Cover to Cover of You

*This was originally a little paper I wrote for class, but I put a little twist on it. Hope you enjoy!

After hearing Sandra Kroupa’s talk with my class, where she said she “never defines the word ‘book,’ I am beginning to rethink how I myself define a book. Kroupa further opened the possibilities by introducing artist books, which completely reshaped the way a “book” is thought of and used. Artist books go beyond the paper and ink of our standard books and re-purpose them to be just as much a part of the story as the text itself. The physical object, then, has just as much to say in the story and actually adds to it. Artist books incorporate the reader, involving them in the unfolding and telling of the tale. I wanted to take this idea even further and create my own definition of what a book is: A book is a vessel for a story.

A book is something that carries the story. Most of us would think of bound paper as the vessel and a collection of words, usually unified and ordered somehow, as the story. But to think this way is very limiting. Vessels are all around us and can be anything. In the same way, stories make up everything and have many forms beyond just writing. Spoken stories flutter from the mouth of someone, unbound, and if impactful enough will make their home in the hearts of whoever listened; a story without a vessel. This approach to defining a book asks you to open your mind to finding tales in odd places, to creatively thinking about the world, and experiencing the power and beauty of stories in a new light. Once you embrace this you will begin to see “books” and “stories” all around you. 

Furthermore, this drastically broadens what can be considered a book. The artist books make things like a pack of cigarettes, a blouse, a board game and so on, all vessels that add to, and play a role in sharing the story. It is imperative that whatever the vessel is, it accepts that it contains a story and becomes part of it or else it does not work as a book. Even the books made of paper and ink do this. The cover usually has a picture, a title, excerpts, and quotes all of which point to the book embracing that it contains a story. 

You might be saying well then, by your definition everything is a book. In some ways I am. However, I am not saying that all these things that can be defined as a book, a vessel for a story, should be read as a book. My definition defines it as a vessel for a story, not a vessel with a story. You see, there needs to be some intentionality behind the vessel, a main purpose to serve the story. I believe that every vessel can have a story, for example a coffee mug with some writing on the front and a chip out of the top lip… is it a book? Well if the definition was a vessel with a story then yes. That chip, the writing across the front, the coloring and stains all point towards a story if you’re willing to let yourself be creative. However, is it a vessel for a story? Well, no. The primary purpose of a coffee mug is for drinking coffee and not telling stories. 

This definition of a book is quite radical. It is asking a lot of a person to think of books in this way. But I truly believe that wrestling with this idea will be interesting and expose you to a much more vivid and interesting world. Stories make up so much of what it means to be human. That’s why my favorite books are people, and the stories of their lives. We are all, as human beings, a vessel with a story. Things like fear and control keep us stuck trying to cross out old parts of our story, or trying to write ahead, go our own way and deny who we’re meant to be. Deep in our souls we feel our identity that has been divinely placed there, giving us purpose. We feel the burning of our story etched in our heart giving us passion for what we were created to do. The people who choose to serve their story, to embrace it, and be a vessel for their story begin to relinquish control of the pen and live in the current unfolding of their beautiful and intriguing life. Truly leaning into our stories has the power to inspire, connecting us to others while highlighting how unique we are. The true gift of embracing our story, however, is the freedom that comes from giving up the burden of control, and the love that is revealed for us in each and every moment from the Writer who is so, so good.

Thoughts on the Heart 3

My heart is a gift to God.

With Corona Virus running rampant throughout the world, people are scared. Covid 19 is devastating families and placing fear in people’s hearts, and a lot of us are asking what we can do. 

Man, everyday God is doing things in my heart. It is amazing following him. Every day he breaks my heart for others which leads to humility and makes me more humble. BUT HE DOESN’T LEAVE ME THERE. He fills it back up with passion and compassion which inspires me to help and care for others, and to savor every moment I have here on earth and the people I get to share those moments with. He fills my heart so full with identity in Him that I can’t help but overflow with joy and peace and be reminded of how blessed I am.

