Friday, June 24, 2011

A Select Arrow

There are those times in life where God gives us numerous options and He wants us to choose one and serve Him to the fullest. Then there are times when you know for a fact God has orchestrated the exact direction and there is no questioning it. I would try to make the long story short but I do not want to miss one piece of this journey.

From the time I was 4, I was teaching my baby dolls and stuffed animals. I would drive the school bus (Mom says I was pretty good about slamming on the brakes and getting on to the kiddos for misbehaving), read them books, grade their papers and basically teach them everything I know. This became even more fun when Kathryn was born and I was able to drag around an actual student. Kathryn, you can thank me later for all the things I have imparted to you!

During my time in my education courses, I was the biggest nerd there. I think I stalked the school supply area at Target, always purchasing the latest design of highlighters and post-it notes. I loved every bit of the information, minus one class but that is a whole different story!

Upon graduation, I accepted a position at Caldwell Elementary teaching 2nd grade and spent gobs of time and money (thanks Mom & Dad!) on my classroom. I was in love. Standing with my kiddos in the hallway, I was amazed that God had entrusted these little lives to me. Mistakes were made, lessons were learned, tears were cried, paperwork was hated, but I knew I was created to do this.

You can imagine everyone's surprise when I knew God was leading me from the classroom into an opportunity at my church. In July of 2006, we packed my classroom unsure of when/ if I would ever open these boxes again.

I would need to write a book to share all that took place from July 2006 to May 2011, so I will settle for bullet points.

  • Mentors, old and young, taught me about ministry, service, life, studying God's Word, missions, and so much more.

  • Teaching and leading Bible studies became one of my passions.

  • Attended Womenary ( classes that expanded my knowledge of God's Word and deepened my desire to study.

  • I lead teams or joined teams to: Guatemala (twice), Belize, Israel, Egypt (technichally 4 times), and places across the states.

  • I interned for a sports ministry for the summer of 2009 in Egypt and before I finished my time, left from Cairo to South Africa for 3 months.

  • Attended the African Leadership Institute for Community Transformation ( 3 intense months, 27 students from 24 countries, Leaders & Teachers from around the world, ALICT experiences, classes from 8-5, Worship in a way I have never worshiped, Maddie Kate was born and in ICU back in Texas, so much more...

  • I began to learn much about the way God has created me and why He has created me.

  • The desire to teach began to resurface (even though for four years I said it would NEVER happen).

  • Returned home to Texas in November of 2009, the week of Thanksgiving, to a loving family and beautiful 2 month niece- Madelyn Kate, 1 year old niece- Allison Paige, and 5 year old, sweet Emily Claire.

  • November of 2009- November of 2010, represent a time of questioning, a time of discovering why God had placed each thing in my path, knowing my time in Egypt and South Africa would largely impact my journey ahead, feeling the weight of responsibility that such experiences carry, and knowing it was time to move from staff at the church to smack dab in the middle of the community.

  • Grandma McAfee- if you know me, you know about Grandma. My 6 months with her hold sweet memories, personal challenges, new friends, and a time of learning.

  • In May of this year, I drove away from Grandma knowing it was time to teach, time to serve, time to move in the direction He was pointing.

Let's get a few things straight: Now is not the time to think of joining the education force. School districts across Texas and the nation are letting teachers go and scaling back in large amounts. Job fairs were cancelled. No jobs are posted online. So, I knew God had to pave the path. I knew the job that I would get would be the one where He wanted me.

Now, the question was where. Where to apply. Where to live. Where to be. The answer: Houston. Like my return to teaching, Houston was never top on my list. However, as God has softened my heart to the idea, He has shown me why Houston:

  1. Diveristy- I crave cultural diversity. I know I have much to learn from other cultures and since I knew God was saying the States, I knew it had to be in a place of great diversity.

  2. Egyptians- I have some pretty awesome Egyptian friends here that live for Jesus and desire to serve Him with all they have.

  3. 3 1/2 hours from Tyler. I love being close enough for visits with my nieces!

  4. Inner city- this is where I want to teach.

  5. Ministry opportunities are rampant!

2 weeks ago, a friend invited me to come serve at an International Soccer (Football) Tourney, I had no idea what this day would have in store for me. I arrived early and decided just to hang out and help as needed. During the opening ceremony, Alex introduced me to Rohan. The really cool part: Rohan and his wife, Sharon attended ALICT in 2006. Alex had no idea he was going to be there. We started talking and Rohan asked, so what are you doing now?

