3 Years Ago...I was in another land

Four years ago, when I first moved to Colorado, I started attending a church called New Life Church. It was the biggest church I had ever been to and decided I wanted to get involved in their college ministry, theMill. One Friday night, the college Pastor announced that theMill was having their annual Fall Retreat, so I decided to sign up with some new friends and go :) On that retreat, not only did I experience the Lord in a whole new way, made new friends, and felt more at home in a new state and city...I watched a movie clip of where the upcoming missions trip was to, and it was to a place I've wanted to go to since I was about three or four years old. I first became aware of this country when my parents told me about a little girl they sent money to every month and would receive letters from her updating them about her life, her school, and her family. This little girls name was Mildred and she live in Kenya, Africa! I prayed for her everyday and called her my sister :) My parents sponsored her (through Compassion International ...you should too!) up until she found a nice, Christian young man to get married to. Ever since I first learned about her, I wanted more than anything to go to Africa. I told myself that was a goal I would accomplish before I died. So, once I saw that video of where theMill was going in missions that year, my heart jumped with joy and I asked the Lord, "If it's Your will Lord, please make the way for me to go!"

Fast forward about 4-ish weeks later, I struggled in my heart if I really wanted to go or not. I would be on a team with all new people (and for the introvert side of me, that sounded like the worst idea ever), the money seemed impossible to attain, and I would have to leave the comfort of my home, my family, and my boyfriend for two weeks (doesn't seem like that long, but it did to me). Oh, and I forgot to mention....it would be my first time over seas on a missions trip...and my first time in a Third World Country! Fear overtook me, doubts screamed in my ears, yet, there was such a huge part of me that so desired to go. I will forever remember the moment the Lord spoke to me about Africa. Let me explain one thing...I'm not one to hear the Lord's voice loud and clear really ever. I hate that, but it's true. I can count the times I've heard the Lord speak to me loud and clear on one hand. This particular Sunday was one of those moments. I was standing in worship at the 11 o'clock service, next to James, the day the first deposit and the application was due. I had been battling whether or not to get my stuff turned in or just wait for the next opportunity (not knowing if there would ever be another opportunity). Well, in the middle of the song "Mighty to Save," I heard Him say, "Go." HA! That was it. And I stood there in shock, not knowing what to do or say. All I remember doing was leaning over to James and whispering in his ear, "I'm gonna go to Africa."

I turned in my application and first deposit that day, and then started the long process of writing support letters and sending them off to friends and family, buying all the necessary items, practicing packing my one backpack I could take for two weeks, meeting and getting to know my new teammates, team building, Africa meetings every week, getting my passport, shots, Malaria pills, and preparing my heart to say 'Goodbye' to the people I love more than anything, and 'Hello' to a whole new world! Before I knew it, I was being sent out by theMill and by Sunday service...me along with 250 other college students who were all ready to spread the name of Jesus to 5 different countries!

In the two weeks that I was there I saw God answer prayers, people get healed, worked harder than I think I ever have, held some of the most precious children I have ever seen, heard stories that left me in tears and in shock, ate some amazing authentic African food (and some of the best fresh mango's EVER), bonded with incredible people, was challenged in more ways than I could ever describe, and given a passion to go around the world and see Christ's name glorified. Africa changed me....and so many times I get caught up in life here, in the U.S., with all the materialistic crap and day to day things that, in the real scheme of life, don't really matter. If given the chance to go back to Uganda, I would go in an instant. No questions asked. And I will go back one day...because that place, that small village I stayed in, left a mark on my heart that will never go away.

I miss everything about Africa... the beautiful people, the simplicity of praising Jesus everyday while working my tail end off (and not having a care in the world I was sunburned, sweaty, and wearing the same clothes for days at a time), and playing with children, who, without even knowing it, challenged me more than I have been before and filled me with a joy that I longed to have for so long and continue to long for!

{I have hundreds of pictures I could post, but this one is my favorite...and I could have written a novel about my trip, but I figured no one would really take the time to read it! Maybe I'll write more another time}


Heaven is For Real

The other day, as I was nannying two of the cutest kids I know, I decided it was time to read the book Heaven is For Real. I had a few people tell me it was such a great book and if I needed a book to read, to take some time to read that one. I'm so glad that I did...it's one of those books that really opens your eyes to what the Lord can do, what he does in the hearts of little people, and how much He really, really, really does love all his children.
Heaven is For Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who, during emergency surgery, slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.
Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and His chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us. 
Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle. (source)
I'll be honest, this book tested my faith and I questioned whether the Lord really would take a small boy to heaven during an operation. I don't want to sound like I doubt that's what the Lord did, it's just a concept that is so hard for me to grasp. I know that He is fully capable of doing so...and after reading this book, oh how my heart desires to catch a glimpse of what heaven is like!

