Today, I was reminded.

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 12.15.58 AM

…when we put our joy in Him alone.

 

One flavor of my personality that the Lord has blessed me with is JOY. I bring lots of joy. I say this not to boast, I say this out of confidence in who I know God has made me to be. I know I will one day be a great wife and mom because I will bring them joy. It has taken me 20-ish years to figure this out about me and almost 27 to knowingly walk in it.

One side to knowing a good quality about yourself is then you intentionally can give life. On the other side, I am now always immediately aware of when I am not bringing joy into a situation. And when I am not being joyous, I usually feel the extreme opposite.

Confession time…

Lately, I have been really grumpy. Just plain grumpy and lonely. The opposite of joy. I’ll wake up with nothing wrong and then BOOM one small thing I hear or something goes wrong and it throws my whole day off. I hate when I’m grumpy so the fact that I know I am grumpy when I am, makes me even more grumpy and mad at myself… do you still follow? :]

 

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 12.08.05 AM

Step 4. Ignore step 3!

I know grumpiness and loneliness is not who I am and so my first thoughts lately have been “Man, why am I always like this once I am back in the States,” and I end up blaming it on life here in America. On the overwhelming fast pace of life. On the idea that we have to have a 9-5 job to be successful. On the fact that I *think* I am able to better love strangers overseas than wealthy people in the US. On the fact that these are all just excuses if I let them be.

Tonight I was thinking – “Okay Woody, what if you take away those factors…” Take away the busyness, take away the excuses… the fact that when I nanny a 3 month old all day and then go home to work on a computer all night, wellll of course I’ll be grumpy having had no adult interaction all day, HA! I’ve realized something simple. I’m the one letting myself get upset and grumpy. I’m not choosing to feel a certain emotion – those are real and perfectly okay to go through the motions – BUT I am choosing to believe the lies. This isn’t something new I’ve never learned before, it’s just something I realized I have been doing lately.

Here is an example I know all of us ladies can relate to in some way or another no matter which side of the spectrum you are on – it is the ongoing single life VS married life argument.

I hear from my friends who are married and are moms how lucky I am to be able to still be single and travel the world and not have other people to worry about or take care of. Yes, they are very valid in their statement – it is a blessing to do the work the Lord has specifically given me! It is a bonus it has been overseas. Just as they might struggle with not having the opportunity to experience such things, it is as hard when He has placed a desire on my heart to be a mom and I don’t know when that day will come, when loneliness hits. It is equally as hard to take care of a screaming child for a 3rd day/week/month in a row, all the while getting to experience a love like no other. The roles can be switched. Neither one is better or above the other good or bad. Either scenario we have we WILL find something wrong with it. fact. we all do it.

Here is another example. I am living with my grandparents for the time being. At times, it is definitely not easy hearing your grandmother tell you how she thinks to live or not live your life. Okay okay, most of the time it stinks. BUT it is those other moments that I am reminded what a blessing it is as well… and that time with loved ones is precious. Just the other night, my grandmother fell getting into the shower. I had just gone downstairs and so she was alone. Neither my grandfather or I heard her screaming for help for at least 20 minutes. I finally (thank the Lord!) heard her, but if I hadn’t been there, my grandfather wouldn’t of been able to hear her. I barely did. In those moments I am reminded.

I am reminded that being content cannot be dependent on our circumstances or blessings.

I am reminded that the gifts the Lord has given us are to be cherished.

I am reminded that the Lord is not fair. For none of us deserve what we’ve been given.

I am reminded that the Lord is a dreamer and so we should be too.

I am reminded that being grumpy is okay. staying in it is not.

I am reminded that even though I can be stubborn at times and have to be reminded of these things over and over, there is grace.

I am reminded that when I feel I have taken two steps back, I am still one step foreword and if I’m not then the Lord is there carrying me.  

I am reminded that courage isn’t the absence of fear. Courage is just deciding that fear isn’t calling the shots anymore (Love Does).

I am reminded that struggle is not confined by the color of our skin, our gender, our geography, our occupation, our age, our financial status or our marital status. It attacks every single one of us.

