty crazy clouds going on around us. It got really dark and scary, and the clouds off to my right started to rotate and get closer to the ground, which any Kansan knows means one thing - tornado. My heartbeat picked up as I looked around at the 50,000 people in the stadium around me. What would really happen if an ACTUAL tornado came through that place? I glanced back at the clouds, still eerily rotating near the stadium, and looked at my sister, whose eyes were widening. The marching band started leaving, and that's when I said, "Um, we're getting out of here."

A tornado never touched down that day, but I could see people starting to leave the stadium, some more worried than others. And I thought, "We are so incapable of saving ourselves. Without God, we are hopeless." No matter how much we like to think, we are not in charge of this planet. I thought about how anytime something terrifying or devastating happens, even the people who said they'd never turn to God end up on their knees. We are in need. It is only in times of need (for some reason) that differences are thrown out and everyone begins to bond together.

It is 1 a.m. as I sit here typing this. I was going to go to bed until I decided to go through some old pictures. My mom made me two scrapbooks when I graduated high school of pictures from my birth up until the summer before I left for college. My grandma made me one of the earlier years of my life, and then I have one that I made of my trip to Spain in 2006.

As I have been clinging to God after returning from the best, yet hardest, summer of my life, I am realizing how young I still am and how much I have ahead of me. As I look at the pictures from high school and before, I remember the times that I stressed over different things. I remember the fights I had with friends. I remember the tests I worried about, the things I wanted for myself, the tears I shed over random events. I am slowly realizing that the things that have happened in my life are so small compared to the big picture. I always say that high school was the best time of my life...and it was only four years! Four years at the time seemed like an eternity. Now I am almost done with college, and know that in a year I'm going to be facing the next big step in my life.

I am realizing that there is so much more to life than just living. Life is so much more than we make it out to be. I think about the future a lot, and I wonder when I am 70 if I will wish that I could do anything over. I hope this is not the case. I hope that when I am 70 I can say I lived my life to the fullest. Right now this is hard for me as most of the time it's all I can do to get out of bed and go to class.

But as I feel God draw closer to me, I grow more anxious for the life that awaits me. Like he's always telling me, "Just wait, there's more." No matter how much we don't want it to, time flies. Our lives are so small on this time line we call history. And afterward we have an eternity ahead of us. I want you to know my Jesus, because He's the only one that can carry you there. I want you to know that no matter how badly you've screwed up, He still wants you. And that although our lives are small, God uses them to do big things.

Oh, and I was thinking: Girls, what if we spent more time in the Bible than we did reading magazines? I have loved magazines all my life, and I think I've come to the conclusion that they're half the problem as to most of us struggle with self-esteem. I had a magazine that on one page told me this shirt would hide my stomach flaws, and the next page was about a girl who struggles with anorexia and how I should be happy with the way I am...?

Spend some time reading the words God has written to you, and they might just change how you think about yourself.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What is beauty?

I think most of us can admit that we like people-watching. I always have, but I never really thought about it that much until a couple nights ago. I especially like to watch how other girls interact with each other; how they carry themselves; how they act. It's interesting to me because I often find myself wondering if they know that they are loved by an amazing Father, and that they are beautiful.

Last night I was at the K-State football game, which is a pretty good people-watching opportunity if you ask me. The girl behind me along with the girl in front of me, was yelling all kinds of hateful and demeaning words at the other team and at the refs. I turned to my left and watched a guy pull a beer out of his pocket that he had snuck in, and pour the younger girl behind him a big glass of Bud Light, and then I watched as this guy finished off the beer and then fell off the bench while the girls around him caught him.

I watched as two girls walked past me with their shirts rolled all the way up under their chests, baring their entire stomachs.

I am not writing this judgmentally, but rather with a broken heart, because I'm the same way. Why is it that especially as women we are so uncomfortable with ourselves? Why is it that women usually have no respect for themselves? What possesses us to walk down the street half-naked wearing so much makeup that you can't even see pores?

The other night, I was watching Mean Girls (yes, I like that movie!) and there's a scene where the "Plastics" each look in the mirror and say things they hate about themselves, like "At least you guys can wear halters, I have man shoulders," or "My hairline is so weird" or, "My hips are huge!" It seems ridiculous, but it is so true.

I can stand in the mirror and pick out a lot of things I would change about myself. The mirror is a scary thing for me. Like the fact that I still break out like I'm 14 and my face is scarred despite the hundreds of dollars my parents poured into trying to fix my skin. I cannot tell you how many dermatologists I've seen, how many medications I've taken, how many tears I've cried over this, and how many creams and soaps I've put on my face. But, like most girls, I feel like that flaw is all that people see.

