Saturday, June 30, 2012

Waterfalls of Joy

Where do I begin? It seems like forever ago since I sat down and wrote out my thoughts. This past week has been a bit challenging. Admist the busyness of the day to day, I have found quiet moments in the evenings, at home, debating between checking into the tv or writing out my thoughts. Each day this week, doing the nothing felt more convenient than having to process what I was thinking. However, the last two days, my emotions and thoughts began to get the better of me.

Supposedly it's normal to feel frustrated when you are "let down". And I spent more time than probably necessary fuming inside over the whys. But there really wasn't anything I could do to change the circumstances then, and there is nothing I can do about it now.

With another situation, I was given some great advice last night that I don't want to forget. Everyone is given a ministry, in God's eyes, they are all equal. I must focus on my ministry and the tasks that God has given me to do and allow others to follow through with the ministry they believe God has given them. In the coming week, I will get the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with some girls as well as introduce Him to a few others. Instead of focusing on the opportunities that I have in front of me, Satan has been able to distract me with other "worries".

With both of the circumstances, I no longer want to allow Satan to have the upper hand. I seek out truth and find, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself." (Philippians 2:3) I then picked up a book I haven't read in a while, one thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp. In short, I need a new perspective. I raise the question, where does joy come from and how does it differ from happiness. I think I have come to the conclusion that joy is a fruit of the spirit. It's not an emotion as is happiness. Emotion stems from the mind, fruits of the spirit, from the heart. When I serve others out of a heart for serving Jesus, I find joy. When I read truth, deepen my relationship with Jesus and desire Him more, I find joy. When my heart is in love with my God, I find joy.

So where do I find joy admist the situations I have faced this past week and the struggle that Satan has had over me? I find joy in knowing that when I call upon the name of the Lord, He hears me, and He has the power to defeat evil, no matter what form it comes in. He has the ability to convict me when my own emotions have taken control and He also has the wisdom to heal me and grow me through these times.  

Perspective. Struggle. Worldliness. Joy. Somehow, admist all the good and bad times that this world brings, if our perspective is in focus with Jesus, then joy will overflow like a waterfall and create a ripple effect at the bottom. A small child see's this world in an upward focus. They look straight ahead and find simplicity. They look up and find help. We are to have a perspective of a child. God asks us to walk with him and He will direct out paths. The road in front of us is simple, we make it complicated. God asks us to look up and seek Him in all times and in all situations. We look up and can find Jesus, just sometimes there may be clouds in the way. However we see the complications or clouds, there is still a plan for the next step and Jesus is still right where He always is, with us no matter the environment we may sense.

A waterfall. There is power, beauty, and magnificence in the creation of such a thing. As joy begins to flow down towards the "fall", it gets stronger, and when the water does hit the bottom, it continues to flow out. As joy flows through us, there may be times that it feels like it "falls", but when it hits the bottom, it continues to flow. We too find times where joy is strong and flowing in us, and then a situation comes and we think we have lost the joy, but really, as we go through that "fall", joy has a way of continue to spill out of us even after the pain and suffering that we have faced has happened. And this only happens, because our joy is found in Christ and not in the things of this world. We receive happiness from things of this world and therefore it's not consistent. We receive joy from Christ and therefore can feel joyful, not matter what this world brings.

I choose to be joyful, admist the struggles and difficult times this world brings. Praise Jesus that this is not my home. My home is a place where there is no sin, crying or pain. My home is filled with others who also love Jesus. My home is in His arms. My home is safe. I am on a mission to this land, to pray for and share the love of Jesus with those who don't know. No matter what this land brings, I have the joy of the Lord to keep me striving forward toward my home. Step by step, His joy flows through me, as I seek to do His will and complete the task that He has prepared me to do with Him.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Let's get our hands dirty with Your plan.

"For I (God) know the plans I (God) have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" -Jeremiah 29:11

I think lately I have wanted that verse to say For I (Danielle) know the plans for me and Jesus they will prosper You and won't harm You, they will give You hope and a future for Your Kingdom.

The actual verse came to my mind this morning as I sat down and just thought about the fact that I'm still waiting. For the first week, maybe even two, I was really good about trusting God, not trying to plan too much and just waiting to hear His amazing plan. Well I know it's still amazing, I'm just having a hard time trusting. And now that over four weeks have gone by, I have definitely caught myself multiple times thinking through this great plan that will take me to Africa and see His Kingdom furthered.

