October 18 2016
Something I've realized during my last few days in Guatemala is how much I love seeing & being in a foreign land. There's something about being overseas that makes me feel content. Maybe it's because when I'm overseas I'm doing what we're all called to do on a 24/7 basis. To serve the Lord diligently. Often times when I'm in America I get caught up with doing & accomplishing a tight schedule of doing this or that because I get paid for it. There's something about volunteering your time & surrendering your time to the Lord when responsibilities are low. How do we incorporate that into our daily lives when we are back home from missions trips that make an incredible impact & life change? How do we continue making an impact on the people around us every day that are our hometown? How do you go from a high & come home to an empty apartment... Or just slip right back into the routine & mundane.
Something I've also been thinking about are the people who stay here while I go overseas, or just on a weekend retreat. I think about the people on staff at The Oasis Girls Home & wonder how they feel that they are always the people who stay. They told us that they average 17 teams of people a year traveling to & from The Oasis to minister to the girls & the staff. Is there a high when teams arrive & a really low low when they leave? My mom was uber excited when I got home from this trip, I decided this time I was going to try to be excited to be home, because the truth is, I'm not. Though I had an awesome day of rest yesterday, and the baby I'm nannying for is a super easy, awesome kid, I'm somehow missing the uncomfortable smells & bed I was a part of when I was in Guatemala. I am somehow missing the lack of communication with out a translator in between. I am somehow missing a sense of not knowing where I am or how to get from one place to another.
What does this mean? Go? - just like Jesus asked, to go & make disciples? Or does it mean to stay for another year and another year unsure of my happiness & contentment.
Don't worry, I'm not leaving The States anytime soon, but just like I knew I would release an album one day, I know one day soon The Lord may ask me to GO in a physical manner to serve him not in the boarders of the U.S. Of A.
Oct 15 2016
Things you probably want me to blog about while in Guatemala :
I already told you we had fish the other night for dinner and it was delicious! Other foods we had were;
- beans & rice...every time I had rice it was phenomenal
- fish tacos
- fish fajitas
- grilled chicken
- I've realized I'm not a fan of corn tortillas. I prefer flour by far!
- hibiscus tea is awesome!
- pop tarts in the team room almost every morning! :)
Interesting facts about our lodging;
- in Guatemala ...along w many other countries in the world, you cannot lush your toilet paper. So every time one uses the toilet, one puts the tp in the waste basket ...hence the name I suppose. Many of the American women were excited to be able to flush their paper when they landed in Houston.
- in the mountains where we stayed, since it's rainy season, most damp items, like towels & laundry don't dry easily, this reminded me of when I was in China. It seemed like my clothes were never dry & always smelled interesting. ...that's the way I am feeling on the plane ride home ;)
- don't drink the agua, unless it's out of the jug in the team room. ...though it's ok to shower in as well as brush your teeth!
Lake Atitilon is beautiful. Three volcanos surround the lake & is quite the site to see.
The car rides with people who have not been out of The US are entertaining, yet somehow frustrating. I find myself often comparing other foreign lands to Uganda since I've been there a few times. When conditions are not as harsh or rough as in Uganda such as transportation, I always chime in saying it is worse in Uganda. Sometimes I wish I kept my mouth shut and just allow people to take it all in how they need to process. ..but I'm a realist. I want to make people aware that more than half of our world live & work in conditions such as the ones we saw while in Central America. I think it's important to recognize that the way we do life is not better or worse than those in other countries with different cultures, it's just different, and we need to respect that. ...as do they need to respect us as we adjust to their lives & society.
October 12-14 2016
The weather was perfect today at The Oasis. A light sweater, jeans & my red Toms. I am guilty that some of my blogs may blend together, it's been difficult to be motivated to hop on the Internet. It is sparse here & with 15 other women trying to get online to contact their families or upload pictures, it makes me not even want to be online.
We had fish last night for dinner & it was SO good, I am so thankful for the Tia's who made it for us!! I had many favorite parts of yesterday, so let me begin!
One thing that has been a blessing on this trip is hearing the girls sing my song Morning Light. They remembered it from two years ago & requested I sing it this morning! How cool. Sometimes I don't think I'm living in reality. Last time I was here I sat in the congregation for the Wednesday night devotional they have here on campus. This year, I am co leading with the girls worship team & giving the devotional! What an opportunity. We had practice last night and it was incredible to see these girls passion for their instruments & in worship to the Lord. We had a few moments to spare at the end of practice so we worked on harmonies with the vocalists. It was so fun! One of the themes of this years women's retreat at the Oasis was 'Transformation'. It's amazing for the staff & visitors here at the Oasis to see the transformation in the girls lives that come to this place of refuge. When they arrive almost 100% of them are not Christian. As the staff & missionaries share the love of Christ with them daily, they are transformed into beautiful girls who fear the Lord in a mighty way!! Oh to have their childlike faith. During practice it was incredible to sing alongside the girls in Spanish. We sang familiar worship songs like Hosanna Rock (hand motions included!) as well as Good Good Father. Though we were loud & out of tune, it was SO sweet to see & hear & be a part of this worship service. After singing, the house moms (Tia's, aunt in Spanish) and girls had an opportunity to share a testimony of what God was doing in their homes that week, or give a praise for someone doing something great or showing improvement in their house. Though only a few were translated, it was clear these girls & women had thankful hearts. After about 20 people shared & gave God praise for his goodness, I started the devotional.
Something I've been reminding myself lately is to think about what it true (Phil 4). One of those reminders is; God is good. ALL THE TIME. No matter how we are feeling, what we are doing or how long we've been waiting, God is constantly good. I think this message was good for the team to hear as well as the people at the Oasis. I ended our short devo time with a song some friends of mine wrote called This is Not the End. It talks about how our past/history doesn't define us or our future, God created us beautifully & for so much more...just wait & see! How exciting to think about the plans the Lord has for those He loves!!
One part of the women's retreat we are hosting here in Guatemala is splitting up into small groups after our large group session. We hear someone speak on one topic & then break into our groups to dig deeper in the scriptures & lesson that was just heard. I had 3 women in my group that were the same as two years ago! How incredible it was to catch up with these ladies & continue doing life with them!! It's amazing to see that we as women (& people in general) are wired the same! All around the world we are struggling with the same relationship issues -- and we had come together to try to fire things out! Seeking wisdom for each other, it never fails me to see The Lord moving in our midst even through a translator.
One day this week I was pulled out of our small group time to help with the girls who are home schooled at the Oasis. Out of the 60 girls maybe 20 stay on campus for school. At a specific time the girls who have babies were allowed to back to the house when they had to feed them, but came right back over to be with the group when they were finished. It was exam week so we just helped if they had questions & as soon as they were done we got to go outside & play! Lynette & I attempted to play soccer... 15 minutes into the game I called the goalie position ha! .... And blocked every shot that came my way!! It was nice to just be outside & play a sport they loved dearly.
...more to come!
The Morning of Oct 12 2016
The birds wake up at 5:36 here, and today so did I. It was a long night. Not because it was cold like the first night - I got smart & wore my fuzzy socks & long pj pants to bed instead of no socks & shorts. I tried to cling onto the newly recent fall weather Indiana was experiencing back home but it's not reality in the mountains.
One thing mission trips do to most people is make us aware of how fragile & tender our own hearts are as human beings. They remind us we were created by an intricate, loving, intimate God. It's important to remember or be on high alert when doing missions work, whether it's in The States, in your home or across the globe... Spiritual warfare is real & when ones heart is tender es muy importante to protect your thoughts & your heart.
Last night after our team huddle, our hearts were tender. Hearing the highs & lows of 16 women, realizing the reality of the fallen sinful world we live in played out by 6-14 year old girls is not easy to witness. When I got back to my room I was excited to sleep! .. But The Lord had other plans. Recently I've been having trouble planning my day to day life, sometimes it stresses me out to plan a meal with someone during the week & that's not ok when I'm supposed to be preparing team devotionals & learning new songs for the trip ;)
I realized last night though that it is ok to plan day to day, week to week, moment by moment at times. My plan of sleeping ended up with me reaching for my phone countless times to jot down notes for the devotional I am leading for our entire group (including The Oasis staff!) on Wednesday. It was encouraging to see The Spirit moving ----- even more so when one of my roomies came back into the room an hour after I had plopped into bed. I heard her wresting through some pages in her Bible so I decide to acknowledge the noise & roll over to see what she was up to. Anxiety was high & anxiousness seemed to be ruling over her peace, & THAT was not ok w me. We talked, we prayed, we sent the lies she was believing back to hell where they belong --- the MOST encouraging part of the night was when we had just finished praying I was contemplating reading Psalm 23 over mi amiga before we slept. I went back & forth in my head to do it & was glad I did. We found a note in my friends Bible I had written over a year ago that was like the conversation we JUST had & prayed about moments ago. LITERALLY specific words were used in our conversation that were written in that note. It was such a great encouragement to my friend & I to know how detailed The Lord is. My friend said she didn't even know that note was still in her Bible & it just fell out when I picked it up to read. God Himself was reminding of He is faithful; He hears us, He sees us, He is patient with us & he has steadfast persistent love for His people. -- including each person, each child, each house mom, each staff member, each woman on this trip, & YOU. God is the God who does not forsake His people; the innocent, the hurt, the wounded, the ones seeking after His righteousness. God knows us better than we know ourselves, may He continue to remind us of that so we can surrender our every fiber & being back to Him.