Someone told me this summer (and I hope you are reading this) that my identity is not found in how I look or what I wear. It is in Christ. But for some reason I still cling to these things that I hate about myself. The things that make me say, "How can anyone love you?!" I haven't found the answer to that. Maybe it's because perfection (so-called) has been instilled in us since we were babies. It's in magazines, movies, ads, on billboards, on the internet, and in books.

Or maybe we long for perfection because that's how we were created to be. We weren't created for sickness, for self-hatred, or to be insecure. We were created in the image of God.

"I want to be beautiful,
Make you stand in awe,
Look inside my heart,
and be amazed.
I want to hear you say
Who I am is quite enough.
Just want to be worthy of love,
and beautiful" - bethany dillon

We have let beauty become something that is created by computer programs, when God has told us that as His daughters our beauty should come from within, not from jewelry, not from clothing, and not from "fancy hairstyles" and definitely not from Photoshop.

So, the next time you look in the mirror and start to ridicule yourself, STOP. Open your Bible. Read 1 Peter 3:3-4. This might sound funny, but I believe God made women mysterious for a reason. Stop freely giving that mystery away.

Two things: Respect yourself. You are beautiful.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Coming Home

I've been wanting to write a new post for a while now, but wasn't really sure what to write. And I'm not sure this one will have a point or make sense...but here it goes.

I flew back into Wichita on August 14th, and my family was waiting for me there. I started crying before I even got to them. I cried that morning when I left El Paso, too. The first time I had cried all summer. I cried off and on for the next couple days.

Coming home, although I love my family and friends, has been one of the hardest things I've ever done. I can remember the morning of May 15th, I knocked on my mom's bathroom door as she was getting ready and said, "I can't do this. I can't go."

When they dropped me off at the airport in May, I was terrified. My pastor hugged me and said, "Trust God" and that rang in my ears all the way to El Paso and throughout this summer.

Now it's September, and I'm really struggling. I don't want to be here, but I know I can't just drop everything and go back to Mexico. I have these moments where I think I am going insane, moments that make me wonder if this summer really happened. I find myself zoned out in class replaying memories in my head. I have no motivation whatsoever to do my homework or study. I found myself sitting at my desk today saying, "I can't do this. I cannot finish school."

And then it hit me. I said that this summer too. I remember climbing into Bo (the truck) and sitting next to Shane at 5:45 in the morning, leaning my head back, and saying, "I'm SO exhausted. I don't know how much longer I can do this." (I have to tell you I have never been that exhausted in my life.)

You probably wonder how I can love doing something that takes every ounce of energy. I have no clue, either. I'll just say it's a God thing.

That was over a month ago. And here I am, almost wishing my life away until the next time I get to be in Mexico.

So this semester I've decided that I want to pour into others just like I was constantly poured into this summer. I joined a new Bible study, which I love so far, and am trying to constantly remind people that I am praying for them, and then ACTUALLY PRAY for them.

Someone told me that this summer was going to have the potential to turn my life upside down...she was right.

Someone before this summer also told me that we choose to be positive about the harder times of our lives or we can be negative and make them stink even more than they do already. I choose to make this part great, despite the fact that my heart is going a little crazy.

Acts 20:24 - "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."

Saturday, July 31, 2010


I'm really not sure how to feel right now. I know the summer is coming to an end, but it's a crazy feeling. I feel like I've been living someone else's life for the past three months, and I'm going to go back and everything's going to be just the way I left it.

I'm not sure how I'm going to handle going back to my life. For the last three months, I have been uncomfortable over half the time. Everything about this summer goes against what the world teaches us to be as women. I am sweaty, smelly, my nails are dirty, my hands are callused, my skin is always broken out from the heat, I have the worst tan lines known to man, but as I sit here writing this I am almost in tears because I know I am leaving in two weeks.

A few years ago if you'd told me I would be spending three months like this, I would've said, "Uh, no thanks." But this summer has been the best of my life. And the fastest. I know I am going to go back and sit in a classroom and wonder if this summer ever happened.

But I feel like I am going to be back someday. Last night I laid awake for quite a while because my heart is so restless right now and this is what was running through my head:

My heart is restless because I want to do more. This is just the beginning for me.
I know God brought me here at this time in my life for a reason. If I had come after graduation, I wouldn't be going home. But I have to go back, because YOU have to know. Juarez is not the city everyone makes it out to be. Yes, it's dangerous. Yes, there is violence. But I have seen NOTHING this summer and have never been in danger. These people need help. They live in a poverty-stricken country with corrupt people ruling over them. We who have so much have been called to show compassion to those who are struggling just to survive. I am coming back to show you the real Juarez, where two million people live, most of them waiting for someone to save them. I am coming back to give you the opportunity to serve in Mexico alongside me.

