To Be Alive.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.~Ephesians 2:10

I celebrated my birthday recently. I’m not going to tell you how old I am…Most people are shocked at my age anyway, since youthful genes run in my family. Additionally, I’m quite petite. Put simply, the number doesn’t matter. These days, I’m pondering life and the lessons I’ve gained more than before.

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Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

I no longer put societal expectations about age and the timeline for God’s plan for my life together. God has given us each a different story to write. It’s refreshing that none of us is exactly the same. We can always learn from one another and the different ways that God works in each our lives. It can be difficult to understand why the Father gifts one person in a certain way and not another person, but He is sovereign. Only He knows why, as tough as that can be for us to swallow.

In the past year, I had many opportunities to actually “walk in faith.” By the world’s standards, I went about a lot of things in a way that isn’t normally recommended. I think some people think I’m crazy for the peace I’ve gained from Christ about certain areas of my life. But you know what? We serve a faithful, all-powerful God. He has never let me down, and I know that same faithfulness will continue this year and forever.

I am astounded when I think upon the gift of life. Earthly life is definitely not perfect and there are always struggles of various types. Yet when I ponder that this life is a gift, and I could have never existed at all, or even not been given the chance to live…It puts it into a whole new perspective! What a tremendous gift, to live, learn, and love.

I was an idea of the God of the universe! So were you, and every other person in existence at any time. I don’t think our minds can fully comprehend it. What is also profound is that each of us were created for a specific & unique purpose!

I can’t wait to grow closer to Jesus Christ during this next year of my life and to see how He leads me further into the purpose I was created for…

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Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash
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Parenting and Our Good, Good Father.

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”–Matthew 5:48

Parenting is a topic often on my mind. It’s a huge responsibility, greater than anyone could ever imagine. The spiritual, physical, intellectual and emotional

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Photo by Julie Johnson on Unsplash

health of a precious human being is at stake! When I reflect about becoming a parent someday, I’m filled with great joy. It’s one of the biggest dreams of my life. However, the reality sinks in that I am very much still a person “in process.” What is the prominent way that children learn character? By observing their parents–both their actions and whether their words make sense with the reality of their actions. When you become a parent, you’re going to have little eyes and ears observing everything you do and say. That goes for even when you don’t expect it. How can I expect a child to turn out a certain way when I myself am living in a different way? If my character isn’t matching what I hope the character of my child will match…How will I teach them? The good news is, we have God’s grace. Even in spite of our shortcomings, God’s grace can work in all circumstances. It’s still working on me, and will be each day until I die. I’ll never be a perfect parent–no parent on earth will be.

 

Yet, I had a very important realization: I can continually learn from THE perfect and best parent: our Heavenly Father! As I grow into a deeper relationship with God and come to know more and Who He is, I learn from His character. As I journey closer and closer (walking by faith) to the day that I become a parent,  I’m going to look at His character and see more of the type of parent I want to be. Most of all, I pray that I can give any child, any person that comes into my life, a glimpse into His deep love and Who He really is. 

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Courtesy of John-Mark Kuznietsov on Unsplash.com

 

100 Followers, and Almost 4 Years of Sunflower Sojourn!

Sunflower Sojourn has hit 100 followers! Yet whether I have 1 follower or 100, I’ll still keep writing on. Thank you to all 100 of you who are following, whether you’ve been following for years or for a week!

I remember when I began this blog almost 4 years ago. I was living with my family and on the job search. I felt discouraged and encouraged at the same time by my progress. (Little did I know what God was up to–I didn’t need to even be looking for a job, because my dream job would be handed to me!) I had some extra time on my hands due to not working full-time. I felt the pull to minister through the written word. Thus began this blog!

Here are a few of the happenings that have occurred in the 4 years I’ve been keeping this blog:

I “met” another blogger who just so happened to live in the same city. At a time when I was feeling nudged to move, she just so happened to have an extra room in her house. We lived together for close to a year, one of the most blessed living situations I’ve had so far in my life. (And no, I don’t believe that the situations listed above are coincidences. I believe in God’s hand in each detail of our lives!) She’s still someone I would consider one of my best friends. I’m thankful God used our blogs to connect us!

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My dream of visiting Africa came true in 2016! It was a miracle how I was able to go on the trip. Miracles abounded throughout the entire trip itself as well. I am forever grateful and look forward to my next visit, whenever it may be! There are a few other countries high on my list and where I’ve felt Him leading me for years. God, You can do it again!

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I made a career change. Ok, it’s still in process and will be awhile before I can actually practice! Yet I look forward to the day when I can walk with others on their journey to healing and wholeness as a counselor.

Most of all, I’ve seen many miracles! One of those miracles is my visit to Africa, mentioned above! I’ve been in awe of God’s workings in my life the past 4 years. I can’t wait to see how He works in the next 4 years! Where will He take me?

Where will He take this blog? I look forward to finding out!

Thanks for reading along! As always, let me know if you’d like me to post on anything in particular!

The Word on Wednesday-Love, Zeal, and Joy.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. ” Romans 12:9-14
These few verses hold so much power and so many admonitions! These verses encourage us to cling to righteousness. We are reminded to constantly remember our mission of serving our Savior. We are reminded to hope and to stay joyful in the midst of suffering. We are reminded to be faithful in love of our neighbor and devotion to our God. We’re reminded to persevere in the midst of affliction. Generosity is a huge theme in this passage. After all, what is one of the greatest ways to love God? By loving the people He has created! 
A difficult admonition we are given is to bless those who persecute us. It’s difficult to love those who have wronged us in any way, but we’re reminded to leave blessing in our wake. Love is our legacy.

