reflecting on 23- welcoming t w e n t y. f o u r

“if the wind goes where you send it, so will I.”

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23

t w e n t y . t h r e e

I’m writing an honest, and difficult post on what 23 really looked like for me.

Last year I turned 23 in the southern part of the African continent. (details coming soon…I promise)

In a nation I never expected to explore, with a migraine stuck in hours of traffic with my head cupped between my hands staring out the window, wondering what the heck God was calling me into, if this was him at all? Looking at scales of poverty I couldn’t wrap my mind around. Thinking about all the other 23-year-old girls out there, how they might be celebrating their birthdays, around a table of friends, blowing out candles on a cute cake, in nice outfits probably heading out to a bar to drink and meet cute guys. And here I was, with a birthday looking a lot different from most other girls my age. And I can’t tell you that wasn’t hard on me, that the realities I was dealing with head on, where thoughts that probably never cross most minds, there I was in the center of. It’s a sacrifice and a blessing that is sometimes is too complex for words. 

I had so. much. doubt. Wondering if this really was God, directing me to this place, with no clear instruction, just traveling on his word GO….with my father pursuing a vision that God gave me. The funny thing is writing this moment with both tears in my eyes and a smile on my face, admiring that twenty-three year old for what she endured, and how things wouldn’t be moving in such an amazing and God ordained direction had I  not followed him at his word GO. Not even knowing that it WAS HIM, and I didn’t have to doubt, but hey, I am human! lol! 

Looking back on this moment, it almost foreshadowed the year to follow. Doubting, wondering, hoping that I was where God needed me to be, slowly knowing I was exactly there, even if I didn’t full understand it myself.

Here’s the thing, this year God called me into walking more blindly into his will for my life. He held his hand out, and asked me Devon, do you trust me? Do you really trust me with your life. I shook my head, pushing the doubts aside, grabbed on tight, and followed him time and time again into the unknown, even at times where I wanted to let go and figure it out myself, I held tight, knowing my father’s ways are higher and better than mine.

This year was possibly one of the hardest years of my life, I had to really learn how to deal with spiritual attacks, keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, all the time, learn that God never leaves us, and works ALL things out for OUR good, even the really nasty and hard situations, where we feel like saying REALLY GOD?

This year was a year of stark contrasts, of dark realities, to miracles, divine connections, provisions and expansion. This year was a contrast from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. It was a year where I had to choose over and over again to not be moved, or shaken, but to remain unshaken, and unmoved in whatever chaos life would bring my way.

It was a year of taking God at his word, and planting my feet firmly onto the promises he gives us as sons an daughters of the King. Bolding proclaiming authority in the name of Jesus over every dark attack set up to take me out, and diminish the passion within me.

My faith was so strengthened through my time being 23, God really worked everything out for good, and what started as the hardest months of my life blossomed into the most beautiful, fruitful and rewarding months where I could confidently look back and smile knowing that God DOES CARE, and DOES HAVE A PLAN, HE IS WORTHY OF OUR PRAISE AT. ALL. TIMES. HE has a plan, always.

Do you trust me? I held onto his hand as he led me out of the trenches into the valleys, climbing along the mountaintop, and finally reaching the top with the most colorful and beautiful views, where your perspective of it all begins to shift. You can stand besides him and see each lesson he walked you through along the way. I could see how each hardship strengthened my identity and my purpose, my passion and my faith, and my trust.

I could see the purpose of praising him in the “in between” those awkward transitional moments where you just have to praise him, because the victory comes through our praise, the victory of overcoming and breaking through, the breakout into new levels of identity and authority.

I stand at the top and look at my journey, each step, each tear, each smile, and frustration and see my father who lead me at his word, and spoke love and promises over me each and every step. From early mornings in Ghana, to sunsets in Kenya, petting cheetahs in South Africa, to worshipping God until 1 am with an awesome community in New York City, to long train rides in the Ukrainian countryside to the cobble stone streets in Greece, this was the year of adventure!

