Wednesday, July 31, 2013


In case anyone missed it, I went to India for two weeks.
I had an amazing time and I'm still processing through all of it.
But I figured I should blog about my time before anyone started thinking I went for nothing.
So here goes! :P

First of all, I was soooo nervous about my trip.  I tried to hide it and I'm not sure whether or not I did well.  It's been a little over a year since God specifically called me to India.  Although I was excited to finally go, I was scared that I would hate everything about it.  I mean, that would happen to me.  I would hate something that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt God had called me to.

During my first hours and even days in country, I watched and listened and soaked up everything with wide-eyed wonder, afraid to evaluate my feelings.  Soon enough, I knew.  I did not hate India.  In fact, reality was quite the opposite.  I was truly, madly, deeply in love with this beautiful country!

Becky H., Wendy, me, and Bethany overlooking the farms outside of
 Hyderabad after hiking up a mountain. 
I loved the colors, I loved the views from my window, I loved the food, I really loved the chai,
and most of all, I loved the people and what our gracious God is doing in Hyderabad!

I expected God to reveal something to me and to do something in and with me, 
but as is common, He greatly exceeded my expectations.

The best word to describe what He did in me during my trip to Hyderabad is heart-stretching.  With every child I met, played with, and loved, with every painful story they told, and with every ray of hope they had, God stuffed my heart full, stretched and grew it, and then stuffed it full again.

Wendy, Chelsey, and I had a blast playing soccer with Shiva and Nagaraju!
This process was not exactly fun.  Every time we left a group of children, I felt as if my heart broke a little.  I didn't want to go.  I didn't know how I could love another group of kids as I had loved the previous group.  Yet God always came through.  With each bright smile on a beautiful brown face, I knew that once again He grew my heart.  He gave me room in my heart to love these amazing children in the way He wanted them to know love.  And with each smile, hug, dance, laugh, and barefoot soccer game, I knew that He was growing and molding my heart into one more like His.

Playing the 7up game with my buddy, Raju!
One of the most difficult things to learn was that my brothers and sisters in Hyderabad do not need me.
They do not need me to come and tell them the best way to care for the orphans in their community.  I do not necessarily know the best way just because am I American.  It was when I learned this that I truly felt humbled.  I am not 'needed,' yet God wants to use me.

  Meanwhile, I absolutely loved seeing how my brothers and sisters cared for their orphans (and will probably blog about it soon :)).  And no, they didn't need Americans to tell them to care for their orphans.  God put the care of the beautiful, wonderful children on their hearts and they are following His command.

Dude, I look so hilariously white in this picture!
Mahish, Vamshi, and Aijay- some of my friends at Sarampet Orphan Farm.
And Richie, our translator's son.... Just because he's adorable.
In the midst of the humbling and the heart-stretching, I learned that yes, India is where God wants me to be.  I heard Him correctly.  And who knows, He may even want me specifically in Hyderabad!  I know that it is no coincidence that He brought me there this summer.

These lovely girls, Hema and Suma, did an amazing job with my henna. :)
Would I go back?  In a heartbeat.
When I got on the plane to return to America, I couldn't help but cry.  I did not just leave the country and people that I loved, but I left my heart behind as well.
Now, I am in America.  Although I am glad to be back, I am homesick.
I cannot wait 'til God takes me back to the place that my heart calls home.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


"We're just going to let fate decide whether we go our separate ways?"

My life is a beautiful, chaotic, blessed existence.  God is moving and speaking to me in ways that I could only imagine before.  Over and over this year, He has been whispering "wait" to me.  
You think I would be super excited to hear something so clearly..... 
Well. I am, but at the same time I'm thinking: 
"Wait? Ugh. Why?  I don't want to!"
I just want to know everything and plan out every single detail of my life.  I mean it. Every. Single. Detail.  I think that if God would just give me some hints, I could figure out everything else and it would be amazing.  Waiting is so difficult.  It reminds me that I am not the one in control.
God is not revealing everything to me... This frustrates me so much.  But waiting also is a blessing.  It reminds me of one of the most wonderful things about the relationship I have with God.  
He refuses to leave me the way I am.
Yes; He loves me exactly the way I am.  He just doesn't want to leave me that way. 
Making me wait is just another way that God is shaping me into the woman He wants me to be.  I am learning to trust Him in ways that I haven't before.
Although the waiting is hard, I am confident in Christ.
I don't know all the plans He has for me.  I have no clue when I will go or what I will be doing in India, if I will ever get married and have children, or whether a person I recently met will be a part of my life.  But I know that I serve a God who loves me and who has spectacular plans for me that are so much better than the plans I have for myself.
On this day, I am trying to wait. With God's strength, I am trusting Him and not trying to force things.  I am letting Him work without trying to interfere and decide that my way is the best.
So, through the beauty and the chaos, the blessings and the pain, I will wait. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Dealing with sin patterns in my life was never really done until this year.  I mean, I did what are so often considered 'little' sins like telling a white lie or picking on my brother.  However, I never looked deeply into my life allowing God to brush the cobwebs away and show me the parts of myself that I refused to admit were there.  

