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God is moving, can you see it?
August 25, 2013 2:22 am
Published in: On the Field Tags: , ,

Here’s a few videos and articles that have stirred up my little heart lately.  I love feeling stirred.  At first it’s a little panicky, like “whooooooa wait I was so comfortable”, but then its that satisfying feeling of a whirring brain and a pondering heart.  So here yah go…

 

Judah Smith, of The City Church in Seattle, talks about Jesus encountering us and making everything new.  He uses the event of healing the lame man at the pool as a BEAUTIFUL in John 5.  It made me cry.

 

Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

Jamie’s writing always makes me laugh, cringe, and most importantly THINK deeply about my life and my faith.  This is one blog post that I loved recently, but really her whole archive is FULL of gems.  This one is entitled “Fortune Cookie Faith.” In our culture of Tweets and short attention spans, we have less and less patience and attention for things that require immense time and effort… like reading our Bibles.  Here is a little excerpt from the post.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never read a life changing tweet. Not one. And I’m certain I’ve never written one. That’s because the fullness of the Gospel will never be captured in a single sentence. Or a paragraph. Or a clever blog post. Or even a tacky three page Bible tract. Instead, it lays itself out over a lifetime; threading its way between morning and night, quietly abiding our self created chaos and gently bearing our indiscretions. It seeps into our bones over time. It nurtures us slowly, whispering light into our dark places and shoring up our weak spots. Grace doesn’t fit in a fortune cookie.”

 

Happy Sunday.

November 8, 2011 11:07 pm
Published in: On the Field Tags: , ,

“Give us today, our daily bread…”

I have literally prayed this prayer for years in church (you know, as part of the Lord’s Prayer) but have had literally no idea what it meant until I got to Africa.  Well hold on to your baguettes, things just got gluten-y over here!

Food goes bad quickly here in Africa.  I think is must be the lack of preservatives and processing, because my milk got lumpy within 4 days.  Whew, that was a lovely surprise.  This reality, on one hand, makes food much better for you.  It is fresher, and hasn’t been messed with as much.  But on the other it means you have to be a smart shopper and use the fresher stuff up within a few days, unless you really like moldy cheese…and meat… and bananas.  I’m not used to weekly, and sometimes daily shopping.  I like to stockpile, to only worry about groceries a couple times a month.  Well that just won’t fly here… I’ve got the chunky milk to prove it.

The future tends to freak me out, yet I choose to let my thoughts reside there.  I start thinking about tomorrow, which turns quickly into the following week, next month, and before you know it I’m agonizing over what is going to happen 10 years down the road.  Who needs a time machine when you have my grey matter?! My mind easily rockets to the future, or slips into dwelling in the past, yet it seems unsatisfied to abide in the present, in the moment, in the good stuff goin’ on right now.  I try to spiritually/emotionally/physically stock-pile for the future and become blind to how God has been providing for me, day by day.

Coming to Africa was hard.  There were (and still are) so many unknowns.  What will my home be like?  Can I really do this city thing?  Will I fit into my team well?  What about living alone?  Driving on the other side of the road?  A new language?  Malaria?  Water?  Is that a slug?!  It’s a lot for a girl from rural Montana to take in.  But everyday, there has been exactly enough bread.  Just what I needed.

When pulled up to my apartment for the first time, this hand-drawn sign was on the door…

It’s the little things really.  Small bursts of God’s goodness and love for me, presented in new ways each day.  A quick encouraging email.  An invite to go play volleyball, eat pizza and meet new people.  A verse on a slip of paper addressing just what I ended up needing later in the day.  A backyard BBQ complete with sloppy joes and sodas in glass bottles.  A handmade red-beaded bracelet from a sweet child.  Staying up late and talking about tough but beautiful times in life with a new friend.

He has proven Himself enough, every day… often in unexpected ways.  I am learning to relax, say thank you for my bread, and enjoy it with my God.

 “Two things I ask of you, LORD; 
   do not refuse me before I die: 
Keep falsehood and lies far from me; 
   give me neither poverty nor riches, 
   but give me only my daily bread. 
 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you 
   and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ 
Or I may become poor and steal, 
   and so dishonor the name of my God.”

