Time to fly!

I cannot believe that I leave for Taiwan tomorrow morning! I have spent many months, weeks, days and hours of preparation for this trip and the time has finally come. It’s surreal!

The word “unknowns” has frequently come to mind when people have approached me asking about my missions trip to Taiwan. Lots and lots of unknowns… For example, I don’t know who will be on the missions team with me. I don’t know what my dorm room is like. Not sure who my roommates are. I don’t know the language. I don’t know the culture well. And the list goes on… However, in the midst of recognizing and processing through these “unknowns” it’s driven me to trust and depend on The One who knows everything. The Maker of heaven and earth. The Creator of the universe. The One who placed the stars in the sky and calls them each by name. He knows. He knows my every need. God does not call us to a place and leave us there helpless. He is our Comforter, Great Counselor and Shepherd. Through each and every stage of life He is near. So, despite all the “unknowns” that can so easily cause my mind to wrestle and worry,  I’ve been learning to surrender those anxious thoughts to the Lord and pray.  Scripture commands,“be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-8) How cool is that? When we choose to refuse worry and turn our thoughts into prayer the Lord promises peace. It sounds so simple yet why do I struggle with this?

I’m convinced a big component to this struggle is the prideful nature in us to control. It’s in our DNA. We want to know everything (or as much as we can know) so that we can perform our very best in order to mask our flaws. (…anyone relate?) The issue with this mentality of striving for perfection is that without failing (or making mistakes) we don’t authentically grow. And without risk taking our character is not challenged and refined. Losing sight of opportunities to trust in God’s sovereignty is jeopardized when we take things into our own hands. Jesus took so many risks. He risked his reputation, friends, family you name it. He gave everything for us without hesitation. Yet- why is it that I hesitate before taking risks? The discomfort that is involved in risk taking can be immense although the end result is often far greater. Even though I wrestle with surrendering all my anxious thoughts to The Lord, I’m on a journey of surrender. I want to live a life taking risks for Jesus despite all the unknowns. Who’s with me?

15 Things I’ve Learned From Being In a God-Loving Relationship

Read this! My friend Rachel has the gift of wisdom and this is important! Not just for people who are dating but for everyone! Shout out to my girl Rach!!

His Joy Awaits Me

IMG_2637 ©Aldabella Photography 2015

Now, let’s be clear here: in NO way am I a relationship expert. However, my current relationship is healthy, we are happy, and we love Jesus with our whole hearts. I have had several friends recently ask me something along the lines of, “what is the best piece of relationship advice you can give me based on what you have learned so far?” So this is a compilation of all the things I would tell anyone who is in a relationship or eventually will be!

**Disclaimer: I will be speaking purely from personal experience. Feel free to take or leave what you please because every relationship is different and some things work better for some couples than others.**

1. Seek a solid relationship with Christ FIRST.In order to share your life with someone else, you must first know where you’re going at the end of it…

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I Have A Dream…

On August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the most powerful speeches America has ever heard. Not only did his dream fascinate the masses- it instilled authentic courage into weary souls desperate for hope. It was a crucial state in our nation where discrimination ran wild and justice demanded a fighting chance.

This word “dream” often sparks MLK Jr’s speech in my mind. He was an integral man who lived out what is required of us. MLK Jr. sought justice, loved mercy and walked humbly with The Lord. (Micah 6:8)

In January of 2014, The Lord gave me a dream. A dream in which I will never forget. A dream that has driven me to a state of desperation to see come to pass.

I was participating in a 21 day fast at New Life Church while I was an intern in their program, Desperation Leadership Academy. I had never fasted for a considerable length of time and made the commitment to be all in. One day during the fast I was specifically in the “furnace prayer room” and decided to look up at the TV for a few seconds. The monitor had a prayer topic and the focus was the nation of China. I began to pray for this oppressed communist country.

