Tag Archives: serving

I’m Headed Back to Guatemala … in Less Than 12 Hours!

That’s right. I’m headed back to Guatemala … and my flight leaves crazy early tomorrow morning.

I’m so looking forward to seeing and hugging some friends from the last trip in February, reconnecting with some ministry contacts on the ground, and meeting and serving with this whole new team that the Lord has brought together (seriously, we have prayed HARD at several different points in the process for this specific team that the Lord has gathered!).

But really, I’m mostly looking forward to just being in the Lord’s presence in Guatemala again and to joining Him where He’s already at work there.

headed back to guatemala

A few weeks ago, I began to feel incredibly uncertain about this trip. I could not for the life of me think of one good reason why I was going. I have no doubt it was the enemy attempting to get in the way.

But the Lord has been so faithful to remind me in small and subtle ways … through His word, through prayer and communion with Him, through His people … of exactly why I’m going. As if I should ever expect anything less.

When I left Guatemala in February, I knew I was leaving a piece of my heart and a piece of myself there. I fell in love with that place, and more importantly, with its people. I had no idea if I would ever have the opportunity to go back. But the impression on my heart the whole way home was that if God opened a door for me to go back, I needed to walk through it. I just had no idea that door would be flung so wide open so soon!

So, I still don’t know the specifics of why I’m going to Guatemala for the next five days. But who needs that anyways? I know without a doubt this trip is a step taken in both obedience and faith. And that’s a pretty sweet and freeing place to be.

I’m expecting God to work in big ways … in HIS ways … even if they aren’t big by my standards. And I’m expecting to serve Him according to HIS plans … even if they aren’t at all like my own.

This trip is His, and I can’t wait to see how He furthers His kingdom in and through it.

Would you join me in praying for this trip?

that this team the Lord has gathered would serve as one,
that the Lord would go before us and walk beside us the whole way,
that we would have eyes to see where the Lord is working and willing hearts to join Him there,
that we would love and serve those around us with Christ’s perfect love and servant heart,
that in the moments when we fear our own inadequacy and weakness we would immediately lay our fears at the feet of Jesus and press on in His strength and power,
that lives would be changed, that souls would be redeemed,
and that the name of Jesus would be boldly proclaimed in all that we say and do!

Thank you so much for partnering with us in this way. Prayer is so powerful and it truly means more than I can adequately express to know there are so many people lifting up this trip who are equipped with that sort of power!

I am not planning to blog while in Guatemala, and internet access will definitely be limited, but if I’m able, I will post updates on twitter (@emily_gallimore) and/or instagram (@egallimore), and I will look forward to sharing more in this space once we return home.

Graffiti Summer: Silence Births Vision

We’ve been intentionally leaning in to the Lord and stepping out to serve where He leads for six weeks now. This is the last week!

Thank you for coming alongside and hanging in there with me!

This Graffiti Summer Study and Do has certainly been both a journey and a challenge. But as the formal study comes to a close, I pray our hearts remain in this rhythm of seeking and serving Him for a lifetime.

For this last week, we considered how Moses approached times of quiet before God, how he handled times when God seemed silent, and how we can be encouraged during such times as well. Check out Alene’s post here for more!

DO Assignment: Look back over the Graffiti study and consider whether God is being silent or if He has already impressed upon your heart what to do next. And then DO it.

graffiti summer - silence births vision

As badly as I wanted to begin this study with a neat and tidy post, I maybe even more badly wanted to end this Graffiti Summer challenge with a neat and tidy post, but the truth is, I still just can’t.

Because the questions, the struggles, the unknowns … they don’t end here.

But the One constant hasn’t changed: Christ.

And I can think of no better note on which to end this Graffiti Summer challenge than to once again recognize that I don’t have to plan this life around a particular ministry or place to serve.

Rather, I simply trust the One who calls.

As my life revolves around Christ, I trust Him to take care of the details … the how, the where, the when. He knows the seasons of waiting, the seasons of doing, and all of the seasons in between that aren’t so easily defined.

He alone holds the future.

So I want to continue doing. Not just filling my head with knowledge that never makes a difference. But experiencing a change of heart that can’t be contained.

