Monday, June 16, 2014

The calm after the storm.

Today is one of those days where you wake up and just sort of feel like you're in the calm after the storm.. Exhausted, drained (emotionally and physically), empty. But all at the same time feeling relief, peace, and comfort.

You might know that in February of this year I joined a church plant in CDA, Idaho. I am the weekend service coordinator at our church, so I basically oversee and plan everything that happens during our Sunday service. Gosh, it has been so much fun. Our church brings me so much joy! I have never experienced the feeling of having such a deep love for a church until now. I have LOVED meeting new people and building a new church family, and seeing the growth and change in me personally has been so cool. God is just so good.

On the other end of it, church planting has been incredibly difficult. One of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, actually. You see, I went from a well-established church of thousands of people and tons of resources to a mobile church of about 115. Every weekend there is a new kink to work out or a new issue to address, and quite frankly, sometimes I just have no idea how to fix it. Ministry feels so much more transparent now. So much more humbling. 

This weekend was especially challenging. I experienced ministry in a whole new way. I had already had a really long weekend. Working two jobs, bachelorette party, last minute prep for church. I was exhausted. On top of all of that, our team was facing something very difficult on Sunday. I found myself in tears on my way to church. I didn't know how to lead through the tiredness and pain. I was broken. I called on Jesus to be my strength and He got me through the morning and then through a long busy shift at the restaurant. I didn't really even have time to process the day or take a breath until I crawled into bed, and by then I was so tired that I just passed out.

Which brings me to today. The calm after the storm. Waking up and finally having a moment to process it all... to let it all sink in. This morning the Lord brought me back to a quote that I wrote down in my journal a long time ago. It says, 

"Ministry is more than hard. Ministry is impossible. And unless we have a fire inside our bones compelling us, we simply will not survive." -Mark Driscoll

Reading that quote led me to also read Luke 24. Jesus had just resurrected and the tomb was found empty. We see two men walking to Emmaus and discussing the current events of Jesus' death when Jesus appears to them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. Verse 21 says, "But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened." These men had lost hope. They had given up. Their ministry seemed as though it was all in vain. Their current pain of the situation had led them to forget all of the things that the Prophets had spoken about Jesus death and resurrection. Verse 27 says, "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he (Jesus) interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." Fast forward to verse 32, 'They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?"'.  It clicked. They realized that he was Jesus and that he actually had risen! It says that they rose and returned to Jerusalem to tell the eleven disciples about what had happened. 

So many times in life, and in ministry especially, we let our current pains lead us into forgetfulness of who Jesus really is and what he did for us. We have to be reminded over and over again that Jesus died and is the fire that lives within us. The fire that compels us to keep doing ministry even in the hardest of times, even when He seems unrecognizable. I am realizing that ministry really isn't just hard. It's beyond hard. It's impossible. But we have JESUS! Jesus is what keeps up going! Jesus is our power! I experienced Him strengthening me yesterday when it felt like I couldn't keep going. He was my fire just like he was the fire inside of the men on the road to Emmaus. 

Keep turning to Jesus to be your fire. The fire that he puts inside of us is the only one that will never burn out. He is so good.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

God is saying go... again...

I have some pretty exciting news to share with all of you!
I am obeying God's call and joining the team who recently planted a church in Coeur d' Alene, ID! It is such a different experience but it is so incredible. Let me tell you how it happened!

I first heard about Life Center CDA shortly before I moved to Mexico. I had thought that it would be fun to go to the information meetings about the new church but they were starting up right when I was moving to Mexico, so I dismissed the idea. When I got home, however, I learned that their first Sunday service would be February 9th! My sister and I decided to go and check it out. We really wanted to support a church that was being birthed from our home church (Life Center) and just be there for them during their first service. That's it... we were just visiting.

