Don’t Lose the Fire

Fireball over here has a confession: my Fire started to wane.

Blame it on Ministry School being done for now. Blame it on life transitions eating up my time. Blame it on me not getting any new leaders for Phylla House and feeling like a plastic bag about that… I understood the Katy Perry song lyric for the first time.

Do you ever feel… like a plastic bag… ?

Yep.

Fireball felt like a plastic bag. It doesn’t take long to drift. And I praise God, it doesn’t take long to anchor, either.

Today I woke up determined to be a super productive adult who follows through. Follows through with people, emails, banks, and laundry. And in it, I prayed. I got excited. I had setbacks but it all got done today. And then I had one phone call scheduled for 6pm, with an OUTSTANDING woman of God.

Charity is her name. And today she sharpened me. She reminded me of what Phylla House is about, as I heard her little kids’ voices in the background, as she raises them bravely as a widow, and as she reminds me that we need people who have been through the fire, and we need structure. Structure! Ahh. The thing I’ve been fighting. The thing that I always think would hinder the spontaneous growth of Holy Spirit work. But it’s needed. We set deadlines. She brought her fire over to mine and it sparked brighter.

Sometimes it’s easier to go where the fruit is, and I’ve been taught this, too. Go where the fruit is! But sometimes we have to stick it out, and fast, and endure. We have to hold tight to dormant dreams, to the ideas that don’t seem to be catching as quickly as we’d hoped. And we hold them, even then. Even still. We take them to the Lord, sometimes in our frustration, and He passes by in a quiet whisper to remind us He is still very much Sovereign.

Multiply the crumbs, Lord. Nourish the sparks into a mighty flame for You. Don’t let us give up on dreams that You put in our hearts.

All in all to say, the #ATLdevo is coming back. It might be a little different, too. I get to dream again, and ask the Lord just how He wants His fire disbursed.

Fight to keep your fire. What’s the dream in your heart that tends to wane in times of hardship? That. I pray a blessing over what that is for you. All to Jesus we surrender, and yes, that includes our doubts, our timing, our expectations, our judgments, and our past frustrations. And we exchange those for a fresh fire and a fresh hope, with a double scoop of unrealistic, and sprinkles of the impossible.

This song says it all: You’re unrelenting, with passion and mercy. Unstoppable love that never ends.

If Love is for us, who can be against us?

Growing Fonder

It’s funny what happens when I take a break from my regular life for 2 weeks. I’m 27, and as inconsistent as I appear on social media, I’m actually a creature of habit. I love my routine. I’m quirky, and I do repetitive things. I get home, light candles, put on music. I’m methodical when I clean and cook. I’m kinda OCD, not gonna lie. I like things just right. Ask any of past roommates, it’s a little scary.

And here I am, in Brazil, routine aside. I cling to my phone like it’s my little piece of home. You know how silly that looks? To think that a phone can help me be somewhere else? It’s okay to put it down and away. When I check it, I usually didn’t miss too much. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought “Oh I gotta do laundry when I get home, and dust. Oh and I need a new pumpkin spice candle…” haha and I am nowhere near home right now and I can file that in my memo and stop. But does it keep me from planning my routine when I get home? Nope. Not even close.

I realize how NOT lonely I was in Atlanta, and how much I love my Bethel people and my besties. I miss them, and it’s made my day to text, skype, and still get invited to everything even when I’m on a different hemisphere. I miss worship with my church. I miss my coworkers and working. I miss blood and typing numbers really fast. I miss signing my initials.

Am I completely ungrateful? No no no no… I am super thankful. You see, Georgia is where my daily life takes place. Vacation isn’t my normal. I’ve traveled the world and had NO routine for 2012, and came back and look at me. I have normalcy again. I’ve moved and moved, and yet there it is: I love my day-to-day with Jesus.

cropped-atlbaby.jpgI’m grateful to be spending time with my aunt and grandma. It’s been wonderful. I’m enjoying the talks, the laughs, the views, and seeing the streets I walked when I was little. I’m pumped to be part of my aunt’s wedding and it’s gonna be amazing. I’m eating absolutely everything, knowing the jeggings and layers I’ll be wearing when I’m home will be gracious. Pile on the Brazilian sweets, yolo. I’m marathon training anyway, so I’m obediently carb-loading. Twist my arm.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I’m feeling that I’m growing fonder. I’ll be saying goodbye to my family here in 4 days, and as heartbreaking as that is, I’m not going back home to nothing. I have a full life that brings me joy, and my heart is stretching as I realize how many people and places have my love. Papa says to keep my heart open and my eyes on His, and watch what happens. I’ll let you know as it unfolds, but I can already tell it’s good.

