Your Story

17 Apr

“If God is Sovereign, then He is in control of all the details of my life.  If He is loving, then He is going to be shaping the details of my life for my good.  If He is all-wise, then He’s not going to do everything I want because I don’t know what I need.  If He is patient, then He is going to take time to do all this.  When we put all these things together – God’s sovereignty, love, wisdom, and patience – we have a divine story.

People often talk about prayer as if it is disconnected from what God is doing in their lives.  But we are actors in His drama, listening for our lines, quieting our hearts so we can hear the voice of the Playwright.

You can’t have a good story without tension and conflict, without things going wrong.  Unanswered prayers create some of the tensions in the story God is weaving in our lives.  When we realize this, we want to know what God is doing.  What pattern is God weaving?”

-Paul Miller

..and somewhere deep down inside all of the questions of my heart, I do know that He is Sovereign and loving and wise and patient.  As stubborn as I am about penning my own story, I know that His is so much better.  There’s something really comforting in knowing that He already has written out my story, the first page and the last .. I’m simply reading and living through the pages.

In those moments when I feel the page is blank, I’m trusting Him to give me eyes to see what He has written and to delight in the words He has spoken over me.

I’m grateful for the tension.  

I’m grateful for the conflict.

And above all, I’m grateful that there is a God in this Universe who has the creativity and depth to look upon me and somehow include Himself in my story.

– – –

..if you have not read Paul Miller’s “A Praying Life”, you should really check it out.  It has been my single favorite book on prayer.  It reminds me of the character of God and the nature of Sheryl.. two very different things.. and I need that reminder more than I have fingers and toes.  It’s raw and honest and Jesus-centered, not religion-focused .. and for men like Paul, I am ever so grateful.  Thanks for sharing your story with me.

Photos from life these days, uber behind on blogging

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Some of the stellar folks from my Public Admin. program
I love doing life with these guys..

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Reconnecting with faces from days of old..
City girls who found ourselves in the middle of Central PA at the same time.  Funny how that works.
Look out Harrisburg….

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Spent some time away from paper writing with this awesome family.  From day one, the Hutcheson’s reminded me so much of my own family.. random bouts of wrestling and laughing till you can’t see eyeballs.  Spending the day with them made me less homesick and for that I’m grateful.  Tyler, I can still out-belch you.. any day dude!  #thingsgirlsdontsay

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Getting to experience a glimpse of beauty and serenity.. being outside in nature is one of my favorite things to do when the weather warms up

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Blue skies and rolling hills.  Pennsylvania, you are beautiful.

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“Alexa, how do you feel about spending hours on a gorgeous Easter Sunday doing work?”  #fail

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“Oh wait.. there it is..”
That pout. Nailed it.

A walk to remember

5 Apr

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those dirt streets I walked on in the Red-Light District of Mumbai.  Blocks upon blocks of brothels and countless women and girls living a life of fear, desperation, and hopelessness.  I think about being a twenty-one year old female at that time and the feeling of eyes on me.  Not in the way a man looks at his bride.  In that moment, I remember having feelings of legitimate anger, frustration, and protectiveness for those girls brewing in me.  I knew that all of the showers in the world could not remove the dirt that I felt walking those streets that afternoon.  I made a promise to God that day, that I would spend the rest of my life fighting that cause. Somehow.

Even if it was one day teaching my own kids about it and shepherding their heart toward compassion and justice.  I never thought I would get the opportunity to do more for the cause..

I never considered shaping policies, or working alongside politicians and government leaders to find and create resolutions. I never considered working with law enforcement to heighten the order and make punishment stricter for offenders of the law.  I certainly never thought to work with trafficking victims, in my own backyard, and help to bridge the gap between ‘us’ and ‘them’.  So, that it’s ‘we’. 

I spent 2 years of graduate school trying to hone in on my experience at the Red-Light District.

I researched.

I wrote.

I read. 

I scribbled.

I continued this process till I had over 100 pages of my completed Master’s thesis on human trafficking in India.  I remember the moment I printed out the final draft and cried, not simply out of relief that my graduate program was finally completed, but because this was simply another step to the promise I had made that day on those forsaken streets.

I applied to every job known to man that pertained to human trafficking.

I considered living overseas to somehow resolve this problem.

I watched the Lord close every single door that I wanted open.  Every single door.  Eventually, I had the opportunity to go to Cambodia and I intentionally jumped on the opportunity because my heart broke over the trafficking in that country.  I thought about the girls that I would be meeting.  I thought about the boys that I would get to speak to.  I flew by myself across the world to meet these strangers and hear their stories.  I had no clue what to expect and who I was going to meet during my time there.

I’ve never prayed so hard that the Lord would keep those little girls safe and out of the hands of evil people.  I’ve never prayed so hard that the Lord would raise those little boys to be Godly men who cherish the hearts of those girls and other girls one day.

Returning back to the States, I went back to the rhythm of my life.

