sowing kindness. reaping joy.

ImageGod is kind. faithfully & undeservingly kind. he knows my heart has been stained with sin & there is nothing on this earth i could ever do to be worthy enough for Him…yet He chooses me anyway. yes. God is kind. 

i’ve lived on this island for a month & a half & i have seen the kindness of Jesus in abundance. i’m learning that kindness is Christ reflected in our hearts & every single second is an opportunity to demonstrate that kindness. normally, when i was in the States, i would pass someone while walking down the street or at the store & i wouldn’t really acknowledge them. not in a rude way, but i certainly wasn’t going out of my way to speak to them. i would go into a coffee shop or a restaurant & smile & utter a short & sweet “thanks so much,” & that was as far as i’d allow the conversation to go. i don’t necessarily think this was a bad thing, but lately i’ve come to realize how many sweet stories & lovely conversations i’ve missed out on & i didn’t like that at all.

so i’ve changed the way i do life with strangers. i see them on the street or in line at the farmer’s market or while hiking, & i talk to them. always. & sometimes it doesn’t go very far, but sometimes it does. i’ve made several new friends simply by no longer allowing the conversation to end at “thanks so much.” these are people from all walks of life: elementary aged children, high school graduates, mail men, street artists, single mothers, foreign exchange students, & everything in between. at first it was kind of awkward & uncomfortable, but now i find the time i get to visit with strangers kind of special, because i know that Jesus cherishes every single one of these people (even the strange woman on drugs with purple hair & twenty tattoos.)  i want so badly to be a living image of Christ’s kindness, & His kindness is the kind that pursues….even when it’s awkward & uncomfortable.

my favorite book in the whole wide world is To Kill a Mockingbird. i’ve read it at least fifteen times & i still learn from it. one of my favorite parts is when Atticus is teaching his daughter Scout about how to treat people with kindness, & this is what he says,

“you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin & walk around in it.”

i love that. it sounds so weird & intimidating but so genuine & profound. i want to do my very best love these people & take them on a journey that leads to Jesus & if that requires being kind to strangers, then that is what i will do. & if you’re wondering about the sweet stories & lovely conversation that you might be missing out on… i encourage you take a second & be kind to a stranger. i for one am real thankful that when i was far from jesus he didn’t awkwardly pass me by. we must stop rejecting the unfamiliar. we are missing out the blessings of servanthood. & i refuse to miss out any longer. 

 

jesus thank you for loving me. thank you for the ways in which you pursue me & show kindness to me. teach me, father how to serve those who are far from you. give me your eyes to see the needs of others. help me to be brave enough to love & encourage people who are unfamiliar to me. forgive me for the ways that i have failed to show kindness to those around me. i want everyone to know the joy & forgiveness & freedom that comes from christ. thank you for letting me live on this teeny tiny island for the summer to be your hands & your feet & thank you for your grace, it has delighted me more than anything i will ever know.

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where life happens

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this is the table. things happen here. this is where i start my day. i sit here & i eat a bowl of yogurt & granola & blueberries. this is where we eat dinner every night. this is where max paints & where andrew hides when he’s not ready to shower yet. this is where ashley teaches us new things about the bible & where we talk about the good things that we find in each day. but something else happens here & this particular thing is my favorite thing. stories happen here. some really good stories, some really sad stories, some stories about triumph, some stories about heartbreak, some stories about life, some stories about loss & everything in between. this is where we sit with people, sometimes people i’ve never met before. but then they share their story & they invite me into this small snapshot of their life & suddenly we aren’t strangers anymore. that’s what i love about this table, something special happens here. i’ve learned so much about Jesus just by taking a seat at the table and listening to people share their story. we share stories too, like the story of The Village & how it started. i used to watch ashley tell the story, but now i watch the people across the table, who are hearing these stories for the first time. some of these people are believers, most of them aren’t. & when the story is over they always say “how does something like that just happen?” & ashley’s answer is always the same, “Jesus.” & just like that, we have an opportunity to share an even greater story, a story about a God who created the heavens & the earth & who loved us so much that he sent his son to die for us so that we could experience a relationship with the One Who has written us on the palms of His hands. stories like that are meant to be shared & i’m real thankful for small wooden tables & kind strangers who sit at these tables & share their stories with me. & i really hope we have storytelling in heaven, because i bet they’d be really good. 

grace & peace,

taylor

island livin

things here have been crazy busy & crazy wonderful & i would really like to tell you all about it.