With everything going on, I pray that we can give our hearts to our creator because I promise you He will treat it for what it is, a gift. I pray that if you don’t believe in God that you give him a chance now. God is so present in the midst of suffering and chaos. His arms are open for you, always. I pray that we take our hurting hearts during this time and give them to God. I pray that we take our full hearts and use them to help our families, communities, and the world during this time. Don’t let your hearts be filled with fear but with peace that God’s got us and is using what the enemy intended for evil to bring people into His love, which is bigger than any fear or obstacle we will ever face, Covid 19 included. 

Gosh man, my heart. It aches for those hurting, yet is full from God’s gracious love. I am open to God using me to help however He wants during this time. Maybe He will use these words to bring peace into some people’s hearts. I am praying for you all. I pray that you don’t think your role is unimportant in stopping Covid 19. Distancing yourself may seem like a small act, but it’s a huge act of love to your neighbors right now. 

Events like this sometimes help us to see the important things in life; family, love, identity. God can be all those things and more for you if you let Him. Spend this time with family, helping how you can, and consider gifting your heart to God. You don’t need to wrap it and place a bow on it or wait for it to be in better shape or until it’s in worse shape, hand it over to Him now and see what He does with it. 

I give my heart as a gift to God and He returns it to me more full than when I sent it.

God is a gift to my heart. 

PACE

New Depths & Final Thoughts

I have learned a lot about what it means and looks like to approach PACE like Jesus, and I am thankful for each of you who have tagged along. Hopefully, there was value in this for you as well. Being present is so important. It helps you connect with life, with Jesus, in the people and things around you. You get the most out of each moment and begin to realize all the opportunities that God has placed all around you. In this final post about PACE I want to share a few final thoughts I have discovered through addressing hurry in my life.

•      •      •

When I started this series, I thought it would be really cool to make PACE an acronym and I have come up with two that I like.

Patient
Atmosphere for
Christ to
Endeavor

I like this one because I think that when you slow down and become present, you really are creating the space needed for Christ to do really big things in your life.

People,
Atmosphere, &
Christ
Engaged

This one sums up what it means to be present. It means allowing your pace to encompass people, your surroundings, and Christ and then taking that final step to engage in them. That’s being present.

•      •      •

I am not the first to address hurry in life, or to look at it from a Christian perspective. This last summer, before I really started to look at the pace of my life, I got a tattoo. It is of the lyrics from one of my favorite worship songs, Not in a Hurry by Will Reagan and United Pursuit. In musical notes it says some of the lyrics, “I’m not in a hurry.” The tattoo is on my forearm, in a place where I see it all the time and it is a great reminder to be present. I notice it often, and I saw it while I was working on the previous post. I smiled and realized that God has been putting this topic on my heart for awhile now. I looked back over the chorus of the song, and it is all about being in the moment with God.

I’m not in a hurry
When it comes to your spirit
When it comes to your presence
When it comes to your voice
I’m learning to listen
Just to rest in your nearness
I’m starting to notice
You are speaking

These lyrics are beautiful, and I think they hit it right on the nose: When you slow down, become present, and rest in His nearness, you begin to hear Him more in your life. I believe that you begin to start seeing the world and experiencing the world the way Jesus intended it to be; beautiful, rich, and deep. There is a depth that comes from being present. It deepens your calmness turning it to peace, your compassion turning it to love, and your happiness turning it to joy. When you lean into the life that God has for you by being present, your life becomes deeper giving you a new capacity to be full. Life becomes more meaningful.

My prayer for you is that you begin to really address hurry in your life. I pray that you lean into God and rest in His nearness, that you give Him all your thoughts and moments, and let a new depth be created in you so that you can have your heart filled like never before. I pray that you slow down your life and walk with Jesus so life doesn’t pass you by. I pray that you are able to get the most out of every encounter and that everything you experience will remind you of your potential, your purpose, and how loved you are. Thank you so much everyone. As always, much love.