So just when I thought I was bunkered down in my bed to sleep at 9:06 pm... God had me living moment by moment, surrendering my time to him, and I fell asleep at midnight. What do You have in store for us today Lord?
Guatemala Day One
Oct 9 2016
The first sound of the morning wasn't a rooster crowing, for sure that's what I thought I would hear the first moments I woke up in Guatemala. There were only a few stray dogs I heard in the very distance in the night ...these are the sounds I look forward to when traveling overseas. Today we are going to local church. We met a group of people on the plane from California who may be going to the same church. One of the pastors is speaking, so their may be a possibility of us understanding his English! One question crossed my mind when I woke up thinking about our day, 'What are we all doing here?' What inside of us has cultivated a desire to board a couple flights to the unknown for a week or more? To hop into a culture that is not our own....which has a different language, different foods, different day to day activities, different ways of doing life. On both of my flights I sat next to Guatemalan men. One of my favorite things while traveling or just in general, is talking to strangers. I know I was taught the opposite growing up, but I love to hear other people's stories, sometimes it's hard for me to listen to the people closest to me (sorry!) but the people I meet at shows or for moments at a time, I'm all ears, lista escho! It was interesting to hear the different backgrounds of the two men. One was now a citizen of the United States, the other still on a residency visa, one was clearly strong in his faith while the other was on the fence. Knowing their parents were maybe from Mexico or Guatemala was intriguing & hearing how the families meet up in their native lands due to America not allowing them in made me excited to think that it was a little getaway for their family - but to hear how expensive it is for them to simply go see their dad or grandma makes me feel embarrassed that I often don't take advantage of visiting mine who live 15 minutes away. Both men had 1 year old little daughters - eager to show me pictures, I responded in sharing pics of my adorable nephews!!!
So back to the question, 'What are we all doing here?' What are 16 American women doing in Guatemala? ....stay continued, we're about to find out!!
September 11 2016
This Sunday was different than most of the Sunday's in my life lately. I was in the congregation! I had a Sunday off & it was so amazing to be out in a seat with the rest of the church body, without an instrument in my hand & no lights shining on my face wondering what chords to play next. It was nice, yet super challenging. Not because I wasn't on stage, but because the entire time I wanted to be flat on my face, sprawled out on the floor during our time of singing. My physical countenance & posture was well dressed (not in sweats ;)) & standing, sometimes singing loudly, but then unable to sing some of the words when they came on the screen. It was like my body was ok, but my soul was wanting to myself to bow low to The Lord physically because of His excellence & glory around us in His presence.
This morning at church we sang the newer version of It Is Well. For some reason I could never say the exact verse: It is Well with My Soul… Instead I sang: come let it be well with my soul. My soul felt unsettled. My soul felt unrest.
The next song we sang was How Deep The Father's Love for Us. I feel like this song always puts me in my place -- it's shouting the extent in which our Heavenly Father went to prove His love for US -- He sent His only Son to die for US. But there was one line in this song that I couldn't comprehend today. The last line in verse two says, I know that it is finished - meaning I HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, so walk in that freedom! Redeemed, set free. This song declares that we should know this -- but if we truly knew this, we would be walking in freedom. We would be walking in joy. We would be walking in the Fruit of the Spirit. So how do we know AND walk in it? Ironically my church started a new series today titled Set Free - I will be on the road the rest of the month, but perhaps I should listen online!
Another song that was sung this morning is one of my favorites off our church's live worship album. Made New reminds us that in the midst of the chaos, confusion & unrest in our lives & world, Christ is our hope which we cling to & whether the entire world believes it or not, "One day all will be made new again". AMEN & Praise The Lord, we are quite the mess down here!! The chorus of that song says: "So I will run to the cross, where my hope is found. You took the pain & the loss & turned it upside down, Oh God we wait, we wait for You, one day all will be made new again." To be honest once again, during the part when we sing, Oh God we wait, we wait for You…" I bitterly sung, WE WAIT. …ok God, we're waiting, and I hate waiting…especially in the unknown. (Reminder, He is the knower of ALL!)
Worship was clearly a struggle for me this morning, it somewhat felt like sandpaper smoothing out my rough edges. Those rough pointy edges might end up hurting someone in my bitterness, hurt or confusion -- or perhaps they might even hurt myself more than I know. The point of me blogging all of this is that it's OK to feel hurt, confused, abandoned, restless, unsettled etc. - but it's not ok to stay in that place. God didn't intend for us to walk day in & day out in turmoil. God's timing (praise Him) is not our timing….hence why WE WAIT…whether we wait patiently or not is up to us. Whether we wait gratefully & thankfully is on us. Singing songs of praise that remind us He is good especially when we don't see it or believe it is so key -- singing HE is faithful when perhaps we haven't been -- singing it IS well with my soul when we know He has us in the grip of His hands. May we be reminded The Lord is in control of us & our greatest enemy. If we have faith in Christ, it IS well with our souls & we need to declare that over our every area of our lives.
September 1 2016
WOW. It's September 1st & life isn't what I thought it would be.
Often in life, we make major life decisions (irrational ones or not) that impact the next day & the next. We either choose to be content in the moment or feel like we're always yearning for something different. My best friend reminds me often of two things;
1. Don't loose your peace!
2. Live with no regrets.
When we make decisions, are we keeping our peace?
If we jump when God says to JUMP, people think we're crazy. If we go when God tells us to GO & then we come back, people think we fail or are confused, or lack discernment. But what happens if we don't go at all?
What happens if we come back home? What if home isn't welcoming? …at least in the mind of the person coming back. What if coming back home means to the person traveling back that it's failure? Remember the prodigal son? He came home. His father didn't think he was a failure even though he went off & did many ungodly things. When we wander in the desert for 40 days we realize sometimes all we want is to be at home. But then when we get there, we want to GO again. What if home is like the desert, & being on elsewhere is luscious & green.
That was a paragraph of a lot of questions - I don't even know if they make sense, but hopefully at least one of them speaks to you.
I think we often find ourselves not content because we are not at home - - for those of us who are Christ followers, heaven is our home. Whether we can fathom that or not, it's Truth & we need to stand firm on that.
What's holding us from going out… OR coming home? What people think? Finances? Family? Other burdens? Prior choices or regrets?
We weigh out decisions WAY more than we should causing stressful situations which never allow us to have a focused mind/peace on what The Lord actually wants us to do. When we finally make a decision we tear ourselves apart wondering if we made the right decision & wondering (while wandering ;)) what it would've been like to choose the other route.
Despite our fickle human tendencies, a good friend reminded me that God is not shocked by any of our decisions or ways. He (God) reminds us frequently that His ways are not our ways & there's a reason for that; for us to be dependent on HIM. No matter what decisions we make, we are to lean on HIM for strength, continued guidance & wisdom (& EVERYTHING!).
March 22 2016
I don't know what's been happening in your lives lately, but I have not been very communicative to God. It's so key in our friendships & relationships with family & those we love to have communication. At times the ones we love the most is often the most difficult to communicate with - I don't know why this is, if it's because we are familiar with their ways & assume we know how they're going to act, or if it's something else, but if it is the familiarity with the other person, we are FAR from knowing the fullness of Who God Is!!! When we're getting to know someone, we ask questions, we won't relent with them because we're intrigued in who they are & ultimately who God's created them to be. When I meet people on the road it's cool to find out who people are & what they do around the midwest & how they're using their talents & gifts the Lord has given them to do what He's asked them to do. The last few times I've been out on the road God has lined up people to encourage me, pray for me, give me information about something that I needed...
As we go through life questioning this that & the other, our ultimate goal is to question/find out Who God Is & to communicate with Him, then when we begin that communication, we need to strive to keep in constant communication with The Creator of the Universe!! ..The Divine Creator of you & me, The Knower of ALL, The Perfect Planner, The Most Wise Counselor....
So I encourage you this week to wake up every morning, or when you're on your way somewhere, to pray. If you're stuck, simply thank God for the day...even if you'd rather be in bed. Thank Him for the plans He's laid out for you for the next 24 hrs. Thank Him for the job you're going to even it's grueling to think about being there for the next 8-10 hours. Thank Him for the people you're going to encounter even if you may not have all the answers, know the perfect thing to say or if you are anticipating how much they are going to annoy you.
