Out of The Valley

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“Oh Lord, I am weary. My heart aches and the tears seem inevitable. I cried for hours last night. I felt so blessed by the friends and community at Liberty and now it’s all gone. I just feel so alone. I feel like a failure. I never wanted to do anything to dishonor you but I feel like I have. I just feel awful. And the thing is, I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to wallow. I want to feel the joy of my Lord! I guess this is just the season You have me in right now. I’m trying my best, Lord. I’m giving you all that I can. Father, I pray that You would glorify Yourself in my needs. Everything feels like it is in vain but I am trusting that it is not. You know what I long for and I pray that You would use that for Your glory. Oh God, my heart is so heavy. I pray that You would hear me. I am trusting You.

 ‘Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.’ Psalm 25:16-17

 That is my prayer, Lord. I need You desperately.” // Journal Entry, March 26, 2017

 Life has been happening so fast recently. I’m currently training for a half-marathon and am getting ready go to Japan in less than two months. I feel like I’m back in college with the amount of coffee that I’ve been drinking. I can hardly believe that we’re in the month of June! It was at this time last year that I moved 2,299 miles across the United States for my job at Desert Springs Community Church. I could not have even imagined all that God has done in my life this past year.

If you’ve read my past blogs, I’ve shared that my transition out to Arizona was more difficult than I thought it would be. I had graduated college a month earlier and I had planned out what my next year would look like. I planned to start my career, move into my first apartment, make a million friends, get engaged, get married and start working on an EP.

I did start my career and move into my first apartment, which I’m very proud of, but I did not make a million friends, get engaged, get married or start working on an EP. I had been here for about 6 months when I started to realize that most of the things I had planned out were not going to work out the way that I wanted them to. I was struggling to make friends and felt misunderstood. I had not felt inspired or done any work on an EP project. I was not going to be getting engaged or married.

January through April were some of the darkest months I’ve experienced in my 20s. I cannot describe the loneliness that I felt. The emotional pain felt almost physical. I would cry constantly. I cried myself to sleep almost every night. I would carry my makeup with me because I would usually end up crying on my way to and from work. God bless my mentor/bestie Angela who sat through many lunches where I cried my eyes out (I think I’ve cried in every restaurant in the Goodyear area). I cried in my cousin’s living room. I cried backstage on Sunday mornings. There was one Sunday my friend Robby who is a pastor at Desert Springs asked if I was doing okay in between our 9:30 & 11:00 service and I literally lost it right there in the middle of the sanctuary, 10 minutes before I was supposed to get back up on stage and lead worship. I was a mess. A HUGE mess. I felt alone. I felt hopeless. I felt like God had forgotten me.

There was one Sunday in particular where I was leading the song “Ever Be.” If you’re not familiar with the song, the chorus is, “Your praise will ever be on my lips / ever be on my lips / Your praise will, ever be on my lips / ever be on my lips.” I was supposed to talk as a transition to the song and I had no idea what to say. I barely felt like I had the strength to sing that morning. I was just hoping I wouldn’t burst into tears on stage. How was I supposed to talk and encourage my fellow believers to praise the Lord at all times when there was nothing in me that even wanted to praise Him? I was deeply convicted that day.

I was taken to a place where I had to realize and truly grasp that He alone was enough. I had to not just believe that God was enough but I had to know it.

I was in the valley, ya’ll. Truly. I took that confusion and pain and faced it head-on. I poured my heart out in journals. I prayed constantly. I opened up. I let myself cry (as mentioned above). I got a mentor which is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. I started to long to worship because I felt that was where my focus was fixed on what was true. I didn’t leave my pain at the door, I took it into worship with me. I was in a deep struggle and some of the most real moments I’ve experienced in worship came from that time.

I can’t give you a specific day or moment where I felt God take me out of the valley but I can say that I have been awakened to His joy. It is SO real! I’m out of the valley. I made it! I feel like a whole different person. Not that I’ve changed much in my personality but inside I feel brand new. I feel refreshed. I feel more myself than I have felt in a long time. I’m laughing again, like belly laughing. I’m connecting more with other people. It feels so great.

I’ve embraced where God has me and am learning each day about who He wants me to be. I am incredibly excited for what He has for me and am overwhelmed that I get to serve Him in full-time ministry.

Some of you reading this might be in the valley right now. I understand. I get it. I know it. Take heart, friend. I’m here for you and God surely is too. He will take you through it and be beside you every step of the way. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need someone. As mentioned above, worship was one of the greatest resources in the valley so I’ve created a Spotify playlist ( https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/129952097/playlist/3LcMF9KEvP0113CuuGq5qn” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”> ) if you feel like you’re there now.