PACE

Addressing Hurry 

As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted on my blog in awhile, about a month. My usual goal is a post every Friday, but I’ve just been really busy. This last month has made me start thinking about hurry in my life. So, I am starting this series called PACE, which is going to be entirely spirit led, meaning it may get messy and unorganized, however, I want to extend an invitation to you to join me on this adventure as I continue to lean into what exactly hurry is, how to address it, and how removing it from my life will affect me. 

The talk all started in Vancouver B.C with my small group where we talked about John Mark Comer’s book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, and listened to the first episode of a podcast, Fight Hustle, End Hurry, where him and Jefferson Bethke talk more on the subject. I haven’t gotten into them yet beyond what we listened to and talked about yet, because I wanted to explore this topic for myself first. I can honestly say that I am beginning to really realizing the truth about hurry; It deprives us of life. Think about how we treat people when we are in a hurry; rude, closed off, and selfish. It’s not necessarily our fault either. Society demands us to hustle, rewards us for not resting, and encourages us to hurry hurry hurry! But that’s not the life God intended us to live. Even if you don’t have a relationship with Christ, taking time to rest and slow down will help you get the most out of this beautiful life and fill you in new ways. But for the purpose of this post I want to look at how Jesus lived. What was Jesus’ pace?  

I believe that there are three ways in which a person can hurry; Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually. Physically hurry looks like actually moving your body, fatiguing your muscles, an action that will eventually lead to exhaustion. Mentally hurry is when your mind is too focused on the past or present, your thoughts are unclear and scattered, you aren’t giving attention to what you are doing in the moment. Spiritual hurry looks like focusing on your own wants, being caught up in the daily routine, not prioritizing the Lord. I would like to disclose with you some of the factors that contribute to a quickened pace in any, or all, of these. 

  • Selfishness
    • Prioritizing our own agenda makes anything that presents itself a nuisance to us. It’s okay to have our plans but if we let them lead our life, with no room for interruption, then we will constantly be in a hurry.
  • Conforming
    • Rushing to be who others want us to be. Feeling like if we don’t have that job, look a certain way, have certain possessions, know specific things, that we are inadequate. Feeling like we have to get to a certain place before we can really start enjoying life. We are in a hurry to fit in. 
  • Procrastination
    • Not dealing with things that are important. When we put off the things that really do need our attention it can lead to anxiety. It can become taxing mentally, mulling over these things, and cause us to feel rushed. 
  • Over stretching 
    • On the surface level, this can be just trying to do too much. However, on a deeper level I think that this can look like living in the future, or trying to reach far beyond the community and atmosphere that you are presently in. Your mind and spirit are thinking about things beyond your control, beyond your environment. 
  • Worry
    • We don’t have peace about the future. We feel like something is wrong, so we extrapolate what might happen, what might be done or said, and we hustle through the moment so that we can get to and over whatever has us worried. I think procrastination can lead to this very easily. 
  • Technology 
    • I listed technology here because I think that it has the ability to contribute to all of these other factors. It’s very easy with social media to fall into conformity and procrastination. Through technology we can live in the future, over stretching ourselves and taking away from the present. 

Looking to Jesus’ life you can begin to find the remedy to all these factors that cause hurry. One thing that I find through scripture is that Jesus embraces interruptions. When people and opportunities present themselves, Christ uses them to build people up, speak truth, and spread love. I think a really good example of this is right before Jesus feeds the five thousand. Things are getting crazy; Jesus and the twelve disciples have been going from village to village teaching, Jesus has been performing miracles, and John the Baptist has just been beheaded. Things are chaotic! But look how Jesus responds. 

Mark 6:31-34 (NIV)

31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.                                                                                                            

The first big takeaway from this verse is that in the middle of all this chaos, Jesus recognizes that rest is needed, and addresses it. In fact, Jesus can be seen at multiple points in the bible taking time away in nature, to rest, which looks like drawing near to God (Luke 6:12). The Lord takes time to seek out solitude and repose, yet we often say that we don’t have time to do the same. We postpone it, say we will rest later, and keep pushing ourselves. What would our lives look like if we approached rest the same way that Jesus did?

