Small Group Weekend!

This past weekend everyone split off into their small groups and did whatever they wanted for the whole weekend! We were all so excited to get off campus and really experience California! Some groups went to San Francisco and others to San Diego…but my group stayed in Los Angeles and had a BLAST!

Friday night we went shopping at Ross (similar to TJ Maxx) and got frozen yogurt. So apparently frozen yogurt is really popular in the southern part of the country! I don’t think its as popular in the Midwest, but the Arkansas people are always talking about it and there are a ton of places in California! Its quite delicious ๐Ÿ™‚ That night we stayed in a hotel which was amazing! We were so excited to sleep in air-conditioning and a comfy bed.

Saturday was probably one of the best days of my life as I fulfilled a long-time dream of mine…to go to Beverly Hills ๐Ÿ™‚ As we drove through the hills, there were a lot of houses tucked away and my imagination went wild pondering what celebrities lives there. While we walked around Rodeo Dr., I felt like I was walking in a dream. I know that sounds funny, but I just couldn’t believe where I was. Seeing all of the fancy stores was really cool, but made me thankful for Walmart and Target ๐Ÿ™‚ I couldn’t imagine spending so much money on clothes like they do out here. One of the exciting things for me was seeing a restaurant that’s on TV! I must share that my family and I are huge fans of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills haha…One of the women on the show, Lisa, owns a restaurant called Villa Blancaย and I kinda freaked out when I saw it! I actually had Kayla Google the address so I could find it ๐Ÿ™‚ For lunch we ate at a famous hot dog stand called Pink’s, this family-owned business has been running since 1938! We had to wait in a really long line and I’m not a huge fan of hot dogs but they were pretty good. Celebrities like Celine Dion, Mario Lopez and Dr. Phil have eaten there which made it worth while for me ๐Ÿ™‚ That evening we went to a place called Universal City aka Universal Studios! This was so much fun! There were a lot of fun restaurants, shops and tons of people everywhere. I love being around big crowds of people! That evening we went back to campus and stayed the night to save money…

Sunday was a really chill day for us. I slept in till 9 which is late for our project! I spent some time with the Lord, reading about forgiveness and grace which is always refreshing. Then I skyped one of my good guy friends, Nate, who is currently in Spain! He told me about how he ran with the bulls! I don’t know why I have such crazy friends…For lunch we made french toast in one of the apartments on campus and had girl-talk! Then that evening was amazing…we drove to Santa Monica beach, ate dinner on the beach and watched the sunset. It was so beautiful. It boggled my mind that this was the same ocean that brought the tsunami upon Japan a few months ago. The ocean is such a powerful and majestic thing that we underestimate so much. This is why its my second favorite creation of God’s; the first is the night sky!

This week starts our focus on the different World Religions. I’m excited about this because my perspective is continually going to be shaken. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be a learner of these religions for the next 2 weeks. Tomorrow we have our China focus.

Please pray for our group that our minds will be open to what these religions are about and how we can most effectively love on these people.

P.S. I have a special treat coming for all of you soon! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m hoping to post it on here in the next few days! You’ll hopefully enjoy watching it as I’m going to enjoy making it haha

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Back Again!

Heyyyy everyone! Sorry its been a few days since my last post…things have been pretty crazy here the past week. I have a lot to catch you up on! Forgive me if its super long. If you love me you’ll read all the way ๐Ÿ™‚ haha

Ok so the Perspectives class is done! We’re all relieved to be finished with homework and 4 hours of reading. But the speakers were so invaluable. I was telling someone today that I’m going to miss the speakers. They spoke such truth into our lives and challenged us almost everyday! With every class, I was convicted about something. I want to share with you a conviction that I experienced and am now working on it with the Lord…Last week one of our speakers said, “We have to stop serving our personal gods and serve the one true God.” An example of this was, “God, I’ll wait until I get married and then I’ll go into the mission field.” This may look different for some of you…but for me, that hit right on the spot. If any of you know me really really well, you know I want to get married more then anything in the world. I used to have thoughts such as, “God, just give me a husband and then we’ll change the world for you together” or “I don’t want to do this alone, I need a husband”. I’ve realized that marriage is a personal god that I serve. I think that when I get married, I’ll truly live happily ever after and everything will just fall into place. But that is so far from the truth. God is teaching me that I need to put all of my hopes and dreams into HIM instead of a guy. I’m striving to rely on this piece of scripture, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you…But as for me, it is good to be near God, I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” Psalm 73:25, 28 ย May I ask you to pray for me? Pray that I will desire nothing on this earth more than God. I want him to be my strong tower and refuge. Thank you for letting me be vulnerable with you.

