Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Give Thanks to the Lord, Our God and King

Warm turkey, pumpkin pie, grandmother's sugar cookies, card games, laughter, family jokes, brand new babies, smiles, football games, leaves, windy mornings, the sound of the train going on its way, a big black dog and small orange cat. All of these blessings are among many others that I have been fortunate enough to enjoy this past thanksgiving. Though, relatively speaking, this year it is no different than the last. There is far too much to even express gratitude for through my words. I can't even begin attempting to describe everything that God has so graciously blessed me with. For as long as I can remember, I've always been 'thankful' on the last Thursday of every November. But this year, it seems much more real. Much more, special. I think part of the reason is because life is changing so rapidly. And I'm realizing more and more how special people are to each other and to me. And that life is so fragile. Life is so precious. Life is so deep and emotional and worth every second we are living. For life in and of itself is a gift. Something to be thankful for. Having lost two relatives last year, my grandmother and my cousin, the more and more I think about life, the more it makes sense to me; and the more I wish to cherish as many memories and smiles as humanly possible.

This past weekend, spending time with my cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparent's felt so special. More special than most. I felt this overwhelming sense of God's love through my family. At times, I just sat and listened. I sat and watched everyone go about their ways. Everyone has blessed me in some way, and for that, I am thankful. For that, God deserves my praise.

From the generous gift my grandparent's gave to each of their grandchildren at the supper table, to the morning I went to buy milk and dog biscuits at the grocery store with my grandpa; it all felt so special. The atmosphere, the warmness, the smells, the familiarity of it all; that is what I'm most thankful for. I'm most thankful for the people in my life. For without them, I would be a lost soul searching. I would have an empty heart. I am most thankful for my relationship with my creator. Without Him, the people in my life would not exist. Even the thought creates a deep sadness in me. Therefore, let us give thanks to the Lord, our God and King.

Thank you Jesus, for everything.

The House with Green Shutters

Through and through
The woods we drive
Past rows and rows of seed

To my left
And to my right
A drop of rain they need

"How much longer?"
Let's start to count
1, 2, 3

Upon arrival
My heart will beat
For it's waiting there for me

The house with green shutters sits
Sits, sits, sits
The house with green shutters sits
Waiting patiently

Set the plates
Pour the drinks
Spread the napkins about

"Potatoes here!"
"A turkey there!"
The little children shout

"Let's quiet down"
My grandpa says
Now let us give our thanks

And say a prayer
For all are here
And He deserves our praise

For on this day
We celebrate
All that God has made

At grandma's house
Where love is lit
A light that shall not fade

When we depart
A tear is shed
A hug to hold us near

For soon enough
We'll meet again
"Soon we shall, my dear"

And how I long
To see it now
Waiting there for me

The house with green shutters sits
Sits, sits, sits
The house with green shutters sits
Waiting patiently

Monday, November 8, 2010

His love

Death is not His fault. Death is not His will. It is not God's intention. It is not what He wants. Bad things happen. When they do, God is watching for us to trust in Him, to see if we will still live for him, to see if we will still stand firm, still draw near to Him. Still long for Him. Still want to fight for Him and His glory. It is God who will hold you close when death occurs. It is God who will hold you close when you question disease, when you question disaster, when you question tragedy, when you question misfortune, when you question reason, when you question death, and even when you question your own belief. One cannot comprehend why things happen. We will never know the real reason why death happens, even when it doesn't seem right. When it feels so inhuman. One cannot pretend to know. But one thing I know, that God does not like death. He is all about life. He does not enjoy our pain. When we weep, He weeps. When we run to Him, He will hold us. When we're afraid, He will protect us. When we are confused, He will guide us. When we struggle, He comforts us. When we feel weak, He gives us strength. When we feel limited, He is unlimited. When we doubt, He will assure us. When we don't know why, He does. When we feel lost and alone, He loves us! His love overcomes evil. His love rules over all. His love will prevail. His love will conquer death. There is no need to worry. There is no need to doubt. There is no need to weep. There is no need to be afraid. There is no need to wonder why. There is no need to question. For God is love. And His love is everlasting. His love is universal. His love is international. His love is unconditional. And on that, I will stand. On His love, I will live, move, breathe, and believe.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Beauty Behind it All

Everything we go through, must first pass through His hands. Everything. All of the pain and heartache in our lives, He allows it it happen. He knows when it is happening. He knows why it is happening. It is human to want to know why things happen. God is mysterious. His ways are not our ways. Nor His thoughts our thoughts. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we've done in our lives. All of the sin we've committed towards Him, yet HE still chooses to love us. He still wants to set us free. Will we then, in turn, choose to follow Him where He might lead us? Are we willing, as selfish and ignorant people at times, to love Him by choice? For if it were by choice, He would love still us. But it is not by choice. He is love. God is love. That is the beauty behind it all. We can't escape it. And He doesn't want us to, because He wants to get to know us. That's how extreme His love for us is. We belong to Him. He is our father and we are His beloved children. How wonderful this is. How amazing. How breath taking! Thank Him today, yeah?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

To Give Freely

I think we are called to practice a Jesus love, not a human love. A love motivated by faith and community. A love motivated by grace.