Proverbs 30:7-9

August 12, 2011 10:25 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , ,

“How do we read the Bible?”

Frequently, and thoroughly.”

This wonderful man has put into words, the very thing that has been heavy on my heart lately… to read and know the Bible as a whole.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTYzUc-ezUc&feature=player_embedded

 

Mmmm, scripture.

June 12, 2011 7:28 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , , , ,

I’ll confess, for a while I truly thought it was just my camera that was broken.

After all, I did drop it (which resulted in a GASP and maaaaybe a curse word from me) a few months ago while on vacation with my friends in San Diego.  Strange ticking sounds emitted from my lens as I cranked the focus-ring around, trying to get a clear picture.  After 10 minutes of sweaty panic, my camera started working again… mostly.

Just a few weeks ago, I experienced a strange sadness as I packed up my dear camera and shipped her off to be appraised and exchanged for a newer bigger camera.  This old girl has been through a lot with me… three of my four years in college, seven weddings, two newspaper jobs, backpacking in the mountains, 49 days in Kenya, and numerous jaunts through the tall grass of meadows and orchards.  She has recorded the faces and lives of not only my family and my dear friends, but of people who were in my viewfinder for only a moment.  I’ll miss you, a lot.

(please excuse this horrid photo, when your camera is among the packing peanuts, one must resort to the phone camera… shudder!)

Even with a beautiful, completely unbroken camera in hand, I still couldn’t focus.  What the heck?  I know what I’m doing… I’m not a nincompoop… most of the time.  Could it be my eyes?!  Surely not, I’ve been 20/20 all my life!  Medical forms have always a breezy cinch for me…no braces, no allergies, no prescriptions, and certainly no glasses… normal as normal gets.  Well, there was one minor tangle with a mini-trampoline at the age of six that resulted in a broken elbow… but I will save my dashed hopes of Olympic glory for a later date.

With confidence in my complete normality quivering, I went to see Dr. Kim… gentle master of all things eye-related.  She put a giant contraption up to my face, a few drops in my eyes and with a click, whirl, click… I could read the BOTTOM row (which I always thought was an unreachable visionary feat, there only to remind us of our mortal state).

It took a week for me to find just the right frames, and then two days more for Erik (the extremely kind and patient optometrist) to make and fit my lenses.

When I put my new glasses on last Wednesday, I almost puked.  Details! A whole new world of beautiful details, and I could see them all!!

I feel a tiny bit like Mr. Black in the beautiful/sad/brilliant novel Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (which if you haven’t read, you must, but beware, you might cry… a lot).  The main character, a little boy named Oskar, is over at his elderly neighbor’s (Mr. Black) apartment in New York City, and they decide to turn on Mr. Black’s hearing aides (which he turned off years ago).

“Do it slowly,” he said, almost like he was begging me.  “It’s been a long, long time!”…

Then, out of nowhere, a flock of birds flew by the the window, extremely fast and incredibly close.  Maybe twenty of them.  Maybe more.  But they also seemed like just one bird, because somehow they all knew exactly what to do.  Mr. Black grabbed his ears and made a bunch of weird sounds.  He started crying- not out of happiness, I could tell, but not out of sadness, either.

“Do you want me to turn them off?” I asked, but he wasn’t paying attention to me anymore.  He was walking around the room, sticking his ears up to anything that made noise, including very quiet things like pipes.  I wanted to stay there and watch him hear the world but it was getting late… I told Mr. Black that I would pick him up next Saturday at 7:00…

He said, “OK,” and the sound of his own voice made him cry the most.

Now that I can see properly, it makes me wonder about all the things I have been missing over the years.  What photos have I not seen, and then not taken?  What have I overlooked?  What beauty have I missed?

It’s no coincidence that as the flaws in my physical vision were recognized, examined, and treated… God was examining the eyes of my heart at the same time.  He always seems to do stuff like that with me, coinciding the physical with the spiritual.  Double wammie!