In a very weird way, I’m truly thankful for everything that has happened this past year of my life. I trust that there is so much more good to come. I still have hopes and dreams and cares and concerns but I’m giving them all to God. I want Him to glorified no matter what.

So, here’s to you, Arizona. You’ve given me one heck of a year. Excited to spend more years with you.

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Kinsley Nicole Photography

Busy Busy

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One of my favorite people in AZ – my roommate, Sarah DeAnne // Kinsley Nicole Photography

“Lord, You give me so much peace in the morning. I often wake up and my mind is racing but as soon as I start to journal and open the Word a calm comes upon me. You have blessed me so much! You have placed so many people in my life that I am so excited to get to know. Thank You for giving me such a passion for people. I pray that You would continue to show me how to use it.

‘Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.’”

                                                            Hosea 6:3

// Journal entry, January 25, 2014

The past couple of weeks have been really busy and the next couple of weeks are going to be the same. The baristas at the Starbucks closest to my church have started to recognize me if that gives you an idea. But I honestly like being busy! Sometimes I still can’t believe that I have my dream job being such a recent college-grad. So being busy feels really fulfilling!

It’s hard when I wake up in the morning to keep my mind from racing. If I pick up my phone I might have a few emails or texts and for some reason it’s really tempting to read them first thing. It’s even more tempting to open up my Instagram or Twitter app. I don’t even really know why that is. Fear of missing out? Type A tendencies? I can’t exactly pinpoint it. I do know that checking those emails or opening those apps does not in any way keep my mind from racing. It’s really not the best start to my day.

God is always there to provide peace and it’s amazing how you can feel it when you willingly put away those distractions. He is there to be our greatest friend. I always find it frustrating when I’m trying to talk with someone and I see them scrolling on their phone or looking elsewhere. Yet, I find that I do that with God. He’s right there for me and I find myself distracted.

One of my favorite parts about the busyness of life is the people. I love people. I’ve loved getting to know so many new people here in Arizona. I’m just fascinated by how God has created us all so uniquely. I so enjoy hearing about how God has knit people’s lives together and how He constantly works. He doesn’t leave us alone. Just as He is there for us He has given us each other. As I press on to know the Lord and acknowledge Him, I want to know people too.

So, how do I balance growing in my relationship with God and others with the busyness of life? I think one of the biggest things is taking each moment as it comes. I want to be present. I don’t want to miss out on the community that God is planning for me because I’m more concerned about my phone or my schedule. At the end of the day, I hope that I would always choose to spend time with people over my phone. I enjoy days where I’m so busy with people that I don’t have time to check my phone. It’s GREAT for the soul!

Don’t get me wrong, modern technology is in many ways a blessing. It allows us to keep up with friends and family that are near and far. We can listen to our music on the go. We can call or text anyone at our convenience. We can encourage others. I’m honestly thankful for it!  But, I’m also learning how to limit myself. I think we can detox from modern technology without completely ridding our lives of it. One thing that helped me a lot in recent weeks was deleting the Facebook app off of my phone. I can’t tell you how cleared my mind has felt. I also try really hard not to check my phone before I’ve spent time with the Lord in the morning.

I think the point is being conscious of the time that I spend with technology. I’m longing for community and that is going to come from the people around me –not the phone that is in my hand. As I press on to know the Lord I pray that He places people in my life that point me to Him.

My promise to you is that if I’m spending time with you (hopefully drinking coffee) I will give you my full attention. I will try my hardest not to be distracted. Whether you’re telling me a funny story or sharing what God has done in your life recently, I want to listen. I want to know you.

Let’s press on to acknowledge God and know each other.

Growing Pains

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A pretty accurate depiction of a conversation with me. Lots of coffee and hopefully lots of laughing (probably at something awkward I did). // Kinsley Nicole Photography

’Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing, nor that but simply growth, we are happy when we are growing.’

William Butler Yeats

I am so excited to grow in You this semester. I feel full of hope. I pray that You will be with me this semester. I am eager to learn what You have in store for me. My eyes and heart are open to You.

Everyday I will praise You and extol Your name forever and ever.’