May we not go through the motions, but may we genuinely go about this life like we're meant to live it! (Help us (ME!!!) Lord!!)
Scripture for the Day!
1 Thessalonians 5:13-22 ESV
...Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
Nov 28 2015
I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was filled with just that – Thanksgiving!! May we be reminded this time of year to be thankful for everything & everyone in our lives!
Though I did not get out of my pjs for silly black Friday deals, I did purchase a new toaster oven & dress online. If you’re still looking for ways to give & make an impact with your purchase, check out the two links below.
About a year & a half ago I began partnering with a soap company called Health 2 Humanity who provides the resources & knowledge to start a small sustainable business by making soap & providing soap to children in Ghana & Kenya. Through our partnership of selling soaps on the road, they are able to open a H2H branch in Northern Uganda!! To find out more about this project & how you can be a part of it, please go to http://www.h2hsoap.org/product/holidaybundle/. To support this holiday campaign you can provide many children with soap & Christmas gifts for only $25!
The Holiday Hygiene Kit drive for Fields of Dreams is about to begin as well, you can provide a girl at one of our partner schools a kit for one full year by donating $25 at the Fields of Dreams website! To read more about how you can impact many young girls overseas please visit http://www.fieldsofdreamsuganda.org/#!girls-empowerment/c1ab5.
With a small donation of $50 you can impact several villages in the Central & Northern Region of Uganda. Please consider donating today at the websites above & don’t forget to give thanks for the blessings God has given us this holiday season!
May we be reminded of God’s goodness & faithfulness, for it endures forever!!
"Lord, Help Me..."
When I was praying this morning, I kept repeating the phrase "Help Me..." And thought of an old Levi Fuson song called God is our Refuge based off of Psalm 46. The beginning of this Psalm tells us our help comes from the Lord, He is present & therefore, we should not fear. Some of the things I was praying about this morning are below, and below that is Psalm 46. May we be still & know our Lord is God!
Lord, help me to listen.
Help me to obey Your word.
Help me to speak truth over myself, my situation & in others.
Lord, help me to be motivated for this day.
Lord, help me to be thankful.
Help me to be patient!!! (!!!)
Help me to surrender my plans to You, for Your plans are much higher & better than mine.
Lord, help me to be wise with my finances.
Lord, help me to know I am blameless & blessed.
Help me to know You are near.
Lord, help me be attentive to Your Spirit!!
Psalm 46 (ESV)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
The Next Generation
As my fall retreat schedule slows down for the year, I am looking forward to having some time off the road. Since returning home from Uganda in August, I believe I’ve had two weekends off & am excited to not live in a suitcase for a while. Granted I might go stir crazy, I am praying I put my time to good use & stick my head in a few books I’ve been wanting to read.
Last weekend I lead worship at a Jr High retreat, the 4 weekends prior to that were women’s retreats & I thought it was going to be out of control chaos. Playing the weekend solo, I was fearful the students would want a full band with flashy lights & music so loud they couldn’t hear the person next to them singing. What I realized, was that these students were grateful to have someone lead them in worship – they wanted to sing no matter what song was sung or how many people were on stage. They were hungry for live worship & I was excited to be the person to lead them that weekend. One thing I noticed & have realized the last couple youth retreats (esp. jr high) THEY HAVE SO MUCH ENGERY!!! I tell them to bottle it up so when they’re almost 30 they can have it then! ..I don’t know what happens to us, but when did we loose that energy? Scenario; walking to the dining hall to the gym: they were RUNNING! I was like, why are you ladies running? ..because they had somewhere to go!
Anyway – talking with these youth over the weekend made me notice how much people like to talk. Why do we have such a struggle to listen? The youth leaders at the church are phenomenal, they know their students. They are with them all throughout Jr. High & it’s amazing to see the staff/volunteers dedicate their time to the next generation. Sometimes I feel like we (anyone not a youth) brush the younger generation off & don’t care to give them our time or a listening ear – when that is all they’re craving!! Whether it’s the most popular kid at school or the person who has zero friends, they want to talk & we need to be the ones who will listen. If we’re not, someone else of bad influence will & the next generation will just continue to get worse & worse with their moral thinking.
May we raise up a generation that is selfless, impacting & world changers who seek The Lord with all their heart! .. in turn, may we in the older generations have softened hearts to hear The Lord’s Word loudly through them!
As I was driving to my brother’s house the other morning to watch my nephew, I noticed in my rearview mirror the yellow stop light. For many of us, that means to GO FASTER, but the truth is, that little yellow light means to yield, to SLOW DOWN.
Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m yielding through scriptures & my prayer time with God. Most times, it’s the wrong yielding, just getting through a reading & quiet time with God so I can continue to the next thing on my list. Over the weekend I was with a group of Jr. High students from Toledo OH & the youth pastor had some very good words about yielding to The Lord & our faith. He had three students hold up letters that spelled Y-O-U, when they flipped a button on the side little light bulbs turned on & the room lights went out, signifying how bright our lights (as Christ followers) shine in the darkness of this world. Jesus is The Light of the world & He lives inside of us – check out the letters & scriptures below. May we be the light as we yield (slow down!), obey & understand who The Creator of the Universe is & asking us to be.
Y = Yield our lives to The Light
O: Obey The Light
U: Understand The Light
The Righteousness of God
This morning when I woke up I started praying that I would be clothed in the righteousness of God, that my thoughts would be righteous, that no matter the conversation or distraction around me, I would be righteous & a light that speaks Truth. As I continued to pray I started doing the same for Tasia, and others that came to mind as the Lord lead. Righteousness in my mind means a continual process of striving to be like Christ. We are never going to be perfect nor are we ever going to be able to resist all sin, but each day we can pray that God would clothe us in righteousness SO THAT we can resist the evil in this world to glorify Him. My mind finally wound down to Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV) which we all know & love - read it again, & clothe yourself in the Whole Armor Of God!
Oct 8 2015
Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak on air at our local radio station here in Valpo. It’s always a great time of laughs, wisdom & worship. The local radio host is also a pastor in town & Frank knows how to do three things; give the weather, go on a rabbit trail yet always get us back on track somehow AND drop nuggets of wisdom straight from the heart of God when needed.
As I walked to the station, I parked my car on a side street & had to cross a main road in downtown Valpo. As I parked, got out of my car, grabbed my guitar & bible, it wasn’t until I was midway across the busy street that I realized that in some countries on this earth, this instance could not take place. I could not freely walk down the street with my bible out in the open in my hand. I would not be able to meet with a pastor on a live broadcast that was biblically based & I wouldn’t be able to share my music ministry with the people listening online or in their car.
I have a handful of friends who are working in countries where they wouldn’t be able to freely walk around with their bibles in their hands on their way to meet with a friend. To think about the freedom we have here in America makes me feel blessed yet how often do I take advantage of not carrying my bible with me places & waiting on The Lord for opportunities to open it & share the Good News with others wherever I go.
I’m beginning to think the best days of our lives were when we were infants. I am blessed to be able to watch my nephew during the week while off the road & I am so amused by his excitement toward the little things. He takes delight in a stroller ride around the neighborhood, a ball, a book (especially if it has a cow or truck in it)… On our morning stroll I noticed how many retired people live in my brother’s subdivision, which lead to me thinking, why do we always long to do something else while we’re doing another thing? If we are at work, we want to be at home. When we’re home sometimes we want to be somewhere else. When we’re alone we crave to be with someone & when we’re surrounded by people we just want to have one quite moment alone. When I was pushing my nephew this morning I just wanted to be sitting on a rocking chair on a porch reading a book with some coffee. I told myself to enjoy the moment. ..because within weeks you’re probably going to be in Uganda missing this little man wishing you were pushing him around the neighborhood enjoying the simplicity of life.
A Season of … Sustaining.
March 2 2015
It’s almost been a full month where I’ve had ZERO (0) days off. Zero days of rest when I didn’t have to wake up & get going somewhere…Zero days when I can just wake up & enjoy a cup of coffee in my living room & read scripture coupled with an online commentary. Zero days of not thinking about what I have to do in the next moment, finish my laundry so I can pack it again for next week or make food so I can pack it for lunch the following day. Tis the season of unrest I guess ..tis camp season matched with being a full time nanny during the week alongside teaching English once a week, babysitting for a bi weekly bible study & hosting one at my apt. On top of that my headlight is out & I need an oil change. This morning on my drive to my brothers house I thought how nice it would be to get new windshield wipers – then I sighed seeing the bright white snow around me on either side of the highway reminding myself I should purchase those in Spring so the ice wouldn’t tear the new wipers to shreds. I like to cook for friends & have a social life – it’s been a month since I’ve been able to invest fully in my friends.
