(i’m going to Cuba!!)

Perhaps you remember me writing at the beginning of this year about how, coming into 2018, my ‘new years resolution’ was to be intentional about asking God to take my plans, wreck them completely, and have his prevail instead. He has done an excellent job of doing that so far in the 21 years I’ve been alive, and although it is sometimes tough to watch the plans I have for myself crumble and change, His plans always, always end up being far greater than mine would’ve been, so I thought – why not go ahead & make it a point to ask him to do it. In addition to this, I wanted to challenge myself to come into the new year being more open to God, more open to doing things that scare me, more open to him leading me places I never thought I’d go, and more open to him using me however & whenever he pleases. The way in which I have gone about carrying out this ‘new years resolution’ of mine has been to simply offer up to him short but loaded prayers, such as, “here I am” “send me” “use me” “lead me”

When this semester began in January, my friends & I decided it’d be fun to make beaded bracelets with words that we wanted to carry with us into the new year on them, and I decided to put the 3 words “here I am” on mine (pictured below). I chose these 3 words because I think they are one’s that really encompass what it means to give your whole self to God, and open yourself to his using & will, whatever it may be. The bracelet hasn’t left my wrist since making it, and I have a feeling that will remain the case as the year progresses because of what a great reminder it has been to me.

cubablogg

These words which Isaiah spoke to God in Isaiah 6:8, and words which many other individuals spoke to God in the Bible as well, such as Mary (Jesus’ mother) and Samuel, have been words that I have found myself saying often to God through out the course of this year so far, and I have to tell ya – God hears these prayers, & he does not ignore them

God takes these prayers seriously you guys!! 

A couple weeks ago, I was walking home from campus, looking through my phone, and I saw that I had an email from Heritage UMC, which is the church that I attended during my freshman year of college. This email was about an upcoming interest meeting for a mission trip to Cuba as part of a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission team.

For whatever reason, every word in this email seemed to jump right out at me as I read it. I went directly to the calendar on my phone after reading it to check my summer class schedule to see if going on this trip would even be feasible for me (when I transferred college’s 3 semesters ago, unfortunately a whole semester worth of credits did not transfer with me, so I have to take 3 classes this summer if I want to graduate on time) BUT sure enough, after looking at my summer class schedule, I would be finished with summer classes by the time this mission trip rolled around, if I chose to go. So, I sat with this email for a bit. I sat with what I knew about it: the location, the dates, the cost, the purpose, the people I’d be going with. After sitting with it, I reached out with a couple inquiries about the mission trip, such as whether or not this trip would even be open to me, as a young adult (I thought perhaps the skills that I would/would not bring to the mission trip could perhaps be an issue considering I’m barely 5’3 100 pounds and can’t lift many things heavier than a chair) (I can climb though so maybe that will come in handy?)

I was however informed that the trip was open to people of my age & people of my skills (or lack thereof). So thus began the prayer about whether or not this was something God was leading me to say “yes” to. I couldn’t go a day without thinking about the possibility of going which I think now is safe to say was God nudging/pushing/shoving me towards the opportunity to go and serve him in this way.

So to make a long story just a little shorter –  after lots & lots (& lots) of prayer, I sent off an email confirming that I will be joining this team on their mission to Cuba.

………I’m goin’ to Cuba!!!

I wish I could relay to you the excitement I have in simply typing that! But come see me in person and maybe you’ll get a better feel for it because according to those around me I apparently can’t talk about it without smiling.

I know of course only the minor logistics as of right now because it is still super early, but I wanted to take the time to gush about it now in between the loads of studying and homework assignments I currently have, because I thought the way in which God worked in this was super cool. Also, I’m sure it goes without saying but I will definitely be writing more about it as I learn more & as it gets closer (and after it happens of course!)