Then I find this verse: "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." -2 Corinthians 11:3

My mind has been led astray and my faith in God's plan has left. My devotion, at times is to Christ, but I would say that most of the time I've focused on devotion to this life. Harsh reality. How do I get back on the right track, letting God have complete control (why not, He has it anyway), and move forward knowing that His plan is way better than anything I can ever come up?

After all this, I realize I need to spend some time just thinking about all the plans He has shown me this far, all the amazing experiences He has allowed me to have, and the different opportunities He has given me to serve Him. As I look back on these last few years, I realize that not one job I have had was one where I searched out the opportunity. Actually I don't think I had even looked at, applied or even called about one of them. Every job I have had was one that literally fell on my lap. What makes me think that a "job" in Missions is going to be any different. Nanny job, friend of the family called me and said they knew someone needed a nanny for their baby. Coaching position, I was asked. Avid tutor; someone told me about the job, I showed up for an interview and signed papers to work there instead. Children's Ministry, I was volunteering hours because I didn't have a job, and low and behold a position was able to be created where I could get paid to do what I love to do. Not once have I had to seek out a position. God has always provided.

And God will provide. He is my Provider. I must cling to Jeremiah 29:11 and pray against the serpent's cunning ways, coming with a sincere heart to God and asking that He be all that I need.


You are everlasting and you won't grow weary. You are my defender when I am weak and you comfort me when I am in need, You lift me up on wings like eagles. My strength will rise as I wait on You to provide all that I need. I will wait upon You Lord. God, You reign forever, You are my hope and my strong deliverer. 

Waiting Lord Jesus is so very hard. But I rest in Your plan, in Your timing and know that my strength in You will rise as I wait on You. My faith in You will grow as I wait. Jesus, I pray that You would continue to show me Your truth and in the times that are hard, would overwhelm me with Your grace. Help me to rest in You and not in this world. I don't like Jesus when my focus is drawn to the worries of this world. For I am here on a mission to bring glory to Your Kingdom. Help me to remember that this is not my home, but that I am a citizen of Heaven. I am a child of Christ and I don't want to find my identity in anything else but You. 

Jesus, renew the spirit of service within me. Help me to see that everything I do is for Your Kingdom and that nothing changes that. When I think about all the things that need to get done, I tend to get overwhelmed, but when I realize that I get to do it for You, a spirit of joy overwhelms me and I want to do everything You put in front of me. Help me today to focus just on what You want me to accomplish. Allow me not to be distracted by other tasks but remain focused on You and You alone. 

I am excited to serve You today. Give me opportunities Lord Jesus to show your grace and love. For it is a gift from You that I gladly desire to share with others. May your joy overflow out of me and into others today. May You be the one at the end of the day that is praised for all that is accomplished. Jesus, let's get our hands dirty!

In Your Name, Jesus. Amen

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Being completely honest, I feel as if I'm in the middle of leaning toward completely struggling and understanding the waiting period to be a blessing. At any moment I could sway to the left or right and fall into whatever state of being has a stronger pull. I since growth, I tell God this. Obviously, He's not quite done. And in conversations, this feeling of frustration must surface because I get recommendations such as this: a song called "Silence" by Joy Williams. I pulled out a couple versus that really hit me.

You're testing me to trust You'll be faithful in this quiet... I feel like I should "tattoo" this on the back of my hand. I don't like tests. Never had. Never will. But what I do know is that I serve a God who truly loves me. He would never test me further than I can handle. He loves me just as I am, but is in the business of changing people to be more like Him. This process, is stretching. My trust in unwavering. The quiet is hard, but God is faithful.

Why do I question your intentions for me... I ask God the why question all the time. Why do I feel like this? Why are you calling me to missions? Why do certain things frustrate me so much when they seem so unimportant? Why am I in the situation I am right now? Why do my feelings get hurt? Why can't I fly? :) Why, why why?? I believe the answer to all those questions is, "Because I love you". Yea it doesn't fit perfectly to every question, but it really does boil down to it. You fill that way because that's how I made you because I love you. You serve Me because I love you. I love you in order to help you through the hard times. I am stretching and growing you to be more like me, because I love you. 

