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!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Love Knows No Cultural Bounds

Saturday I took a trip - not very far from home. As a matter of fact, this trip took me 10 minutes from my apartment to a community that I have begun spending quite a bit of time in. Eight months ago I was introduced to a family that I have come to know and love quite dearly. A family of 6 (Mom, Grandma - "Maria", Mark-21, Ruth-21, Twiz-16, and Zacharia-13). They are a family that has come to know "love" intimately and have lived because of it.

For the past 13 years (all of Zacharia's life) this family has lived in a Refugee camp in Uganda. Before that, they lived in a village as farmers in the Congo. I can't even really share much of what their journey was like prior to coming to the U.S. only 1 year ago because it's a time in their lives they do not and will not speak of. What I do know is that the love they have for one another is what has brought them safely together to survive in American culture.

Over the past year it has been quite a journey - teaching this family that food MUST be refrigerated, tutoring in English so they can find employment, teaching study habits, taking them to doctor's appointments, teaching sanitation and household upkeep, manners, and all else that is encompassed in this very foreign and unique American culture. There have been times of disappointment, frustration, confusion, loneliness, isolation, devastation...but more importantly it has been a time saturated in love.

I am humbled and blessed to be a part of their journey every day I get to spend with them as I sit watching the vulnerable oblivion dance across Maria's eyes when we are sitting in the doctors office and she has no idea what is going on, when Mark downloads English study lessons off of the Internet not because he has to but because he so desperately wants to know how to be understood, and as I see this family living off of pennies going out to purchase a cable dish because they desire nothing more than to remove the isolation and match the homes of their neighbors.

Why are they here? There are here because of hatred that took place and drove them from their native land. They are here because they love one another and would not allow the US government to separate them. They are here because of an amazing woman who stepped up and said "I will teach them!" They are here because there is no where else in the WORLD that wants them. There are here - and yet we don't even know they exist.

As I went to visit on Saturday I was greeted by Maria (75 yrs old) at the door with a "Hello!" - the only word she knows in English. The others came and hugged me before I even made my way to the living room with smiles from ear to ear. After sitting down and talking about school, work, and life - I asked Mark a few questions about what he thought about "love". We had a great conversation and I wish I would have gotten it all on camera - yet they have a tendency to get a bit shy on film (Fearful their English is not spoken correctly).

I read the inside sleeve of a book that said "I don't want to know what you do for a living - I want to know what you ache for". Have we loved deeply enough to really KNOW the desires of others. Have we put sincere actions to our love or are we simply delivering the lip service that Mark spoke of? Love is much more full than the empty words we have made it out to be.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Finding the Time...

The world spins so fast - and although not yet confirmed by scientists, I truly believe in my gut that the world spins just a few minutes faster every day. That's the only reason I can comprehend as to why I can't fit everything inside of it! And yet still I know that if we decided to give ourselves 25 hours in a day as opposed to 24, most of us would not have a problem filling the extra time and complaining that we still don't have enough. In my last entry I talked about sowing my seeds in the places that I want a harvest - and that thought is still on my mind.

I know a girl that seems nearly impossible to love - not because of her personality, who she is, or what she stands for. The reason it's so hard is because she is on the go all of the time! I can't seem to schedule any time with her to even pour in what she pours out all day! We cannot give what we do not have. And I can't help but believe that as she's rushing around out in the world doing, and going, and loving - that she's missing it. That her doing could be done with so much more authenticity! Her going could be done with so much more intention! Her love impact could be earth-shaking - if only she took the time to refill all that is being poured out.

Before you begin to think I just threw some sweet girl with the best of intentions under the bus, I must admit that this girl I can't seem to get a minute alone with is me! There is such a difference between being "busy" and being "active". I truly believe that I used to be "active" - acting with intention according to what I believe to be my God-given purpose. However, this month has proven that I have taken a step backwards and I find myself incredibly "busy" - filling my schedule with chaotic tasks to complete. I'm sure you can see the difference! Does this mean everything I do is insignificant - no way! What it does mean is that my impact can be greater, my investment - deeper, my love - stronger and all working towards the purpose God desires to accomplish through me if I take the time to focus on me for a moment.

Simply loving others is one of the most significant responsibilities we have. I truly believe the seeds I've been sowing are in the right fields that are ready for the harvest and that I desire to see the most growth! The challenge is that when the sower gets sick - intentions to plant good seed in great fields won't produce anything.