Since February 9th I’ve had zero days off & I’ve seen the Lord at work. Knowing it would be a full schedule this winter I prayed The Lord would sustain me through it all. I prayed for my health to be in tip top shape, for my mind to be focused & that I would be faithful to the commitments I have made (Matthew 5:37). Clearly I have over committed myself. But I still want to be faithful to the commitments I have made. This past weekend was the first time since December I’ve been sick. Of course, being a singer, it was my throat. Sinuses draining causing it hard to breathe & sing – but The Lord sustained me. The Lord anointed me to bring forth His Good News. Thankfully God also had a friend from the camp I was singing at to help me out during a few sessions & made our sound fuller when I couldn’t quite reach the high notes.
For the last few months my prayers have been about sustaining. We all know about the manna God sent from Heaven to sustain the Israelites (Exodus 16), we’ve heard testimonies of friends & family about how God sustained them while they were going through a hard time, maybe financially or mentally or physically. When I get my headaches I pray The Lord would sustain me through the day until I’ve accomplished all that I need to do...even lead a worship set.
What a faithful, mighty, sustaining God we serve!! We knock & the door is opened, we seek & we find (Matthew 7:7). If we need sustained, He WILL sustain us. For His glory & honor & praise, not ours. Amen? Amen!
May this be not a season of unrest for you if you’re like me & have over committed yourself. May this be a season of seeing the Lord prevail in His excellence of sustaining you! May you find peace & joy amongst the busyness & find LOTS of time to cover yourself in prayer & in The Holy Word!
Cheers to Another Great Year!
January 1 2015
Many of us are taking today to reflect on 2014 & think of goals to accomplish & cling to for 2015. As I look back on another year I praise God for His glory I’ve seen around me through His people all around the World. I thank God for the people He’s placed in my life & the encouragement I’ve received from them & from Him. As a new year begins, I want to charge you as a Christ follower to not just tip toe into another year, but to run with vigor into the new year seeking & searching for our God & King Who desires so much for us to be with Him.
My charge to you, that I will also trying to keep for 2015:
- READ one (1) chapter of The Bible each day. We read so much other things online, in a book, newspaper, filling our time watching mindless TV – let’s pick up The Living Word of God – one chapter is NOT a lot. Confused on where to start? I suggest the Book of Luke. Why not start with the Christmas story since we just celebrated it. Another suggestion: Genesis. BUT I also suggest finding a commentary online or reading with a friend – emailing back & forth with a friend about what you’re learning. I do this with a friend & it’s AWESOME to see the richness of the Lord’s word!! [suggested commentaries to listen to on YouTube or blueletterbible.com : Chuck Missler, Warren Wiersbe OR listen to your pastor’s sermons online, sug: Pastor Lionel Young from Calvary Church in Valparaiso, IN he teaches verse by verse studies]
- PRAY – Take at least ten (10) minutes to sit in silence to pray to God. Even if it’s in the car, shut off the radio & talk to your Heavenly Father! I heard in a sermon once that we are filling our ‘prayer space’ in our mind with texting. We are supposed to be constantly praying to the Lord [1 Thessalonians 5:17] & being in communication with Him. Thinking about how many teens text back & forth with thousands of messages to friends a day, that’s how we’re supposed to be communicating with God. I want to be questioning the Lord with my daily thoughts & actions, asking for patience & seeing results & fruit come forth due to my diligent communication with the Lord! [woot]
- Exercise at least 3 days a week for 20 minutes. This isn’t hard & it will not only renew our energy & body, but also our mind AND we need our mind to understand the Scriptures we’re reading! Without joining a gym we can improve our health by doing squats, crunches, leg lifts, planks etc. There are tons of exercises to find on YouTube or daily routines from health nuts on Facebook with daily work out regiments. ..if you think 20 mins if too short YEY! – do 45-60!! Remember to HYDRATE! J
- PRAY – I know what you’re thinking, we already mentioned this – BUT I challenge you to pray for one specific person the Lord has placed on your heart to pray for. ASK the Lord who to pray for if you’re not sure. Maybe He’ll highlight your mom, grandpa, boss, friend, some crazy Christian artist (ha) – but ask the Lord! Pray for this person every day for a week straight. If the Lord encourages you to do so, email them or text them, or if you see them in person, talk to them! … edify them & encourage them with scriptures of what the Lord has been sharing with you while you pray for them. How amazing would it be to hear someone has been praying for YOU!?
- Fast – Whoa. Fasting???? Cut myself off from things I enjoy to seek the Lord & find break through? Sounds crazy in the World we live in. I hope to seek more understanding about what fasting is early this year, but I definitely don’t do it enough. I challenge myself & you to fast two days out of the month to seek the Lord & lean on the Lord for understanding. Fasting can only improve our prayer life & transform us for the better! If you feel lead to fast once a week, more power to ya. [For more information about fasting visit http://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/devotional-life/personal-guide-to-fasting.1.html]
- Give – Lastly, I challenge you to set aside $1 (one dollar) a day each month & give it to a charity of your choice. You may already be doing this by sponsoring a child through an organization or giving aside from your tithe to a local ministry or organization, Great Job!! BUT if you’re not tithing to a local church or ministry, start by doing that. If you attend a church regularly, start giving with a joyful heart! Aside from your tithe, if you can, give $1 day to another cause! [Organizations / Ministry suggestions to give to: FieldsofDreamsUganda.org, KidsAlive.org, fecministries.org/basque-initiative, efca.org (give to Tom & Kristie Trowbridge (Bosnia)), globalroar.org, health2humanity.org, thinkkindness.org] These are just a few I give to, ask the Lord where he’d like you to give!
I hope this email excites you to start a new year with the Lord as your focus – not tasks to be done. We are all different & the Lord has us in different areas of our spiritual walk. Pray about what the Lord has for you in this season of life & ask Him to reveal His plan for you & your family this year!
Lord Jesus, as we begin a new year may You fill us with joy!! May you fill us with peace & understanding of who You are & who You’ve created us to be as Your people. May it excite us to walk in Your ways & may we cling to Your Book for wisdom. May this new year be filled with breakthrough in relationships & communication be strengthened within Your people & with You. Holy Spirit teach us – may we receive all that You have for us in 2015!!
Amen! Happy 2015!!
Grace & Peace to You & Your family!!
Download my latest album for FREE at NoiseTrade.com/JennieWellsand
La Luz de la Mañana, The Oasis, Guatemala.
Let me first start out by saying how humbled & thankful I am that The Lord would use me in His master plan. When Austin Hill & I sat down to write Morning Light two years ago, we never imagined it being sung in orphanages throughout Uganda, in University classrooms in China & in a different language in Guatemala leading children, teens & adults in worship providing hope in their every day lives. As I sit & write this blog I am in awe of The Lord’s majesty & glory. He has truly undone me to experience a glimpse of His glory here on earth once again.
A couple months ago Calvary Church (in my home town) asked if I would be interested in leading worship (in Spanish) at a women’s retreat in Guatemala. I chuckled at first, but then knew this task wasn’t an issue for the God I serve. Only having 3 semesters of Spanish in me from my high school & college years, I asked my friend’s mom, who is a retired Spanish teacher if I could learn 8-10 worship songs in Spanish in two months. After she said YES! I felt assured it could happen. We transposed well known worship tunes such as Our God, This is the Day, Open the Eyes of My Heart, & a few more but the song I was most excited to transpose was one of my originals, Morning Light (La Luz de la Mañana). Knowing the impact this song has brought to many people in America & Uganda, I was so extremely excited to sing this song in Spanish! Leading up to the trip it was difficult for me to lead worship in English due to my ‘diligent practice’ in singing them in Spanish throughout the week (ha!). People kept questioning if I could lead worship in Spanish & I said I hoped so & prayed that I would stand under the anointing of The Lord the entire time so I wouldn’t be confused.
A Little Background
Kids Alive International & Calvary Church partner with an amazing ministry called The Oasis in Guatemala. The Oasis is a safe haven for girls (GIRLS, appox ages 6-17) who have been sexually abused & used. The Oasis is a place of refuge that gives young girls hope through providing them counsel (psychological & spiritual), food, lodging & love, to say the least of what they do. At this location there are about 6 houses that have 2 house moms or “Tia’s” who take care of 9-10 girls in each home. These Tia’s take care of the girls like they are their own.
Twenty one (21!) women (WOMEN!) including myself hopped on a United plane with well thought out plans, details, crafts, snacks & my guitar excited with anticipation to meet the girls & women at The Oasis. Our mission was to refresh the ladies with the Word of God & allow them to be pampered & have time to relax & spend time in the Lord’s presence. We wanted our time at The Oasis to allow the girls to be girls providing them with a VBS structure of singing, dancing, crafts & snacks. We also wanted our time with the Tias to be rejuvenating as they spent time away from the girls who they care for so well day in & day out.