I read this quote in a magazine interview with David Crowder: "...there's a difference between compassion and justice. Compassion is when we're all sitting on the side of a river watching people drown and respond by pulling them out. But justice is when somebody pokes their head up and says, 'You know what? I'm going to go upstream and see who keeps throwing everybody into the river.'

Somebody needs go upstream and get to the bottom of the issues that are causing these things. Of course, we also need compassion. That is a necessary response. We can't stand at the side of the river and allow the people to drown, but we have to be involved in changing the system, as well.

And so we always challenge students, kids, parents, whoever is in front of us. Somebody's got to give their lives to these issues and be willing to spend the time and the energy and have the fortitude to not wind up in hopelessness."

What I'm about to say might hurt a little, but it's true and it's something I've learned this summer and over the past couple years. In the United States, most of us live in a fantasy world, with nice houses, our own beds, our own cars, food in our cabinets, tons of clothes, and air-conditioning (I haven't had AC for most of the summer and am definitely thanking God for it right now as I sit in the hotel in Del Rio, Texas).

Most of the world doesn't live like we do in the States. Over 80% of the world lives on less than $10 a day. That's a salary of about $3600 a year. About 50% live on less than $2.50 a day. Why is this? I just don't get it. These are human beings we're talking about. People. Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles. People who love, laugh, have dreams, have needs. Today, over 28,000 children will die because they have nothing to eat. One child every three seconds. I saw on the news last night that they've been saying 12 people a day die in Juarez, but they didn't specify how. I can bet you it's not because the cartels kill them, it's because they live in cardboard shacks in 100 degree weather.

God brought me here for a reason. It's time to stop talking about changing the world and start living it. It's time to figure out why people are drowning in that river and who's throwing them in.

God gives us life for a reason. He wants us to enjoy it and realize our dreams! My dream is that one day every child will get to go to school and that they will get to eat good food and drink clean water, that they will have a house to come home to.

God has allowed me amazing opportunities to try so many new things and just get out of my comfort zone. I've learned to build a house, work with electrical, stucco, lay concrete, work with power tools, I've attempted bouldering, slack-lining, and gotten to go hiking. I've met people who have nothing but their faith, people who live out of minivans and cardboard shacks. I got to attend church camp and lead high schoolers and share my passion for Casas. I've gotten to attend two church services in Mexico and see how they worship and love one another. I have new friends whom I consider family.

I am a different person than most of you knew when I left. I have more confidence in my God and in a sense, myself. I am learning the difference between having a gentle, quiet spirit and letting people walk all over you. I am learning to stand up for myself, but still represent Christ. I have doubted, I have wanted to rip my hair out and scream, I have praised, I have laughed, I have spoken so much Spanish that my brain might explode, I have been humbled. God has changed my heart this summer, and if I come back and seem like I'm not there, it may be because my heart is still in Mexico.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I think I am beginning to reach the point in my summer where I’m wearing down. Most of you have probably (or maybe not?) heard of Hurricane Alex hitting Monterrey, Mexico. I don’t know the statistics, but I saw the news and saw the faces of the people who lost their homes and loved ones. I’m not sure, but I think it might be the Hurricane Katrina of Mexico.

Anyways, Casas builds in another city (Acuña, Coahuila) about 7 hours east of Juarez, therefore closer to the ocean and much more humid. The hurricane blew in a ton of rain and so my first week there (last week) it poured most of the time. A couple of the sites were underwater, with materials floating around. The river that runs through the city was overflowing and moving really quickly, like if you fell in you were done for.
So our first build in Acuña went pretty well despite the rain, but this past week was a little crazy. Our team flew into Del Rio (the Texas side of Acuña) around lunch time, and we ate with them and then crossed over the border and took them to the church we would be staying at for the week. They came to our site (Caleb and I built together this week) and helped us with our form. We realized that our site wasn’t going to be big enough to build the standard Casas single, which is about 22 x 11 ft, because there was a high concrete wall and then about 12 feet and a cinderblock bathroom. So we could either a) set the high wall right up against the concrete wall and bolt it in, or b) remove one stud from the house, making it 16 inches shorter. We went with plan b, because although it made the house smaller, we thought the house would last longer. Even with cutting the 16 inches out, we still had only about a foot to work with on either side once we got the walls stood. So that night, Caleb and I re-worked the measurements for the house and prayed that it would turn out right!