A funny thing happened while I was there. Everyone who came got a "connect card". Just a card to fill out your information and give back to the church so they can contact you. I filled it out, but then I just sat there. I began to wrestle with God about putting that connect card in the offering bucket. Thoughts were running through my head like, "But I've been at Life Center for 16 years... I just moved home, maybe its too soon to switch churches... I don't know anyone out here...". In that moment, God reminded me of something that I had written in my previous blog...

  "I can tell you that I will go where ever God takes me. After taking such a huge step of faith and moving to Mexico and seeing how faithful God was, I can honestly say that I one hundred percent, without a doubt, will go where ever he leads me."

Wow... I was at a loss for words. I knew that God was saying, "GO!" and I was just sitting there with all these doubts and questions. I was so convicted. After the service, I turned in the connect card at the info desk and decided that Life Center CDA would be my new church.

If you know me you know that I am never content just going to church... I have to serve. God put such an innate desire for ministry in me that I can't just attend every Sunday and thats it. To make a long story really short, I met with our pastor and his wife and shared my passions for ministry with them. I told them what I am passionate about doing but that I was literally willing to serve however I was needed. I spent the two years leading up to my move to Mexico interning at Life Center in the Worship and Performing Arts department. I specialized in production and service coordinating. During that internship I learned how God wired me and what gifts he had given me to use in ministry. Now guess what??? I get to start using them in CDA! I met with our pastor last night and he basically asked me to be the volunteer service coordinator at our new church! How cool! 

What does that look like? I basically oversee everything that happens in our Sunday service. (You really have no idea how much goes into it until you are behind the scenes.) I get to take everything I learned while interning and use it to bring glory to God at Life Center CDA. Gosh, I cannot tell you how honored I am that God chose me to do this. It is going to be a crazy adventure and I am so excited. I am already just LOVING the people that I get to do ministry with and the relationships that are beginning to grow. 

So, just a little bit about the church. Our pastor is Sean McCartin. Him and his family moved up here last year from Eugene, OR. They also took a huge step of obedience into the unknown and I am incredibly thankful that they did! They are such amazing people who have embraced me with open arms. I feel SO blessed that I get to do ministry with them. We meet Sunday mornings at 10am at Woodland Middle School. Everything is a little raw right now... I think its always like that in the beginning stages of a church plant, but that is one of the most exciting parts! Come check it out if you are ever in the area, or even if you aren't, come check it out anyways, we would love to see you! ;) And please, keep us in your prayers! I think I can speak on behalf of the church when I say they are greatly appreciated. 

So, there is the latest update! Thanks for reading and being interested in what God is doing in my life! I hope that you feel encouraged to do something that may seem crazy in obedience to Jesus. His plans are the best plans and he really does love to bless his children. 

God bless!

Friday, February 7, 2014


First, let me say that I am so sorry that it has taken me this long to even write this! I realize many people still think that I am just visiting or are wondering when I will be returning to Mexico! I will answer all of those questions.

I have been back for almost a month now... I guess I was waiting for it to be easier before I started writing my blog about being home. Let me tell you, after almost a month... it is still hard.

I love being with my family and friends. I love going back to work.  I love being back at my church. I love the beautiful Pacific Northwest. But part of my heart is still in Mexico. I miss my family and friends there. I miss teaching. I miss speaking Spanish everyday. I miss the WEATHER!!!! I have told people that I wasn't ready to leave, but after thinking a little bit about it... I don't know if I would've ever really been ready.

I'm gonna take a second to answer some of the questions that I've been asked the most since I have been home.

1.) "What are you doing now that you are home? Where are you living? Working?
      I am currently living with my sister, her husband and their son. It was such a blessing to have a place to come home to! They have graciously opened up their home to me and, while it is a little far from everything, you can't complain about free rent! So thankful for their generosity!
     I am back to work at The Onion (3.5 years strong!). I LOVE MY JOB! I can't tell you enough. I feel so blessed that they let me come back after taking an extended amount of time off and it was so nice to not have to come home and go straight to job hunting. I am also nannying part-time and am enjoying that very much!
     I am serving again at Life Center in the Student Ministries and Worship departments. Same as I was before I left. I missed it so much and am so happy to be doing it again. Love being back with my church family.
     Other than that I am just hanging out. Spending time with friends and family, catching up with people. It has been fun having such warm welcomes from everyone.

