What makes your heart come alive?
For me, it’s traveling, friendships that are vulnerable and share all parts of life, meaningful conversations around the table, standing on the shore – feet in the sand – looking out to the ocean, stargazing (stars make me cry), being in the quite of the mountains with it’s fresh + crisp morning air. It’s time spent with family, making memories and laughing together. It’s dancing, worshiping, creating, and expressing myself from a deep place with no limitations or fear. It’s when I am immersed in love and sense a place of belonging. A place of “enough”. A place of confidence & assurance.
As we traveled, through Ireland – across the sea – and through Europe, it was like my heart was hooked up to an IV of all that makes my heart come alive. All that awakens me to the richness of life – love – and to the deep parts of myself.
Rustington was the final chapter of our adventure. A small town on the east coast of England, that waves at France from the English channel. We had NO IDEA what was waiting for us when we got there, but I can honestly say it will forever hold a special place in my heart. A landmark of the Lord’s goodness.
We drove with our team from London, to Rustington/Little Hampton, and when we arrived, we met a group of people that so graciously volunteered to host individual team members from Lubbock, TX in their English homes. Unbeknownst to us, our host home couldn’t host us at the last minute. A lovely couple by the name of Paul & Pippa Smith stepped up and welcomed us into their warm & humble home.
The moment we stepped into their home, it was as if my heart knew – you can breath deep here. You can belong here. You can rest here. Just as a home should feel – welcoming & cozy- a place to just “be”.
Paul & Pippa are DELIGHTFUL. One of my favorite & most impacting experiences of the entire journey was being in their company, and in their home. As we talked with them over lunch, over a walk along the pier + delicious ice cream, and a warm cup of afternoon English tea, my husband Dusty and I were wide-eyed at how much we resonated with their life story. It was like writing in the sky saying, “This connection is not by accident, or coincidence. Indeed, the Lord had planned this all along.”
I’m eternally grateful for Paul & Pippa. Their open home, their joy, & Pippa’s open & vulnerable heart created space for the Lord to do an incredible work in my heart specifically.
The tide takes the water out really far each afternoon. By later in the day, the tide will quickly come back in & the water will be back up to the shoreline.
Picture with Pippa & Paul the first afternoon we met them!
Paige & Josh Allen were our leaders for the time we were in Rustington. They would pick each member up from their host home and drop us off each day. After spending the afternoon with our host homes, they gathered the troops and took us out for Fish & Chips by the pier.
Our team!! There were 15 of us from Church on the Rock in Lubbock, TX who went on a mission trip to Rustington. This was our first trip ever to serve in Rustington, so we didn’t really know what to expect. We knew we would be working with Arun Church & helping with their outreach week, but didn’t know any specifics. I can say for all of us, it was nothing we expected as it looked way different than what we all think “mission” trips have to look like (serving in hard areas, poverty, going 100mph all day, etc.). This mission trip was even more than we could have ever expected and the Lord rocked all of our hearts, minds, and world views. It was incredibly slow paced, which opened up a lot of opportunity to connect, rest, listen to the Lord, and to give and receive at the same time. Dusty and I unfortunately could only do 4 full days of the trip (I had to get back home for a wedding), but in those 4 short days my heart was healed and changed. I prayed to bring “joy” into this trip, to serve the church of England with a freshness, with hope, and encouragement; however, I’m not sure that I offered anything… Instead, I was the one that was encouraged, tasted joy, and left with a freshness & new faith & hope!!
This is Harvey. The PRETTIEST PUP I’VE EVER SEEN.
Did you know that the swans are protected by the Queen? She owns all of the swans in England!!
Our team’s time in England was to serve the Arun Community Church, and help them with their big outreach week. The church put’s on a kid’s camp from 9-noon for 5 days that includes a lot of FUN: games, dance, crafts, and songs about Jesus & his joy that many of the kids have not heard of..
(cue the tears… watching kids sing about letting their light shine, and being loving and kind WRECKED this girl).