Through this verse we also see the ultimate answer to ending hurry in our life: Be present. Jesus is always in the moment, aware of the beautiful environment and people that God has surrounded Him with. I believe that Jesus has addressed hurry very well in the sermon on the mount, specifically in the section Do Not Worry (Matthew 6:25-34). I highly recommend reading the entirety of this section, as it addresses hurry on many levels and is at its core, a call to be more present. There is a lot to unpack in these verses, and I want to leave them for the next part of this series, but put them here so you can reflect over them. 

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.                                                                    

The enemy wants us to run through life, to sprint to the finish line. I have often heard Christians say that life is like a race, that you are running to get to Jesus as fast as possible. But, sprinting to Jesus is like sprinting to the present; You’re already here so stop running, stop hurrying! Instead, enjoy His company, in His beautiful creation, unwrapping His beautiful gift called life, every… single… day. When we live each moment walking and holding hands with Jesus, days are long and full. I want to savor every single second while the Lord has me here on Earth. I am in no rush to get to the finish line because Jesus has already made it to me.              

I pray that you embrace the interruptions that come your way, seeing them as an opportunity to spread joy and bring peace. I pray that you take the time to rest, to draw near to God. I pray that you leave here aware of the dangers of hurry, and what might be causing them. Most importantly, I pray that you leave knowing that the key is Jesus… it is always Jesus. By giving our attention to Him we begin to become present. I believe that being present looks like first turning inward to Jesus in you, to the name He has called you, to the life He has placed in your heart, to the characteristics that He fills you with, and letting that become your identity, your mindset, and your viewpoint. Then,(This is the really cool part!) take that and spread it to everyone and everything that is in your surroundings. Pour it out into the strangers you pass, the friends and family that walk with you. See it in the gorgeous gift of nature, in the trees, the sky, in the fields. But first, see it in yourself. Through being present in this way, each day, each moment, will be deeply filling, and you will begin to tap into the rich depth of life that God has intended for you.

I look forward to exploring PACE more in the next post with you all. I am learning a lot and hope that you can find something of value here as well. I want to leave you with a few questions that are on my heart, ones hopefully I will be able to address in the next post, along with the verse Matthew 6: 25-34. 

Questions

  1. How would Jesus handle technology? Is using technology ever living in the present? For example, when I call someone is that being present?
  2. Is presence a scale? Are there things that would be considered more present than others? For instance, is a letter to someone more present than a phone call, but less present than a conversation in person? Or, is presence dictated by your hearts intentions? As long as you are connected to God, is anything considered being in the present?
  3. Lastly, what is the relationship between spontaneity and living in the present?

Thank you so much for your time. Please, let’s continue this conversation! If you have any questions please send them my way. If you are really looking forward to more on this topic let me know, it means a lot. If you feel like this post has impacted you then I encourage you to share it. Once again, I am really excited to lean more into this conversation with you guys! As always, much love!

John Mark Comer’s book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: https://www.amazon.com/Ruthless-Elimination-Hurry-Emotionally-Spiritually/dp/0525653090

The Podcast, Fight Hustle, End Hurry: https://open.spotify.com/show/4RVAv8IK4vWARCmRP18f8D

Here’s a link to my Small Group Retreat Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6IGQ9Tdkrw&t=1s

My Name in Christ

What does God call you?

I was recently asked this question, and my immediate answer was obviously my name. But then I thought more about it, and I wondered does God really call me just by the name I was given on earth? Is there something He calls me, that is beyond my body, beyond earth, beyond all that I know? Is there something He calls me that He has etched into my heart, a name that He has placed there to inspire me, reminded me who I am in His eyes, and to help guide me through life? I believe the answer is yes.

Upon further reflection, I drew up things like; son, family member, beloved, delight, and servant, however, these are things that He calls everyone who accepts the invitation into his family. To everyone, He calls us cherished, beloved, delight of His, servant to others, sons and daughters. These things are the Truths of who we are in the mind of the creator. But there’s something more. I think that sifting through those things, digging further into the love that God has for us, there is a name that is specific to you, hidden in your heart by God, that is your unique identity in the Lord.

