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Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Photo Album

Just follow this link and you can see the new pictures!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=566492&id=891755183&l=b691e73ca1

A Year Ago Today

     I can't believe that it was a year ago today that the Lord renewed my call to the mission field; told me it was time to move on from Trinity and go on the mission field. My immediate response was, "No, I'm not ready! Lord who am I? I'm not ready to be a missionary. I can't be a missionary; I have no qualifications, I'm not prepared...no." But God, ever so gently, reminded me of the story of Moses and how he responded the same way; that it wasn't about who Moses was or wasn't but that it was all about Who God Is. And look at what God's done; He's done what I thought was impossible. I'm on the mission field! I'm walking in fulfillment of His promises everyday!
     We went to Bethel Beach yesterday and I was watching these massive waves crash against the cliffs, almost deafened by the sound, and I was just taken so aback by the blessed reality of where God has brought me. A year ago today I was nervous and unsure, my plans once again put through the shredder, my future now up in the air. My future is still up in the air but who cares?! I'M ON THE MISSION FIELD! God's proved true to everything He's ever promised me. He brought me here to New Zealand on a justice DTS and soon I'll be leaving for Thailand. There's nothing my God cannot do! 


     

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm Legit

We got our visas for Thailand!! Exciting day. I've got another beautiful stamp, thing in my passport.



"Kingdom of Thailand" haha I love it!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Revelation

Last night after I posted "Justice is getting messy Part 2" the Lord gave me a revelation. He just said, "Steph, you've forgotten who you were serving." And He just reminded me of the passage in Matthew 25 where He said, "whatever you've done to the least of these you've done unto me." That I wasn't serving Bob but I was serving the Lord in and through Bob. Therefore no matter if a relationship ends, if I'm serving the Lord in and through them, it's not a waste.
I feel like this is a really pivotal lesson to learn in my life and ministry and also an incredibly valuable perspective to have when serving people. Because if I'm putting my hope in man...they're going to fail me but hope in the Lord does not disappoint. So I'm going to keep on looking for the image of God in the broken people of this world and I'm going to sit and serve Him in whatever capacity I'm allowed.
Don't you just feel like a huge sigh of satisfaction and peace at that thought? I do


Doesn't it comfort and excite ya'll to know that you can serve the King of Kings? It's such a simple concept but we make it so complicated. We are a people of complication and God knew that, that's why He told us to have faith like a child; He makes it so simple to grasp. I think of theology and what a complicated, beautiful and intricate thing the Lord is and even though He is so far beyond my mind's capacity He can be grasped by the mind of a child and asks that I have faith like that. That's the heart of the Father right there! It's like He says, "Look I know that things are complicated enough and I just want you to rest in Me. So just have faith like when you were a child and we'll wrestle with the big stuff as we go." Just such tender compassion; ya know?
Crud we just got asked to leave the coffee shop cause we're taking up space for the dinner crowd. I PAID TO BE HERE TOO oh well gtg

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Justice is getting messy Part 2

I've been seeking a lot of counsel both from leaders and from the Lord and I came to the point where I don't feel guilty or ashamed for protecting myself. And so unless there are other people with me I will only be able to say hey to Bob in passing. But I'm just learning that safety and obedience go hand in hand. God's not going to send me into situations that cause me to fear because God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. (2Tim 1:7) And should my Lord send me into a dangerous situation then it probably will be unbeknown to me because perfect love casts out all fear. (1John 4:18) I'm not afraid now but I can't be stupid.