That is why today is a VERY important day!!! Below you can see my calendar and just what is significant about Thursday, May 20, 2010!!!

Today is THE ONLY day this month that I have not planned to do ANYTHING after 5:00pm. After work, I am traveling home to - that's right, you guessed it - DO NOTHING! I'm going to spend some time doing the things that I enjoy, that fill me up, that give me the permission to celebrate ME!

We can only give that which we have - how much do you have to give?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 3: Is Love either ALL or NOTHING?!

I grew up hearing the statement "it's either all or nothing" and I know that I understood it; I'm just not sure that I understood where to use it! This phrase - all or nothing - has continued to come to my mind throughout the day today. When it comes to loving people, is it either "all or nothing" or is there a place to sit in the middle?

I read this when I woke up this morning: "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously."(2 Corinthians 9:6) I have this theory that we are a "closed fist nation" and what I mean by that is we have SO many resources, SO many abilities, SO many opportunities,and so SO much stuff - and yet we are SO afraid to let go of any of it. It doesn't matter if it's our left-overs in the refrigerator or the love in our heart - so help me, if anyone should dare touch what we have as excess! Although it's there, giving it away may mean we won't have it when we want it. We live with this survival mentality that if we give a little here and perhaps a little over there, that will suffice. And all though it will indeed - suffice, I want my life to be more than simply sufficient! I want my life to be full to the brim, functioning at max capacity, if not even OVERFLOWING!

The more seeds we sow - the bigger the harvest! The more love we give - the greater the impact! And yet, a completely different question (perhaps even more imperative question) seems to come to mind. Am I sowing my seeds and giving my "all" to the place where I desire to see the harvest? Do we give more of our love to our careers than we do to our families? Do we give more of our love to our activity than we do to our relationships?

What do I love - and where do I want to see my harvest?

Thanks for coming along on the journey!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I Dare you to!

I'm going on a new journey and would really love to invite you along if you are interested in coming! Its a journey I've had a desire to take for quite a while, yet just recently developed a passion to live out! You may have heard of the "Love Dare" - a book created for the hearts of couples to really saturate and strengthen their relationship through love. And, I bet I know exactly what your thinking - Vanessa, your single! Well, beginning this love journey is really a dare I wanted to take on for me!

The truth is, I want to learn to love better! I want to be able to love my neighbor who is always in my business, the co-worker that gets under my skin at times, the guy who cut me off in traffic this morning, and the stranger I pass and don't even see. And more than anything, I desire to fall deeper in love with my God! I want to know the love that gives without expecting and the kind that pours out without ever drying out! I am taking on this dare because I believe love isn't only a missing ingredient in marriages today, but in lives today!

If I can learn to think of others at a greater capacity than I think of myself, if I can step into the life-shoes of another person without having to live in them, if I can realize there is more to gain by loving than there is to lose - then this journey will have been worth it! I'm ready to dig into a deeper understanding of this sacrificial willingness to serve called love! As I take on this dare, not only do I want to understand the hearts of others, but most importantly I'm conducting an autopsy on the health of my own heart! God said to Love, over every other command He gives - just Love!

I'm not on a journey to find love, but to embody it! I commit 1 year to challenging myself, not to live better - but to love better!

I, Vanessa Vann, take on the Love Dare!

Monday, May 10, 2010

What would happen if...

What would happen if instead of seeing our "circumstances" we reframed those into "opportunities"? We may just start actually enjoying what we get to do each day!

What would happen if those things that we "have to do" became things that we "get to do"? We may just look at our day as an amazing adventure instead of a mundane life.

What would happen if instead of walking around each day, we approached life with an urgency to change lives? We may just realize that there is a purpose for where we are and what we are doing.

What would happen if our only priority in the day was to genuinely love as opposed to "get it all done"? We may just see that we ARE truly happy with our lives just as they are.

What would happen if we played as hard as we worked? We may just understand the value of this great gift we've been given.

And then I remember, all of these things are in our reach if only we would wrap our hearts around them and live them.

What would happen if you chose to live the way your heart desires to live every single day?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Certainty of Purpose

Today I was asked a question that continues to linger even after the question is gone. It is a question I feel we all ask at different moments in life; specifically when a season is just beginning or coming to an end. Yet,I also believe that it is a question we are fearful to answer, unsure of the truth, and get frustrated looking for an outcome! So instead of answering it, we wait for the heartburn to dissipate and go back to living life until it rears its ugly head again. The question? What is it inside of you that makes you sure you know your purpose for life?

