30 and enough

Last week I turned 30 years old. I must be weird, because instead of being anxious about it, I was actually quite excited. It’s the start of a new decade, a fresh start. Jesus started his ministry at this age, and from what I’ve heard, the Jewish tradition held that this was the decade of “full strength”. I’m excited to see what God has in store for this year, this decade.

Just before I turned 30 I had the opportunity to go on our team’s annual retreat, our Spiritual Life Conference. It was so needed. So encouraging and refreshing, both spiritually and physically. It was nice to get out of the city and enjoy the fresh air and green landscape of the tea fields of Kenya. I even had a chance to go horseback riding!

But mostly, I was so grateful for the reminders of God’s grace. I think we forget sometimes, but it’s so good to take time to remind each other of the extravagant grace of God, the reason we do what we do. I was reminded also to simply abide in Christ, to rest in Him and wait for Him. This is something God has been showing me lately, but without the distractions of every day life this past week, I found I actually heard Him.

And I desperately needed to remember those words. It’s so easy to get caught up in comparing myself to those around me, to listen to the lies telling me I’m not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough…that I am simply not enough.

But my Jesus hanging on a cross tells a different story. It tells me that He sees my worth, He loves me so much He died for me and even today He is interceding for me. He shows me that I am enough because He is enough. He is more than enough.

There is a song we sing here that is one of my favorites called “Wewe Watosha”…the translation is literally “You are enough”. And that is my prayer for this year (and beyond), to declare the God is enough and to rest in that completion.

This I know: God is good, and thus far He has brought me, and I know that He will continue His good work in me until He brings it to completion, the day that I see my Lord and Savior face to face. Oh what a day that will be!

Today, I feel full to overflowing with joy and thanksgiving to my God! And I’m going to share that joy with you by listing 30 things that I am grateful for (in a very incomplete and random list, in no particular order):

  1. Life. Both my physical life, the very breath that I have, and especially my life in Christ, that fullness of life and joy found only in Jesus Christ.
  2. The gospel of Christ. What an amazing God, Creator of all things seen and unseen, who would send His Son, would come down to this earth to live among us, among our filth, would die a horrific death on a cross to bridge the gap that we had created in our rebellion. All so that we could be with Him forever.
  3. My parents. What amazing examples of “Christ-followers”. And what incredibly loving, fun, adventurous, smart, servant’s hearted people they are. I’m so grateful God knew exactly what I needed.
  4. My sister and brother-in-law. Adventurous, talented and funny.
  5. My brother and sister-in-law. Fun and goofy and so kind.
  6. My grandfather and grandmother. The stories they told, the jokes they made, the lives they lived that pointed back to Jesus. An ending to this chapter of life that made much of Jesus and reminded me of how I hope to finish this race. And the example my grandmother continues to be in her passion to share the Good News, with every breath she has.
  7. The Spencer’s. The love, laughter, tears, adventures, lives lived in community, music made, hearts stirred towards compassion, gospel lived, grace extended…words could not express how grateful I am that God saw fit to let my path cross with theirs for these 30 years.
  8. So many friends I could never possibly list them all here…the laughter, tears, adventures, encouragement, prayers…I’m so glad God calls us to live in community, and that He chose you to walk alongside me in this journey.
  9. The Church. All around the world, it is so beautiful. Lafayette Alliance, the encouragement and support they have all been. Good Shepherd, for welcoming me and making me one of your own.
  10. Every album by Michael Card. The gospel truth saturating my soul as I enjoy exceptionally good musicianship. Still my favorite after all these years.
  11. Books. To read words on a page that make history and stories and adventures come alive…
  12. The Bible. The very words of God, written for me to read and to know…
  13. The gift of the violin, the music it has made, the places it has taken me.
  14. Coffee. ‘nuff said.
  15. Sunshine and warmth and the brilliant blue sky.Blue Skies
  16. The way the sun sparkles on the snow and the feel of the crisp air in my lungs (when I’m actually in a winter-weather place, that is)
  17. Colors…all of them. The fact that I can see and distinguish between colors. And autumn, when the world explodes in vibrant color…making the trees look like “a bowl of fruit loops” as my dad likes to say.
  18. Chocolate. Does anything else need to be said about this deliciousness?
  19. Skype. Keeps me in touch with the people I love around the world at the press of a button. So very grateful.
  20. Photography. The fact that we can forever capture a memory, a moment in time with the snap of the shutter is amazing.
  21. The fact that I have two legs that work…for walking, running, jumping, hiking, dancing…I don’t want to take that for granted.
  22. Education. I am so very grateful for this gift of education, something so many of us (myself included) take for granted so often.
  23. Freedom. To live, to worship, to dream, to speak…
  24. Camping. Fresh air, campfires, birds singing, sleeping under the stars, the smell of the woods…so many adventures and memories through the years
  25. Mountains. The majesty of them, the lessons they have taught me, the memories made.