I always laugh at this question. It's hard to answer. So, I shared my heart. I moved here with the desire to work in an innercity school, in an area where there is a high drop out rate, and I want to serve the community around it. I know it will be hard, but I know it is what I am called to do.

The next few minutes seemed unreal, but often that is how God works. He wants the glory. He wants nothing of it to be given to us. Rohan knew of a school that was attempting to do just this. It would be their first year and they were deep in the hiring process. He wanted my resume that night to forward to the right people. I made some calls to a dear friend in Tyler, edited my resume, and emailed it at 12:30 am, Sunday morning. The following week was a whirlwind: phone call on Sunday, interview Monday, lots of waiting and praying, and a phone call on Friday with an official job offer.

I will be teaching at the Arrow Academy (Bethel Campus)- In reading the website, I knew this is exactly where God was pointing me. I did not just want to work with any school in any area. I want to use the leadership training, character development, cultural studies and all that God has allowed me to experience to bring about transformation. I know the journey will be tough. I know it will involve long hours, lots of tears, intense prayers, heart aches, and so much more but I know it will involve blessings as I live out the life God intended for me. I know it will hold a journey that only God can guide.

Listen to me, O islands, And pay attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called Me from the womb; from the body of My mother He named Me. He has made My mouth like a sharp sword, In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me; And He has also made Me a select arrow. He has hidden Me in His quiver. He said to me, "You are My Servant, Israel, in Whom I will show My glory." But I said, "I have toiled in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the Lord, And My reward with My God." Isaiah 49:1-5

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I wanted...

About a month and a half ago, I had made the decision to return to Egypt this summer with a team. The minute I said yes, my heart was heavy. There are very few times when I know the answer is "Yes." However, if the answer is "No," I know it. I knew this feeling. I knew I had said "yes" before really seeking God's face and His will.

I wrestled and struggled with the decision for quite some time. I spent time in prayer and reading Scripture. I talked through things with people that know and love Egypt. I discussed things with my Dad. I knew the answer I had to give and my heart was heavy.

You see, I desperately want to be there. I want to spend time with my friends that I really consider family. I wanted to sit in the prayer service and listen to the cries of their hearts in Arabic. I wanted to know how they were really doing in the midst of all that is happening in their country. I wanted to see their faces, to laugh with them to cry with them.

The common theme is: I wanted.

Knowing what I needed to do, I made the phone call I had dreaded for so long and told the church that I could not go and could not lead a team. (This was about 2 weeks ago.)

For the last three nights, my dreams have been filled with time in Egypt. I dreamed that I had lead a team and everything went well. I dreamed of time with the people I love so much. I dreamed of sharing a culture close to my heart with team members. I woke up this morning so confused. Why was He leading me not to go? How could this be the way He wants me to go?

Then I sat down to this:

The first verse I read this morning was Jeremiah 10:23: I know, O Lord, that a man's way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.

The cross references lead to me Proverbs 16:1: The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. and Proverbs 20:24- Man's steps are ordained by the Lord, How then can man understand His way?

As I read these verses over and over (and over) again, I was reminded that I will not always (or ever) understand why God is leading me in a certain direction. I may not like the direction or want to follow but I must trust that His direction of my steps is better than any direction I could choose.

You see, it is about more than I wanted; it is about Him.

And I will lead where He follows.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

18 days and counting...

Over the last two weeks I have started many blogs. Words have been typed and the deleted. Thoughts have bounced around my head. What to say... how to say it... where do I begin... what am I even supposed to be thinking? So many questions and zero answers.

18 days.

18 days of watching, waiting and praying.

18 days of wondering what will happen with Mubarak.

18 days of wondering what I am supposed to want for Egypt.

18 days of wondering what I am even supposed to pray.

18 days of crying out to God and trusting that the Holy Spirit groans in prayer for me.

18 days and counting...

The wondering does not end now and the prayer must become more fervent. Yes, there is celebration. Yes, the people have won. But what now? So many uncertainties, so many questions, so many fears. But ONE GOD in control and because of this, we rest in Him.

The journey has just begun. Transformation must take place. Hearts must be changed. Lives radically different. When the hype wears down, the people must continue and being farther away than my heart desires, I must continue to watch, wait and pray.

Monday, January 31, 2011

New Meaning

The Psalms have always been a place of comfort, a place of prayer, a favorite piece of Scripture that I would turn to at different times of life. However, as I read through the Psalms and pray them for my dear, dear friends in Egypt they have new meaning.

The words of David crying out to God as he was in danger hold new meaning after talking to a friend as he stood on the streets holding a bar and a knife to protect his family and home from the thieves and criminals.

