No Man’s Land 1: Comfort Less


There are areas of my life where I try to be honest with myself. I like Starbucks and I spend too much money there. I like napping on my couch and youtube. I like snacking by myself…on my couch…while watching youtube. These are things I find comfort in.

I enjoy comfortable settings. Though I myself am not great at interior decorating, I really appreciate when people create beautiful and peaceful spaces inside their homes. I notice and it makes me feel happy, more at home, and again…comfortable.

The people I most like to spend time with are people that know me really well. And people I can relate to on a deep level or have similar interests and passions. It’s easy to converse when I feel understood.  


I guess what I’m saying is I value comfort. I know the conditions that bring me that feeling of happiness and contentment, and whether I’m always aware of it or not I find myself spending a good portion of my life pursuing that feeling.

But comfort and contentment doesn’t equal fulfillment. I’ve found it’s easy to be happy and enjoy life, while at the same time feeling hollow inside. And equally so it’s possible to feel deeply fulfilled, yet carry a mixed bag of emotions and struggles that definitely aren’t comfortable.

~ ~ ~

This fall I’m moving to a conflict zone in the Middle East. I’ll be working as a nurse in a new clinic that is being established for local and displaced people (due to security reasons I’m not able to say where exactly I will be, but feel free to ask me in private or message me). I’m telling you about my addiction to comfort, so you know that I’m no different than you. My desire for comfort and intensity of love for my couch may even be stronger than yours. I’m also telling you this because it was one of the first realizations God had to awaken me to before my eyes could see the door He was opening to this place and people that his heart is broken for.

Like I said, I try to be self aware, and forthcoming about (*some of) my weaknesses. Because consciousness is the first step towards moving myself out of hypocrisy, where my stated values don’t align with my actions. But self-awareness only gets me so far, especially when a subconscious value is so deeply rooted inside me. I mean the kind of deeply rooted where I was making life decisions through the lens of comfort without even thinking about.

I enjoy adventure and spontaneity. Actually I need those things to really thrive. I’m also a passionate person, so I speak with intensity about injustice and the truths I believe God has shown me. So people, including myself at times, could look at my life and think I’m wired for taking risks and I’m totally unafraid to go wherever God would call me.


But I have been afraid, nervous about completely jumping in. My fears don’t have to do with death, but loneliness and unknowns. I’ve felt God beckoning me to “the hard places” for a long time. My heart trembling and overtaken with grief when I see the extreme suffering that is happening, specifically to children, all over the world. But I’ve looked away, pretending like I didn’t see Jesus motioning me to follow him.


The love story in Song of Solomon resembles my journey. In SOS 2:8-17 the bride’s Beloved comes to her and invites her to come away with him. He tells her now is the right time, it’s harvest time. He reminds her of their love and his desire for her to be with him. Though she loves him, she tells him to go on without her.

“Until the day breathes and the shadows flee,  Turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle or a young stag on the cleft mountains.”

After this scene, the bride goes through a process with her beloved, one filled with trial and pain. But at the end of the story the bride is the one beckoning her Beloved to the fields. Her desires and her actions now fully match his. And she proclaims that she wishes all could see her love for him.

I’m not yet at the place where the bride is at the end of the story, but I’m hopeful that this is path Jesus has me on. And more than that I’m encouraged because I know my Beloved’s desire is for me and every step of the way his leadership is full of love. He sees me. He looks at my heart, sees my desire to live fully with Him, but also sees the barriers to me doing that, and He knows how to perfectly and gently remove those barriers. All in love.

If we love Jesus, we are all on this journey. He’s beckoning us, he’s beckoning you, to come with him to the fields. The battle fields, the harvest fields, he wants you to come and join him there. We are his chosen bride, we are dark (full of sin/compromise) but he sees past that, to our potential, and says we are lovely (SOS 1:5).

No Father would give his pride and joy, his perfect son, to be married to an unworthy bride, to be joined with a woman who didn’t love him in the same way he loves her, and who didn’t value or want the same things he does. Yet God the Father is willing to give Jesus, the most humble and righteous man, to us in marriage. We who are lovers of self, and pursuers of comfort and pleasure. But he’s also committed to making us worthy of Jesus. We can not make ourselves worthy of him. But we can take Jesus’ hand and go with him to the mountain of myrrh, the place of death. We can choose to trust his leadership and believe the best about him in times of trial and pain, because this is what he does for us.