    Mt Kenya summit

    Mt Kenya summit

  26. Water. Clean water to drink, indoor plumbing, rain watering the earth and making things grow, lakes to swim in, puddles to jump in…pretty much all water. Love it.
  27. Horses. And horseback riding through the woods and corn fields of New York…or through the tea fields of KenyaHorses in the tea fields
  28. The “basics”. A roof over my head, food on my table, clothes on my back…things I take for granted every day.
  29. God’s protection. In Kenya, in America, when I’m traveling, when I’m worshipping…so grateful that nothing crosses my path that didn’t first go through God’s hands.
  30. A new day, a fresh start, God’s grace and mercy poured out for me.


Now, go and write your own list and live in the fullness of gratitude, “eucharisteo”.



Where everyone knows my name…

I’m sitting here in my favorite cafe, typing away, trying to get work done, hyped up on too much coffee…wait is there such a thing? 😉

I have now been back in the States for exactly 8 months…and these months have been packed full! When I first returned, it took a few months to try to wrap my head around the idea of being back in the States.

My first thought in arriving was, “There are too many white people”…I’m not even kidding.

My second thought was, “Where do I belong?” All of a sudden I was thrust back into a life and a place where I felt like a stranger in a place where everyone knows my name. It took me most of the first three or four months to get into a rhythm, find my place and remember that God wants to use me wherever I am. Not just in Kenya.

I admit I was kicking a bit on my return. I had a life in Kenya. I felt uprooted. But I remembered that God never called us to be comfortable. He called us to be radical followers. That means we go where He calls us.  But that doesn’t mean that I come home and focus solely on raising support and getting back to Kenya as fast as possible. By living only for that goal, I would miss the everyday life, the sometimes seemingly unimportant events that happen around me daily.

So that means that the past 8 months or so have involved helping out with the youth group at my church, teaching a baking class in my local community, and volunteering with HopePrint, a local organization empowering refugees to thrive in their new surroundings. Oh, and time spent preparing for my brother’s wedding.

Which, by the way…he’s married! Crazy. My little brother is all grown up and married…I mean, he’s been grown up for some time now, but the married part is new. haha. It was a beautiful wedding and I love my new sister 🙂 As soon as I have pictures, I will make sure to post them so you can all enjoy the big event, too.

Anyway, I have loved being involved with it all. So much so, that I feel I may have once again become too comfortable in my current situation.

I struggle with finding the balance between living in the here and now, not focusing only on the future, without becoming comfortable and “settled”. That’s not saying I don’t want to go back to Kenya. I do. Very much so. But I almost feel as if I’ll be uprooted all over again in leaving here after having reconnected with old friends and built new relationships.

Which is quite confusing, to say the least.

But when my eyes are fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith, I see more clearly. And I remember that this is not my home. Kenya is not my home. I am a stranger in a strange land, and I will be until I am seeing Jesus face to face in my forever home. There is no place on earth that will ever truly be home.

