Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year In Review

Is it possible that time moves faster in the Southern Hemisphere? Because as I reflect on each year for my now-traditional end-of-the-year post, I find myself ruminating on how quickly the year has passed, as if I am traveling at warp speed. This can’t be unique to me, but is perhaps a phenomenon of the type of life I lead. I know that there is no better place to be than in the center of God’s will, and I am living in the truth of that promise.

This year, instead of going month-by-month through the year, I have chosen my top ten moments from this year to revisit with you and give you a peak into 2013.

10. Home Assignment in the States
Nothing compares to fall: leaves changing, briskness in the air, pumpkin spice in every cup, scarves and hats making their appearance (for those who don’t wear scarves year-round, as I do). It is purely magical, though all of these elements have been absent from my life the previous three years in South America. So to spend September and October in the US of A this year was a pure joy for me. I visited many churches, and spent time with many special people.

9. Getting To Know Ecuador
At the beginning of 2013, I returned to Ecuador to continue mobilizing 40/40s for four months. During that time, as new Extremies came to live in Quito, I was able to get out a little more and see the sites. Ecuador is a beautiful country, wih such diversity that only our Creator can be given the credit. So as I traveled around for work, and a few times for fun, it has been such a blessing to serve the Lord in Ecuador.

8. Revisiting Peru
For those of you who have been following my blog (or life) for some time now, you know that my first missionary assignment was to Peru as a 40/40 church planter, beginning in 2010. When I left in June of last year, I really didn’t know when I’d ever go back. But the opportunity arose to join the short-term project team in May-July, and return to the country I hold so dear. And going back was wonderful! Familiar faces, fantastic food! It was a blast!

7. Visiting the Equator (and checking it off my bucket list)
My boss and his family came to town, and while in Quito, we set off for the Middle of the World! An item on my bucket list was to straddle the

Equator, and I did!

6. Alex and Beth’s Wedding/Katie and Daniel’s Wedding
I am at the age where it seems like all my friends have been getting married. While in the States this year, some of my dearest friends were married, and I was able to share in their joy as a bridesmaid in both weddings. Alex and Beth met in Peru, and I lived with both of them. Their wedding was extra special as it proved to be a reunion for many of us who were in Peru together! Katie has been one of my best friends since high school, and I remember when she started dating her now-husband, Daniel. I could not be happier for these two couples!

5. May Short-Term Project With the College Team
After arriving in Peru, I was privileged to get to work with a team of almost twenty students from Olivet, Trevecca, and Midamerica for two weeks. They were such an awesome team, and they worked their rear-ends off to reach Arequipa through flash mobs, prayer, English classes, soccer, culture fairs, and so much more! I made such good friends while we ministered together. 

4. Meeting My Soon-To-Be-In-Laws
The Wheatley Family was so kind to receive me around the new year at their home, and I loved spending time with them for the first time! They introduced me to Washington, the beautiful mountains, elk-deer, and shared so much love with me during my week with them. 

3. Deployment of and Beginnings for the Ambato Team
As a mobilizer, my very first 40/40s deployed in January to begin their training, and shortly after, began their ministry in Ambato, Ecuador. In a way, they felt like my very own kids that I was sending off to change the world. And they certainly are making an incredible difference for the kingdom of God! They've already had to knock down walls to make the church bigger, and after just seven months, have an attendance of three digits! I could not be prouder of this team!

2. Spending Time With My Almost-Husband
Yes, the news is finally out! In February, I will marry the wonderful Mike Wheatley. I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with this amazing man. We rang in the year 2013 together, worked alongside each other in Peru, got engaged, and will finish the year together too. I have to admit, actually being able to be in the same room as this guy was one of the highlights of the year, as we have spent the majority of the three years we've known each other in different countries. I must thank God for bringing us together. 

1. Love Extreme Mega-Event and Project 
82 Short-Term Volunteers from across the United States (and one Colombian!). 20 Days. 7 TV interviews. 60 radio spots. 1000 posters. 30,000 flyers. 1,143 people in attendance for the Mega Event. 150 people giving their lives to Jesus Christ. Nothing compared to that moment. Countless hours had be spent preparing for it. But God received all the glory for the amazing work He did in the city of Arequipa. The effects of that moment are still being felt in that beautiful city and in the Open Door Church of the Nazarene. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Best Music of 2013

I have spent a lot of time this year thinking about and studying the Gallup Organization's StrengthFinder. For those of you who aren't familiar, Donald Clifton developed what we know as 34 themes of talent based on research about humanity's universal strengths and talents. This year I received coaching, then training, and then began coaching others.

My number one theme of talent is called Input, which essentially means that I collect things or information, hoping they will eventually be useful to others. I think it is because of that strength that I so enjoy sharing my favorite music from the year.