After the first group helped us build the form, we had to go back over the border really quick to pick up the other half of the group that flew in later, the people that would be building with us all week. As we were coming back over the border, the international bridge was about 6 inches underwater in the middle, and we were afraid we might be stuck in Mexico. We brought our second group to the church and then realized that all of the bridges in Acuña were closed due to flooding, so we wouldn’t be able to get to the warehouse to pick up our tools. No tools, no building. Caleb and I quickly decided that we needed to try to find a way to get to the warehouse, and luckily we did find a way there. We loaded our tools, and as we were doing so, one of the Casas staff members pulled up with large water barrels in his truck and told us that the entire city was out of water (ironic) and some places were out of power. He needed water to pour his slab, so he had come to the warehouse to gather the rainwater that had collected in the truck-loading areas.

We finished our house Friday morning and then dedicated it, then headed for the border. On our way to the border, we got into a car accident and it took about 3 hours to get everything worked out. We left Del Rio at about 7, got pulled over about 2 hours later because the police wanted to search our truck (I’m sure our giant blue tarp tied down with Romex and our drivers’ licenses from four different states were a little suspicious), and we rolled into El Paso at about 2:30 this morning.

But even though so many things didn’t go right this week, it was still a good week. Long, but good. The people on our team had great attitudes and even made awesome awards for each other and for us every day. I got the Extreme Exterminator Award for killing a cricket with my hammer, and the “Did you open it?” Award for reminding Caleb twice to open the liquid nails before he tried to squeeze it out, along with a couple other ones that the kids came up with.

Over 500 homes were destroyed in Acuña this week, which adds even more to the suffering there. While I was at church camp, one of the other leaders gave me a book by Max Lucado called Outlive Your Life. It’s basically a collection of different stories of different people who have gone above and beyond. In one of the chapters I read recently, he talks about suffering and how we are so afraid to look it in the face. When we see the homeless person with the cardboard sign, we look straight ahead. When we see the person in front of us who can’t afford their groceries, we act like we’re reading through the magazine rack.

Here’s an excerpt from what I read:

“Some years back a reporter covering the conflict in Sarajevo saw a little girl shot by a sniper. The back of her head had been torn away by the bullet. The reporter threw down his pad and pencil and stopped being a reporter for a few minutes. He rushed to the man who was holding the child and helped them both into his car. As the reporter stepped on the accelerator, racing to the hospital, the man holding the bleeding child said, ‘Hurry, my friend. My child is still alive.’ A moment or two later he pleaded, ‘Hurry, my friend. My child is still breathing.’
A moment later, ‘Hurry, my friend. My child is still warm.’ Finally, ‘Hurry. Oh my God, my child is getting cold.’ When they arrived at the hospital, the little girl had died. As the two men were in the lavatory, washing the blood off their hands and their clothes, the man turned to the reporter and said, ‘This is a terrible task for me. I must go tell her father that his child is dead. He will be heartbroken.’
The reporter was amazed. He looked at the grieving man and said, ‘I thought she was your child.’ The man looked back and said, ‘No, but aren’t they all our children?’ Indeed. Those who suffer belong to all of us. And if all of us respond, there is hope.”

In Matthew, Jesus tells us that what we do for the least of these, we do for him. We can’t forget the people who suffer around us. Look around you! I promise you don’t have to go very far to find someone who is suffering. It may be your next door neighbor who is struggling with losing a parent; it may be your college classmate who doesn’t really think they should continue living; it may be your sister who doesn’t think she’s worth it. One thing I’ve learned this summer is this: There is so much more to life than what we make of it. It’s so much more than graduating college and getting a job and retreating into your shell. Go above and beyond, push your limits. Because you only get one life here on earth. Why waste it trying to gain everything you can? Serve. Experience. Laugh. Live. Love.

I’ve never really been sure why God wanted me here in Mexico. I’m not a builder by any means. I had never built anything before this summer (except for when I came with my church, and we all know I usually sat in the dirt and played with the kids, or played the part of “chicken-wire-stretcher”). Wednesday the church that I was building with had a community night where they grilled hot dogs and handed out free clothing to people in the neighborhood. I noticed an elderly lady carrying a trash bag filled with clothes she had picked out, and she was struggling a lot. I ran up to her and offered to walk her back to her house, to which she gladly agreed, saying, “Pesa mucho” (It weighs a lot). I took the bag, which was in fact pretty heavy…I was struggling a little, and we walked the two blocks to her house. She let me come in to her small two room home and she turned the fan on, turning it all towards me saying I needed to cool down. She started talking about her neighbor who had taken her in when her husband abandoned her. “I got these clothes to give to her because she has given me a place to live,” she told me. Then she said she had to go back to the church because she wanted to go to the service, so we left her house and headed back. I started walking pretty quickly, and she told me that I walked really fast. She told me how she had diabetes that makes her legs and feet swell so much that they bleed sometimes and she doesn’t sleep well. I slowed down and she looked down at my feet, saying, “You have good feet for serving God.” That night it really hit me. I am here to serve. I’m not here because I’m excellent at building homes or because I’m the perfect team leader. God has brought me here to serve Him and to serve His people. And it’s been amazing so far. Tough, but amazing.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Last Two Weeks...

