the cost of “a la orden”


My entire Saturday was saturated with a painful joy. I’m resigned to calling my emotion painful joy because, as much as I’ve reached and grabbed at the English language, I can’t find anything better. I guess it has a lot to do with processing a very emotional week of mission, but I think it’s also this new life philosophy I’m trying out.

I’m really attempting to put everything in my life in the “a la orden” perspective. And, as I do so, I’m noticing the painful joy pressing in on my heart more than I can express. As I share stories with people and listen to memories from students on the mission trip, I am overwhelmed. It’s like standing under Niagara Falls and trying to be thankful for every drop of water cascading from such a great height. It’s TOO MUCH to take in. I was trying to build up monuments (like the Israelites) with words so we can look back and see the Lord’s blessing, but I felt almost frantic to find enough stones and build fast enough.

Have you ever sat with someone who is sharing his/her heart and not known how to express the love blooming like springtime in your soul? I sit there and wish there was a way to dance, sing, laugh, and hug with the colorful power of a hundred springtimes. If I sound crazy, I am doing well with this explanation because it doesn’t make any sense to me either.

The more I make my gifts “available” to the Lord, the more I feel completely blown away by His brilliant use of them. I really consider any gift or ability I have not at all my own, but the Lord’s, so it shouldn’t surprise me that He knows best how to use these gifts for His glory. But, I think the surprise is wrapped up somehow in my joy as well. The mystery of seeing the Gospel alive and working in front of my eyes to transform people I love is marvelous.

THIS is what it means to taste and see that the Lord is good!

Where is the pain? you might ask. Well, yesterday my soul hurt. It ached like the worst charlie horse, but there was no massaging it away. This pain was in every way attached to my joy and I’m still figuring out why.

taste and see
I think (maybe) the more we taste and see that the Lord is good, we might also start to understand the limits of that taste. Let me try to explain. While we are still living on this earth in the “already, not yet” of Kingdom Come, we are limited to merely taste and see the Lord is good. To be honest, I think “taste” is all we can handle, but that reveals one very important, painful truth: this broken world can’t handle the whole feast. We are not yet in eternity where our days will be filled with the FULLNESS of the Lord’s goodness, not just a taste. When we taste something, if it’s a good something, we generally want more.

This could not be more true of the Lord. When we are overwhelmed with delight in His presence, we want more of Him… even ache for more of Him. Within this deep desire there is a struggle for the “eternity set in our hearts” where this ache will be relieved.

subject and mode
The subject of my true delight is the Lord always, but the mode seems to be this “a la orden” (make every gift and talent available through service). And, in serving, the pain comes with the joy as well. With every child comforted or hungry man fed, millions more wait. There is pain (possibly the “groaning in expectation” in Romans?) in serving others in this world when the need is so great. So, at the same time I am experiencing the joy of obedience and following God’s heart, I am experiencing pain through the realization that others may not feel the same joy.

selfish love
I love these students. It almost scares me how much I love them. To see them ENJOYING the presence of the Lord has been one of God’s greatest gifts to me in my time here. Because I’ve been so blessed to see God work in them, I realize that my part in their journey may soon end. It is, of course, the LORD who is moving and working and drawing them near the Throne of Grace. And I am realizing it is one of the biggest steps of faith to believe God will take care of them whether or not I am by their side. I am having to let go of the reasons my love for them encourages me … and hold on to the reasons my love for God will help me love them in the best way that encourages them.

So, there’s some Sunday reflection for you. I hope you are all enjoying a beautiful Sabbath day!

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

for God’s glory means for our joy

I am still trying to process and understand the many lessons from the past week. Really, it’s not just the week busting at the seam with lessons… it’s the week of the mission trip pointing to everything God has been moving in my heart over several years. This week, one of the students from the mission trip literally gave the shoes off her feet to a woman whose sandals were broken in half. She walked out with plastic bags tied around her ankles. Later, she told me, “I mean, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal.”

I’m just sitting here, amazed by it all. God is transforming lives right in front of my face. I can’t shake off the joy! I just can’t! One thing I kept telling the students during the week was, “I promise that if you are serving the Lord with your whole heart, you will find yourself with an abundance of joy. I’m not promising this because I can give it to you… I’m promising because the Lord is faithful.”

