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A Rwandan Missionary's Letter

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A Rwandan Missionary's Letter

 
 

i'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. i have the Holy Spirit's power. the die has been cast.

i have stepped over the line. the decision has been made. i am a disciple of His.

and i won't look back, 

let up,

slow down,

back away,

or be still.

my past is redeemed. my present makes sense. my future is secure.

i'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

i no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity.

i don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded.

i now live by faith, lean in his presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and i labor with power.

My face is set,

my gait is fast,

my goal is heaven,

my road is narrow,

my way is rough,

my companions are few,

my Guide is reliable,

my mission is clear.

i won't give up, shut up, let up until i have stayed up, stored up, prayed up for the cause of Jesus Christ.

i must go til He comes, give til i drop, preach til everyone knows, work til He stops me,

and when He comes for His own, He will have no trouble recognizing me because --- my banner will have been clear.

The first time I heard this letter read, I had chills running up and down my arms and tears welling up in my eyes. I was completely moved and enveloped in this very clear picture of what it means to be a disciple and missionary of Jesus Christ. Not much is known about the author of this beautiful, articulate letter. What is thought is that a young man from Rwanda that was a missionary with the Africa Evangelical Fellowship was forced by his tribe in 1980 to renounce Jesus Christ or face death. Needless to say, he chose Jesus. The consequences of that choice seem devastating to those of us living in this world but in light of the future he was promised with the anointed One, the sent One, the perfect One, it is actually joyous."For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it." Luke 9:24 What a picture of being faithful. I can't imagine what persecution he was enduring but I am in awe of his heart.

 Take heart -

Chelsea
 

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GC Mountain Retreat Weekend

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GC Mountain Retreat Weekend

We recently hosted our gospel community {{also referred to as GC}} at our family's cabin in Fairplay for our seasonal mountain retreat. This weekend is designed to be a time of fellowship, game playing {I mean A LOT of game playing}, laughing, resting, & relaxation, as well as, exploration & adventure! I am so grateful to be in this community of believers that surrounds me with love, acceptance, joy, authenticity, & just all around fun & fellowship! I used to pray, and I must admit even just beg, for God to introduce me to friends that liked to play board games & card games, loved to do new things together, & enjoyed talking & laughing into the wee hours of the morning. God not only answered those prayers but he far exceeded fulfilling that desire. This may sound silly but I am not kidding when I say I like to play games.... I mean a lot of games for hours & hours. I have truly met my match at least 4 times over in our GC on those who love to play games! Anyways back to the GC Mountain Retreat Weekend --

Friday:

As everyone arrived, we unpacked cars and giddily talked about what lay ahead for the weekend!

We ate Christi's delicious chicken & sausage jambalaya (See the recipe here.) & talked about our activities for the next day! There were going to be three different groups doing fun things on Saturday which consisted of:  The Hikers, The Fishermen, & The Town Explorers.

We played Uno for hours {it only took us 20 minutes to explain all the rules since it had been a decade or more since some people had played.. aka Justin.} as well as B.S, also known as Boyscouts per Jack. hehe. I didn't want to stop playing games but since The Hikers were going to be leaving the house at 4:40 AM to hike Mount Quandary, we decided it was time to begin preparation for the morning & get ready for bed. 

We made assembly lines and took sandwich orders from the whole crew, made our bladders of water, and packed all of our lunches & packs. Finally we all got to bed a little after midnight! I felt like it was Christmas Eve I was so excited. I woke up at 2 AM convinced it was time for me to turn on the coffee and get ready. Thankfully I checked the time before I was too far in this plan.

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Friday Dinner
Ben + Jack + Trig

Saturday:

To get a full account of The Hikers journey to hiking a 14-er check out the post here.

After our hike which totaled about 8 hours with stops, snacking, potty breaks, etc. - we headed back to the cabin. On the way back, I texted the Town Explorer crew and they were at High Paw Pet Supplies meeting Andre! I convinced The Hikers to go meet up with them. {This consisted of me begging to go and no one having the guts to oppose.... I have such sweet friends! haha} Andre is a large cat that was rescued by this pet store and has since gained QUITE the Instagram following. Check out @andre.giantcat to learn more about Andre. We all just had to go get a picture with him! See these priceless photos below.

Chelsea + Andre
Jack + Andre
Anna + Andre

When we arrived back at the cabin, some of the crew napped {in hindsight - I should have joined them but anyone who knows me, knows I am not a napper and I do NOT like naps haha. I am personally just such a grumpo when I wake up, I feel worse or groggy the rest of the day, & I just don't like to waste daylight or miss out on the fun times!} and some of the crew talked and became delirious, I must add.