Preparing myself to go to Guatemala I pictured it to be similar to Uganda. Little did I realize the affect of being 7,000 feet in the air on a mountain would make it chilly at night being a vast difference from the African heat! The air had similar smells of occasional burning & street food as we passed through the towns – dogs barking all through the night & roosters crowing to bring the morning light – the roads were bumpy & unfinished – the people were friendly to foreigners – and there were motorcycles with too many people & cargo on them – all things similar to Uganda. Though most of the people I meet in Uganda speak English – none of the ladies we’d be ministering to in Guatemala were fluent in English. Our team was so ever grateful for our translators – I was somewhat impressed with what I could understand when the women spoke – and thankful for the understanding.
As the week began & quickly ended we saw the impact The Lord had at The Oasis by using our team. At the women’s retreat I helped lead a small group that consisted of about 6-8 women. We went over discussion questions & had the opportunity to pray with each woman before the retreat was over. One thing they shared was how amazing it was for someone to pray with them one on one. To listen & find out their needs, what was pressing on their hearts, not the girls or someone else in their family. One of the Tia’s mentioned that is was nice to be with other Tia’s in the group – they were always hearing about one another’s prayer requests from someone else & now realize how important it is to get together to share with one another (community!) & pray with each other on a regular basis. In my mind, our mission was a success to rejuvenate, revive, unify & unite the staff at The Oasis, praise The Lord!! May His work continue while we’re away but may a team quickly go back to keep fanning the flame!
The Best Moment of my Trip
One evening I was at the house where the young mothers lived with their newly born babies. Some babies were weeks old, others were months. My favorite little boy was 7 months old…I think because he reminded me of my nephew. His mother was very young but had been at the house the longest. A few women from our team were there to watch the babies while the young mothers ate dinner. I was holding this little boy & attempting to chat with these girls in Spanish while they ate their beans, rice & cheese. The little boys mom requested I sing them a song while they ate. I asked them what song they’d like to hear & this young lady said “Morning Light!” with a big smile on her face. Humbled, I sang…in Spanish…I think I sang the chorus 5 or 6 times while they finished their meal. Humbled & amazed.
The Second Best Moment of my Trip
Leading worship in a foreign language!! One day the ladies in my break out session asked me to sing This is the Day in English, so the next morning I attempted to but it was so hard! I quickly sang through the song letting the congregation sing most of it then switched back to Spanish. It was incredible to hear two languages worshiping the One True God. ...I only got confused one day & had to sing one song in English!
Reality & Random Thoughts
Having traveled A LOT throughout THIS YEAR, God has opened my eyes to see how massive He was, is & is to come. I’ve said this at shows, but honestly, think about it. God – the Creator of the Heavens & Earth – Creator of the mountains, the seas, the oceans etc (& there’s a lot of etc…J) – He created US. He breathed the breath of life into you & me (Gen 2) for a purpose. What is that purpose? To spread His Truth, proclaim His Gospel on Earth & to love & serve His people.
Matthew 5:3 says blessed are the poor for they will inherit the Kingdom of God. I’ve never seen so much joy in places where most necessities are lacking. Sure, clean water may not be available or any water available at all for days, electricity may be out for hours on end & they may have to wash clothes & dishes in cold water by hand --- But the joy, specifically in Guatemala, (& Uganda) is not lacking one bit. Blessed are the poor for they will inherit the Kingdom of God – I feel like they’re already getting their inheritance by the joy they receive on this earth!
Knowing the reality of why these girls are being taken care of at Oasis makes me want to hold on to my nephew longer, hoping he never has to face adversity. Hoping he never has to face trails or poverty or abuse that’s uncontrollable. It makes me want to go back to Uganda faster to ensure every child I’ve ever sung to or looked in the eye gets held, fed, a bed & blankets… it makes me want to save the world. The Good News, Jesus did that for us.
I’m Human so …Questions I Ponder
Now what? Now that I’m home, how can I continue to affect these girls, staff, missionaries?
How do we make a difference & provide hope for the now?
How do we be la luz de la mañana (the morning light) in this dark world until Jesus returns for the second time?
How do I go on with my every day life knowing people are in need all over the world?
How do I give my time wisely to the people in front of me on a daily basis?
It’s always hard to come home being the one that’s experienced such poverty, such joy, such an eye & heart opening experience. BUT how great is our God for teaching us, being patient with us & helping us to process what we’ve seen & see His goodness through each moment.
- For unity to continue throughout The Oasis
- For financial goals to be met for the staff, missionaries & house needs at The Oasis
- For the American team to continue to pray for the people they met
- For the American team to be able to function back in American society
- For hearts to continue to stretch & yearn for missions across the world
- For hearts to be opened to receive God’s love here in America, Guatemala, Uganda, The World
- For me, that I would have compassion for those who don’t want to travel overseas to experience the richness of God’s love in others in less fortunate environments
To learn more about Oasis, please visit http://www.kidsalive.org/around-the-world/latin-america/guatemala. Please consider joining a team to experience the Guatemalan culture like I did – pray about donating to Oasis before the end of the year to help them reach their financial goals that will keep these young girls safe & protected for years to come!
Headaches to Testify.
Gull Lake MI - Valparaiso IN.
November 18 2014
Over the weekend I lead worship at a camp in Michigan for a high school retreat. Just getting back from Guatemala the week prior & knowing I was going to be able to dress up like a super hero Saturday night, I was pretty stoked to make the drive in the wintery weather & hang out with these teens! This church from Toledo is blessed with incredible leadership. Some of the small group leaders stay with these teens from 6 grade through their senior year of high school…that’s their goal anyway. I think this is an incredible way to get to know the students in the youth group & be around for their good times & their bad times. It not only creates a deep friendship / mentorship, but it creates a church family. I was blessed to have some of the leaders be my band this weekend. Though I was intimidated on how good of musicians they were at first, I was humbly impressed by their talent, leadership & perseverance through my sickness.
Still unsure of what triggered one of my headaches, but after Saturday mornings worship set I felt achy. I felt cold. I felt like a headache was approaching but I didn’t want to admit it. Before lunch I laid down in my bed for a little bit, thinking I’d only be there for a half hour before lunch. Lo & behold, I was there until 4:50 pm when I had to drag myself out of bed to prepare for practice & another worship set. I sent a text to a few prayer warriors & the woman singing with me that night to pray that I would be able to do the job I was asked to do for the weekend (to lead these teens in worship).
Throughout the last 4 years of traveling (the last 2 yrs being pretty consistent being booked on weekends) I find it phenomenal I haven’t had to cancel a weekend retreat due to a headache. When I get them, I’m usually out for 12-24 hours, in bed, only out to puke & back in bed. *I have had to cancel two local events due to them. About 2 months ago I had 3 worship services to get through one morning. After the first service, puked. During the second service, if people knew how nauseous I felt they would’ve said I was crazy for being up there leading worship. I ended up making it through each service just fine – thankfully it was a church 30 mins from my hometown so my mom & her friend were attending & drove me to meeting I had to go to …. Then I drove home.
Over the weekend I had what I think is the most severe headache I’ve every had in my life. It lasted from Saturday mid morning through Monday morning. Saturday night before the worship set started I laid in front of the stage while everyone else was at dinner – I moaned occasionally – then a few leaders came in as well as the speaker & they prayed over me – they specially prayed for my headache to cease & for me to be able to lead the students in worship.
Before the evening worship session started, I laid on the floor in the back of the room as we watched funny super hero videos the students made – I was NOT in my super hero costume L. It was time for me to go on stage – As I sat on a stool, because I felt like it wasn’t wise to stand, the pastor opened up in prayer & everyone prayed for me. I kid you not – from the moment I opened my mouth to sing, I felt no (ZERO) pain through the end of my set. (Thank You Jesus) I often pray as I go onstage that I would stand under the anointing of The Lord as I sing. I am not up there to glorify my name, my songs or any mission The Lord has placed in my path. I am up there to sing to The King Most High. I desire for God’s Spirit to pour out on me so a mighty work can be done through worship – so chains can be broken & lives be set free!! If I have to get a headache to stand in the gap of that – and have NO pain while doing it – bring it on. …I’d prefer no pain…but just saying. That night was the loudest I’d heard those students sing. So many of the teenage guys were singing – a rarity. The leaders were saying some of the students were like onions – they had many layers that needed to be peeled away for their hearts to be tender before the Lord. Though I may not see the fruit of that night of worship – I pray some of the leaders would see a change & desire for The Lord burning within the students that were there that night.
Though I was in pain & felt nauseous immediately after walking off stage, and for days to follow, The Lord sustained me through the morning worship set, my drive home, & got me safely into bed. God hears our prayers. God sustains us & gives us the grace we need to persevere. God is a God who is able to transform lives & I cannot wait to continue to hear the impact He has made in those students from last weekend. Even if it was simply remembering that they prayed for me & I was able to do what The Lord called me to do, Amen! Testify!