The camp was held at the the church’s gathering location – Little Hampton Community – A primary school building. Inside the school, there is a chapel for students to come and “be” no matter what religion they identify with or if they don’t identify to one at all. — This is from the school’s website about their chapel…
Paul Sanderson, our Chaplain, writes: Our Chapel has been created as a place for students and staff to come and ‘be’. There is a lot to do when we are working and learning and that is good but sometimes we just need to ‘be’. Its part of us as human beings that sometimes gets forgotten. So if you are suffering or celebrating, feeling great or in a state, come and make time to ‘be’ in the Chapel.
I felt this was a really neat and beneficial thing for the school. It was so moving to see all of these precious kid’s prayers. Some were heartbreaking, some were hope-filled, but they all lead to a similar desire — love.
& God.. IS LOVE.
Dusty got “Gunged” at camp on our last day with the team. A slimy concoction that gets dumped on the leader who’s name has been entered the most by all of the kids at the camp. On our third afternoon in Rustington, we were invited to have proper cream tea in a lovely couple’s home. Norman & Grace Barne’s are Kingdom mover’s and shakers in the Faith, & being in their home was such an honor. Grace had an amazing spread for us complete with biscuits, cakes, sandwiches, and English tea served in her best china.
Norman & Grace have been pastors + traveling missionaries + founder’s of LINKS International + and have influence MANY around the world through the Lord’s love and gospel. I sat on this seat in their home that is from Ghana, Africa. It’s an African Ashanti promise seat. As I was sitting here, in my heart, Iasked Jesus to remind me of a promise He’s made to me, & to let me know that He see’s me. Unknown to Norman, he prayed over our team, and as he prayed of Dusty and I he told me that the Lord wanted to remind me of a promise that He has made to me. The promise was that In Him (Christ) NOTHING is IMPOSSIBLE, that HE CAN do ALL things.
The Lord knew that the promise I needed to be reminded of, was the promise that He is God. He is Good. That his character never changes. HE can do the impossible. My faith rose as tears fell down my face, as Jesus spoke to the deep parts of my hear that were suffering, dying due to doubt, fear, and disappointment. Shackles began to fall off.
Then this nugget of wisdom came out of Norman’s mouth, “The issue is NOT the issue. The ISSUE is WHAT DOES GOD SAY?” — This will now replay in my mind every time an issue that’s “impossible” arises, or a place that seems hopeless is on my journey. I will have FAITH for what I hope for, assurance of what I do not see… “It is what it is, but it’s not what it seems.” – “The issue is not the issue, the issue is: What does God say?”
Then Norman said to me, “Jesus wants you to know that He see’s you and is near, that He’s never left you… even in your heartache, even in your brokenness, He has always been there.
It was in that moment that I dropped the chains that I had been holding onto. I dropped the grave clothes I had chosen to wear. I dropped the doubt, fear, and disappointment. My Jesus gently wrapped his hands around my heart, and breathed life & light back into all the places that were dark, dead, and distant.
The last day we were in England, after our time singing with Kids and serving the church at the camp, they had us over to one of the member’s homes for a big “Texas size” cookout!!! WOW. Delicious. They had a full spread and we all felt so spoiled as we ate, enjoyed conversation, played soccer, and grew in friendship with our brothers & sisters from England… I think at this point we were all feeling a connection with this community of believers like no other. It was as if these people, their hearts, the church’s vision & dreams, was but a mirror reflection of who we are at COTR back home. We connected so quickly, and were deeply encouraged & honored by all that they did to serve us, when WE were there to SERVE THEM!! Oh, the beauty of the gospel. Oh, the beauty of unity.
Oh, the beauty of love that transcends time, places, backgrounds, races, etc..
A love that can unify hearts from one tiny town to another from across the world.
We were so sad to have to leave early. My heart is already hurting to go back. To see the familiar faces, and talk with friends that have forever left an imprint on my heart. The church we worked with is planning on sending a group to Texas, and I cannot wait to show them the same hospitality that was shown to us. We left so free. So loved. So encouraged. So FULL.
Thank you Jesus, for taking me on an adventure that created space for you to speak, set my heart free, and awaken deep desire in my heart. Thank you Jesus for your love.
My precious cousin & this cool cat named Braden took turns taking care of our home & pup’s while we were gone. They were so well taken care of they didn’t even miss us when we got home ;).