My life has changed so much since that day one year ago. I am so grateful for this journey that keeps unfolding each day. As I look up from the mountaintop, I can’t see far, I don’t know if I will continue to climb up, down, across, or where he sends me next, but I know adventuring with him is greater than my wildest imagination, and it is worth laying down our wants and dreams at his feet, to trade it in for what he has. That inheritance he longs to give his children, but can’t until we lay ourselves and hearts at his altar.

I find myself standing in front of others, speaking about this crazy adventure God has for you when you say YES! It’s something that isn’t new to me, but I stand there speaking with boldness and authority having really stood and test, and I KNOW that I can take my God for his word, he is faithful, he is good, he is worthy of following into the unknown, always. And that isn’t to say it isn’t easy, and you won’t sacrifice a lot, or at times everything, but it is so worth it. It is worth it all. Standing having walked through it all in such a deep and real way, a way that only God would have gotten me through, and I can stand there with a smile on my face, tell others it is worth it, to adventure and do life with God.

This year had so many amazing and beautiful moments so powerful they changed my life as I know it today. God has brought more like-minded people into my life to love and support me than ever before. People who have hearts like mine who live to see heaven on earth and inspire me daily by their walks of obedience. This year was a year that God broke my heart for the nations. Devon what do you mean… the nations? I will explain. I got to chance to travel around the world and meet so many amazing people, children and hear stories that I will hold as treasures close to my heart forever. These are the keepsakes from each trip, a story in my journal, a testimony I wrote about, a photo I have or a memory that I can see when I close my eyes.

From meeting gypsy children in the streets of Greece which propelled me to travel to Ukraine to spend time in gypsy camps which broke my heart. Heart is the word that sticks out from my time in Ukraine, God’s heart is surely found in each face of this nation.

Spending time with orphans in Kenya who completely shattered my heart and I saw such hope, love and freedom. Freedom is the word that sticks out for my time in Kenya.

My time in Ghana, with my kids, loving them, watching them blossom into future leaders of Africa, bonds that will never break and bonds that will last a lifetime. Whenever I feel down, or discouraged I look at what God has done and what he continues to do in the lives all around me, it brings a smile to my face, and instills hope into the deepest parts of my soul, it reminds me of what we are called to do. Live and love for others, the way Christ lived and loved for us. The word that sticks out for my year in Ghana was BREAKTHROUGH. This was a major year of breakthrough for me, the children, staff and project. It is amazing to watch it grow!

I went to the Call and RISE UP in DC and that weekend impacted me ways I can’t explain. wow! It was so amazing, meeting new friends and being ignited with the fire of God for this revival we will see on earth! The word that sticks out for that is NATIONS, and RISE UP.

For all the chances I got to speak the word that sticks out is PURPOSE. God has a purpose for each and every one. A story different and unique for all of us. We are each called to live higher purposes and my desire is to see a generation chase after God’s heart wholeheartedly into HIS purpose for us.

This year God really placed certain nations on my heart and he gave me such a burden for my generation.  I have a heart to see my generation passionate about God and about chasing him into the unknown, giving up everything that is keeping us from his heart, that we WOULD be a generation that would rise up into the fullness of who God is calling us to be, ignited by the fire and love of God!

For me here are the words that stick out for my growth this year.

BREAKTHROUGH. OVERCOMING. DAUGHTER AUTHORITY. NATIONS. FULLNESS. PURPOSE. DESTINY. REVIVAL. GENERATION

but the word generation rings the loudest in my ear…

23 was a year of transition, a year of hearing God on louder and clearer levels

a year of increased dreams and visions

a year of renewed passion that has ignited my soul on fire

a year of new callings

a year of heart breaking for new nations

a year of expanded vision

a year of adventure, life changes and wonderful surprises

a year to treasure

a year to remember

a year to thank God, and to never forget

a year where I grew more than I would’ve imagined.

a year that was made beautiful by many faces, stories and people God has added to my life, beautiful people I cherish.

a year where I took his hand, and followed him up to the mountaintop appreciating each beauty and the climb it took to get there.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105

What if I gave up? What if I threw it away, and wanted to do life my way, because it got hard, then I wouldn’t be entering into the fullness of who I was called to be. I would have missed the blessings that followed the obedience of walking and trusting him. I would have missed the view at the top, and all the intimate conversations and times in my secret place, with new revelations that strengthened my faith.

