Ministry Update: Looming Ahead

Hello friends! I have an exciting ministry update to share with you all! But first, a little context: 

As some of you may know, in 2005 I went on a two-week missions trip that changed my life. That summer, my youth group partnered with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) to immerse ourselves in urban outreach. It was here that my heart was deeply stirred for the cause of the vulnerable and the marginalized, and I knew then I would spend the rest of my life seeking justice and compassion for the oppressed through my love of storytelling.

The next 4 years I spent a lot of Friday nights under the Burnside bridge, washing feet and handing out socks and sandwiches. I loved getting to meet people there and I began learning the power of relationships in changing hearts. However, I still was operating from a top-down mentality. What can I give you? How can I help you? Instead of, How can we work together?

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Two months out.

I’ve taken a pretty long break from writing. Partially because I’ve been reading a lot. Partially because I’ve been sick. And partially, to be honest, because it feels like right now, there’s no words at the tip of my tongue, like there usually is.

In exactly two months the SHINE Seminar 2017 will be underway. We are beyond thrilled to be going back to Amsterdam and reconnect with some great people in that neck of the woods. (We’re also pretty thrilled to be eating stroopwaffles on a regular basis again). It’s a season of in-between, trying to remain faithful where we are and yet beginning to prepare for what’s ahead.

I’ve been making good progress through my reading list so far this year, and sometime soon I’d like to share a little bit of what I’m learning with you all. In the meantime, I’d like to leave you with a couple of songs that have really been encouraging to me in the past couple of weeks. As Valentine’s Day approaches, may we remember our fullest example of True Love, who holds us fast every hour!

Oh the Deep Deep Love of Jesus–Audrey Assad

He Will Hold Me Fast–Getty Music


Starting Simply.

“As we behold the glory of Jesus, we increasingly participate in his image, transformed into his resemblance and character.” -Tony Reinke

I just want to know how to live my one life well.

This summer Ben and I returned from what many would have called a “mission trip.” But it was our arrival back through the US Customs Border that we were really on a mission.

We had arrived in Amsterdam like thirsty sponges, ready to learn and soak up what we could of another culture, another viewpoint, another world. We had just begun asking ourselves those big questions–what is our life really about? What are our priorities? Now, after three months, we had found a few answers–and even more questions.

We wanted to learn what it meant to be ethical consumers. How we could leverage our time and resources for justice, right where we lived. What it meant to be generous and self-sacrificing, yet live simply.

I talked in my last post about how I’m learning that sometimes, this means starting small. It means humility and discipline. It means having the same grace for myself as I give out to others.

You want to know what else I’m (humbly) learning?

It means being a worshipper.

It’s finally starting to sink in for me. In every area of my life, in everything I want to be or do, all the questions I have, it all comes down to to the gospel. It all comes down to Jesus.

“The more you know [Christ], the better you will trust him; the more you trust him, the better you will love him; the more you love him, the better you will serve him.” –Newton

Or, as Jason Fileta (founder of one of my favorite Portland non-profits, Micah Challenge,), puts it: “The response is not to live as a Justice Pharisee, but we need to respond as an act of worship. We need to rediscover worship as what we do with our daily lives.” –Jason Fileta

Ultimately, living my life well means learning from the one who lived life perfectly. Instead of trying to do more, be more, give more– I just need more of Jesus. I just need to be captivated more by His beauty.

What does this mean for me, practically? It means more prayer. More thanksgiving. More meditating on the heart of Christ. More going back, every single day, to the message of the Gospel.

And hopefully, more of that will mean less time wasted with my own Justice Agenda, trying to fix the world on my own.


Starting Small

I came back from Amsterdam wanting to do BIG things. Start prayer groups. Raise money for organizations. Write amazing articles for my organization’s website. Grow my blog readership. Basically, become the NW’s version of Ann Voskamp overnight, mixed in with Scott Sauls and Micah Boyett. And if you don’t know who these amazingly gifted writers are yet, your homework for today starts here.

Yet in all my great hopes and dreams, I”m finding it hard to remain content, to remain humble, to remain ultimately centered on and fulfilled by Christ. I’m getting so caught up in my own ideas, plans, and the opinions of others. It’s time to go back to the roots.

Over and over again, the Lord has been reminding me this past month that although I have big dreams, I need to trust him first with the small things right in front of me. “You have been faithful with little, I will put you over many things,” as the parable of the talents states. And who knows what He considers “little” and “big” anyways?

Could it be that these “small” things are really the biggest of all? Being a wife, a friend, a church member–could these actually be my biggest work, wherever else life takes me?

It’s not that I believe big dreams are bad. I just think, sometimes, they can distract us from being present and faithful in what we already have. From always feeling the pressure to do more, be more, impress others with the radical amazing things we’re doing with our lives.