My addiction to sin wasn't a public one at all.  It was so private that often I was able to convince myself that it wasn't really a problem and that it would only become a problem if I told someone.  So, I sinned on for fourteen years, convincing myself that I didn't have a sin issue that needed to be dealt with.  When this pattern of destruction, brokenness, and shame started, I was 5 years old.  I really had no idea what I was doing and by the time I realized that I was doing something that wouldn't glorify God, I had become an expert in justifying my sins.  

I stumbled upon healing in an effort to rid myself of shame from what I thought was an isolated instance of sin.  A friend pushed me to open up to my mom about this instance.  She said, "shame is not from God. Guilt over sin is, but shame is not.  It's a tool that Satan uses to destroy lives and community."  Those words carried weight with me.  God used those words to spur me on to action.  As I was vulnerable with others in my Christian community, I felt God healing me.  With each word I spoke, it was as if He was shining a bit more light into the darkest, most concealed parts of my soul.

The thing that shame cannot stand against is vulnerability.  If God did not make me absolutely uncomfortable until I told someone the thing about myself that was so private that they would have never found out on their own, I would still be feeling the weight of sin and shame upon my shoulders.  And God has used my vulnerability with my struggles to break the pain of shame and bondage of sin with almost every person I have shared with.  Isn't God faithful? To use something so broken, so messy to heal others.  I am utterly amazed.

I still struggle.  Some days are better than others.  But since God has given me the strength to open up to others in my Christian community, I have accountability.  So often I think that, as a Christian, I am expected to be perfect.  When I am dealing with hard things, I don't want to tell anyone so they don't realize that I'm not perfect.  Newsflash!! A perfect Christian cannot be found on this earth.  So why are we trying to keep up the illusion of being perfect?  This illusion only brings pain and shame.  Being vulnerable with our brokenness allows us to be part of an authentic Christian community that is not perfect, but is continually encouraging its members to become more and more like Jesus.

God is faithful.  And each day, through the struggles I have, He is illuminating the dark parts in order to mold me into a woman more like Him.  Praise God!

Friday, June 14, 2013


“They forget that their hands have any other use than stripping, that their breasts are of any other than to bear the wrenching of the men.  That their nails serve to protect their tender finger tips.  That they can adorn themselves for themselves and not necessarily to attract buyers”
The Truth As It Is, Sanlaap India.

I first learned about sex trafficking when I was 14 years old.  I was looking up Natalie Grant on my computer at home because I liked some of her music. I saw that she was involved in an organization that was trying to combat something called sex trafficking.  I didn't know what it was.... so I looked it up.  Some of my first thoughts were oh my. this cannot be real. People don't really buy and sell people for that. Do they? Girls my age and younger have to do those things for anyone that pays?? I don't want anyone to ever, ever have to do that! I need to help stop this.

Since that day, God has tugged at my heart strings continually over the practice of human trafficking for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.  I have been able to do projects that allow me to learn more about this practice. Most recently, I wrote a research paper comparing sex trafficking in India to that of the United States for an English class this past fall and was able to share statistics and stories with my classmates.  When I finished my paper, I sat at my desk sobbing... not because I was done with my final at last, but because I was so overwhelmed with the gravity of sex trafficking.  

Although I would never guess that God would somehow tie pieces of my story together (sarcasm), He once again surprised me when He did.  Two things--three if you throw in India--that God has been shaping my heart to care for fit together in the puzzle!  Sex trafficking is actually related to the pandemic of orphans.  

People in the grips of sex trafficking do not have the ability to care for their children due to their current circumstances or die and leave their children as orphans.  Sadly, this is a cycle.  It does not stop there.  Orphans are more vulnerable to traffickers because they have no one to take care of them and thus are impoverished.  Not only can traffickers kidnap orphans easily without anyone necessarily noticing that they are gone, but traffickers can use the poverty these children are experiencing to lure them into their traps.  They promise a better life, but all too soon, these children discover that the promises are full of false hope.  

It is estimated that in the last 30 years, 30 million children have been trafficked and sexually exploited worldwide.

Currently in India, there are an estimated 400,000 children sex workers.  Approximately 200 Indian women and girls are trafficked into sexual exploitation each day.  To put that in perspective, I go to West Virginia University where a typical freshman lecture class is made up of 200 people.  That's a full lecture hall of people forced to perform sexual favors for someone else against their will brought into the 'business' every single day.

This isn't just a third-world country problem.  It's a problem for every country in the world.  And for every state in my country.  Yes, even the great USA faces sex trafficking.  Approximately 300,000 native US children are at risk for being trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation with 100,000 to 150,000 currently in sex slavery.  In addition, an estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign children are brought to the United States for sex.  These practices go on right under our noses.

If that doesn't break your heart, I have no idea what will.

In the midst of this heart break, there is a glimpse of hope.  As more and more people are made aware of this issue, we have a chance to combat it.  Caring for orphans is a great step.  When we make sure that they are cared for, we decrease their vulnerability towards being picked up by traffickers.  