2.) "When are you going back to Mexico?"
      I am so blessed and honored to have been asked to be the female leader for the Life Center intern trip in May! Leaving was just a little bit easier knowing when I would be returning. We will be going back to the same place we went last year, which is the place that I was living for the six months that I was down there. I am so excited and cannot wait to see what God does.

3.) "Sooo... what's next?"
      The short answer to that is that I have no idea... haha! My short term plans are to just keep working and save up some money. I am traveling to New York later this month to visit some friends! God blessed me with a round trip ticket for about $160, so my best friend and I will be spending a week there. Then of course there is Mexico later this year. I plan on doing a marathon at some point in 2014 which is exciting/scary. Really though, that's about it. I don't have any huge plans.
      I can tell you that I will go where ever God takes me. After taking such a huge step of faith and moving to Mexico and seeing how faithful God was, I can honestly say that I one hundred percent, without a doubt, will go where ever he leads me. Whether that is back to Mexico, Africa, Texas, Nebraska, or even Washington forever... anywhere He wants. He is so faithful and eager to bless our obedience.

4.) "What is the biggest thing you learned in Mexico?"
     Alright, I'll try to keep this one short. The biggest thing I learned while being in Mexico is that sometimes we have to rest in the fact that God chooses us. When we feel unsatisfied with our circumstances, uncertain of our calling, disappointed in ourselves/others... we have to rest in the fact that where ever we are in life or ministry... HE CHOSE US. During my first two months in Mexico, I wrestled with God about why I was there and what his purposes were. He taught me to rest solely in the fact that He put me there and I didn't need all the answers. He chose me to be there and over time I realized some of the reasons why.  I don't know if that makes complete sense, but honestly that question could be answered in an entire blog post alone.

5.) "Are you struggling with reverse culture shock?"
     Even a month later, yes, I still am. I was out to lunch with a friend the other day and while browsing at the menu I realized something. The cost of my burger was the same price as an average electricity bill for people in the town I was living in. I could spend money on that burger without even thinking about it, all the while some of my friends in Mexico are living everyday wondering how they will pay their next bill. Let that sink in. It's insane. That is just a small glimpse into some of the reverse culture shock I have been dealing with.

So, that's that. I plan on keeping my blog going now that I am home so tune in if you so desire. 

Thank you again to everyone who supported me during my time in Mexico. You will NEVER know how much it meant to me. I felt so loved during my time there, even from afar.

God bless you!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

An unexpected gift.

Whew! It's been a while since I've written! I've been a little out of touch but I thought I would write to share with you how the holidays were for me!

My birthday and Christmas this year were unlike any other year... and not just because it was my first time spending them without my family. This was the first year in my life that I didn't receive any gifts. Material gifts, anyways.

I have a friend who lives in a town nearby and she has the same birthday as me, so the weekend of the 14th I went to spend with her and her family to celebrate. I ended up staying with them for SIXTEEN days! Ha! The family that I live with needed to go to Tucson and I didn't want to go so I stayed with my friend and her family. It was only supposed to be for a week, but ended up being a little over two. 

During my time with this family, I noticed something start to stir in my heart. At first I wasn't sure what it was. I was missing my family a lot, so I thought maybe I was just unsettled about not being able to see them for Christmas. But then, on the morning of my birthday, I realized that God had given me a new family. These people had taken me in as their own. They treated me like I was their own daughter/sister. They showed me so much love while I was in their house. It was such an amazing experience that I wish I could fully put into words. 