For a long time I have operated as a “snippet Christian.”  I pick and choose tiny little bits of scripture that I like, tote around a few select characteristics of Jesus that appeal to me, give a quick nod to the Holy Spirit when glacing at Acts, and generally disregard the rest.  I could tell you in 5 seconds flat what John 3:16 says, but have not a clue about verses 15 & 17… let alone chapter 3, nor the whole Gospel of John.  It’s like I’ve been living out my faith with beer-goggles on… I’m dizzy and sick of it.  My heart has been stirring in heavy dissatisfaction for a while now, and, well… the pot just boiled over.

I want it all.  I don’t just want the Jesus who died more than 2,000 ago… I want the Jesus who was with the Father at the beginning, who dwelled among us, and who will come again in glory too bright to look at.  I don’t just want the Father who was (in my clouded eyes) a big warring meanie in the Old Testament… I want the Father who breathed humanity into being, has never to this day stopped fighting for us, desiring us, and making a way for us to come home.  I don’t just want the Holy Spirit who landed on Jesus like a dove… I want the Holy Spirit that hovered over the water before creation, that blew like a mighty wind and filled the people at Pentecost, the Power that raised Jesus from the grip of death, and the great Counselor that resides in my soul.

And I want the living Word.   I don’t just want the 23rd Psalm, Romans 5, or John 3:16… I want the WHOLE book!  I want to know why every book was written, who wrote it, and to whom it was written.  I want to understand God through the ages, I want to see His hand through history, to this moment, and beyond.  I want the scriptures engraved upon my heart, to know, that I know, that I know what my God has said.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.

Psalm 19:7-9

This will take a long time.  The Word is rich, and fathomlessly deep.  I have, at best, 70-ish years left on this earth.  Lord, help me to use this time well. Set in me an unquenchable thirst for the Word, born out of an inextinguishable yearning for you.  Open the the eyes of my heart Lord, and strap on my divine-cardiac-spectacles when the way becomes unclear.

 

17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,

may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,

so that you may know him better. 18

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened

in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,

the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Ephesians 1:17-19

 

May I be remembered as a woman who knew her God, and was known by Him… even if they call me Four-Eyes.

 

March 17, 2011 9:22 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , ,

No, not the side of my head… the temple of the Holy Spirit!  ME!

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit,

who is in you, whom you have received from God?

You are not your own; you were bought at a price.

Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I remember when that truth finally sank in for me… that I am the new house of the Holy of Holies.  The Spirit of God no longer lives in a private part of the temple, only accessible to high priests, He lives in me.  WHOA.  This is so wild.

I don’t know about all you other temples out there… but I feel like this kind of raises the bar for our lives.  We can’t just get away with being a regular old tent of flesh, blood and bones anymore.  We were formed, grown, redeemed and transformed to house God.  That is pretty stinkin’ majestic!

The thing is, I forget this sometimes.  I get caught up in slingin’ coffees 40 hours a week at work, doing busy little things on my days off , not to mention planning, prepping, and tweaking all the details in my life to feel like I am in control.  I am forgetting about that majestic truth.  God is inside of me.

So I’ve decided it’s time for a temple scrub-down.  Physically, and spiritually.  I mean, this is the only temple I’m gonna get… so I’m breakin’ out my Jesus Brillo-pad!

I’ve started going to Zumba and Oula classes!  Oh-mylanta, is it ever FUN!  For an hour three times a week I get to dance around (like a HUGE dork) and exercise the temple.  Ole!

In celebration of the loosening grip of winter in Montana, and the promise of a balmy 50 degrees tomorrow… I’m going for a bike ride! I’m gonna bust my trusty turquoise road bike (her name is Gwendalyn the Road Warrior) out of the garage and go for a pedal, yay!

I just completed a gall-bladder and liver detox cleanse.  I survived one week without (beloved) dairy, and delicious meat. I gagged down several servings of Epsom salts, and had one whole day spent in close proximity to the bathroom.  While sparing you the gory details, I can tell you that I feel like a million bucks, and am host to many less stones these days!  Sha-zam!

I’m jealously carving out time for Jesus.  I am coming to find that the days and nights in which I honor that time with Him, are indescribably better than the ones I choose to fill with busy-ness or, or quite often laziness.