I know I can’t tell them they will always be happy when they serve others, but I can say that a life of serving others will bring you close the Father’s heart… and there joy runs deeper than anything else. So, I’m trying to encourage this reflection of the trip because I don’t want the students to think it is only about the people or the memories (because given a different purpose, like vacation, they would have had a completely different experience with the people). I hope they will look back and remember how beautiful it is to come together in community with the goal of loving God and loving others… with an attitude of “a la orden” in the ways God has gifted us.


crazy group of fired up kids 🙂



With that, here is David’s reflection. It’s very long, but very worth it!

Very frequently, as imperfect human beings, we tend to believe that the world is a bubble formed by our own problems, fears, difficulties, and achievements. However, when one takes the time to let go of worries and decides to focus on others, one finds that there is much more in life. As a Christian, I had many times wondered, “What is my purpose here? What is God going to do with my life?” It was this 2011 mission trip that served as an eye-opening experience and answered these questions I kept in my mind. This mission trip has been used by God to revolutionize my world and give me a new perspective on life.

“Why did we decide to do this? Why did we decide to give up the daily comforts we have? Why did we decide to make sacrifices that people out there might consider out of place?” If I were to answer these questions with one word, that would be LOVE. It is because of love that today we can declare that we are saved. What a greater example of love than He who came down to the world and took the nature of a servant, making himself nothing to give the world a chance? As Christians, we need to resemble Christ in every way possible; it is our duty, then, to go out to the world to share His love and His wonderful message of salvation.

Christian life is a narrow road that few are able to find. Once you find it, walking in it demands everything you are to the point that you are willing to give up all you are for it. Even though at the moment it might not seem so, at the end you will have what is actually important- the salvation of your soul. Personally, before going on the mission trip, I decided to let God guide me and was willing to listen to his soft whispers. Like always, He was faithful and gave us the most spectacular and spiritually-rewarding week that we could have asked for.

God called us during this past week to do several demonstrations of His love. Personally, what impacted my life the most was the evangelism we did at Villa de San Francisco. I was amazed after seeing how little people know about God and how desperate they are to establish communication with their Daddy, the one who gave them life and created them in His image. When I stepped out of the van with my group, I thought to myself, “I don´t know how, but God will do amazing things through us today.” I made no mistake. Just starting, we met a group of about five teenagers who were clearly not very pleased with us coming to talk to them; after giving us the opportunity to talk to them, a couple of them seemed to be interested in learning more and started to debate with us about whether God was real or not. Even though the conversation wasn´t as fruitful as we would have hoped, we were sure that some of the guys were questioning themselves about how unlikely it would have been that Jesus was made-up by history, taking into account the fact that He is the only one that has turned the world upside down in such a manner.

After our first encounter, we felt even more motivated to find people to talk to about God. We found several more people and talked to them about God and about His purpose for their lives. It was really hard to conceive that most, if not all, of the individuals we approached that day had misconceptions about the requirements for getting to Heaven. Several were amazed to be told that all that was required was to truly believe and accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Savior; many said they were not ready to make this choice, because they did not want to change their way of life. A guy we talked to that day told me, “I might be rejecting the best invitation that has
ever been made to me in my life; however, I assure you that one day you will come back and I will then call you ‘brother.´” This phrase made me smile, even though I tried to make him realize that the next day could be too late for him. Like him, many others shared how much need they had of a God who helped them get through life but how unwilling they were to give up everything for that God.

The seed has been planted, and we are sure that God is going to do what He needs to. We were just humble instruments used powerfully by the Holy Spirit throughout the week to bring a smile to a number of orphans, do a couple of work projects, and spread the Gospel. The world is in need of people who are brave enough to stand up for what they believe and for what God expects from them. Are we willing to be part of that group of people? Are we going to answer? We need to be ready to listen to God and be quick to answer, “Here I am LORD. Send me!” There is much more work to be done, and what God has done this past week in our lives is just a great motivation to let go of ourselves and give out all we are in name of Jesus Christ, our wonderful and mighty Savior.

There are so many stones for this monument of blessing! I’m learning so much from these students as we build up a place of remembrance for our Lord!

let LOVE fly like cRaZy!

learning to live “a la orden”

where the JOY happens

In the mess of emotions and energy and exhaustion of the past week, I’m breaking mental ground for a new life motto. Up until this point, I’ve stuck with “Love God, Love Others.” I know, I know – it’s nothing mind-blowing. It’s as old as Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 22:36-40.

