"But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear."
2 Timothy 4:17

Thursday, August 29, 2013


     Is summer really over? It's hard to believe that I am back in Atlanta, working and preparing for my last year of undergraduate school to begin. My time in Oklahoma will forever have a place in my memory and the people I met there, a place in my heart. I apologize for going so long without posting. My last few weeks serving were very challenging and I am still processing all that I learned at DaySpring Villa. I heard from a few people that I might experience culture shock when I came home and even though it is hard to explain or comprehend, it was certainly a struggle. Living, working, eating, and breathing all in one place for 2 1/2 months and then being dropped back into reality had a stronger effect on me than I imagined. Thankfully, I am almost fully adjusted back and I starting back to work and school has helped me adjust even more.
     So you must be wondering what happened my last couple of weeks in Oklahoma? A great deal! I was on overnight shift, for one thing. That was interesting. Haha. It was super chill for the most part. However, one evening I had to break up a fight between two of the guests. Thankfully, two other summer girls were still in the office with me when it went down and the three of us were able to separate them and get everyone to bed. A few nights later I was readjusting to sleeping at night and we had a tornado warning followed by the fire alarm going off the next evening.

     I became really attached to a few of the guests and leaving them was extremely hard. Now that we no longer work there we cannot stay in contact with them and if we call to ask staff all they can reply is that they cannot "confirm or deny" that they have a guest by that name. In other words, it is extremely hard to find out what happens to these women. And that is deeply difficult for me because I ran alongside these women for two months, struggled the ups and downs of their lives with them and I want to know what becomes of them, I want to hear about their successes. This is the part where prayer and faith in the Lord truly comes into play. If I didn't lean on Him this summer, I definitely have to lean on him now.

     The women I met at DaySpring are some of the strongest, hard working, courageous, faithful women I have ever come in contact with. They have made such a powerful impact on my life and I cannot thank them enough for it. I will forever tell my story of DaySpring Villa and the impact that it has had on me. I praise God for giving me such a unique opportunity this summer!

ALOHA (A Life Of Hope Ahead) Bracelets 
All of the Summer Girls at the airport on our last day

     You may be wondering what happens next? That is a great question, thank you for asking. To be quite honest... I have no idea! I am finishing up my time at Georgia State University this spring with a BA in Psychology. I know that God has given me a heart for children and I truly believe I will end up with the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS), but my tie up is grad school. I am still in the process of praying about going straight into it or waiting a year or two. Other than that I am still working and leading at the BCM, having a great time at my new second job with the Computer Information Systems Department of GSU, going to class, and trying to have some down time with friends and family.

     It's hard to believe that I am finally a senior and I am proud to call myself a GSU Panther. God has blessed me in so many ways these past four years and I am excited to see what He has in store for the years ahead.

Until Next Time,

"The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does." 
Psalm 145:17

Becca, Gracie, Me

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Freedom in the Lord

     God has given me quite a few unique and special moments with the ladies this past week. The Wednesday night bible study leader didn't show up and so three of us summer girls were able to give our testimonies to the guests instead. It was a great experience, although I got pretty nervous and sped through a good deal of my story. On Saturday night I had one of the ladies show me some fashionable hair tricks and we ended up talking for over 2 hours. She told me that a part of my testimony had really made her look at her life and evaluate how she wanted her kids to grow up. She ended up sharing her whole story with me and giving me a lot of insight on some of my own personal struggles. I am trying my best not to have any favorites, but there is definitely a special connection with her and I.

     Sunday morning came and I about had a nervous breakdown because my time to teach Sunday School, for our guests, had finally come. It was a very unique opportunity and I am glad I obeyed God, even though I really did not want to teach. As soon as I got up I confessed that when the teacher had asked each of us to pick a Sunday I knew in the back of my head that I was not going to do it because I hate speaking in front of large groups. But, when God tells you to do something, you do it. So there I was.

     After my confession I explained how God guided me to the topic of the lesson: Taming the Tongue. Before coming to OK I gave a small devotional in Proverbs about our words to the BCM leadership team. So that was already in the back of my mind. Then I started Googling topics and Taming the Tongue kept appearing. I finally asked one of the staff members what she thought I should teach on and Taming the Tongue was the first thing that came out of her mouth, without hesitation. Finally, the first video I happened upon compared toilet training a cat to controlling our tongues. And as some of you know, I toilet trained my cat about a year ago. I knew what He was trying to tell me :)

     James 3:1-12 was the focus scripture and the ladies gave me lots of great feedback. It went perfectly and we ended right on time. I am so thankful that God pushed me out of my comfort zone and got me to teach!