Sometimes you can have both fulfillment and comfort. But you have to decide which are you committed to. I think God wants us to be happy. He’s a God of joy, but He has this all encompassing plan in the works, so the whole world can live in that place of joy and it’s a battle to get there. Will we join him? Will we trade our pleasure now for the reward of never ending joy in the age to come? We’re all invited to the battlefield with him. Maybe it’s Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Chicago, the Red-light district, or so many other places that are in need of the perfect love, justice and mercy of Jesus. He wants us there, we aren’t some damsel in distress bride. We are his chosen battle companion.

One final thought

There is so much injustice and suffering happening right now in the Middle East and North Africa. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed because there is so much need and you don’t know where you are “called,” I’m inviting you to come with me. Seriously, contact me and I can help get you connected. The time for lone heroes of the faith being sent out to nations alone, never to return, was amazing and inspiring; but now is the time for a nameless, faceless generation of lovers to arise and storm the gates of hell together.


Leadership Lessons

Two weeks ago I found myself at a Christian leadership summit in Kansas City. A few hundred emerging and seasoned leaders from around the world were gathered together in a large hotel banquet hall sharing ideas, experiences, and a continental breakfast. Our purpose for being together was more straightforward and foundational than I expected it to be. And if I hadn’t been so tired from the 18 hour drive to Kansas City, and switching from night shift to day shift I would have been dancing with excitement (well, probably not actually dancing. It was a leadership gathering mind you, but you get my point. It was exciting). Our purpose was to put our heads, resources, and prayers together to strategize about completing the great commission, and seeing Jesus worshiped day and night in every nation and every language.IMG_2559Leadership Summit – Praying together over a large map of the world

It’s at times like these that I’m reminded that I am still young. I’m 25, so maybe that’s obvious. But even if I leave my age out of the picture, I know that when it comes to leadership I am young. Though I’ve been leading Bible studies, small groups, and discipleship programs for about a decade now, I still feel like a new leader.

For many years now people have affirmed my “leadership abilities,” and given me areas of oversight and people to lead. I’m so thankful for their affirmation and I’ve gained many valuable experiences from the opportunities I’ve been given. But because I had their voices always encouraging me onward,  I never really stopped to ask the Lord about how to lead or what it means to be a leader. I guess I sort of just assumed it was in me, because people told me it was, so I thought what I was doing must be the right stuff. And because of the mercy and love of Jesus, I believe some of it was.

But in the past 6 months of my life, a pause has been put on those opportunities, and God has been intensely pruning my heart and giving me a kingdom perspective and revealing his heart as a shepherd and as a king.

Leadership isn’t about you


To put it simply, he’s showed me that leadership isn’t about me or my “leadership giftings,” it’s about his sheep. In kindness, he revealed my heart motives were off track, I was viewing leadership sort of like climbing a career ladder in the ministry world. I cared about the people I led, very much, but I also cared A LOT about my needs and my success as a leader.

He reminded me that he leads his flock by laying down his life for them. So I must do the same if I am to be his disciple. I must pour out my giftings, my passions, my life to see the people I lead walk in the fullness of their callings. My goal should be to help the people I lead discern their callings and walk them through the process to get there. Meanwhile teaching them to do the same for others. 

Like a mother pours her life out for her children and doesn’t withhold her heart from them, I am to do likewise for those the Lord gives me to lead and disciple. My goal isn’t to replicate myself, my goal is to see my disciples or spiritual children walk in every good work that God has prepared in advance for them (Eph 2:10). My goal is to see them also become leaders, not necessarily a leader like myself, but a leader in whatever sphere God places them in.churchleadership

Practically speaking, I currently lead a team of about 6 people (give or take) on the Night Watch, at Gateway House of Prayer. I used to think that leadership during Night Watch meant continually casting vision for more effective prayer strategies and setting an example for my team to follow. Though that most certainly is part of my role, I believe I’m also called to lay down my life for each of my team members. Meaning, the things that have been given to me, all my talents and experiences, even my time and resources, I give to them, to see them become who they are destined to be. Of course, I’m not the only one called to pour into their lives and I can’t help them in every area of their lives, but I offer what I have. My desire is to see each of them confident in who they are, and what God has called them to do. And I believe when I do that, the prayer and worship that arises from the Night Watch will grow in effectiveness without me putting lots of effort in strategizing and casting vision. And like Paul said, I don’t claim to have already been made perfect in this area, but I press on to make it my own (Phil 3:12).
NW-ChristmasPartyNight Watch Crew