Imageone sunday after church we went to a rainforest and hiked to a waterfall. we climbed through a little cave & we pretended it was our house. andrew made a “no girls allowed” rule but was gracious enough to bend the rules for me. he makes me smile.

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last week i took the dogs for a walk & stumbled upon a scene of Indiana Jones. you’d be surprised at how realistic it looked considering the fact that we live on a mountain. kids do cooler things when they don’t have cable. mitchell here is proof.

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went for a walk & found some of my favorite flowers on the side of the road. most of them are weeds, but i don’t really mind. it reminded me of how jesus turns things that are meant to be ugly into things that are actually really special if we take the time to look for them on the side of the road.

Imagelast week we had church on the living room floor. some would call it dysfunctional, but to me that time was really beautiful. the bible says when two or more are gathered in His name He is present, & if we gotta start somewhere, why not here…on the living room floor.

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canada day was a few days ago & to celebrate i climbed a really tall mountain….in chacos….& overalls. originally we were just going for a walk & having a picnic, but when opportunity knocks you answer. i stood on the summit & looked out on the whole island. there’s nothing quite like it. if you’ve never climbed a mountain, i really think you should. maybe not in chacos though.

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i’ve met some  beautiful people & heard some beautiful stories & i’ve seen jesus do beautiful things through the village ministry. these are just real people with real hearts just searching for real truth. & sometimes i take that for granted, but when i really sit down & think about it for a second i realize what an opportunity i have here. these are people i have grown to love & the thought of them not knowing the greatest gift the world has ever known makes my heart ache, but i know that peace rules the day when christ rules my heart & for now, that is enough for me.

have Your way, Jesus.

grace & peace

taylor

& just like that.

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& just like that. i had arrived. i stepped out of the airplane into the sunshine & on to canadian soil & thought to myself “finally.” i was excited & nervous & exhausted & everything in between. my partner Michael & i spent our first two nights in the city. we ate new foods & saw new sights & made new friends. we even went exploring & used public transportation, which was really fun. (& for those of you who have never held any type of metro card, i really really think you should try it.) on wednesday we took an insanely huge ferry to vancouver island where we were met by Ashley, April, Max, Mitchell, & Andrew. & just like that, i had a new family. we drove around the island & up a big tall mountain to a quaint house nestled in the trees. & just like that, i was home. we all went to the beach the other night to watch the super moon (which was really spectacular.) i climbed onto the rocks & stood there & as i waited i got to see the most incredible sunset i had ever seen & i just stood there on that rock & i prayed. “Father my heart aches for the people here that don’t know You. this is such a beautiful place but it’s filled with so much darkness & i am only one person.” but then i remembered one of my favorite songs & this is what it says, 

“where there is darkness, let the Light come.”

& just like that, i felt it. i felt light. the sky was consumed with color & the sun was reflecting on the water & i knew that something good was coming. i am so thankful for the opportunity to join God in what He is doing on this island. yes, there is still darkness, but Light is coming & my heart is glad. 

grace & peace,

taylor

honesty hour.

Imagei do not like waiting. i do not like sitting still. i do not like practicing patience. i know that patience is a virtue & i feel so badly about not desiring it more, but that’s just how i am. it’s honesty. you know what else i don’t like? planning. i am so awful at it. i do absolutely everything last minute & it hardly ever works out the way i had originally intended. 