The promise of protection and deliverance bring a new depth after praying them with a sweet friend over the phone as she and the other women in her family sit in the apartment, waiting and praying.

I invite you to pray with me. Pray Psalm 34 for the people of Egypt as they embark on a very important day.

Psalm 34 (NASB)

(A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed. )

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the Lord with me; And let us exalt His name together.

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and rescues them.

O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
O fear the Lord, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want.
The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.
Come, you children, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is the man who desires life and loves the length of days that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

As they stand in the trenches, we stand with them: united in Christ and praying His word.


In the same way the Spirit also helps our weaknesses; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 (NASB)

If you have turned on your television to the news or spent time on the internet, you are aware of what is happening in Egypt. In a matter of days, protestors have taken over the streets and a once quiet Cairo has become a picture of unrest.

A few years ago, this would have been a distant news story. One that I may have watched off and on throughout the days. One that takes place in the land of the pyramids. One that was far from home and far from my heart.

However, after spending a few months in Egypt in the summer of 2009 and travelling there other times, this story is heavy on my heart. The streets being shown in the news are streets that I walked to work every day. These are not just thousands of people in the streets. These are the shopkeepers that sold me water, the taxi drivers that took me home, the guards that protected our building. These people are the men and women I walked past each day.

The ones protecting their homes are my friends, my brothers in Christ. The women in the homes are my sisters that I have laughed and cried with. Egypt is no longer a foreign country, a foreign news story, it is home. Their families have invited me into their homes and treated me as family. Egypt is no longer a foreign country, a foreign news story, it is home.

In a time when I have no idea what I should be praying, I rest in this verse. The Holy Spirit intercedes and groans on my behalf. For my brothers on the street that do not know what to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes. For the women that sit in their homes, the Holy Spirit intercedes.

You may be experiencing something in your life and you do not know how to even begin praying. Rest in knowing the Holy Spirit intercedes for you.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Praying for Egypt

My heart aches for the situation in Egypt. I walked those streets everyday to go to work at the Sports Team office. With no way to contact anyone, all I know to do is pray.

Pray for my friends. Pray for their families. Pray for the people. Pray for the country. Pray for God's glory to be revealed. Pray for His presence. Pray for His peace. Pray for His comfort. Pray for His will.

These are just a few of my sweet Egyptian friends. Friends that I have cried with, laughed with and more importantly, friends that drew me closer to Christ. I ask that you join me in praying. When we do not know the words to pray, the Holy Spirit cries out!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I am not sure I have ever truly realized and appreciated the depth and importance of community until now. It is often said that you do not realize what you are missing until it is gone. So true!

November 17, 2010 I packed my car and began a new chapter, a new journey. A journey that I knew God was calling me to but did not know what it would hold (not that I ever do). A journey that has proved to cut to the core of who I am as a person. A journey that would reveal things about my character and my life that I would just prefer never know and prefer no one else see and experience. A journey full of tears. A journey full of learning. A journey full of realizing I am nothing without HIM.

This journey is like no other, because it is one where I have found myself completely removed from the community I have known and loved for so many years. A community that has grown together. A community that is full of mistakes, yet full of learning. A community that was not perfect, but was real.

You see, our hearts are created for community. Community with our triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The depths of our soul rejoice when we experience community with other believers. But, we are not given the right to community. I am currently reading Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and being challenged by every word, every thought.

Community is a privilege, not a right. I am privileged to live in a country where gathering as a community of believers is safe. We can join in a building, publicizing when we will be there and even streaming it live on the internet, if we so desire. But, this is a privilege not a right.

Yes, I miss my community. Yes, I crave time sitting across from my friends and family. Yes, I desire that community here in OKC. But, in the midst of feeling isolated and so alone, I am grateful that I have community, community with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Crazy Cousins!

I was so blessed to have a weekend at home this past weekend to celebrate a dear friend's wedding. My first stop: hanging out with my three beautiful, fun-loving, crazy nieces. Here are some shots from the evening!

Monday, January 17, 2011


Recently Grandma & I began reading through Paul: 90 Days on His Journey of Faith by Beth Moore. My first month here was a struggle. A struggle being away from my immediate family. A struggle being so isolated from the world outside. A struggle to call and talk to people. A struggle to remain positive. All of this came from my struggle to read Scripture.

I have no good explanation. I simply could not open my Bible, could not write in my journal and could not talk to people that would recognize I was not spending time with my Savior each day. I knew Grandma would love to have me read to her but selfishly, I simply could not bring myself to do it.

