Check back for updates on my trip to the UK and the amazing things God is doing in the city!

Northern Ireland

Four years ago, I was sitting in church as I watched a promotional video for a trip they were taking to Northern Ireland. I watched as they interviewed a teenage boy and asked simple questions like, "What did you do today?". And then I witnessed something that has forever changed my heart. This young boy answered these questions like any teenage boy would, however, there was an obvious tone of anger and resentment to it. Every other word was a swear word. He seemed so careless and angry. My heart broke. My heart broke to think of a place where kids have grown up in such opposition and spiritual segregation that they've become bitter, angry and violent.

I will never forget that moment. It was that moment that began stirring my heart for Northern Ireland. I find myself longing to know more about the history and the culture. I have so many questions. I've read history books. I don't read history books. I don't even like to read! Last year, I was at a bar on St. Patrick's Day listening to an amazing U2 cover band and wanted to weep when he played "Sunday, Bloody Sunday". I have felt this transformation in my heart and I am forever changed and fascinated by a culture that's overcome so much and, yet, still lives in the shadow of such pain and segregation.

About three weeks ago, I found out our church was thinking about taking a team to the UK. I immediately felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. Over the next two weeks, I prayed about weather or not I should go. Initially, there was no doubt in my mind that I should go. Then, after discussing it and thinking about it further, I decided it might not be the best trip to go on based on the fact that we weren't going to Belfast. Over the course of the last year, God has focused my heart, specifically, on the Belfast area. I have met so many people, randomly, who have either just moved here from Belfast or were originally from Belfast or are just visiting from Belfast. (I've gotten downright giddy about it.) So I decided that, as much fun as it would be to spend two weeks in London and a couple days in Causeway Coast (which is what I originally thought the plan was), I knew that my heart would be in Belfast. I knew it would be difficult to know I'm so close to where I know I'm supposed to be, and yet I wouldn't get to go.

This last Sunday, the church held an interest meeting for the trip. Although I had pretty much made up my mind that I wasn't going to go, something told me I should still go to the meeting. During announcements at church, Nicole said, "And just a reminder; there will be an interest meeting after the service for anyone interested in going on the UK trip. We will be spending time in Belfast, Causeway Coast, and London." My heart jumped to my throat. Did I hear that right? Did I miss something? Wha?

As Jay began to speak, he started to challenge us re-think the ways we live relationally. He noted 2 Timothy 2:3-7 and the parallels between the characters mentioned. (The soldier and the civilian. The athlete. And the hardworking farmer.) All the while, I'm still thinking to myself, "did she really say Belfast?!" God began stirring something in me. Towards the end of the sermon, Jay said something about missing out because you're not willing to do the work. I started feeling convicted for all the times I've made excuses and missed out on opportunities God had for me. I heard God say, "you claim defeat before you even get to the starting line." Ugh. That didn't feel good.

As I prayed into this, the Holy Spirit fell on me and I started weeping. I realized how much my excuses get in the way of all that God has for me. I realized that it's time to stop making excuses. It's time to start trusting in God's provision. I then heard the Lord say, "it's time to stop trying so hard to be a civilian when I've clearly called you to be a soldier." Then I knew. I knew it was time for me to go.

It's time!

I was suddenly aware of the fact that I made the excuse earlier that, "Oh, well, this trip isn't exactly what I think it should look like, so I'll wait for something else." In the moment, it felt right. God intervened and said, "No. I'm not going to let you excuse yourself out of this one. You're going. You're going to Belfast. You're going to Causeway Coast. You're going to London. I have plans for you. I want to use you."

Talk about an overwhelming evening.

I went to the interest meeting and was tempted to think, "there's no way I can come up with that much money in three months!" However, I stand here and look back on all that God has done to get me to this point and I am able to see the bigger picture.

No more excuses.

I'm looking forward to what's ahead, knowing that it might not work out the way I hope, but I know God is in control.

I can honestly say, this is one of the biggest leaps of faith I've been challenged to make. Financially, it does not make sense for me to go on this trip. I'm barely getting by since my pay was cut last fall. I've seen God provide for me in so many ways in the last couple months and I know he knows my needs. He knows I'm going to have to raise two weeks salary on top of the trip cost. He knows I don't have a penny to put towards it. He knows. I have to trust that.

So I'm leaping.

I have hope that I will get there. I have hope that, in the end, I'll look back and there will be no doubt in my mind that it was God who pulled me through.