Have you ever thought about it before? And I don't mean questioning what your life purpose is, but questioning the certainty that rests inside of you?

My response really has two answers, both of which are quite simple. I am certain that I know my purpose in life because of God's grace saturating my insides. It is only because I know that God uses the foolish things to shame the wise and the inadequate to bring Him glory that I know God can use my trials, failures, and self-righteous acts to redeem what has been lost in the world. It's nearly impossible for me to wrap my mind around the idea that when God birthed me into existence He had the world on His heart! Its humbling that such a big God would create me, specifically to be a part of His activity in the world. Jesus' sacrifice is the only justification I can fathom for entrusting any possibility of purpose to me.

The other reason for the certainty resting inside of me in the truth: the infallible Word of God. I am constantly dipping my dehydrated heart back into the water to bring life and rejuvenation! It's while I'm there, quenching my thirst, that I come to know what my purpose in the world is! Although I know that what we deem as "our purpose" is both unique and intentionally designed, the purpose is not the activity! The activity is merely the behaviors that are manifestations of an internal relationship. The way we live out our purpose is through the overflow or byproduct of an intimate relationship with God. Our ultimate purpose is not to complete an activity; it is to pursue a relationship. It is only when we spend time falling deeper in love that we can even begin to comprehend the character of God. It is as we delve into His character that we begin to recognize His voice. And as His voice becomes so familiar and His hand so evident - that is when we are living in moments that will change the world! These are the moments of purpose we long for, but so many times I believe we have missed the relationship that will guide us there.

I suppose there is really only one thing inside of me that gives me confidence that I am on purpose: Jesus. And as I continue to hear the whisper of that still small voice, feel the unconditional love of His heartbeat in my own chest, and allow myself to vulnerably sit in His presence - I will rest assured that I am in the palm of the hand of purpose.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

All you need is love...Love is all you need!

I first must tell you about the overwhelming response I got from the last blog post. And, it's really quite funny! I have had people I never even knew read my blog comment to me about my "bubble exchange". I even received a Birthday card last week that said "Congratulations on your graduation" and then at the bottom of the card read "from your bubble". SO fun! Apparently I'm not the first to experience the bubble shift (that makes me feel better).

I have been doing quite a bit of processing lately as last week held a lot of growing for me (chronologically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually... you name it, I grew). Last week I didn't only turn 24, I had the opportunity to really push my own pride and ego aside and find the servants heart that I truly believe every person possesses and very few realize it! Digging deeper into several of the ministries I've been involved in, I quickly realized I'd never truly saw what I was seeing (if that makes any sense). I served over 500 homeless men/women/children by providing food and household items, participated in Saturday Night Love working with women who are victims of the sex-trafficing industry, and taught African refugee families how to clean their apartments and live in American culture. And I think to myself now, this is exactly where Jesus would be hanging out! ha!

I can't tell you how humbling it is to vacuum up 300 cockroaches living on the floor of the apartment of a family of 6, or to find cartons of eggs and packages of chicken sitting in the kitchen cupboard as a family is confused on how to adjust to American life. Not to mention sitting on a filthy floor listening to grown women pour their hearts out in their native tongue saying, "They have lied to us! They told us that in America if we were strong and healthy...they would give us work." And perhaps more humbling than any of it, sitting at the feet of an 80 year old woman who has lived 13 years in a refugee camp, reading the Word of God in her native language, praising God!

As I hosted the 13 SAU college students for their mission trip last week, we debriefed before they left and time and time again they shared how heavy their hearts were; how broken they felt inside. Perhaps for each of them, but most certainly for myself, this was the very first time we understood true, authentic compassion. Love that is not motivated by a deepening relationship or personal gain, but love that is motivated by blood; blood that was shed on a cross so many years ago. For the first time, these people did more than cross my line of vision...I saw them. The word "see" can be defined in this way: to be awakened by the presence of. That's the best definition I can come up with of how "seeing" moves to "compassion". My heart, soul, and all of my insides were awakened to a new reality by the presence others in need of authentic love.

As if that wasn't deep enough and something that I'm still working to process through, my realizations have continued. I headed back to work this week (well...I was physically there last week, but this week I was fully present) I saw the same things I had seen in the shadow of "the strip". I saw individuals in need of authentic love. I saw co-workers in need of an ear to listen, neighbors in need of an extra hand, and complete strangers in need of a heart willing to love. My heart has been pricked in such a way that I cannot ignore the sting.