Psalm 145:2

I strive to do this. Last semester I feel like I learned a lot about staying positive and ultimately think it came from having a grateful heart. I could not have gotten through last semester without You and I am thankful for You working change in my life. I pray that You will continue to do so. I am excited to see what You have planned. I am remembering that promise that You are for me. I am just so thankful, Lord.” // Journal entry, January 14, 2013

I started running again this past week. Back in the fall, I was really into it. I ran almost everyday. Then the Christmas came while working full-time at a church and it all went out the window.

Running (in my non-athletic regular person opinion) is one of those things that you don’t just jump back into. It definitely takes some initial training to get your body used to the consistent movement it involves. Basically what I’m trying to say is that I’ve felt like I wanted to die this week. I’m only 22 but attempting to get back into running has made me feel like I’m 85.

Despite the physical aches and pains I felt this past week I also felt really good. I slept a lot better and felt more motivated for life in general. I’m going to start trying to be more consistent in my running and training more. So if you’re reading this, keep me accountable!!!

The journal entry above was written during the second semester of my sophomore year of college. I was finally feeling like I was adjusting to my college life and was so excited by how God was working. I had decided to let go of my high school hurts and dived head first into becoming the woman that God wanted me to be. It was truly a pivotal time in my college career.

The reason it was so pivotal is because I was allowing myself to grow. I chose to let go of past hurts and struggles and dove head first into becoming the woman that God wanted me to be. I opened up to more people and really settled into my life at Liberty. The decision to do that led to my last 2 years of college being so full of joy and learning in my relationship with God and others.

I’m finding myself in a similar place now. If you’ve been reading my blog you know that settling into my life here in Arizona has not been anything like I thought it would be. That is not to say that it has been bad it has just been different than what I thought.

But, that’s the key. It’s different than what I thought. I must have my focus on God or this life just isn’t going to work.

I’m once again choosing to let go of past hurts and struggles and dreams and am diving into this next season of my life, continuing to become the woman God wants me to be. I’m opening up to more people. I’m running (which I tell myself I love but I really don’t). I’m being myself even when I feel like maybe I should be someone else. I’m being honest about my struggles which is something that is really hard for me. As painful and messy and confusing as it is, I’m growing.  Because of this decision, I’m slowly starting to find happiness in this season of change. Just like the quote at the beginning of the journal entry suggested, happiness is found when we are growing.

The happiest times of my life were birthed from time of extreme change and growth and I see how God is doing that in my life now. Sometimes even daily. I wake up each day with excitement for what He is going to do. I yearn for the moments I get to worship Him.

I’m a little teary as I’m ending this post just because there is still so much that is unknown. I know the woman that I want to be but unfortunately I’m still human. I have fears. I have dreams I still hold onto. But I’m trusting God with all I got. May His will be done and not my own. My heart is crying for that.

I’m feeling hope in the growing.

My Home

IMG_3931For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.

                                                                                                           II Timothy 4:6-8

 I want to live for the eternal by making the most of the temporary. I want to live my life in complete service for You. I don’t want to live on my own strength. I don’t want there to ever be a question who I live for. I pray that You would continue to show me how to live for You. I thank You for giving me the opportunity to lead worship. I pray that You would be at the forefront. I love You so much, Lord. I will fix my eyes on You and continually give You my heart.” // Journal entry, July 17, 2016

This journal entry was written about a month after I had moved to Arizona. I was living with my cousin Stephen and his wife Emily. They graciously let me stay in their home for the first few months that I lived here. I had stayed with them when I interned at Desert Springs Community Church during the summer of 2015 and it was amazing how the Lord worked it out for me to work at the church full-time after college. I loved living with them. We seriously laugh so much but more than that I know that they are there for me. They’ve seen me at my best and at my worst. Living with them was the strongest sense of family that I’ve ever had in my life. I really don’t think I would’ve been able to make it through this transitional season had I not lived in their home. I will forever be grateful to them.

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Thanksgiving 2016 at Stephen & Emily’s house. 

The first few months here felt very temporary. I had left most of my personal belongings on the east coast because my Dad was going to bring them out once I figured out what apartment complex I was going to be moving into. I had a lot of plans for my life that were being delayed by other life circumstances. I felt unsettled my first few months because I wasn’t fully accepting that God had really meant for me to be here.

The growth and change that came with moving to Arizona really hit me hard after the holiday season. I missed Virginia and the community that I had there so badly. The sweetest friendships that I’ve had in this life were thousands of miles away. My heart was aching. I would cry, so confused by what God was doing in my life.