I can´t believe it´s already much has happened since I last posted anything.

Last week, one of the other interns (Andy) and I went to a high school church camp in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico. We went with the director of Casas (David) because he used to be a youth minister for one of the church groups that came, so he had asked us to come represent Casas and lead some of the students.

What we didn´t realize, however, was that we would be assigned a D-group to lead. I was pretty nervous at first because although I have led small groups before, it has usually been with younger students. We had seven awesome students, with Davids daughter joining us sometimes. The theme for the week was Story, and we focused on the story of Joseph from Genesis. Each day we walked through a part of Joseph´s story, beginning with him being sold into captivity. The day that we focused on captivity, the students had to go around and pick up rocks and write things on them that represented the things that held them captive. What the students didn´t know was that they would be putting the rocks in a small bag and carrying them on their wrists for 24 hours.

That day we went to Sitting Bull Falls and swam around in some pretty cold water (and the students had to keep their rocks on the whole time). A lot of people hiked down, but I got to ride in the van because I was sick for a few days before that (you know youre a Casas intern when all of you talk about how many times you´ve puked this summer).

This week was a huge reminder to me of when I used to go to Survive with Olivet. It reminded me of being broken and restored. It reminded me of family and how much God´s people care for one another. I saw so many students who got to cut off their bags of rocks and then lay them at the foot of the cross...super awesome.

We got back Saturday and then stayed up late at Alexis´ place watching movies. Then Lisa and I got about 2 hours of sleep before heading out with Shane and Kevin for Acuña, where we built this week. It is about a 7 hour drive from El Paso, and our truck, the Peña, loses AC after a while so we drove with the windows down most of the way. Luckily it wasn´t too hot!

We stopped in Del Rio for lunch at Rudys BBQ and then a few last minute things at Wal-Mart, then headed over the border to David Quiñones´ house. He works for Casas and makes sure things are going okay in Acuña. He and his wife have been so gracious to us. Delia has done our laundry and fed us. Their two sons are also really cool, and today we spent a few hours working on a 500 piece puzzle.

We built this week with a team from Iowa, and they were awesome! I am really surprised they still wanted to work with us after we got them lost three times on Monday morning in the pouring rain. (Acuña is about the exact opposite weather-wise from Juarez...80% humidity on top of the heat). We didn´t have a ton of interaction with the family this week, because they lived on another street, but they did stop by to invite us to lunch, which was of my absolute favorites.

The build was pretty quick...we started Monday and dedicated Wednesday afternoon, then headed over the border to eat dinner at Chilis and see our team off.

Now we are back at David´s house for the weekend and we will celebrate the 4th of July in Mexico...I think we are planning on making a "traditional" 4th of July meal for David and his family...maybe some hot dogs, little smokies, and all the finger foods you can think of. We are also going to the river to swim on Saturday which I am very excited about!

That´s kind of what has been going on the past couple weeks! Thank you for your prayers and I miss you all! This summer has been AWESOME but I miss my family and friends. Can´t wait to see you in August and tell you all everything that didn´t make it into the blog.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Depending on God

I'm really terrible at this whole blogging part of this is from the week of June 7...I actually wrote it last week but the boys accidentally tore our wireless out while working on one of their projects outside. :( So here it is:

Stress. I think this is a word that we all deal with on an almost-daily basis. This past semester was probably one of the most stressful times in my life. My advice to you would be not to take 17 hours, teach 2 hours a week, and work all at the same time. I remember that I was in tears just about every week and was just so ready to be done.

We’ve been told as interns that we will at some point come to a place where we need God so desperately, where we think we won’t be able to go on and finish the summer. I really haven’t hit this place yet because I think I’m still ecstatic that I’m done with my spring semester, but part of me hopes that I reach that place. The place where I realize that I need God more than anything else. The place where I don’t think I’m going to make it to the end of the summer unless God carries me the rest of the way.

This past week was our first build without a staff member, and I really think that it went great. We built a single for a young couple with three kids. What was crazy to me was that in the picture I had of the family, Carlos (the youngest) was wrapped in a blanket and laying in his mother’s arms. He’s now almost 3 years old.

On the first or second day we were building, a neighbor came over and began explaining to me how he had been waiting for his house for two years now and he wanted to know when it was going to come.

