PASSION 2017 // Photo Journal

“Adventure is out there”

This week was one of the most challenging and fruitful adventures I think I’ve ever ventured on.  21 people, traveling and living together, encountering God together, & battling spiritual warfare together.

Day 1: Three packed cars caravanned from Davie, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia.  We ran late due to traffic, arrived nearly freezing rain, and finally joined 55,000 other college students to worship in the Georgia Dome.  Later, we had our own devotional as a community group in the house we were renting.

Day 2: Four PASSION sessions in one day is like drinking from a fire hose.  Add in navigating an unfamiliar city and temperatures in the forties, and it’s exhausting.  But God’s Word never returns to Him void, and it overwhelmed my soul like a wildfire.

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Day 3:  We sat closer for the last session and looking up from the floor at the vast amount of people all singing to one Lord and Savior blew my mind!  Having another devotional time at the house refreshed me immensely.  Exploring downtown from a horse drawn carriage and breaking bread together (okay it was pizza) definitely revived my energy.

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Day 4: With a final devotional and meal in the house, we re-packed our caravan and headed home.  A long car ride provided a sweet time for me to rest my body & mind, and process all that God did and taught me this week.

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We faced massive spiritual warfare throughout these four days.  There were disagreements, delays, and unintentional emotional daggers.  But God, oh that is truly my favorite phrase.  But God, crushed us intentionally.  He allowed us to struggle in order to bear greater fruit and the fruit still blooming now that we are home is oh so sweet.

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He taught me to breathe.  He taught me to love at all times.  (Proverbs 17:17)  He taught me to forgive.  He brought me to know the grace and love He pours out on me and broke down the dam in my heart to let that continue flowing through me and into the hearts of others & to instead build a dam of humility, patience, and love blockading the rivers of strife that flow in every human heart.

“If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.  The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.”  Proverbs 17:13-14

Despite the challenges we faced I’m so glad we made this trip.  I’m glad we got to know each other more intimately.  Our pain will not be wasted.  I’m grateful we were seen worthy enough to embrace a challenge.  I learned so much about keeping my eyes on other people and caring for them more carefully and vocalizing how I love them.  I also learned to keep myself accountable to my own advice and practice everything I preach.

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“When you know Jesus, nothing in this world can satisfy.” – Beth Moore

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.  And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 4:12-14

“Train for the trial you are not yet in.” – Levi Lusko

2017-01-05-05.22.44-1.jpg.jpg21 strangers did not embark on this trip, 21 family members united in Christ did.  We survived this trial because we have trained for it before we knew what it was and we have a common hope in Christ.  Nothing can shake that hope and like natural elements are crushed to produce the sweet fragrance of essential oils, we were crushed to produce a sweet fragrance to our Father.

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This week I learned to be passionate for others through my passion for Christ, to prefer God above all else, and choose to actively love His people every day as He loves me.  If you haven’t faced spiritual warfare yet, you will.  Please train for that trial!  Dig into the Word and be sure you are perceiving life through the lens of the gospel and your hope will endure.  I will not waste my pain because Christ did not waste His and I will love because He loves me.

My dear koinonia family, I love you all so deeply!  Thank you for suffering with me and loving me even during trials.

1.6.2017

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Mountain Roads // Heart Roads

As I ride in the passenger seat on long, winding, constantly ascending & descending roads, I feel revived.  I am so accustomed to the flat roads and direct routes of South Florida that these country roads feel alien.  The more I admire and absorb the changes in the landscape through a humble car window, the more I’m reminded how natural the hills truly are.

Even the ‘highways’ throughout the Virginia landscape preserve the natural shape of the land by curving with the mountains rather than cutting straight through them.  The land guides my altitude inch by inch.  Only by removing myself from my normal atmosphere do I realize just how much flat roads flat-line my soul.

As each hill makes me feel more and more alive, I see a deeper parallel from simple asphalt roads to the complicated emotional roads of life.

It is so dangerously easy to fall into regularity; a standard routine or comfort zone.  We don’t realize how numb we’ve become until a change in altitude awakens us.  Whether it’s schooling, career, friendships, relationships, or emotional challenges, we need trials and changes, ascending and descending, to keep us alive.

In order to feel the high points of joy & excitement you have to feel the low points of sadness, frustration, & fear.  Without these mountains & valleys we end up driving our lives on straight emotional roads and missing out on beautiful depths the landscape naturally provides.

Sometimes this requires the bravery of making a change, other times it is accepting a battle of emotions.  Either way, we cannot remain numb.

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”  Psalm 51:12

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“Jesus wept.”  John 11:35

Part of life is pain.  Without the lows of pain we cannot taste the sweetness of joy.  If we lived on joy alone it would become normal and thus, mundane.  In order to taste joy we must endure the sadness.  Know that feeling is natural, no matter how difficult.

Weep if you must.  Do not remain on the flat roads, let your heart climb.

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7.17.2016