Faucet Rains – Indiana & Michigan
Sept 2 2014
Clearly we are in the middle of a rainy season. I forget how seasons change from month to month because I’m typically out of the country during part of a season or in a difference state every other weekend. Throughout this last half of August rushing into September, it seems like when it rains, it rains like a faucet turning on! Down pouring one minute.. then it’s done… then it starts again with gushing waters flowing from the skies. Having to drive quite a bit during this season & load & unload my car with merch & instruments, I found myself praying one day that it would stop raining when my drummer & I would have to load the car with drums. As funny or obscure as it may sound – I’ve been living in that favor of God since I’ve prayed that prayer! Even at camp this weekend it was raining during a morning session & the afternoon schedule was full of outdoor activities for the campers. We prayed for the sun to come out & sure enough, before the morning session was over, the sun was shining! Such a good reminder : God cares for His people! God hears the cries & thoughts of His children. Yes, it’s a simple reminder but a much needed one. Even if I got poured on while loading my car, or it rained all weekend at camp, I would still know God loves me with an unconditional love – but He made me aware of Himself, I recognized His grace because He answered a simple request which has spiraled into a thankful heart. And a thankful heart, prepares the way of The Lord!
I wrote about the topic of rain in July in my journal.. so maybe we’re on the tail end of the rainy season, but what a better place to be in rather than in a drought? The rains come to allow the land to flourish – to prepare for a harvest season. How can we spiritually be soaking in all the goodness of this rainy season? May we be like the land & drink & be full with the Word of God. This will prepare us to be ready for the bountiful harvest AND when a drought is in sight.
Suggested Reading : 1 Kings 17
Kindness for Other’s Children, Valparaiso, IN
June 6 2014
When asking for a June blog suggestion, a friend I babysit for suggested I write about having kindness for other’s children. At first I thought she was crazy – I was thinking, yes Emily, I love your baby, but to write an entire blog about it?? I’m a newly dating 27 - almost 28 year old - women, write a blog about kiddos & kindness? Most of the time if they’re over 1 & a ½ I’m not excited to hang out with them for more than an hour ;)
BUT THEN… I went to the splash pad at the park with a friend who was babysitting 3 children & my sister-in-law who has a 7 week old sweet baby boy. If you want to see kindness, go to the park. Families, primarily mama’s & their kids (including some cooking in their bellies!) are all hanging out together enjoying the sunshine, water, grass & fresh air. ..well needed after a very long winter the past few rainy days. The little girl I watch (1 yr old) is not even my own child, but to think about providing her shade from the sun, watching where she crawls to ensure she doesn’t get bit, stung, eat grass or be taken away from a pterodactyl is EXHAUSTING! Props to all the mamas & dadas out there who do this every day!
Watching my friend with the kids she brought (guessing, ages 9,7 & 17 months) I saw kindness in her eyes, laugh & hugs as she encouraged the kids to be brave & play in the water. I saw kindness in her actions as she chased them in the grass & applauded & took pictures of the outstanding cartwheels the girls were performing. Children would wander to our blanketed-tent-fort & would say hello to us (ie to the babies) & try to play with their toys… they were seeking kindness for them to share with them. The parents of whom the wandering babies belonged to would come over smiling apologizing with kindness about their child interrupting – but on the receiving end of their kindness, there’s nothing I could say other than, it’s not a problem at all!
As I was leaving Target this evening after writing the majority of this blog, a women & her two rambunctious boys were passing me in an aisle & I just smiled at the mom. She half smiled back with a tired face & said, ‘Their dad’s on a bike ride & I’m dealing with this!’ I ended up being behind them in the check out line & I simply said, ‘So when do you get to go on your bike ride?’ She ended up saying she that she didn’t give her husband as much credit as he should get & that they share the time when they can get out on their bikes. But she was just needing an ear to vent to in the middle of a stressful situation. Looking for someone to show kindness to her family as they zealously went through the store.
Where can we be showing more kindness to people who have children? Even if we don’t agree on how they may be reacting to a situation in a grocery store, airplane or even a park, how can we be kind to them? How can we show them Christ’s love & kindness to other’s children & families the way we are called to?
Dessert First! ; Valparaiso, IN
May 12th 2014
Since returning home from Uganda & China, I’ve realized that I’ve been through A LOT in the past two months. Not just physically or mentally but spiritually too. I hope to process what I’ve seen & learned for the rest of my life. One prayer since returning back to The States is that I’d be present in every situation, conversation & scenario. I find myself not caring when people tell me certain stories, or not present when they’re telling me exciting moments happening in their lives (sorry!!) I also find myself grieving when people tell me how flippantly they spend their money on something that I see as unwise. …not even unwise, but knowing how much that money could impact someone’s life in Uganda a bazillion times more.
Have you ever seen a glimpse of what’s to come & you just want to fast forward to the end? For instance, you know there are amazing, fresh homemade cookies (insert your absolute favorite dessert in the world here) waiting at the end of a meal & you just want to by pass the nutritious food & skip straight to dessert? If you did you’d be loving it for a while, feasting on the sugar high, but your body would not be getting all the nutrients it needs. That’s what I’m feeling right now. It’s hard for me to focus on the things in front of me because I am yearning for what’s to come in the future. If we think about it, that’s how we should be feeling for Christ to come back to earth. We should be yearning for the end, for the dessert to come! Jesus wants to come back to restore his people & his land.. but we’re not ready. And THAT is precisely why me & you are exactly where we’re at currently, in this very moment. The Lord has us right where He wants us. If we’re not at the dessert part of the meal yet, it means we’re not ready for that goodness quite yet. We need to be prepared for what’s to come & right now may be a waiting period or a preparation period. I want to be fully ready for that day when the Lord comes & also for the very exciting things He has in store for my future. So if that means to sit tight & wait patiently, may the good gracious God that we serve keep me content till His will can be done!
May the Joy of the Lord Rise up within Me. Valparaiso, IN
May 7th 2014
This morning I kept repeating the phrase, “May the joy of the Lord rise up within me.” Over & over & over again I kept saying it. “May the joy of the Lord rise up within me.” About the 7th time I said it, I heard the phrase, “Are you sitting in a place that I can fill you with My joy?”
Hmm. Ok. I thought I was doing great at having quiet times by reading the Word & praying for specifics ..healing for a friend or relative, provision for myself & all of my friends, peace in my families homes all across the world… but I was/am NOT praying about specific things the Lord is telling me to pray about. The things on His heart, are way more prominent prayers & I believe will fill me with joy if I am praying & walking obediently with Him.
…just something to chew on.
Click on the Uganda tab above to read about Jennie's recent travels to Uganda!
I am about to embark on a journey that I guarantee will change my life forever. Spending 30 days in a foreign country with some of the most joyful people I know has woken me up with excitement for the trip. I will be in Uganda from February 14th – March 17th with a nonprofit I partner with called Fields of Dreams Uganda. FoDU partners with 10 orphanages in Uganda through the vehicle of soccer & education. This February they are taking a team of nurses to go over first aid procedures & to distribute hygiene kits to the older girls at the orphanages. I cannot wait to start this journey & be a part of something so amazing. To stay updated with what Fields of Dreams & myself are doing while overseas, please LIKE them on Facebook & check out my Uganda blog at JennieWellsand.com/Uganda-2014.
Prayer Requests: Pray for NO headaches, good sleep when I actually do, that I’d be attentive, a good listener & obedient to what the Lord would like me to say & do!
My social life is messed up. I was addressing a letter to a friend who lives in IL the other day & was thinking, “Oh, it’d be nice to see her before I flee the country for 30 days.” But I can’t. I have been out of town every weekend playing shows for the past year & a half. Granted I’ve been home a few Friday nights if I’m leading worship in town.. & the holiday season is nice because I’m not booked out as much. But it’s crazy to think that I work weekends. Not just going to work 9-5 somewhere or closing a store on a Saturday night, I drive hours away from home to lead worship at a retreats that are Fri-Sun leaving very little time for socializing.
I’m not complaining. I love my job. I love that my job is what it is & that I have the opportunity to go lead worship in front of hundreds of youth & adults for a living. I also love talking to strangers. It’s much easier to talk to a stranger than it is to my own family sometimes. Only having two days to regroup with friends during the week is tough though. In the month of January I was home for 11 days total. I slept in my own bed for 11 days. Granted a week of that was spent in Montana visiting a very good friend, but still.. I played 2 shows while out there & was not home. In the month of February, March & April, it looks like I will be home about the same amount of time as January.
How does one build community when on the road so much? I was driving home from Ohio a few weeks ago & was thinking how grateful I am for the community God has built for me on the road. It’s amazing to be able to be able to drive to almost every state in the Midwest & have a place to stay if needed, have a place to eat with people I’m now friends with & a place to rest my head… even if it is in a kids bedroom filled with princess glamour!