I want to encourage everyone that God will work it out for your good, take him at his word, and follow him into the unknown, adventure with the greatest King of all, and delight in the peace that only he can offer, not the peace the world offers, the peace that will make you unshaken and unmoved in the chaos of this life.

I want to thank each and everyone reading, who made 23 so special for me, who encouraged me each step whether it was a hug, a prayer, an email or phone call. Thank you for adventuring with me, thank you for reading along the way and supporting me!

Let’s see what 24 will bring, I look forward to bringing you with me through this crazy adventure with God, who knows where I will celebrating in a year from today, what lessons I would have learned, and where my feet would have stepped!

 h e r e ‘ s

t o

t w e n t y     f o u r 

may this be another year of following God blindly into the unknown!

“I can see Your heart in everything You say
Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I
So will I
So will I
If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times”

– So Will I, Hillsong United.

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recap on 2017- new wine

Last year I sat by the water in Ghana writing a post on my phone about all the lessons I learned in 2016, and how much I had grown, and how much I had changed. It feels like so long ago. Isn’t that what we all do each year? Or at least hope to?

I sit now in New York City, on a much colder December day writing and thinking about all that has happened in 2017.

To refresh I celebrated my first holiday in Ghana last year away from my family, rang 2017 in with high hopes and celebrated with the kids. It seemed that I was entering into the new year with the highest of hopes, and the biggest of dreams. I wish I could say that 2017 was one of the greatest years of my life, and I learned so much, and grew so much, but to be completely honest that isn’t how it all went.

2017 was possibly one of the most difficult years of my life. I endured some of the hardest and darkest months of my life, I questioned everything, I had doubts, I had to overcome situations without fear, I had situations happen that didn’t seem to make any sense, that I couldn’t understand why God would allow to happen.

I came to wanting to give up, in so many areas of my life, I endured a lot. And I don’t want to get in detail because this post isn’t supposed to be a venting session where I complain and tell you how terrible my year was, because that wouldn’t be entirely true.

In the pressing of the hardest year of my life, I see how God was making new wine. And trust me this isn’t something I realized right away. Stay with me. I am not blaming God for what happened this year, and as tempting it is to point our fingers back at him, and say why me God! We are better to praise him in the storm. And I know this sounds cheesy or maybe some are reading this and think that is easy for me to say, but it isn’t. Because I had to walk through it and learn it myself. I had to hold onto the promises and words spoken over my life even in the hardest of times. I had to remember that he is still good, when that was the last thought I wanted to speak out. I had to walk through a path of remembrance with him and write and remember all that the Lord had done in my life at such a young age. I had to look at all the answered prayers, miracles and God sightings throughout my life. Not just look but grasp onto.

I had to tell myself this is just a season, this too will surely come to pass. I had to. I had no other choice. It was around 7 months until I felt things changed, I wasn’t myself, and after months and months the Lord restored me and got me through such a hard time. I am sharing this and “putting it all out there” so someone, even if it is just one of you can relate or see that whatever you are going through will surely pass. Whatever valley or trench that you are currently “stuck in” I pray that you soon climb to your mountaintop and see the vibrant colors and see the lush view from the top. I pray you receive your victory, and see things from this new and beautiful perspective. Keep climbing and praising even along the way to the top. Even in the in between.

This year was a year of overcoming, and receiving victory through our praises. Sometimes we are taught to put ourselves before the Lord and say oh God why me? Instead of praising him in the “in between” even when it doesn’t look as planned.