So we had an amazing weekend! Saturday night we went to Hollywood! I loved every minute of it ๐Ÿ™‚ Walking on the sidewalk and seeing all of the stars was incredible. Also the hand prints and footprints in the cement by the Chinese Theater. I was in awe to be standing in the same place as so many inspirational people. My 2 favorites were probably Snow White and Adam Sandler! I didn’t get to see Reese Witherspoon or Julia Roberts which was a bummer because they’re my favorite actresses!

Sunday was an exciting day! We went to Saddleback Church and if you’re familiar with that name, then you definitely know of their pastor, Rick Warren. He actually spoke! I was assuming he’d be gone and he was there. I was so excited. He spoke about the unseen battle, our sinful nature verses the divine nature. The Church campus is absolutely beautiful! The main worship center has big, open windows that let in natural light (I thought of my Mom because she loves lots of windows with natural light coming in :)). Then a few of us ventured to the bookstore which was outside…only at a California church would their bookstore be outside. Also, we got to meet Pastor Rick Warren and get a group picture with him! He is so funny in person and very encouraging. I really like him. Maybe now I’ll have the motivation to read his book, The Purpose Driven Life.

For the 4th of July we dressed up as rednecks and went to the monster-truck rally show! I’ll be honest, I wasn’t super excited to go at first because monster trucks aren’t really my thing, but I’m in California so I better live it up while I can! Surprisingly, it was a lot of fun! They had motor cross riders who did crazy-awesome jumps in the air and the monster trucks were sweet. They were really loud though! We also watched fireworks at the rally and honestly, they weren’t as good as Lima’s Furoat Park ones. For reals!

Alrighty sorry this was so long! Thanks for going on this journey with me ๐Ÿ™‚ Love you all!

Some Ramblings…

So I wanna keep ya posted on what’s going on around here!

*We only have 2 classes left of Perspectives! (Its going by so fast!)

*On Monday, my friend Hannah and I had to interview an international student for a Perspectives project and we ended up talking to Cate from Thailand!

*Last night after small group, a few of us girls and guys had a dance party! I did a dance from Glee and one of the guys taught us how to “dougie” haha…It was a BLAST!

*We get to go to Hollywood this weekend! I’m sooooooooo excited!!!

*I got another card from Grandma Connie today! You have no idea how much that means to me Grandma! I love you!

*I’m going to have a southern accent when I get back ๐Ÿ™‚ (50% of the people here are from Arkansas!)

I have more to share but gotta run to dinner…Another post possibly tonight or tomorrow!

 

Vulnerability Part 1

Hello everyone! So I’ve been keeping you updated on the physical aspect of the project…the exciting things we’re doing, places we’re going, etc…but I think God is wanting me to share with you what’s going on inside my heart too. At first I didn’t want to, but I’ve seen the blessings overflow from when others and myself are vulnerable with what God is doing inside of us. So here we go…

Earlier this week during one of my quiet times, this verse was in my reading, “You have granted him the desire of his heart and have not withheld the request of his lips.” Psalm 21:2ย King David is saying God has granted his desires and answered his prayer request (See Psalm 21 for context). I’m starting to learn that when our desires and requests are lined up with God’s desires for you, He’ll grant them.

Saying that, I’m on this project to learn what God’s desire for me is regarding missions…Before coming out here, if you would’ve asked me what I wanted to do with missions, here’s what I would’ve said, “Oh I just want to be a Mom, raising my kids to pray for the world and having my husband and I financially support missionaries!” Yes that is still a desire of my heart in the long-run future, but God has plans for me now! Right now where I’m at, graduating within a year and single, is the perfect time for me to get out there in the world and make a difference for the Lord!