I am reminded to bring life. to all. and constantly. even if no matter how lonely you may feel that day or how frustrated you may be. It is not worth it to not be a life giver and fire starter.

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 12.08.37 AM

I was reminded these things ^^ and now I am going to do and be. I won’t be perfect, but I will do my best. And my best is with Jesus by my side. So when ya don’t see Him beside me… feel free to call me up and call me out because we can’t do this alone!

We are all in the same big ole boat called life and there is an inheritance waiting for us to grab! One that will last for eternity and be sweeter than any memory here on Earth… and this makes me happy : ]

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 12.08.24 AM

Home is where the heart is.

It hit me today. I have been home from Spain for a month now. It has been a year since I went back to Haiti and two and half years since I began my World Race adventures and actually stepped foot in Haiti for the first time. Man, Jesus sure has taken me on an adventure.

In the past 3 years I have lived in over 13 countries. Which means my heart has pieces left all over the world. Besides where I was physically born, I’m not even sure where “home” is to me. It is all over. I love this and hate this all at the same time.

If you have been following my blog from the beginning you know how hard it was for me to come back home the first time around. Being in the states was hard. Dallas was hard. A sweet friend of mine, Whitney**, recently wrote a blog on freedom and transitioning back “home”. I wanted to share parts of it because it really hit home.

>>>>>

“Racers travel endlessly pouring out their hearts to the hungry all the while the Lord is restoring their confidence, their identities. Anchors are released and hearts begin to soar in purpose… the beauty of living on behalf of someone besides yourself.

Then, you come back “home” and those blinders fall back into place and the weight of the past shambles you back.”

<<<<<

Man, did this ring a bell. Even now being home from Spain. But then I kept reading…

>>>>>

“That’s the lie anyways,  it’s the first attack they face, I faced. I have found so many breakthroughs in this exact moment, or moments where you decide to hold close your freedom, know your freedom and proclaim it when you don’t feel it. This is the moments where you are breaking through the threshold. To write it out, to speak it aloud. You’re still free. Let that freedom revive and resurface in your heart right now, wherever you are.”

Home is everywhere, freedom is everywhere.
You are home, you are free.

<<<<<

This past week I was able to go back to The Porch. It had been over 6 months since I had been there – actually over six months since I had attended an English speaking church. I was dreading it to be honest. I knew the feelings above ^ that I had been through before all too well and I didn’t want anything to do with them. But I knew I had to push through. What was crazy was seeing the transformation of my heart over the last year. Not only for a big church, but for the city of Dallas.

My city. The burden for Dallas and for young adults suddenly hit me harder. Like it had in Haiti. In Thailand. In Moldova. In China. In Spain.

I left there realizing even more how amazingly blessed I am to have so many homes. It is rough to keep genuine community when you are constantly leaving and coming back. It is rough to have a heart for a city that has so much money when you have seen how the poorest of poor live. It is rough to take the blinders off that you have for your own culture. But through all that, it is totally worth it. Jesus has called me to move. not stay. and I wouldn’t change any of the places He has taken me.

I am overwhelming blessed and grateful for my multiple homes.

My home in Haiti – where the people who live in endless rows of blue tarps bring me such joy.

My home at Watermark where I was first shown how to be an authentic and vulnerable follower of Jesus and then how to make disciples.

My home in the Dallas County Jail – where I have truly learned and seen that our past does not define us.

My home in Spain- where beyond the beauty of the Mediterranean is the beauty of a community that will always be there for me. Where roofs are ripped open and giants are being slayed!

My home when I go running – When despite the fact that I feel can’t make it another mile, I stay encouraged by all the victims of human trafficking… knowing that we are making a difference one step at a time.

My home with my mama, brother and grandparents – where I have seen first hand what endless love is and where I have my chittens to cuddle with me always, no matter a good or bad day.

 

:: My heart just beams for you all. You all are beyond dear to me and I thank you. Thank you for loving me every time I come back and supporting me every time I leave. Thank you mama for saying goodbye even when you don’t want to share me. Thank you for teaching me about hope. Thank you for not letting me give up, for fighting for me. Thank you for loving me so even when I mess up. Thank you for teaching me how to not let satan steal my silence. Thank you for giving me your anointing and thank you for believing in me. always.