When we show those that are susceptible to or have been rescued from sex trafficking God's selfless love, we are showing them hope that is shimmering in the light of God's love.  Despite this, it is hard to not be discouraged when the statistics are apparent.  But I am not afraid.  Even if I do not live to see the abolition of this kind of slavery, I know that it will happen.  God is on the side of those treated unjustly.  

"He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy, And will break in pieces the oppressor."  Psalm 72:4 NKJV

Check out these sources to learn more about human trafficking for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation:

Thursday, May 30, 2013


God gave me a heart for India long before I felt Him call me there.  I was just more interested in India than in other foreign countries.  However, I did not think anything of this in particular until after God called me to India last summer.  Then I was able to look back and see how God was molding my heart with a love for this country.  This pull on my life is what made me want to go to Urbana where I connected with Emily Hilburn of Journey117.  I thought it was great that the organization was helping orphans, but I was really only interested in somehow getting to India.

Don't get me wrong; I think that loving and helping orphans is great.  I just never got that 'call.'  I have had conversations with so many people that are called to missions somewhere that also have this super, crazy strong call to orphan care.  Those conversations made me feel like something was missing from my own call. I was constantly thinking, "I mean, I would love to help orphans, but God hasn't told me specifically to do so."

Aha!! That is where I was wrong!  God has not revealed to me His complete plan for my life yet.... He has not told me that loving and helping orphans is part of that plan exactly in the way He told me that India is.  However, He has written out clearly in His word  the desire of His heart... that I would love the fatherless and abandoned.  So many places in the Bible command, not ask, us as Christians to defend those that God defends, to love those that He loves.  One of my favorites is Psalm 82: 3,4. "Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy.  Deliver the poor and needy; Free them from the hand of the wicked."

God hasn't just called me to orphan advocacy... He is calling all of His people.   At a weekend retreat during this past school year the speaker said, "Why not go until God calls you to stay?" while talking about cross-cultural missions.  I think orphan advocacy is much of the same.  God has already called us clearly to orphan advocacy through His word. We should continue to love and help orphans and fight for their rights until God tells us not to. (Which in my opinion would only happen when there are no more orphans.)

As this year has progressed, I have realized that God has been molding my heart into a heart that is more like His.  There was no specific moment when I was like ermagersh I want to love all the orphans!  It has been a process of learning to love like He does... learning to love who He does.  Slowly, but surely I am feeling compelled to love orphans.  But not like a 'fine God, I know You want me to do this' kind of feeling compelled, but a have to kind of compelled.  I just want to be able to love orphans in the way that God would love them.  

These song lyrics are exactly how I feel and what I want to be able to convey to the children God places in my life:
You're beautiful, wonderful,
Perfectly made, perfectly made,
You're meant to be what you see
You're not a mistake, not a mistake
Brighter than stars that shine
You light up the Maker's eyes
And you'd believe if you could see
The smile on His face the moment you were made.

I am so excited to get a chance to love the some of the orphaned children around Hyderabad, India this summer!
So incredibly excited and blessed!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Riches of Your Love

I am just feeling really content.

God loves me.  He is taking care of me.  I don't have to worry.

I spent so much time impatiently waiting and watching the clock, expecting God to give me what I think I need right away.  When He misses the time that my 'reward,' my wish, or what I think I deserve is due to me, I get upset.  Can't deal with.  I'm complaining about why I haven't gotten 'this' yet.  "I deserve it!  I'm having my quiet times, I am praying for my roommate that it doing nothing but hating me, I am loving the people that You want me to love.  Why can't You just give me what I want?"

More and more, God is showing me that He does, indeed, know best.  He isn't making me wait in order to spite me.  He's making me wait in order to grow me.  And I'm finding that as I wait, and trust Him with my hopes and desires, He is rewarding me.  I feel like God is watching me and saying, "Okay, you got it right that time.  I deserve to be first in your life and you put Me first by surrendering your idea of what is supposed to happen in order to fully trust Me."  As if having Him provide me with the strength and capability to truly leave Him in that place He so deserves isn't enough of a reward, God is giving me what I wanted.... once i fully trust Him.

Giving my hopes and desires up to Him is kinda nice.

'Cause God is molding and making me.

And He has a perfect plan.

"I'm running to Your arms, I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love will always be enough.
Nothing compares to Your embrace,
Light of the world forever reign!"

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Puzzle Pieces

Just a prayer.

You are revealing pieces of Your plan for me to me.  Just because I can't see how the pieces fit together perfectly does not mean that You don't.  Because You totally do.  Following You does not require me to have it all together or know what is going on.  Rather it requires me to let it go, to see You with blind abandon, to love, and to give You all of me, leaving the broken pieces of my plan in Your hands.  And with Your strength, that I can do.
It's kind of cool; knowing that You have it all together and until You choose to reveal the big picture, You keep giving me little clues in the form of puzzle pieces.  It's like a mystery.  I have no idea what you'll give me next, but by following You, You will give me each piece in its time.  And rather than frantically trying to fit the pieces I have together without seeing the big picture, I just wait on You and follow Your leading until You put the pieces together.

There is peace in waiting.