Sleepless in Rio

Yep, it’s one of those nights where I am in evangelist mode and I also cannot stop looking up animal memes. Oh and I can’t sleep.

I found this cat, which I would date if I were a cat.

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I also almost sent an email I would have regretted sending, but thankfully I had a voice of reason come and interrupt me like…

voiceofreason

Crisis averted. Phew.

Now I sit here, smiling, half in and half out of consciousness. I know that God is funny and awesome and perfect. He has the best plan, which sometimes doesn’t include sleep for me. Instead, He lets me speak to the heart of His children, and to tell them that they’re loved beyond measure, and watch such a revelation cause a ripple. Grace always causes a ripple. I am watching it go, go, go. It is SO lovely.

We like to add and subtract. We think the works we do with our hands either add or subtract. Jesus multiplies exponentially. He’s a multiplication God. I don’t think we can ever fathom how far He carries the littlest offerings we bring to Him. We are making impacts that you would not believe. His Kingdom is coming so much faster than we realize. Come, Lord Jesus.

Being here in Brazil has made me stand up into the truth I already knew about myself and about beauty. What makes me beautiful isn’t my hair, or eyes, or anything at all that is seen on the outside. My beauty is the gentle, courageous Flame of Love that burns within me, and makes me glow from the inside. It’s a joy people can’t quite pinpoint, but it’s so evident.

People want my Flame without even knowing what they want. They seriously approach me here on the street and tell me that I’m beautiful. It’s the most bizarre thing. I stand there awkwardly, thanking them, while they say “you are TOO beautiful, you are like a doll, what are these eyes, oh my God” and I just stand there. This has happened a few times already. Apparently I have been upgraded to ‘stop me on the street‘ pretty, and I did not get the memo. Something tells me they’re not seeing the outside of me, and I’m relieved by that revelation.

God is doing something with me that I cannot explain. It’s like the Christmas tree when it is alright in the daytime, but it was MADE to glow in that low light, when the lights get plugged in and they start to twinkle. I AM TWINKLING! He upped it a notch, and I’m not quite sure why or what’s going on, but I PROMISE I haven’t done anything different than I have been doing in a long time, and now I am seeing SO MUCH FRUIT.

Every single day, I have new stories. Jesus has put me on the fast lane, and I’m taking it all in. I’m sleepless in Rio, just in awe of the Lord. I’m gonna train leaders as a priority. God pressed it on my heart again today. I’m gonna commission people to do specific ministry with me. And if you’re reading this and you’ve been patiently waiting for me to train you, THANK YOU FOR BEARING WITH ME.

After this training takes place, I’m gonna start writing my first book. The Lord also confirmed my call to California a few times here during my vacation, so that’s still very much the ultimate plan.

It’s like 5am here, and I must must must try to sleep.

Here’s to a random, unedited blog, and holy insomnia, eh? Mwah.

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To Brazil

There are tickets in my name for some flights tomorrow, to my country of origin.
Tomorrow, I will see my aunt and grandma, meet my new uncle, and hug a whole whole lot of people I’m related to. I’m ecstatic!

To say I’m excited to be going to Brazil again for the first time in 3 years is an understatement.

BUT…{there’s always a but}

I’ve had to battle a TON of fear and anxiety in the last two days.

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My fear grew into anger.

My anxiety was paralyzing.

I say this because God is so cool and He helps me. But you should know I went through this. You should know I go through these things too.

What were my sources for this?

Well, I haven’t been “home” since January 2012. Before that, I hadn’t been home since 2008. Every single time I go back, I  get a huge dose of culture shock. At first I’m all WOW, then I start to have a broken heart for the things I notice that have worsened or changed. Life goes on without me. New songs play, and people sing the lyrics by heart of songs I’ve never even heard before. Family members move and pass away. Each time I go back, I hug everybody so tight, and just pray they’ll still be there the next time I return. I’ve given last hugs not knowing they were last hugs. My godmother won’t be there this time for me to hug, and that hurts again as if she’d just passed away. It’s been almost 2 years.

It’s like I get a newsletter of everything I knew and came from, and I’m detached until I step on Brazilian soil, and it floods back over me. What I had imagined is usually replaced with something completely different. I see a pace of life that is foreign to my own. I’m… a…. tourist…. in my own home.

That anticipation and expectation in itself is overwhelming. I’ve tried not to think about it, to no avail.

