Monday, April 11, 2011

The Mushy "LOVE" stuff

This morning I woke up with that heart pitter-patter excitement that it was Saturday for no other reason than it was Saturday. Saturdays are those days when I get to catch my breath and I won’t trade much for them. This morning in particular was one of those sweet moments: staying in my plaid PJ’s til noon, enjoying a breakfast & coffee at my leisure, and taking in the profound words of Voddie Baucham from a recent podcast download. Although my day continued down the R&R pathway, my mind was completely transformed from them words that left Voddie’s mouth.

I started the podcast as I was doing my make-up and hair, however I found myself sitting down on the closed-lid toilet seat to make sure I heard every single one of his words. The topic: Family and Marriage. Now, I understand that I’m a girl that hasn’t found her way into either of those life ventures yet! And, I also must admit that I’m a girl that wants it to work so desperately when I get there. And the other thing I realize is that if I don’t know how to truly love people – all people, my neighbors, co-workers, and strangers on the street, I’m not going to know how to love my spouse or my children. So Voddie and I shared a moment together this morning.

I (just like many other girls) grew up with a yearning for “love” even when I was giving out cootie shots on the play ground. If Cinderella and the Little Mermaid needed a man, you better believe I did too! But I can specifically remember the reason behind wanting to be like the fairytale princesses. I wanted the fireworks to go off, the frogs & lily pads to start singing and dancing, and the world to feel different. My mind goes to the “So This is Love” song in Cinderella as the Prince sees her for the first time, whisks her away, and they begin their dance with “love”. Who in their right mind doesn’t want that?!

So I grew up wanting and searching for that feeling. Something that would whisk me away and give me a new identity just like it did for the forgotten step sister. But as I’ve journeyed through my teens and now up into my mid 20’s, I realize that “feeling” has come…but it has also gone time and time again.

My mind jumped over and looked at other relationships. The friendships that meant the world to me throughout my childhood days, now, many of them have faded over the years. Yet there are still a few that have remained. What’s the difference? They were both those friendships that were filled with excitement, road trips, and high school dances. And both were faced with hard moments too, losing loved ones, enduring high school drama, and surviving dysfunctional families. The difference was a choice. The difference was deciding to be intentional of pursuing the friendship no matter if it was time or distance that separated it.

I think all love-relationships require the same thing: intentionality. Intention to introduce myself to a stranger even when I, too, am new. Intention to leave a love note for my boyfriend from time to time even when I see him each day. Intention to call my parents even when life is in a blur. Intention to encourage a co-worker even when my plate is full.

My favorite definition of “Love” comes from one of my college professors, Dr. Paul Patton. “Love is the sacrificial willingness to serve.” In order to truly love, we must endure sacrifice. Sacrifice is never the natural human response, which means we must constantly make a choice to love. If we are relying solely on the over-taking, pitter-patter feelings to carry us through relationships, no wonder we “fall out of love”. Our relationships become the byproduct of an emotion instead of the pursuit of a person.

For me, I realized just how much I was loved when my life was bombarded with Cancer earlier this year. I can assure you that the emotions were quite far from magical. The fireworks didn’t burst – a part of my hopes did. The lily pads and frogs didn’t dance – the waters remained quite still. The world was left different – but it was an empty different. If it were up to the emotions, love should have been the last thing to expect. But I watched as those around me pursued my heart to ensure I could face the battle. My Dad flew back and forth to Vegas just so I wouldn’t be alone at doctor’s appointments. My family & friends constantly calling and praying with me to make sure my heart was in a good place. My boyfriend began his pursuit after my heart at the time I felt most broken. Co-workers rallied around me with gifts that reminded me of my dreams and how possible they all were

Love is a choice, not only a feeling that overtakes us but a decision to sacrificially and willingly serve day after day; no matter what it takes!

Choosing to Love,


Monday, April 4, 2011

Horrifically Beautiful

Today was one of those horrifically beautiful days. I woke up this morning with a hunger inside of me to hear even just one whisper from my God. Have you have ever had a morning like that? Oh, how I wish I could say that every morning I could sense that ravishing desire to hear from my God – but many days (most days) I allow my breakfast to do it’s best to curve my appetite. But this morning was different. It was deep in my soul that I NEEDED my God today.