The team going on the trip will consist of some folks from Heritage UMC, including the pastor and his wife who I know are wonderful individuals, and then as I understand it there will also be some couples/individuals from various other churches in the area. We will be going as part of a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission team, which I had actually had never heard of before, but after clicking around on their website, it is so evident that they are doing amazing work all over the world in the name of Jesus. Our team will be heading to a small town in Cuba to help repair a neglected church, so that the people who live in this town will have a formal place to worship our awesome God and be in fellowship with one another, as a church family. While you and I both know that the church is not a building, rather, a people, the idea of helping to create for these, our brothers and sisters, a place to gather together and worship God is very special and powerful. I can just picture all of the fellowship that will take place, all the songs of praises that will be sung, and all of the sermons that will be preached.

Needless to say, I am so, so excited. I am excited to help play a very small part in the very huge work that God is doing in this world. I am excited to see the ways in which God works around us, through us, and through those we’ll meet, and I am excited to see the ways in which he impacts lives and uses our imperfect selves to help make this church a place where people can come and worship.

Does going on my first international mission trip scare me a little? For sure. Will I get home sick? Most likely. Do I wish I had taken Spanish in high school/college instead of German and Latin? Yup. Do I love flying? Nope (although thankfully, I am not one of those poor people who panics at the mere thought of hopping on an airplane).

Going on this trip is definitely an example of something that is out of my comfort zone, but I have quickly found that God seldom calls us to do things inside our comfort zones, and he rarely sends us places we are fully comfortable going. (can I get an amen?)

And all fear aside – my confidence in God’s ability to use me and every single person he is sending on this trip is sky high. I am so eager to not only watch as he works & moves but also experience his movement, in preparation for this trip, while on the trip, and after it as well.

I pray that we are able to go and be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in all that we do while in Cuba. I pray for the individuals whom we are going to serve. I pray that God would help prepare the hearts & minds of everyone planning to go, and I pray that our eyes would be opened and that perspective would be gained. I pray for the relationships that will be formed, both among the awesome people who are going on the trip and among the people we will meet in Cuba. I pray that those whom we do meet are able to see Jesus in us, as we work to repair for them a church – a church for public worship, for prayer, for Bible study, for fellowship & communion with one another. I pray that we would be able to communicate joy and love to each person we meet even if some of us find ourselves in the midst of a language barrier. I pray that we all never fail to remember that the people outside of the country we live in are our brothers and sisters just as much as those inside this country are our brothers and sisters. And as a couple of my friends put it, the goal of international mission trips is not to go into these different countries and “fix” or change them, or “bring God” there. God is already there. The goal is to go and serve, and love,with all our might. I am so eager to do that, where I am now, and also there, when the time comes.

Your will be done, God. I am here and I am all yours! Use me, use us, however you want.

(stay tuned!!)

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“well done…”

Yesterday morning at 8:30a.m sharp, myself and a handful of other volunteers from my church gathered in our newest fellowship hall, to pack backpacks for the kids of a local elementary school. Once we were finished packing up the bags, we loaded up cars, and drove over to the school to deliver them. When we got there, we unloaded the cars, then sorted all of the bags inside of the school. The principal of the elementary school was so gracious and expressed such sincere gratitude for this act of service that our church has been doing for years now.

Walking away from that, my prayer was and is that the kids receiving those backpacks will see, feel, and know Christ’s love, by this act of service. I can only imagine the smile brought to God’s face when he sees his children working together for more of his children in the community.

The way to get our churches to grow is not for us to get people to leave one church and come to ours. Now, my heart is with and in the Church, but we, as followers who are already in the church, need to go out into the world, as Jesus did, make disciples, and show them the Jesus that we hear about in church every week. The church, the community, making disciples – it’s all connected.

The other day, I was scrolling through Pinterest and saw this:

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This got me thinking and feeling slightly convicted, in that sometimes, it is very easy to make our identity whatever it is we do as leaders in the church, and we forget we are called to first serve, which then makes us leaders.

Jesus was a servant – he washed feet, he prayed for others, he dined with sinners – Jesus served and he also led:

If we want to be leaders like Jesus, we first must serve like Jesus.

It’s important to note that this “serving” we speak of, does not only have to happen, nor does it only happen, inside of the church walls.

Now, this is quite a long story, but I will try to shorten it for you – try to stay awake though, because there is a moral to the story.