And I trust Jesus to do that in me. Because I certainly can’t do it in myself.

And yes, sometimes in the midst of the heart change, God seems silent.

But I wonder if more times than not it’s because I’m expecting God to speak in a certain way while He’s attempting to show me something in a completely different way.

I may not have perfect clarity regarding where He’s leading and re-directing. I may only have been given a glimpse. I may only have the one next small step. It may all still seem hazy and shadowy. But even in that, I hear His voice. I see His hand at work. I feel His prompting to love and serve.

And through the help and words of a dear friend, I see that through all of it, He’s leading me into an ever deepening trust in Him and in His faithfulness and in His Word.

So in the moments when that feels like God is silent, I want to sit in that silence. To be in His presence. To trust Him fully. To rest in Him completely.

So that all that’s left is humbly and honestly seeking His face.

Knowing Him more. Surrendering once again to His will. His way. His time.

Because this life isn’t about me.

And as I listened to the sermon on Sunday regarding the freedom we have in Christ, I couldn’t help but see the connection.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Galatians 5:13 (ESV)

I’m free.

I don’t have to feel crushed under the weight of what I don’t understand in this life.

I won’t always know exactly where or how to serve. I won’t always get it right. But I can still live a life characterized by the love of Christ. By recognizing the freedom that is mine, by seeking first His kingdom, by stepping out and serving (in big ways and small) as He leads along the way.

So I keep seeking. I keep following where He leads. I keep trusting.

And He [God] said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14 (ESV)

Graffiti Summer: For Your Generation

I can hardly believe we only have one more week left of the Graffiti Summer Study and Do challenge. I hope the Lord is stretching and speaking to your heart as much as He is to mine!

Continuing our study on the life of Moses, this week we saw how the Israelites, while waiting to hear from God through Moses, took matters into their own hands and used their individual gifts to benefit themselves. Alene then challenged us to “get our eyes off ourselves and on to the hurting world God has placed us in” (go listen to Alene’s message here for more on this week’s lesson!).

DO Assignment: Take Isaiah 61:1-2 to heart and serve someone.

graffiti summer - for your generation

This is where I confess that (at least at first glance) I haven’t really gotten out to serve this week. Time has been limited and other life events have taken a priority position both mentally and physically.

And honestly, as I approached this week, that frustrated me. I just couldn’t see how I could add one more thing into my schedule, and that’s how serving felt. Like one more thing.

Oh, how quickly I forget when the Lord speaks peace and encouragement into me (as I wrote about here two weeks ago).

Why is it so hard to just sit in that reality?

Just because I happen to be going through a study that has a new emphasis and assignment each week doesn’t necessarily mean that the Lord’s answer for me right now, in this moment, is different than His answer was then.

It seems that far too often I’m so busy chasing the next DO that I forget to walk in the obedience of the just BE.

I’m afraid this all sounds very hypothetical, but it’s a message my heart desperately needed to be reminded of once again, and maybe yours does, too?

Because what the Lord is continuing to teach me as He’s drawing me close to Himself and leading me out of myself through this study is that the doing is always preceded by the being.

And yes, I know the point of this Graffiti Summer challenge is to NOT get stuck in the study part of our faith walk (hence the title: Study and DO), but serving just to serve, doing just to do, may still just be a change on the outside that doesn’t reach the heart.

And isn’t THAT really the point of all this? To be changed completely? To experience a deeper soul-level, heart-level transformation?

This doing for the Lord – moving beyond merely studying His Word to actually living out His commands – it’s not necessarily about what we do at all.

It’s more about how and why we do it.

And we simply cannot DO any of it without first being with and walking with Christ in the everyday of our right now realities.

So it’s about reorienting our lives off of ourselves and onto others. Every. Single. Day.

It’s about going through our daily activities and routines (because let’s face it, quitting our day jobs to go serve somewhere else just isn’t always a reality or even beneficial) with eyes open to the world around us and hearts filled with the love of Christ to serve others as He leads, directs, and prompts.

It’s about being intentional with our focus. With eyes fixed first on Christ in order to see people through His eyes.

