Nothing to prove.

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I’ve been reading “Nothing to Prove” by Jennie Allen for the past month and have felt like I’ve needed to share what I’ve learned so far. Her honesty, vulnerability, and love for Jesus make me feel seen and excited. I wish I could just go ahead and quote half the book to you, but that may be considered plagiarism and would be a SUPER long post. So I’ll just say this…you’re going to want to read this one. Anyway, back to the book.

Jennie begins the book by acknowledging our human desire to feel like we are enough and to be fulfilled, striving in various ways to fill our void. “Here is the thing. The enemy promises water, but every time we go to his wells, they are empty. He gives us a sip of water, enough that we keep believing him. We have believed the lie that our cravings will be satisfied if we are enough and if we have enough. So we chase image, answers, things, people – and we wonder all the while, why am I still thirsty?” Yes! How many times have we believed a relationship, accomplishment, weight loss, or likes on our instagram post will quench us? How quickly were you parched again, striving for fulfillment? I’ve gone to those things for fulfillment, which is why I resonate so much with what Jennie is getting at. Jesus tells us to come to Him if we are thirsty and He will give us streams of living water. He tells us, “You will never be thirsty if you drink the water that I have.” He is abundant.

The most freeing quote that I’ve read so far was when Jennie says, “He is enough, so we don’t have to be.” Wow. Now, I knew this, but seeing it written so simply allowed the truth of that statement to sink in, which started to lift some of the stress I put on myself. She goes on to say, “I am not enough…it would be a terribly depressing thought – if it weren’t followed by the most freeing truth in all of eternity. God knew we would never be enough. SO HE BECAME ENOUGH FOR US. Jesus is our enough.” Not being enough is not a self deprecating realization, it’s just a part of being human. You see, I try to be enough and I never am. I’m definitely a striver. I worry about doing enough, being enough. What a weight is lifted when I realize I don’t have to be enough on my own!

In a later chapter Jennie talks about fear. Being the type A, striver that I am, I can relate to fear. I fear failure and often allow that fear to keep me from reaching my potential in different areas of my life. I can relate when Jennie says, “I know what it was for me. Fear. I refused to sacrifice the idol of people’s opinions. I was so afraid of the invisible thoughts of people.” She says this in reference to what it is that keeps us from fully going for whatever it is that God has called us to, using the talents that he has blessed us with. I’m still working on all of this; the fear, inadequacies, striving. Even now I’m questioning my husband after he just read this blog post, asking if it’s worth posting. But I’m pushing past my insecurities and pushing the publish button. Don’t allow fear to let you put limits on God, He can work through you. He tends to work through people that definitely don’t have it all together. You just have to take that step of faith, pushing back the fear and feelings of inadequacy. Because the truth is really this, “You are enough and you have enough because [HE] is enough.

There is so much richness in this book that I want to share with you, maybe another day. I will leave you with this: “There is no remedy for your striving apart from finding your identity in Christ. He is your enough, and the degree to which you believe that is the degree to which you will stop striving, stop performing, stop trying to prove yourself…It is in our letting go and in our trust that He rescues us.”

 

His perfect timing.

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 The Hebrew translation for praise in Psalm 63:3 is shabach, which means to worship God for who He is and what He has done. When my pastor taught our congregation about shabach two Sundays ago, I knew that this specific type of praise is what’s been welling inside of me for the past three weeks. This may come as a surprise since it was only a month ago that I shared that I was no longer pursuing a job with SIM. That decision was not made lightly, but made knowing that God would have something else for me…and He sure did.

For the past couple of months I have been talking with a non-profit, For Charlotte, about possibly joining their team. (The decision to no longer pursue SIM was not influenced by this.) God placed For Charlotte on my heart long before I knew I’d have the opportunity to work for them. For Charlotte strives to “unite the Church and transform the city”, which is evident in everything they do.

The week after I wrote to you about deciding to stop raising support with SIM because I felt that God was saying “no”, I was offered the position of Project Coordinator with For Charlotte. What has been so evident to me over the past month is how God’s timing is perfect. (The last time I was reminded of His perfect timing and how much patience is required to wait for it, was when Keith came into my life.) The past year has been full of transitions that have required trust. It has not been easy to get here, but it’s been so sweet to see where He has brought me. I’ve learned a lot about who God is over this past year and am so grateful for this season. I will shabach God for how sweet His plans are and how His timing is perfect.