So now that my mother is at peace that her daughter isn't hanging out with a potential rapist I can continue. I'm really battling with not getting discouraged right now. I really had a lot of hope in the idea that I can befriend anyone and that the Lord would use that; and not that I think my ways are thrashed it's just discouraging when a friendship fails. When you find out that someone isn't who you thought they were. The idea that Bob didn't see me as a friend but as a potential target both disheartens me and makes me so mad at sin! That when I talked with him that in his eyes he probably saw a young beautiful girl taking interest in him (probably with some sexual connotation because guys do think about sex every 7 seconds) and not seeing a compassionate follower of Christ. And honestly if I had a penis this would not be an issue! If I was a man then I could still be this guys friend. 
"Well Steph you can have an impact with women that men can't."
Very true and valid point. However I don't pass women on a daily basis on K Rd. Believe me if there were more women on the streets that I walk I would be pouring into them and I would be blogging about them. And it's not like I sought out a relationship with a man it just happened so I just went with the flow never looking from an outward perspective at what was or could be going on. I don't do that with people on a day to day; why would I do it now? I hate being limited because of my gender. And I know I need to not look at it so much as a limitation but as an opportunity. In Thailand it will be nothing but an opportunity and an instant connection. But it goes beyond that; I feel like God has given me so much love and passion for people, a love that isn't gender specific, and it just frustrates me to not be able to pour it out on whomever I come by that needs it. IT'S NOT FAIR! 
I know that God made me a woman for a specific purpose and that all I have to do is obey the Lord at His leading. I just need to know where my place on K Rd is now. I've got less than 3 weeks left and one of the major friendships I've made has just had a huge wrench thrown in it. 
Bottom line SIN SUCKS! 

Please pray for protection from getting discouraged and that I would take away some sort of lesson from all this and once again find my place on K Rd. But most of all pray for Bob. Please pray for my friend that his mind would be healed and that someone would come into his life that can be the hands and feet of Jesus that I couldn't be. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Justice is getting messy

     So I had a coffee with my street friend Bob today and he really opened up. We've been talking and hanging out for a while now and I felt comfortable enough to ask him why he's on the streets. He's always talking about the businesses he owns, his homes, etc but yet he's begging on K Rd wearing the same outfit everyday. So I asked him and he told me how his business, as a sheep farmer, had been sued because he refused to do business with Indian people. Then he told me how since then he's been tried in court for murder in the first degree and rape. YIKES!!!! What do you do with that information? I immediately and naturally began to feel uncomfortable for the first time since knowing him. What was once so natural and so organic immediately took on a different nature; ignorance truly is bliss. He told me how he has won every case, which still begs the question why he's still on the streets, and then he went on about politics and government yada yada. I really did have somewhere else to be and he knew that going into it so I said my goodbyes and we went our separate ways. I saw him walking down Queens on my way back from running my errand and for the first time since I've been in this relationship I didn't want him to see me.
     I say all this to my shame. Why should one piece of information change the way I look at someone? On Friday we all spent hours confessing our sins and struggles in front of each other and I didn't blink an eyelid; I didn't judge them or think differently of them; why would I they're my friends? Wait isn't that what Bob is too....my friend? Why then the difference?
     I know that the Son of God would continue on............I just.........ugh! These are the things that come into my mind; "Is it safe? Is it smart/wise? Is it appropriate as a young woman to be with a 42 year old man like that? Why does Bob smile at me and swear at men?" Lots of questions and I have a lot of sensible safe answers to silence those questions but yet the Kingdom of God I've committed myself to arouses them back up again. And what then comes to mind is, "If he's my friend; what's the difference? How is his sin any different than mine? You don't even know if he's guilty or not. What does Bob need? What did Jesus do?" Whether Bob is innocent or guilty, the biggest question in my mind is; "Jesus associated with criminals; should I?" 
     I know what people would say but I don't concern myself too much with what people say as much as I do with what my Savior will say. Is my love conditional or unconditional? Is my friendship circumstantial? If I truly believe that I've made a friendship with this man, which I believe I have, these questions need to be answered if I'm to continue. Because I'm going to keep finding things out about my street friends that make my natural woman feel uncomfortable; am I going to chicken out or am I going to push through?
     Henrik Ibsen said, "A man should never put on his best trousers when he goes out to battle for freedom and truth." In other words, justice is messy. Am I willing to get dirty? Am I willing to see things through? Is my commitment to justice and righteousness strong enough to put myself at risk?.....we'll find out.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How do you blog the indescribable?