So without further ado, here are my favorite albums of 2013.


1. Zion by Hillsong United
The song "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" is easily my favorite worship song this year, and though I haven't spent much time in the US this year, it seems to have gained a lot of popularity in general, maybe for the lyric, "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me."

2. The Lone Bellow by The Lone Bellow
My most played album of 2013. This band really broke out this year, and with good reason.

3. I Was Worng, I'm Sorry, and I Love You by Derek Webb
Derek Webb apologizes. This album is what he would say to the Church.

4. Burning Lights by Chris Tomlin
Chris Tomlin is Earth's Most-Sung Music Artist. And this album is certainly singalong-worthy. 

5. The Civil Wars by The Civil Wars
Though not as strong as their first album, and released after the announcement of the duo's breakup, they still deliver a fantastic album. And if you listen closely, you might discover why they ended it. 
6. Volume Three by She & Him
Everybody likes Zooey Deschanel. And M. Ward is pretty great too.

7. Home by Kim Walker-Smith and Skyler Smith
This husband-and-wife offering is a short album of beautiful worship music. "Unstoppable Love" should not be missed. 

8. Meet Me At The Edge of the World by Over The Rhine
Cincinnati's own released another fantastic folk album this year. Of course they did, since they practically invented the folk music that has gained so much popularity in recent years. 

9. Evening & Morning by The Digital Age
The David Crowder Band without David Crowder. And this music is so good, it seems like they don't even miss him.
10. I Am Mountain by Gungor
I am a huge Gungor fan, and though this album is excellent, it was so different from their previous album, Ghosts Upon The Earth, that at first I didn't care for it. Though I didn't enter into worship the way I have with their past albums, what they did create is art, and definitely worth taking notice of. 

Honorable Mentions:

Night Visions by Imagine Dragons

Fiction Family Reunion by Fiction Family

For Freedom: A Covers EP by Jenny & Tyler
--Proceeds from the sales of this album go to fight human trafficking, so I can't recommend it enough.

Skin and Bones by Kel
--I heard Kel opening for Tenth Avenue North in a high school parking lot, which turned out to be her alma mater. Though she is young, this is an excellent album that I can just keep going back to. 

If You Leave by Daughter

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Book Review: Partners in Marriage and Ministry

"And since the Bible does not define 'femininity/womanhood' or 'masculinity/manhood,' we should avoid dogmatism, stereotyping, and the making of restrictive lists in these area also." -Ronald W. Pierce, Partners in Marriage and Ministry

It may be surprising for many to discover that manhood and womanhood are not defined in the Bible. After all, we know many passages that speak directly about marriage and women in ministry. In Partners in Marriage and Ministry: A Biblical Picture of Gender Equality, Ronald W. Pierce unpacks the most infamous biblical passages on these subjects, and the results may surprise some.

Beginning with the creation account, we begin to see that God's design for the sexes is mutuality, a plan the was disrupted by the Fall. But humanity's disobedience has never changed God's heart. In exegeting chapters such as 1 Corinthians 7, Ephesians 5, 1 Corinthians 11, and 1 Timothy 2, he really digs in to the cultural context, audience, and true intentions of the texts, further revealing God's desire for gender mutuality. Though at times theological, he brings his points to application with "Principles for Today" chapters at the end of every new topic.

In closing, Pierce states, "Mutual partnership was present in God's design of men and women when humanity was first formed. Moreover, it continues to stand at the very center of the gospel message of Jesus Christ." I agree completely, and Partners in Marriage and Ministry is an excellent resource to further understanding about biblical equality.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Upon hearing last night of Nelson Mandela's passing, I wanted to reflect on his life and legacy. The easiest way for me to do that was to watch the movie Invictus, which centers on the South African rugby team's quest to win the world cup during Mandela's first term as president, thereby seeking reconciliation in the process.

The part of the film I have been reflecting on ever since is a scene the night before the World Cup Final. Matt Damon's character, the captain of the Springboks, is asked what he is thinking about, and he says something like, "Thinking about how you can spend thirty years in a cell, and come out ready to forgive the people who put you there."

Mandela's life flows with forgiveness and grace. It's the kind of forgiveness that makes no sense in our world. Approached from  a "survival of the fittest" standpoint, this forgiveness makes no sense. Seen through the eyes of any modern philosophy, that forgiveness is still incomprehensible.

This forgiveness leads me to reflect on the cross, where Jesus Christ gave his life so that humanity could be reconciled to the Heavenly Father. And then he called his followers to forgive the way they have been forgiven:  "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." He sets the example for grace that can only be a reflection of the grace that has already flowed from his hands. 


Mandela spent nearly thirty years in prison for his political activism. In his autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela says, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”