One thing that I can tell you though, is that they are the best gift I have ever received. My heart felt so full just being in their presence every day. Sure, they are a lot different than my family, but that was the most beautiful part! I got to adopt new customs, learn more Spanish, and be embraced by a new family. I gained a new set of parents, two new brothers and a new sister. God is so good and I feel so blessed to have a family here that I can call my own.

Before I left their house, the mom gave me a big hug and said, "Te quiero mucho, Shelbi. Mucho, como mi hija." Which means, "I love you so much, Shelbi. So much, like my own daughter."

Some exciting news! My mom is on her way here! It has been quite the ordeal. Her flight was delayed, then cancelled, she had to get a hotel and now her flight is finally scheduled to leave tonight! She is going to have to take the bus through Mexico alone so that should be interesting. Prayers are apprecitaed!

I hope the holidays treated you well and you were able to spend some time with family and friends. God bless you all and have a happy new year!

Me and Eunice on our birthday! 

Me and Robert on Christmas!

Me, Eunice and Pa on Christmas!

Monday, December 2, 2013


Four months.
Technically 18 weeks.
Technically 127 days.

Four months since I've driven a car where there are street lights.
Four months since I've seen a familiar face.
Four months since I've worshipped communally in English.
Four months since I've gone more than a day without eating tortillas.
Four months since I've hugged my nephew.
Four months since I stepped onto that plane and my life changed forever.
Four months since I've drank water from a faucet.

Four months that God has been growing me more than I ever thought possible.
Four months that I've gotten to live life with a new family that will be family forever.
Four months that I've been blessed to make new friends.
Four months that I've been learning a different language.
Four months that have brought new challenges everyday.
Four months that I have gotten to watch friendships strengthen from afar.
Four months that I have seen so much change in myself, it's amazing.

It seems like I got here yesterday...
But at the same time...
It feels like I've been here for a year...

So deeply grateful for every single second of this journey.

On a lighter note, I spent the anniversary of my four months in Hermosillo, the capital of the state we live in. It was so fun! Daisy and I went to see "Catching Fire" VIP! I swear, I was like a little kid in an amusement park! Leather recliners, waiters who come take your order... It felt like we were the only ones there! And VIP seats were the same price as regular seats in the States! 

We walked around downtown and looked at different shops. There was one called "Cuidado con el Perro" which means "beware of the dog". It was so funny because all the manikins were DOGS!!! I had to take a pic, obviously. 

I saw some interesting stores at the mall. One was called "Aerocrombie". They can't use the same names as the stores in the US so they just decided to combine two names I guess, haha! Also, I needed a new iPhone charger so we went to what is like an Apple Store, but it's actually a reseller called iShop. It was cool being in a mall that was so different! 

Being from Washington, I had to make a stop at Starbucks! I bought a Mexico mug as a souvenir and got to drink from a holiday cup! I didn't think I would get to this year! It's the little things! ;) Kinda funny how I went from living in the state that Starbucks originated in, to living in a state that only has three in its entirety. 

I want to say thank you again to everyone who has supported me financially and prayerfully thoughout this journey. I can feel the love everyday and I am eternally grateful. None of this would be possible without you guys. 

I hope you all had an awesome Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 18, 2013

A silly little dream.

It being the holiday season, I find myself missing home just a little bit more. I am a little anxious about missing Thanksgiving and Christmas, neither of which are celebrated here, and having my first birthday away from home. Luckily, my mom gets to visit just two days after Christmas!

Anyways, last night I had a dream about one of my favorite holiday traditions... the Life Center Annual Carol Sing! I haven't missed one of these since I was six or seven years old. If you've ever been to this event, you know that it is tradition to sing The Twelve Days of Christmas. The whole church participates in taking turns acting out each number as it is sang. So, one section of the church acts out the partridge in a pear tree, another section acts out the two turtle doves, and so on.  The Jr. High, High School and College students are always the five golden rings! Therefore, I have been a five golden ring for the last ten years! Pastor Joe always calls twelve people up on stage to lead each section in their number. There are a few people who go up every year, but others that are picked at random by our pastor, Joe Wittwer. I have ALWAYS wanted to be chosen to lead the five golden rings!