"Freely you have received, freely GIVE." - Matthew 10:8

The more we seek Him, the more we know Him, and know characteristics that make Him so wonderful. Promises and truths. One thing I know, He cares. I love discovering this new every day. Sometimes daily reminders are what it takes for me to remember! I love just thinking about HOW much He cares. And I've come to realize in these past few years that I cannot fathom it. That I cannot attempt to put it into words. And when I dwell on it, I can do nothing but smile. What I love the most about Him is that He shows His care through the small, simple things. Things like encouraging notes left by complete strangers. To think that there is a God in heaven who loves you enough to do things like that, even after giving the ultimate sacrifice of His son, is just unimaginable. How wonderful and majestic is the God we serve.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Beloved

My beloved,

What is it then, that you ask for, my child? What is it that you need? I will take care of you. I'm here for you always. Was it a bad day? Was it something someone said? Are you discouraged? Are you lonely? I am here! Right next to you! My precious masterpiece, I adore you! I have chosen you. I have set you apart. I long to stay close to you. I promise to hold you in the night. I promise to help you. I promise to lead you. I promise to cry with you. What is it that you are afraid of, my love? I promise to comfort you! I will protect you! Please trust me, as a father, as a friend, as a companion. You are my child, and I have given myself to you. I am devoted. I am excited to know you, to watch you grow, to see you blossom. Please take into account my words. Never forget them. Write them on your heart, for it is I that holds it. If only I could sweep you off your feet everyday! If only you would not doubt my love, my care, my devotion. I cherish you. I long to hold you close. I love spending time with you. In your favorite places! I love to just BE with you, no matter what we are doing. I delight in you, my love. My child, you are mine, always.

Your maker

Monday, October 11, 2010


Today, I was encouraged; and reminded of so many truths and promises about Jesus, our Savior, our King. He knows me more than I know myself. And it is because of Him that I am the way I am, where I am. Today he reminded me of how much He is in love with me. And how much He really does know and care, despite what the world around me might say. Today I have been reminded.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Hello again,

I forgot to say this in my last post. My favorite drink here is Maaza, which is mango juice. It's almost like a smoothie. Very thick and yummy! I drink a lot of it. :) It's a famous drink.

When Christians greet in India, they always say, 'Praise the Lord'. It's basically hello. I think it's awesome!

Last night, 5 of us went to a church service about 30 minutes away, and it was awesome! We sang "Here I am to worship" for them. Then some people shared their testimonies, and I gave a short message titled "Rest for the weary". About how Jesus is our rest and we don't have to worry. He will give us strength (Matthew 11:28-31).

Then we prayed for the people. We were able to pray for a girl who was demon possessed. We prayed for a while over her. We also want to visit her home this week, possibly Wednesday, to pray over it and to spend more time with her. Pray that God uses us and that she believes in her heart that she can be free of this dark spirit and generational curse.

Saturday night we also did a service at a youth gathering. That was really neat. We were able to share, encourage, pray for, and just hang out with people our age.

This week we will hopefully have information on the bhansala people group and find out where they live. We are eagerly waiting for the opportunity to give the mega-voices away.

Thanks for all of your continued prayers for safety and God's grace! He has protected us and has blessed the whole team in sooo many ways.

Stotrum! (praise the Lord in tamil)


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Maaza, Dosa and Jesus


I feel terrible that I haven't been writing. But we haven't had too many chances to get on the internet here in India. I've been trying to respond to all my emails too. :) So, I'm sorry!

But I am finally writing now!