I know You want what's best for me... This is true. I do know that He wants the best for me, in the middle of the testing, it can be really hard to see. In a lot of ways I find myself in the middle of the ocean. At times I feel like I'm drowning, other times I know I'm clinging to the lifesaver. I know that making it to the a shore is going to take some strength on my part, but in a lot of ways, I'm having a really hard time deciding which way to start swimming. But that isn't really the problem. The problem is, I need to stop and realize that my life is not in my control. I must realize that I'm not drowning and I'm not clinging to a lifesaver, but instead I'm aboard a boat. And that boat is not steered by me. It's guided by Jesus. I'm not stuck, it's not that I can't make up my mind which way to go, it's that I can't realize that I don't have any control. 

Silence. "Give up control." Silence. I fight to stay afloat. Silence. I pray. Silence. "Stop fighting me." Silence. I'm tired. Silence. Silence.  

Are you listening
To anything that I say
'Cause I been praying
How many prayers can I pray
I'm still waiting
Maybe You'll show up today

I know You're here, but I can't feel You
And if You're speaking, I can't hear You
How much londer will this last

So okay Answer me with silence
It's okay if You don't say a word
You're testing me to trust You'll be faithful in this quiet
So okay
Answer me
With silence

Why do I question
Your intentions for me
When Your affection
Is a proven legacy

Oh Father, Father
Turn my fears into peace
I know Your love will never leave
I know You want what's best for me

You're testing me to trust You'll be faithful in this quiet

Oh, it's okay
If You answer me with silence
And it's okay if You don't say a word
You're testing me to trust You'll be faithful in this quiet
So okay
Answer me
With silence

Monday, June 11, 2012

With one...

With one word the storm will be gone
With one word the war will be won
With one word I know I can overcome
With one word the blind man can see
With one word the captive is free
With one word: the name of Jesus

Your name is sweeter than honey on my lips
Your name is power in every circumstance
Jesus, in Your name we’ll make mountains disappear
When we’re conquerors of fear, one word:

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

With one word my soul is relieved
With one word the devil will flee
With one word my hurricane winds will cease
Through one word the world came to be
Through one word the world is redeemed
Through one word: the name of Jesus

(With One Word lyrics by Shane & Shane)

One Word. In the beginning was the Word (Jesus). The Word (Bible) of God. One Word (God) can move mountains. Let the Word (Holy Spirit) dwell in you richly. Word. It has so much more meaning that an English dictionary can begin to explain. The strength, power and might of my God can be summed up in one word, Jesus. My faith is in Jesus, the Word of Life. In and through the name of Jesus I receive eternal life. 

This is has been playing in my head these last few days. It came on my ipod a few days ago in the car and ever since then I knew God was trying to tell me something; it just took a few days for me to figure it out. (And a few more days to sit down and write it out) These past few weeks, every time my phone goes off with an email, I have been checking for one specific email, one word in the subject line, approved. From Friday afternoon to Monday morning, I had checked over 100 times, because I had over 100 emails in my inbox. Over a hundred times I hoped for a word. I must say that the Word is really trying to teach me something about patience. I must realize this is a process, that it's not about the destiny but about the road that I'm on to get there. As I study the Word and try to imitate His ways, I come up very short.

With one word: Jesus. I've been asking God a simple question... What is your will? I believe I found my answer. Be joyful always; pray continuously; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Joy. Pray. Give Thanks. I can't have joy without Jesus. I can't pray if I don't have Jesus to pray to. I can't give thanks if there is no Jesus who gives all. God's will for me is wrapped up in one amazing word: Jesus. 

The Word (Bible) is so powerful. I was skimming through the New Testament last night looking for a verse (of which I'm still searching for) but as I was scanning, I found quite a few versus that I had read before, but as I just read and continued, I couldn't help but stop and realize how much goodness is in this book. 

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. -Romans 15:1

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord in not in vain. -1 Corinthians 15:58c

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness -2 Corinthians 12:9a

for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. -Philippians 2:13

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead. -Philippians 3:10

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. -Philippians 4:11b

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:13

I can't help but relax in His goodness. I have hope, He gives me grace. I am weak, He is powerful. I must be content, He has a purpose. I don't need an email answer, I need more Jesus. So maybe I'll have to wait another week or two or even a month. I will probably struggle along the way, but I don't doubt that God is growing and strengthen my faith through this process. Even this simple process of hearing back from the field, there is absolutely nothing I can do, other than pray and fix my eyes on the Creator and Perfecter of my Faith. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rather call it a privilege.

Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say. When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil? When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin? Does  he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field? His God instructs him and teaches him the right way. Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a stick. Grain must be ground to make bread; so one dose not go on threshing it forever. The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it, but one does not use horses to grind grain. All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent. -Isaiah 28:23-29

"Just as the farmer has the knowledge to use different operations at different times for different purposes, so God, who is and who is rational, knows how to use His wisdom and justice in dealing with nations as well as individuals." -pg 35

"Jesus said that the seed the farmer plants is the Word of God. God's part is to provide the seed; our part is to get it into the soil. God will bring the increase. "
-pg 38

"Bible expositor John Stott said that the greatest secret of missionary effectiveness is willingness to suffer death to popularity or pride or prejudice or material comfort." -pg 43

"People talk a lot about sacrifice involved in devoting my life to Africa. But can that be called a sacrifice at all if we give back to God a little of what we owe Him? Away with this word! Away with such thoughts! It is anything else but a sacrifice. Rather call it privilege." -pg 44

This chapter was so very encouraging. The more I read about missions, talk about it, learn about it, the more excited I get to be able to get to do it. I read this chapter a few days ago, and I've been clinging to a lot of the promise that were said. With the power of the Holy Spirit, He works in and through me to provide people with His love. Where that takes me, when for how long, all that comes down to the wisdom of God, and what is best for His people, all His people. I continue to pray and seek out God's wisdom in how i can be that human element to share the gospel with His people, specifically His children, in Africa.

The last quote that I wrote above is one that has struck me hard. Sacrifice versus a privilege.

Sacrifice: (v)to surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something else.
Privilege: (n)a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most.

A disadvantage versus a benefit. Could I really call leaving home, leaving everything I know: comfort, family friends, etc. a disadvantage? May it comes down to perspective. My perspective is, my life belongs to Jesus. I have died to this world, nothing in it should compel me to want to stay here, instead I look forward to Eternity in Heaven. So my perspective isn't on all the comforts of here or now, but rather on the glorious Kingdom and seeing souls praising the name of Jesus with me one day. What a benefit it is to get the opportunity to go t a country who speaks a different language, looks different, acts different, even eats differently, and be able to share the love of Jesus. I call it a benefit to get to learn a language, to be among people who live differently, in order to share in Christ's suffering.

A privilege. Something special, unique, given to a select few. Anyone can look at their life, with an eternal perspective, and realize their life is a privilege. We have so many blessings that God gives us and there isn't enough time in a day to thank Him for all He has given us. Sometimes we may not even see something as a blessing until later, but He see's all, all the time. For me, this time of waiting, it's a blessing. Why, because I know that God is working out the details to make sure every little thing is perfect for Me. He knows me because He created me, and He knows the desires of my heart because He placed them there, what better person to lean on than Him.

Jesus, thank you for all that you have shown me this far. Thank you for the wonderful organization that You have chosen for me to work with. Thank you for the amazing friends who have come alongside to walk this journey together. Thank you for support, both now and in the future. Most of all, thank you for You. Thank you for being the God of my life, the perfect planner and loving Father than you are who wants nothing more than to give me the desires of my heart. I seek to follow your ways, help me to remain focused on You and what You have for me this day. Jesus, help me to not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer an and petition, with thanksgiving, present all my desires and wants to You. Thank you Jesus for your ultimate sacrifice that atoned for my sins and created a way for me to have a relationship with You. Thank you God for being my loving Father, one who disciplines out of love and wants nothing more than to see His child succeed. May I look to You for wisdom and direction, guidance and compassion in all I do.

In Jesus name, Amen.

Cake Ball Recipe

1 box cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13x9 cake)
1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)
1 package white chocolate
wax paper

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. (Place in refrigerator to speed process)
2. Mix thoroughly with 3/4-1 can cream cheese frosting.
3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50.)
4. Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)
5. Melt chocolate in microwave (or in double boiler) per directions on package. (I add a spoonful of crisco to every half bag of chocolate I pour into the double boiler, get it the perfect consistency every time)
6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on a cooling rack that has wax paper under it until firm. (Use a 2 forks to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

I also only melt a few pieces of chocolate at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It's easier to work then when it's hot. (I use shortening if chocolate begins to harden)

I got this recipe from Bakerella (parenthesis are my additions)
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