I spent some time in prayer and read through a few verses in Romans – Do not conform yourself to the patters of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Hm. After a conversation with my sweet man just the night before, he had spun my head in a new direction I hadn’t given enough thought to. Although I don’t know the exact words he said to me, my heart heard this: Do you want to make good people or do you want to make disciples? Obviously, my soul could not find a resting place as I climbed into my bed last night.

Have I conformed to the patterns of the World with a desire to inspire and empower, yet taken the focus away from giving an invitation for each of us to look ourselves in the mirror and confront our sin? The definition of transformation that stirred inside of me was this one: a seemingly miraculous change in appearance of the actors in view of the audience. Transformation isn’t just seemingly miraculous; it IS miraculous! It’s taking something that wasn’t and making it something that is. Yet it means that when we provide an invitation for transformation within our lives, God is there ready to change us. And, it’s not just a change that comes about from a feeling of inspiration or empowerment; it’s a change that comes from the work of the Holy Spirit saturating our lives. I don’t want to make good people – I want to be a part of the transformation process that produces disciples – world changers – ambassadors of Christ!

All that and I hadn’t even made it to work yet! But the spiritual bread I was given this morning was the imperative fuel I needed for what was ahead. At 9:
25am I received a phone call from a friend saying that her little sister (22 years old) was killed in a car accident. Devastation, despair, and tears were all I could muster up. As fast as I could I jumped in my car, drove across town, and wrapped my arms so tightly around her hoping some of hear heartache would rub off on me. It didn’t, but God gave me such a sweet moment with her. He gave me a moment to sit across the kitchen table from her, hold her hands in mine, and pray for the Comforter, the Prince of Peace to overtake her heart. The reason for prayer was horrific, but the heartbeat was absolutely beautiful.

I’m done making good people. I’m ready to make disciples. It was the tragedy that took a life today that made the sobering reality true – “good people” make this World bearable among the destruction; disciples make this world worth it – worth the heartache and pain, worth the ups and downs, worth running the race knowing that this world not our home.

Jesus – take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord to thee. Take my moments and my days let them flow in endless praise. Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love. Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee. Take my voice and let it sing, always only for my King. Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee. Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold. Take my intellect and use every power as thou shalt choose. Take my will and make it thine it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart it is thine own it shall be thy Royal Thrown. Take my love my Lord, I pour, at Thy feet my treasure store. Take myself and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On the possibilities...

Faithful Friends and Family!

THANK YOU barely seems like the appropriate words for the embarrassing amount of encouragement I’ve receive from you over the past few weeks! I’ve been overwhelmed with care packages, encouragement, and unceasing prayers. After speaking at a Women’s Breakfast a few weeks ago, I realized just what an opportunity I have been given. It was after I was finished speaking and sharing my heart with the women that I saw a miracle take place in the room before me as women shared with tears in their eyes that they too are fighting a battle. An amazing young woman in the room shared the same physical battle of cancer with me, yet I realized just how big the giants that each of us are up against on a daily basis truly are. Gathered around one another in prayer, I watched God take this challenge in my life and transform it into a platform to change the “what is” in our lives into the “possibility of what could be” in Christ. WOW – as I spoke the words I realized just how many moments I’ve been given as possibility!

I have never doubted the power of prayer, yet when I get to experience the fruits firsthand it always blows me away. This afternoon I received a phone call from my doctor sharing that my test results came back showing NO Leukemia and NO cancer within my lymph nodes! What a faithful God! What this means moving forward is that we will continue with the steroid treatments I’m currently on until my doctor’s appointment on December 14th to re-evaluate the progress and growth.

Thank you for your faithfulness to intercede on my behalf each and every day! I ask that as you pray for healing, that you would specifically pray for me to be a good steward of this opportunity and platform I’ve been given to shine the light into the lives of others!

With Gratitude and Love,


Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Look in the Mirror

SHOCKED was the only word that came to my mind this morning when I walked passed the mirror in my office bathroom. You know those days when you start your day feelin' like a million bucks! You would never actually admit it out loud, but you are thinkin' to yourself, "Dang, I look good!" It was one of those days...

...until I walked past the mirror in the bathroom of my office.