I had to get it out of my head that Arizona was a temporary season in my life. I had to stop waiting for the next “big event” in my life and dive into what God had right in front of me. I had prayed in July that God would be at the forefront and I had to make that a reality. He had given me such a great opportunity to weekly lead worship and I wasn’t taking full advantage of that. I felt like I had no direction because I was so focused on what I thought my life would like post-college.

With all the growth and change that I have experienced, I have a peace that Arizona is where I’m supposed to be. I was talking with my boss a few weeks ago that God works in mysterious ways. I have never felt so fulfilled as I do leading worship. I feel blessed to have that opportunity. He has given me the sweetest roommate and has allowed me to live down the street from my cousins that I love so dearly. He has given me a mentor. He has allowed me to work with a staff that feel more like family than coworkers. I can’t see it all right now but He has given me so much.

I’m realizing more and more that we really have to know that God is enough. Sometimes in order to do that we have to be alone for a little while. I’m embracing that and feel more settled in my life here with each passing day.

I’m praying that He will fill me so that I can be poured out as an offering. I love working in full-time ministry and pray that I don’t ever lose the passion for it. I know that I’m young (I’m 22) but I can see myself doing this for a long time. I’ll always be fond of Virginia but I want to live fully in Arizona. It’s a process, but I’m here and I want God to use me.

I’ve changed my mindset. This isn’t temporary. Arizona is my home.

I’m excited for what is to come.

Mountaintop

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“Father, I come before You overwhelmed with thankfulness. I am in absolute awe. Woke up at 4:00 this morning to hike Sharp Top Mountain. The hike this morning was aweing. Everything felt so exciting as we waited for the sun. When the sun rose at 6:46am, I felt breathless. I wanted to feel everything. My heart saw with new eyes and my soul breathed in glory. This passage You gave me back on January 6th felt and became so real to me.

 I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this.

                                                            Isaiah 41:18-20

 I read it aloud on top of the mountain and felt Your presence so strongly. I almost can’t describe how I feel. I feel so full. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this morning. Please continue to reveal Yourself to me in this way! My body aches and I’m exhausted from lack of sleep but I don’t want to lose what this day held. You are so real to me.

But for you who revere My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.

                                                            Malachi 4:2a”

// Journal entry, April 12, 2014

I’m an extrovert with extroverted tendencies. I was joking with my small group that I’m either extroverted or less extroverted. I will literally talk to anyone and love, love, love being around people. It’s where I thrive.

My freshman year of college, I really struggled to make friends. I was harboring a lot of issues from my high school years that I thought would magically go away when I went off to college. I realized later that this hindered me from being open with people. As an extrovert, I feel like times of loneliness are especially hard because I feel fulfilled when I’m around people. I went home for the summer feeling defeated. My freshman year felt so stagnate.

It was during my sophomore year of college that I really began to find myself. I was entering into my first full year as a music major which was incredibly exciting for me. I had new roommates: Morgan from Virginia and Julie from California. The three of us were so different but we got along so well. We’d stay up late playing Heads Up (remember that game?), drinking sparkling cider, eating chips & salsa and watching Vines (RIP). I even ended up being the Maid of Honor in Morgan’s wedding this past May. I met some amazing people in the music department and slowly began getting to know them. These people became the best friends I’ve ever had. I was traveling with LU Praise who quickly became my family. God was working.

That lonely freshman year was not in vain. We have to know that God is enough and sometimes that means being alone for a little while. I had to let go of who I thought I was so that I could start to become who God wanted me to be.

Just like the journal entry mentioned above, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that hike. It was truly a spiritual experience as the sun rose over the Blue Ridge Mountains. I felt the warmth of the sun wash over me and peace engulfed me. My heart felt full. The new friends that were with me couldn’t even begin to understand the depth of what I was feeling. God was making me new. The girl who had spent a year in darkness was entering into light, ready to walk alongside fellow believers. She had longed for community and God was giving it to her.

I chose to write about this experience during Easter weekend because I believe that moment in my life is just a small parallel to what Christ did for us. Christ walked this earth with His community. He had friends, family and disciples. He traveled around, spreading the long awaited news of His coming. He was the Messiah. Some doubted, but many believed.

But then, His own friends rejected Him. One friend sold him for 30 pieces of silver. Another denied that he ever knew Him. He went through a trial that ended in a wrongful conviction. He suffered one of the worst deaths imaginable – death on a cross.

He experienced loneliness on a level that those of us who have accepted Christ will never know. Because of our sin, He experienced separation from God; the agony of hell. His earthly friends had forsaken Him and even God looked away.