The other night, I was babysitting, as I do quite often, and there was only one child, who was already asleep when I arrived. So, the parents left to go out for the evening, and I was sitting on the couch watching T.V. Barely 40 minutes had passed by, and all of a sudden, the fire alarm goes off.

“Holy crap” I said (I made that PG for you all), as I bolted up the stairs to grab the child and exit the house. I had a lot of trouble opening the front door, and had planned on exiting via the deck stairs, until I realized there were none. Once I finally got the front door open, I ran outside, where I called 911, followed by the parents. Two firetrucks showed up, which led the kind neighbors to come over and make sure we were okay. After the firemen scoped out the house,  they came to the conclusion that it was, in fact, a false alarm.

Praise God.

I felt terrible for hauling the fire department out there, even after they reassured me they get calls like that all the time – however, I was so grateful that everyone and everything was okay (yes, including the dog!)

So. Who was the good and faithful servant in this story?

Not me.

Of course the firemen were, as they put their lives on the line daily to save us civilians, however, I want to focus in on the neighbor, and how he was a good and faithful servant.

This kind elderly man who lived next door, came over and stayed with me in the yard, as I was crying, shaking, and waiting for the fire department to get there. I kept repeating over and over again that I wanted it to be a false alarm, but that I would feel so bad for calling 911 for a false alarm. This man, who didn’t even know my name, just kept repeatedly telling me that I did the right thing, and that it’s better to be safe than sorry. That seems like such a small gesture, but in that moment, as in shock, scared, and worried as I was, it meant the world to me and then some.

Once the parents had arrived home and reunited with their child, we sent the firemen on their way. This neighbor of theirs was kind enough to offer them dinner. The poor parents had ordered their food at a restaurant, but left in such a hurry, they didn’t get to eat.

Now, I don’t think this man thought for two seconds that he was being a servant, or that he was showing Christ’s love in these moments the other night, but he was, and it was most certainly seen by me.

This man wasn’t in church, in a sanctuary, or in a Bible study being the good and faithful servant that he was being. He was standing in a grassy front yard with a flustered 19 year old and a frightened and confused 2 year old. He had no idea who I was, or that I was a Christian and would count his presence there that night, as a blessing. We don’t even know each other’s name, yet I’ll remember him having the heart that he did, and I’ll remember the firemen and their care and comfort.

Now, being the worry wart that I am, as I was driving home, I felt so weighed down because I ‘bothered’ those nice firemen all for a false alarm. I kept thinking of other ways I could have gone about the situation – like checking for a fire myself (HA – Ashley, shut up, you are no fire-woman, get back to ministry)

I was being so hard on myself, but in that moment so clearly hear God say to me, “well done.”

“Well done” for what, was my initial reaction – I saved this child from literally nothing. I still don’t really know – I guess just simply for having the heart to get the kid out of what could have been a dangerous situation.

Regardless, God knows. He knew why he said that, and he knew I needed some reassurance that I couldn’t seem to find from this neighbor and firemen.

God knows. He knows we try to please him, but fail him daily. He knows we try to do good, but that we don’t always end up doing good. He knows our job here in this world, as followers of his Son, Jesus Christ, is to be servants – we are called to serve. He knows that (duh, he’s the one who called us to it).

However, God also knows, and we should know too, that we can be servants anywhere. We can be servants in church, in school, in work, in the grocery store, in the mall, when you’re babysitting, when you’re working out, when you’re walking your dog. You can be a servant by simply acting the way Jesus would act, and carrying yourself with the kindness and grace that He did.

This older man who was the neighbor of the child I was babysitting, was standing in the yard with me, was serving me by giving me words of affirmation and encouragement that I really desperately needed in that moment.

Yesterday morning, myself and every single other person there, packing up bags and unloading them at this elementary school – we were all serving as Jesus would serve. We may have been in a church, but we were doing something for those outside of the church, and in the community.

So friends, keep your mind open to the opportunities available around you to serve God and serve others. You will quickly realize there are endless opportunities to do just that, and YOU, as a child of GOD, are capable of being a good and faithful servant.

 

 

 

volunteering in the church – a new perspective

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to attend the church I was baptized in, and while the pastor was doing the announcements, he mentioned how they were in need of some extra volunteers for an upcoming event. I kid you not – one lady jumped up out of her pew and said, “who wants to be the hands and feet of Jesus?!”