     This week's speaker was Mark Parker. First impression: crazy, loud, charismatic, and passionate. Final impression?- Still the same but I love him for all of it.
     He spoke on the Lordship of Christ and boy did he challenge us; he was literally in our face at times. It was uncomfortable because he was showing us how in our shells we really were; but I think I speak for us all when I say that we're so glad he did. We are not the same group of people that we were on Monday or even Friday morning for that matter.
     We had an amazing time of worship on Friday where we went through a New Testament Tabernacle. We worshipped from 9AM to about 11:30 at night. We worshipped in so many different forms and each step increased in intimacy. God's presence was so thick and so sweet. I wish I could describe it but that's what happens when you encounter the Indescribable God; you're lost for words. A lot of it is all blurred together and I can't remember exact words but there are some things that you don't need to remember word for word because your spirit remembers well and it satisfies the mind. (Wow I'm getting deep haha)
     In my last blog and this past week I wrote how I was feeling established and fulfilled well that was only increased on Friday when the Lord again confirmed something that happened when I was six years old; reminded me that I am a prophet. I don't know how to prophesy, I just know my Dad's voice and I know how to obey. I just pray that I will do it; I need to...no more excuses, no more apologies.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

thoughts out loud

     Weeks are starting to go by really fast. On one side I really wish they'd slow down because I'm so absolutely in love with this city, the people, and the experience that I don't want it to end; however I am very excited about Thailand! It's so cool to look at the teams for outreach and to look back and see, "Wow God, You really did handpick these teams!" It's cool as!

     Looking back I can really see how God has made me more "confident" (for lack of a better word) about being a woman in ministry and in leadership in particular. Past confrontations with differing opinions about women in leadership made me uncomfortably cautious with being who God has made me to be. He's made me to be a leader, He's put that in me. So being here and getting a healthy perspective, encouragement, and opportunities to be in leader roles has really helped give me back the level of affirmation (if that's even the word I'm looking for) that I think I've been and will be in need of. If there's one word that I could use to describe what God's been doing in me this DTS it would be "fulfillment". I'll hash that all out when it gets closer to the end of lecture phase; so you'll just have to suffer with anticipation.

     I've made a break through in communication with an "unapproachable" of K'Rd. Most times if you see her she's stumbling down the street screaming and shouting profanities at all who look at her. But God opened a door for me to talk and sit with her. She totally opened up and told me her whole life story. I didn't ask any questions I just listened and gave her a pair of eyes to look into that didn't judge or look down on her but eyes that had compassion on her. I invited her to community lunch but she didn't show, even though she said she would come...but we'll keep trying. Her name is Diana if you want to pray for her. I've got 4 weeks left and I really hope that, since God's given me an open door, I'll be able to just get her plugged into community lunch so that this "break through" wouldn't be in vain.
     She told me how she hates it when people pass her by and look down on her like she's ugly and like she's a freak. She said that she used to be beautiful when she was a child and that her dad started abusing her and then she no longer felt beautiful. That she's been a glue sniffer, a paint huffer and now an alcoholic all in attempts to somehow cope with the pain. And to think that all we see are drunkards......Lord forgive us! I encourage you all to read "God In The Alley" by Greg Paul. It really taught me to look for the image of God in people on the streets, because they are, in fact, made in His image; their situations don't change that. And thank God that they don't! I don't even want to begin to think about what my life would look like without that truth reigning over me.

Also feel free to post comments or email me anytime at passionate247@live.com. It's always extremely encouraging to get emails and such just to know that people are there :-).