Then it hit me. I found it at the core of my heart, the name that God had given me when He was thoughtfully building me up, a name that was a powerful ember that had been dormant until by the Grace of God I set fire to it, sparking passions, enlightening identity, and melting away through glorious light all the darkness that clouded my identity which society and insecurities had shrouded my heart in.

Storyteller

I had declared a while ago that I wanted to be a storyteller, but it wasn’t until this moment that I connected it with God. It was a word that encapsulated everything I wanted to do with my life and rang true when I said it. I want to be a storyteller. As I venture further into what that means and looks like, the word gets redefined and new meaning is revealed. Is it an adjective, a noun, is there more to it? My mentor who originally asked me the question has told me how his name Champion has changed from a noun to verb and I think that is amazing and shows how deep and intricate the name God gives us is. Now, just because I have uncovered a part of what I believe God calls me doesn’t mean that things have become easier, or my path has become clearer. Like I said, I am constantly learning more about what this means and looks like in my life. What it does mean though, is that I have a God who not only loves me unconditionally and has a plan for my life, but a God who has engraved into my heart an identity to embrace, one to help me share and look like His love, and to hold dear while I continue the journey He has set me on.

Taking the time to think about what God calls me has been a very rewarding and enlightening experience, one that has helped me understand God and myself in new ways. If you want to look more into what being a storyteller means to me, read one of my previous blog posts, What I Want To Be When I Grow Up.

So now I want to ask you…

What does God Call you?

 

 

 

Three Things that Will Bring Joy to Your Life

Lately, with all the rainy weather and gray skies of Seattle, I have been feeling down. The last six months I have been on many adventures, all over Europe, in California, and have been living the wild life that Jesus calls us to. My faith and relationship with Jesus was at an all time high, but now, being back in school doing basic and routine tasks I feel like I don’t have that fire I used to. However, I am getting back to that place and feeling better. There are three things that I have found are usually lacking in my day or week that when addressed, make me feel so much joy and peace.

    •     •     •

Community

The first thing that might be missing in your life that is causing you to be down is community. It is so vital to the well being of your soul that you spend time with friends. I think it’s easy to think that developing, and getting in touch with your soul, is something that you must do alone. Having fun with each other, having quality conversations, encouraging one another, or even talking about life, the time you spend with others in a healthy environment and mindset is so beneficial. Maybe you need to talk about life, or maybe you just need to let go and have a good time, either way this is something that is important in life. There are plenty of ways to find community; church, clubs, school, work, small groups, or even with family and friends at home. The main thing is that you are not alone, that you are with good company that motivates you.

Prayer

Sometimes you just need to talk to God. Keep Him updated and be real with him about what you are feeling and what’s on your heart. Sometimes you may just need to vent, maybe you just need to listen, but regardless you need to have that conversation. In this, I also include time for relaxation. This is kind of the opposite of community in the sense that it is a time for yourself to rest with the Lord, to recuperate, and realign with Him and His plan.

Scripture

You may need to get into the word! It is so full of truths and I can’t help but feel uplifted after I read some verses. Through the Word, my day is changed and usually the questions that I have are answered. Scripture helps me get to know my best friend and Lord better. It speaks life into my day, in a way that is so powerful and amazes me every time. It reminds me who I am, how I am cherished and loved, and that I can always abide in the Lord and have a place at his table.

                                •     •     •

I pray that if you are feeling down, sad, alone, that you take a look at your day, your week, your life even, and ask yourself which one of these may be missing. When you identify which one it is, address it, and I can guarantee you that your mindset will improve. Lean into the Truths of God, rest and prayer, and your friends, and life will get better. Praying for you! As always, much love!