I was at a church service in Nairobi, Kenya and this was right before things were about to change, and we were praising God through the worship part of the service. During this service I praised God with all that I had left in me, and right at that moment I felt something lift off me, all the sadness, hopelessness, darkness, all the “stuff” that had been over me for so much, just broke off me through the praise. I was restored in an instant, I felt like “Devon” again. I’ll never forget that moment or what it felt like.

He makes new wine in the pressing.

Looking back from this point, of where I am today I am able to know that I came out stronger in my faith, having endured something I never expected. Even through that season the Lord gave me dreams and visions and everything I would need to get through and still help me do what he sent me out to do. I can say that I am even more in love with Jesus today than ever before. It isn’t based on a feeling, it is based on knowing who he is in my life and what he is doing, always doing, and how the “fuel” we need to get through this life comes from a place of intimacy and relationship with him

I got the chance to travel around the world and had time with other people who were in a dark place. I could know having come out and see from the other side pour into these people, lay hands and pray for them and tell them that this was just a season that the Lord will bring them out of, you just have to praise him and trust him!

There was so many big moments and things that happened that we could only say THAT WAS ONLY GOD! More to share in months to come, that God was still working on my behalf, he was still fulfilling every word and promise, that he was even doing a new thing in me! That he was doing abundantly more than we could ever hope or dream for the ministry in ways I cannot begin to explain! He was connecting me with individuals who are apart of this story and there is so much to celebrate and share over this new year.

2017 was a year where dreams grew, expanded, vision was refreshed, hope was restored, lives continued to be transformed, God is glorified, God is faithful and fulfills his promises. This was a season of new wine, through the pressing he makes new wine.

I am not writing this from a place of hurt looking back, no I am writing this from a place rooted in purpose that can look back and I don’t see pain. I see God’s faithfulness, I see God’s hands actively at work throughout all the days of my life, I see how he even protected me in places I didn’t realize. I see that even through the hardest of days, and darkest of hours he did not waste one tear, he even used that for my good. I see that HE IS GREAT and he is going to use this for his glory! He has a plan for my life! He always has!  The same goes for you!

I am not the same girl I was writing this same blog post a year ago. I did not know what was in front of me, I didn’t know what was about to happen, I was hopeful and I sit here even more so. I was full  of dreams and vision, and I sit here and I still am. But I am not the same girl who wrote this post last year. I’m here with a new perspective on things and I see and hear my father in such a real way. My relationship with God is so much deeper and I have so much more appreciation for him now more than ever, and I hope to say that every new year! My deepest desire is to never stop growing in relationship with Him.

I am hopeful to see where God will take me this year. I am hopeful and excited. I am full of new vision and excitement that he has placed inside me. I am thankful that even in the pressing of life, God is making new wine.

My prayer is that 2018 would be a year like no other, a year of advancement, acceleration, growth and change. A year of all unfulfilled promises to come to life! A year of expanded dreams and restoration. A year that we have been waiting for. A year to celebrate our overcoming! Another year to give glory to God and seek him in all that we do. I think I came to a place where I set aside all “my” hopes, dreams and expectations for the new year and just let God do what he does best! I wait in expectation for what he will do this new year! I am ready for the unknown like never before and I can’t wait to bring you along with me! In the right time I will have so much to share in 2018!

What was 2017 like for you? There was so much amazing things that happened this year! There is always something to celebrate.

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Another PNN Vision Trip

 

 

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Traveled to Kenya with Orphan’s Promise

 

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Welcomed new children

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Traveled to Ukraine with Orphan’s Promise and got wrecked for the nations like never before.

“Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.”

Ephesians 3:20

“Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” 

Matthew 9:17

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Isaiah 43:19

You are all loved,

Dev

and happy new year!

purpose, identity and new realizations

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” Psalms 138:8

 

It has been a crazy, beautiful, exciting past 6 months to say the least. ( Can anyone else relate!? ) Side note: how are we so close to 2018! Has this year not flown by way too fast! I’m hoping to write another blog about what I learned in 2017, like I did with 2016.