 
Ben + Trig
 
 
Jack + Trig
 

Shortly after a quick mountain rain storm, The Fishermen crew arrived back at the cabin to tell us about their adventures! They caught 25+ fish, hiked part of a 14-er, saw a buffalo or was it a bison? anyhow they thoroughly enjoyed themselves! It was so cool to see our seasoned veteran fly fisher teach a new fly fisherman what he knew and see them bond over their common interest in fishing!

 
Fish
 

Saturday evening consisted of cooking over 6 lbs of fried chicken, frying up the 7 trout the boys brought home, making homemade cauliflower mac & cheese {I will share this recipe soon!}, & hearty salad! I love cooking meals together at the cabin. There is something so sweet about the whole process. Some people gravitate towards cooking {me, Jack, Cole}, while Christi & John are great choppers & preppers, and some of the boys are our clean up crew {Edward, Ben, & Justin}, and everyone else who helps set the table & take drink orders. It is just one of the most fulfilling earthly experiences topped off with eating family style. Our presentation isn't fancy & it isn't perfect but it sure is made with love & absolutely delicious.

 
Saturday Dinner
 

Sunday:

After we had breakfast, we spent some time in God's word as a group and just reflected on on the weekend in the basement. During this time, Cole spotted a moose walking across our property! It was majestic. We immediately all started running up the stairs trying to snap a photo and get a better view. Here is the only good image I have of this moose. You can see that his hind legs are TALLER than our friend's Jeep Cherokee! It was amazing but don't be fooled. Moose are very aggressive and dangerous so do not approach one in the wilderness!

 
Moose
 

When I come back from a weekend like this I come back rejuvenated, filled with encouragement & joy, and thankful for the body of Christ in community. Community has changed my life over and over. If you are not in community - my prayer is that you would seek out Godly community that will continue to challenge you to live as Christ calls you to. Community isn't perfect but it is essential to our sanity & growth. Isolation can overwhelm you and suck you in before you realize what is happening. If you have questions or would like to know more about biblical community - feel free to message me in the Contact section or leave a comment below!

Full heart -

Chelsea
 

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Unbelief

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Unbelief

 
Colorado Sky
 

I have been thinking about the heart issue of unbelief and what that means for my own heart. A few weeks ago, Andy, our pastor, discussed how the root of all of heart issues and sin is the sin of unbelief. Unbelief that God’s word is TRUTH, unbelief of His promises for us, unbelief of how God views us, and unbelief that there is truly a God that loves us, deeply. He loves us so much that he would do anything for us. Since this time I have read Atlas Girl, Love Does, and Crazy Love. All of which have a core message of, if we really believe what God says to be true then why isn't their proof and evidence of that in our lives? Why are we not loving people radically, living for Christ radically, & loving with our actions and in truth? I mean really. We (me specifically) sits at home griping about being so busy, feeling worn out from travelling {both professionally & personally} too much, not feeling worthy enough, striving to be everyone’s best friend, dreaming about living a radical life for Jesus Christ that involves loving people like crazy, and imagining Ben and I serving somewhere on the other side of the world using our God endowed talents to further his kingdom and loving the least of these. But what does griping, complaining, & self-loathing actually accomplish? Nothing. That's what it does -- nothing. There is such a sense of negativity that enters when we dwell on everything we wish we could change or don't like about this world, our situation, or circumstances. Somehow - it tends to become a bigger issue or a bigger problem, when in reality - it comes down to  not spending time in God's word to discover what he says about the situation or praying to God for guidance and for Him to be the center of our life.

Part of my hesitation in handing over my trust in God's truth & plan is fear. Fear of people rejecting me, fear of not having financial security, fear of failure, fear of not being equipped, just plain fear. I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as someone who is crippled with fear but I manage risk for a living. All my moves are very calculated, well thought out {haha or so I think}, and analyzed to ensure that my decision is safe & the outcome is certain. I am content being in this safe and happy place, but also not content. How is that even possible? What joy is there in being safe, reserved, & risk-adverse? So I guess I have been in denial. I am someone who lives in fear. I want to serve more at church, I want to be a bright light to my coworkers, friends, and most importantly my family, I want to love people really well and really authentically, and I want to know God’s word so intimately that it is written in my heart. I know God has laid these deep desires in my heart and given me a certain set of skills to bless his church body which have translated into a lot of dreams & ideas for our life. I know his truths yet my actions don't always follow. I would call that unbelief. Unbelief that His word is THE truth, unbelief of His promises for my life, unbelief of what I am called to do, just a pure heart issue of unbelief. 