I absolutely believe that is exactly the way we should all look at volunteering. I think we sometimes forget that is what volunteering is all about – being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. So often, we tend to look at volunteering as a burden, or, ‘just another thing’ to add to the busy schedule we already have, but friends – it does not have to be that way, and a really wonderful way we can encourage people to volunteer is this –

I once heard someone speak at a workshop on how to reach new people, and he had a really great way to go about starting the conversation with someone about volunteering, and it was simply this – acknowledge the gifts in the people around you.

Nine times out of ten, you will be the one to see a gift in someone, before they even see it in themselves. If this happens, it is now your job to make that gift known to them. Then, the opportunity lies before you, to tell them about the ways in which they can volunteer in your church, using the gift(s) they have.

When someone steps before your church’s congregation to talk about how they’re in need of volunteers, or, when someone specifically asks you to consider volunteering to do something (such as lead a Bible study, cook/bake for an upcoming potluck, help with yard work, etc) don’t look at it as, ‘just another thing to do,’ and if you’re a leader in your church, don’t talk or advertise it that way either.

If you come before the congregation with the mindset that you are the one asking people to serve, people may forget it is Jesus they are going to be serving for, and not you because you’re in need, – Jesus was the one who called us to serve when he gave us the Great Commission. As disciples, and as we go and make more disciples, we are to serve, love, and grow, both in our own relationship with God, and in our relationship with others. Making disciples is done when people first acknowledge Jesus and follow him, and by using your gifts to further God’s Kingdom. I believe if everyone looks at volunteering in this way, it will be much less of a burden and more of a reward, or, an opportunity to bring glory to the God who deserves every ounce of it.

If you see someone who’s incredibly good with kids and loves them to death, ask them to help in the church nursery, or help lead children’s church/Sunday school. If you see someone who loves being in the kitchen and preparing food, ask them to help with any receptions or dinners your church may be having. If you see someone who has a heart for God’s Word, ask them to lead a Bible Study or Sunday school. If you see someone who loves public speaking/preaching, ask them to lay read or even preach one Sunday.

I would love if the Church would replace ‘volunteer’ with ‘serve.’ I believe the entire concept of ‘volunteering’ now has such a negative connotation. Jesus didn’t volunteer, he served. I, and I’m sure many others would agree, would never look at Jesus dying on the cross as an act of volunteering. That served a purpose – a huge purpose. That was a sacrifice. Sometimes, serving requires sacrifice – sacrifice of your time and maybe your energy, but that is why we should be seeking out gifts others have hidden inside of them.

I love what I do at my church, I love the ministry I’m able to do, and no matter how much I do it, I really don’t get tired of it. While, yes, I do need time to rest and re-energize, spiritually, emotionally, and physically, as does everyone, I love the serving I get to do, using the gifts God has so graciously given me.

With all of that being said, I do want to say I know how busy life can get. I know that sometimes, there is simply no way in this world that you can swing it – if you have a full time job, if you have a family, if you have a sick parent or child, if you live far from your church, if you have struggles you are personally dealing with, I understand how hard it can be to make time to volunteer at church. Don’t be hard on yourself. Continue praying and God will direct your steps.

Making time can be hard, but making time to spend in service for Him, is so, so vital, especially as we strive, as the Church, to shine God’s light in a world that seems to have become so dark. You may be wondering if cleaning up after a potluck or helping in the nursery helps with that, but I can promise you it does. The local church longs for the gifts you have been given, and they can use those gifts, or else God wouldn’t have given them to you.

I think we all have found this to be true – there will always be something else to do. There are always more excuses to be made. There are always going to be other priorities.

Should God ever fall to the bottom of your priority list?

When was the last time you prayed to God and he said, “I’m busy right now, maybe later”

I’ve seen churches struggle desperately to find volunteers, to the point where certain events, studies, or groups had to be canceled, simply because there weren’t enough people to help. This saddens me, because I’m sure if the thoughts that pop into people’s heads about volunteering, weren’t so negative and burdening, there would have been people who would be willing to step up, if they had been offered a way to volunteer, using their gifts!