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Go to forcharlotte.org to learn more

A new path.

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I’ve always tried to remain open and honest during this support raising season, even during the many difficulties I faced. It’s been a sweet time of reliance on God and required taking a huge step in trust, but has too often been discouraging and taken me to many lows. I don’t doubt that this has all been in God’s plan, but now believe that His 265A2193bwplan has a different route than I initially anticipated. After much prayer and discussion between Keith and I, we have decided to stop support raising, which means that I will no longer be working with SIM USA. This decision was not easy, but one that I am at peace with. With that being said, I believe that God is and always has been with me on this journey. I see how he has been growing and stretching me in new ways throughout the past year.
God put Lamentations 3:21-24 on my heart many years ago and it continues to encourage me and keep me going. Keith and I even had it as a part of our wedding ceremony. It continues to bring me hope as I now take a step of faith down an unknown path, trusting him to guide my next step.
 “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The Steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.'”

                               

                                To My Supporters.

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I’m so thankful to have this man by my side through all of life’s journeys.

     THANK YOU to all of you who have so faithfully supported me financially and/or prayerfully. Because of this new direction, you will no longer need to send gifts of support for me to SIM.   Recurring electronic check and credit card gifts will be stopped as of August 8, 2018. Gifts sent through the mail after this date will be returned to you. My hope is that I will use the gifts that you so generously gave to support a short-term ministry trip with SIM as the opportunity arises in the future. I will update you once those plans are made, but expect that trip won’t happen until next summer.
with joy,
Taylor

Ask and it will be given to you.

aandt   Throughout the past few years I have prayed through the lyrics to “Oceans” by Hillsong United. I’ve prayed that God would expand my trust in Him. I’ve prayed for the Spirit to “lead me where my trust is without borders”. I’ve asked God to “let me walk upon the waters wherever (He) would call me”.
And He heard my prayer and has called me to trust Him with everything. He has called me to serve at SIM and trust this process. Raising support requires me to fully trust God with everything; my career, my finances, my relationships, my future.
Trusting this way does not come easily to me. I like to be in control and take pride in being self-sufficient, not having to rely on others. Maybe that’s why God brought my fiance (Keith) into my life when He did. God has been teaching me to loosen my grip on control and accept help and love. God started preparing me to ask for and accept the support of others along this journey by starting with Keith, and first accepting his support. And this, of course, draws me closer to Christ and makes it necessary for me to trust Him with everything. This process is stretching, but I am so thankful for this opportunity, despite the growing pains that come from my human nature. It’s when we are stretched and challenged that we are able to grow closer to Christ, clinging to Him.
 I would be so honored if you would join me in this ministry by becoming a prayer and/or financial supporter. I cannot do it without you.

Become a part of my support team by using this link H E R E.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

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*Ministry Update Since last blog post*
Since getting engaged and anticipating my marriage to Keith this coming May, my upcoming work with refugees in Greece has been postponed. Keith and I spoke with leadership at SIM, and we all agree that it would be best for our marriage and my work if we wait a year before doing my short-term work abroad. However, if I am able to obtain full support by October, I will still be able to start working in the SIM USA office (which I can’t wait for!).

In case you’ve not yet heard Oceans….

A Season of Change.

taylor.skalaAfter receiving my masters in social work (MSW) in May I traveled to Ethiopia for a ministry opportunity with SIM before starting my job search. After returning to the States, starting my job search, and praying for God’s guidance; I felt my heart start to turn in an unexpected direction. I realized that there is only so much I can do for others as a social worker (a majority of which includes sending referrals for assistance) and that I want to love and help people in a far deeper way, by assisting in spreading the Gospel.
I have worked with SIM in the past, during both my work in South Africa and in Ethiopia. I appreciate SIM’s focus of responding to need, spreading the gospel, and equipping the church; along with their 125 years of experience in over 70 countries. When I met with my coordinators for my first trip, I remember admiring how they got to see how God was working in people’s lives and encourage them, while assisting in advancing the Gospel. During my job search I felt an urgent need to contact SIM and see if they needed more coordinators. I knew that this urgent nudge was coming from God and I would follow where He wanted me to go. As it turns out, there was a need for a coordinator…and so I began the process of applying to SIM. I have since been accepted to work with the recruitment and mobilization team and am now beginning the process of growing my team of prayer partners and financial supporters. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to walk alongside SIM workers as they prepare to enter the field and cannot wait to get started. In order to serve in this department of SIM USA, I need to have more overseas experience and am currently working with a coordinator to find the right three month placement. I will hopefully be working with refugeengaged.jpges in Greece for those three months, which will allow me to use my trauma training.
I am thrilled to announce that I am recently engaged and am so thankful for Keith’s support throughout this process with SIM. This certainly is an exciting season. It is a season of great joy and great change. I know that it is going to be especially important during this season to remember that God’s timing and ways are best. I am excited for the plans that God has for me (and Keith) and how he might use me in this ministry. I know He is surely growing and shaping me through this. Thank you to those that are taking this journey with me and have already started supporting me.