     On another note, last Friday we had a Domestic Violence victim come and speak with us and our director. She shared her story and how she had been in multiple abusive relationships. Two very big things stuck out to me during her story.

  1. Lying. Women who come from DV or abusive relationships have to lie. They lie to people around them to hide what is happening in their homes. They lie to protect themselves. And that lying becomes such an essential part of their survival that it becomes a part of other aspects of their life as well.
  2. Instigation. There are cycles to domestic violence.
    Women recognize this to an extent and the closer they get to the abuse (crisis state) the more likely they are to instigate it to get it over quicker. This happens a lot before big holidays. It also happens when the woman senses that if she waits for him to initiate the abuse it will be far worse. Many times, getting the abuse over earlier will save them from something much worse later on. 
     These two realizations broke me. They made me look at situations of people that I know and love differently and they made me ache for the women who have to live through these situations. It also made me very angry. Angry that the abusers make these women feel guilty, like it is there fault. And it isn't just through physical abuse. It can be through their finances, verbal assaults, neglect, etc. And on top of that, women who try to leave these situations are 70% more likely to be killed. No one should have to feel like a prisoner in their own home. 

     I know that when I go home in two weeks I will be much more aware of what is happening in the homes around me and I am thankful that God has taught given me this valuable asset. There is victory in the Lord and I am praying daily for women in these situations all over the world to attain freedom from their captors. 

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 
2 Corinthians 3:17

Teaching Sunday School

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Point of View

Point of View

     It's amazing to look back at the past month and a half and see everything God has taught me and brought me through. There have been so many breath taking little experiences throughout my time here at DaySpring, that it makes me feel like I have been serving here for a much longer period of time. I am back on the evening shift, which means I have more interaction with the ladies and children! As a matter of fact, I have been in childcare the past two nights and have loved every second of it :) I have a couple of funny stories to share with you about that later on. 
     We've been here long enough that the ladies are finally feeling more comfortable opening up to us and I am feeling more confident in God speaking and loving through me. I love each one of these ladies and their children and I know it is going to be very hard to say goodbye to them in a few weeks. I absolutely love being able to speak encouraging and empowering words into these ladies in the name of Jesus. When those moments occur I can feel the Holy Spirit filling me up in a way I have never experienced before! 

     I've figured out that Med Call is the best time for these Spirit filled moments because it is one of the few times I get to speak to the ladies individually without other guests around. Last week one of the ladies who has been struggling came to me and expressed that she felt like some of the other guests didn't think she was a good mother and simply made her feel inadequate. At that point God gave me the opportunity to share with her what a loving mother I had seen her be and that she is a strong woman in Christ! I tried to remind her that what the others had to say was unimportant because she had other goals and things to be focused on. Last night I spoke with one of our other ladies who explained how tired and worn out she was and how badly she was ready to move out. I told her that she was one of the hardest working people I knew and her smiling face always made my day. She started crying and reached over to hug me tight. I started praying for strength and peace for her and her grip got tighter and tighter as though she was holding on for dear life. It broke my heart, but served to further remind me why God has me here.

     My time here makes me consider how much I complain about such small issues, while these women are battling huge struggles on a daily basis. God is renewing my point of view and helping me see the bright side, even during the trying times. A favorite childhood song of mine comes to mind from the movie Elmo in Grouchland:

"Everywhere you look a story can be told
And the tales they tell are worth their weight in gold
In a place that's filled with mountains made of trash
Rotting castaways and broken bits of glass

I dare you
Take a look around and tell me that you don't see
Just a worthless pile of garbage and debris

Cause I see a kingdom -- Shining bright
And if you try, then you can see it too
You'll see the beauty, if you look at something right
It's all about your point of view
And life it's all about your point of view"

Vanessa Williams - I See A Kingdom

     It's amazing how much a positive change in perspective can completely turn your day upside down (in a great way)!

Story Time

     As mentioned above, I have a couple of funny stories from my time in childcare. Our first story begins with The Wiggles. Yes, The Wiggles. One of our kids was standing in his usual spot, approximately 3 feet from the TV and dancing to this show. I caught a wiff, looked at him, and asked him if he had pooped. Without taking his eyes off of the show, he replied with a no. I squatted down next to him and asked him again. He slowly turned towards me with a sly and shameful grin and shook his head yes. It was so adorable I immediately started laughing and so did he. 