Until next time this has been "thoughts out loud" by Stephanie Haha goodnight

Monday, November 15, 2010

Back Up

Ok so for two weeks, I think, I've been without my computer and I've been working from my ipod (which thank you God and family for that blessing) but thanks to my wonderful mother who speedily got me a new computer cord, I'm now back on. Praise the Lord
                          P.S. the last blog post was all typed out from my ipod. Can some one say, "Wow"

      This past week we had a guest speaker Etienne come and speak to us. He's from South Africa and has an amazing testimony of how God delivered him from gangs, satan worship, and a life of pain; awesome guy. He spoke to us on the Father heart of God. And I know a lot of people had a hard time with that because of their father's not being there or maybe their dad's were there physically but not emotionally; but God blessed me with an amazing father and so grasping the Father heart of God is not something that's foreign to me. I don't know why God's blessed me as opposed to others but I know that God reveals His goodness in different ways and He never leaves us wanting. (I say all that not to boast in my life of privilege but in the goodness of the Lord and in the life of my dad who is a powerful example of God's heart.) Both of my parents model the Father and Mother Heart of God so exquisitely. And I just want to praise them for the wonderful example that they've been to me and for me. Parents make all the difference. These past weeks of teaching and just being reminded of my parents has really made me excited to be a parent myself...whenever that may be.
      There's been one memory in particular of my dad that I haven't been able to shake since the first week; I don't remember how old I was but when I was young you could always find me up in one of the cherry trees in back of my house and one time I got stuck up there. My dad came out to me and was telling me to jump and that he would catch me. I was, of course, scared and crying and my dad asked me, "Steph, do you trust me?" And because I trusted my dad that he would catch me and not drop me, I jumped. And I really think that this is something that the Lord wants me to keep on the forefront of my mind for the coming season; that I need to trust Him, trust my Dad, and jump.
     The option to stay in New Zealand and staff has been brought up and if I had to make a decision right now I'd say, "YES!" 100%. However, I want to follow God not my own wants or desires. So I'm just waiting to receive some confirmation and a peace about where to go and what to do. I'm also looking at some other schools within YWAM; whatever I do I definitely want to stay connected with YWAM. I feel like it's a great support system to have, especially if I'm going to be pioneering some kind of ministry. Josie helped give me some really good perspective on my idea for ministry; to not look at is as a fully formed vision but to look at it more as an embryo- something that needs to mature, develop and grow. With that perspective in mind I'm trying to find which door the Lord wants me to walk through. So ya'll can be praying that God would give me clarity, wisdom and confirmation about which road to take.
  
Update on Outreach:
We will be going to Phuket. And we'll be working with an organization called, SHE. All I know so far is that it's going to be hot and we are going to be wearing button up shirts. :-) Can someone say, "NERDS FOR JESUS!" Too bad I torched all my button ups from Cornerstone; not that I'd still be able to fit into them but let's not go there shall we. (Which allow me to insert a little bit of vanity in this blog right here: I am loosing weight at a pretty awesome pace. My clothes are all too big for me and I'm on the last notch of my belt. Ok whew that felt good)
















Well that's it for now. I uploaded some more pictures so enjoy: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=549268&id=891755183&l=39ad5dbe61

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Half Way Point

I can't believe that lecture phase is halfway done! On one hand it feels like we've been here forever (I'm sure my family can relate to that) but on the other hand it feels like we haven't been here long enough to be HALF WAY THROUGH. My internal time-keeping-system is in need of a reboot. 
    Let's start off on a funny note; shall we? I've grown a deep appreciation for washing and drying machines. The city is a very expensive place to live and so I've tried to cut costs wherever possible. The biggest cut/adjustment was to start washing and drying my clothes by hand. Thank God for Alva J. Fisher who invented the first electric washing machine. (Yeah I looked it up! I have that deep of a respect for the man now) Not only are my hands raw from ringing out my clothes , which refuse to stop trying to hold on to as much water as possible, but my room has a funky wet smell now. I'm also pretty sure that all these tiny cuts on my hands will never heal now because they've been soaked in laundry detergent. On the plus side though I have a special bond with my clothes now....well not too special since I hate them and the whole nude-colony concept is becoming ever so more attractive. Maybe nude colonists are just a bunch of people who hate doing laundry; if that's the case then I may have found my tribe. 
     Also some info about Thailand that I have yet to reveal is that I'm leaving December 15, so I'll be spending Christmas in Thailand. It was a team decision and I'm really excited about it because Thailand is stinking cheap! Plus the idea of getting to ride an elephant for Christmas just makes my heart spin. Another reason why we all decided it would be good is because we'll have that week off, so we will have plenty of time to go through culture shock, get adjusted, scratch our travel bug, and get settled before we go out an serve amongst the slums and brothels. Also we still don't yet know where we are going but it will either be Pattaya or Phuket. Both are in the south and are MAJOR destinations for sex tourism. There really is no other reason people venture to those areas of Thailand except to buy sex. So we'll be doing a lot of work in that area. 