I have flown on more flights than I would like to count (or hours slept/not slept on those flights 😉 drove more hours than I can remember, but met countless individuals from around the world whose stories I will never forget. Stories that I will treasure forever. 

Somewhere in these past 6 months God has done a new work inside me, showing himself in ways more profound than I have ever seen before. Seeing his hand move across the world to reach all of his creation, all of his precious children. There is no-one too far or low in the eyes of God that he will not reach.

There are many things that He has brought to my attention and almost highlighted to me, laying new burdens upon my heart. He never ceases to stop expanding it as I continue this journey with Him. Even when it doesn’t seem humanly possible that He could expand it, He does, and it humbles me each time. Through it all I came to this, and I know I already “knew” this but this never will get old, you never stop understanding this, it actually becomes more beautiful as we mature in our journeys with God, loving and emulating Christ and pursuing His will even when it looks crazy, or uncertain.

The same Jesus that we worship and love, the same blood that was shed for each of us, was shed for all of humanity. Think about that. One blood covers all of humanity. It does not pick and choose, it does not leave out, or forget. It covers each one of us. One blood for one people, that’s us, all of us.

This is so simple yet profound to not just hear or read it, but to have the chance to travel places you’d never imagine, seeing people groups you’d never heard about. And seeing these people for who God created them to be. To experience a small part of their reality, as some are “forgotten” people groups, outcasts, mistreated or left to fend for themselves. To see these people with a new heart that God has, and how our hearts starts to break for what breaks His. It’s not His will for his children to live like this, and it grieves him, the same way it grieved and broke my heart in ways I cannot even explain. And to know that Christ died for each one of them, that he covered them with his blood to have eternal life is a humbling, simple and a profound realization coming face to face with this reality.

We are all one, we all struggle and love, we all struggle to love. We make mistakes, we get impatient or jealous. We get insecure, we want what we don’t have, we are too harsh on ourselves, we choose to base worth on things that don’t matter, we all have the potential to hope and dream, we all can become something great. We all have the ability to fear, and overcome that fear. We all fail. We are all created with purpose.

Purpose in identity that Christ gives us when he died on the cross for all of humanity. I think one of the biggest things that people today struggle with is identity. They don’t know who they are, but they want to. So they try things, they spend their lives trying to figure out. When they never had to “try” in the first place.

“Who am I”, “What is my worth” “Why am I here.” 

I am excited to write another post and share how I struggled with these same questions. I wouldn’t want anyone reading this to think that I never thought this either.

The root of this issue is identity. Once we know who we are IN CHRIST, everything changes. Everything changes!

Each one of us is created with divine purpose. We aren’t just on earth right now, for such a time as this, on this very day to try to find in our own strength what the purpose is. We have it because HE gave it to us. Christ died for us out of selfless love, and because he knows we each have value. There was a price and he paid it, ask yourself, if there was no value or purpose on my life then why did God send his only son to pay such a large price? Why? Because we HAVE value and purpose, and because he loves us so much, he gives us identity in him.

Sometimes it takes jumping out of your comfort zone, loving others, using the gifts God gave you for His good to figure it out. It takes spending time in his word and reading His will for our lives. It is about spending time with the creator and lover of our soul.

I am looking forward to really sharing personal stories from my past trips to Zambia, Ukraine and Kenya and even trips I have taken here in the US. I have so much to share so you think it would be easy, but sometimes the things we feel the most are the hardest to put into words. Because even the words we try to use don’t seem adequate. There are so many things I look forward to writing about and sharing!

Is there any suggestions you have, anything you want me to focus on in particular? Any trip or experience you would like to hear about! Please comment or email me, I really would appreciate it.

You are ALL Loved,

you all have purpose, value and identity in Christ,

Dev