This world is not our home, friends. It’s the ache that pulses within you — the cry of the Spirit of the Son for his Abba Father.

We’re homeless beggars, leading each other to the Living Bread, and I’m walking there, with you. Can you feel me, holding your hand?

We’re almost there. Step by shaky step. 

As I read this the other day, I felt a weight lifted. It was a beautiful letter from Emily T. Wierenga to those struggling with eating disorders, but I see how much it applies to each of us. We are homeless beggars, but we are not alone. We have each other, and we have Christ in us.

And so friends, as I pack up and prepare to leave all over again, I want you to know I am grateful for you. I am glad I am not on this journey alone. I’m grateful you all know my name, even when I feel confused about where I am and where I should be. Thank you for your encouragement, love and prayers,  and for your patience as I take these oft times shaky steps. Keep running the race, following Jesus wherever He leads you. Know that He never lets go. And you are not alone.





“I will give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love towards me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.” -Psalm 86:12,13 

As I sit here in my apartment this beautiful Thanksgiving morning, the smell of fresh-out-of-the-oven pumpkin bread wafts through the air, Christmas music plays softly in the background, and I take a moment to breathe. This week has felt incredibly stressful and overwhelming as I try to finish all the meetings and projects I have before I leave in a few weeks…and as I run around this morning trying to complete my to-do list, I’m reminded that this is a day to step back and give thanks. It may not be a holiday here in Kenya. It may not look anything like the Thanksgivings I am used to…no snow, no Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or football (American style 😉 ) on the TV, no fire crackling in the wood stove…but regardless, I needed this reminder to slow down and reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness.

I’m so thankful for a roof over my head, for electricity, running water, indoor plumbing, plenty of food on my table, an excess of clothes and shoes…all things that I have seen so many here go without, particularly Anna’s family.

I’m thankful for the very breath that I have, each one is a gift from God! And I’m grateful that I am able to see and hear, to taste, touch, smell. For the ability to walk and run, for good health, things that I know I take for granted each day.

I’m thankful for the education I had, that it was free through high school, and that I had the opportunity and the aid that I needed to attend college.

I’m thankful for the beauty of different cultures, for having friends from all over the world and for all the life lessons they have taught me.

I’m thankful for music, for the privilege of playing the violin, for the violin that God (unexpectedly) provided for the years that I was here and the joy of worshiping God through the gift He has given me.

I’m grateful for the cameras that God has provided me, for the chance to share and encourage others through photography, to tell a story and start conversations through a single picture.

I’m so very grateful for all of my friends! To have so many friends, some lifelong, is such an amazing gift! Thank you all for your prayers, encouragement, laughter, and listening ear. Thank you for sharing in this journey with me, for walking alongside me through the good times and the bad.

And for my family. I love that God gives each of us a family to grow with, to do life with. You all are such a blessing to me, and I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am for you, and how very much I love you! Thank you for teaching me, for laughing with me, crying with me, picking me up when I fall down, encouraging me, supporting me, loving me. You truly are a gift from God!

Most of all I am thankful for Jesus Christ, for the life He lived here on earth, living the example for us to follow, dying to pay for our rebellion towards God, and rising from the grave to conquer death once and for all. Where would I be without His love and grace?! Though I have a long way to go, I thank God that I am not who I once was and “…that he who began doing a good work in [me] will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6).

As we take some time out to join with our families and friends and give thanks today, let it not only be a simple once a  year tradition. Let us remember to give thanks every day. And as we enter into this busy Christmas season, with all the sales and shopping and parties, remember the real reason for this season. Remember how very much you have. Please, please remember tomorrow what you were thankful for today. Things are just things….you can’t take them with you. Enjoy your family. Savor this time. Slow down, breathe and…

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” -Psalm 118:1

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the transient life…

Crazy. That’s what the past few months have been…I apologize profusely for not updating this sooner. I really had no idea that it had been so long since I had written…amazing how time can fly like that.

