October 31, 2014

Everything you need to know about Mission Trips (and being On Mission every day!)

I’ve signed up for a Mission Trip. Now what?

First of all, get ready for a life-changing experience. God WILL change you. It may not be the way you think, but trust me. He will.

First things first.
Pray. And get others praying for you as well.
Don’t wait until the time of your trip to start. Start now. Ask for others to pray with you through the fundraising, through the preparations, during the trip and even after. Actually, especially after.

More often than not, Satan reserves his toughest attacks for our return home. Don't forget that!

Create a prayer calendar for people who commit to pray.
If you know a tentative schedule for your trip, write up a list of what you plan to be doing each day and let others know how to pray for you. Consider the time difference; if you go to Africa and you have someone commit to pray for you everyday at lunch, remind them that for you, that’s the middle of the night. Ask them to pray for good rest and for the next day’s activities. Or perhaps ask a few prayer warriors to get up and pray for you in the middle of the night while you're right in the middle of the day's activities.

Ask For Support
Honesty time - this one is the hardest for me! I hate asking others to help financially when it’s for me.

Even if you can afford the trip on your own, reserve a portion for others to be able to help with.
The reason for this is two fold:
  1. It will increase your faith and allow God to work by providing the funds.
  2. It involves more people. Through their sponsorship, they are now going as well. They are a part of the team. It allows for the experience to effect them as well.

Go ahead and start reminding yourself that it’s a mission trip, not a vacation!
This is by far my most quoted statement when I lead mission teams. 

  • Be flexible. Allow God to move and don’t worry about a time-table so much. It’s better to be 5 minutes off schedule and to have given someone that extra attention than to stay on “track.”
  • Journal.  Bring it! And write in it. Every day if you can. Bring one small enough to carry around with you so that you can jot down names of people you meet and ways you can pray for them. That way, when you go back once you’re home, you will be able to refresh your memory with the details.
  • Start every day in the Word. 

And remember, when you start back home, there is still trip left!
The trip isn’t over.
It’s never over.
The location may change, but the goal is the same - to serve others and share the love of Jesus. It’s so easy to forget at home.

How to Deal with Guilt
This is something we talked a lot about when we were in India. Our trip leader said something that really resonated with me: He told us that guilt wasn’t from the Lord. Yes, it can seem unfair that He has blessed us with so much when there are people around the world with so little. But. But He has sent you to them to bless them with what He’s given you. And guess what? They’ve got something for you too.  Oftentimes, the removal of technology and restaurants and fancy new clothes allows for our hearts and minds to be free from envy and greed. It allows more room for faith. And that’s something they can give you.

Together, we can use the things God has given us to encourage and help one another. What more beautiful picture of how God works. If we are obedient with what we have, we all have something. Peace. Faith. Health.  But we have to obedient.

I once had a friend who was so inspired after our trip to Uganda that she made the decision that for every unecessary dollar she spent (trips to starbucks, dinners out, clothes she didn’t need, etc) she would commit that same amount to be put away for those in need. That's a huge commitment when you think about it.

How to Support Someone Else Going on a Mission Trip
Maybe you find yourself staying at home with your children while your husband travels for the sake of the gospel. Good for you! Thank you for making a way for them to go!  Maybe it’s your friend or relative who’s going. Pray daily. Invest yourself in it as well through prayer and maybe even fasting.  When they return, ask questions. Listen to what God taught them and pray for Him to help you experience it the way your spouse/friend did.

How to Live Missionally EVERY DAY.
Want some ideas of how to serve others in the name of Jesus daily?

Here are some ideas off the top of my head:

  • Buy a meal for someone -- the person in line behind you at the drive through, a new family in a restaurant, the homeless. Find a way to do it in Jesus’ name, whether that be praying for that person (always a good idea) and doing the act anonymously, creating a card letting them know why you’ve bought their meal, or outright telling them that the Lord told you to bless them today.
  • Show love in the small things -- smile at strangers. Ask how someone is and listen to their answer. Invest in conversations that we might otherwise rush through. Open doors for others. Do the unexpected.
  • Serve those who need a little serving -- do you know a widow? A family with an illness? A new mom? Write them a card. Send them flowers. Make a meal. Wash their dishes. Pray for them.