These leadership revelations are simple. Every parent understands them, and anyone who has read the New Testament will find these truths all over, especially in the gospels. But sometimes I find that even though I understand biblical truth, I still live as the world does. Because my worldview has been so shaped by human thinking. Understanding a concept is different than living it. The Pharisees and scribes knew the law, but they crucified the only man to ever fully embodied it. I want to be like that man in my leadership. I want to love Jesus through the way I lead, and he said to Peter, that to love him means feeding (taking care of) his sheep (John 21:15-19). 

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:25-28
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” –  John 13:12-17

Leadership is a character quality307934344-abraham-lincoln-quotes

During lunch at this leadership summit I had a conversation with another young leader in much of the same position as myself. We related on many topics, like singleness and forming meaningful relationships with people of the opposite gender, the emerging priority of prayer in our lives and the earth, and our excitement about revival. But then we started discussing how you discern who are the leaders in a community of people if they aren’t already defined. And as we talked God started revealing another layer of truth concerning leadership.

In the Kingdom of God, leadership isn’t just a role you play, but a character quality. Let me explain that a bit more, because it might be semantically confusing. There’s an action meaning for the words leader and follower, and all throughout our lives we play the roles of leader or follower in our function. This is a good thing, because God’s government is literally a kingdom, so we need to know how to follow and submit to those who are leading. But then there’s our heart posture, which Jesus is always super concerned about because it’s out of the overflow of the heart that we speak and act (Luke 6:45). And I believe we are all supposed to be leaders when it comes to our character, because we are being formed into a kingdom of kings and priests (Rev 5:10). A person who has formed leadership in their character is basically a mature follower of Christ, they are in it because of him and for him. Whereas as a follower (in character) is one who’s still mostly seeking what they can get out of something. They are followers because they follow the crowd, and whatever is trendy at the time. It doesn’t look bad on the outside, they may be doing all the right things, but their motives are off.

Those who are true leaders in character will actually make the best followers. They are the best followers because they aren’t just worried about their own needs and wants, but want to see the best outcome for everyone and the desires on the Lord’s heart fulfilled. Being a leader in character sets an example and raises a standard in how to truly follow and submit well.

Are you a leader or follower?following-the-leader

So it’s necessary to ask ourselves, “Am I acting like a leader or a follower in the things I’m involved in?” “Where is my heart?”

As I was dialoguing with the Lord about these things, I came up with list of distinguishing factors in leaders and followers when it comes to character. These lists might seem harsh, but sometimes when we really look at heart motives behind what we do it’s pretty ugly.


Leaders invest completely in the community, project or ministry.

They don’t withhold their hearts or passions.

They give because they know they will receive in due time, from the Lord primarily but also from others.

They carry the Word of the Lord for the assignment.

They take ownership, no matter if it fails or succeeds.

They put their name on it.

They aren’t afraid of criticism, because they’ve tuned their ear to heaven, so all criticism is filtered through heaven’s perspective. They can receive from it, even if it’s slimy and comes with malicious intent.

Leaders see future potential rather than just current weakness or flaws, because they know God. He uses the weak to shame the proud.


Followers invest so long as they receive more than they are required to give.

Followers are quick to criticize because they don’t take ownership for anything that goes wrong.

They look for fulfillment of their personal desires in the assignment, not necessarily the fulfillment of the Lord’s desires.

They are more attune to their own heart than the hearts of others or even the Lord.

They place blame instead of taking responsibility.

Followers might think their hearts are in it, but it’s superficial love. They love only what they receive and aren’t actually committed.

They are usually looking to receive honor.