     The next incident occurred during out 4th of July picnic. Myself and two other summer girls were seated in the street waiting for the fireworks to begin. One of the little boys passed by and at the same time we all asked if he had pooped. He quickly came back over to us, put his index finger over his lips and said "shhhhh". Naturally, we all fell over laughing. Lastly, just this past Monday we were playing Simon Says during childcare when I smelled something a little funky. So I said "Simon Says, who went poopy?" All of the kids stood still and out of nowhere one of the toddlers hands pops up with a huge grin on his face. The kids all looked at him and immediately began laughing, as did I.

     When they aren't pulling adorable pooping stunts, they are being extra adorable in various other ways. Last night I had two kids on my hip the entire hour we watched them. We danced, we road invisible horses, we drank pretend tea, and their smiling faces made my heart melt. Being with the kids definitely confirms God's calling for me to work with the Department of Family and Children Services! On that note... it is wonderfully amazing how much I have heard God speaking to me this summer!

Prayer Requests

     Next Sunday I was asked to teach our ladies Sunday School class! Can you say nervous much? I had no idea what I was going to teach on so I started Googling topic ideas. Taming the tongue kept popping up and it made me think back to the short devotional I shared with our BCM Leadership before leaving for Oklahoma. It was out of Proverbs and a large part of it discussed the things that come out of our mouth. Later that evening I was talking with one of the house staff and asked her what she suggested and the first thing she said was taming the tongue! How awesome is that? Later on I wandered upon a video about taming that tongue that compared toilet training cats to how we tame our tongue. And the Lord knows how much of a cat lady I am and how I trained my cat to use the toilet last year. On top of that, one of the biggest tongue taming passages in scripture is in James 3. Two of our girls covered James 1 and 2 already and wanted to continue the book. Perfect? God sure is! Please be in prayer for me on this one, though. Speaking in front of a large group of people has never been enjoyable for me so I could use all the prayer I can get!

     Please also continue to keep all of the ladies and children here in your prayers as well as the staff. It is such a blessing to serve here and I pray that everyone reading this will get an opportunity to experience an opportunity to serve like this one day.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."
James 1:17

Until next time,

4th of July Picnic Pictures!

Monday, July 1, 2013

I gave in, and admitted that God was God

Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" Matthew 14:31

Jesus replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, 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." 
Matthew 17:20

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

     You think I would have learned by now that when God says He is going to provide, He is going to provide. But, to this day I still struggle with putting my complete faith and trust in Him. When I went to our SendMeNow Missions Interview weekend I knew He was telling me that He was going to send me to DaySpring Villa. I knew that He had great plans to use me here in Oklahoma and I prayed that if it was truly His will, He would work everything out financially and with my apartment situation. Well, He did end up sending me here, as I knew He would, and three days before I was scheduled to fly out I still had nobody to sublease my room for the summer... panic began to set in. Until that point I had been firm in telling people, God is going to provide. But when it got down to the wire and there was still no one, I broke down and vented my frustration to God and started searching for a back up plan. 
     About a week after arriving at DaySpring, my roommate called and said she had a coworker who needed a place to stay for the month of June (this happened about two days before our rent was due). I immediately thanked God and asked Him to forgive me for ever doubting His ability to provide. I spoke again with my roommate this week and her coworker will also be staying through July. God will always provide, even if it isn't on my specific timeline.

"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 then they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" 
Matthew 6:26-27

     Since that point, He has continuously been providing for me and all of the guests at DaySpring. It is amazing to be able to look back and see exactly how He was/is working. I can't explain the ways that I have already grown in Him since arriving in Oklahoma, but I can say that I am very grateful and trying not to take any moment for granted. I know that I will be sharing this summer experience for the rest of my life!

Another God moment: 
Cooking chicken stir-fry, from scratch, for 40 women this Sunday! Only two of us were on shift and this was our first time making this recipe. It turned out delicious and the all of the guests were complimenting it!

"I gave in, and admitted that God was God"
C. S. Lewis

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence. There is so much information regarding this topic that I don't even know where to begin.

Lets start with a definition -
Domestic Violence/ Domestic Abuse: characterized as a pattern of coercive behaviors that may include repeated battering and injury, psychological abuse, sexual assault, progressive social isolation, deprivation, and intimidation. Someone who is or was involved in an intimate relationship with the victim perpetrates these behaviors.