Deep down I knew the Lord wasn’t calling me to live overseas no matter how much in my head it could somehow make sense.  It wasn’t His will to open those doors or to give me peace in that direction.  So, I began researching human trafficking in America and saw how prevalent it was in Atlanta.  I packed my bags and flew down to Atlanta thinking it would be great to work with a small grassroots organization.

Nothing.

Every door remained closed.

I couldn’t understand what the Lord was doing.  Was all of this a big misunderstanding?  Did I incorrectly hear His voice during my undergraduate years when I strongly felt the push to advocate for this cause?

What else was there to do with this?

Non-profits, for-profits, churches, ministries, NGOs overseas .. everything led to a closed door.

This was the start to pursuing graduate school again. 

Many of you have asked ‘why public administration?  why government administration?’ and there was never a short answer to that question.  My mind always remembers walking down those dusty Mumbai streets.  So what took me years in my own strength ended up taking me two-and-a-half weeks.  Literally.  I look back and see the fingerprints of God all over the process.  I researched schools and programs, reached out to program directors to possible school options and asked them all the questions in the world, and eventually applied.  In less than three weeks I had transcripts and recommendations in, resume updated, personal statements written and re-written, and applications in right before the deadline.  I could not wrap my head around the smoothness of the process.  Seriously.  The entire time, I’m ashamed to say, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I was waiting for God to say “nope, this isn’t for you either.”

He never did say that.

So, I’m going to continue dreaming big.. because I have an even bigger God that works His perfect plans out in my life for His glory.  In His time.  Not mine.  He’s not intimidated by my dreams.  Nor is He swayed by the fickleness of them.

I’m one step closer advocating for those girls in India, Cambodia, and Atlanta and I could not have done that had I pursued the paths that I had chosen for myself.

I’m glad He loved me so much to pull me out of every single comfort zone, to have me walk those dirty streets of Mumbai, India, then place me in uncomfortable situation after another.. only to be the weakest, youngest, and most inexperienced (every time!) and I’m left clinging on to His grace…

grace upon grace…

upon grace.

Wiser Pursuit of a New Year

3 Mar

“Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.”  

-Henri Nouwen

Silence gives a whole new meaning to words.

Listening makes speaking more impactful.

Distance shows us the beauty of true intimacy.

This has been my pursuit for 2015.

What a wise and beautiful lesson to learn.

End It

27 Feb

Are you in it to end it?

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Thank you Senator Corker for introducing the bill to combat Human Trafficking.

I always loved you Tennessee.

Today more than 27 million people, many of them women and children, are forced into labor and sexual servitude in over 165 countries around the world, including America.  Be aware of what’s going on with trafficking in your backyard. 

This new initiative would fund programs that will help recover victims, prevent slavery, and enforce laws to punish individual and corporate perpetrators of modern slavery.

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Let’s be in it to end it friends.

If you’re unfamiliar with the End It Movement, check them out.

Changes

26 Feb

There have been lots of changes on my end recently and due to them I’ve chosen to restructure my blog.  Good stuff, I promise.  Please bear with me and check in later..

For now, getting back to the grind.. 4 chapters deep, 1 more to go..

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p.s – sipping on chai because I miss all things India these days.. and this tastes absolutely nothing like my momma’s chai.. boo

Great Strength

9 Feb

Asked about the challenges of being a publicly Catholic figure in Hollywood, Caviezel responded, “It’s part of the cross you take up when you choose to believe in Him…we all have this desire to want to be liked…but what we should be asking God is the desire for humility.”

The strength of Christian faith, he said, is “in just giving it up and saying I’m going to be a servant of Jesus Christ, and my Father in heaven.”

“We were not awarded any Oscars for the Passion, but do you think that’s the important thing for God? Certainly if we received ten Oscars, it would not bring any more peace into the world.”

“When the world looks at us, in complete and utter dismay, and asks why would you choose to suffer like this? But in that, that’s where the great strength is when God starts to work,” he said.

Broder

25 Jan

After an exhausting week catching up with family is by far my favorite thing. Ever.

There’s just something refreshing about connecting with someone who knows your good and bad.. and everything in between.  You find yourself laughing at dumb things and being the cause of the laughs simultaneously.

I had a great time chatting Jerry, I can’t wait till you visit..

Can we have an ‘all-you-can-eat chocolate weekend’ please?  Can I finally win a wrestling match?  It does something for my stubborn ego.. haha, or lack there of.

Love ya bubb..

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 9.17.36 PMHe had no clue I snapped this.. but this is and always has been our dynamics.. we laugh at everything.. literally EVERYTHING.  Where’s my eyeballs though?  :)

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Our family used to always make fun of the fact that we were inseparable as kids growing up.  There’s still a piece of that in us still, even though we don’t get to connect as frequently.  Thanks for making me laugh and being such an encouragement broder.  You radiate the joy of the Lord.  I missed that for so long.  Good to have it back.  *smiles*  You’re good people.  Sometimes.

Till next time…

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