I love road trips. I love to drive, listen to good music, and be with my friends.
But a few days ago I was on a road trip with people I didn't know, and they didn't let me drive. My iPad, iPhone, and iPod were fully charged before I left, and I spent a solid four hours listening to some of my favorite country tunes and contemplating life and all the world's problems. Every now and then a line sticks out. Tugs at something personal and reels me in.
"I'm not there yet, but I know I'm on my way."
It's not my favorite song. It's not sung by my favorite artist. But for some reason, I'm loving it.
"I don't give up easy. I've got many miles to go. But I can't wait to get to what I see down this road. All my life I've learned to take it day by day. I'm not there yet, but I know I'm on my way..."
I know I don't always know the "there", but lately I'm feeling pretty confident that I'm on the right road.
The direction of my life has been and continues to be largely impacted by the people in my life. The people who invest in me. I don't know why they do it, but they do. It has honestly changed my life, and if you're reading this, chances are you are one of them. I'm seeing God use your investments in my life to empower and equip me for His purposes. And, I'm seeing God continue to revive my hopes and dreams through the opportunities that continue to arise in my life. It's an extremely humbling thing to think that so many different people choose to invest in my life in so many different ways.
The song plays on, "...I've felt the power of forgiveness. I know that life can let you down. I'm not blind. No, I don't need a witness to tell me there's angels all around..."
Some of you invest in me with your time. We get together for that biweekly cup of coffee at Scooter's, where you wait patiently for me. On a good day I'm only five minutes late, and then it takes me another five to grab my coffee and greet all my barista friends. Others of you invite me, or let me invite myself, over for dinner where we end up watching The Bachelor or just staying up late talking even though you have kids and jobs to wake up to I the early morning. We workout together at the gym before the sun is up, or by running around the neighborhood or having late night Insanity dates in the basement. You let me stop by after a long day to debrief and laugh.
A large number of you have invested in me financially. Blessing me with opportunities that I would have otherwise never had the chance to experience. I'm blown away by your investments in my life, and it causes me to meditate on the way they've transformed me.
So many invested in me financially to allow me to move to Uganda, where I was able to discover so much about who God created me to be, who God is, what it looks like to live in authentic relationships with others and to see my heart learn to thrive. In Uganda, God gave me joy and peace with the idea of pursuing long-term missions. But then I moved back to the states, and I struggled. I wasn't receiving much clarity on anything in life. I felt as if I'd lost my sense of purpose, and I didn't know what my next steps were supposed to be. I was overwhelmed, and I kind of shut a part of me off. I questioned and wrestled with things, but I was blindly clinging to the belief that God is sovereign and if I kept seeking Him, he'd bring me through. Spoiler alert: He did.
"...My eyes have seen more than they want to. My heart has scars that run so deep. There's tears I've had to let go of. There's dreams I told myself I'd keep..."
Partly because of the desire I'm discovering in regard to long term missions, a few months after I'd been back in the states, I was invited to travel to Thailand with a few of my church's leaders to visit with some key individuals and pray for vision about serving people from Burma. At the time I so badly needed a change of pace. Something. Anything. And, while I was there I was reminded of how deeply I love diversity, culture, and sharing the love of Jesus with others. I felt like God was reminding me that no matter where He sends me, I can love His people because it will be through Him that I'm given the strength.
"...I've looked out that window when there's no hope inside. But I swear I heard a whisper saying it'd be worth the fight. So I woke one morning, and I put my fears aside..."
When I got back from Thailand, I applied for a job as the Volunteer Coordinator at an inner city ministry known as the Hope Center for Kids. And I was hired. I not only get to love on children and teach them about Jesus, but I also get to learn about serving, volunteering,mentoring and how to lead people in how to do that in a helpful and Godly way. In addition, I get to work with staff that invest in me, mentor me, and show love to me. I didn't realize the spirit of hopelessness that had taken root in my life until I was back in environments using the gifts God's given me and serving those I love to serve.
While living in Uganda, I spent a large amount of my time with university women, building relationship, learning about Jesus, and doing life together. I'd been encouraged to go to a mentoring conference here in the states this winter to continue learning about Biblical mentoring. But instead, some close friends from Relevant invited me to participate in a program called The Journey through The Leadership Institute. It's a two-year spiritual discipleship and mentoring training that I'm now actively a part of.
And last week, I was invited to go to an all expenses paid mentoring training in Minneapolis, Minnesota because of the role I have at my job in our mentoring program.
It's now overwhelming, in a good way, to think about how God is making mentoring, serving, and culture such strong themes in my life. He has completely laid the groundwork for it, is providing the way and uses so many of you to do it! It leaves me in awe of the sovereignty of God. It leaves me humbly respecting the obedience of mentors and friends in my life who continue to follow God even in how He leads them to love me. It leaves me feeling extremely content with where I am, yet hungry for more depth, and excited for things God is doing.
I'm confident that I'm in a season of being grown and equipped. Weeding out some old deep roots and watering other seeds. I don't know exactly where I'm headed, but I'm so thankful for where I've been and where I am.
"...Still got lessons to be learned. There's a choice at every turn. Someone out there cleared a path, and there's no turning back."