I was recently reminded of something Andrew always says… “When you walk with God, your enemy makes you…No Goliath? No David!”

I desire for my numbers of homes to grow. Oh how I wish I could just have you all in one spot, buuut I have a reason to sing. A reason to sing that I want to shout from the mountains! A reason to sing that I want to share to the masses! My life is not a journey to the grave where I intend to arrive all pretty and done up, but I intend to arrive torn up, used up and warn out. A mighty solider at Jesus’ feet. Full of joy and hope and love from all my homes : )

::::::::::

*This video was done by my very talented friend Paul Bailey. It is what made Dallas touch my heart.

**I also wanted to share this about Whitney… check this woman of God out. do it. you won’t regret it. She is currently raising funds so she can go back to one of her homes… Candelaria, which is in the western part of Nicarauga. She is a woman of power and love and so so so much joy. Oh how I just love her and she needs our help so she can go love on these children here!!!

HAPPY 2013 YALL

I wrote this my last day in Spain, but I’m just now getting around to posting it…

*****

Current location: It’s 8:00AM and I am sitting in the Malaga airport waiting to board my flight to Madrid back home.
Current mood: at peace : ) 
Song I’m listening to:Love Song” by The Helser’s
Current conquered fear: That missing my family in Spain will be harder than I think.
1 thing God has reminded me today: That life is about giving. It is about people. and it is sweet.

I have been in this airport many times, so I don’t feel as if I am leaving and not coming back this time around. Spain has become another home to me- I know where to catch the bus, I know where to find the best sales and the stores we don’t have in America and the secret yummy restaurants tourist don’t know about.

IMG_8254

It is 2 days till Christmas and yesterday I spent my last day taking a nap on the beach in my converse! ^^ I couldn’t have asked for a better last day. Only in Southern Spain. There is something different about life here. Something peaceful. Something that makes the small little cobblestone roads of Mijas home.

It’s the people. The community. The language. The cafe con leche.

I am going to miss Spain a lot. My soul is at peace here. When it came time to make a plan of what my next steps were to be honest I wanted to stay here. There was a need for English teachers and more hands on help with G42. A need that I knew I would love to help serve. However, I also knew I had responsibilities back home – like paying off student debt and my family – that I needed to do first. So home is where I decided to head back to.

At first when I made the decision I envisioned myself the day it came to leave- sitting on my suitcase with my hands crossed, pouting like a 2 year old, not wanting to budge. But this morning as I was finishing packing I had peace about leaving. I realized what if my heart isn’t at peace because of my environment, but because of the change that has happened in me over the past 6 months?

I know this is it.

I know I am not going back the same person I came as. My family at G42 choose to invest in me and because of their sacrifices and love I have grown tremendously. Every New Year year I look and I think how could the next year get harder? or better? How can I possible be stretched more… but it does! because God is just that good.

*****

So what’s next?

First: I am going to celebrate the holidays with my family and just relax and get over jet lag.

Second: The plan is to find a job asap so I can start paying off more of my students loans.

Third: I’m going to also be getting a professional design website up and out there to do more freelance work.

Most importantly: I will be helping my good friend Stacey (who I have mentioned before here) continue to help jump start the non-profit she has started called the27project. I basically am going to be her second hand man doing whatever is needed. For those of you who don’t know what the27project is click here.

^^The website officially became live about two weeks ago^^ We’ve been working on the design and coding for a good 3 months now so this was a HUGE step!!!!! There has been a lot of progress, but there is still a lot more to be done. More momentum. More movement forward. The hard part is going to be balancing this with a job that pays ha, but I know the Lord will provide if I put in the effort.

After the first race our 2nd and 3rd races will be in the East. Sooooo the plan is to move to Charlotte, North Carolina sometime in June or July at the latest!!!! Yepp, you heard me. Crazy to think that I won’t be living in Texas, but still in the states. There are four girls who were at G42 with me the whole 6 months and so we’re going to start community there! This will allow Stacey and I too to be close to the next 2 races for the planning stages.