“And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. But the greatest of these is Love.”

This year, I want to become a genuinely involved member of my community. I want to foster healthy and generous relationships. I want to keep reading books and articles that expand my vision, and write about what God is slowly unfolding in my heart.

I want to gather with women in my church and pray for “big” and “small” things–all the things that matter in our lives. I want to risk saying crazy things and getting humbly corrected later down the road as I continue to learn and grow. But most of all, I want to take advantage of the small. Small purchases, small moments, small interactions with others, small ways I can give sacrificially. And in it all, I want to take some deep breaths and allow myself to be OK with that.

“…But I also sense an invitation, one that brings a desire to commune with Jesus and with others in a way that the big I think I want may not allow. Daily I’m given the opportunity to recognize the gift of obscurity, trusting Christ is doing invisible kingdom work in the stairwells of my everyday life.

“Let’s stretch out in the fullness of small and move downward in gladness rather than upward in fear.
“Let’s let go of the constructed life and embrace a connected life, even if it leads to less.”
–Emily Freeman (read the full article, Hope For Your Soul When You Feel Small)

“God has not called you to be awesome. He has called you to be humble, faithful, and free. Leave the awesome to him.” Scott Sauls

I remind myself to breathe deep of the morning air, the scent of possibilities.

There is surely grace enough here.


Pilgrims often journey to the ends of the earth in search of holy ground, only to find that they have never walked on anything else.Scott Russell Sanders

Well my friends, we made it.

We’re “home”–back where everyone speaks our language, where we can enter public restrooms FOR FREE, where we can ask for a cup of ice water with our meal and not look like tourists. Where people smile when you enter a store, and come to take your order shockingly fast when you sit down in a restaurant.

We wandered through Safeway today, reveling in the thousands of options at our fingertips. We smile and wave when bikers give us the right of way. And above all, we keep reminding ourselves that Amsterdam really happened and we didn’t just wake up from a very, very long dream. 

Jet lag is still wearing off–I woke up this morning at 3:45 AM, craving noodles. And there are hundreds of photos to sort through and piles of laundry and so many blessings just sitting here at my fingertips. Grace, all of it. Each time I’m tempted to wish I was back in Europe, I stop for a breath, look around, and remember this too is holy ground. This too is a place I will encounter the weight of glory–in the warm sun on my toes, the faces I pass, the work we have returned to.

However, the more we look back on everything we’ve learned and experienced, we realize there was such great value in our time in Amsterdam as well. Together, Ben and I have come up with a list of attitudes or habits really appreciated during the past few months–ones we’d like to begin implementing ourselves in the coming months. Take a look if you’re curious:

1. Hospitality.

We have felt so welcomed into the homes of friends and new acquaintances, both in Amsterdam and while we traveled. I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through it all is that traveling doesn’t change you–but the people you meet just might. I’m challenged to look at my own life now that we’ve returned, and make sure I always leave space for spontaneous hospitality.

2. Living simply.

This is one we’ve already started working on in the past year–getting rid of stuff, only owning one car, etc. However, we’ve come home inspired to take even more steps in this direction. For example, if we lived three months without this stuff, how much of it do we really need? And “living simply” isn’t just about getting rid of things, but about protecting things that matter. Evening dinners outside, walks to the store, visiting our local farmer’s markets, and so much more.

3. Making time for beauty.

Buying fresh flowers. Lighting candles. Going to art museums and community concerts. Decorating with and wearing items I love. Making time and space for things I would normally consider luxuries–yet not as part of a luxurious lifestyle.

4. Investing in community.

In the past two years we’ve moved twice, switched churches, and then spent three months abroad. As of yet, we haven’t really invested deeply in any community outside of our circle of friends and family. Our goal for the coming years is to put in the effort to put down roots, without worrying about whether or not we’re staying in that community long-term. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently focused on how to incorporate a lifestyle of justice into my everyday life. And part of what I think this means is to really involve yourself in the lives of people around you.

Now that we’ve returned, the challenge will really be putting these goals into action. In the next few posts, I’ll continue to reflect on what we’ve learned in Amsterdam, and whatever challenges we run into as well! In the meantime, take a deep breath, look around you, and count three things you are thankful for. We really are standing on holy ground.

The Journey Back


Tomorrow we begin our journey back to America. It’s hard to believe that the months could fly by so fast! There is so much I want to write about– all that I’ve seen and learned, all that I’m taking with me, and all the wonderful people I’m leaving behind. It’s definitely a bittersweet ending, for sure. In the next few weeks, I’ll be taking now time to write about all of these things. In the meantime, I’ve got a lot to think about on my trans-Atlantic flight to the west coast! Thanks to everyone who has supported and encouraged us in these past three months. I can’t wait to tell you all more.