It seems like we shouldn’t really have to improve on what God explained so clearly. This bold declaration to love God with all my heart and love others out of that love will always breathe life into whatever else God is teaching me. Lately, it seems the lessons in my conversations and experiences have me searching for words to explain how my theology informs my philosophy of living.

So, this past week, I started taking my joy pulse. I was intentionally on the lookout for those times when there was “fullness of joy” in my life, because those moments found me in the presence of God (Psalm 16:11). So many things triggered this crazy feeling of joy bubbling over the flimsy walls of my heart – laughter on the bus ride, children on top of high school students’ shoulders, serious late-night talks, watching a drama acted out to the glory of God, hearing stories of evangelism teams, playing in the ocean in the rain, singing/rapping, sunshine and clouds – all these things amounted to an emotion I can’t explain.

One of the beautiful moments where God arrived in splendor happened the last night before we came back. We were all sharing and reflecting about what made an impact on us, where we felt we made an impact, and what God is leading us to do as a result of our experiences. One of the students mentioned how wonderful it felt to just share. She mentioned that normally all her friends would be very possessive of their “things,” but this week she experienced how cool it was to share.

Something clicked while she was talking… something that I am learning as I live here in this beautiful country: “a la orden.” I can remember so many times when I’ve made a comment to one of my students about her outfit and heard this response, which means, “at your service.” It’s like saying, “Oh? You like it? Well you can wear it whenever you want!”

I love this.

I realized my joy pulse goes crazy whenever I think of ways I can live a la orden… and I truly believe this is how we live out Philippians 2:1-4. The idea is WAY bigger than offering our clothes. When someone compliments us about our gifts of leadership, encouragement, organization, creativity, laughter, work ethic, prayer, or ministry, our response can and should be, “a la orden.”

Can you imagine what would happen if we made our best gifts available and “at your service”?

Person 1: Wow, you really have an amazing way with children!
Person 2: Thanks! God is so good! And, well, I’m at your service whenever you need.
Person 1: (confused) Oh, cool… what do you mean by that?
Person 2: Well,  I mean that what good is a “way with children” if I don’t use it? So, please let me know the next time you have a need involving kids!
Person 1: Whoa. That’s kind of crazy. So, you mean you’d be available to fill the open spot at the after-school program I work with on Tuesdays?
Person 2: That’s exactly what I mean. Let’s talk details.

Obviously, this scenario can’t play out perfectly every time because our days will fill up and we will find it difficult to make ourselves “a la orden” all of the time. But, the point I’m making is a mental shift. No longer am I guarding my time and treasure for myself. God blessed me and saved me for His purposes, not mine. When people point out beautiful things in me, it is only a reflection of my God who formed me in my mother’s womb. My gifts aren’t meant to bring me glory, but they will bring me joy if I make them available to others through my service.

Very few of us wear clothes that we’ve designed ourselves and our spiritual gifts are the same way. We wear them and get compliments on them, but we did not design them. When we receive compliments they should be re-directed to the Designer and He promises the MOST joy will happen when we aren’t promoting ourselves with our gifts, but instead looking for ways to elevate others.

I have SO MANY STORIES and ways God has blessed this philosophy. The joy seriously multiplies! I love looking into beautiful brown eyes and saying, “Whenever. Wherever. You name the place. I know God has gifted me for such a time as this and such a person as you.”

That’s what makes my joy pulse go crazy! And that’s how I know making ourselves available by putting others first is the biggest blessing we could receive.

another reason to

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

pushed to the limit and BLESSED beyond

Wow. These days are cRaZy! Yesterday we spent time at the orphanage and the public school in Valle and then we got ready for the outreach event at night. My heart jumped like crazy seeing kids streaming into the camp from the dusty, dirt road to see what all the hype was about. We played soccer (of course), relays, and then we had a presentation.

I will expand more when I am not sitting on concrete steps and struggling to get a signal. But, I just want you to know a bit of the beauty I felt watching the students push themselves to the limit. All morning we were at the orphanage … it was piggy back ride after volleyball game after more piggy back after laugh attacks. Constant motion and then the night was constant emotion. The students performed two skits like professionals and several shared their testimony with a crowd of 250-300. The most beautiful thing of all (more beautiful than my horrible miscalculations – don’t ever ask me to order you pizza unless you want more than you need!), was truly praying through the belief that God is at the center. We offer up our humble attempts, but it is God who makes any attempt successful. I saw these students give their hearts on that stage (even though several were sick) … because they knew giving their all is the only way God would want them to perform.