I can’t even imagine the darkness those few days without Christ must have been like. Truly a world with no hope.

Then came Sunday. The stone was rolled away. For He could not be overcome. He trampled death by death. He fulfilled what had been promised years before. Our tears were not in vain. We were desperate for Him and didn’t even know it. His light healed our darkened hearts.

That verse in Malachi was true for us then and can be true for us now. Sorrow may last through the night but His joy comes in the morning. The sun always rises and the Son always heals. By His wounds we were forever healed.

So friends, no matter what season you’re in, you can have hope. Whether you’re on the mountaintop surrounded by love and joy or in the valley feeling alone and heavy-hearted, we know that the only thing that is eternal is our God and Savior.

If you’re in that season where God is shaping and molding you to be who He wants you to be, take heart, it will not be in vain. His ways are greater than anything we could ever hope for or imagine.

If you’re feeling lonely, know that His arms are open for you. He wants to know you. He will make rivers flow from barren heights and wastelands grow with tress of life. He is the constant, not this world.

He is forever.

Happy Easter to you!

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Kinsley Nicole Photography

Morning Person

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“I need to abide in You. I need to continue without fading or being lost. I cannot spend my life apart from You. The struggle is worth it if I can be close to You. I pray that Your heart would be mine. Continue to speak to me.” // Journal entry, December 29, 2015

My freshman year of college, I was really convicted about how much time I was spending with the Lord. The fact was that I wasn’t really spending any time with Him. I would say a quick prayer and open up my Bible when I had a spare moment but I wasn’t making that intentional time for Him. My excuse was that I didn’t have any time. My days were packed with classes and homework and other responsibilities. I wanted a thriving social life which takes lots of effort. I had just become a music major which meant lots of practice time and rehearsals. I had many reasons.

I realized that I could make time if I got up 30 minutes earlier than my alarm. This was honestly a painful thought. I was the type of person who would sleep until 1:00pm if I didn’t set an alarm. I loved sleep. I cherished it (still do). I knew that if I didn’t make the time in the morning I wasn’t going to make it anywhere else. I knew that this was something I needed to do.

The spring semester of my freshman year, I started setting my alarm 30 minutes earlier to spend time with Jesus. I had a class at 7:40am everyday (probably the worst scheduling mishap of my life) which meant I was getting up before the sun every morning. As many new college students do, I had started drinking coffee which quickly became a part of my routine to get into the Word.

The first couple months of this were honestly a struggle. My alarm would go off at a time that always felt way too early and I would force myself out of bed. I would pick up my Bible, attempt to quietly leave my room and sleepily make a pot of coffee in the common area of the apartment-style dorm I lived in. I would sit at the little table in the kitchen and read my Bible to the light that sat above the oven. I began journaling as a way to pray. This helped me focus my thoughts and also allowed me to quietly pray without waking the other girls I lived with. Sometimes I would write out the scriptures I was reading and respond with what I felt. Other times I’d write lyrics to worship songs or my own. This journal quickly became the most personal way that I communicated with God.

There were many mornings that I wished I was still in my bed but I slowly began to see how spending my first waking minutes with the Lord were affecting me. Even if I was facing a busy day I felt at peace. I started to look forward to the moments where I could pour my heart out to God. The early alarm didn’t always feel terrible anymore. I began to feel so encouraged as my relationship with God became truly personal.

The journal entry that started this post was written 2 years after I began to seek the Lord daily. I chose it because it shows that even years into this habit, I still needed to consistently pray and seek the Lord. I still needed Him. I still wanted to be close to Him. I still longed for His voice.

And now, 4 years into being what many of you would call a morning person, I can say that choosing to set my alarm 30 minutes earlier is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. There are still some mornings where the alarm comes too early and the coffee just doesn’t do it but I know that God still hears my heart. His grace is always there to greet me.

I know that mornings don’t work for everyone. Everyone’s lives and personalities are different. However, I would encourage you to find time with the Lord. Even if it’s just 30 mins. Maybe you can set your alarm earlier or change up your lunch break or limit Netflix time. You could journal or pray aloud or reflect. Find what works for you and stick to it. The first few months may be hard but I promise you it’s worth it. God has given us the opportunity for personal fellowship with Him, so why wouldn’t we take advantage of it? A relationship with God is so much more than just singing worship songs or attending church or hanging out with other Christians.

A relationship with God means being personal with Him. He has given us His own words in a book that were written specifically for us. We need to open it and read it. We need to pray and talk to Him. We were created for fellowship with Him.

