Coffee thoughts from the Jasmine Table

We are in Mytilene, on the Greek island of Lesvos!

I am writing from the stone table you see, which is filled with the aroma of jasmine petals that fall from the tree above. The table is located outside of the YWAM home we are living in.

My thoughts this morning are scattered, ranging from thoughts of home in Minnesota, parts of my family visiting Haiti at the moment, my fellow team members on the other side of town, Ben and I’s future and abstract thoughts about life. I hope that as I write, some of those thoughts will become more clear!

The past few weeks have been a mixture of extremely difficult circumstances, immense joy, the challenge of stepping out in using our new skills and knowledge before we feel “comfortable”, and a pressure from within to make the most of this time that we have been given to serve on this island.

And now, as I sit here in another country that is being flooded by people fleeing from the war zones that they call home, I can’t help but wonder what life is really about for me. I don’t know that we can make a blanket statement for “the meaning of life”, as we are all created so differently and our lives come together to make up a beautiful array of talents and perspectives – all reflecting a part of God’s character. I’ve met some volunteers here that absolutely love tasks, and are masters at figuring out how to get tarps above all of the tents in Moria. I’ve sat with others who love the moments they get to sit with a refugee family who offers them tea in their little humble home of a tent while they figure out who exactly is living with them in that spot, and if they possibly have just a little bit of space for one more. My brother is studying to be an engineer – not that any of us are surprised. He has always been able to simply look at something and formulate what else it could be. Not only does he have the imagination to procure those ideas, but he has the brains and hands to put it together. Still, there are people in my team that have the gift of hospitality and can make anyone feel welcome and at home.

What am I getting at?

I had a conversation with a young friend of mine just this last week. She is currently in high school, and struggling with the task of deciding what to do after she graduates. We can all remember those confusing times. At the end of our time together, I challenged her with words I wish I’d understood just a few years ago myself. I said, “In the end, it’s not so much about what you do, but who you are. You will probably have many different seasons in your life, doing different things, filling different roles. But who will you be while you do them?” That’s the challenge that all of us face.

This Foundations for Counseling Ministries (FCM) outreach is pushing me further into a spot of solidifying WHO I AM, which gives me more peace to let the WHAT I DO come in its own timing. Or, better yet, it is helping me to see that I can stop waiting for the “one day when I get a word of the Lord, or have a position I’ve always wanted, and I can move forward realizing that who I am and what I do today is just as important, if not more important, than a mysterious moment in my future.

God is refining us. We are on a path of being perfected, although we will never reach the end goal on this earth. Ben and I are so thankful for this time we have had to gain new knowledge and skills, as well as an environment that is holding us accountable to learning how to put that knowledge and skill into practice. That looks different for everyone, which is a challenge for me. One of my biggest stumbling blocks is comparison, and I know that I am not alone.

My challenge to you today is to think of something you enjoy and do well, or a unique perspective you have to offer the world around you. Take a moment to be thankful for that and challenge yourself to intentionally share it with someone in the next two days.

With love from Lesvos


(Picture below taken at the Acropolis in Athens before we hopped over to the island)


Fully Present

Every time I open a book I am assigned here in the Foundations for Counseling Ministries course with YWAM, I find this awesome card that I discovered during our first week here.
It reminds me that for this moment, opening this book, I can be "right here". My mind CAN focus, my heart CAN settle, if only for a moment, and glean wisdom from someone who has gone before me.

Also, in this particular week as we study God's plan for maturity and childhood development, I find myself knee-deep in thoughts about the past. My little paper is reminding me that the past is part of me, but I must think of it as part of my present, my "right here", in order for it to be constructive – in order for God to use it and transform it into good for my future. It is good to be mindful of the past, the "back there". After being mindful of it, though, we must bring it back to "right here", pointing and saying "let's go there".

Listening Much?

I want to share with you a little about what Ben and I are learning in our Foundations for Counseling Ministries lectures. The amount of information we have already received is overwhelming, and we are only halfway through!

Today I am going to share briefly about how important listening is, yet how little we exercise this tool.

Did you know… (statistics given in class by Equipping Ministries International)

85% of what we know is learned by listening

We spend 45% of our time listening

Of the 45% of the time we spend ‘listening’, 75% of it is spent being distracted, preoccupied or forgetful

Less than 2% of people have had formal training in effective listening.

I have generally prided myself as being a ‘good listener’ in life, but now I am beginning to second-guess what I thought had always come as second nature to me.

In class we learned about several different types of ‘advisors’, which basically describe how you attain information from people and what you do with it. For instance, I found out that I like to ask lots of questions until I seem to have a good grasp of all angles of the situation. After a person speaks, I relate to them through sharing my own similar stories.

Not bad, right? Well, there is a possibility these things may not be bad IF they are used in the right context! If the person needs to feel heard, it may not be important for me to know all of the details – maybe I simply need to be silent and let them process how they feel about one part of the story. Also, it’s a pretty true statement that humans like the attention to be on themselves. If I’m telling a story about my own life, I am taking the attention off of them and putting it on me. This may be ok, but for a person to truly feel valued, it’s important to put the attention back on them after sharing my story. Otherwise the conversation may drift and we will never get back to what they were expressing.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself about your own listening skills:

Do I focus on the details of the story more than how those details may be affecting the person I’m listening to?