We can’t keep doing the things we’ve always done in the way we’ve always done them. We have to be aware of those around us. We have to be willing to go into the uncomfortable and different, yes, but also to go into the safe and familiar with a different mindset.

We have to be willing to see people differently.

And while I may not always know how or when to step in and serve in their midst, this study is helping me to see all kinds of people differently … both those I interact with on a regular basis and those I likely will only encounter once.

To see their value and worth. To see them like I suspect Christ would. To see their physical needs, but much more importantly to see their spiritual needs. To see that they need a Savior just as desperately as I do.

And when our eyes are shifted off of ourselves, when our hearts are reoriented to serving others first, we begin to see needs and opportunities to serve everywhere and we begin to view the small moments that make up our everyday differently.

So this week, serving hasn’t been big or obvious or heartbreaking or well-defined, but maybe that’s okay. Maybe small moments like…

Sitting at the table and having a conversation with the AC repair man while waiting for the unit to thaw, or

Pet-sitting across town for a friend, knowing that far more time will be spent in the car than usual, or

Responding to an email to serve in a new capacity with a “yes” because it’s so obviously an answer to prayer

…really are enough.

And maybe part of the doing is found in the struggling and the wrestling of all this as we move – little by little – closer to the heart of the One who goes before, the One who loved first, the One who already knows, the One who IS.

Graffiti Summer: Broken for Others

As we enter another week of Graffiti Summer Study & Do, we begin by following Moses’ journey from fleeing for his life to encountering the LORD at the burning bush. Here, Moses is called to go back and serve his people. He questions and doubts, but in Moses’ own brokenness, God equips him for the task of going back and leading his people. Alene talks more about this here.

DO Assignment: Serve as you see a need according to what God has laid on your heart.

graffiti summer broken for others

But this brokenness for others. It doesn’t just happen in a week. Oh, it can happen in a moment of the Holy Spirit’s choosing. But it grows and builds and develops and matures over time. A lifetime.

I’m not exactly sure of the first time I experienced being broken for others … though that one evening at the men’s shelter in downtown Baltimore the summer after 8th grade stands out as a moment where the brokenness ran deep and stuck.

But while I can identify several poignant moments and seasons of brokenness since then, they rarely come when I’m overly prepared or looking for them.

Sometimes they show up in the midst of serving others. Sometimes they interrupt my vacation.

But they always seem to occur when my eyes are fixed on HIM. Not when I’m seeking out those to serve, but rather when I’m looking to Him with a willingness to join Him where He’s already working and a readiness to say “yes” to whatever or whoever He brings.

So as I prayed over the assignment this week, asking the Lord to show me where I needed to serve and who I needed to be broken for, His answer in the quiet of that night when sleep just would not come shouldn’t have surprised me.

He gently reminded me that I was already entering into a “different” place of serving out of brokenness.

The Lord has laid on my heart an area to serve that I can’t share here yet. But it’s not something I can just decide to do one day and then go do it the next. It’s one of those areas that will take significant preparation. And since I’m very early in the process, there are still a lot of little things that must be done.

And while it’s easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking I’m not actually doing anything because I can’t fully launch just yet, the Lord spoke encouragement to my heart that night that all of this preparation, all of these small tasks, are necessary. And yes, they do take time away from serving in other areas, but that’s okay. Because this is where He’s leading. At least for now.

Now, don’t hear me say this gives me a pass to not meet needs and serve others and get out of myself just because I’m preparing for something else. Not at all. But it does mean that I don’t have to try so hard and spend so much energy looking for the next place to serve.

Because He’s already given me a glimpse into that. I just have to be faithful in completing the steps of preparation and to trust Him as He leads to the final destination.

So this week, my DO assignment is to stop procrastinating (yes, just like Moses had to…) and send the next email and have the next phone conversation. To be faithful in preparing for this next assignment HE’S given.

What has He laid on YOUR heart?

Graffiti Summer: A God-Given Destiny

This week, the Graffiti Summer Study and Do chapter is all about being different.

After reading personal stories and then observing the birth and early life of Moses (see Alene’s post here for more on this), including the tension he felt between the conflicting cultures in which he was raised, we’re led to acknowledge our God-given differences and encouraged to step out and serve someone different than ourselves.