His ways aren’t my ways


As I look at these lists, I’m super aware that in the not so recent past (as in the past few months) my character in some of the things I’m involved in was a lot more like a follower than a leader. I’m beyond thankful for this season of heart pruning and course correction. And for some reason the verses in 1 Timothy 3 come to mind, where it talks about the qualifications of an overseer (aka leader), and it says in verse 6 “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with pride and fall into sin brought on by the devil.” I’m not a recent convert in believing in Jesus as my Saviour. But in some ways I’m still pretty recently converted to living by the Spirit, and following his leadership. Though I think any leader, at any stage of life, can easily succumb to pride if they don’t guard their hearts, I understand why Paul would give this specification. Because the longer I walk with Holy Spirit, the more I see that my ways aren’t his ways. His ways of life and leading will always bring me closer to humility, and to the cross.

Inspired by real lives


Recently I was listening to an audiobook during my daily drives on the back roads of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It was one of those books that Christians often read and discuss in small group settings. One of those books where the author is trying to make particular points on a theological topic or Christian worldview, and usually tends to point out how far away we are from actually living those ideas.

If you’re hearing a slight patronizing tone in what I’m saying it’s because it’s there. But the reason for it is because the hypocrisy that tends to bother you the most is usually the things inside of you. I’m fairly critical of teachers, preachers, and book writers because I enjoy doing all the above. Words, understanding, and profound revelation are like doorways into my inner woman. And without even knowing it the fingers of criticism I tend to point at others are really fingers pointing back at my own insecurities.

I crave understanding. I am forever wanting to understand what is happening in this story of humanity, and most especially in my own little life. But then I begin reading the Bible (my supposed source for this understanding), and Paul hits me with things like, “For since in the wisdom of God the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25). And in the same letter Paul states the gospel isn’t a matter of eloquent words of wisdom, it’s the power of the cross of Jesus. For a woman who loves words, especially eloquent words, this wakes me up. I would love to dive deeper into the verses above, but that’s not exactly the direction I want to head today.

I actually really respect the author of the book I was listening to, Francis Chan is his name. I respect him because he strives to live his words. But while listening to his book I noticed something, my favorite parts of the book were the endings of each chapter when Chan would describe a person or couple he knew, that lived lives surrendered to the Holy Spirit. It’s only been a few weeks since I listened to the book, and I can’t think of a single theological statement he made in the book (not that they didn’t impact me at the time). But the stories of current day people loving their God and loving people still come alive in my memory.

The part of humans where we compare and contrast ourselves with other individuals is often painted in a negative light. But I think this same part of humans is what allows us to be inspired by other people, which I see as a really beautiful thing. It’s beautiful because it’s a life inspiring another life, not through words but through the actual living out of their lives.

I believe God made us this way on purpose, and it’s why so much of the Bible is stories of the lives of real people. Their actual lives put substance into the truths about God that their stories show. And the life of Jesus proves to me that this is how God designed us. God could have written a book, describing the attributes of himself, his kingdom and his expectations for us. But Jesus is God’s word that put on human flesh and lived a life that fully embodied the truths of God, because He is God. He is the highest level of human aspiration.

This understanding began to really stir in me about two weeks ago while I was sitting outside on the back porch of my grandparents house and I began thinking about my grandma (seen below). I don’t remember how I stumbled on it, but suddenly I realized she embodies selflessness. I began going through a bunch of scenarios in my head and couldn’t think of one where I thought my grandma wouldn’t give of whatever she had for the sake of another person, especially her family. I compared those scenarios with how I might act in the given situation and knew I didn’t come anywhere close. This realization not only humbled me, but gave me new eyes to see my grandma and the life she lived. By most standards she’s lived a normal middle class American life. But considering her life made me realize that selflessness doesn’t always look like giving away all your possessions and moving to a developing nation, selflessness is a lifestyle. It’s a life lived with open hands to freely give what you’ve freely received. My grandma’s life inspires me. She’s not someone that I usually tend to have deep theological discussions with, but her life highlights to me a virtue I want to see more in my own life.


I don’t think I’m ever going to not love words and metaphors and deep understanding, and I think that’s ok. But I don’t want to hide behind them either. Jesus wrote to the church in Sardis in Revelation 3, “You have a reputation for being alive, but you’re dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain.” Those words penetrate my heart, as a constant reminder to wake up and actually live my life. Because faith without action is dead. And words, without a person who is actually living them, mean nothing.