I am having an amazing time here. I LOVE India. I love the people, the food, the culture, almost everything. Well, everything but the smells. The smells of India are most of the time overwhelming, if you know what I mean. :)

From the last post, which was like 4 1/2 weeks ago, we have done a lot, as you can imagine. After a few days in Chennai, we took a long van ride to another small village in Tamil Nadu. We stayed at the home of Pastor Vedha and his family. Here we met his oldest son, Suresh, and his wife Hope (from Michigan), and Blessing. Blessing is the little girl that Suresh and Hope are going to adopt. She was the orphan that they took in. We stayed with their family for a week. The rest of their family (aunts, uncles, cousins) stayed in a hut on the roof. It was a VERY cool house. We visited a few churches, spent time with the family, did some open air ministry, and met some of their neighbors. It was an amzing time of fellowship and getting to know India and the culture and food. :) We drank LOTS of hot lemon tea (SOOOO good) and LOTS of bananas. :) which i also love. indian bananas are so yummy. much sweeter than ours. :)

from here, we took another LONG van ride to a small town called Dharmapurri, which is further south. Here we stayed at a larger house, where another YWAM team from Chennai was staying. Here, we met Pastor Daniel, who was the pastor of the local church. And he led a lot of other ministries as well, and ran an orphanage. Here, almost every night we would go out into the villages (sometimes 30-45 minutes away) and do open air ministry. Basically, we would show up at these villages, introduce ourselves, perform one of our dramas, give a few testimonies, then share the gospel and invite people to accept Christ. It was so neat meeting people at these villages. At the end we always spent time praying for the people. Most of them did not speak English, but we had some friends/pastors who translated for us. At one particular village, I met an older man. His wife, daughter and son were believers, but he was not. He had been struggling with his faith. He was Hindu. And he was also an alcoholic. I prayed that Jesus would heal him of his addiction. Afterwards, he invited us into his home and asked us to pray for him and his family, and he told us he wanted to accept Christ. Stotrum! (Praise Jesus in tamil). It was awesome.

We also spent a LOT of time with the neighbor children. We taught them games, songs, handshakes, etc. They LOVED taking photos, and would always call me down by yelling, "Aunty Maria! One photo! Please one photo!" It was so cute. I also spent some time with a Christian family, praying for and encouraging them. I also met 21 year old woman named Razeena. She is Muslim, and the SWEETEST girl ever. Almost every day she wanted me to come over. She would feed me and we would talk and talk and laugh. She was married and had one little boy. He was so adorable. Her husband was very kind as well. She also took care of her father-in-law. They had a very small house. But were so content. I was really able to develop a relationship with her. And I can't wait to continue that through email/phone if possible. I miss her!

From Dharmapurri we traveled to a town called Ooty, nicknamed "Queen of the hills". It was beautiful! And MUCH cooler than Dharmapurri. We spent a few days here, then traveled back to Chennai for a few days. We stayed in an air conditioned hotel, which was very nice. :) From Chennai we took a 22 hour bus ride to Mumbai. We have been here since Saturday, and God has done SOOO much! We will be in Mumbai for another 2 weeks, where we plan on meeting the bhansala people soon, and giving them the megavoices we have in their language. I am looking forward to it! I will hopefully write more about our experiences so far in Mumbai, soon!

I miss home a lot, but I love India. :) I miss you all! Sorry it took me so long to write. I will try and write again soon!


Monday, April 12, 2010


Hey everyone!

We're here! We're at an internet cafe, and these computers are great. :) We arrived in Chennai yesterday around 4am. We met Danielle, Martin, Sarah and Vedha and his youngest son Danesh. We got to our hotel and slept into the afternoon.

We had a delicious lunch at the hotel, we relaxed a bit, then walked to the subway where it took us to a LARGE and VERY crowded shopping area. The streets were filled! We went into a store that had many floors, and we all shopped for sudis, the indian shirts the women wear, and scarves. I also bought a futbol jersey. :) It's for the soccer team here, Chennai Super Kings.

It is VERY hot here. And very sticky. 95 degrees. Feels like 105! I'm wearing a long skirt right now. Our hotel room isn't air conditioned, and this morning I woke up stuck to my bed sheets, soaking wet. I used a squatty for the first time in Qatar! It went well. And we've been using them in our hotel.

Vedha and Danesh are very kind, and they are leading us around places, getting us good rates. :) We are in a town called Tamil Nadu, where most of the people speak tamil, so I haven't been able to speak much Hindi.

My feet are swollen from the plane ride! It's crazy. I think it was from air pressure or something. A couple of us have very fat ankles, but hopefully the swelling will go down soon. My feet just feel really tight. The bug spray I bought is working really well, and I haven't gotten bit much.

We are getting a whole lot of staring. It's just not common to see white people in this part of India. The people here are so kind though. They always want us to sit if we are standing. And we are getting plenty of yummy food. :) We have also been buying 2 water bottles every day form the hotel. So that is good.