The verse continues to echo in my mind, "Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted". God's blessing of comfort comes to those who empty themselves before Him and cry out; not only for their own brokenness but the brokenness of the world. Perhaps it's when we can truly grasp even an ounce of how desperately we are in need of a savior that we can find comfort in The Savior. And I can only pray that the sting takes some time before it goes away, so that I am reminded to live as Christ loves.

For some, this may have been a Debbie-downer of a post - but in all honesty, this is very exciting to me!! All of this means that I'm still not the person I want to be, but thank God I'm not the person I used to be! I'm growing, changing, and getting closer to moving into another season of life! I can rest confidently in the palm of God's hand knowing that He is preparing my heart for what He has in store next!

With authentic love,

Monday, March 8, 2010

Only 1 Week Away from a New Bubble!

That's right... just when I thought I had another year to go...they change it on me! According to the "Information Sheet" I filled out today, in just one short week I will be moving to the next bubble. No longer will I be tucked away in the 18-23 bubble of life. The bubble where you don't necessarily have to have everything figured out. You can still talk about how life will be one day when you "grow up". Give me a break...you can still live at home with your parents if you so choose; and that made me feel like I was ahead of the game! But now; no, no! Now is the time in my life when I transition to the 24-35 group; the "this is it, hope your happy" group! The group that I have always thought of as the true, real, authentic - LIFE! And now...well...in just one short week I, Vanessa Vann, will join in!

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my life and probably (when you get down to the heart of it all) wouldn't change even one thing that has happened up to now. I would keep every heartache, every championship, every scar, and every decision just as it was. It's me. And as of this very minute, the move from one bubble to another one only resting 1 cm away seems so much further than my move from Detroit to Las Vegas. I'm sure that sounds very silly, as it probably should. Yet it's this move that makes me think - this IS it! This IS the real deal! This is the time of my life where I get to do all of those things that I've labeled in that "one day" category! This is the time I get to write a book, go back to Africa, go deep sea fishing, learn to fly a kite, and essentially star in the movie of my life! If not right now...well...I can always wait for the next shift of bubbles...the one that goes from 36 to nearly 50! But it seems like way to many people wait until then to start doing what their heart has been longing to do their entire lives.

And quite frankly, I'm just not going to be one of them! So bring it on...I'm ready for the next bubble! 24-35 never looked so good! I'm ready to do the very thing that I have desired to do my entire life...my biggest and most intimate goal is to change the world. A friend of mine asked me just the other day, "Doesn't a desire like that just weigh so heavy on your shoulders?" Absolutely not. Every journey begins with one step. I know that in order to me to move closer to that end, it means that I get to be the difference in the life of every person I meet every day. I don't have enough time to be frustrated and rude to the clerk at the grocery store, or intolerant of the way others live their lives. I don't have time to judge people or second guess the person I'm created to be. All I should have time for is loving unconditionally, seeing through a new set of eyes, pursuing intimacy, and living life with my palms wide open - resources on my finger tips - ready to roll my sleeves up and jump in! I believe this bubble may just be the right size for me right now after all.

And...I believe there may be enough room in there for one more, if your interested...

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, its the only thing that every has." - Margaret Mead

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Seasons...the only constant thing is change!

Hi there!

I just wanted to share with you the newest and most wonderful things that God has been teaching me over the past few weeks! He continues to reveal His character to me more and more everyday! He has placed great mentors in my life through the church...it's amazing!

I began a new study this week with my old lady club! There is really nothing more to call it but that...and I love it! How many 23 yr old girls do you know that go to a group called "Ladybugs" once a week to hang out with women twice, even three times her age! Oh, that's me! Vanessa Vann! And I wonder why I'm single! ha! But these women are just filled to the brim with knowledge, faith, wisdom, and (I'll be honest) REAL good cookin' :) We are starting a study focused on the story of Esther and digging into the seasons of life. 1)Planting Seeds 2) Growth 3) Harvest. I realized this is the first time that I have ever really admitted to myself to being in the Seeds category. It's this struggle that I have being on the bottom level, the inexperienced one, the one that doesn't have it all together...yet! :) But honestly, that's exactly where I sit!

Now more than ever before I am seeking; and not in the world but in His grace. Realizing that life happens at such different paces for everyone. God's seeds look differently inside each of us. It's the goosebumps that form out of a story of His children, the joy that erupts from seeing His finger prints, or the song that plays over and over again for "no apparent reason"... those are God's seeds being planted for growth later on. The phrase, "For no greater reason than this!" continues to be the phrase on my lips. God desires for me to be present in the moment; enjoying my season; discovering my "this."