Anyway, needless to say, life has been filled with attempting to finish projects during working hours, and trying to fit an insane social schedule in around those projects. I finished almost two months in the finance department as Acting Treasurer at the end of August, and since then I have been trying to play catch up. Initially I tried to keep helping out part time in finance while still working on media projects…ummmm, yeah….right brain and left brain don’t operate at the same time very well in case you were wondering. So back to just media…

Now with just a month left before I get on a plane to head back to NY, I’m not really sure what I am feeling. While I am very excited to see and hug my family and friends (and maybe a bit excited to see snow again…I know, I’m weird), I am also trying to wrap my head around saying goodbye to my friends and family here.

When I was preparing to leave for Kenya two years ago, I prayed that God would allow this place to feel like home, from the minute I stepped off the plane. I knew it would be hard being so far away from everything familiar to me for such a long time, and I needed to have that sense of “home” right off the bat. And He completely answered my prayers. From the moment I arrived, I have felt like I was home. And that feeling has only intensified the longer I have been here. I now have an amazing church family, a solid group of friends and my own Kenyan family. I have my own place and a regular routine…my weeks are planned out with volleyball nights, Bible studies, violin lessons and worship practice…I even found a great place to Zumba! Friends often stay at my house over the weekends. I am known as the baker and even give baking lessons to friends (someone once told me someone could sneeze and I would decide I needed to bake…not that far from the truth. haha).

This is home.

I love Kenya. I love the people I meet, the colors, the music, the language, the food and the natural beauty that surrounds me (at least when I have the chance to escape the city).

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But I also remember having this same conversation with myself a few weeks before I left to come here. And God is reminding me again that “he who loves his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Let me tell you: surrender is hard! But I’m pretty sure you already knew that.

Building relationships with people only to say goodbye, not knowing if you will see them again…hurts. I have said hello and goodbye to so, so many people over the past few years. And it doesn’t get easier. It’s just part of life here. It’s part of being flexible.

And so I learn to say hello and goodbye. I take the opportunity to learn as much as I can from the people I meet…and maybe someday I’ll have the chance to travel around the world visiting the many friends I have made. 🙂

For now, as I finish projects, begin packing and look to whatever God has next, I will remember that God knows my future. Every bit of it. And He knows the longings of my heart. He knows what I need, and more importantly, He knows how my life will best bring glory to Him.

This verse my church has been focusing on this year helps to keep perspective in the midst of confusion:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:33,34

Ok, so…”seek first.” Not easy. But if I want to live a life at peace, free from the bondage of anxiety, it’s not really a choice.

Pray with me as I finish this last month, that I would finish well here, both the projects I need to finish and especially the relationships that I will be saying “good-bye for now” to…and that I would release each anxious thought that enters my mind to Jesus and seek Him only.


Mountain High, Valley Low

Standing on the summit of Mount Kenya, watching the sun come up over a sea of clouds took my breath away…literally. Having just succeeded in climbing to almost 17,000 feet, the highest I have ever climbed by far, I felt like I could accomplish anything. It’s that amazing “mountain-top” experience, that feeling of euphoria at having faced something so challenging and come away victorious. It’s that knowledge, as you look out over the peaks and valleys, that the God who formed these mountains with His hands, who spoke them into existence, who gave me the strength and grace to make it up that mountain…that same God knows what mountains and valleys I will have to face in my own life, and He is not daunted.

Mt Kenya summit

Mt Kenya summit

Hauling down the mountain that same day, descending almost 7,000 feet in 6 hours after we had painstakingly taken 4 days to summit, reminded me how fast we can go through these highs and lows. One minute you feel like you’re on top of the world, and the next you’re descending through the fog, through a “bog of despair” wondering why you can’t see the peak anymore.