For some crazy reason I decided to only put one earring in my ear today and had something stuck between the middle of my teeth! Although it's not the end of the world, we all know that moment in which it feels like it is! The "crawl in a hole and die" feeling. The only question that came to my mind was, "HOW LONG HAS THAT BEEN THERE!?"

I've learned a lot from moments like those; this time it was the importance of taking a look in the mirror from time to time. Often times we are completely oblivious to the way we are showing up in the World simply because we haven't taken the time to look in the mirror. We allow our intentions to carry us through the day.

Reading through some verses tonight two words stood out to me... "Examine yourself". Is my intention of reflecting Christ to the World what the World sees when they look at me? The only way to know the answer is to take a look in the mirror; to spend time studying the character of Christ and His desire for me to demonstrate that character. When I read His Word and hold it up to my face, do I see my own reflection looking back?

I wish I could answer "yes" to that question, but I must tell you that more often than not I see the missing earring and the food stuck in my teeth. My intentions are pure, yet I haven't taken the time to look and be certain I'm in alignment.

As you pass by many mirrors in life, I encourage you always to take a peek. Be certain your intentions match the way you are showing up in the World!

Chasing Him,


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Living on the Edge

I posted a thought on twitter today that continues to run through my mind and challenge my steps:

"LIFE happens when you're on the edge! No one goes to the edge by accident. We must intentionally put ourselves in a place that demands faith in the jump."

How many times I've counted myself faithful in my journey with God...yet recently I've discovered my lack. My faithfulness rests in rules, but not in my relationship with Him. We can always find a good solid place to stand with two feet on the ground and a life that follows the rules. But God never said, "Stay and do the right thing." Instead he said, "Come and follow me."

It was when Peter was standing on a boat in the swelling sea that Jesus said, "Come and follow me". And although Peter was able to see Jesus, he didn't experience Him until he took a step off the edge and walked on the water.

It was when Moses reached the Red Sea and his journey was counted finished that God said, "Come through the water, Moses, and follow me." And although Moses knew his God was faithful, he didn't experience Him until he stepped forward to the edge and the sea parted.

I realize that I can stay planted with two feet on the ground and know who God is, or I can take a step to the edge and know God. I can take a step that requires faith - not a faith found in words, but a faith noticed in my actions!

I want to live a life of miraculous experiences, divine encounters, intimate conversations, and outrageous testimonies...and if I truly want that...I'll intentionally move myself to the edge.

Moving Closer,


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Go Into All the World

Honey - I'm home! And I hope you are not expecting me to say that I'm the same girl that left you 2 weeks ago - because that just simply isn't the truth! I'm reminded again and again just how BIG God is and just how much growing I still get to do! As my pastor continues to remind me, I'm not the person I want to be, but thank God I'm not the person I used to be! I'm growing, learning, and loving the journey.

Africa (as it always does) has captured my heart refreshed the desire that lives deep in my soul to do, to be, and to invite others along the way! I'm reminded just how blessed and privileged I am monetarily, yet also how self-deprived and poor I am spiritually. It is a heart wrenching experience to hold a child in your arms who has the taste of death on their lips yet continues to praise God or to sit amongst those who live off of $30 a month and can still say "How great is our God". The overwhelming fragrance of pure goodness completely sutured the hearts of the hundreds who came to worship. And yet it isn't a "whoa is me" moment. It's a "thank you for living" moment. I am changed.

A little girl coming to me and thanking me for loving her even though I am white and rich and she is black and poor - all I could do in response it thank her for being a "hero of the faith" as one of my teammates called her - someone who gets it and lives it daily. I pray that I can be found that faithful; that even when I'm mistreated, unfed, unclothed, uneducated, and unloved by those who are "supposed to" love me, that I can call on the name of the Lord to fulfill my daily need. He is the one whose living bread feeds the hungry, who is the armor that clothes the naked, who uses the foolish to shame the wise, who loves the sinner and saves the wretch like me. I am changed.

To gaze into the eyes of the orphan, the widow, the leper, the deaf child, the rape victim, the devastated mother, and the surviving father - it does something to your heart. Its as though a piece grows numb and stops beating because for some it was the first time they saw for themselves that our worst nightmare really is someone else's reality. There is a part of the heart that begins to mourn, to cry out, and maybe even grow silent because the encounter proves that this World hasn't recovered from the apple in the garden.