Brazil is not the only ever-changing part in the equation. I’m also completely different than the person who was last there in 2011. I am stepping off the plane with red hair, by myself, and single. Brazilian culture clashes with my lifestyle. I have to brace myself for the ‘when you have a man’ talks and the references to my past. The conversations about my future children, which make my heart swell and ache a little. I have to fight for my contentment and my peace in God’s timing, because the pressure there is unreal. But there is an equal and opposing pressure of the good, perfect, and pleasing will of God pushing away the very things that come against me to discourage me. I trust my God.

I have to remind myself that my age is just a number that marks how long I’ve been on the earth, and that I am not at all tethered to a fatalistic mindset, an orphan spirit, or a poverty spirit. I am eternal, and I am seated with Christ in heavenly places. I’ll be a wife and mother someday, and I will not be dismayed.

Moreover, I am AWESOME and get to experience INCREDIBLE things on the daily. My life is so vibrant, full of adventure, travel, and exposure to beauty. People wait whole lifetimes to do the things I’ve done in the past 3 years, consistently, and sometimes getting paid. I can’t forget what God has done for me in my single years. It’s outstanding. I’ve experienced abundant life, not a monotonous settling into the cultural stereotype of what is expected of a woman ‘my age.’

Lastly, the logistics of it all were stressful. I didn’t have a lot of time, and my sleep is still off. There’s a lot to do, and just one Helena. Leaving my normal busy life for 2 weeks is kind of overwhelming. And it’s not even the 2 weeks that I’ll be gone, but rather the week I return, that is pre-stressing me out. Every loose end will be waiting for me. Super. BUT…. again…. this is why I’m writing this. I’m not complaining, but letting you all know that my life is not just easy breezy. You may be so jealous that I get to go to Brazil for 2 weeks, but do take into consideration that it’s been a bumpy preparation for me.

I’ve been taking deep breaths and singing songs to Jesus out loud. Today at Walmart, I was practically belting out “I’M A LOVER OF YOUR PRESENCE, THAT’S WHAT I WANNA BEEEEE!!” because the tightness in my chest was expanding with every minute that I waited for someone to manifest at the electronics department to help me, for goodness sakes, because I needed to leave within 10 minutes, and nobody came. So if you’re trying to buy electronics in Decatur, go to Best Buy.

I’m learning every single day about how to properly stand in the full authority of my Father. Some days, I find myself slouching, dragging my feet, with my head down. Those are the days, like today, when He counts my tears and promises me that tomorrow will be better, much much better. I wipe my face, sniffle, exhale, and I let my heart agree with His. Unspeakable joy is coming for me, I can feel it. I think of my aunt’s laughter filling the room, and my grandma’s hands holding mine, and God’s face nodding at me. It’s gonna be wonderful.

Okay, Papa. Let’s go to Brazil.

Places To Visit in 2014

In no particular order, here are some places I want to do my very best to visit, so help me God, in 2014. Yes. Within the next 9 months.

  • BRAZIL. It’s overdue time to visit my amazing family. I’m due to have a new baby cousin super soon, AND there’s talk of wedding bells in my immediate family aka I need to be there. Hoping that I won’t go alone, ay?? Let me take you to Rio, Rio…
  • UGANDA. My yearly visit to see my people I love so so much, visit my church families and friends and the beautiful ladies of Dorcas Widows. Hoping and praying that in July there will be 5 of us going. We have a meeting on the 11th to plan this thing. Prayers appreciated!
  • CALIFORNIA. I’ve been before, but this time I feel a divine appointment to meet a few sisters in Christ and set up Phylla House in a new location in the Fall. Oh and visit my teammate from the Race who just had the cutest baby boy ever aka hopefully I’ll have a daughter and they’ll marry.
  • THE GRAND CANYON. Come on. How have I not seen this before. Let it be this year.
  • NASHVILLE. Never been. My next getaway destination.
  • TEXAS & ALABAMA & MYSTERY LOCATIONS. Visiting the familia, floating the Guadalupe, hey Summertime road trip to see my besties and stuff. 😉

We will see…. this is a hopeful list, some is certain, some is still up in the air. I’m excited to see what God makes happen in the meantime, and how He puts it all together. He’s the best Dad ever. He’s still gonna take me all over Europe, to Haiti, to the UAE to see Dubai (world’s largest performing fountain, I will be weeping), to Mozambique (again, weeping), back to Asia, and wherever else He sees fit. I rule nothing out, I just know the journey will be incredible.

ImageWhere do you dream to go? Where will you go?