Being able to experience God in a personal way has changed my life.

My prayer is that my desire to abide in the Lord would only grow stronger. I want to continue without fading or being lost. I want to look forward to mornings with Him. I pray the same for you.

Dreams

“I auditioned for vocal lessons and choir and was accepted. This feels so amazing, Lord. Every time I walk into the performing arts building I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. I pray You’ll just continue to show me how to use my gifts for Your glory. 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, ‘Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphant procession in Christ.’ It is so comforting to know that You’re always leading me in Your way.” // Journal Entry, January 18, 2013

I’ve been singing ever since I can remember. I joke that I came out of the womb singing. It’s just always been something I wanted to do. I remember there was one time my dad was trying to videotape my sister riding her bike and I kept jumping in front of the camera, singing “You are the potttttteerrrrr, I aammmm the cllaayyy.” Sorry, Naomi. Love you.

The first time I really remember singing in front of people was at the small Christian school I attended in Wickenburg. There were weekly chapel services and they would have some of the students come forward and sing along with the piano while someone slid the transparencies (remember those?) on the slide projector so we could know the lyrics.

After my family moved to Virginia, I became involved with a theatre company called Christian Youth Theatre (CYT). I performed in 12 shows with them over the course of 4 years. I was everything from an ensemble character to the villain to the leading lady. I’ll probably write a post about CYT at some point because that organization and the kids I met there changed my life. My senior year in high school, I decided that I wanted to pursue theatre as a career. I committed to Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA as a theatre major and prepared for this next stage in life.

The day after I graduated high school, I got on a plane to Africa. I was a part of a team of students from my high school that was going to spend 2 weeks serving at a boarding school in Mombasa, Kenya. I remember first arriving at the school and being swarmed by children, grabbing my hands and asking me to play with them. I slept under mosquito nets, swam in the Indian Ocean, ate coconut rice and chapati and drank the best chai I’ve ever had. I helped students in their studies and taught a few of them a little guitar. The students called me “Teacher Sarah” and I tried to learn phrases in Kiswahili to encourage them in their native language. Christ was so present there and my life was profoundly impacted by His love that I saw and felt while I was there.

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That trip to Africa wrecked me. It deeply affected me emotionally and spiritually. Those kids had nothing and yet they had everything because they valued their relationship with Christ and their relationships with each other above all else. That changed me.

I allowed my emotions to take over me. I suddenly decided that I wanted to be a missionary. On the day of my freshman orientation, I changed my major. I went into my first semester of college as a Global Studies major. The first month was all very exciting.

As the semester went on, I started to feel really lost. My Intro to Global Studies class had an assignment where we had to write where we saw ourselves on the mission field in 10 years. I could barely write it. I felt confused and was aching to sing again. Singing along in convocation services wasn’t enough. I needed to do what God had created me to do.

There was a lot more that happened but after lots of soul searching, prayer and talks with my Dad, I decided to switch my major to Music: Vocal Performance. I remember walking into the Performing Arts Hall on the first day of the spring semester. I heard the faint sound of a trumpet practicing and saw various musicians shuffling around with manuscript paper peeking out of their bags. I immediately felt like I belonged.

I haven’t looked back since then. I didn’t know at the time that I wanted to be a worship leader but I did know that I wanted to sing. I’m so glad God gave me that opportunity. I even had the chance to tour with a gospel group called LU Praise for my remaining 3 years of school which helped me pay for my education. Being a music major not only introduced me to my passion but to some of the best friends I’ve had so far in this life. I’ll never forget those people.

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God is so good. I’m a firm believer that God gives us dreams and He has honored my dream to sing. I got to spend 3 and a 1/2 years studying music and the voice. I got to sing in Concert Choir. I got to tour with LU Praise. I got to sing in countless concerts and events as a School of Music student. I got to sing in Liberty’s Christmas Coffeehouse my senior year. I got to perform my senior recital. I get to be a worship leader.

I don’t say all of these things to brag, please don’t misunderstand that. I say all of these things because I’m grateful. So grateful. I’ve been challenged recently to really survey all the good that God has done in my life and the moments I listed above are some of the best things He’s ever done. I see how He used the time spent in Africa to shape my faith and start the fire for full-time ministry. Nothing is wasted.

He’s faithful. He’s faithful in ways that we might not even see for years later. He’s faithful to the dreams He places in our heart.

Our God is so good. That is why I sing.