As we, as a church, are digging into the Sermon on the Mount I have never been challenged the way I have been the past 3 weeks! Learning to empty myself before God, to truly embrace authentic brokenness for my sins and the sins of the World, and to embody humility - embodying the most powerful strength of Christ and yet still loving so gently.

God is up to a great work inside of me. Molding, stretching, breaking, and loving me! I'm not the person I'm supposed to be, but thank God I'm not the person I used to be! :) God is so Good...He's so good to me! I pray you are living for no other reason than this!

Growing in Him,

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Love is in the air...

Ha! I knew a title like that would get everyone interested in the "never-grow-old" question of, "So...are you dating anyone out there in Vegas?" No, no...it's just the season of love with Valentine's day just a few days away. Yesterday I got "Heart Attacked" at my desk in the office. I walked in to find hearts taped to everything square inch of my belonging and it was definitely a great surprise! Today I received a "V"-day surprise from back home when my Mom and Dad sent me the coolest frame filled with pictures of the whole fam that we had taken back over Thanksgiving! Perfect timing to put up in my new office space. :)

Just the other day I told my Mom on the phone that I think I figured out why I'm just absolutely spent by the end of each day...there is A LOT going on! A few updates for you:

This past week we had a Power Packs 4 Success Board of Directors Meeting that was very exciting! We are looking forward to hosting our 2nd annual Golf Tournament in Las Vegas. This year, one of THE most elaborate golf courses in Vegas that is normally $200 to play the course is offering for us to not only play, but also our entire banquet lunch for only $100 a golfer! The goal is 72 golfers and a TON of money coming in to fund our backpack/school supply drop this year! We have committed to two elementary schools which has set our goal at 1400 backpacks/supplies for the start of the 2010 school year! We are also hosting a staff breakfast, family movie night, and end of the year celebration at each inner city school. Whew!

Just around the corner is the Spring Break missions trip to Vegas that I am hosting for 12 Spring Arbor University college students (March). The students will be here for 8 days and it's my responsibility to make sure they have things to do. Needless to say...finding a place to stay, meals, ministry opportunities, etc has kept me on my toes. Yet, God's timing is perfect and because of this project I have come in contact with many amazing ministries in LV. One in particular I will be working with on Saturday, "Destiny's House: Hookers for Jesus". I went through training last weekend and my whole world was shaken. Some stats to help you understand: In LV on any given weekend there are over 8,000 prostitutes/pimps on the Strip. 85% of all of these women were kidnapped between the ages of 12-18 and therefore have been pushed into the industry. If a woman does not fulfill her quota (usually $1,000 a night) she is beaten or chained up. The women receive $0.00 for what they do. If a woman attempts to leave or run away from her "stable," she will be beaten and many times will not survive. As you can imagine, my heart broke sitting in that room. I went to church last Sunday where we have been studying through the Sermon on the Mount. And last week could not have hit my heart harder; "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." We were challenged to answer the question, when was the last time you were authentically broken with compassion because of the need you see in the world? It is indeed when we realize how much we need a Savior that we allow our hearts to be comforted in the palm of His hand.

I have committed to spend 2 weeks in Zambia, Africa this summer! I'm so excited about going back to a country I absolutely LOVE! It has been 3 years since my journey to Zambia while a student at SAU. This time, I will be traveling with a group of about 8-10 from Hope Baptist Church working with and pouring into Pastors from all over the country of Zambia. This time in particular they have asked me to go to work with the students (teens) that come along with their parents to the 5 day conference. I'm really excited to work cross culturally with Teens and find in what ways US teens and African teens are struggling and thriving in similar areas. Please join me in prayer in the preparation of this trip financially, emotionally, mentally, and physically. I'm excited!

My job continues to challenge me and surprise me all of the time :) I am now serving as the Sr. Program Coordinator for Educational programs in the US and Canada as well as the Secretary of our non-profit organization. It has been a BIG transition and I'm quickly learning how organized I'm not...and how much I get to be :) There are always exciting things happening and opportunities to tap into skills I've not exercised before. This Sunday I will be heading out to Alamo for a Teen Graduation...one of my favorite things about what I get to do!