There are three main types of abuse recognized in domestic violence

  1. Physical Abuse
    • Examples: Verbal abuse, Threat of violence, Throwing an object, Pushing, Shoving, Slapping, Kicking, Leaving her in a dangerous place, Refusing to help when she is sick or injured, threatening or using a weapon, etc.
  2. Sexual Abuse
    • Examples: Criticizing her and calling her sexually degrading names, trying to make her perform sexual acts against her will, hurting her physically during sex, etc.
  3. Psychological/ Emotional Abuse
    • Examples: Threats of harm, Physical and social isolation, Extreme jealousy or possessiveness, deprivation, Calling her names and constantly criticizing/ insulting/ belittling her, Ignoring/ dismissing/ or ridiculing her needs, etc.

Typical Violence Questions and Answers

Who is the typical victim of domestic violence?
Although domestic violence victims are from every walk of life, there are some high-risk groups. Young females who are not married, females who abuse alcohol or drugs, pregnant females, females who witnessed domestic abuse as a child or was a victim of child abuse, females who marry as teenagers, and females who are pregnant before marriage are at a higher risk for domestic violence.

Why would a woman stay with a man who abuses her?
The primary factor is fear for her own safety and that of her children. Economic dependence, responsibility for children, and threats of injury are major factors in the decision to stay. Low self esteem, social/ religious/ cultural expectations, and love are also factors that may hinder a women from leaving an abusive relationship.  

Who are the abusers?
Abusers, as well as those who are abused, come from all age groups, cultures, economic and educational levels and religions. Abusers and the abused tend to come from homes where domestic violence and/ or child abuse took place. Typically, abusers are inappropriately jealous, "loners," suffer from low self-esteem and insecurity, and view violence as an appropriate way to solve problems. Abusers tend to blame others (especially their partners) for their problems. Along with adhering to strict sex stereotypes, abusers may also use sex as an act of aggression to gain control. Adding to the complexity of domestic violence is the abuser alternating between periods of abuse and period of tenderness and affection. These period are often separated by a tension-building period. 

National Domestic Violence Facts
  • One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. (National Coalition on Domestic Violence)
  • Violence will occur at least once in 66% of all marriages. (National Coalition on Domestic Violence)
  • Every 15 seconds a woman is physically assaulted within her home. (National Clearinghouse for Defense of Battered Women)
  • Between 2,000 and 4,000 women are beat to death each year. (National Clearinghouse for Defense of Battered Women)
  • A former husband or boyfriend kills each year 1,500 women. (Bradely Berry)
  • Four to five women are killed each day by their male partner. (Bradely Berry)
  • Up to six million women are beaten in their homes each year. Four million incidents are reported. (Bradely Berry)
  • Family violence kills as many women every 5 years as the total number of Americans who dies in Vietnam (American Medical Association)
  • At least 1 in 5 women treated in emergency rooms are there due to injuries caused by current or former boyfriend or husband.
  • More than one-third of pregnant women are abused. 25% of all battered women are abused while pregnant.
  • The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that up to 90% of battered women never report the incident(s). (Bradely Berry)
***The above information was taken from DaySpring Villa Women and Children't Shelter Staff/Volunteer Orientation Manual (3/13/12)

     This is only a small portion of the information provided to us by DaySpring Villa and an even smaller portion of the information available worldwide. The only way to stop domestic violence is Jesus. I know it sounds like a Sunday School answer, but until Jesus is in the heart of the abuser they will not be convicted of their actions and they won't have the Holy Spirit to guide them. I am so thankful for DaySpring, though. They are taking in these women in the name of our powerful Jesus Christ. I pray that God creates more of these shelters throughout Oklahoma and this country.

"Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as a weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." 
1 Peter 3:7

"Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them"
Colossians 3:19

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sex Trafficking

     Before coming to DaySpring, I had been exposed to the awful facts and information regarding sex trafficking, But, hearing about it and experiencing, first hand, the stories of women who have lived through it are two totally different things. Even though I cannot share these confidential stories with you, I can share the facts and statistics related to this issue. 

These statistics are directly quoted from a sex trafficking documentary called Nefarious - Merchant of Souls

I highly recommend this movie if you are interested in learning more about the various types and places of trafficking.

