Take a Leap of Faith

This week the New Year begins, and on my mind is what is coming up for me in this new year. This week I am leaving to go on an 11 month mission trip and traveling to 11 different countries. God called me to go back in April of 2013 and I can’t believe the time has come for me to leave! This is unlike anything I have ever done before. Be away from home for almost a year! Live in different cultures for almost a year! And better yet I have to carry everything I own on my back for almost a year and sleep in a tent! What did I sign up for?

I had to take a leap of faith. I have had no doubt in my mind that this is what God wants me to do in 2014. I have certainly tried to talk myself out of it a few times, but time and time again God reveals himself to me and confirms this trip, this leap of faith is exactly what I am supposed to do at this point in my life.

As I prepare to leave by packing all my belongings for the next year in a backpack, and saying “good-bye” or “see you later” to my friends and family, and can’t help but think of all the events and birthdays and trips I am going to miss and reflect on the events of this past year. I am sacrificing all that I have in order to follow Jesus, but he made the ultimate sacrifice. He sacrificed his life in order for us to be free! Free to follow him. Free to live a life for him. Free to travel the world for him!

Nevertheless, I am also looking towards the future and have excitement for all that God has planned for me. I don’t know what it is, but I know it’s not going to be boring in the slightest.

This next year is going to be a year of complete faith. I am jumping out of my comfort zone and into something only God knows. It’s scary and exciting at the same time.

For those of you who don’t know, I am going on a trip called the World Race. It is through a Christian organization called Adventures in Missions. I am on a squad of 47 people all between the ages of 21-35. We are going to 11 countries in 11 months to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We will be traveling to Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, Cambodia, Philippines, South Africa, and Swaziland.

Please keep me and the rest of my squad in your prayers and follow my adventure on my World Race blog- nikkiromani.theworldrace.org.

   A squad

 In 2014, are you going to live by FAITH? Would you take a leap of faith for Jesus and do WHATEVER he calls you to do?

Listen to his call on your life. You will not regret it.

“Live by FAITH, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

 

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Called to Ministry? Nah.

Tami.Scripture.LaunchPhoto

I come from a family of ministers.  My mom, my dad, a few aunts, uncles, cousins, my sister and my niece all professed to be “called” to the ministry at a young age.  Even my daughter is leaving soon for a year to minister to others on the world stage of missions.

Me?  Nope. Not me.  If there’s one thing I’ve always known about myself, it’s that I was NOT called to be a minister.  Being called to the ministry was something that happened to other preacher’s kids at summer camp.  Not me.  Many of my friends and family in ministry know God put this call on their lives.  I never felt that way.  Never had that still, small voice telling me to leave my nets and follow Jesus into the unknown throes of ministry.

When I was a kid, being “called” to the ministry meant you HEARD the call, and ANSWERED that call by attending Bible college or seminary, getting ordained as a pastor and leading a group of adults or families or youth or a choir in the day to day living out of faith.  It was messy and challenging and involved being able to speak wisdom in front of a group of people.

I have to admit to being both envious of those who heard the call and relieved that I wasn’t one of them.  Being a PK (pastor’s kid), I’d heard my share of messy stories and really couldn’t fathom being the one who would help out someone in that kind of need.

I don’t think kids now have this dilemma.  If they grow up in a church, they are sent on missions trips out of the country or even in their own towns.  Feeding the hungry, clothing the homeless, bringing hope to the hopeless.  They are the hands and feet of Jesus.  They LOVE like Jesus did.  They don’t wait for a calling. They DO stuff.

But me? I wasn’t called.  So I lived my life.  I raised my kids. I taught them to love Jesus.  I prayed for family members and friends. Even counseled a friend or two in a tough spot.  I gave a sandwich to a beggar on the street.  Gave a blanket to a cold homeless woman on a rainy night. Wait. What? That sounds suspiciously like ministry.

And so, at the ripe old age of fifty-something, I’m finally realizing I am called.  Called just like you are called.  In the trenches of real life.  It’s still messy and challenging, but doesn’t necessarily involve being able to speak in front of a group of people.  (Can I get an Amen?)

What it does involve is being available.  Teachable.  Willing to use your gifts to share the gospel.

Which brings us to today.  LifeWordsToday, to be exact.

About a month before we ever began discussing the idea for this blog, I came upon a scripture – Psalm 49:3  “My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding.”  I was compelled to write it on a card to keep in my Bible.  Next to the verse I wrote, “3/12/13 = from God = (?about what?)”

A calling, perhaps?

What’s your calling?

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Because It’s In My Blood

I was born into a family full of preachers, singers and musicians…and though I felt “called” at the age of 5 to ministry, my ministry never took the shape I thought it was required to take. I have only recently realized that we are all called and that God uses each unique path in this life when we invite Him in and ask Him to use us… turns out I don’t have to be a speaker, a singer, or fluent in Hebrew… I just have to be me. My Grandma Johnson helped me to realize that in her last years on this earth, and she still inspires me daily.

Johnson's first pastorate
(Grandma, 2nd from left, at her first pastorate – yep, a woman preacher in the 40’s!)

My Grandmother was the kind of woman everyone wanted to be and/or be with. She was daughter, sister, wife, mother…. preacher, pastor, counselor and friend. I had the great privilege of having her in my life for 35 years. I know many people who never even had the chance to know their grandparents, or lost them much earlier in life. Though I didn’t live near my Grandma Johnson after the age of 5, I spent a great deal of time with her in the summers in my younger years. Later, when life didn’t afford me the time to spend with her in person, we began to spend more time on the phone together. When I started AndyBooks she helped by writing some short words of wisdom for me to post on my “For Your Spirit” page and we called them “Words from Gladys.” She wrote these for me between the years of 2002 and 2005, and that page still gets the most hits on my site every single month. She was a gentle soul and I never remember her raising her voice to anyone for any reason at any time. People loved her and learned from her. They wanted to spend time with her and she was always gracious and generous with her time. I don’t know how she wore so many hats simultaneously in her life, but from my perspective she did it with a grace and ease that made me want to be just like her.

My life has taken many different turns than hers did, so as I have grown older I have learned not to compare myself directly to her, but to instead pray for and hope to emulate her character. I don’t know if I have met that challenge with much success yet, but perhaps my love of writing passed to me through her and now God is giving me a chance to share it with others. My mother, Karen, and my Aunt Tami were both gifted with beautiful voices, and my Grandmother shared her voice boldly from the pulpit as well as gently one-on-one. Now it’s time to find my voice. I have been praying about my direction in life and how to use my gifts more effectively. When my Aunt Tami came to visit me in Charlotte in April 2013 and for the first time in my adult life I spent time alone with her, I came to realize that the women in our family come from a long heritage of ministry. When she told me the story of my 9th Great Grandmother, a Quaker preacher on Nantucket, I was overwhelmed by our awesome history that boasts women preaching and ministering before it was an “acceptable” thing for women to do! When she asked me what I thought of collaborating on this blog with my Mom, herself and my cousin Nikki, I was thrilled. It seems that God has orchestrated all of this (what a surprise, LOL) and that He has given us this platform to use our collective voice and mantle of ministry passed down for a couple hundred years.

Gladys Johnson, my Grandmother, passed away just prior to her 91st birthday in 2009. My Mother is 71, my Aunt is 54, I am 38 and my cousin Nikki is 25. Together, we cover nearly a century, and we have collectively traveled all over the globe. This gives 5 very distinct perspectives on life and ministry, and together we form LifeWords Today.

I’m excited and I hope you are too! LET OUR WORDS SPEAK LIFE!

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