Do I take responsibility for what the person is sharing and assume I know what they should do?

Do I get lost in my own past while listening to others speak, so much that it is difficult to stay present?

Some ways that you can work on having better listening skills are to use warmth, empathy and respect, communicating that you care, you understand and that the other person has value.

What I realized while going through this training is that so many times we magnify a person’s situation by asking too many questions. They get more angry, emotional or even confused as we talk about other people involved in the situation. Rather than focusing outwardly, if we were to focus inward towards the individual we are listening to, we can help them understand with more clarity how they are feeling (which is the only thing they can really control in the situation), and what might be good next steps for them to take.

We Are Here

IMG_0353We have arrived at YWAM Salem, and are beginning to make our new bedroom home for the next 3 months.

Why are we at YWAM Salem? If you didn’t know, Ben and I are taking a school called the Foundations in Counseling Ministries. This school is an introduction into, well, counseling in ministry settings ;).

We are super pumped for what lies ahead in the next 5 months (3 here in Salem and 8-10ish weeks on an outreach). I am currently sitting in our room listening to the 22 other students in our class arrive, as well as 12 students who are in a different school that also begins tomorrow.

I am imagining that more inspirational blogs will be on their way, as I am already beginning to feel excited and inspired by this new place and the new people we are meeting.

Want to learn more about Youth With A Mission? You can visit this website: YWAM

Learn more about the Counseling School we are taking HERE



Sometimes the thought of continuing to deepen our relationship in marriage AND move forward in our ministry plans seems overwhelming to me.

It takes lots of time, and most of the time it doesn’t feel like we have ANY time to spare!

Some days feel exciting and as if the whole world is awaiting us. And others it feels like we are sinking into a dark hole that is about to swallow us up!

I value honesty, and thought I’d share some with you tonight. Working for Jesus isn’t all warm and fuzzy, and it doesn’t always look like really cool conversion stories every day. Sometimes it looks like sitting down when you’re exhausted and figuring out how to be responsible with your resources, and have faith that God will provide where you see gaping holes (when you’d rather be sleeping or spending quality time together or with friends).

I know that people in every sphere of life relate to this feeling, I just wanted to share from my heart 🙂

How I Heard God’s Voice P2


A sunset photo taken on Ben and I’s honeymoon in Kauai.

In my blog post titled How I Heard God’s Voice, I shared about how the Lord led me to attend a Discipleship Training School (DTS) through Youth With A Mission (YWAM). At the end of that blog, I promised to soon write “how God led me to where I am today”. That’s what I will attempt to tell you here, although I cannot promise that a Part 3 won’t be necessary. 😉

We are all led by the Lord in many different ways, as we are all unique beings created in His image and likeness. This means, as momentarily frustrating as it can seem, that you simply may not or cannot experience God EXACTLY as I do. It’s incredible. There are many times that I yearn for another human being to know exactly what I have experienced, in order to share it with someone. But when I come to that place, I am always reminded that I don’t need someone else to experience that, because it is my special place with the Lord. What I CAN do is encourage others to seek out their own special place with Him!

As I began to learn about and experience God as a whole Person – Father, Son & Holy Spirit, a whole new realm of knowing Him and hearing Him opened up to me. I believe that when one part of God is suppressed, it is impossible for true revelation to take place in our lives. We may experience partial revelation and receive tidbits of wisdom, but without all three Persons, there is no way we can hear, understand AND live out the Word of God and His will.

I grew up with the understanding that God (the Father) was the big guy up in Heaven- governing over the world and holding all authority. Jesus (Son) died for my sins and I needed to pray the sinner’s prayer so I could live with Him in Heaven. Holy Spirit was an afterthought (how frightening to me today).

What a mind-blowing relief it was to learn that Jesus actually gave His authority to US! And to hear that the Father also holds characteristics of a mother? And Holy Spirit is alive and active, our guide and teacher as we live our days on the earth.

As these concepts (and more) found their way from my head to my heart, I noticed that other areas of my life were being awakened and that God was speaking to me outside of prayer and worship times. I noticed other people’s expressions and felt led to encourage them. I breathed in the outside air and was filled with hope for the future. My eyes took in scripture and my heart felt full. In my conversations with one person, I was reminded of another friend and thought maybe I should introduce them to each other.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” We are to communicate with God all day, and He wants to communicate back all day! 

There are many reasons, big and small, that we seek God’s word and guidance. It could be for a hard conversation you need to have with a friend or what decision you should make for your future. I’ve recently found myself seeking God about how in the world to be a good helper to my husband.

Throughout my 6.5 years in the movement of Youth With A Mission, I have needed to seek God’s guidance many times regarding what decision to make for my future; whether that be for tomorrow, the next month or the next three years. There are always multiple amazing opportunities and sometimes it is difficult to discern what is God’s best for your life. Many things may be good, exciting and fulfilling, but I want to learn how to hear God and follow Him into what is His BEST for my life.

Yes, as I guessed in the beginning, there will need to be a Part 3 😉

Stay tuned

Many blessings to you on your journey of discovering God’s best for your life!