So then what is holding me back? How do I reconcile this? How is my heart going to be transformed? The answer came yesterday by the way of Andy, yet again. Jesus is better. He is just plain better than all of it. I am going to hold steadfast to this truth & repeat it over and over again until it fully & completely transforms my heart.

You fellow work in progress -

Chelsea
 

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Social Media Low Down

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Social Media Low Down

In February - Ben and I sat down with our friend, Jack, to discuss how we could serve at Emmaus in a more substantial way. We originally went to discuss helping with administrative duties such as bookkeeping, organizing expenses, etc. and by the time we left - the Lord had completely changed the tone of the meeting. Instead I was going to serve in the social media & communication realm, as well as, event planning and coordinating, literally all my favorite things! I hadn't even thought of serving in this capacity. In my previous role as the Communications Chair at the Dallas IIA (a professional organization for internal auditors), I performed very similar duties which gave me a great foot in the door to running social media for an organization. I am so thankful for all that I have learned during my time with the Dallas IIA - but I am even more excited to use this experience for a mission that I am VERY passionate about. In addition - in my previous role as a Teaching Assistant and VP of Student Affairs for the UT Dallas IIA student organization, I planned many events such as happy hours, weekly corporate meetings, fun outings for students, conferences, etc. As I reflect on the last few years - I see how God placed me in the right places at the right time to gain experience in all these different areas that I am really passionate about and that I love. It took just a few people taking the risk on me and trusting that I could deliver the results they were wanting. I know this sounds really business-y but Hey I work in the corporate world so it is hard to change that part of me.

With all of that being said I am just completely ecstatic to serve in this way at Emmaus! Thus far - I have helped throw Easter brunch for about 50 people and a covenant member's party for about 40-50 people! I so enjoy this experience and opportunity and I find myself asking God to show me what I should do as a long term career. My heart just wanders. I want to be used in a radical way, in a missional way, and serve people every day, all day. I know that I am right where I am supposed to be in this moment though.

So with all that being said, I have been getting a lot of questions about how I create a lot of the graphics for our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts and I wanted to share what I have learned along the way.

VSCOcam: Most photographers know about this app. My sister-in-law, who is a wedding photographer, uses it all the time as well as my friend Brittany, who was in my community group in Fort Worth and is also a wedding photographer. I downloaded this app like 2 years ago but I had a hard time really figuring out how it worked and just kind of gave up on it. Brittany recently convinced me to go back to using it and even showed me some tips & tricks! SO thankful for her. One thing that is really important to dynamic and interesting graphics is taking some of your own original photos to use behind words or with other messages. I tend to try to capture beautiful skylines, outdoor scenery, or anything else that catches my eyes and keep a stock pile for future use!

Word Swag: BEST. PURCHASE. EVER. So keeping in mind that I do a lot of informational promoting, i.e. Sunday gathering time & location, event time & location, reminders, etc. so posting the core of your message on the graphic is so important! This appeals to users and catches their eyes so they will actually read what you have to say! This app is $3.99 and there are a few extras you can buy within the app for $1.99 each or so. I downloaded all of them and seriously best app purchase ever. 

Examples of past graphics:

Moves & Neighborhoods
Speak
Matthew 5:14
Your Actions Reflect Your Heart
Mountains
Suffering
New Member Lunch
Sunday Gathering
Power of Prayer

I hope this helpful to some of you who are starting your own blog, business, or providing services for a non-profit organization or a church! I am happy to meet with anyone at a coffee shop in Denver and give you some lessons slash show you how I do what I do on some of these apps! Also - if you aren't in Denver I am available for a Skype session or phone call! The hardest part of doing social media for an organization on a volunteer basis is the consistency of posts and developing your own original content. :) I recommend brainstorming, having people send you ideas, or if you are feeling really creative just make 5-10 posts to use over time for when you are really busy and its hard to think of something on the fly!

Follow us on Twitter at: @EmmausChurchDen

Follow us on Instagram at: @EmmausChurchDen

Like us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/emmauschurchden

Love to all and Happy {almost} Friday!!