I’m beyond excited for the adventures that lay ahead. They are not the plans I thought I would be leaving with when I first came to Spain, but I love that they are small, but yet oh so big.

IMG_8528

***HAPPY 2013 Y’ALL***

At the table.

Yesterday in class Andrew shared a list the Lord had put on his heart the week before while he was in Uganda at G42Africa teaching. I wanted to share this because I think it sums up a lot of what and who G42 is and what I have been learning about over the past 6 months.

Basically, these are guidelines to life in general and through out serving others. Most of these are not in line with the thinking of our culture now and how we were raised, but I truly believe this is how Jesus did life. This is how we can continue to grow in becoming more like Him. I can’t imagine how the world would be impacted if we all began to think in these directions.

*****
Think…

SMALL NOT BIG.
– God is big yes, but He also wins peoples hearts ONE at a time. Think about your own personal story… each one of ours is unique to us. He does BIG things through us by starting out small. Then our small thoughts grow and increase into even bigger and bigger dreams. so don’t feel overwhelmed. No dream is too Big for the Lord, just start out simple.

DEEP NOT SHALLOW.
– In life, just looking good doesn’t count. It is the BEING good that makes a difference. Don’t just preach, actually live out what you believe.

LONG NOT SHORT.    
– We need 100 year plans! What can sustain you for the next 50 years? What kind of community? What gives you endurance? Look for those things and grab it. Keep it. If we think short term, we will only get ourselves somewhere short term. Faith is more than what we can see in our future.

PEOPLE NOT PROGRAMS. 
– Yes, small groups, recovery groups and Bible studies work of course, but the essence of them is in the relationships formed from them. Make people your priority. Love God and love people. The programs will follow behind.

HEALTH NOT GROWTH.
– It’s not about the numbers. One thing I was exposed to in Africa was how so many Christians think it is about how many people they can convert and get into Heaven. We shouldn’t tell people about Christ only so they can “get into” Heaven. Heaven isn’t only a destination- it is something that can be gained here on Earth now. Jesus longs for an intimate relationship with all of us right now.

When you have a new born you aren’t concerned with helping it to grow, you are first concerned with keeping it healthy and then as a result it grows. If something or someone is healthy then it can grow- but a lack of health keeps it from growing. If someone is not healthy due to their environment what do they do? They change it. So if your heart’s not healthy change something about it. Continue to feed your soul by feeding on Him.

GIVING NOT KEEPING.
– We’ve all got life to spare. I want to be a giver, not a taker. Jesus was a giver. Do you have joy? love? or the gift of encouragement? knowledge? then don’t keep it for yourself- pass it on! give it as a gift! You’ll get more when you give what you’ve got to begin with. He’ll trust you with more once you learn how to make do with the resources He has given us to begin with.

MULTIPLY NOT ADD.
– Following Jesus is about spreading His love. Telling others about Him so they too can be and live in His love. Jesus multiplied Himself in 12 other men. Do the same. Find someone to disciple. Someone to teach. Someone to activate. Someone to push. We should all be living a life where people are dependent on us being alive. Where we are giving value to those we come in contact with, not taking away. Jesus has given us the authority to do this when He was among us as The One who served us.

COVENANT NOT CONTRACT.
– God IS covenant. He expresses His will through His promises and He never has nor will He ever break His promises to us. No one desires a “contract marriage”- a relationship where “if you do this, then I’ll do that“. That isn’t how Jesus works. We should be learning how to take initiative and not just do what we’re told to do. Be yourself. Be creative. Build relationships and be responsible to stick to them and keep your word. Let your words be stronger than your signature…

STAYING NOT LEAVING.
– Our generation is awful at committing. We are very indecisive and when we do finally make plans, if something better comes up we do that instead. We’re not the best at keeping our word. We need to learn and teach others that when we make commitments and promises with people we should follow through with them. Jesus joined the table and He has never left our table, even when He lost His life. If we go into something with the mindset that we have an option to leave or back out, then most likely we will.

GRACE NOT LAW.
– This one is pretty self explanatory. We can’t earn God’s love- it is a free gift. It is not about what we do that defines us. Don’t try and be something your not, be at peace with who you are and who He has made you to be.