Before the final assembly, I overhead a student say, “Oh my gosh! I have to translate for you and now we’re singing and I have to get the props and … how am I going to do this!?!?!” then a breath, “No, it’s okay. I trust God will work through me if He thinks I can handle this.”

THESE are the moments!

OKay – before I get carried away about last night … I have to move on to today to other GREAT, BIG moments. We spent some time de-briefing before we scattered for the night and I got to hear some of the aMAZING testimonies of our team who went out in a little village called San Francisco. None of my students had been there before and only one knew it existed, tucked away in the mountains. The students went door to door and shared the gospel and the effect is still gripping my heart. One group, after presenting the gospel, was told, “I’m rejecting the best gospel presentation I’ve ever heard in my life.” Which was a strange, sure encouragement to them that they were on the right track. They assured the stranger that he didn’t have to reject it, of course, but he could choose to believe.

Well, enough of my stories… here is a word from Lesly (who blesses me at least 10 times a day with her warmth, her smile, and her attitude).

This morning, we did three carnivals at elementary schools in El Sauce and Cerro Grande. The kids came from all over and were super excited to see us. Later, we visited the town of Villa San Fransisco to do a carnival and evangelize through the streets. I had Marielle and Stanley in my group – and they are probably the coolest people to be with.

We met an old woman who shared how sick she was. Stanley got up right there as she was telling us and prayed for her, and I was trembling because I was so moved by what God was doing. His prayer was so beautiful and I started to realize how amazing it is to just reach out and love in this way.

While walking around Villa San Fransisco, all of the people were extremely welcoming and hospitable. I feel so blessed that I was able to meet all of them. We also got the opportunity to share with people our age, Lester and Misiael. They were very open to Marielle’s and Stanely’s testimonies and really wanted to listen to what we had to say.

At the very end, there was this man called Carlos who completely made fun of us while we were praying for him.  Even though we were a little embarrassed for ourselves we have the confidence that we planted the seed in him.  God really blessed us with the opportunity to meet up with people who needed our presence and His presence.


Wow. The stories keep coming! Please keep praying that we

let God’s love fly like cRaZy!!

Mission 2011: Here I am. SEND ME!

Our theme verse for our week of focused mission service comes from Isaiah 6:8,

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Our preparation has a beautiful, frantic fragrance this week. We are running around arranging, buying, planning, and chasing details like one chases a beach ball across a lake on a windy day. One thing is for sure: God is completely sovereign. Even in the foibles, I can claim this as true. I thought some of you might be interested in reading through the short devotionals for each day this week. I’ve included the passage (taken from The Message Bible) and the few questions I’ve asked the kids to ponder. Pray with us as God humbles our hearts and uses broken vessels to reveal His great Light of salvation!

Throughout the week, students will be updating on my blog to give direction to your prayers/praises and most importantly to give God the glory for the overflow of love. So stay tuned this week!

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joyful readiness

Here is a combination of things (or is it more of a process of things) that will bring joy to my soul, without fail.

students learning/loving God’s Word –> responding to spiritual/physical needs around them –> bridging cultural gaps by one great need of a Savior –> God is glorified and we are satisfied

I’m not sure if this process/combination makes sense to you, but my heart understands completely! Coming up on March 6-13, eight of my students will embark on a mission trip to a nearby community. We have been preparing through Bible study, prayer, testimonies, and many organizational details. I keep hearing this beautiful phrase, “Miss, I want to be different and make a difference.” Every time a student says some version of this declaration I get a little more excited about what God is doing in their lives. He is moving in marvelous and mysterious ways to bring glory to His name and true, deep satisfaction to His servants.

Please join with me in prayer for these students as we prepare for this mission trip. Below they have written their prayer requests and I would love if you prayed for them by name. We are also relying on God for financial provision in this endeavor, so please pray we will believe in His faithfulness.

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I love this quote from John Piper, “To be humble is to be a servant. They are not the same. But humility leads to joyful readiness to do lowly service.” I hope and pray that we will enter into service with this kind of joyful readiness!

let LOVE fly like cRaZy