    Sex trafficking involves the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, or obtaining a person for a commercial sex act through use of force, fraud, or coercion (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). It is crime against humanity.

    Every year, thousands of women and children fall into the hands of traffickers in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is implicated by this injustice, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination. Slavery is still alive and well in our contemporary society.
  • On June 1, 2012, the International Labor Organization released its 2nd global estimate of forced labor (slavery) and trafficking in persons. The estimate is 20.9 million victims. The 2012 United States Trafficking in Persons Report used this estimate as the new global estimate of trafficking in persons. 
  • A conservative estimate of the number of victims of sexual slavery/sex trafficking globally is 4,500,000 (International Labor Organization, 2012)
  • 98% of all victims of sexual slavery/sex trafficking worldwide are women and girls (International Labor Organization, 2012) 
  • Sexual exploitation makes up 79% of identified forms of international cross border human trafficking, including prostitution, forced stripping, massage services, and pornography. (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, 2009)
  • Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 human trafficking victims are trafficked across international borders worldwide every year. (U.S. State Department, Trafficking in Persons Report, 2011) 
  • After drug trafficking, trafficking in humans ties with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world today. It is the fastest growing criminal industry. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011)
  • Most sex trafficking is regional or national and is perpetrated by traffickers who are the same nationality as their victims. (United Nations, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2009)
  • As many as 2 million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade. (U.S. State Department, Trafficking in Persons Report, 2011)
  • At least 15,000 people are trafficking into the United States annually. (U.S. State Department, Trafficking in Persons Report, 2010)
  • Estimates suggest as many as 300,000 children annually are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation. (Richard Estes and Neil Weiner for University of Pennsylvania, 2001)
  • The average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is 13- to 14-years-old. (Sara Ann Friedman for ECPAT-USA, “Who Is There to Help Us?,” 2005)
  • Nationwide there are fewer than thirty safe homes for victims of sex trafficking to receive treatment and services. This severe shortage regularly causes their inappropriate placement in juvenile detention facilities. (Streetlight Tuscon, 2012)

"You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more."
Psalm 10:17-18

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Serving at DaySpring

     The women that stay at DaySpring are constantly telling me what a top notch shelter it is. Many of them have stayed at other shelters and they always claim that DaySpring is the best one in Oklahoma. This is primarily because of the care of the staff and the upkeep of the facility. At our shelter the women are each cared about individually and we try to go above and beyond to meet their specific needs. On top of that, great precautions are taken to protect our guest's safety.

     Many of you have asked me what exactly I would be doing at the center and before coming here and completing my training, I had no idea! Now, I have been working about a week without a staff member supervising me and all that this position entails is beginning to make more sense to me. All of us summer missionaries (also referred to as summer girls) are considered to be on house staff. The job description that comes with the title is pretty endless.
Here is how I have been able to contribute since I arrived at DaySpring:
  • I have cooked and served lunch and dinner to all of the guests and staff (approximately 40 to 50 women and children).
  • I have cleaned, a lot. Haha. I've cleaned up meals, dishes, and a couple of bedrooms.
  • I have answered the phone and completed multiple phone intakes. (A phone intake consists of taking down information from a caller wanting to stay at the shelter.)
  • I have done administrative work, such as charting and putting together a chore list for the ladies.
  • I have administered medicine to the ladies (they are required to keep all of their medications locked up).
  • I teamed up with other summer girls and completely reorganized 10 freezers.
  • I have also watched many adorable babies!
We have four shift times and I have served on three of them: the 7am to 3pm, 1pm to 9pm, and 3pm to 11pm. We also have an 11pm to 7am shift, but we won't be on that one often, if ever.

     As summer girls, we are also in charge of putting together special events for the ladies. Last night we had Christmas in June. It was a blast! We had a Christmas feast, made a Christmas tree out of our hand prints, read the story of Jesus in the bible, made Christmas cookies, and every guest and child received a present. It was such a wonderful experience to watch them all open presents and be so very grateful for what they received. One little boy said "oh wow, this is too much!" It was so heartwarming to see the joy Jesus brought across all of their faces. We have a few more ideas in the works and I will make sure to let you all know how they go!

     My time here is flying by so quickly and everyday I am here God is making it less painful to be away from home. I still miss everyone very much, but I am grateful to have this unique summer experience! All of your prayers are truly making a difference and I thank you for them.

"In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge."
Proverbs 14:26

Until next time,