i leave for Vancouver Island in four short days & as i am writing this i am looking back on all the planning that had to take place in order for this adventure to be possible. & to be honest…i hated planning even then. & as i wrote that, i felt guilty about it, like in some way i’m not measuring up. i am really bothered when i hear stories about people going into the ministry or mission field & they portray it as a care-free experience, when in reality, it’s the exact opposite. & that is why i am writing about this. i want to be sincerely & authentically honest about my experience since i have responded to the Father’s call. i have cried almost every week since i told Ashley i would go to Canada this summer. i’ve cried because plans were falling through. i’ve cried because i knew my parents were a nervous wreck & nothing i said made it any better. i’ve cried because the sin in my heart has kept saying “don’t go. just stay.” & i’ve cried because as much as i’ve prayed for it, i still can’t seem to grasp patience, & that makes my heart so heavy. preparing your heart to do long term ministry is hard & i admit that. so why do we make it look like it’s some sort of fairytale? is it because if we make it seem easy more people would want to do it? that’s not encouragement, that’s deception. when Jesus gave the Great Commission, He said it was going to be the hardest thing we would ever have to do. he demands that we deny ourselves, our selfishness, our pride, our everything. now how have we turned that into something so “simple?” it’s not simple. it’s real & it’s hard & some days i don’t even want to do it anymore, but oh my goodness that is why i am so thankful for kindness & living, breathing Truth, & for grace. grace that tells me everyday “i am your Father, & you are My child & I delight in you & your obedience to Me.” & just like that, i’m crying again…not because i’m sad, but because i am so completely overwhelmed by who my Father is & by the way He pours His love on me with every single breath i take. & when i am loved like that, i am more than happy to die to my sin, fit my whole summer in a 40 pound suitcase & live in another country. it still isn’t easy, but my oh my it’s so worth it. 

 

grace & peace,

 

taylor

 

 

p.s. for those who were wondering, i still haven’t mastered patience, but i’m a work in progress.

fill us up, send us out.

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i share life with really good people & if you sit down with me for a little while, i’ll most likely tell you about them. they are funny & thoughtful & godly & encouraging & some of them cook really really well. but the thing i love most about them is that they are brave. they want God’s will for their lives more than they want anything else. we’re all going our separate ways this summer (which i didn’t like at first but now i’m totally pumped about it.) i want to tell you about these lovely people & about the amazing adventures they’ll be having this summer.

-walker, nate & nate will be serving in the United Kingdom working with children & teaching them about the gospel

-sara & megan will be in Texas staffing a kids camp called PineCove (they’re really into it, which makes me really excited for them)

-callie will be staffing a camp called Wesley Pines. i actually got to go with her to her interview & knew as soon as i stepped foot in that office that she belonged there.

-chelsey will be in california teaching summer school. she’s freaking out about getting a tuberculosis test, but we’ve promised her that it will be worth it.

-mackenzie will be in costa rica (supposedly for a semester abroad but he loves Jesus far too much to not share the good news with somebody.)

-rex will be at Mission Fuge, a camp that shows students what the mission field looks like in our everyday lives.

-ben is staying in starkville & working & learning what it looks like to be a grown up. he’s not intimidated at all, & i’m real impressed.

-jt is working in a high school. he wants to be a teacher, which i think is cool.

-anna will be in kenya. she started a bible funding program there a few years ago & is following up on it this summer.

-taylor is working at a youth camp at mc. he’s never done camp before, but we all have really high hopes for him.

-cody is also doing camp, i forgot the name, but God didn’t. so that makes me feel better.

-blake & karen are at Lake Forest Ranch, teaching high school students team work & accountability. (they don’t really say that up front. they stick you on a rock wall & let you learn that way, which i think is really interesting.)

my friends are brave. at first i was really kind of sad when i thought about being away from them for so long, but then i thought how cool it was that we are going to be on opposite sides of the world all at the same time. this is the kingdom. i’m thankful for people who are willing to go out to the ends of the earth when the world is telling them to do the exact opposite. yep, my friends are brave. go out & shake the nations, guys.

grace & peace,

taylor

learning how to say “i don’t know”

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“lead me, Jesus, farther than my feet can wander.”

the three scariest, most liberating words my mouth has ever whispered, “lead me, Jesus.” sometimes it so easy for me to lead myself. don’t get me wrong; i sit in silence & clothe myself in “patience” as i wait for the Lord to reveal Himself to me, but when He finally does, i feel as if i can do it all on my own from there. why are we like that? why are we so willing to say that we need Jesus with our words, & yet still be so scared to need Him in our hearts? now i’m not talking about a “once in a while need,” or a “God this test is really hard please help me” need. i’m talking about a full out, everyday surrender. i want that so much for my life. the Father has taught me all about my need for Him this year. as my trip to Canada is drawing closer & closer, so is the fear. it seems like there are so many holes left unfilled. “who’s picking you up at the airport?” “where are you staying?” “do you know anyone else going?” at first, i would pray about these questions with a twinge of frustration in my voice. i felt like if i was willing to say “yes” to God’s call, then i was in some way entitled to every little minor detail about every little minor issue. i became so annoyed with the whole situation one day, that i was ready to change my mind. i remember sitting in sara egbert’s jeep sobbing. sobbing because i felt so in the dark about everything. i had no idea what was going to happen or how any of these questions were going to be answered. i felt overwhelmed & under-qualified. i prayed. right there in the parking lot in the jeep through my tears. “Father why have you asked me to do this? i’m not old enough or wise enough. i’m so inadequate, so why would you ever choose me?” i feel like He laughed when He heard this, i really do. because i laugh when i think about it now. the answer was so obvious. no Taylor, you’re not old enough or wise enough. yes you are inadequate & will always be inadequate. but Jesus is sufficient. i don’t need to be good enough because He is good enough. no, you don’t have all the answers, but that’s okay because He does. i learned about supplication that day. my trip is drawing near & some of those questions still remain unanswered, but i’ll be alright. i know who goes before me, & everyday He tells me that sometimes it’s okay to say “i don’t know.” 

thank you Father for knowing it all, & for being the perfect sacrifice so that i experience a Love that i could never earn on my own. thank You for Your kindness & Your forgiveness. give me the faith & the courage to say “i don’t know.” i love You only because You first loved me.

grace & peace,

taylor

knowing & being known

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there are so many things in my life that i’m thankful for. going outside & feeling the sun on my face after a week of rain, or a good book, or the way that flowers are able to grow in the middle of sidewalks. but most of all, i’m thankful for people. people who carve time out of their lives to get lunch with you, people who will drive to your house at three in the morning in their pajamas just to give you some encouragement, & people who make you better simply because you are known by them. such a sweet thing, being known. this year i have been blessed with the greatest fellowship & accountability that i have ever experienced. last thursday, i sat at the kitchen table with four really great people. we sat & discussed our summer plans: our expectations, our fears, & our doubts. as the worry crept across our small table, we were each handed a piece of paper. we confessed our fears & scribbled out our supplications. we folded each piece of paper, & dropped them in a mason jar. it’s moments like that, looking around & seeing four beautiful people gathered around a small mason jar & knowing that this is what we were created for. thank you Jesus for never wanting us to live life alone & for mason jars filled with bold prayers. this summer is going to be great. 

grace & peace

Taylor

 

p.s. thank you to callie, chelsey, sara, & anna. you are beautiful images of God’s grace & provision. you make me better. thanks for doing life with me. 

 

 

on your mark, get set, blog.

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i love to read. ever since i was small i’ve loved to read. my grandmother is responsible for that. i remember going to her house and strategically using my allotted “one hour of television” very sparingly. there was a tall bookshelf in the living room stocked with all kinds of books that she had expected me to read. when your six years old, reading is the farthest thing from your mind, so i wasn’t necessarily  ecstatic about this bookshelf. but pretty soon i had devoured them all. and now i can’t get enough of books. there’s something really sweet about a good read that makes the real world seem so much better. reading words and thoughts and ideas that came straight from someone’s heart has always been kind of awe inspiring to me. i’ve never written anything for anyone else to read though. don’t get me wrong, i’ve written research papers and analysis essays and the annual “roses are red violets are blue” valentine’s day poem for my mom; but nothing like this. but i think this is the start of a really great adventure. this summer, i will be going to vancouver island, canada as a summer missionary. the mission board that hired me has asked me to start this blog to keep my family and friends updated on what the Father is teaching me this summer, and the ways that i can be prayed for. i’m so thankful to have such wonderful people in my corner of life, people who give so freely of themselves to me, and who are willing to sit at their computers and read the words and thoughts and ideas of my heart. so here it is, folks. get excited. thanks for walkin’ with me.

grace and peace,

Taylor

p.s. thank you maw maw for the “one hour t.v.” rule, and also for all the chocolate chip cookies.