My mind flashes to many things when I remember this man and his question about when he was going to get the house he was promised. I think about how we complain about when we’re going to get our food at a restaurant because we’ve been waiting twenty minutes and the table next to us got their food before we did. When maintenance is going to come fix our hot water heater because it’s been out for two days.

Can you imagine going up to someone and saying, “Hey, I put in an order for a house two years ago and was just wondering when it’s going to come because my family is hot and my kids have to sleep on the concrete in the dirt that blows in through the cracks in our walls. And everytime it rains our plywood ceiling molds and I hope my family doesn’t get sick from it. And in the winter the cold wind blows through the wooden pallets we put up as walls, and I’m afraid my elderly mother won’t make it.”

Today we went to Starbucks and the guy in the window questioned the Casas logo on the side of Alexis’ truck. He asked if we really went into Juarez to build houses. When Alexis said yes, he responded with, “Are you serious?!”

To those of you reading this, I can tell you that yes, dangerous things happen in Juarez, but it’s not quite what the media makes it out to be. I just wish that teams who are canceling knew this. I think if you came here, you’d be surprised because the most “action” you will probably see is the military stopping cars and searching them or some police driving around town. The scary guys with the guns that they show on the news…those are the good guys.

The places that Casas builds in have been pretty quiet, and I pray that it stays that way. Although Casas has gone from around 400 builds a year to around 150, I still praise God for those families who WILL receive homes this year. God is still glorifying His name even though there aren’t as many houses going up. Maybe it’s even more glorifying because the people of Juarez see Americans coming down to help them even when the news is telling people to stay away from Mexico.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Have you ever stopped and thought about everything you own? House, car, your own bed, good shoes, washer, dryer, refrigerator, and so on. Honestly I don’t really think about these things on a daily basis because they’re things that I’ve grown up around. Although I’ve shared a room with my sister, I’ve always had my own bed. I got my own car when I was fifteen. I can walk to the fridge and get a snack, even when I’m not hungry.

You don’t need to go to a foreign country to see poverty, but being here really wakes me up to the things that are around me when I'm at home. Last week we built for a mom and her husband and one-year-old son Keven. They were living in a one room house with her sister. One full size bed for four people and mold on the plywood that served as the roof is enough to break my heart, not to mention the fact that the house didn’t really belong to them; it wasn’t a place they could call home.

This mom in particular wrote a letter to our team telling us how grateful she was for this house and for the team coming to build it for her. She told us about how her son was her “little miracle” because it took her five years to get pregnant. At the end of the letter she wrote that she was praying for God to multiply what we had already been given, to which my mind automatically responded, “How could I possibly need more than I’ve been given?”

The past couple weeks have been absolutely amazing, but PACKED. We started out helping Alexis (one of the staff members) with her build last Friday. The team she had with her only could bring six or seven people, so we went out and helped. This day was awesome…we poured the slab, stood the walls, did blackboard, almost all the chicken wire and put the roof on and decked it, all in about 8 hours.

The next day (Saturday) we split up and some of us went with Janette and then some interns went with Jason to help lead a team from Cypress church in Houston. Each team built a single. This was the house we built for Keven and his parents.

Sunday night after building we crossed back into El Paso to get ready for our Monday-Thursday build with teams from South Dakota. We stayed at a church called Monte Santo. The pastor owned a dog (maybe part Great Dane?) named Negro who was so thin I just wanted to take him home and fatten him up. There are a TON of stray dogs here, one of which earned the name Zombie Dog because he had almost no fur and red lumps all over his skin (probably mange). The building we stayed in had no AC, which I was actually glad for because it gave me a taste of how the families feel when they go to sleep at night.

I have already met so many great people on this trip. It’s amazing to think that in just the past few weeks I’ve met people from Oklahoma, all over Texas, Michigan, South Dakota, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, and probably more states. This coming week Lisa and I are leading our first build without a staff member, a team from Indiana. I'm nervous, but really excited to meet even more people with a heart for serving God!

So over the past two weeks, I can say that I have:

-conquered my fear of working with electrical
-achieved an awesome farmers tan, which I’m sure will be even more awesome by August
-actually slept through the night a few nights in a row
-gotten to know some amazing people
-fallen in love with the book of Colossians
-realized how desperate I am for God to change me

Please keep the people of Mexico in your prayers this week as the heat becomes life-threatening. It’s supposed to top out at 109 this week and I know that so many families might not make it through this heat.

Miss you all,

Thursday, May 27, 2010

God is for us...

“Ronnie, a blind boy who lives in eastern Uganda, is unique not because of his circumstances or the fact that he is blind, but because of his love for Jesus. If you were to meet Ronnie, one of the first things you would hear him say is, “I love Jesus so much, and I sing praises to Him every day!”