These are just a few ideas. The what isn't as important as the why. A lot of times, you’ll feel God telling you to do something in the moment. Do it! What’s important is that you obey.

I’ll never forget the time I clearly heard God tell me to buy milk for the family in front of me who’s foodstamps didn’t cover the type of milk they chose. I didn’t do it. And the Lord convicted me hard. I cried several times that day over the missed opportunity.  I don’t want to live like that - missing opportunities.

Let's start each day asking the Lord to open our eyes -- to be able to see what He sees. I want to see people the way He sees them, and for Him to give me opportunities to show them the love of God.

That’s being a missionary. That’s being a believer. 
That’s living Life On a Mission.


this post has been adapted from a post I wrote in July 2013 as part of a Life on a Mission mini-series.
Click HERE to read the original.

October 30, 2014

There is no failure when it comes to the pursuit of God.

How many of us have asked the question, “How do I know what God is calling me to do?"

“How do I know if what I’m feeling led to is really from God or if it’s from me?  What if I don’t feel like I’m hearing anything? What if I kind of feel something but it doesn’t make sense, it’s not in my skill set, or I don’t know how to get started?”

I can’t tell you how many times I warred within myself and in prayer over whether or not a ministry or action step was something God had laid on my heart or whether it was something I just wanted to do.My answer to these questions is simple: “Say Yes.”

If you want to know where you can serve God, where He wants you, what He wants you to do, then start praying. Every day. He'll speak to your heart. The answer may sound like something way outside your realm of possibility or skill set, but just say yes.  Try it out.

And hey, if you get it wrong and it's not the direction/action He wants you to take, So what? At least you are pursing Him.

There is no failure in that.

“But what if I feel like God is telling me to do something I’ve never done before? I’m too young in my faith. I’m under-qualified.”

This I can tell you with certainty -- so are the rest of us. We’re all too young in our faith! We’re all unqualified. But Jesus, based on his track record, hardly ever utilized the (quote) qualified (unquote).

Trust me, there were tons of Pharisee’s He could have chosen for His work. They knew the Old Testament inside and out. They studied it daily. Their life goal was to keep it’s every command for crying out loud! But who did He choose to use? Little ‘ol uneducated fishermen. He chose to dine with tax collectors and to stand up for the prostitute.

“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to share those who are powerful. For God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”
(1 Corinthians 1:26-29) 

When you pray, ask God how you can be involved in His work daily. What comes to mind? Don’t dismiss it. 

Having a joyful spirit can turn a life around - I’ve seen it. Being obedient in investing in the lives of people - that’s life changing. Traveling to another city, state, or country to tell a stranger that you love them, but that Christ loves them more - it earth shaking, not only for the people God sends you to, but it will change YOUR life as well.

So do it. Sign up for that ministry at church. Buy a meal for a family in need. Sign up for that mission trip!

Here’s the thing, guys. God doesn’t need us. He wants us. He wants us to experience life alongside Him. He wants us to learn and grow and heal through that.



This post has been adapted from my original post on July 25, 2013
Click HERE to read the original text.

October 29, 2014

Ready & Willing to Accept the Call

In order to follow Jesus, we must be willing and ready to go (or stay put) whenever and wherever He leads. It's part of the deal.

This is usually where our hesitation kicks into high-gear. It’s easy to follow Jesus when He’s leading us somewhere we like. But what about when He calls us somewhere unfamiliar, scary, or down-right undesirable? What about when the "timing isn’t good"?

In Luke 9, we see some people who are very zealous to follow Jesus… that is, of course, until they count the cost.

“As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, ‘I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to him, 'the foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’ (v. 58)

What if Jesus called us to a homeless existence? Would we be as willing without a soft bed to lay our heads on at night?

“And He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.’ But He said to him,‘Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.’ (v.60)

Ouch. That pill is a little more hard to swallow. Actually, a lot more.