I think we still have a bit of jet lag, because we're all still really tired, and the heat doesn't help, haha. But we've been napping a lot. This morning we had a yummy breakfast called dosa, which is this potato curry in bread. very good!

Tonight we will take a 6 hour AIR CONDITIONED bus/van ride to Vedha and Hilda's home. We will stay there for a while, and visit their church on Sunday. We will perform a drama and some testimonies. It should be fun! Then, we'll go to Mumbai I suppose. I'll let you know. At Vedha's home, they have internet, so I can email more from there I think.

This town seems very safe. And the people are very kind. The streets are crazy. Honking 24/7. And walking here this morning, there were many young women with babies and little girls begging for food and money. It was so sad. I gave one women some crackers I saved from the plane. Another I gave my water bottle.

We exchanged some money yesterday to buy clothes, so we have rupees now. I bought a beautiful brown sudi.

Whenever you bow with your hands, the people here brighten up so much! I think it is very respectful. I love doing it. They could be frowning, and then you do that, and they smile. I think the head bobbing is awesome, and I'm sure it won't be long before we are doing it also. :)

The flights were great. We got ALL of our luggage! No problems, praise Jesus. And Qatar airways was awesome!!! It was so nice. It was a 13 hr. flight, but I hardly remember any of it! I slept for about 9-10 hours of it. :) And watched movies.

Everyone is doing great. And no one has gotten sick yet. There are lizards everywhere! I love the people of India because they live on the edge. They're not cautious about things. And the word 'stranger' does not exist. Everyone you meet is like family. It's like you've known each other for years. And I love India also because it is so random! We saw cows laying in the middle of the street this morning. And there are motor bikes everywhere!

I'm really excited to be here. Even though it's so stinkin hot, it's great. It's so colorful.

Pray that God will give us divine appointments this week. And that God will give us strength to get through these days!

I miss you all! I will write more soon! Have a great week! I'm doing great, God is providing, He is here, and I'm safe. :) I love you!!


Sunday, February 28, 2010

So Many Truths


I haven't written yet about any of the speakers we've had during this DTS, so I thought I would do that here. It's been amazing. But, there has been so much content to process, that it's hard to think about it all the time. Everything we've been taught is SO good. And I have taken tons of notes. So, I just need to find time to look back on my notes, so I can try and process everything. And I know that in my future I'll be looking back on these notes often.

The first week, the pastor of the church where the YWAM base is, Roger, spoke to us about grace, and what it means to walk the christian life. He had some really neat points that I had never thought about before. He was an interesting speaker, and very friendly.

The second week, we had a guy named Graeme come. He was born in Australia, but has lived in India for 20 years, where he is married to an Indian woman and has 3 kids. So he dresses like an Indian man, and is short and tan, with white hair and big blue eyes. And has a thick Australian accent. The whole week he talked about his experiences as a missionary, and also about the Indian culture and such. He was very interesting, and very kind. He cooked us Indian food almost every night for dinner! And we ate it Indian style! On the floor, barefoot, and with our hands. :) It was awesome. He made rice, chicken curry, bean curry, fish curry (which I tried and it wasn't bad!), chick peas, potatoes, indian cake, nan, and chai tea. Yum!! I love Indian food so much. :)

The third week we traveled 6 hours south to Miami. Here we stayed at a church and a guy named Bob Felder came and talked to us about evangelism. He is the leader of a campus ministry group called, "Waves". For 3 days, we went to 2 different college campuses of Miami Dade, the largest college in America. They have 9 different campuses across Miami. We visited 2, and just walked around, sharing the 'bridge illustration' with college students, and just talking and praying with them. It was really neat. And God definitely did some really cool things while I talked with students. I talked with a few athiests, as well as a Muslim girl. This was a great week for the DTS students who hadn't done something like this before. We also spent a day at the beach, which was great!

The fourth week we had a guy named Ezra talk to us. He works at the YWAM in Orlando. He was a very laid back guy, and just hilarious. He was so real, and very encouraging. He talked about the father heart of God, and at the end of the week, we all had a time of forgiving people from our past. It was very powerful, and just a great experience. Ezra has such an amazing testimony, and he always told cool stories, and loved to talk about his family. A lot of the points he made, he used his family as an example, which I thought was awesome. Everyone loved him.