Our speaker in Perspectives on Friday, Claude Hickman (who is an amazing man of God), gave an incredible talk on the task remaining to reach the world. This was highly encouraging to me to hear what needs to be done and learning how I could contribute. What needs to be done you may ask? There are currently around 17,000 people groups in the world who are unreached. Unreached is a term that is used to define a people group who have never heard of Jesus Christ, the Gospel, and do not have a church anywhere near them. Hearing that number blew my mind! I wish I could show you all of my notes from the talk, but here are some important stats I want to share:

*The unreached world consists of the following: Tribal, Hindu, China, Muslim and Buddhist.

*554 Million Tribal…1 Billion Hindu…1.3 Billion Chinese…1.5 Billion Muslim…621 Million Buddhist…These are the numbers of people who have never heard the Gospel!

*In India, there is 1 missionary per 2,000,000 people; In China, there is 1 missionary per 700,000 people

*Here’s a little analogy they used: If another September 11th attack took place but 13x more intense and we only had one firefighter, that’s what the missionary ratio looks like towards the unreached.

Hearing these stats and such really rocked my world. How can I be content in my little world, going to Church and Cru meetings when there are millions around the world who are missing out on the greatest joy in life?! This is highly motivating to really reach Toledo’s campus this fall.

Would you say a prayer for me? Ask the Lord to speak to me about what my role is for reaching the nations! I’m completely open to anything…mobilizing others; going to an unreached country; being a prayer warrior for the world or financially supporting missionaries. At this moment, mobilizing others is sticking out to me. Thank you for you prayers and support and everything else!

P.S. We went to the beach today, and the California beaches are beautiful! Waaay better than the ones on the east coast ๐Ÿ™‚

Mormon Temple/Community Night

At this moment, I am loving life…Just got done with my Perspectives homework, the weather is beautiful, received a card from my Grandma Connie and listening to worship music alone in my room ๐Ÿ™‚ I love it when Jesus blesses us with lovely days like this! So this entry may be a little lengthy so bare with me…

Friday evening was when we traveled to the Mormon Temple…it was such an eye-opening experience into a different, but scary, religion. When we first drove up to the temple, my first thoughts were, “Wow this temple is beautiful!” but I soon realized that looks can be deceiving. We piled into a movie theater room where we watched a video about Joseph Smith, the 14-year old boy who started Mormonism. Following that, we were split up into 3 groups to see different exhibits. My group went to the service exhibit which talked about their involvement in serving people. This exhibit didn’t bother me because I, too, like to serve others because its what Jesus did while on Earth. We then ventured outside to tour the grounds with 2 girls, my age, who were our tour guides. This is when our group basically grilled the girls with questions. I was astounded at what this group really believes. The thing that struck deep inside of me was our group leader asked the question, “So according to you, what’s the Gospel?” and the girl answered with 5 steps you need to take in order to be saved and none of those steps included Jesus’ death on the cross or his resurrection. My thoughts were exactly, “Are you kidding me?” They don’t focus on Jesus’ power of conquering sin or the gift of grace that His love offers. I was astounded. This religion is so focused on becoming the best person they can be so that they can reach the highest level of Heaven (according to them, there are 3 levels of Heaven). I’m thankful that I was raised in a Church that gave me the foundations of grace, meaning I don’t have to work for my salvation. God loves me, and those girls, no matter the sin or how many times we commit it. Would you join with me in prayer for these women and everyone involved in Mormonism? Pray that their eyes would be open to the beauty and truth of the true Gospel.

Saturday was such a great day! Our group went out to Santa Monica again to share Jesus. This time I was partnered with my other small group leader Laura, who is amazing! I just love her! Her and I got to go sharing on the beach ๐Ÿ™‚ We met 3 women, Regina, Tanj and Tannis. Regina and Tannis are both Moms and were such sweet women. I got to share my personal testimony with Regina and her response was, “I’m so glad that you turned around and found your way!” My favorite conversation was probably with Tanj. She just graduated college from England! She’s actually from there and she had a sweet accent ๐Ÿ™‚ I felt comfortable talking to her since she’s my age. Tanj was really curious and asked Laura & I questions like, “What is grace?” and “How important is God in your life?” all such good questions! After Laura and ย gave answers and shared about our lives, Tanj responded with, “I’m glad I got to talk to you, because you’ve got me thinking about these kind of things I normally don’t.” I was so excited to see God planting a seed right before my eyes!