If you would like to become a monthly supporter, please use this LINK to donate. If you want to learn more about becoming a ministry partner, I’d love to get together for some coffee or tea! You can email me at taylor.skala@sim.org.

our God is able.

Isaiah 25:1, “Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, thigs planned long ago.”

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In trying to compile my feelings and experiences from Ethiopia, I’ve found that no words can fully capture them. The Habesha (Ethiopian people; pronounced Ab-ish-aw) that I worked with at Camp Langano so greatly embodied 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” I wish that I could fully express the warmness in their greetings, the sweet way they love one another, and how quickly they accepted and loved on me. My sweet Habesha friends love others well, challenging and encouraging me to do the same.

DSC_8637When listening to my campers and staff this past week, I heard stories of perseverance and great resilience. I met children who walk long distances to school, often don’t have running water, and in many cases-only have one living parent. But instead of seeing a lack of resources, I saw perseverance. Some children have been forced to leave their homes and families after deciding to follow Christ, if their parents follow another religion. I saw people relying on God and living out their faith in a bold way, a life-changing way. I know that I take so much for granted, often putting God to the side, thinking that I can do things on my own and forgetting how much I need Him. Often, comfort becomes dangerous, tricking us into thinking that we can control things without needing to rely on God. Thankfully, my time in Ethiopia reminded me that allowing Christ to guide my life leads to a sweet joy and fullness that is only possible through Him. Jeremiah 17:4, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

DSC_8730At camp I was lucky enough to hear some of the staff and coach’s stories and testimonies, which so clearly reminded me how big our God is and of all that He is capable of. I met many Habesha that were once Muslim, sometimes holding animosity against Christians. Many of them had opened the Bible to find ways to refute Christians, but through God’s grace, what they intended to use for destruction, God used to soften their hearts. One coach spoke of experiencing joy for the first time once he began reading God’s word. In this I am reminded of John 4: 13-14, “ Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” DSC_7897I heard many amazing stories of Habesha men and women coming to faith, reminding me of God’s greatness. I think that we often ask too little of God. Maybe it’s because we’ve forgotten that He can part seas and change hearts. Or maybe it’s fear that keeps our prayers small, knowing that great growing pains accompany His great works. Matthew 17:20-21, “…Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  I’ve also been reminded that the joy of following Christ is worth any suffering that many accompany it. His plans are so much better than ours. I am so grateful for these reminders and for Ethiopia.

 

Here are some of the sweet people that I have come to love. (You can click on the images to enlarge them)

Life.

19AB4960-0CB9-4F62-8A6B-27B72F56B568It’s so odd how life can pass so quickly, yet slowly at the same time. I can’t believe that two years ago I was leaving for South Africa and planned to start Grad school in the fall. I also had a heart that felt broken and was sure no one could love me again. Now I have graduated with my MSW from UNC Charlotte, am about to return to Africa (Ethiopia this time), and have found a man who points me to Christ and is the love of my life. Through all of it, good and bad, God has been good. I am thankful for this season in my life and that God has called me to simply trust Him. Romans 15:13 has recently been laid on my heart, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I’m praying this right now.

I leave for Ethiopia in almost 40 days…it’s feeling much more real. We bought our plane tickets last week, which felt like an awesome miracle. When we pulled the tickets up they had risen to $1,900 (about $200 more than we were expecting), but once refreshing the page we found them for $1,400, even less than we were hoping for! My last support update was from a week ago and I was at $1,540 raised so far. I am still needing a little over $1,000 (not taking into consideration support that has not been processed yet). (Update: as of 6/23, I am fully supported and have removed my support link). Thank you to everyone that has felt called to support me by prayer or financially, I appreciate you.