On a backpacking trip last summer, my friend Jill asked me to picture a place where Jesus and I get to go together, where it is just He and I.  She asked me what my special and unique sanctuary and sacred retreat with the Lord looked like.  I had honestly never thought of that before.  Mostly I had just been seeing the dark insides of my eyelids when I prayed.   So I stilled my thoughts and opened up my imagination.  Where would my perfect retreat with the Lord be?  What would it look like?   I pictured a sun-lit clearing in the woods, a flowering hill (I can have flowers, I’m a girl!), fresh, earthy, and calm.  It was a place of peace, and safety, and seclusion.

Now believe me, I don’t physically get to zap to a meadow every time I pray.  While that would be totally rad, teleporting isn’t necessary.  You see, God is offering us unrestricted access to Himself 24/7/365.  He beckons us into the folds of His deep peace, unfathomable love, overflowing joy, and inexhaustable strength.  All we have to do is but arise and answer His gentle call.

My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”

Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Jesus is calling to us, from within our own restored hearts.  Come away with me! I just have to ensure that I give myself space and time alone to answer.  Ok, Jesus, let’s feel the flowers beneath our toes!

Scrub, scrub, scrub…

Because of Jesus, I have been given a new heart, and a been turned into a sparkly new temple.  Bling, bling!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,

the new creation has come:

The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

It is my prayer that I will remember what Christ has done for me.  May I never let the walls tarnish, nor allow the lights grow dim, or ever let the temple fall into disrepair.  Squeaky clean, and lemony fresh, I am making time to dwell.  Lord, help me to honor you with this temple.

January 16, 2011 8:47 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , ,

The action of trusting has always been a difficult one for me… especially in regards to God.   And when I really think about it, He is the ONLY one I really can put every particle of my trust in.  Then why don’t I?  It’s because I think I should be able to do it on my own, of my own strength, by my own power and might.  Ha!  Good try, Bess.

I’m human and I live amongst humans, and well, we really aren’t so trustworthy.  We aren’t very strong.  We fail.  ALL the time.  In my own life I have failed my friends, my family, and myself.   I’m not strong enough.  But I know one who is.

The song Too Proud by Enter the Worship Circle has always struck me, right to those sensitive heart strings.  It’s a song about pride, weakness, release of control, and finally trust…

“I’m too proud to ask, too broke to eat
Too weak to bow, too strong to bleed
Can you sing over me words of comfort?
Can you satisfy me, sweet honey?
Can you break through me, with your strong hands?
Can you undo me, enough to heal me?

You take the weight from my shoulders
My hands were clinched now they’re open!
I’ll take your goodness, pour it from the sky
Food from the ravens, water from the dry well!”

The process of support raising has really showed me how much I don’t trust the Lord.  I find my self agonizing over the what if’s…. what if I worded my letters all wrong, what if my letters got lost, or were sent at the wrong time, what if I offend someone, what if I start working an extra shift, what IF?!?!  And on and on.  It’s exhausting.  But, God is showing me, everyday, that it doesn’t have to be like this… I don’t have to carry this all on my own.

As soon as soon as I release control and begin to trust the Lord I see His goodness revealed everywhere.  When I stop building layers of safety nets, and stop making 100 back-up plans just in case the Lord doesn’t come through for me, I find myself in the present, on firm ground, with a promise of the Lord ringing in my heart.  You can trust me, my love will never fail you!

10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
(Psalm 32:10)

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me. (Psalm 13:5-6)

8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, LORD,
for I hide myself in you. (Psalm 143:8-9)

I want to know that it was not by my power that I made it to Africa, but that it was only by the hand of the Lord.  I want to be rooted and established in deep unshakable trust.  I want to see, more clearly everyday, the unfailing love that surrounds me.  I want witness the movements of the Lord, the wind made visible!