DO Assignment: Buy a $5 gift card to a fast food restaurant and give it to someone in need.

Graffiti Summer God-Given Destiny

I didn’t think I really minded different. And yet, I knew this assignment was coming, and truthfully, I dreaded it.

It’s not like the assignment itself is that hard. It’s just being interested enough in someone in need to give them a gift card, so they can have a meal. A time commitment on my part of maybe 5 minutes. But I just hated the idea of it. It seemed beyond uncomfortable.

I may have even considered throwing in the towel and being done with this study.

Not even kidding. This was hard!

And the more I tried to accomplish the task at hand, the more I wanted to quit because it just. wasn’t. working.

But before I get to that, let me back up for a minute.

I struggled with this assignment and got really hung-up on it mentally.

To begin with, ministry to the homeless just hasn’t ever really been my thing. It’s way outside of my comfort zone. And something I’ve only ever had minimal experience with.

On the other hand, I couldn’t help but think that I could do anything for 5 minutes. In the scheme of things, this assignment didn’t really require all that much of me. So although there was an element of fear and discomfort, I could certainly force myself to step over that for this one time, one moment.

But then I hated myself for rationalizing it that way. Were my motives really that far off? As if all I was doing was just getting through the assignment … something I had to do, so I could check it off the list, write about it, and move on?

And then beyond all that (or quite possibly because of all that), I spent a lot of time considering the value in doing this assignment. I “needed” to know the point. Because how was it helping anyone to just do something for the sake of doing it?

While I don’t discount the value in simply doing something Kingdom-minded out of obedience that happens to be completely uncomfortable, I tend towards serving in relationship-based ministries. I hate the idea of “hit-and-run” ministry, so often, if I can’t see myself in it for the long-term (or at least know someone else is in it long-term), I choose not to even start. Practically expressed, this means that typically either I establish and foster a relationship with someone myself or I partner with a ministry that already has a longer-standing relationship with a certain individual or community.

But I’m already serving in some of those ministries.

So not only is this assignment “different” because of the people I’m asked to reach, it’s also different because of the very type of ministry.

But so what? Isn’t that the whole point of this Graffiti Summer challenge? To DO something DIFFERENT? Following Christ’s example? Meeting a need?

And then conviction sort of hit me like a ton of bricks: although long-term, relationship-based ministries are incredibly valuable, the Lord doesn’t need them to move in our midst.

Sometimes reflecting Jesus to someone simply means stepping out in obedience (whether it’s comfortable or not) into one person’s life for one brief moment to bless him with no strings attached, no expectations, and no agenda. For either of us.

And the value in that? That particular someone gets a meal that day and gets to hear that Jesus loves him and sees him.

And really, how is that not enough?

Jesus did that. He walked and served outside of His own small community. He fed people. He healed people. He met their immediate physical need, He spoke His eternal message to them, and then He moved on.

Graffiti Summer God-Given Destiny 2

So, with that background in mind, I set-out to actually DO the assignment.

Hardest. Thing. Ever.

I’ve been trying for a week now to give a gift card to someone in need.

In all honesty, I haven’t driven that far off of my usual routes (which already take me back and forth across town several times a week), but there are a handful of people that stand on the same street corners that I pass on a semi-regular basis, and since I so often just drive past and ignore them, I thought this would be a great opportunity to actually take the time to notice at least one of them. To be intentional about stopping and blessing them with a meal.

But every time I approached the intersections in question, something happened to prevent me from giving.

One of the men left his corner for an apparent break, and by the time he came back, the light had changed and I was already running late, and in rush hour traffic, I knew I didn’t have time to make the loop back around. And even though he’s frequently on that corner, I haven’t seen him there since then.

At another corner, a different man left in the 7ish minutes it took me to go through the McDonald’s drive-thru to purchase the gift card. Since I had seen another man a few intersections up, I headed that way with my now second $10 gift card in hand, and he was gone too.

I’ve been armed with gift cards and kept my eyes open all week. And no one.

It should NOT be this hard to find someone who needs a meal!