Life on the road can be super exhausting. Most of the time you always have to be ‘on’ .. when I’m not on my a-game, it heightens my ability to be annoyed with myself, my players & the people around me. But with the grace of God I am able to sustain & be satisfied with the time I have with my friends & family off the road.
My Prayer: Lord show me how to build community with my home church, family, friends & people on the road. May you fill me with energy & endurance to keep going!
Isn’t it typical that when we’re just at the right spot in life where finances seem to be ok, that something comes up to shove us back to a time of fretting about our bank accounts? Living as a full time musician & part time nanny, money is not always flowing in the ‘ol bank drawers… I don’t even have a savings account….I sell buttons for fifty cents. I can easily be deflated. Circumstances, specifically money, can knock me off the mark & lead to a terrible attitude & contrite heart daily/weekly/monthly/yearly. I travel a lot. Tires are one thing that stop me frequently when I’m en route to a show. Without my tires, I come to a complete halt in where I’m going. If something goes wrong with my car or specifically with my tires, I can freak out & think my ministry is going into a downward spiral & is going out of control. My tires are not the only things that deflate, my strength deflates, my spirit grows weak & I question who I am & what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s ironic that I began writing this blog at Levin Tire in Valpo because I need two (2!) new tires, which will cost me over $300. I’m going to Uganda in less than a week for 30 days. My car’s not even going to be driven for a month, how can I drop $300 + on a car that I’m going to be driving for a week then leave the country?
Meanwhile, for the past few months I’ve been fundraising for my trip to Africa. Over the summer I read a book that mentioned a family in Asia relying on the Lord for their every need, their every provision. They walked by faith & saw the Lord provide for every penny they needed while overseas. I yearned for that, I wanted to receive that. I didn’t want to have to beg people for money to go to Uganda. I know I am called to co-labor with Christ, but at the same time, I wanted the funds to flow into my bank account without much effort or asking the same people for money that I did last year. …Secretively I was also banking on borrowing a large lump sum of money from one of my family members if I didn’t raise all the funds I needed in time for the trip. ..even though they had already given me a donation at Christmas time.
I finally came to the point in fundraising where I raised $1700, but was still lacking about $2000 in funds to go overseas for a month. I called my relative I was hoping to borrow money from last week to see if I could at least borrow $1500 to pay back throughout next year & they said they’d get back to me at the end of the week. Carrying on with my life, they returned my call Friday as I was leaving town to head to a youth retreat in Michigan & they said they are not going to let me borrow the money to give to Fields of Dreams. I was once again, deflated. Thinking about how I was going to raise $2000 in two weeks was on my mind as I drove two hours to camp. For some reason, I still had peace – the plane tickets were already purchased.. I am going to Uganda.
Three weeks ago at a Jr High retreat, 330 students dropped their change in my guitar case to help fund my trip to Uganda. They raised $200. (!!!!) At a last minute booking two weeks ago in OH, a church & their youth group gave me four hundred more dollars. Last weekend at a Sr High retreat I told the students how much money the Jr Highers raised a few weeks prior, in hopes they would want to crush their goal of funds raised. And sure enough. To my surprise, they raise over $400 by dropping their change into my guitar case (pause for an emotional sigh with a tear & humbled heart). God is so GOOD. The best part; a man approached me at breakfast Sunday morning at this retreat, the Sunday after the Friday my relative told me they were not going to let me borrow money. He handed me a wad of cash (hundreds) & said, “I felt like the Lord told me to have $500 cash with me for this weekend & I wasn’t sure why, but now I know that I’m supposed to give it to you for your trip.” (Thank You Jesus!!!) Last weekend I raise about $1000 for my trip overseas.
The Lord is faithful. The Lord is Good. May I remember that when the next tire in my life deflates. I am truly humbled & blessed beyond measure that the youth of America & the church are stepping up to help me get to where the Lord wants me to be Feb 14-March 17 2014. THANK YOU if you’re one of those people who dropped their change into my guitar case or have supported me throughout this fundraising season!! May the Lord bless you & show you His favor as you walk in obedience & righteousness for His fame!
Isaiah 40:26-31 (NTL, emphasis added) Look up into the heavens, Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. 27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? 28 Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. 29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. 30 Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
I LOVE looking at the night sky. If you asked any of my friends, I love the moon. Every time I walk outside at night the first words out of my mouth if the sky is clear is, “Look at the moon!” You can see from each album I’ve released, I love writing about God’s creation, specifically the sky; the morning light, stars, etc. It’s insane to me that God created the mountains, trees, islands, the entire continent of Africa, the world, each speck of star in the sky, the moon & the sun, BUT He loves US, YOU & ME, more than any of the tangible creations we see. God breathed the breath of life into you. God breathed the breath of life into me, calling us each by name. “NOT A SINGLE ONE IS MISSING,”… or forgotten.
My Prayer : Lord may we realize how much You love us. May we see & feel your love in a new way, in a deeper way that helps us trust in You with our everything. May our strength only be renewed by YOU. Help us to stay faithful to You, as You are faithful to us, Your sons & daughters.
Co-writing can be one of the most awkward moments of your life. Imagine going into a room with someone you don’t know very well (or at all) & expecting a collaboration with words, a melody & two instruments to form into a catchy, well worded tune that’s going to be on the radio some day. …or in my case, stuck in your head enough for you to ask your church worship leader to play it on a Sunday morning. If you were in a car on a road trip with your family & you decided to play a game where you picked one letter in the entire English alphabet & expected one person in the car to say the same exact letter as you….more than likely, no one would match your letter. The odds of that happening are 1 out of 26. Small percentage. Co-writing can be the same thing – I may want to go one direction in a song & the other person in the room has the train going in a completely different direction. For me, co-writing can be extremely awkward because it’s like sitting in a room with one other person without talking for an extended amount of time. I hate that when I’m in the car with my players for 2 hours (ha!). Commonalities; The best part about writing & co-writing worship songs is that we have a common purpose coming together to write. We write songs that glorify our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. We don’t do it to sign autographs or make a wealthy living (trust me, we don’t). We act in obedience to do what the Lord’s called us to so we can have songs in our head throughout the day to remind us of who God is, we write to sing as one body, unified glorifying the One who created us & everything surrounding us & we write so we could strive to love Him more. One of the most important commonality in co-writing with another Christian is the source of using The Bible as a reference. Using the Word of Life to inspire us to write songs is humbling & an incredible experience to be a part of.
The Lord has surrounded me with His unfailing grace in co-write sessions. I’ve had the privilege to co-write with & produce two albums with the unbelievably talented worship leader, Austin Hill. Every time we sat down to write songs when we were attending university, songs would arise. We’d typically gave ourselves four hour sessions to sit down & focus on writing. It was amazing to see the Holy Spirit working through us in those short hours providing us with melodies, harmonies & chords to start & finish tunes. After Austin moved to IL I found myself starting songs but never being able to finish them without someone else collaborating with me on the song. I’ve had the opportunity to write with some pretty stunning writers, Daniel Doss, Kurt Felsman, Mark Michalec & Nate Jones to name a few & I cannot wait to see who else I will be able to sit down with & write with in the future.
I had the funniest meet cute a couple of months ago with a worship leader from Ohio named Brian Campbell. My friend asked me if I would be interested in going to a concert with him & a friend in Michigan City last minute. I literally had just walked in the door from babysitting & had a slight headache. Knowing the band was a Come & Live Artist, I assumed they were a harder rock band & wasn’t particularly in the mood to listen to that. For some reason, I felt like I should over come my desire to be a bum so I went to the show. We arrived at the church just in time for the band to start & I was pleased that it was a worship band with an acoustic guitar front man. Being able to just sit, listen & worship was super encouraging to do. I didn’t have to be a part of any part of the evening other than to sit & praise God & listen. It was a nice change. .. I didn’t even have to drive!! Half way through the worship set I felt like the Lord was prompting me to ask the lead singer to co-write with me if they had the next morning available to do so. Since you know how I feel about co-writing, I questioned the Lord – “Reallllly God?? Cool. You’re gunna have me ask a complete stranger to get together, in the morning (most artists dislike mornings) & write songs? It’s so awkward. This is silly. I’m not going to ask him. You’re too funny.” As the set continued the Lord reminded me that I am in a season of co-writing – He gently reminded me with a question, “When’s the last time I set up a co-write session with someone & let you fail? Haven’t I always provided a song or more.” Oh right - -THE LORD is FAITHFUL. How quickly we forget eh??? My next thoughts were, “Ok. I’ll ask Brian to co-write, he’ll probably have to get on the road to their next show anyway.” (ha!) Asking Brian to co-write with me was one of the most awkward moments of my life. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it, I didn’t have any cards or cds to prove I was a nationally touring musician, I didn’t gracefully ask him to write. I fumbled with my words & was a fool (from what I can remember). BUT. The Lord proved His faithfulness. Brian saw through the awkward teenage phase I reverted to. He said they actually had two days of nothing on their calendar & they were just going to go visit friends so it worked out perfectly. He said he was trying to be obedient to the what the Lord wants them to be doing on their days offs on the road & that it was a cool opportunity to take.