Keep the fire burning and keep on loving!

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Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

Help Women In Jordan In Need.

I’ve written before about the work done by Trades of Hope in Uganda and the USA. Today, I’m going to focus on the work done in Jordan. Jordan is a country in the Middle East, which is bordered on the west by Israel and the Dead Sea, on the north by Syria, on the east by Iraq, and on the south by Saudi Arabia.

Here are a few facts about Jordan:

  • Jordan is mostly desert plateau in east, a highland area in the west, with the Great Rift Valley separates eastern and western banks of the Jordan River.
  • Jordan is one of the world’s four most water-deficit countries. Due to scarce water supplies and drought, agricultural production is insufficient; Jordan must import a large quantity of their food.
  • Jordan is a country that many refugees have fled to and stay in, at least while they await a decision about being granted refugee status and being able to be permanently resettled in another country.

Many women in Jordan find themselves in difficult situations. Many of the women working in the Trades of Hope workshop in Jordan have been divorced, orphaned, or widowed and have struggled to provide for their family’s needs. Some are the wives of a husband with multiple wives, where the husband cannot sufficiently support each of his families. Women in this group are empowered to be able to provide for the basic needs of their families and the education of their children.

What do the women create? To recreate the look and feel of the sea glass, artisans use glass bottles from local hotels and restaurants that would otherwise be discarded. Then, they tumble it with water and sand from the Red Sea until it is smooth and resembles the beautiful pieces found in nature. Through the creation of these recycled products, they are now generating an income for their families. These women are so thankful for the opportunity they now have to be a part of this group, which has empowered them and changed their lives! Check out a picture of one of the pieces they make below this picture of a few of the artisans!

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Women in Jordan//Courtesy of Trades of Hope

 

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Sea glass necklace//Courtesy of Trades of Hope //size and color may vary based upon what glass is available to the women

This concludes my posts in this series! Here are previous posts:

Help USA Survivors of Human Trafficking

Help Our Sisters in Uganda

Help Families in India Get Clean Water

Remember, any purchase you make will assist in supporting the groups of women that I’ve written about! Purchases made in February will also go to help families in India have clean water! Thanks for your support of women around the world!

 

Lent: A Fruitful Desert.

We often speak of Lent in terms of a desert. For 40 days, Jesus withdrew to the desert to fast and pray. We do the same, though figuratively speaking. For the 40 days of Lent, we devote ourselves to increased prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

For awhile now, I’ve realized that I need to cut down on the noise in my life. The sources of that noise are many: various social media platforms, music in the car and at home, and reading many news stories that either leave me disturbed or are simply pointless in the grand scheme of things. This is basically what my Lent is revolving around: reducing the “noise” in my life in order to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Though being deprived by fasting of various types resembles going into the desert, there is fruit. We are being pruned, old habits cut away so that there is room to bear new fruit. Our hunger pangs can point us to something–Someone— greater. As we follow Jesus into the desert, it’s a great way to grow in intimacy with Him. Letting go of some of our earthly delights invites in His heavenly love. The time that I spent on the noise now holds silence instead, a perfect opportunity for Jesus to speak to me or I to speak to Him. My heart is being freed up to better love Him and others.

How’s your Lent going? Is there anything you’d like me to keep in prayer? I’m so grateful to be on this journey with you!

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Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

 

Support USA Survivors of Human Trafficking

Did you know that human trafficking is prevalent in the United States? Yes–you read that right! Human trafficking is an atrocity that happens everywhere, and even in developed countries like the USA.

  • Experts indicated in 2010 that there were currently at least 100,000 child victims of sex trafficking in the United States while upwards of 325,000 remain at risk.
  • In 2016, Human trafficking in the United States rose 35.7 percent from the previous year, according to data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Clearly, this is a huge problem! The good news: you can help! I’m partnering with my friend Hannah and Trades of Hope this month. Your purchase will go toward helping women rescued out of human trafficking in the USA. Bonus: in February, proceeds will also go toward helping families in India have clean water!

Trades of Hope works with two American co-ops: one based in Los Angeles helping women leave industries of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, another based in Tennessee that offers sustainable jobs to women who have survived lives of violence, prostitution and addiction. These groups provide different forms of housing, food, dental, medical, therapy, education and job training so these women can build a brighter future for themselves. When women come into this group, they are offered the resources needed to go through recovery, heal from childhood wounds, and get physically healthy. Creating products is a beautiful part of that process that helps them also make an income while they heal. The co-ops create jewelry and body products.

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Shana (middle) is one of the women who escaped a life of trafficking and now works for the Tennessee co-op as a sales rep for the body product line. Courtesy of Trades of Hope.

Here are a few of the products available, created with love and hope by the women employed in the USA co-ops:

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Love Heals set, created by women in the Tennessee co-op//Courtesy of Trades of Hope

 

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New Leaf earrings//Courtesy of Trades of Hope

 

Are you interested in helping not only the women rescued from human trafficking in the USA, but also helping families in India have clean water? Head on over to Trades of Hope! 

Previous: I blogged about the work of Trades of Hope in Uganda!

Next: I will be blogging about the work of Trades of Hope in Jordan!

Together journeying toward the Creator and becoming the creations we were meant to be.