The fifth week, a guy named Art Collins came. He works with YWAM's all over. And he spoke to us about how to study the Bible. It was AWESOME! He taught us different things about how to read the Bible. He talked about different tools that we can use to better read and study it. And he taught us how to do an inductive Bible study, and we did one on the book of Jonah. It was very interesting. He was a REALLY funny guy. He was older, but had so much energy. He told jokes, and was so outgoing, and just a neat guy. And he bought us food everyday! Junk food as a matter of fact. Oreos, pizza, donuts, and Wendy's frostys. And he took us all out in groups of 3 or 4 for lunch everyday. We ate at this really cool, old fashioned diner that plays oldies music. :) Loved it.

The sixth week, we had a guy named Sean Yost here. He is the youth pastor at a church, and founder of "Youth Quake", which is a large youth event that happens one Friday a month. It happens at different churches around the Jacksonville area. We went to the last one, and the theme was "True love waits". It was really cool. It's basically worship, videos, funny skits, and then a short speaker at the end. So he talked to us about relationships, both with God and with the opposite sex. And it was all sooo good. I agreed with everything he taught, and wanted to just stand up and shout "Amen!". I think it was really good for the other girls to hear it. Relationships are so important, obviously, and I think it was great for everyone here. On the last day, his wife Barb came, and she spoke for a while. And they talked a lot about their relationship with each other, and their kids. Sean told some pretty AWESOME stories too. It was an amazing week.

Last week, we had a guy named Dan Baumann come. He's been with YWAM since he was 19, and his entire family is as well. He has written 2 books, and he is in high demand at a lot of DTS's, and it's hard to get him for a week, but he spent all week with us. He was so cool. He's from California, and so laid back! And he is just a really genuine guy. Loves Jesus with everything he is, and is so passionate. He basically just told us stories all week, and they blew me away! Stories about how he took insane risks and God came through. Just, so encouraging. Honestly, I have never heard such amazing stories from a person in my entire life! They were all so powerful, and left me with my jaw wide open. He shared so much of his heart with us, and some things that he had never shared with anyone else. He is such a real guy, and has such a powerful testimony. And he taught such SIMPLE truths. Truths that I need to remind myself of constantly. Truths that I wish everyone knew. What he spoke was just so encouraging to me. The way he worded things just made me happy. They made me want to just cling to Jesus right then and there. His books are "A Beautiful Way" and "Imprisoned in Iran". I recommend "Imprisoned in Iran". I haven't read it yet, but I'm going to buy it. He was imprisoned in Iran for 9 weeks, and he told us all about his experience, and it is insane. Anyway, I found this podcast from a conference online. Listen to him speak if you have time. It's about an hour and a half. But everything he says he told us on the first day. He told us his grossest story about India, where we are going. :) It was pretty funny. Here is the link to the podcast:


So, it's been awesome. We've also performed a drama called "King of Hearts" (you can youtube it if you want to see it) in front of 2 youth groups, and it was neat. We'll be performing them in India a lot, so we're just getting some practice right now. This week, we'll be volunteering and doing some ministry around the city. We're going to a homeless shelter tomorrow. We don't have a speaker this week, so we get a little break from information overload. :) It should be a good week. And soon, we'll be heading to Daytona Beach to do a Spring Break ministry! Which is going to be awesome. It's also been great to get to know some of our neighbors. We've talked with one guy in particular quite a lot, and we had dinner with him one night. He is very curious about religion, and asks good questions. It will be interesting to see what God does.

I'm also really looking forward to coming home on Saturday, April 3rd through Tuesday, April 6th. A short break, just a few days, but I'll be glad to see everyone before I head off to India! We'll probably leave for India around April 9th. I've got a little over half of my outreach money raised, and I plan on having a jewelery party at my house when I'm back to help raise money. More details to come!

Well, I hope to write some more again soon! Thanks for reading! Hope everyone is doing well, and have a great week! Stay warm! It's pretty warm and sunny here. :) I've missed TONS of snow up north, huh?


p.s. I plan on sending a 'prayer request' email out soon as well. :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Better Late Than Never...

Hey everyone!

So, I've finally got this blog set up, which is quite an accomplishment. :) And today, is the 1 month mark of being here! I sent out an email update a while ago, talking about my first week in Jacksonville, Florida. I hope you all enjoyed it. But now, I'd like to keep everyone updated on here. I still may send emails out though. I plan on posting some prayer requests up here soon. And I also plan on writing about what has been happening the past 3 weeks. I can't believe I've already been here 4 weeks! This is the beginning of the 5th week of my DTS in YWAM. It's been amazing so far. I will write more soon! Hopefully by this weekend! I just wanted to send a little note out first to let you know. Thanks for all your prayers and support! It's pretty late, and I'm pretty tired. More to come later!