Nevertheless, the band ended up staying a couple days in Valpo & we wrote two songs. They wound up in the local studio in town to record a Christmas song that was featured on an album to support a girls home in Guatemala. Friendships were formed, songs were written & we were blessed by the entire experience.
Be sure to check out some of Brian’s tunes at briancampbellmusic.com & keep a look out this spring/summer for the release of the song we wrote entitled Alive in Me.
My Prayer: Lord may we be obedient to what you ask us to do no matter how uncomfortable we may feel. May you lead us with your Holy Spirit & show us how to be more like You. Inspire us with Your Word & creation that surrounds us. Thank you for being faithful. May Your songs continue to flood the earth to give You glory, honor & praise!
What’s one thing you recall as a youth that you still cling on to today? …maybe you’re recollecting coming home from school & drinking as many soft drinks as possible before your parents got home to see how hyper you could be to annoy your siblings for the evening, or seeing how many cheese Doritos you can eat before your brother got to the bag…maybe it’s a crush you had for three years & wonder whatever happened to him. BUT one thing that I’ve noticed that we older folks :) have in common with the Youth of America is; we just want someone to listen. Sure, there’s the occasional teenager who’s like a walnut & it takes a while for them to crack, but usually, if you say hello to them, pay attention to them & listen to them, they’ll open up like a Bible in a church pew on Sunday morning! It’s ironic (somewhat disturbing) to hear people on the road say, “I don’t know how you play at so many youth events, I can’t stand the youth & all their technology these days!” It blows my mind to see Christians, older Christians who have lots of wisdom, say this about teens. They are..we are.. the ones who NEED to be investing in the Youth of America!!!! (!!!!) If we don’t, their peers are – peers who may not be Christian, social media that’s taking over their lives that is not proclaiming the Gospel will. Social media is bombarding our youth more now that it ever has.
In October I lead worship at a Jr. High retreat in Vermillion OH with some pretty incredible teens from Toledo. I hadn’t seen them in a year & I had forgotten how impressed I was with their staff & youth! The leaders were dedicated to their students, they listened to what they had to say & brought forth questions to make them think resulting in some pretty awesome testimonies that weekend. I was fortunate to be a part of one of the 7th grade girls break out sessions. These young teens were convicted by the Holy Spirit to repent of not being or having the desire to follow Christ as dedicated as they once had been. It was amazing to see these young women seeking the Lord, hearing the Lord & discerning what steps to take next. …I was learning from them.
Saturday night I went up at the end of the message to play guitar while Pastor Lu from Philly gave an alter call. Before he prayed he told the students that he was going to pray two prayers; One being the salvation prayer – If anyone didn’t know the Lord & wanted to except Jesus into their hearts, that there’s no better time than now. The second was that if you are a Christian but you’re not ALL IN – 100% giving your everything to Christ, that he wanted to pray for that group so they could be recommitted & dedicated to following the calling of Christ. One thing Pastor Lu said that morning was that we were created for such a time as this. The Lord placed us on this earth, at this moment, for a purpose, for His purpose & that we are all called to be world changers. So… There were about 65 students at this retreat, Pastor Lu prayed a prayer to except Christ into their hearts, then asked them to be bold & stand up if they prayed that prayer – about 12 students stood up (YEY Jesus!) - - two students who were a brother & a sister who I got to know Friday pretty well, they weren’t sitting by each other, & it was their first time to camp. It was awesome to see they both accepted Christ & that they could talk to each other about what happened that night. When Pastor Lu was praying the second prayer, for students to be all in, giving their everything to glorify God in all they did, he told them if they wanted to say YES to what the Lord’s asking of them, to go to the front by me & sing this last song with me. As I began to sing How He Loves by John Mark McMillian, I decided to close my eyes. I didn’t want any of the few who would actually come to the front to feel awkward about making their way towards the stage. But half way through the verse I opened my eyes & saw about FIFTY (50!) of the students walking to the front! Overwhelmed by the Holy Spirits moving I had to shut my eyes again so I wouldn’t cry. The students didn’t just stand in front of me singing, they ended up walking behind me; I was surrounded by 50 Jr Highers singing loudly to the King of Kings about His love for them… for us. The few that were still in their seats, I believe, were blown away by what was happening too - - it was neat to see their wheels turning in their heads & hearts even if they didn’t walk up front. I could see one kid specifically wrestling with what was going on & can only continue to pray for him to allow God to take full control of his heart one day, hopefully soon!
The cool part about this story is knowing that the leadership in this church will not let these kids fall to the way side. Sure, we’re all humans & slip through the cracks from time to time, but it’s encouraging to see young people take a stand & say YES to changing the world for Christ’s sake. Sunday mornings message was also encouraging to be a part of. Four of the 8th grade students summarized what they had learned from each session from the weekend. It was incredible to see what they gained from the weekend & to see the other students participate in sharing what they had learned. They were bolding proclaiming the Gospel & excited to invite friends to their Dogepalooza event in January so their friends who don’t know Christ could come to church & be loved on by the Creator who has created them for such a time as this. ..I no doubt, will be at that doge ball event encouraging them, listening to them & learning from the Youth of America as they go all in for the glory of God!
My prayer : Lord may we be attentive to who You’ve called us to be! May we be world changers for Your glory & Your glory alone. May we learn from the youth, listen to the youth & love on the youth like you’ve asked us to. Give us wisdom to impart into them & patience when we do not understand them!
Next Blog : Co-Writes; Valparaiso, IN
While leading worship at a women's retreat in Michigan in October, something happened that hasn't happened to me in a long time. I walked away from the weekend feeling refreshed. On the four-hour drive home I was contemplating why this feeling was new to me; I still drove 8 hours round trip, slept in a bed that wasn't mine, woke up early, went to bed late, walked around a campsite in the rain (in my Toms) & ate camp food all weekend (btw, the butternut squash soup was outstanding; recipe's attached, you're welcome). I am a worship leader, having the incredible opportunity to serve the Most High God for a living -- & the majority of the weekends I come home, crawl into bed & don't wake up for hours, dreading waking up for that darn day called Monday because I'm exhausted. I’m not overflowing with Christ’s love that I want to lavish onto others.
What was Different about this Weekend?
It's ironic that this retreat I speak of was entitled Refresh, Renew, Revive... But I think there's something deeper that happened that weekend. Not only did I minister to people, but people ministered to me. I was engaged with the women at the retreat, encouraged by their stories & humbled by their prayers. It was awesome to see the speaker give an alter call Saturday morning instead of Saturday night, why does Saturday night typically have to be the climactic night full of emotions that draws people to Jesus? People have come to the retreat for a reason; they’re hungry. They need time alone with God, need time with God & others who serve Him, time to laugh & be encouraged!
I've heard some bands talk about (or be talked about :-/) how they don't want to be seen, or hang out with the campers, especially if it's a youth event. It's definitely tiring & sometimes draining to talk & listen to people & invest fully into them at events. However, for my ministry, I can’t have it be just about the music. If I could, I'd probably have a prayer session Saturday afternoons at retreats so I could pray with people one on one because I want to know what they're going through. I want them to realize what a BIG God we serve & help them to see that God knows the intricate details of our heart. I want to write songs that people are inspired & encouraged by, that help them easily access the throne room of our great & glorious God. The only way for that to happen is to know the people I’m worshiping with -- & above all, knowing that my audience is the One & Only Triune God.
Paul wrote to the Galatians; I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself & by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the Dead (1:1 NTL).
My prayer : Lord, You have called us to be Your people, come fill us up, send us out & give us hears to listen, voices to speak & hearts that do not get offended by who You’ve destined us to be! AMEN.
Next Blog : Encouraged by the Youth of America; Vermillion OH
6 Tablespoons onion, chopped
4 Tablespoons butter
6 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
3 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese
In a large saucepan, sauté onions in butter until tender. Add squash, water, bouillon, marjoram, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil; cook 20 minutes, or until squash is tender.
Puree squash and cream cheese in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth. Return to saucepan, and heat through. DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL!!
NOTE: I cut the squash in half, seeded it and baked it in the oven. I did spray it with canola oil and sprinkled it with salt & pepper. I cooked it in the oven at 325 for about 45 minutes. Cooled and then scraped out the squash from the skin. Combined it with the cream cheese in the mixer and stirred it into the chicken broth with seasonings.
Inspired by the Chef at Grace Adventures Camp; Recipe from: www.allrecipes.com