HIS KINGDOM NOT MY KINGDOM.
– “I live for you and you alone Lord.The greatest leaders are those who know how to follow Jesus and others first.

*****

When I first moved to Spain, I really had no idea what I wanted to do in life or where I was going next other than I just wanted to live my life loving others. I came wanting to figure this out more specifically and in detail. I came desiring to hear God tell me exactly what to do. HA I have learned that is not how God works with me…

God’s will for me is about making decisions. The choice is in my hands. It is up to me to commit. Joining Jesus at the table is an all or nothing hand of poker. My word is my life. It is up to us to change the world, it is in our hands. I have to earnestly desire Jesus. I have to stake my ground and then take possession of it. If we don’t do this we will continue to wander.

In Matthew 4, Jesus asks the fishermen to drop everything and follow Him. Men who only knew about fishing- He made them the pillars of the church. He chose them. He asked normal people like you and me. All we have to do is make the decision to follow. Of course there will be fear and risk, but Jesus is OH so worth it.

I don’t want to be a wanderer. I want to grab my inheritance. I want to stake my life in Jesus. I have learned I am the will of God. YOU are the will of God. It is not something we have to do. God blesses our decisions. He blesses our faith. He blesses this through giving us peace. So lets stop waiting for God to make us whole before we follow Him. All we have to do is first follow Him then He will make something BIG out of us. All we have to do is stay at the table.

There are broken people to help and cities to save so let’s go! He needs me. He needs you. He needs every single one of us.

 

 

Join a Movement.

^^ My G42 family at our Spanish Thanksgiving dinner ^^

It’s 2AM in Mijas right now and I woke myself up coughing- you see my allergies do not like Spain very much. at all. no bueno. But since I am up the good news is I have time to write the thoughts that have been stirring up inside of me lately.

I only have 3 weeks left here. Man did 6 months go by SO fast. crazy.

When I went home for my Dad’s funeral last month I wasn’t looking forward to it- for obvious reason yes, but also because I didn’t want to leave my G42 family here in Spain. I didn’t want to walk through my dad’s death “alone”. Before I even left Spain however, I saw my home church do more than step-up for me. A group of girls from Watermark reached out to me and asked me if they could throw me a fundraiser to help out with the funeral and travel expenses and for my remaining time here at G42.

I was overwhelmed. beyond blessed. they had no idea- words can’t even explain it now.

I saw the church BE the church for me. Not only did I raise enough funds for the rest of my time here, but even extra for travel costs. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it, all from the hearts of friends. God knew all along. While in Dallas I had a couple of people ask me if I was going to have a night once I got home explaining what all I have learned here.

Ha, I wish I could put it all into words, but it has been so much and so much of it has been outside of the classroom. There is freedom and fire here. There is love here. There is laughter. There is confidence in our identities. I’m going to miss listening to Freddie teach while wearing his shirt that says “If found please return to the pub”… haha. yup, that is one of my awesome teachers.

LIFE is spoken here… from teachers who say things like “when the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future” and “either all of this good news about Jesus is true or I’m smoking dope” ahhh it makes me smile. it makes my bones fill with a fire. it makes me what to go out and conquer the world and continue a movement.

A movement about covenant and using your voice. A movement of purpose. A movement of acceptance. God never makes someone without a purpose. What is yours? I urge you to find it. Sure, God can find someone else to help Him, but what if He wants YOU… stop fighting Him. Take a risk. Crazy things can happen when people risk… big beautiful things, as well as difficult, terrifying things and that’s why it’s a risk.

A common question we get asked here is when was the last time you did something for the first time?

It could be big or simple. For me, today I cooked enchiladas for the house- I’ve never done that before. simple. However, last week I got to spend the whole week with my mama. She for the first time was in my environment. She got to experience the presence of God in new ways, she was surrounded by His love. that was big. it was a blessing!

^^ My mama and I on Thanksgiving here in Spain ^^

I’ve learned even more that one key to becoming a leader is to BE a servant first. Think of it this way, every house has a builder right? and the condition of the house tells us about that builder- yeah? So since we are the church and Jesus is our builder then there is absolutely no way we can fail… think about it :] that leaves me pretty dang hopeful.