     Now onto this week....this week was tough but really picked up on the tail end. A short summary of why it was tough: missing family and them missing me + friends struggling and me being so out of reach +  misunderstandings + my own shortcomings + emotional weight that comes with awareness of injustices= a tough week. But like I said, it picked up. Thursday God gave me a major pick up, He gave me hope for my future. This week Josie's been teaching on having a biblical worldview and put a lot of emphasis on how we separate the physical and the spiritual (for example: saying that being a missionary is spiritual but being a businessman is secular when in fact both are profoundly spiritual). Also we learned a lot about how unbiblical it is to think that we are bound by our resources, which is in fact a very Naturalistic way of thinking. So Thursday we did an exercise where we wrote down our dreams. I didn't really have any dreams, just a bunch of ideas that I thought were all lacking. But before she announced that we were doing the exercise I had jotted down an idea, so when she said we were writing down our dreams I thought, "This isn't my dream it's just an idea." So I meditated on the idea I had just jotted down and the more and more I thought about it the more and more I realized that it was not only a summation of so many ideas I've had both before and at this dts, but it also spoke so much to who I am and to my passions. So I wrote it down on the poster and as I wrote it developed, blossomed and made me incredibly excited. My idea is to combine justice, music, art and missions together. I would go and live with people, learn about the injustice they face, learn their stories and find out what they need to start seeing change. I would then return home and write songs, record those songs- making CDs, paint pictures, draw drawings that tell these people's stories and sell all these things. 100% of the profits go to helping the need that the people voiced and also serves to raise awareness among people. Once these people start making progress I would then go back to them and shift from being the story teller to the story facilitator. I would help them, if they need it, learn how to express themselves and tell their stories through song, music and art; record their sounds, dances, dramas, whatever their gift is and sell those. 100% still going back to them which allows to tell their story (raising awareness and giving them pride, hope and dignity), to find restoration, and to have an income. There could be concerts where they come together and perform, there could be documentaries...the possibilities and projects are endless. We watched a documentary called, "War Dance" that affirmed everything I had written down because it showed the healing power of the arts and how much potential there is for my dream. 
     So yeah that gave me so much hope and really took a lot of pressure off to figure out the near future. Friday we watched another documentary called "Mugabe and the White African". WATCH IT! There is so much going on that we don't hear about on our news but that we as carriers of justice, aka Christians, should be acting on. 
     That night, since it was the fifth of November, which some how merits fireworks because of some guy who tried to blow up Parliament...., we went to the top of Mount Eden and watched fireworks. You could see fireworks going off all over Auckland it was so cool! Then yesterday we went on our weekend activity which was to go to Piha; it's the most famous and dangerous beach in all of New Zealand. It has black sand, wild penguins, massive waves and healing power for us emotional ywamers. It is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen and has ruined my ability to enjoy any other beach. I got to see a real penguin up close and personal in a cave, unfortunately it was old and had went there to die. But I climbed on the rocks, played with the sea annenomies, explored, and watched the massive waves crash on the rocks. It was so good! Then we got to go to Pack-N-Save (a grocery store)!!!! Why am I so excited? Because there are none within walking distance in Auckland city and it is so much cheaper than anything you'll find in these little jiffy stores they have in the city. It was glorious. 

     So that was last week, I'm not sure what next week holds but it'll be good. I'm growing and seriously being stretched, which is a good thing. Love you guys and pics will be up soon