Lastly, the one thing that is vital (which really should have been written first) is this –

Prayer is always key.

If your church seems to have trouble finding people who are willing to volunteer, with whatever it may be, I urge you to pray, constantly. If your church isn’t having trouble finding people who are willing to volunteer, I urge you to pray as well. Pray for your church, pray for its members and its visitors, and pray for your church’s community. Pray that God will burden each congregants heart, and open them to the truth that they do have a gift or gifts that can easily be used within your church’s walls, as well as outside of them. Pray for each and every person in your church, because they all have gifts. Pray that if not you, then someone else will see a gift in them and bring it to their attention. Pray for the volunteers you already have, and that they may be willing to seek out the gifts others in the congregation have, so that they number of volunteers you have in your church, may grow.

I know every church has its issues, and I know that this is a rather big issue for some more than others. I know that every pastor has issues to work through within the church, and issues regarding its members. I know every church struggles, and that some are simply better at hiding it than others. Don’t be hard on yourself, don’t be hard on your pastor, don’t be hard on your church.

Don’t be bitter or angry towards people who you know have not volunteered at all, or, ‘as much as you.’ Instead, pray for those people, and ask God for him to reveal their gifts to them, or, ask him for you to see a gift in them, and be the one to bring it to their attention. Don’t complain to your pastor about those who aren’t volunteering, and don’t be hard on him/her as though it’s their fault nobody is stepping up. Instead, ask your pastor if they’d consider doing a sermon about serving God, and how  people can volunteer in a way where they get to use their gifts. Lastly, don’t be hard on yourself. If you haven’t volunteered in a while, if you have no idea what gift(s) God has given you – don’t beat  yourself up. You have gifts, and their gifts that God can use through you, inside and outside of your church, to make a difference in this world. He will reveal those gifts to you, in time. I would definitely recommend making time to simply volunteer with a variety of things going on at your church (not all at once, of course) and maybe through doing so, you’ll find what you’re really passionate about. Keep praying, God will guide you and help you discern.

If your church has been vocal about needing volunteers, but has yet to see improvement in that area, I urge you to urge your congregation to be on the look out for the very special God-given gifts in the members of your church. You never know what God could be doing in someones life and you may have no idea the incredible gifts someone may be hiding, or has yet to even know they have! If you spot a gift in someone at your church, be open with them about it and encourage them to use that gift in whatever way that gift fits into the church (because trust me, there is a place for everyone with every gift!)

I know that the church I know and love, occasionally has issues with finding volunteers for certain things. I know we’re not alone in that. Having such issues does not make a church any less than a church that *seems* to not have any issues. It simply means we are an imperfect people, filling up an imperfect church, and in desperate need of more and more Jesus!

Remember that’s who it’s all about – being the hands and feet of Jesus.

He gave every person (inside and outside of your church) unique and wonderful gifts to share with this world to further His Kingdom –  those gifts are something to celebrate! When you spot a gift in someone who hasn’t spotted it themselves, I urge you to acknowledge it in them so they, too, can celebrate. I can only imagine how much God celebrates when he sees another one of his children acknowledging and using the gifts he’s given them to serve Him and his people.

So always be praying, even when you get ‘enough’ volunteers, there is always something your church can be praying for (can I get an amen)

Amen.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4:10

 

it’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together

I know you’re probably thinking, “Ashley, you’re a freshman in college. You don’t have a career yet.” And you would be right. I do not have a career yet. It’s funny, because I’m still not even 100% sure what my major is going to be, yet I know exactly what I want to do.

I want to pursue ministry. I want to lead a youth group. I want to preach. I want to conference speak. I want to write. I want to write so much: books, blog posts, articles, and devotions.

Tonight, as I had my Bible and journals open, along with my “passions” pinterest board, (which consists of mainly ministry ideas and quotes), I got this overwhelming feeling of excitement for what my future is going to hold. And it’s funny, because I have no idea what my future is going to hold. I know I just contradicted myself by saying I know exactly what I want to do, yet I have no idea what the future holds. Both of which are true. However……….