AND - there is something greater than the devastation that takes place within each person deep within the soul. It surpasses the tainted heartbeat and captivates the human spirit. Its the glimmer that rests in the center of every eye, its the eagle that swoops down and takes each of them to a resting place high enough to see the promise land, its the smile that is birthed out of pure joy that someone has come to love them just as they are - it's HOPE. Of all the things that can be stripped away - the one thing that will never leave the people of Africa is HOPE. The mountain is never too big, the ocean is never too deep, the sun can never set on their God. I am changed.

As I headed home I knew I would have to discover my response to all that I had just encountered. And I believe that is something that is going to continue to grow as I continue to process through all that I saw and experienced. Yet it's so much more than my optional response - it's now my responsibility! God allows our eyes to see the corners of this Earth so that we will reach for those who are there. God allows our hearts to be silenced so that we yearn for its beating again. God invites us to "Go into all the world" so that we can join in on His activity of World Change - Life Change - Heart Change.

I'm ready to act! To be! To do! Are you?

Chasing Him,


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I love Blogging - it links me to the world!

Hello from Kabwe, Zambia!

Today I get the privilage of teaching a blogging/socail networking class to individuals who are ready for the World to hear their story. We are learning to blog together for the very first time! Meet some of the students in our class today as they share with you why we are excited to blog:

I like to be here because of learning something that i have never come across. -abby kabamba

its sweet to conect to a big number of my friends in christ and share my moments and the sweet moments with the holy spirit and how christ is seeing me through in all my dealings. yes christ is very present every where we may be. - faggie manda.

Its awesome to be in this class, the lesson on how to blog together is interesting and our teacher vannesa is fabulous. - Alex Mutale

I'm excited to leave the "bush telephone" and find my place in the world of technology. Being able to link to my culture that I left 20 years ago and "find" lost friends that might just want to know what I'm doing in Africa! Tina Moyer

It is good to see other ways of communicating. Jeff Roth

we are learn blogging,inorder for us to be in toutch with you brothers and sisters from our mother of another country,Elijah Chembo; zambia

it is good to be back in Zambia and to be part of this class of bloging as the way of communicating to other in the world am quit excited for this.joseph chalwe (zambia)

Awesome, blogging is one of the best way to communicate effectively to others, as well as facebook and tweeter. B. J Luc

Of late i have been confused of the kind of communication to use to my friends and supporters in an effective way. thank God that i can know many ways through this teaching and figure out how i will use and to whom. Anthony chitambala ( Zambia)

Hi i love this game of bloging this will hope me alot Melvin

Had fun learning about blogging. Promote Vannesa to a management position. Marinus Geyser

This course is fantastic ienjoyed it. JAMES.

Hi am happy to be part of this blogging class because it will help me alot. misheck chama.

Hi am happy to be part of the blogging class, because it has widen my knowledge interms of communication. it is a helpful lesson. HERBERT.


Well there you have it folks! The people of Zambia are ready to blog - more importantly ready to be a voice for the people of Zambia to the rest of the world!

Thank you for going on this journey with us! :)


Friday, July 23, 2010

Preparation Meets Perfect Timing

Have you ever felt like you were in the “waiting room” of God’s handy work? Just sitting and waiting for your name to be announced and you to be ushered into the backroom to hear the final diagnosis of the next step? In the mean time, there is NOTHING more frustrating than watching those who have come in after you get called to go before you!

The saying “patience is a virtue” could never be a more accurate statement. In my world, the word “patience” is synonymous with “torture”. I wish I could say that I handle moments such as these with poise and grace – but just ask my Mother, it simply isn’t true. Have you experienced those moments that you are so close you can nearly taste it (whatever “it” is for you) and yet God hasn’t yet uttered the word “JUMP!”

There is nothing worse than smelling the chocolate chip cookies as they are taken out of the oven and knowing that you should probably wait a few minutes before digging in. Yet most of the time, we (mostly I) can’t wait and therefore endure the painful burn to experience the pleasure. Perhaps nearly half of the pain we endure God had never intended for us. If only we could wait – our end result could be the same and the pain eliminated.