Bog of Despair- photo by Jesse Mitchell

Bog of Despair- photo by Jesse Mitchell

I admit, life has been fairly insane this year, and especially these past few months. There has been a lot of traveling, a lot of projects to complete…and most recently I did what everyone said was crazy: I took on the position of Treasurer here in Kenya for a five week period. Why? Well, to be honest, sometimes I’m not sure why. I know there was a need, and I do have a degree in Business (although I’ve hardly used it since graduating…), and I do like working with numbers (I know, I’m weird). But when I thought about it and prayed about it, I felt complete peace in tackling this new challenge. Was I daunted? Absolutely. But I knew, as I said above, that God wasn’t. And it would be by His grace alone that I would be able to face this. I honestly was looking forward to seeing what God would do in and through me in this time. And seriously, it’s for five weeks…I can do anything for five weeks, right?

Two weeks in, and although I still believe everything I said above, I understand now why everyone thought I was crazy. It is very stressful. But I think, by itself, it might not have been so bad. Unfortunately, it comes at a time when everything else in my life is not, shall we say, stable. As my friend and I put it, we’re pretty Emotionally Fragile.

I have been thinking a lot about the fact that I will be going “home” to the States in December…and realizing that I will forever have two “homes”. It’s such a blessing in a way. And it really stinks. Because now I can see myself living here, in Kenya. But I can still see myself living in New York. I have dreams and ideas and plans for both places…unfortunately, they are thousands of miles apart. So now I am praying hard that God will give me such clear direction about my future…at least for the first few steps I will take. But the not knowing part, and realizing that I will be saying good-bye to my friends and family here in just a few short months…well, it hurts to think about.

I’ve already begun saying my good-byes, too. My flatmate, Rebecca, left to go back to the States last Sunday after living with me for a year. Now my flat is empty…and quiet…and…weird.

And then I had to say good-bye to a very special man: my Grandfather. Wednesday he made his journey from his earthly home to his forever home with Jesus. After suffering with bone cancer, I truly am glad that he is made whole again and no longer in pain. And I know he lived a long, full life. And I’m jealous that he gets to be with Jesus now. None of that makes the aching any less, though. And it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t grieve. Death was never part of God’s plan. We’re faced with death so much, though (especially  here), and most people go through things so much harder than the loss of a grandfather…it makes me think that I shouldn’t be grieving. But it hurts. It hurts to be so far away. It hurts to remember that when I go home in December, he won’t be there. I won’t have a chance to listen to his stories anymore, to write them down like I planned to for so long. I won’t get to hear his laugh anymore, or hear him teasing Grandma.

Gram and Gramps

Gram and Gramps

But I cling to the stories I remember. And I treasure the memory of his laugh, and his hugs and kisses. And I do a crossword puzzle in honor of him. And I smile through the tears.

And I look forward to the day when I see him again, when we are all reunited with Jesus.

So though life doesn’t always look the way I think it should, or the way I want it to, I cling to the hope I have in Christ Jesus. I know that through these valleys, when the fog rolls in and I can’t see where I’m going, Jesus is taking my hand and guiding me through. He will lead me to springs of living water to refresh my soul, He will wipe away my tears, give me strength for the journey and a peace that can only come from Him (Rev. 7: 17; Isaiah 40:29-31; Isaiah 26:3-4)

And I will keep pressing on.

“…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 3:13-14

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into heart of the sea, though the waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling….Be still and know that I am God…” -Psalm 46:1-3, 10a


Life comes at you fast…

You know that Insurance commercial that has the catch-phrase, “Life comes at you fast” ? Ok, so maybe not everyone will know that commercial, but I’m sure most people can relate to that feeling of looking back and wondering where the time has gone. That’s what I feel like right now. Specifically in the last two months…I know I have not kept you all updated on life here in Kenya, but I had no idea so much time had passed since I had last written…so much has happened! But I am also having a hard time realizing that three-fourths of my time here in Kenya has already gone by…one and a half years already! Can you believe it?!? I can’t.