Re-imagining Creativity

We need more creativity in the world. I believe that creativity is dying in a lot of ways. More and more often people are extinguishing the fires in their heart, the burning ideas and passions for life that they have, because society, religion, and family all tell them that it isn’t sustainable. They tell them that they need to make money, they need to be safe, they need to be wise, they need to be educated, they need success and I will admit that sometimes the motives behind these claims are armed with the best intentions for the individual. However, I think that pursing the creative passion that is in everyone is so valuable not only to one’s own self, but to the world. The actual definition of creativity is “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” I think this is great, but the way I see creativity is as an outlet, a mode, to put forth your passions. It is a way to express your passions, who you are, for the world.

Creative works take on many forms, and I have often asked myself what the best way to express an idea is. For me, I have considered video games, drawings, paintings, pictures, film, animations, poetry, prose, and short stories among the many options. What I have found is that through each form I have learned more about this idea in my heart, and through creative experimentation I have found out more about myself and others. I have seen people express this same idea in a different form and felt the powerful connection of two people with the same burnings to understand something in their heart. It is through pursuing creativity of your passions that you begin to see the connection you have with so many others. When people find the perfect creative template to a raging passion it provides a universal message to people. It is real, personal, and vulnerable. We need more of this in the world. It helps us to remember we aren’t alone, but on the same token we are our own unique self.

I know what some of you might be saying, I don’t really have a creative side or art isn’t really my thing. I would beg to differ though. Everyone has creativity in them, and they express it differently. Creativity can be a mindset. Creativity looks like being a problem solver, taking risks and looking at things differently, and being okay with being different. There are limitless forms to creativity and you can implement that mindset right now, where you are. In work, with your family and friends, and in your personal life. However, I would urge you to really listen to your heart for the embers you still have flickering in there that are waiting to be kindled. I urge you to listen, and then act, all while applying a creative mindset to that passion that, with some nurturing and attention, will be erupting into powerful and life changing differences in your life. I believe that you can be very successful and happy in life when you fuel your passion with creative power. We need to continue to invest in creativity, to spend time pursing it in our own hearts, and help to encourage and facilitate it in others.

The Unbound Journal 5: The Finishing Touch

Welcome to the final post in The Unbound Journal. I appreciate you going through this series with me while I experimented with writing about something a little different than usual. Hopefully you have started to think differently about what your journal can be and ways in which to make your journal something valuable that you can cherish for years to come. In this final post I want to go back to basics of journaling and the core foundation behind it. You should write things you want to remember, real things, or write down everything, and keep it simple, or make it elaborate, do lists or write paragraphs, the point is your journal is yours and everything I have said are just ideas. What you write, how you write, that is you and your voice, and I encourage you to continue to listen for it as you journal. Don’t be afraid to be creative, messy, and fun. Some small additions that I like to add are dates, which are nice to look back at later, color schemes with colors representing certain things (I have also used charcoal, highlighter and sharpies aside from the normal pencil or pens), or even drawing a picture to represent an idea rather than words. A journal is a canvas for creativity and remembrance that represents you, your life, and your voice. You should already enjoy the process of journaling, but if you follow all the advice I have given you, you should have a journal that you will enjoy for a long time. Thanks again for reading and being a part of this community. As always, much love!

The Unbound Journal 2: The Space In-between

Once again, we are talking about how to make the most of your journal. Your journal is more than just pages, and one of the biggest ways to drastically increase the fullness of it is to start looking at the space in-between. Go beyond just writing on pages and start looking at all the other areas you can add to. For example, my current journal has a band to hold it closed and a book marker attached to it. This space to be taken advantage of! Don’t let it go to waste. On the band and book mark I wrote encouraging words that are easily visible before I even open my journal. This adds flavor and makes your journal exciting. I have written all over every part of my journal and it makes it so much more stylized than just uniform writing on each page. The inside of the covers are great places to write things as well, and one of my favorite places to write things is along the sides of the paper when the book is closed (the image for this post shows what I mean). Don’t let any space in your journal be overlooked. Look for creative places to add more character to your journal. This will fill your journal with lots of little nooks and crannies of things that take it above and beyond and make it a little more unique and special. I hope this short and sweet tip helps you create a journal that is truly your own. Best of writing, and Much Love!