We could be tempted to say, "mean Jesus! Don't you understand?!" But here's the thing: if it was left up to our own personal timeline, we’d plan our lives away without ever actually doing the thing God has told us to do.

Thankfully, we serve a God who passionately pursues us, no matter how hard-headed we can be.

“Another also said, ‘I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.’ But Jesus said to him,‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’ (vv.61-62)

Double ouch.

God requires a reckless abandonment to His call. We must ready and willing to follow Him , any time, any place, and under any circumstance.

Do you find yourself open to God’s leadership, regardless of where it leads or what it leads to? What do you think about His reaction to the men He met on the road? What would you do if you were them? Would you be willing to go when the stakes were so high?

Sometime before we moved to Mexico, Wade and I were convicted by the Lord to not put ourselves in a position where, if called, we would not be willing or able to drop everything and follow Him anywhere. For that reason, we rolled up the house plans we had drawn up. It was a hard thing to give up; but in that obedience, we gained freedom. We are free to go where He leads, and free to stay when He tells us to.

Eliminate Excuse // Find Freedom. 
Be willing. Be ready.

What are some ways we can practically prepare ourselves to follow Jesus, should He call us to a major life change?  How can we run from the "American Dream" that so often entangles us and run instead towards His kingdom purposes? By making a plan to pay off debt? Living below our means so that we have extra to serve others? Laying our desires at the feet of Jesus and praying for His will and not our own?


This post was originally written in a shorter Life on a Mission mini-series on July 24, 2013. 
Click HERE to read the original post.

October 28, 2014

Because One Matters | Adoption and Orphan Care

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows
 in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
James 1:27

I don't even know where to start on this subject except to say: All you adoptive and foster care mamas out there? You are amazing.  All you missionaries visiting foreign orphanages and showering love on children you've never met? To you, the one who is sacrificing your own finances to help a family with their adoption costs? You are living the gospel. To you who is sponsoring a child monthly, writing letters and sending Christmas presents around the world? You are expressing genuine religion in the eyes of the Lord. 

Today I have an amazing company to share with you. But it's so much more than a t-shirt company. This is an opportunity for you to care for the orphan. This is a chance for you to be an advocate, to be a light in the darkness for a child.

livijoy was born out of a heart for orphans by Kerry and her husband as they were in the middle of their own adoption process. As things progressed more quickly than they expected and they brought their little boy home (their second adoptive baby!) their dream to create a t-shirt company that would fund adoptions remained strong. 

"Before bringing Toby home we researched fundraising options and my husband and I always loved the idea of selling t-shirts to raise money for our adoption.  We looked at some online tee companies but never really loved the designs plus we kind of liked the idea of printing our own.  So a few months before we found out about Toby's situation, when we were still waiting, we ordered a screen printing kit and started playing around with and learning about screen printing.  We had a lot of fun with it but then things with Toby happened so fast, we never got around to actually making any shirts.

On our way home from Florida, where Toby was born, we talked about the press and the other supplies we had in our house and what we should do with them.  We decided we wanted to start a little business and help another family on their adoption journey.

One thing we learned from our journey to get Toby is that even though the adoption journey can feel lonely at times there is a large adoption community (online and in our churches) and they are some of the most generous people on the planet.  We literally could not have adopted Toby if it had not been for so many generous people.  With that in mind, we decided that as a family we wanted to come alongside another adoptive family and support them on their adoption journey.  We decided we wanted to walk with them until their child came home.  And we wanted to tell their story and pray with them and just be with them on their journey."

Currently, livijoy is dedicated to helping the Ludwig family, a growing family from Alabama. A large part of their profits are going to help this family cover their adoption fees as they await their little one.

I bought my Because One Matters shirt (which I also had the privilege of collaborating on with Kerry a few months back through my design business!) and I can tell you from my own personal experience that this shirt IS SO COMFORTABLE. I practically wore it every day for a week. Just ask my husband. And today, Kerry is giving one away to one of YOU! Just enter below and please visit livijoy shop and consider purchasing an extra tee to help this beautiful family live out the gospel in the life of their waiting child.

*in the photos I'm wearing the black Because One Matters tee from livijoy, size small.

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