So now it’s time to look back and remember all that God has done, but it’s also time to start looking forward to what God will bring me to next. And no, I don’t have any idea what I will be doing when I go back to the States in December. Working. That’s all I know. But that’s enough, because God knows. And I will continually learn to wait on Him and trust Him to show me the next steps to take.

But I do know what life has been like in the past two months, so maybe I will just tell you about that.

First, I want to thank you all for joining with us in praying for the elections here in Kenya at the beginning of March. We praise God that everything went peacefully here; we know that it was an absolute answer to prayer! The outcome of the elections may have gotten just a single glance in most newspapers around the world, but we all breathed a huge sigh of relief when it was past and the new president was sworn in. So thank you.

The media department has been a bit busy here lately as there have been a constant flow of requests for us…which is good, as I would rather have too much work than not enough. Currently we are in Tanzania working with our team there to create some videos and other media that will help them raise support for themselves and their ministries…and hopefully it will encourage people to be praying for and even joining the work that God is doing here.

enjoying the beach

enjoying the beach

little church in the village

little church in the village

Our team had our Spiritual Life Conference at the beginning of April. It was a great time to get away with everyone and catch up with our team mates we hadn’t seen all year…and it also resulted in a lot more pictures for me to go through.

our friend at SLC

our friend at SLC

Less than week later, I had the amazing opportunity to go to Uganda to white water raft down the Nile. It was absolutely incredible! So much fun, and I would totally do it again in a heartbeat…although I’m not sure I loved the nearly 30 hours round trip on the bus in less than 4 days…I might skip that part 😉 But it was a great weekend away…

the calm before the rage

the calm before the rage

into the rapids

into the rapids

Two days after Uganda, I headed out again to Samburu to photograph a wedding for some friends here in Kenya. It was an absolutely gorgeous place to stay, with the rooms opening to the valley below. I loved having the chance to see a part of Kenya I wouldn’t normally get to see. As usual, any time I have the opportunity to get out of the city, I take it 🙂

the happy couple

the happy couple

view from my room

view from my room

So that is in a nutshell what the last few months have involved…and the next few are just as busy, so forgive me if I don’t update as often as I would like. But thank you all for your prayers and encouragement! I look forward to sharing more stories with you of what God has been doing here.

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth.”-1 John 3:18



It seems lately that my mind is stuck on overdrive. It doesn’t stop.

So much to think about….the Kenyan Elections we just had (praise God for the peace He brought in answers to prayers!), so many people I’ve recently met whose amazing God stories have helped me gain perspective, heartache both here and back home that brings me to my knees, the frustrations of the world’s governments…not to mention the many decisions I’ve started thinking about for my future, and the many projects I have going on at the moment.

Falling asleep at night is becoming more of a problem…but getting up in the morning is proving to be even more difficult…which has never been a problem for me.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all that’s going on. I feel it even more keenly living here, because now I have two homes, two sets of friends and churches…twice as much to think and to pray about. And I’m faced with needs and pain everyday that was much easier to turn a blind eye to when I was living in America (and as sad as that is, it’s the truth for so many of us).

Learning the art of letting go and letting God will be a life-long lesson I think. And reminding myself that Jesus never promised roses and and cookies (although I definitely find therapy and joy in baking…I baked 4 times in the last week!)…but He did promise trouble (John 16:33). And persecution (John 15:20). And a cross to bear(Luke 9:23). But He also promised life abundantly (John 10:10). Joy everlasting (John 16:22). An inheritance in His kingdom (Matthew 25:34). Adoption into His family (Romans 8:15). A love that never fails (1 John 4:16; 1 Corinthians 13). Perfect peace (John 14:27). Treasure that can never be stolen (Matthew 6:20). I could go on….

And so as I head to bed tonight, I will choose to remember that God is in control. I will choose to go to my knees in prayer when my thoughts threaten to drown out His voice. And I will be still. Because only in the silence can I hear His voice.

“Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will act….Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him...”  -Psalm 37:1-5, 7a

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” -Isaiah 40:28-31