I know I want to pursue all the things I am passionate about. I’ve known that since day one. However, I still have no clue what God has planned for me. His plan could be completely different from mine. I don’t know what kind of job I’ll get once I graduate college. I don’t know what I’ll end up majoring in. I don’t know where I’ll be, both personally and professionally. I haven’t got a clue.

With that being said, I know God has called me to pursue ministry, which is something I’ve been doing. It’s something I am doing.

I lay read at my home church, I serve communion, I’ve given sermons, I attend Sunday school, I read my Bible, I share about my faith and my recovery, openly, all the time, both verbally and on social media. God has called me to do these things.

Ministry isn’t something you need a degree for. It’s not something you have to be a certain age to do. It’s not something you need credentials for. It’s not something you have to be qualified to do. Ministry is something you just do. Wherever you are, with whomever you encounter. While I do say I want to pursue ministry, I am already in ministry. My pastor has told me this. I am doing it. And that is an incredible feeling. I feel so strongly that this is what I am being called to do, and that is a feeling I can’t explain. It is so amazing.

I am so passionate about wanting to help other youth along their walk with Christ. I’m so passionate about sharing my story, and being open about my recovery so other young girls know they’re not alone. I’m so passionate about being in the Church, and being in ministry.

Ministry. It’s a word that is so close to my heart. It makes my heart so happy just hearing it, because I know I am being called to it.

The things I’m passionate about- I’m pursuing them.

I may not have a career yet. I may not receive a paycheck every few weeks. I may not have a boss. I may not have a job I go to everyday. But I know, when I do get out of college, and when I do have all those things, my career will be intertwined with what my passions are. I’ve found a way to combine all my passions into one, and I will continue to do so.

I’m going to have people tell me that’s impossible. I’m going to have people trying to pull me back. I’m going to have people telling me there’s no way I’ll make enough money. I know I will encounter those obstacles, and that’s okay.

It’s okay because I also know that I am not going to let that keep me from following through with what God has called me to do.

I know God’s not done showing me the plans he has for me. I know he still has so much to show me. I’m not going to rush him. I’m not going to dismiss the plans he reveals to me later on, even if they are completely different to the plans I have for myself right now. I will listen to Him. But as of right now, in this moment, with the Lord by my side, calling me and providing for me, I am going to continue doing what I am doing.

I’m going to keep writing. I’m going to keep serving. I’m going to keep ministering to others. I’m going to keep participating in worship. I’m going to keep going to church. I’m going to keep being open about mental health, and my recovery.

I’m going to keep pursuing the call that God has revealed to me.

God is good, and that is why I know this is what I am to do.

God is so good, and I know when the time is right, I will have a career that collides with my passions, and that is something to be excited about.

I dream big, you guys.

I believe that I will publish a book one day, about how my faith has helped me through the challenges I’ve faced. That I will be a youth pastor one day. That I will do more preaching in the (near) future. That I will get more readers on this blog. That I will (continue to) be in ministry.

God is so good, you all. I am so excited because of this truth.

God is good.

When he calls you to do something, there’s no turning away from that call. It’s too great. Too incredible. Too life changing. Too extraordinary. Too unique.

You cannot turn away from God’s call. If you do, you will live to regret it. And that’s not a threat. It’s truth.

It may take you a while to figure out what God is calling you to do, and that is okay! I know a lot of people who are still wondering that exact same thing. You will hear him when the time is right. Don’t stress about it.

But when you do find your call, get excited about it, and know that one day, you will get to have a career- a JOB, that you get PAYED to do everyday, that you LOVE, because your career and passion came together as one.

I’m so excited, you guys. I’m excited for you and I’m excited for myself, because this life, is just so good. And our God, he is so great.

GET EXCITED!!!

LIFE IS SO AMAZING!!

Especially when you feel a call from God, to pursue something incredible, that you’ll one day get to do, every single day, for the rest of your life.

Keep calm and serve on.

keep-calm-and-serve-on-4I saw this while browsing through Pinterest the other day, and I couldn’t help but laugh to myself when I saw it because I feel it was definitely God saying to me, “hey Ashley I know you want to go into ministry, so keep serving on!”