So, last night I had a dream that I came home solely for the carol sing at Life Center. In my dream, I was holding a baby, probably about 6 months old. I didn't know whose baby it was or even how I ended up holding it. The time came to sing The Twelve Days of Christmas and I was ecstatic. Even more so when Pastor Joe called my name to lead the five golden rings! But I still had this baby in my arms and I didn't know where the mother was... so I just took the baby up with me! I didn't know what else to do!

So there I was! Ready to go! When all of the sudden, I  started smelling poop... then I realized that there was poop on my arm! Baby poop! I was disgusted! I started dry heaving as if I was going to throw up! Apparently, Pastor Joe was just as disgusted! He asked me to exit the stage to clean everything up and go to the bathroom in case I was going to actually vomit.

NOOOOOOO! Just as quickly as my dream was given to me, it was ripped out of my arms! I was devastated! I hope that this dream never comes true! Well, at least not the baby part! :)

Aren't dreams so weird sometimes?!

Monday, November 11, 2013

I wanna talk about thankfulness.

Around this time every year people start counting their blessings. I'm sure your Facebook news feed is full of your friends sharing what they are thankful for. It is the season of thanksgiving.

Everyone is posting about how they are thankful for family, friends, God, church, jobs, a house, even daylight savings for crying out loud. I'm not particularly fond of posting different things everyday, but this weekend I experienced something that made me grateful for things that I don't usually think of thanking God for. 

I stayed with a family from our church who live about twenty minutes away in a town called Bacerac.  It is a husband, wife, daughter and son. Their kids are fourteen and seven. The fourteen year old daughter, Eunice, speaks English very well, which made the weekend a lot easier, haha. They all share one bedroom with three beds, so when I stayed with them, I just stayed in the same room. 

We were playing cards on Friday night and I was looking around the kitchen and realized they didn't have a sink. I said, "Wait... You guys don't have a sink?" They said no and I asked how they wash dishes. They told me that they use big bowls and get water from outside. I thought, "Huh, well thats different, but ok."

We kept chatting and playing games and before bed I went to wash my face, brush my teeth, etc. Eunice came in and told me that she had to bring water in from outside for me to use. This is when I realized that not only did they not have a sink, but they didn't have running water in their entire house. They get all of their water from a hose outside and for showers they heat it up on their wood stove that you literally have to light a fire to use. To brush their teeth they put water in a cup and use it little by little.  To flush the toilet they have to dump a big bucket of water down the toilet so the pressure will make it go down. They pretty much only flush the toilet when they go number two so they don't have to keep getting water all the time. Oh, and you don't put toilet paper in the toilet... it goes in the trash can next to the toilet. No matter what. You may think that sounds disgusting, but to them its just normal life.

These are everyday things that I don't even think twice about doing, and it made me think... Do I ever stop to be thankful for things like this? For the ability to have a hot shower whenever I want? That I can flush the toilet without having to go outside in the sometimes freezing cold weather to get water? That I don't have to take the time to make a fire whenever I want to cook and keep checking back to make sure it is still lit? That I don't have to share my room with anyone, let alone three other people? I don't think I have ever thanked God for anything like this. Until now.

This weekend was such a great experience. It made me reevaluate my view of thankfulness and what I should be thankful for. I'm not saying we shouldn't be thankful for an extra hour of sleep, but shouldn't we also be thankful for our bed? Our pillow? Our blankets? 

Here are a few photos to give you a better idea...

The bedroom where the entire family sleeps. 

Heating water above the wood stove.

Me and Eunice before we went to a QuiceƱera for one of her friends.

What a humbling experience it was. I hope this thanksgiving season opens your eyes to the things you may be taking for granted and that God teaches you new things to be thankful for. There are people all over the world who live on way less than most of us.

Happy holidays, friends!