From glory to glory, strength to strength, favor to favor- it’s not only an honor
that the Lord lets us make choices, He trusts us too. [ Psalm 84 ]

now walk it out…

Hola Familia!

It’s been a while since I have blogged… life has been busy! Our first term here at G42 ended about a month ago. We had a wonderful graduation dinner in celebration of the oldies. I never like saying goodbye to family- so that was very bittersweet. Then we had a week off to relax, deep clean our house and travel. Stacey and I went to Barcelona a couple days early before the whole group of us (7) traveled to England for our practicum. This is a basically a week where we get to go live with one of the teachers here at G42- Steve Holmes. His family was beyond generous to us and we got to see what following the Lord looks like in a 1st world country and throughout practical businesses and non-profits. It was very informative and we got to taste yummy proper fish and chips too! That was a very fast recap of my past month, but now you’re all caught up. We just finished the first two weeks of classes with the newbies and I am already loving the new dynamic of community : ) God is good!

 

*^*^*^*

 

So to back track even more, I had this in a draft a while back and never got to post it. Back during our second month here in Spain, Dave had us go hiking and we had afternoon class up on the mountain. It was a beautiful week. On one of the days he had us do this exercise- you should do it too. It opened my eyes and a shift happened in me.

Dave simply told us to write down who we are.

His example was Maximus’s speech from The Gladiator, when he said: “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

so then he had us write our own (and made us say in a British accent too ha. true story), but here is what I wrote about myself:

“I am Stephanie Shelley Woody. A daughter of the King most High. The demons hear my name and shudder. I will pave a way for the generations to come. I will help change the world. I am a bringer of love and joy and laughter. A kingdom builder and animal lover. A conqueror of the past. I am his beloved. A voice for the voiceless. A daughter of Zion.”

I love it. It was such a great way to process and claim my identity in the Lord out loud from a mountain!

 

*^*^*^*

 

Last week, Herman Haan was here teaching. It was an honor to meet a man of God with such creativity. He taught on how to talk, think and act differently. We discussed how Christianity isn’t here to make us comfortable, how we must be brave and be ourselves and stop making excuses and just get out there and do. I also learned about how not to be afraid to use your creativity to encourage and love others… If I don’t act, whose going to?… Taking responsibility isn’t cheap… and how we learn to listen in the valley of dry bones.

Basically lots of great teachings, but I most enjoyed an assignment he gave us. He asked us to write our own Psalm. That was the only thing he said- no rules. no direction. So when I sat down that night I began to look back at when I was 10 years old for some reason. I remembered my mom’s endless love. I could remember memories of my grandparent’s loving me well. There was one memory that was pretty void though was my dad’s. I remember thinking his absence was common, the norm. Then I grew up. I came to know my best friend, Jesus. Soon many of my norms began to change and I began to learn… who my true Father was in Heaven and here on earth. so I wrote this Psalm to future children of Christ:


To those not yet born.

To those who will be abandoned.
To the innocent.
To the lost. the void.
Blessed are YOU… the young.
The chosen children.  

There is a Father who loves you.
Who adores you.
Who before you were even born declared you as worthy.
As a prince. As a princess. As royalty. As a crowned one.

no matter what.
no excuses.
no ans ifs or buts.
no past experiences.

Blessed are those who smile.
Blessed are those who dream.
Blessed are those who are childlike.
Blessed are those who embrace who the Lord has created them to be.
Blessed are we with endless clean slates.

So I challenge you. I challenge you to…

Place your identity in Jesus.
In THE rock.
THE color in the midst of gloom.
THE hope in the midst of hopelessness.
THE springtime during the dead cold of winter.
THE beauty amongst the broken.

Say yes.
YES to our Papa’s love.

see it.
experience it.
chase after it.
catch it.
and release it.

His love is free.
His love conquers all.

Lets change the way we see things. the way we perceive things.
Lets go and expand the story God has given us.
There is nothing to be afraid of because we are no longer alone…

wrecked by love.