Faith Moving in London

Finding a church community abroad was something that I thought would be very difficult to do. However, I really wanted to experience how churches in a different country operated, how they were the same, and how they were unique. So I made it a personal goal of mine to seek out churches in London. I wanted to see the impact culture had on how things ran. As of writing this I have come across two churches, one recommended by a mentor and the other by chance, and  experienced Jesus in two drastically different ways.

The first was at a start up church called Trinity Central London formerly known as the London Underground Church. Started around 5 years ago, Trinity Central is a very small church with an average of around 20-30 members. It is planted in the heart of the city centered between three main tube stations on the outskirts of Trafalgar Square. Honestly, I loved it. There is an intimacy that can be hard to find in mega churches, but with a church this size you get to know everyone very well and very quickly. They embraced me and got to know me, and that’s something I really appreciated. Opening up with them was easy because the environment was so inviting, and they were very kind in letting me in on all the activities they had planned. I even got to play the lead worshipper’s guitar after the service which I had been craving since I left mine back home in the states. Something the head pastor asked me at the end of the service that really stuck with me was How can we serve you? What can we do to help you and make your time in London the best it can be? Loving to serve others is one of the most impactful things I have learned in following Jesus. It is so filling and makes massive impacts in peoples lives. To find a church that fully embraced that and lived it out was extremely heartwarming. One thing that was evident while being at a church of that size is the urgent need for Jesus in London. So many people still need to hear about the life God has in store for them if they want it.

My other experience was completely opposite from the one I had at Trinity Central, and how I found it was extremely random and lucky. It was a Sunday and I wanted to explore London a little more, mostly go shopping and find a new coffee shop. My plan was to check out the area around Trinity Central, but I got very mixed up on the tubes and ended up pretty lost. On my way out of the station I passed a huge sign that said Hillsong London Church. Now I have heard of Hillsong Churches but never been into one. As I passed by, I saw that a service was just about to start. A few greeters at the front were quick to welcome me in and point me towards where the main service was taking place. Like I said, I had heard of Hillsong Churches but never experienced them. I knew they were a big church with massive services and awesome worship. Immediately when I walked in, I felt the base from music and heard the faint sounds of worship already starting. As I was walked down the hall there were more greeters and people who looked like security guards smiling and guiding me. My excitement started to sky rocket as the music grew louder and I heard more and more voices singing. The hallway came to an end at two huge double doors and a young woman standing in front of them said Hello, and welcome to church and she pushed the double doors open and I was flooded with singing and music. I stepped in to overlook a sea of hands raised in worship all leading up to a huge stage with brilliant lights and a worship team giving a concert-like performance. Waves of joy and excitement washed over me. My arms filled with goosebumps rippled with tingly elation. I was paralyzed with awe and wonder at how many people there were and the energy in the room. I stood there for a moment trying to process everything I was seeing before me. Eventually the same woman that let me in came up to me and said Let me help you find a seat. She brought me up to the front and from there I could see that not only was this huge theater filled with people, but there were two balconies with people as well. I was just so amazed by the whole experience, and so astonished that so many people had come together to worship Jesus in London. It wasn’t as intimate as Trinity Central, but it was powerful. Afterwards, I talked with the woman who let me in and found out that they weren’t even supposed to be at that location. There normal building had to go through some renovations on short notice and so they ended up finding that theater for the day. It blows my mind how things like that happen— That I would get lost and that their church would be relocated right on the path that I stumbled upon.

What I learned from both churches is that yes, there is a massive need for Jesus here still, but at the same time God is moving London. He is working in big ways and subtle ways but his love for us is active. I also learned that no matter the culture, the environment, or the community if people truly are followers of Christ there won’t be to much difference between them. I felt welcomed, accepted and loved in both churches. I saw communities ready to share His story and I experienced his love in new ways, and that makes me incredibly happy.