Yes, going into ministry is something I am very eager to do, and while there is no “one thing” I want to do in ministry (because the list goes on & on), I want to serve God, and I want to serve other people.

Being kind to people, showing them God’s love, helping them, and serving them is what I feel I am being called to do, and I think as Christians it’s something all of us are called to do, especially because we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

We need to put Christ at the center of our lives (because that will keep us calm), and we need to go out into the world and serve. That’s what Jesus did.

He served the people of this world and that’s what he is now calling us to do.

Last night my pastor gave a sermon and the main message was to simply, “wash one another’s feet.”

Meaning, we need to help each other, guide each other (preferably to God), be kind to each other, and give to one another without expecting anything in return.

Washing one another’s feet does not mean we have to physically get down on our knees and wash people’s feet, it just means we need to be genuine, kind, and loving people as Christ was, and serve one another.

Serving someone does not have to be a huge act of kindness or something tremendous like giving them $1,000 out of the blue, it could be something as simple as opening the door for someone, making them dinner, paying for their coffee, or giving them a hug.

I can’t imagine the giant smile on God’s face when he sees one of his children performing an act of kindness, whether it’s washing their feet or simply holding the door open for them.

Don’t panic. Serving someone doesn’t have to be intimidating or scary, it can be small and still be powerful.

So keep calm, and serve on.

Go forth and serve.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a church conference for the first time, and had such a wonderful and memorable  experience.

I attended as a district delegate with some other members and leaders of my church, and we spent the weekend voting, talking, listening, and worshipping with over 1,000 other Christians in a huge arena a couple hours away from home.

While most of this conference consisted of business that needed to be taken care of, there was a good amount of time dedicated to listening to people preach and speak about faith and why we are part of the church, and there was also time for worship, where we sang, praised, and glorified our awesome, awesome God.

The week before this conference, I was struggling with my faith a lot- I was doubting God and questioning what I believed and didn’t believe. I felt anger and resentment toward God and I was very confused with what he was doing in my life. While I did go into this conference with the hope that God would be present and have me feel his grace and peace, I had no idea it would affect me or change my attitude the way it did.

The way the worship time and messages that were given made me feel, is overwhelming and quite hard to describe, but here’s my attempt-

Hearing everyone sing with the praise band, seeing everyone bow their heads to pray, and simply knowing every single person there was at that conference because they are part of a church, was so incredible to me.

There was an ordination service one night, which some of us went to, and when they asked people who were feeling called to go into ministry to come forward, I somehow managed to build up the guts to walk up and go pray with one of the newly ordained ministers.

Being up there, hearing all of these people, and knowing they were praying left me feeling God’s grace like I have never felt it before.

This conference touched me in a way that made me feel like I had a duty to fulfill.

It made me feel like I really am being called to serve God, and be His voice to people who may not know him yet, or who may need him more than ever.

I’ve had a heart for ministry for a while now, and I know when God gives you a gift such as writing, public speaking, or preaching, you shouldn’t waste it.

You need to use that gift to the best of your ability, to glorify God and do all the good you can.

We have the passions that we do because we were given them for a reason- a reason that we’re called to find.

We need to go forth and use those passions to do great things, and while it may not always be easy, you definitely will not regret it.

Sitting in a huge arena with hundreds of people, voting and having discussions on various issues, would seem pretty boring and meaningless to many 18 year olds, but the fact that I genuinely didn’t mind being there and listening, made me realize that the gifts God gives us aren’t for nothing. They’re given to us for a reason, and that reason is important, because it’s how God is going to use you.

I know God’s used me through my love for writing, and I’m very confident he’s used me through my love and passion for ministry (all glory is His), and he can and will use you too! (I’m sure he already has)

At the end of the services at my church, my pastor usually says (or it’s printed in the bulletin), to “go forth and serve.”

Those words are very meaningful to me, and they’re important for all of us to take to heart.

God wants us to go out into the world and serve Him, serve our neighbors, serve the poor or homeless, serve our families… He wants us out there, helping other people and spreading His love, grace, and peace.

All glory is his, and the gifts and passions he’s given you can and will be used to show that glory.