Have you ever felt overwhelmed by happiness?
I tend to keep my demeanor pretty even but on the inside I admit I can get pretty low. There was a long period of time I felt it was best to build a wall around my heart to protect me from my feelings. I figured it was the best way to cope with “all that mess.” Changing that practice has been a gradual process for me. I am letting myself live with an open heart again. I can trace the process of my heart unfolding right back to my SEEK classes with Lana Hukill, Tanya McLeod and Laura Balch (three amazing women leaders who impacted my small life in a big way through that single study group). I prayed every time I left our group to understand God better, to shift me from my doubtful place. I prayed for Him to soften my heart, a lot. A heart I so tightly packed away and cased inside of a hard shield that couldn’t be penetrated or hurt by others. A heart that appeared strong on the outside.
I don’t know exactly where my need to toughen my heart came from but I had done a pretty good job at it. I realized one day what I’d done was a mistake. I wanted to feel the world the way I once had, the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I wanted to live with an open heart. I knew I was meant to love this world in bigger ways.
In 2013 I had the beautiful opportunity to travel with a team of 24 people to Trujillo, Peru and things changed for me. Before we even got out of the country of Peru I had been asked to take the leadership reigns in 2014 as our 2013 leader was planning to move to Peru and work as a missionary with the very people we had just spent our last 10 days with. I can’t imagine my life without missions. It’s become so much a part of my heart that I just can’t but help spread that joy of service by helping anyone who has a desire to come to Peru with me to get there. Often the call on our hearts tests our faith because we don’t have the funds it takes for such a trip. (The Peru trip is $1,750 per person.) Many are young adults who are just getting started on their own with jobs that don’t pay much. The faith test is when they register to go on this trip with NO IDEA where the money to fund the trip will come from.
[Here’s the really cool part!]
When I said I wanted to go on a mission in 2013 I felt the call on my heart in a big way but I also have a husband, four kids and a tight budget. Did I mention that the call on my heart included taking my oldest son with me? Two trips (and at the time the cost was $2,000 per person). There was simply no way this was going to happen. However, I stepped out in faith and decided I would seek donors to fund the trip for us. I just wasn’t sure who I would ask. The very next day I found myself sharing my heart with my co-workers. I told them that I was going to figure out a way to make it happen. Only a few hours later my employer called me into her office and offered to fund the trip. For both my son and I. You better believe I cried. I ugly cried. Right there in her office. I just couldn’t help it. It touched my heart…it may have melted my heart.
How could I not be changed by that kind of generosity? It’s been my calling to help my team raise their funds, too. I realize not everyone has connections like this one. In fact they may not have many connections at all but I do. I have a lot of wonderful friends and family that I hold very dear. People with big, generous hearts. How can I not share them with my new friends? My new friends who love to serve and love others just as much as I do, if not more? Trust me, as I watch these team members each year I am astounded by their ability to love and connect with others.
Today is one of those days where my heart is so full and I can feel it. I can literally feel the love pulsating throughout my heart and spreading through my veins and it is glorious. There were so many days of doubt and sadness that I never thought I’d get to this kind of happiness again.
This past weekend I hosted a birthday bash for myself that I like to call, Party for Peru.
I invited all my friends and what small amount of family I have here in Las Vegas and we partied for Peru!
The generosity of my friends supporting people with a similar heart for missions made my heart so very full. More so than a jar full of money, a full heart might be the BEST birthday present ever, friends.
I witnessed our team members getting to know my friends and family as new connections sparked around the space. Generous hearts on both sides of the spectrum connecting for a purpose greater than any of us can imagine. It overwhelmed me with joy!
I couldn’t have hosted such a spectacular party without the following incredible people.
I am grateful for my husband Dave who made the connection for me to Frank of Dom De Marco’s Pizzeria. Dave met him on a mission trip last fall where they built a home in Mexico. Frank had the perfect space for us and the weather was incredible. While it wasn’t Peruvian I think we can all agree that pizza and cannolis are perfectly acceptable for this hungry crowd. Frank’s team didn’t disappoint. Our guests were well taken care of the food was remarkable.
I think we can all agree, everyone loves pizza!
Special thanks to Chad of Las Vegas Packaging & Distribution for donating the funds to cover our food for the event. You take care of us in big ways. We are grateful for your friendship and thoughtfulness.
Brian Burge Photography for the beautiful photos from this event. You do an amazing job at capturing the essence of life in your photos.
Of course, my amazing 2015 Reach Peru team! Thank you for stepping in and helping with the registration, check-in, photo booth, photos, talking with our guests, playing with the kids and helping them make llamas and play headbanz while their parents enjoyed the party. I can’t wait to get to know each of you better and share this Peru journey with you this summer.
You haven’t missed out on helping our team get to Peru. We are still accepting donations to help our team members get there. The trip takes place July 30 – August 8, 2015. You can make your tax deductible donation online via The Crossing Reach Peru.
Stay tuned for my next post…What’s so special about Peru?