Days had past and I went to pray in the same room again; As I looked up at the TV screen for a prayer topic, China appeared big and bold. “That’s strange.” I thought to myself. “The screen must be frozen?” I decided to ask around to see if any of my other friends ever saw this.. No one had. Hmm…

A few more days had past and I was attending DLA’s weekly “Gathering” service. One of my good friends, Jordan Bates, came over to pray for me and had a prophetic word. I joyfully inclined my ear to what she had to say. In sum, she said “Maria, if The Lord has called you to missions, you must obey. Missionary work is not a cliche christian thing to do, it’s a high calling from The Lord.”

I’ll never forget that moment.

The Gathering service had come to an end and I ventured off to a prayer room to debrief with The Lord. I walked into the chapel and my eyes began to flood with tears as a young beautiful Chinese girl ran around in pink pants and a flowery shirt. She had little pig-tails and the most jovial smile. Her laugh filled the room with pure joy. My heart broke instantly and Jesus started speaking to me and giving me visions. The vision I saw was of me in an orphanage full of Chinese children with disabilities. I was taking care of them, rocking them to bed and laughing with them. The orphanage had bright colors and it was marked by  healing visitations and miraculous signs & wonders. Words do not describe what I felt in that unforgettable moment. I had never felt so much hurt and yet so much joy simultaneously. The Lord was breaking my heart for China, specifically special needs children who lack the very thing we all are designed to receive, love.

I had the opportunity to speak with the Chinese girl’s adoptive mom and got the story. This little girl is diagnosed with autism and physical disabilities because of the abuse she endured from her biological mom. She was abandoned and left for dead. The Lord had miraculously saved her and allowed this lady to adopt her to show her the love of Christ.

Since January 2014, I haven’t been the same. I wake up most mornings praying for the children in China and contending for God’s justice to rule the nation. I believe He is and will release even more justice as I continue to be steadfast in prayer.

As for now, I have committed to praying for these beautiful children I have yet to meet and I’m raising funds to go on missions to China one day to begin this ministry. I have an urgency to see justice released to these children.

Though I have much to learn before the Lord gives me the opportunity to establish an orphanage for healing to take place in children’s live, I am choosing to believe that in my weakness, He is made strong. In my uncertainty, He is illuminating the road. Whatever life may bring to test my faith, God is preparing me. I am qualified through Christ.

As MLK Jr. stated, “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” 

I ask that you would please pray with me as I seek The Lord with this God-sized dream.

Boldly Loving One God

I have seen many blogs in my twenty years of life and often did not catch the vision until recent. The Lord has pressed upon my heart to share the revelations in which I’ve received from Him in the past years of my life to bring forth encouragement to whoever happens upon my page. With that being said, cheers to blogging!

Boldly loving one God. This is how I will define “blog.”

So what does this mean? Boldly loving one God?

Let’s break it down: Boldly loving.

Jesus was the perfect example of bold. He boldly loved the least of these, boldly loved proclaiming truth & grace, boldly stood before Pontius Pilate who sentenced Jesus to His death. He was tormented, beat & bruised.  He carried the weight of our sins upon His shoulders so that you and I could actually live…Now that’s radical if you ask me. Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, dying for you and I. Romans 5:8 reads, “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

Wow… In other words, in the midst of our brokenness, Jesus chose you and I to have eternal life because He loves us THAT much. I don’t know about you, but I have to know Him. If Jesus truly is who He says He is in scripture, I want to taste and see that He is good.

So we now have a glimpse of His boldness and scripture says that “the righteous are as BOLD as lions..” Proverbs 28:1. We are CALLED to boldness in Christ! So, what are you waiting for?

What about this “One God” idea? Sounds like another radical stance.

Isaiah 44:6 “This is what the LORD says–Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies: “I am the First and the Last; there is no other God.” Also, John 15:15 “…apart from Me (Jesus) you can do nothing.” I don’t want to be apart from the First and the Last… The redeemer of brokenness.. The joy of my salvation is solely found in Jesus. No other religion even attempts at such a bold claim as Isaiah 44:6 because Jesus is the only one true living God.

Let’s boldly love one God together… Jesus. The King of the Universe.