8 But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
9 For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
for your name is good. (Psalm 52:8-9)

Everyday I have to release going to Africa to the Lord, and trust.  He has good things for me, and his UNFAILING love surrounds me… ha, not bad for a simple girl from Montana.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

December 7, 2010 6:50 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , , ,

Just a random little note today…

A friend of mine shared an interesting NPR article today.  It talked about how “big” events, places, and things are/were, scale-wise, and it was WILD to look at and imagine.  They ended the article with a picture of Africa… and had an awesome way of describing it’s enormity… check out the picture below.How wild is that?!  All of China, Europe, India, Japan and the USA fit inside!  In a way it is a bit daunting… that is a lot of land, and with it, a lot of people.  More than 1 billion souls… incredible.  My mind starts racing, how can the love of God reach all of them?  It seems too hard, too much, too BIG!

But then, I stop and think about God.  Talk about big!!  The word says,  “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”  (Jeremiah 32:27)  Too right, God.

It has always been hard for me to fully trust God.  I find myself covering all my bases in case He doesn’t come through for me.  But what He really wants from me is surrender, complete surrender… its a lot to ask.  Come, sweet release, come!

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

(Isaiah 58:6-11)

Do I believe that God is big enough to cover not only me, but all of Africa in His love?  You are so big, Lord, help my small faith to grow.

 

November 7, 2010 3:30 am
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , , , ,

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”  John 3:8

This small passage has had a huge impact on my life during the past 10 months.  The first time I heard it was last January at the Urbana Missions Conference in St. Louis, MO.  It was during a very in-depth scripture study about the ministry of Jesus… and out of the many verses we looked at that day, this one grabbed me.

You see, God has always been a mystery to me.  I feel like I have learned so much about His character over the years.  Sometimes I even feel like I have a good handle on Him. Yet, as I push deeper in pursuit of Him, I stumble upon vast realms of wonderful unknown.  And it scares me a little.  But it also draws me in.

I love that God is unmeasurable, beyond my attempts to categorize and comprehend, yet still accessible and inviting.  He says COME, take the risk, I want you to know me and see how it changes you… I want you to see where it could lead you!  That is the journey I am on now, lead by the mystery of a living God.

In John 3:8, Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about comprehending how God works.  Nic just can’t grasp how people are “born again” or how the Spirit works.  I can’t say I blame him.  Jesus compares the mysterious workings of the Spirit to that of the wind.  The wind has the power to uproot trees, knock down buildings, and cause the sea to rage, yet it can be gentle enough to ruffle feathers, make a kite float or blow a few strands of hair.  I cannot see the wind.  BUT I can see it’s effects.  We cannot see the Spirit, but we can see how it changes people, nations, even the world.

Almost a year ago, I went to the aforementioned Urbana Missions Conference (www.urbana09.org) full of unknown.  I had so many questions, and I wanted answers.  God had shaken up my life during a two month stint in Kenya that summer with InterVarstiy Christian Fellowship, serving in the slums of Nairobi.  He changed my life, refined my dreams, ruined my normal life, and asked me to take a risk… to know Him, and to see that adventure would lead.  I understood then that the wind had started blowing, it was up to me… time to let myself be swept up.

I scoured the mission organization booths at the conference.  I wanted to know how I could use my passions and gifts from God in missions.  I was one semester away from a photojournalism/media arts degree, and I wanted to put those skills, my love for visual media and missions to work. I interrogated reps, gathered mounds of brochures, and still didn’t feel like I had found a fit.  Then I spotted AIM, it was the last booth I visited.  God bless that rep, haha, he answered my questions for over an hour!  In the end he handed me On-Field Media’s (Africa Inland Mission’s media team) best of 2009 DVD.  To say the least, I was blown away after I watched it.  As far as visual media production goes, no other organization came close.  My excitement and intrigue grew… God was up to something.

If you asked me a over a year ago if I would ever be a missionary in Africa, I probably would have laughed at you.  In less than a year I am moving to Africa… with a missions organization, for two years.  Funny how the wind blows.  I am like Nicodemus in that I cannot fully comprehend the mystery of God.  I don’t know where the His wind comes from, or where it is going… but I do know that God is real, that He is at work, and that if I allow myself to get swept away in Him, there is no telling where I will end up.  The workings of the wind are made visible, my life is proof.  Air is not wind unless it is moving. Africa here I come.

God is moving, can you see it?