Well. Its about that time again. We are hosting our 7th Art Show for a Cause with a new theme LIFE.
The theme really came from my experiences with life this year. So many things happened in my life that caught me off guard, that encouraged me, that warmed my heart and that devastated me. Life has a way of being a beautiful tragedy sometimes but more beautiful than a tragedy. :)
With so many things changing in life there is always a constant and a calm in the chaos of it all and that's why I celebrate life.
In its craziness it reminds me that there is always beauty in the chaos.
This year it will be at the Wheeler High School Performing Arts Center in Marietta Georgia. We are so excited to be using Wheeler High School's facilities and are pumped about the events of the day.
There will be (the usual suspects) bidding, live music, arts and crafts, games, raffles and soo SO much more.
Come and celebrate life with us!
We are going to be joining Bwanali-Chipole Victory (BCV) in their iNSPiRE fundraiser September 24th. Come out and join us as we partner with local artists to support this phenomenal cause!
Here is a little bit of background on BCV.
"The Bwanali-Chipole Victory Inc vision is to educate and strengthen the minds and bodies of the Malawian children. By providing a safe environment such as health care, good nutrition, clean water and shelter, we believe the Community will be changed for generations to come."
I took a trip to Malawi with the LCM | MER team May of 2015. The need truly is great and this organization is reaching out to the people of Malawi in such a pure way. We were only able to spend a short time in Phalmobe but in the short time that we were allotted we experienced so much love.
The interesting thing about this organization is that for such a long time it was quietly being ran by a humble Jan Jumbe, president of BCV, who was sending her own money and supplies to help the children of Malawi. There was no fan fair and there still isn't this is a true grass roots organization that's heart is to serve and improve the lives of the people of Malawi.
For more information about BCV, please visit: http://www.bcvinc.org
It's crazy to me how you can be so overwhelmed in one moment; and yet so sound in peace at the same time. It's a paradox.
This past weekend, I went on a spiritual retreat with my friends. I was not expecting anything to come from it; but after I came back, I felt so connected and together. I felt so much unity with my sisters and brothers in Christ.
I almost felt like a squeaky clean feeling; if I can even describe it as that. But in all honesty, that is not the point of this reflection.
Sometimes, it's interesting to me how someone can be so very oblivious to their own need for help and their need for restoration.
And what I learned this weekend is that I needed restoration desperately.
I needed it with my friends, family, and with God.
The past few months for me have been anything but easy. I have been challenged in everything. I would like to think about the saying "Everything was shaken that could be shaken", because it rang so true in the situations leading up to this past weekend. I was holding on to so many things that got violently stripped from me.
My securities, that I found out were prideful insecurities.
My heart that I thought was full of love, but really was full of deceiving malice and rage. My eyes that I thought were looking inward, but were truly looking at flaws outwardly.
Even though all of this was true; I can also say with confidence that I was working to love, and working to be a better person. I wasn't horrible. I am not horrible. There were just areas that I didn't want to face.
I can explain this, like anything else, with a passage of scripture. I remember reading about a time when Jesus was talking to a group of people, and the super religious were in the crowd. In the middle of what he was doing, he calls out the religious people (CALLED OUT!) and basically tells them that they may look good on the outside; but on the inside, they were just a casket full of dead mens' bones.
AHHHHHHH. That's deep. That's basically how I felt in some ways. I felt like there were areas that I decided to avoid and ignore, and those areas were eating me alive to where I felt like I was just bones.
Yeah. Real life. Anyways...restoration.
I needed restoration, and was very desperate. So I entered this spiritual journey with no expectation; but I did know that I just wanted God. I just wanted all that He had for me. I had so many pieces of my newly healed heart waiting for the glue to bring it together. I was waiting for that feeling of love that reminded me that the fight for the process of growth was worth it. I was waiting for that comfort to rest in, because I felt so wasted and tired.
I was waiting on God and I can honestly say that I found Him.
From the moment that we arrived on the first night, I could feel the love of an awe-inspiring God and Father. There were so many moments where I just cried; because there were things that I had been praying for, that I had passively given up on, that God brought release to.
Reconciliation. Reconciliation. Reconciliation.
Even now, in my own reflection on this past weekend, I am so overwhelmed by the power of love. I am grateful for the new gaze in my eyes of contemplation.
If I could sum up this weekend for me in a short statement, I would have to say these words:
"For I have seen the Lord in all his splendor and majesty and I am lost for words. I am lost for words. The heavens rejoice and the earth in glad. The people of God praise the name of the Lord God Almighty. Great and marvelous are your works. Great are you God. How matchless are you."
No words. No words.
One thing that I have been thinking about a lot is the concept of having hope.
Lately, there have been so many crazy things going on; and we have been in the need of some serious doses of hope. I can say that with complete confidence because it is so very evident in all of our social media, speeches, and personal conversations. My heart has been truly going through such a struggle of what truly is the right way to see things. In spite of that, I have been able to have hope; a hope that truly surpasses all of my worrying & agitation with the world's systems and ideas. I have a hope, that every time I grasp onto it, I have stability. I could take this time to discuss all of the obvious situations and concerns that have been occurring in our world; but instead, I am going to take this time to make it personal. I wanted to discuss hope today, and how we can have hope in hopeless situations.
A few months ago, consistently, I would wake up having such a hard time getting out of bed. My heart was broken. My heart was hurting. I seriously felt like I had a million tons on top of me. I wanted to run away from everything going on around me. In short, I was going through a truly challenging time. I would spend most of my time before/after work crying, and feeling absolutely hopeless because the situation looked like it was absolutely hopeless. I cried so much in those days that my eyes would literally be burning.
It was a really sad point for my life.