One of Ronnie’s closest friends is a girl who is deaf. What stands out about these two isn’t that they are handicapped or very poor, but that they are totally content and obviously in love with Jesus. They possess very little of what “counts” in our society, yet they have what matters most. They came to God in their great need, and they have found true joy.

Because we don’t usually have to depend on God for food, money to buy our next meal, or shelter, we don’t feel needy. In fact, we generally think of ourselves as fairly independent and capable. Even if we aren’t rich, we are ‘doing just fine.’

If one hundred people represented the world’s population, fifty-three of those would live on less than $2 a day. Do you realize that if you make $4000 a month, you automatically make one hundred times more than the average person on this planet? Simply by purchasing this book, you spent what a majority of people in the world will make in a week’s time.

Which is more messed up – that we have so much compared to everyone else, or that we don’t think we’re rich? That on any given day we might flippantly call ourselves “broke” or “poor”? We are neither of those things. We are rich. Filthy rich.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne was a Scottish pastor who died at the age of twenty-nine. Although he lived in the early part of the nineteenth century, his words are astoundingly appropriate for today:

‘I am concerned for the poor but more for you. I know not what Christ will say to you in the great day….I fear there are many hearing me who may know well that they are not Christians because they do not love to give. To give largely and liberally, not grudgingly at all, requires a new heart; an old heart would rather part with its life-blood than its money. Oh my friends! Enjoy your money; make the most of it; give none away; enjoy it quickly for I can tell you, you will be beggars throughout eternity.’”

This passage from Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love was so convicting for me; it’s the same as when I meet a new family in Mexico and realize something new every single time. This was my second house as an intern, my sixth house with Casas in general, and I feel like it’s finally beginning to hit me. My first build in 2007 obviously hit me pretty hard because I had never been exposed to poverty. God rocked my world that spring break and the thought of Mexico stuck with me. I thought of all the kids that might grow up not ever having the opportunity to go to school, the opportunity to learn about Jesus, the opportunity to walk out of their homes without being afraid of what might happen to them.

What really hit me this week was the fact that this family had been waiting two years for a house. Two years. 730 days living in a small shack with seven other people, making eleven total. And I complain about my small bedroom in my apartment.

We have so many things that we take for granted. I’m sure most of you realize this. We have the freedom to choose what we might like to do with our lives. We have the freedom to attend school even if we can’t afford it. We have the freedom to leave our homes at night and return safely. I can take a shower every day. I can get on my computer and talk to people around the world. We can come home to our air conditioning. We know (most of the time) where our next meal is coming from.

Each family receives something called a hygiene bag, which just has different things for them to use to clean their house and also things like toothbrushes. But the one thing that got me (and I had no idea about this until yesterday) was the waterless shampoo. They get waterless shampoo to use in the winter when the water is too cold to wash their hair. Can you imagine? I can’t.

Last night, some of us interns were talking and praying and a friend of mine brought up a good point. When you’re driving the border you can see the nice, brick homes on the El Paso side and the cardboard shacks on the Juarez side. What did those people do to deserve nice homes that the people of Juarez didn’t do? The people I’ve met in Mexico are some of the most loving, hard-working people I’ve ever met, yet they make nothing, if they can even find a job.

Yesterday we dedicated our second house and the family made us lunch. Tortillas, chicken mole, rice, and Mexican Coca-Cola (my absolute favorite). When you think about it, it probably cost them almost a months salary to make us lunch. That’s how much this small house meant to them.

My life during the school year is so superficial. I worry about the stupidest things. Never once have I had to worry if I am going to be cold tonight or if I’m going to get a meal tonight. I am not sure that I completely get it yet, what the families feel when they receive a home, but I’m hoping and praying that God will break my heart for them.

I know this was long and that I may have rambled, but I feel like there are so many feelings running through me right now. We have one build this weekend and then one more next week before we start leading teams, and I’m beginning to get nervous.

I am so glad that I decided to come despite the fact that Juarez may be dangerous. So many people have turned their backs on Mexico and I want the people here to know that God hasn’t and that we haven’t.

If God is for us, who can ever be against us? – Romans 8:31

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Our First Build

This was our first week of training, and I have to admit, I don't think God could've picked better people to intern together. I feel like all of us have known each other for so long. There are 6 guys and then Lisa and me, who are the only girls! At first I thought it would be really intimidating to work with so many guys, but it's been great so far.