I absolutely loved how often Colton would say, "Jesus really really loves the children," I was reminded how much He really does love children. He absolutely loves their childlike faith, and calls us, adults, to have that. That's hard for me, to have such a childlike faith and not worry about life or try to control different situations, or even question God and what He does. But deep down in my heart, that's what I truly desire. I desire to have that childlike faith that every child has...that I once had. I want that wonder and awe of what Christ did for me. I want that synergy of trust, hope, and unpretentiousness that knows the Lord loves me and will lead me. I want to see the world as exciting and adventurous, and worth pursuing with my faith so that opportunities to please God override my complacency and the attitude of "been there, done that." It's the childlike faith that enables us to maintain our humbleness and enthusiasm and not become just a subculture or routine. I desire for my faith, my actions, and my attitude to be authentic, and not just when I feel like it's a good opportunity to display faith.

It's a challenge I'm giving to myself, because I know how much I want it and how much I want others to see a childlike faith in me! Go read Heaven is For Real! I think it'll open your eyes to the many wonders of the Lord and how much He really really does love His children!


Father's Day

Father's Day is a bittersweet day for me. On one hand my brother and I get to spoil and love on my Dad for a whole entire day making sure he knows how much he's loved and cherished (although this should happen everyday) and on the other hand, it was the dreadful day my Mom made it very clear that she was done and divorcing Dad.....sigh.

My Dad is one amazing man! Yes, he's completely human and makes mistakes and says things he shouldn't, but he's also the man who has been a godly example to me my entire growing up and even more so the past two years. He's a man of humility, loyalty, and he's been the prime example of forgiveness. If it wasn't for having a steady solid man and father figure in my life, who knows where I would be! Since walking through the journey of James and I, Dad has been my number one, biggest supporter and the one to constantly remind me to forgive, let the past go, and see James how Christ sees him. It's been so very hard, but with Dad being the encouraging voice in my ear, I know that I can do it. I miss my Dad so very much and truly wish we lived in the same city....actually, the same state would be nice :) But this is only a season...and one day I'll get to see my Dad more than just once every few months. Just thinking about that makes my heart jump with joy!

Dad, if you ever read this, know how much I love you and cherish you and am so blessed to call you my Dad. Life just wouldn't be the same without you. And even though there are times I get annoyed with phone calls and the "dad questions", I really do appreciate them more than I let on. I don't think I will ever be able to get out of the habit of talking to you every day :) I miss you so much and love you and can't wait to squeeze your neck in July!!! Thank you for being my Dad, my encourage-er, my supporter (mentally, physically, and financially), and the one who makes me laugh by telling some of the most retarded jokes I've ever heard ;) 

I love you
{Dad and I...on the Father's Day that my Mom said she was done....this is a special picture, with a lot of memories attached...more than I could ever explain}


Summer Dayz

Oh, the glorious days of drinking green tea frappuccinos, listening to young children splash in the pool, and basking in the warm sun rays whilst getting a summery glow to my ghostly white skin. It makes this girls heart very happy!

I have been waiting for sun filled days for months and months and months. You would think that after living in snowy Colorado for almost four years, this California girl would adjust to the weather changes, but I really haven't when I take time to think about it. Since resigning from my job in May, I have had the opportunity to take time for myself to lay out by the pool and enjoy some "me" time and it has been some of the best "me" time in a long time (beside for the nights I get to sit in a hot bubble bath with lots of candles filling the bathroom and soft music playing in the background...which are few and far between actually!). This afternoon I was laying out and there were only a few people out, which was really nice. There were only two loud children instead of 100, haha! But as I was lying there, I started thinking about the days of when my brother and I were little and we would spend hour upon hour out in the water. We would have races across the pool, see who could hold their breathe underwater the longest, have underwater-somersault competitions until we were so dizzy we couldn't see straight, and we would even pick on Mom when she was out laying on her floaty device trying to tan! We grew up in such an amazing neighborhood that all the kids would spend all afternoon and evening together in the summer, riding bicycles, skateboards, and roller-blades. Having water gun fights, playing hide-n-go seek till the street lights came on, slip and sliding down the front lawn, and even days where it would get so hot out, that we would all end up in someones house playing video games and eating Popsicle's. 