Saturday evening was our very first community night! This is when different small groups get together, go out to dinner and do something fun in the LA area. The purpose of this is to create community in our project. My small group was paired with a guy’s small group! I was excited because I hadn’t got to talk to the guys a lot. Our group went to Rubio’s Mexican Grill for dinner which was good, but I’d prefer Chipotle ๐Ÿ™‚ Afterwards we traveled to the observatory and saw the whole view of LA! It was so beautiful at nighttime with all of the lights lighting up the city. My camera did not do the view justice! Overall, it was a really fun night! The guys were so fun to talk to and hang out with. These community nights will be every Friday evening, so I’ll keep ya posted ๐Ÿ™‚

Discipleship & Project Night

Honestly, today was not a good day for me in Perspectives. Our speaker talked about Your Kingdom Comeย which all went over my head at the time. Then when I spent time in our mandatory readings, I gained a better understanding of what it meant. I’m so thankful the Holy Spirit comes through for us.

I had my first discipleship meeting with my small group leader Emily! If you’re unsure what discipleship is, its when I’ll meet with Emily one-on-one for the whole summer, talking about spiritual things and growing in my walk with Jesus. I am so blessed to be with her because she is a sweet, soft-spoken woman who is following after the Lord wholeheartedly. Our first meeting went really well today. I got to share with her some things I’m struggling with and also the things I’m deeply passionate about, which includes human trafficking!

After dinner, we had our very first project night! This night includes fun random things, worship time, and a speaker. Tonight, Hudson (staff guy) gave away books by asking random questions. I didn’t win any books…bummer! We sang a few worship songs and then heard from Claude Hickman, the executive director of The Traveling Team. He gave a very powerful talk on grace. I realized that the Christian life is basically living under the reign of God’s grace. It drives everything we do. The reason we serve…GRACE. The reason we love…GRACE. The reason we worship…GRACE. The reason we’re living and active everyday…GRACE. I never looked at grace that way before. I always saw it as something I received when I sinned. Nope, its the driving force for why I live and breathe Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow we are going to the Mormon Temple. I’m looking forward to this experience because it’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Please pray for our group that we’ll be open to what God wants us to learn from this visit. Pray that we’ll be on our guard for whatever attacks Satan has planned. Thank you for your support!

And the work finally begins…

Today was a day of two “firsts” on the project! It was a busy day, but very insightful and exciting!

Perspectives, the course teaching us about the World Christian Movement, starts at 9am and ends at 12pm. Yes, it is a 3 hour long class but it surprisingly went by fast! Maybe because I’m actually interested in the material rather than being bored out of my mind ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you everyone who supported me! This class is going to be life-changing towards my outlook on the world. I’ll be seeing it in a strategic-missions mind rather than just a big globe I’m living life on.

Can I please tell you about our first speaker today? His name is Jeff Lewis, maybe you’ve heard of him? I had never heard of him before today. But let me tell you, this is one incredible man of God. He has been to a specific country 25 times (not sure if if I can say where due to safety reasons), taught the Perspectives class 15 times, led several mission trips to Russia in the time of the Soviet Union, is the co-founder of Passion Conferences that started in the 90s and is a husband and father of 7 children! It was such an amazing experience to hear his insight. I took over 2 pages of notes! I cannot wait to hear all of the other speakers planned for the summer…

Everyday after Perspectives class, we have mandatory reading/homework time from 1pm-4pm. That includes a homework sheet and around 5 articles to read. This sounds light, but the articles are long and rich with theology. I haven’t studied much theology so this is going to be stretching for me and many others on the project. Please pray that we’ll endure through the readings and be open to what God wants us to learn!

Tonight after dinner, our small groups met! My small group is going to be wonderful! My leaders are Emily and Laura, then the other girls with me are Vanessa and Madi. We shared accountability questions to ask one another every week, prayer requests, and read a section of 1 John. The whole project is reading 1 John this summer! I’m looking forward to diving deep into this book. Emily read Psalm 90 to us and challenged us to consecrate this summer to the Lord. Make the most of this time and not waste it. This hit me home because my thoughts have already been a distraction for me. Please pray for me, that my thoughts would be that of Philippians 4:8. That is my favorite verse in the Bible.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” ย Philippians 4:8ย 

Thank you once again for supporting me….My summer is already filled with rich education in the Word of God and supportive brothers and sisters to walk alongside with while in California! I’m praying blessings for you all!