Author, Collaborative Writer, Editor - Learn More

WRITE: Never the Same Missions: Adult Leaders

It never fails. Every year, I plan to blog from the mission field. And every year, I’m too busy serving, writing, and living the missions trip to keep up with  my good intentions. For the past four summers, I’ve had the blessing of traveling on the Never the Same summer missions trip as the writer for Sisterhood (formerly SUSIE) Magazine. For the past sixteen years, Sisterhood’s founding editor Susie Shellenberger and Steve Goley of Big World Ventures have partnered to take thousands of teens overseas. My charge each year (I’ve had the privilege of traveling  to Guatemala, Ecuador, Panama, and Peru with them) has been to write the article about the trip along with other, smaller features as space allows. This past year, I did the cover story on Holly Starr, the worship artist who traveled with us, along with another story, “Postcards from Peru” (click the links to read each one).  Another reason I haven’t blogged during the trip is because I don’t want to give away material from my story before it goes to print a few months later. So, here in the middle of winter, I thought I’d share a few blogs and pictures (courtesy of trip photographer Emily Bailey and her team) from my experience on the field. Some of these stories appear in miniature form in the articles, and some haven’t appeared in print at all. Enjoy! FT. LAUDERDALE 2013: Leadership One of the first things that impressed me about the Never the Same trips was the adult leadership. Susie Shellenberger has a heart for God and for teens, and Steve Goley has the same plus many years of experience in planning and leading trips. Together, they provide a fantastic missions/youth camp/revival experience for the students. But Susie and Steve know they couldn’t do it alone. And because of their adult leaders, they don’t have to. Every year, dozens of adults travel on the missions trip alongside the students. The teams train in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the adult and college-aged leaders meet a few days before the younger teens arrive. Some adults come to accompany their children. And others may have done that initially but now return every year. Many of these are head leaders, who lead one of the teams of 30-40 teens and students that go out to serve every day. These people love Jesus, teens, and missions—and it shows. One of the things that has most impressed me is the way each team reflects its leader’s heart. Throughout the trip, what matters to the leader becomes what matters to the students. And God uses each of these men and women to build His character into the lives of these young...

Read More

WRITE: Florida Christian Writer’s Conference–Celebrate the Awe

How do you describe that moment at the top of the roller coaster before it plunges down the first hill? A friend of mine uses the word awe, which he defines as “great joy and excitement mixed with tremendous fear.” Borrowing his definition, then, I can say I’m in awe of my role as chaplain for the 2013 Florida Christian Writers Conference. A chaplain ministers God’s truth. A chaplain gives care, comfort, and encouragement. And although I’ve done all of those things in various ministry opportunities (including writers’ conferences) through the years, I’ve never had this particular title at a conference. And sometimes, I allow the fear portion of my awe too much freedom.  What if the prayer letters I send prove ineffective? What if I say the wrong thing when I address the conference or speak to an individual? What if I miss out on opportunities because I’m too busy teaching workshops or meeting with those interested in writing for Sisterhood Magazine (some of my other responsibilities at the FCWC). Did you notice anything about those questions? They all center on me. And that’s the focus God’s shifting as I pray toward the conference. Those who are self-focused minister only to one person. So I’m asking God to help me turn my what-ifs into prayers that He’ll move through me both now and during the conference. After all, I can only live in awe if I step aside and watch Him work. I may not have a perfect understanding of my chaplain role, but He does. I may not know what to say or when to say it, but He promises wisdom to those who ask. And I’ll trust Him for the timing of appointments, planned and otherwise. God loves to use my weakness as a vehicle for His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9). Because I remember my days a confused first-time conference attendee, I can offer words of calm assurance. Because I long for God to use my writing to make a difference, I can pray for others who have the same hope and desire. And because I continue to slip, stumble, and start over again in my own writing journey, I can encourage others at all stages of theirs. I hope to see you at the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference (for more of my thoughts about why you should attend, go here). Come find me. I’ll be the one watching for His great work—and celebrating the awe.  Do you have questions about the conference? Feel free to ask by leaving a comment or emailing me. For more information, check out the conference website  and Faculty...

Read More