So many summer memories, so many pictures, so many laughs. It was so fun to lay out by the pool today, daydreaming about days of old, and thinking back on all the wonderful summer days my brother and I had growing up! It gets me all excited inside to have a family of my own one day to spend hours at the pool, splashing and having swim races, riding bikes and skateboards till the sun sets, going on family camping trips, picnics, and eating lots and lots of yummy summer snacks.

Next week I start nannying for the summer...two children for just one week, and then another two children (two girls, ages 8 and 5) for the whole month of July. I couldn't be more excited to spend time with kids again, enjoying summer days. And the way the jobs worked out was totally the Lord! 

Now, as I sit here in my nice air conditioned apartment after soaking in the hot, hot sun, I shall drink a bottle of water and start crafting :) 


Kingdom Heart

"When a woman has a kingdom heart, she has an active understanding of what matters most to the heart of God. She lives in the balance of passion and contentment. She learns to love well, give without regard to self, and forgive without hesitation. The woman with a kingdom heart may have a duffel bag full of possessions or enough treasures to fill a mansion, but she has learned to hold them with an open hand. Hold everything with open hands. I don't think we are ever allowed to grab hold of anything or anyone as though they matter more than the kingdom of heaven. When you hold relationships with open hands, then people come in and out of your life as gifts of grace to be cherished and enjoyed, not objects to be owned and manipulated. And then when you hold your dreams with open hands, you get to watch God resurrect what seemed dead and multiply what seemed small." - Casey Weigand


Just Another Monday Morning

So, here I am....another Monday morning without a job, sitting in my nice comfy bed, surrounded by big fluffy pillows, drinking a big glass of juice in my favorite mug, listening to the sound of lawn mowers and drilling. 95% of the people I know are at work right now, making a living, some doing what they love to do (others, not so much), and here I am, three weeks after resigning from my job, wondering when I'm going to find something. Thankfully I have been extremely blessed with people in my life that encourage me everyday..."The Lord knows where you are going to work, Autumn. Trust Him. And keep to your budget!" Haha...that last part is important because most days when I'm bored, I want to go buy something....either a new dress or pair of shoes or more craft supplies (as if I don't have enough already...of all three of those things, haha). But not only is the whole waiting for a job to come through season tough, but it seems as though this season in life in general is tough. You see...
My best friend and I have worked through so so much the past few months that it's amazing where we are now, but because of us taking time to work on us and work through all the ick, we seem to have lost (probably not lost, but that's what it looks like in my head) our community of friends. We've tried to hang out with a few throughout this week, but it just hasn't worked out and with my personality, most days I just get hard-headed and say, "forget about it! I'm done." And then there's James...encouraging me once again that because we took the time we needed to work on our relationship, we can now work on rebuilding relationships with those who have been there for us through all the junk and regaining a community again. 
And then there's the whole church thing. This is where I am so frustrated that it's hard for me to even try to have patience. I desire more than anything to have a church community that I (and we) can go to, get involved in, grow, and have a solid community of friends again. This has become so hard because well, we don't have any dating friends anymore. The friends we grew closest to are now married and in a different season of life, the church we liked to call home, James said he wouldn't want to go again because of how some things transpired, the church he started to go to and invited me to, I won't go to anymore because in my heart I know that's not home (and I don't want to get connected in a college group with a ton of single people, because I'm not in that season anymore). So....now, we're on the hunt again for a place to call home, where we can find mentors to invest in us, help us grow, challenge us, and find a group of friends to do life with, have fun with, and grow with. 

I'm a day dreamer and a thinker and because of this, I see things going a certain way in my head. I see how life has been, how hard and challenging it's been, and now I see what it can be like, how beautiful it can be. I see how I want it to be...and it's just not there yet. Then again, that's what I want, not necessarily what the Lord has in mind, haha! So, as I sit here in my bed on this beautiful Monday morning, thinking about this unknown season of life and knowing deep down the Lord has me here for a reason, I will trust Him, get out of bed, go down by the pool, read a book, bask in the sun, and enjoy the little moments that I get to have. And pray that in this season of waiting for a job and waiting for a community, that my heart will be at peace, knowing that He really does have everything under control!