This week of class has been somewhat different with all of us students teaching. We have also been talking about life messages- something you so strongly believe in, that you will tell anyone you meet. For example, (on a small scale)… once you meet me you know how much I love cats. this is a fact.

So Dave asked us to think of something or some message that has wrecked us and tell someone about it either through email, in person or on a blog. There are lots of things that I can think of that have wrecked me… seeing poverty all over the world, going through break ups, surviving a car accident and there is mas. However, during my time so far in Spain and this week especially I have been wrecked by something not quite as shocking or profound even, but much more significant.

that is community.

I use to think community was just people located in the same city who shared common interests. you know like growing up when we went to the community pool or the community library. I never even really used the word community in my vocabulary until I started going to church 3 years ago.

Then I use to think community was only for doing Bible studies and discipling each other. For only those in the church. Then, I met my friends in the jail and they become my friends.

True community is so much more.

it is simply to love. it is a choice. it is about doing life together. being support for each other. giving and receiving. connecting people and dreams. commitment. trust. living together. eating dinner together. laughing together. crying together.

the more I press into figuring out my next step in life, the more I am realizing I honestly would go wherever the Lord needs me. even if that means leaving my cats for a 3rd time :/ but more importantly I desire community. we all enjoy having people in our lives to push us, affirm us and encourage us of course and to be there for us when we are down. people who love us when we make mistakes and people who also celebrate who you are- people who complement us.

These past 3 months my G42 family has been that for me. I have been wrecked even more, I can never go back to life without community. I thrive in it. It is what truly keeps me full of joy. full of life. and the fact that I still have lots of areas to work on and improve in myself when it comes to doing life together.

Lately a couple of people have been on my heart. people who God has placed in my life who just leave me in awe of who they are and I want to brag on them. a way of saying thanks for being so awesome.

*****

One of my best friends back in Texas lives about 2 hours away from me so I don’t get to see her all the time. Her and her husband have a love for the Lord like I have never seen up close in a couple. They don’t just love people, they give their lives for them. They had to “give up” what they thought was a sure calling on their life because their sweet baby came into the world :] of course she ended up being a HUGE adorable joy and a blessing! Shortly after, Brooke lost her dear grandmother so Brooke and her husband and their new baby moved in with her grandfather. She doesn’t have mission stories from around the world, she doesn’t have a home to call her and her husband’s their own- to decorate and host people. She had to even give up her job teaching for a little bit. but you know what- she has family. love. a huge heart for serving her grandfather and her family. she has ladies she disciples through fitness and the Lord- how fun?! and she has a smile and a hug I really miss. she probably isn’t living her ideal dream married life, but I can guarantee you she is living a life full of love and full of Jesus. annnd today is her BIRTHDAY!!! :]

*****

Here in Spain I have been teaching English. Guillermo is more than just a student to me. He has become my dear dear friend. Even though we can’t fully communicate with each other I can see his servant heart. He is always inviting and driving us interns places with the locals. He has a determination to learn more and more about God. He truly loves the Lord when most of his country doesn’t. He has a passion. He is lit by the love of God. The other day he said he loved being friends with people who have a passion to change the world because it has changed his… well my friend, same to you!!

*****

My good friend here Stacey has a way of being honest with me. She speaks truth. She is to the point, even if it hurts and sucks to hear. My other friend, second mom and one of the G42 teachers Bec is the same way. They are women of integrity. Women who don’t just talk, but walk the walk. They live by their words. The love out of truth and from their hearts. They are determined to do whatever it takes to follow the Lord. They are not just women I look up to, but friends I love and know will always be there for me :]

*****

These are only a few people who have touched my life, I have so many more. I just sit here blessed. smiling and in love with the community God has blessed me with for the past 3 years. Between Watermark, The World Race and here at G42 the Lord has beyond shown His favor to me. It hasn’t been easy, but it has all been worth it. every person. every tear. every life who has touched mine had been worth the love.

It has wrecked me. It has shaped me to be who I am. I have learned there is not much I need in life. I just want to continue to point people to God and to love. If I can do that then I have lived a full life.

Love. Love.
Woody