I was starving for His Word, starving for His power, starving for HIM.

Time with my sister just after Christmas was refreshing and encouraging. She was a major support as I cried tears of frustration and tears of exhaustion. I missed my family. I missed my friends. I missed community.

Do not misread this... I do love my time with my Grandma and will forever cherish our times of riding around town (just to get out of the house), sitting together in church, enjoying meals together and so much more. But, it has been an adjustment.

After Kathryn returned home, I knew that I had to make changes. There will always be things outside of my control, but it was time I changed what I could change and move forward from there. A friend kept asking what I was reading and I had no answer. Deep within my heart, I wanted to approach His word, but was holding back.

Then during a conversation with Aunt Nancy, she asked how things were going and if Granny and I were reading devotions together. All I could say, No. (Thank you Aunt Nancy for asking.)

We hung up the phone and I was sick of avoiding the thing that I missed so much. I opened Beth Moore's book, grabbed my Bible and sat down with Grandma. We read the suggested Scripture, thought about the questions and read through the thoughts of that day. Immediately, I felt refreshed, filled, no longer starving.

We have continued reading, continued sharing, and because of this, have enjoyed conversations I would have never shared with this woman that has impacted my life so much. One of the questions the other day was about who had impacted your life. She asked who I would say and with a heart full of joy, I was able to share how much her faith has impacted me over the years.

I know God will richly bless our time with Him, our time together as we continue to approach His Word with humble hearts.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Richly Blessed

One thing I have always known and cherished, is Grandma's love for spending time with her church ladies. During my time here with her, many of the ladies called or sent cards. Every one of them talks about how much they adore my grandma... and she adores them.

Each month, she joins with a group of ladies for her Circle Group. They have a time of prayer, devotion and teaching. This Saturday was a great day for Grandma. We laughed and talked before we joined her friends at Ruby's house. On the way there, we shared stories and talked about things we wanted to do.

Ruby, a precious woman that loves Grandma, had set the table with her fine dinner china. Each lady brought a dish... we brought cookies. There is something so special about sharing a meal together. Jesus modeled gathering together around the table with the disciples during His time on earth. Time around the table lends itself to sharing stories, discussing the latest news and sharing what God is doing.

I sat at a small table to the side with a couple of ladies and enjoyed watching from a distance. My time around a dinner table with friends and family is time that I treasure. I pray that I will never stop gathering with those I love around the table.

After the meal, Majorie shared a lesson from the book of Revelation. Her love for Scripture overflowed to those around her. I love this pic of Grandma listening intently.

This is a painting that Marjorie just painted in a paint class. She talked about Jesus knocking at the door of our hearts, waiting to be invited in.

Win and her daughter, Robin. Robin and I have become friends overnight. I had the privilege of making a scrapbook for Win for her 90th birthday. We have also enjoyed talking about travels around the world. I laughed as we sat to the side. It was like being at the kid's table again for a holiday meal.

Grandma and Marjorie... lovely ladies. My prayer is that I always cling to learning Scripture and studying with other women, just as they have.

I am richly blessed.


Not Old At Heart.

The NOAH group at Grandma's church has a gathering once a month. This has always been something Grandma has dearly loved and we were looking forward to joining them as soon as she was feeling better.

This past Thursday the group visited the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. I have never been but have always seen the sign as we drove into OKC from Texas. I was very excited for many reasons:

1. It had been freezing at the beginning of the week and Granny and I were going stir crazy.
2. She has always loved this group and I knew it would be wonderful for her to be surrounded by friends.
3. Cheat meal!!! We get one cheat meal a week where we do not have to be strict on sodium and we were going to be eating at the cafe in the museum.

So, Thursday morning we rushed around (well... for us it was rushing!) in order to meet the group at the church by ten. There were about 12 of us.

The day was wonderful and we only saw a small portion of the exhibits. In one area there is a town. We joked about taking a series of pics: First, Granny in salloon. Second, Granny in drunk tank. Third, Granny in church. She laughed and thought it was a great idea. However, the lighting was pretty bad. Maybe if we go when Kathryn is here we will use her photog skills to get some pics.

Here are some shots from the day. Our tour guide was 92 years young! The NOAH crew loved having him show them around. He made jokes about not being able to see some of the things in the paintings. We all laughed.

Granny and I are looking forward to the next NOAH outing... until then, we are planning some fun times out!

ALICT 2009

ALICT 2009
27 students... 24 nations... 3 months in South Africa


Closing Ceremony

Closing Ceremony
The Joy is in the Journey



It's just juice