So in the midst of all of this sluggish action, I decided one day to make a sign. I know this sounds really "rando" (aka random) but I made a sign at my job that says:
I HAVE HOPE
This meant so much; because in the middle of me going through one of the most challenging situations of my life, I took a stand and said:
"Even though I don't feel it right now, I am going to have hope for this hopeless situation."
It has been 6 months since I made that sign, and I have seen such a change in my situation. I could say that everything is perfect now; but that would a complete lie. The truth is making the sign at my job was not the solution to my problem. The solution was putting my hope in something bigger than my own brain and my own ideas.
I put my hope in God. I put my hope in that fact that I knew He was for me and that He wasn't against me. I put my hope in the fact that He said even though I would go through trials and tribulations of all kinds, that He had already overcome it all. I put my hope in that.
Can I say that everything has been perfect since that moment?
Well..............no, I can't say that. I still have dealt with some hopeless moments since then; but I know that if I decide to go to Him, He will take all of the hurt. He says to cast my cares on him because he cares for me. That's a big, BIG deal and I know that I have do A LOT of casting.
I guess that is my encouragement for the day.
Are you hopeless?
Are you feeling like you are living in a box that have tall, tall walls that you feel trapped in?
Do you feel like worry and anxiety are overwhelming you?
My heart for you, reading this, is that you would cast your cares on Him who loves you. Casting your cares could be different at different stages of the problem. Casting your cares at the beginning could be allowing yourself to cry it all out. Casting your cares at another stage could be drawing a line in the sand and saying, "I will have hope" like I did when I made my sign. It is different for everyone; but the main point is the casting. He loves you, and doesn't want you to be weighed down by anything.
Try it. Cast your cares in every situation.
-So in honor of Missions Week at World Harvest Church, starting next week, I decided to write a post about missions.
I think that it is absolutely crazy that it is becoming the "new normal" for me to be extremely involved in missions. Like, I have not realized it until now how involved I am in missions. It truly surrounds and poisons my life. Well, maybe I shouldn't say poisons......but it does play a big role in my life. For instance, a few days ago I was talking to one of my co-workers about missions, and how one of my friends just came back from Thailand. Then, I went on to talk about my parents' two non-profits, and how I go on a mission trip ever year with them to work for the non-profit. I also mentioned that on the last mission trip that I was apart of, I went to South Africa AND Malawi, where we went to work and help with my friends' family's orphanage.
Goodness gracious.......that is a whole lot of missions!
It is amazing to look back on your life at the age of 23, and be able to say that you have done so much right for God, your community, and for the world around you. I absolutely love being able to say that "going into all of the world" is actually apart of my life. It isn't just something that I "theologically" brush away with some blanket statement that God didn't really mean GO. I am so glad that not only me, but the people I surround myself with actually GO and do good. They GO and spread the Good News. They GO, and are Jesus' hands and feet. Like, what a beautiful thing to be apart of.
So for this week, I will be taking some time to think about a way that I can GO on an even greater level.
Just food for thought!
One thing I always thought was weird was the concept of a literal dream or vision becoming the motivation for doing, making, or being something amazing. Think about Joseph in the Bible, where his dream led him into becoming a power for change in the Egyptian kingdom. Others in the Bible, and in history, cite dreams and visions as that turning moment for something we have never seen before; and those dreams are realized in different mediums, from the canvas of art to the canvas of life.
A guy that we know, Mike, is one of these guys. And his dream?
“I saw an alien coming from beyond the horizon…….”
Let those first 9 words sink in. Crazy, right?
Yet, years later, that realized dream is one of the reasons that one of our partner organizations, the Matthew E. Russell Foundation, has been able to impact the lives of children in South Africa. And it starts with the Area 13.1 race, here in beautiful Roswell, Georgia. Mike Buckelew, the founder and owner of Zulu Racing, a time management company, started the Area 13.1 Half Marathon & Terrestrial 5K Race to support the building of technology-based libraries in KwaZuluNatal, South Africa, through the MER Foundation. As the first half marathon ever hosted in the city of Roswell, thousands of runners and supporters come out decked in their alien/sci-fi themed outfits and accessories to run one of the coolest night races in the country.
So, if you are in the metro Atlanta area for the weekend, come on up into Roswell to Riverside Park on August 22nd! Signups for the race are still happening; as you run, sweat, and earn that cool medal, you will be able to help a cause that we at ASFAC are heavily intertwined with. And if you’re not the running type? Volunteer with us! There’s many places where we could use some help to make this race successful, and you will get to see some of us from ASFAC at the race. ;)
All the information, whether you want to run or volunteer, is at alienhalf.com; take a look and partner with us, Zulu Racing, & the Matthew E. Russell Foundation for a great event for a great cause.
Final thought: Mike’s dream led to something great. What dreams of yours are waiting to come out on the canvas, or out into your life?
LY-Breh-Reeee Day 9
The team banded together and we got the job done. We had one week to install the library with all of the books, e-readers, furniture, and other miscellaneous items and we did it! Every year I am always amazed at the fact we always finish. Through all of the struggles and issues we always finish. It truly is a beautiful thing being able to hand over a library to a much deserving school. After the library dedication ceremony we were able to hand over the keys to a brand new library to Zamo. It was beautiful. Then we kind of just hung out with the kids and teachers for a little bit and left the school.
Tonight went really well in the tents. Adam spoke on the power of God and I felt like his message was well received by the teens.
SN: Sometimes I forget how crazy blessed we are to have such an amazing platform. We are given the opportunity to speak into hundreds of youths lives every night. How crazy is that?
I felt so at home tonight in the tent. This week has been such a blessing. I really enjoyed meeting new people this year but to be honest I really appreciate everyone. I can't wait to come back next year and make even more relationships with these beautiful people.