10 years ago in Isreal...

     Many of you know that I grew up overseas as a missionary kid...I always believed in God, that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that the Bible is God's Word and is The Truth...However, all I truly cared about was following the rules and being a "good" girl, so that I would please my parents and so that people would think I was "nice".  I didn't have a real relationship with God and didn't really care because I didn't understand.  I even remember when my little sister Maggie decided that she wanted to follow Jesus...she prayed the prayer, was excited and came to tell me and I seriously remember thinking, "So what?!?!?".  I hate when I remember that moment.

     In 2001, when I was 16 years old, my mom was burned in an accident in our home.  Our fondue pot exploded during a Christmas dinner.  She almost died.  Over 30% of her body was 3rd degree burns.  We were living in Bolivia and there wasn't good medical care for burn patients, so she laid in a hospital bed, dying, for five days.  I remember standing outside the airport, looking in the ambulance window at her and saying good-bye.  My dad, a doctor, two nurses and a friend, flew with my mom to the USA and left me and my sisters behind until they figured out what to do.  At that moment, I knew that I could NOT trust God to take care of me or my family.  Yes, I still believed in Him, but I just knew that I couldn't trust Him.

     I graduated high school at Carachipampa Christian School in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2004.  My parents sent me to Columbia International University (a Bible college).  I wouldn't have chosen this school because I was tired of going to Christian schools, but now I am glad that I went because of how it changed my life.  At the end of my Freshmen year, I signed up to go on a Holy Land Study Tour.  I LOVE to travel (in case you hadn't noticed) and Israel sounded like an adventure.

Jerusalem University College

     We spent 3 weeks going to different parts of the country and reading sections of the Bible that related to that area. The entire time I was super emotional and kept saying, "this is real, its really real". All of a sudden, my heart got involved. I realized for the first time that I really wasn't "good", no matter how hard I tried. I may be a nice person, but I was still selfish, I would lie, I would cheat, I would gossip, the list goes on and on. But, I also realized that NO ONE is good and THAT is why God sent Jesus to die on the cross for us. None of us are perfect, but Jesus IS so that we don't have to be. 

     One day, we were hiking somewhere in Israel.  There was dust and rocks, it was hot and there were dead animals laying on the ground.  We stopped under this enormous boulder to rest because it gave us some shade.  We opened our Bibles to Psalm 18:2 and read this:

The LORD is my Rock, my fortress and my deliverer; 
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. 

     All this time, when I read about God being our Rock, I imagined little pebbles on the road that I kick as I walk by.  For the first time, I looked up at the huge boulder and I realized that I had been picturing the wrong "Rock"...God is not the tiny pebbles in the streets, He is the HUGE boulder that shades me and protects me.  In one instant, I KNEW that God DOES take care of me and I CAN trust Him!

     Those three weeks changed my life forever. I wanted to learn more and more about God and I wanted other people to know that God loves them and that they don't have to be perfect! We don't have to be perfect BEFORE he loves us. He ALREADY loves us. What a relief!  I can now live in freedom, while I do my best to live with purpose and accomplish what God created me for! I am still not perfect and will never be, but I can work everyday to be who God wants me to be! 

     Last week, I was talking with a friend who said that her goal is to LOVE WELL and FINISH WELL (I didn't ask permission, but I'm sure she won't mind that I steal that from her) ...I want to use this as my life motto as well!  This is what it means to me...

-to spend my life telling others that God LOVES them. 
-to spend my life showing others that I LOVE them, because HE first loved me!

-to live an ADVENTURE and make an IMPACT in the world.
-to accomplish what God CREATED me and PURPOSED me for.

Dome of the Rock and The Wailing Wall

        10 years ago, my life changed forever.  

     My favorite song ever since that summer has been In Christ Alone, but I haven't been able to sing it through since then because the words just get me every time.  I love when they play it at church...I just listen and thank God for choosing me when I didn't choose Him.

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