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“…on this journey together–

steps of faith each morning,

clasping memories close each night.

We carry so much with us,

still learning together

what we can let go of, let

the wind carry–

and what seeds to water in sacrifices and joys.”


I’d like to start out this post by affirming that there are now two more very good reasons I don’t typically wear white/light colored pants. And those reasons are 1. Mexican food and 2. Mexican food.

On another note, here are a few snapshots from this past week:






It has been a great week–full of challenges, hard work, late nights, laughter, beach trips, and perhaps a little too much cake. In some ways, it feels like we’ve been here forever; in others, like we’re only just getting started. It’s this strange mix of starting to be excited to bring all that I’ve learned back to “real life,” and yet wanting to hold onto these moments and never return.

I feel I could go on forever about all I have been learning this week–about myself, God, what it takes to make a ministry like this run, and how much I still have to learn about love. I’m reminded again of how challenges really are the things that sharpen us and bring us growth. All the things I would avoid if I could see them coming–all the uncomfortable tensions, the irritating situations, the stress or fear of the unknowns…these are the things that question my assumptions, that ask me what I’m really made of. My gut reactions say a lot more about my true theology than any good ideas. What is theology even about anyways, if it doesn’t affect the way we live?

In the midst of so much I wish that I was; in the midst of sorting through what I really believe; in the midst of all the times my hunger for love and acceptance comes clawing up unexpectedly, all I can say is how good it is to take a deep breath and meditate on Grace.

Grace in the eyes of my husband who consistently loves and cherishes me each day. Grace in the words of my teammates for the times I let an opportunity slip by. Grace in the hands and feet and love of Jesus, who never expected me to simply figure this out on my own.

Let my heart become a vessel in which this grace overflows.

What Does Justice Ask of Us? -More Than Just Putting Out Buckets.

Justice requires many things from us.

It requires that we be both warriors and mothers, advocates and givers. It asks for us to fight against wrong, to defend the vulnerable, to take proactive steps towards filling the cracks instead of just putting out buckets to catch the leaks.

It asks us to house the stranger and welcome the orphan, to live shockingly generous, hospitable lives–to walk the delicate tightrope between mercy and steadfast truth–in short, it asks from us more than we can give on our own.

To live “righteously” is to live rightly, to invest our time and resources into the things that matter. Yet without the Spirit, our hearts will become exhausted trying to measure up to an idea of perfection, rather than righteousness. Lately I’ve been thinking how justice has less to do with the letter of the law, and a whole lot more about the intent of the heart. If you look at the judges and kings who are the hero of a good story, immortalized in tales passed down through the generations, it was their creative wisdom that saved the day and accomplished what was ultimately just.

The more I ponder justice, the more I’m convinced it goes further than simply wanting laws enforced, evildoers jailed, clear division between right and wrong. Certainly, it involves these things. But could these actions, without love, be nothing more than vengeance?

When I say “love,” I also mean so much more than mere compassion and emotional sympathy. We may not always “feel” this love, this justice. I’m referencing a fierce love, a practical love, a self-emptying love. It’s a love that clings to truth because it knows that love separated from truth becomes a weak and shriveled love.

I want more than anything to learn how to live a life like this.

Enter the interns.

I’m excited to write this post today and finally get to answer the many, many questions I’ve gotten throughout the past four months or more. Nearly all of them sounded exactly (and understandably) like this: “So, what will you be doing during your internship?”

My answer, until this week: “Honestly, I have no idea.”

However, I have now officially begun my internship and actually know what it will look like for the next month! Hooray! So for anyone who’s still awaiting a better answer to their question, this post is for you. 🙂

The rundown: Every week we’ll have the chance to participate in all staff meetings and corporate worship times. This will also include scheduled times of helping out around the base, whether that’s cleaning, admin work, laundry, or answering phones. In addition to this, the four of us have been asked to work on a few specific research projects, which will hopefully help the Lighthouse ministry build relationships with a deeper level of cultural understanding and sensitivity. Lastly, we will be participating in outreach three nights a week in various formats.

I’m really looking forward to all of the great experience our team will gain through this internship. Besides myself, there are three other beautiful ladies on my team as interns, and I’ve already been so blessed to work alongside and learn from them. It’s also going to be great spending more time with the Lighthouse staff, as they have so much knowledge and such beautiful hearts.

In the next few weeks, I’m hoping to keep you all updated on what’s going on here–but also add a little more insight into all that I am learning more personally as well. As always, if you have anything specific you’re just dying to know, any questions I can answer–just send them my way or comment below! Thank you all so much for your prayers during this time!