And last, but certainly not least... I have found an amazing group of young ladies like myself, who I spend every Monday night with. We all get together around 6:30 and rotate who makes dinner ...followed by a much needed episode of "The Bachelor!" This may be one of my favorite things going on in my life right now :) We have an absolute blast and have really gotten invested in the show because of our "Bachelor Draft", in which we have all selected our "players" and may the best gal win! :) We have a lot of fun!

So...it's absolutely true that I am exhausted by the end of the day! Yet, its a great feeling of joy and accomplishment at the end of the day to be worn out knowing that I lived in many moments and used them for His Glory!

I hope that love is in the air for you right now too! And that you are filled with exhaustion, over tiredness, and maybe even a little fatigue... knowing that you have played hard and lived in every moment that God invites you to take part in!


Saturday, January 30, 2010

God as been good!

Hello Friends!

I'm practicing my "quiet typing skills" right now as there are two little ones taking naps not far from where I sit. :) This weekend I'm babysitting for John Hansel (4) and Gabi (2) from my church. It's been so much fun and definitely an adventure! I arrived on Friday night and will be heading back to my quiet, peaceful, tranquil...sorry...apartment on Sunday. Today we enjoyed breakfast together around 5:30am, a trip to Chuck E. Cheese, and my favorite...NAPS!! They really are wonderful kids and it's been a great confirmation to me of why I never want to be a single parent and that I'm not ready for kids yet. God has been good!

Life has been going full speed ahead (don't I write that on every update?). My Mom gets on me for not updating this thing (you do, Mom) and yet it honestly feels like the calendar skips days of the week at times. And yet still, there is no other place I would rather be ... not necessarily geographically...but I know if I were to go anywhere else I would get stuck inside the belly of a whale and spit out right back here in Las Vegas! God has been good!

As January has come and gone, my organization has moved from a Corporate Office to a non-profit organization! The switch was much need and TONS of work! Every day holds something completely different and the learning experiences have been endless! I have traveled to S. Cal a few times to deliver school assembly programs and looking to partner with an organization called Teen Truth Live. This will give me the opportunity to design and deliver one day experiential high school leadership programs for hundreds of students at a time! I'm extremely excited to begin working on this project and creating a program that can change the culture of high schools! God has been good!

One of THE most amazing experiences I've ever had while speaking took place just a few weeks ago. I had the opportunity to speak/work with 25 inner city high school students. Yet they were definitely not your "normal" high school crowd. All of these students are enrolled in a correctional facility due to gang involvement or leadership. As I walked in I knew they were all thinking "what is this little white girl gonna say?" And to be honest, I was asking the same question! Yet God took over as my mouthpiece and they day was nothing short of miraculous! These rough and tough students began to truly rebuild their character focusing on what they want in their life instead of what they have always been told they aren't. Students that wanted nothing to do with me when I walked through the doors, stood in a line and asked if they may have the honor of shaking my hand only 4 hours later when I left. Students who told me they were "failures", "worthless", and "stupid" - stood and proudly declared they are "courageous" "compassionate" and "leaders". When we all sat down for lunch it hit me what an amazing day this had been. A student looked at me and said "Miss! Can I drink out of a glass like you?" Looking down at my cup I realized that my soda was in a cup made of glass and the students were drinking from paper cups. "Of course you can" was the only answer that made sense. He picked up a glass and dumped his drink from the paper cup. More and more of the students began to see what he was doing. Before long all of the students were asking "MISS! MISS! Can we do that too?" I quickly realized this was really a special moment for all of these young men! I stood to my feet and said "EVERYONE! Pour your soda into the glasses!" and everyone did. I looked over a crowd of rough-edged hooligans that were nothing more than excited little boys. One looked at me and said, "I'm livin' life like a rich man today." I stood to my feet and said, "Today we will live like Kings and Queens! And if we are going to be Kings and Queens, then we deserve a toast! Everyone raise your glasses!" Every arm was raised high in the air with smiles stretching ear to ear. "To good people, who are committed to making good decisions" and to that - we all cheers'ed and drank. A simply moment that we experience daily - re framed to be one of the most elegant and noble meals I have ever eaten. God has been good!

I could go on and on as to how I have been blessed to sit in the palm of God's hand with my legs dangling over the edge... feeling as though I've had a bird's eye view of the most miraculous sights! And the truly amazing part is that I know these things aren't only happening in Las Vegas... they are happening in the lives of those who have committed themselves to go where He says go! "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can conceive what God has planned for those who love Him!" We serve a big God, a miraculous God, and a very very good God!

Thanks for going along with me on this journey... and I truly believe the best is yet to come!