Chelsea
 

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IF:Emmaus Denver Reflection

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IF:Emmaus Denver Reflection

So the IF: Emmaus Denver retreat was amazing! To give you a little background, the IF:Gathering is a conference, retreat-like, gathering in Austin, Texas. Their dream and mission is to be a group of women around the state, country, and globe that gather wherever you are and refocus on what believing in a holy God can do in your life. You can apply to be a host of an event, so one of the sweet girls at our church took the initiative to plan this whole weekend! We streamed the messages from Austin and were able to be apart of something bigger than just our little group of 21. We tucked away into the mountains in Cordierra, Colorado in an amazing, beautiful, just perfect mountain house that a friend so graciously let our group use for the weekend!

 
View from the Balcony
 
 
Snow with Rock
 
 
Antler Chandelier
 
 
Basement Fireplace
 
 
Bunkroom in the Basement
 
 
Basement Living Room
 
 
Front of House Facing Mountains
 

Here are just a few of the tidbits of truth, encouragement, and reminders that were bestowed upon us by some of the IF: Gathering speakers!

  • He has chosen us to be exactly where we are in this season.
  • The Lord’s hold on us is stronger than our hold on Him, and he has no intention of letting go!
  • God does good and sacred things around a table.
  • “You are working for our good. Even in the valley, you are faithful.” – music
  • Don't wait until you have full possession of knowledge to take full possession of God.
  • God is higher than us. Amen!
  • Set us free for freedom’s sake.
  • Give your heart permission to trust Him.
  • It’s safe to be faithful to a faithful God.
  • Be strong and courageous.
  • Our God is a God of “I am”.
  • We are unhealthily attached to the sins of our past. Leave it at the cross! It is time to move on!
  • Be willing to be a servant and an aid. Serving prepares you for what God has already prepped you for. Service is the key to destiny.
  • The call of God is inconvenient. We will be interrupted.
  • The Holy Spirit is a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind.
  • We need to be a generation that knows, loves, and breathes the word of God.

I had two real reasons for wanting to go to this retreat this weekend: 1) Spend time in God's word and get some sweet, everyday life type of reminders of what it looks like to live a life centered around what Christ has done for us and who he calls us to be and 2) get to know the women at my new church home! 

1.     As for the first and most important reasons I was drawn to this retreat, we did not truly “dig” into God’s word this weekend through the actual IF:Gathering teachings and messages. This retreat is more geared towards empowering women, lighting a fire in women to live a life for the Lord, and really just providing some motivation for women because let's face it -- life is hard. Like really hard sometimes! I think at this stage in my walk with the Lord – I am really more interested in truly “digging” and “unpacking” God’s word and learning the historical context, the theological and academic side to the scriptures, and really studying the bible.  Now I realize that this sounds more like a bible study or school like setting but hey that is okay! It is such a relief to say what you are looking for and just be confident in that. I know that that isn’t where everyone is at and I so appreciate that but that is what I am most looking for. Also – we did get to spend some time in small groups this weekend just talking through some of the ideas or topics that the speakers brought up which was so refreshing and really challenging to think through! So overall – the IF:Gathering is like most Christian conferences in the fact that it is pretty “over produced” and there were some not so authentic “emotional” speeches made BUT the Lord did show up and He wove together so many women’s hearts, grasped hold of hearts and changed lives, and also provided some great real life application of His word through some amazing speakers. On a side note, our favorite speakers were by far: Jen Hatmaker, Christine Caine, and Bianca Olthoff. 

2.     As for the second reasons I wanted to go on this retreat, I definitely got to spend some quality time with a lot of the sweet, sweet women at our church home! Wow – I was just so blown away after moving to Denver just 6 weeks ago and how open and accepting everyone is here. As our pastor’s wife says, “she hasn't met her friend quota yet.” Haha I just love that saying! I mean A. I don't think I could ever meet my friend quota, but B. What a refreshing reminder that we all have room in our hearts for another friend! We spent time talking, cooking delicious meals together, playing spoons, sharing testimonies, staying up late, getting in the hot tub, going into town to explore, going snow-shoeing, drinking lots of coffee and tea, praying, and laughing! I am just so thankful to be able to move from Fort Worth to Denver and already have such a strong community around me and women that I can trust to hold me accountable, encourage me, and do life with me. And I can also do all these things for them. I just could not have imagined a better weekend! God works all things for His good and His glory and this weekend was definitely one of them! He put all the right people there at the right time and just let all these relationships grow. Amen to that girls! AMEN!

 
Breakfast Girls.jpg
 
 
Saturday Morning Session
 
 
Saturday Day Session
 
 
Saturday Evening Session
 
 
Saturday Night Worship
 
 
Playing Spoons
 
 
Lightner Girls Cooking
 
 
Baldock GC Girls
 
 
Group of Girls
 

Love in Christ -

Chelsea
 

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