It’s in that time of waiting – that we are called to take action. Oxymoron? Not at all! Perhaps it’s in that time of waiting that we are called to prepare our hearts and minds to give the praise to the one who orchestrated it all, added in all of the right ingredients, and intentionally invited us to sit down and enjoy the feast together.

The cookies still there and just as desirous as it was before – we just experienced it the way in which is was intended.

Prayerfully Preparing,


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

If the Shoe Fits...or if it doesn't...

Ok - this is super secret confession! And you can't judge me for what I'm about to share. Perhaps you've done it, perhaps you haven't. Regardless, it’s the secret that has been taking place day after day and I have to tell someone!

A while back I ordered some new black boots off of the internet. I knew that my feet would look wonderful in them and because the price was right, I ordered them - IMMEDIATELY!

Well, those beautiful boots just came in the mail. I tore into the package as though it was Christmas morning and I knew that I had been good to get the very thing on my list! It was like the hallelujah chorus came on with a spotlight over my beautiful boots. I'm not crazy - I'm a girl.

I took them out of the box, they went on my feet, and I fell over. It was pretty much happened that fast. The heels on these bad boys are about 4 inches high and I can't even take ONE step without falling or twisting or catching myself before hitting the floor. They look perfect while I'm stationary, it's the walking that causes issues.

So, for the past couple of days each day when I get home, I pull out those beautiful boots and practice walking. I fall, I brush myself off, and I practice some more! I am determined, yes determined, that I will be able to wear these beautiful boots by next winter.

Shoes have become some of my closest friends. There is a pair that does just the trick no matter what mood I am in. Slippers for when I need to be cozy, flip flops for fun, heels when I'm sassy, and tennis shoes when there is hard work to be done. And then I think about my beautiful black boots...

I don't really have a place for them yet. I don't know where I'll wear them. When I'll need them. How I'll ever walk in them. But for some strange reason, I HAD to have them. I've crammed my foot in and committed myself to wear a shoe that I don't know will ever really fit, perhaps it was never supposed to.

I've heard the saying "If the shoe fits..." but I rarely hear "If it doesn’t". What are we supposed to do if the shoe doesn't fit? I know what we do...get frustrated it doesn't, commit to something we were never meant to do, let them take up space "just incase"... yet it's rare we kick something to the curb and say, "It's just not for me."

So, here we go. A secret confession - I'm tossing 'em out, my beautiful black boots. I'm finding someone else that can walk in them, likes wearing them, and has a purpose for them.

What are you doing with the shoes that fit? What are you doing with the ones that don't?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ouch! Lessons are hard to learn!

Have you ever had those days that you can honestly look back and say, “I was not my best today”? If you haven’t, please don’t share!  It was one of those days I felt like a true girl and played on every single emotion possible. And as my Mother hung up the phone with me, I found myself crying and questioning everything! I’m not psychotic, just a girl!

And yet I look back at my day and realized how many times I let my day be filled with circumstance to get through instead of opportunities to live in. I found myself reading Luke 6:27-36 and conviction set in…this is a good thing…it means I’m about to learn something new.

The first part starts out with Jesus saying, “But I tell you who hear me…” and all I could picture was my Mother sitting me down after I had just argued with my sister. I was ready to defend always starting in with “But Mom…” and her response was always the same. “I’m not talking to your sister. I’m talking to YOU.” I didn’t have to read any further (yet I did, and I’m glad) to know that it didn’t matter how many people I could have blamed for the way I was feeling today, God was sitting me down saying, “Vanessa, I’m not talking to everyone else; I’m talking to you”. It was then that I chose to stop fighting, be quiet, and pay attention.

The verses go on and Jesus speaks, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…” The list goes on and on yet I realized what God was telling me.

Live the unexpected life! Everyone expects you to be upset – smile. Everyone expects you to gossip – walk away. Everyone expects you to go to battle against those who have battled you – love em! How will anyone ever see what’s different if you always respond the same?

I didn’t say it was an easy lesson, or that I’m going to get it right everyday moving forward. Yet, I get it! It was one of those days today…and yet tomorrow will be so much different!