We (my roommate Lisa and I) got our truck for the summer. His name is Peña...all the trucks in the fleet have names. He's an F250 that you have to stick your arm out the window to open the door from the outside, but we love him anyways :) Our house also rocks. We each have bunk beds, but since it's only the two of us we can choose which bed to sleep on whenever we want to. We have an amazing kitchen, which we plan on using to hopefully make delicious meals for the other interns every once in a while.

Monday we started out at 5:45 in the morning and went over things that we would usually do when our teams first pull into the office in El Paso, like introducing ourselves and going over some of the rules of crossing into Juarez. It took us a few hours to get everything together and get across the border.

Every build I've ever done with Casas has been on the outskirts of Juarez in an area called the Kilometers. Out here, the roads aren't paved and most people build houses out of whatever they can find. Sometimes the houses are a little sturdier than others, but "houses" range from old cars and buses to cardboard shacks.

The family we built for this week lived in a house that was probably on the higher end of the ones that I've seen in the past, but they were nevertheless in need of a blessing. The mom was a single mom...I think she had five kids ranging from age 4 to 15. The dad was abusive and had left a long time ago. I saw brokenness in this family, but I also saw so much hope.

We built what's called a double in 3 days. A double is a three-room house (30 ft. 4 in. by 14 ft. 5 in.) I felt okay the first day, but by day two (Tuesday) I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed. We learned everything from leveling and squaring the foundation, pouring the cement, standing the walls, leveling and squaring the walls, squaring the roof, putting the roof on, wiring the house, putting up blackboard, chicken wire, and stucco, all the way down to putting in the doors and putting on the trim. Part of me is afraid to make mistakes, but I know that's the best way I'm going to learn. I also still have three more builds with staff members before we go out on our own to build with church groups.

Today we dedicated the house, which involves giving them a Bible, praying for them, and the pastor coming and talking about Christ and His love for them. The oldest daughter got really emotional as the pastor talked about how they don't have to live in the past anymore. They don't have to carry the things that their father did to them, because they have a Father in heaven who is so perfect and loves them unconditionally. As we prayed over them, the mom began praying softly in Spanish which always tears at my heart.

And, of course, I snagged a few pictures with the kids, who are always my favorite part of building. My job for part of today was running the stucco mixer, and getting 3 buckets of sand, one of cement mix, and one of water can get pretty tiring, so I had help from two boys (about ages 4 and 5). Probably my favorite part was watching the youngest try to use the shovel instead of his small cup to put sand into the bucket.

We crossed back over the border today, which was kind of intimidating since I was driving. The first thing the border patrolman did was ask me "De donde vienen ustedes?" which means, "Where are you coming from?" We're not supposed to let on that we speak or understand Spanish when crossing the border, and I've never heard a border patrolman use Spanish with someone crossing back into the US on any of our trips. So I kind of freaked out, played dumb, and said, "I'm sorry?" He looked at me like I was out of my mind, but that's okay, because we got to pull through unlike the team in Luke (the other truck) who got pulled into secondary to be searched because they acted suspicious :)

God is going to do big things this summer, and I can't wait for all the things that we are all going to encounter together as interns. He is our protector. I've never felt in danger in Juarez and again didn't feel in danger this week. Of course, it isn't safe, but we just have to use common sense and trust that God will continue to watch over us as he has all these years.

Miss you guys,

PS - Some pics from this week. My face is filthy from the stucco mixer :)

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Beginning

So this is my first blog post...and to be honest I'm not completely sure what to write about.

I wanted to create something to allow you, family and friends, to see what God is doing in my life this summer through Casas por Cristo. I want to show you what I have fallen in love with.

I hope to find peace in God this summer. This semester has been one wild rollercoaster ride. For some reason, my mind just wasn't on school at all. My grades faltered. I forgot assignments every week. I left my kindergarten class in tears three times because I didn't think I could handle it anymore. But I made it! And now I'm looking out on what may become one of the best summers of my life, and I can't wait.

I should probably tell you a little about Casas if you don't already know about it. Casas por Cristo (Houses because of Christ) is based in El Paso/Juarez and builds homes for families in need. Last year they expanded to Acuña where many families have now received homes. Casas was started in 1993 and around 900 families have received homes just in the past few years.

This summer, I'll probably spend most of my time in Juarez leading the different volunteer teams that come down to build. Right now, there aren't enough teams for us to build with every single week, so on off weeks we are going to try and raise the money and build a house ourselves, which I am so excited for! I am so excited for all the people I am going to meet! I'm inviting you to follow me this summer and see for yourself what God is doing through Casas por Cristo.

I leave Saturday and I know it's going to be so hard to say goodbye to family and friends, but I know that God has so much to teach me and the other interns this summer.

This video is from the house our church just built in March:

If you want to find out more about Casas: