What it Looks Like || The Well Water Journey

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
A peaceful scene from a recent evening drive spent in prayer/freaking out.

Most days, I feel certifiably insane. I’m a twenty-year-old ex-pastor’s daughter virgin who felt called to start an outreach to women dancing at the local strip club called Well Water Fargo. It doesn’t make sense. Despite years leading up to this and training received, I often feel completely clueless and in over my head.

I’ve compared this process to having a baby – if you really thought about the pain, years, money, and hard work that it takes to give and sustain the life, there’s no way you’d agree to take on the challenge. So you just go for it. Not knowing exactly what this thing will look like, where it will take you, or even if you’re doing things right.

I want to be transparent about where I am at and how this unfolds. Maybe it’s not the best marketing strategy and there’s this nasty pride in me that wants to pretend that it’s all easy and wonderful and I have this extra helping of faith that makes the whole world look like a magic fairy dream land. The truth is, it’s hard. Chasing dreams is hard. Starting new things is hard. Having faith is hard. If opening up to you, dear internet readers, about the hard parts means that you are encouraged to press in to the dreams and desires God has placed in your own heart, then it’s totally worth risking looking weak. His power is made perfect in our weakness – which is why He gives us callings so far beyond our perceived abilities. This thing is beyond me. It scares me.

And this is what it looks like:

It looks like endless cups of coffee – those brewed in my own home and those sipped over conversations about vision with people wanting to get involved.

It looks like monthly lunch with the women’s ministry ladies, most of them decades older than me, but filled with more wisdom, encouragement, and Holy Spirit than I can express.

It looks like books being read – autobiographies about women in the sex industry and insightful quick reads on prayer and nonprofit management.

It looks like spending a lot of time praying – not always in bold intercessory moments, but more often in my spirit talking to God and saying a whole lot of “what is the world did you get me into?” sort of prayers. It looks like freaking out and letting go. It looks like doubt and questions and moments of fear.

It looks like God saying to me once again, “have I not commanded you be strong and courageous?” It’s almost like He is saying, “c’mon Liv, how many times do I have to tell you this? I.Have.It.Under.Control.”

It looks like me sitting at the keyboard in my living room and just worshiping God because He’s worth it. In return, He quiets my spirit and brings peace in it all.

It looks like returning to the stories of the Israelites coming into the promise land and how freaking faithful God was even though they were total butt-heads. I can relate in many ways.

It looks like seeing my community come out and support me and every time I think about it, I want to cry. Like I’ll never ever be able to express the fullness of my gratitude for the friends who were there for the first Well Water meeting. These beginning stages are so emotional and seeing which people prioritize standing beside me in a crucial part of my life journey is crazy humbling.

It looks like emails and newsletters and videos and prayer lists and strategizing and all the administrative hoopla.

It looks like starting to set foot on the ground around the club and just trust that Holy Spirit is making a way even now through simple things like praying as I walk around the block.

It looks like trying to balance the rest of my life as a student, small group leader, mentor, photographer, and general human stuff like family member and friend. That looks like days of putting Well Water on the back burner because other things just need to get done.

It looks like a mess sometimes.

It looks like a beautiful adventure.

It looks like a move of God.

I’m somehow standing in the middle as God reminds me to lift my eyes above the craziness. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed, but my Jesus is right there – asking for my gaze, my heart, and trust. He’s so dang beautiful that no chaos could rival for my attention.

That’s what it comes down to at the end of the day – not the craziness or the mess or the hardness or the fear – it comes down to the fact that following God’s call on my life is worth it. Not because of success or anything on this earth, but because my God is just that good. He’s worth extravagance beyond my wildest imagination. He’s worth every single dream and plan and desire. He’s worth the largest sacrifice. He’s worth lavishing my life at His feet.

The best part is, we could never out-lavish Him. For every time we say that He’s worth it, we are only grasping a glimpse of how He feels towards us. He says that we are worth it. Absolutely insane, but absolutely true.

Where were you, mom? || Living out Future Stories

When-it-is-over-I-dont

 Someday when the history books are written and the days going faster and faster each day, my future children will ask me questions. There will be night of sitting up on the counter eating cookie dough at late hours and talking about the world. There will be times they will look at me across the dining room table and at some point, when they get to the point history where they’ve calculated I was alive and kicking, they may ask me the question of, “where were you, mom?” 

Where were you, mom… when ISIS was killing Christians in the Middle East?

Where were you, mom… when police brutality reigned and Ferguson was a sea of protests?

Where were you, mom… when 276 Nigerian girls were kidnapped?

Where were you, mom… when there was 27 million people in this world who were victims of human trafficking?

Where were you, mom?

Where were you?

How I will someday respond has been haunting me lately. There’s lots of answers that I am okay with giving. I am okay with telling them about busting my butt in undergrad to become a social worker. I am okay with telling them that I was on my knees – crying to the Creator of this crazy world and begging him to bring heaven to earth because my earth looks nothing like heaven sometimes. I am okay with telling them that I did something by truly loving those of marginalized populations. I would definitely be okay telling them how I joined the Ferguson protests or saw Jesus redeem the hearts of those caught in the sex trade.

What I’m not okay with is the thought of having to someday having to look into my children’s eyes – ones if they’re anything like mine, hold bundles of intensity at times – and have to tell them that I was comfortable.

I hate very little more than the thought of someday looking back and realizing that I was complacent, comfortable, and lazy while there was a world that I was existing in that was so broken, hurting, and torn. To know that I had the Spirit of the Living God inside of me and that I did nothing but keep it to myself – that is my greatest fear.

Someday, I want to teach my children that activism is simple: if you see evil, do something about it. 

I want to show them by example. I want them to know that their mother was a mover and a shaker. I want them to hear stories of long fought battles that were won – not in the physical, but in the hearts of people. I want them to tell their friends that their mother was “sort of this crazy activist missionary” in her younger years.

Even if my radicalness is in the context of living in a cozy college town in the Midwest, I don’t want my location to be an excuse. I hope to tell my children of the city that was my fortress, my training grounds for the battles ahead. I look forward to telling them of the valley where I got up close and personal with a really big God, spent long hours learning through trial and error how to help people in need, stuck my nose in a few books, and loved deeply those who surrounded me.

Someday I will tell my children that all I wanted to be when I grew up was a world changer. My daily prayer is that I’m on a path to someday say confidently that when I was young and lived in a world so in need of change, I pursued the destiny of a world changer every day. Maybe I didn’t get to go overseas and do something crazy – but I still was crazy.

I am crazy. And to tell you the truth, I’d rather be crazy than comfortable any day.

Meet the Jua Project

SONY DSC

One year ago, I sat in my economics class and I was introduced to the concept of social entrepreneurship. In a nutshell, it’s the idea that you can take a business and use it for good. In that class I was also introduced to the concept of micro-loans and how women being able to start businesses provided excellent returns on investments as well as broke cycles of poverty in third world countries. I have fallen in love with the concept of using business and turning it into something that brings a bit of good to this world. I believe with all my heart in the ability of capable people with big dreams being able to make a real difference in the world. This is the reason why I’m going into Advertising and PR, because I want to be a megaphone for the dreamers and the doers.

Currently, I have the opportunity to partner with a group that is all about dreaming and doing. I would like to introduce you to Jua Project.

What is Jua Project? Well, they are an organization that works with a group of 9 women in Kenya. They teach these women to make paper beads that they turn into jewelry to sell on Etsy and back in the US. They pay these women for their time and teach them valuable skills. Their goal is to make these women self sufficient and able to provide for themselves and their children. Not only do they work with these women, but they have a Bible study that has about 100 people attending. Jua Project seeks to provide hope in every sense of the word.

One of the cool things about Jua Project is that they also have a US base. This is the business side of things. The dreaming and planning and fundraising side of what they do that makes the rest of the work possible. This base happens to be in Moorhead, MN – right across the river from where I will be attending school at NDSU.

About a month ago, I was contacted by a facebook friend who spent a good portion of last year in Kenya working with the Jua Project. She said they were looking for someone to help with media. Well, I can’t say no to doing something I love for an amazing organization! I’m so excited to get to volunteer with Jua and be a part of this really life changing and personal work in the lives of these beautiful women.

Why is it so important? Because this work, this work of training women and giving them a source of income is vital to both ending poverty and ending human trafficking. There needs to be ways for women to bring in money for their families since they are often the most vulnerable and most abused in places like the Kenyan slums. The ability to help these women provide for their families means that their children are taken care of and have a chance of breaking the cycles of poverty. Jua Project keeps these women safe from exploitation, homelessness, and starvation.

If you would like to poke your hands into the work going on with Jua, there are several ways to give. Firstly, you can buy some of the jewelry made by these women. It’s beautiful and you’ll feel a special connection knowing that it comes from these beautiful women who are working so hard to get by. You can also sponsor one of the women for $10 a month (or more if you want… no one is arguing!) or give a one time donation. For sure, get to know these women and hear their stories. I’m sure that they will inspired you even if you are unable to give financially at the moment.

{Also, if you are a creative, then please consider entering the t-shirt design contest. We are really excited to be involving more and more people into this journey and are attempting to give everyone more chances to get involved.}

SONY DSC

As you may be able to see, this is a group that I am passionate about and excited to support. The work they are doing is beautiful and meaningful and being able to fix technical glitches and promote contests for them is something that gives me great joy. Ultimately, it comes down to the saying that I’ve been told has become a mantra for Jua, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

The Handwritten Letter

I must have looked like a crazy person, digging inside of every notebook in Target’s isles to see which one had the prettiest paper inside for the best price. The post office worker offered a look of surprise when a teen came in and asked for a dozen stamps. My shopping addiction comes in the card section, fawning over cute note cards and pretty envelopes endlessly. Smashstick pens are a source of constant conversation as I gush about my fabulous $3 pen that has glue at the end. Because really, who doesn’t love glue?
 There’s something about letters that are indescribable. I’ve yet to find words for the feeling you get on a terrible day when you look at the counter to find a letter from a dear friend, it pouring out her very life story and soul onto pieces of notebook paper in a way that’s heartbreakingly beautiful. I’ve yet to find words for the feeling you get when you raise the flag on the side of your mailbox or open up the handle of the blue box. So instead of trying to explain away something spectacular, I push my pen against my paper and keep on writing.
 I’m not alone. As the ebb and flow of my mailbox has increased over the summer, it’s not only there that I’ve found friends. The odd thing is, a community of people who believe in handwritten hearts also like to hang out onthe corners of the internet. I picture them in a coffee shop, grabbing in their bags for their latest stationary to show to the others crowded around the table. They have a map in front, marking with little “x”s where their letters have gone.
 Tonight, I witnessed this community reach out and embrace one of our leaders in a giant bear hug. Hannah, the queen of the love letters, got to share her vision and the vision that we share – that letters are as valuable as gold and have the power to change the world. She did so through this video, one that we hope the whole world rises up and applauds, hopefully joining us in the task ahead.
 What a blessing it is to see twitter being filled with people uplifting and loving each other. I’ve known the sting of seeing personal insults on twitter feeds and how much sweeter is it to see inspiration! I’ve found such peace and solace in the love letter writers, the twenty-something bloggers, the “huggers”, and those that seek to use the digital for some good.
 We band together to make this world brighter; to show the world that we care.
 We open up our hearts onto tweets and onto scraps of paper.
 We stick quote filled post it notes on our college campuses and we write on facebook walls simple words of hope.
 We believe in letters. We believe in love letters to the world in whatever form they come.