So why WAS it so hard?

As difficult as it is to admit, maybe it’s because I tried too hard and not hard enough all at the same time.

Too hard because I was attempting to force and manipulate the circumstances to fit into my too-full schedule, so that I didn’t have to go too far out of my way and be too inconvenienced – I wanted God to work in my time frame in a way that made sense to me. I should know by now that God rarely works that way.

Not hard enough because maybe I wasn’t willing to go far enough outside of my comfort zone and my routine.


So this week, stepping out and serving “different” looked more like:

Engaging in genuine conversation with the barista at Starbucks – asking questions and taking the time to actually listen to her answers during a down moment on her Monday morning.

Putting a band-aid on a 3-yr-olds’ boo-boo. Which just for the record, makes it “All fixed!” His words, not mine.

Having a conversation with the man on the other side of the gas pump whose hands look like he’s been working on cars all morning. Sharing my blue pen with him and helping him find the auto part store.

Graffiti Summer God-Given Destiny 3

And then just last night, as I thought I had fully processed all there was to learn this week, as I thought I was ready to step out and try again, I learned that a man I barely knew passed away after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

I couldn’t help but cry.

This man, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, a man who likely wouldn’t even know my name, was a part of my own seminary education during my first couple of semesters as a semi-frequent and respected guest at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

His life reflected Jesus so well. And everything he said and did was an overflow of a heart that had lived it first and walked closely with the Father.

And yes, he did uncomfortable things and went to uncomfortable places, but I doubt he would have focused on that.

He just loved Jesus and loved people and lived a life of obedience and surrender.

I over-analyzed the heck out of this assignment, and none of it seems to matter now.

This life isn’t lived assignment to assignment. It’s lived in all out abandonment to and abiding in Christ. It’s being with Him … so close to the heart of Jesus that when He looks at those in our vicinity or across the world, those who are very similar to our own background or those who are a world apart, and says “That one,” or “Those people,” or “Go there,” or “Do that,” our hearts are in a state of readiness to hear it clearly and to just say “Yes.”

Maybe a “failed” assignment wasn’t so bad after all.

I still don’t know what God’s doing in all of this.

All I know is I’m not giving up on this one – I can’t NOT do it – but I’m not forcing it either.

I’m armed with gift cards and eyes wide open to where the Lord leads.

I’m ready to go a little further and lean into the Lord a little harder … trusting Him to guide my car and my heart to the right intersection or the right underpass.

I’ll sacrifice some spare time to search for the one in need, I’ll willingly enter the uncomfortable places outside of my typical routine, but after that, it’s in His hands.

And in the midst of all the failure that reminds me of my own humanity and brokenness and need, I just want to love Jesus and to reflect Him with this life.

Graffiti Summer Study & Do

“Graffiti? It’s the scribble of story and love that God intertwines upon your heart.”
– Alene Snodgrass

Have you read my latest post about loving just the one yet?

If not, click on over and read it (It’s short. I promise), and then come back here.

Seriously. I’ll wait.

graffiti summer study and do

Okay, now that you’re back…

Does that message resonate with you? Have you been seeking the Lord for opportunities to love more, too? Have you wanted to move beyond just listening and start doing?

If so, sometimes it’s just a matter of telling your fear that your God is bigger and taking the next step in obedience and faith. My friend, Alene, has provided just such a step by inviting us to join her for Graffiti Summer Study and Do.

In her ebook, Graffiti: scribbles from the other side of the street, along with a homeless-man-turned-friend she met while serving on the streets, Alene encourages us to hear someone’s story from the other side of the street, to invest in someone who might be a little different than we are, to go outside of our own comfortable community, and to follow Jesus’ example to serve someone else.

As an extension of the book, she has also written a 6 week Graffiti Study and Do companion guide that through studying the life of Moses, challenges us to take small steps each week to make a difference in the lives of others.

Beginning June 3rd, I’ll be joining Alene in this Graffiti Summer challenge with a weekly post, and I would love to have you join us, too.

Yes, that means you!

You can write a post and link to the weekly blog hop, write a note or post on Facebook, or just leave a comment sharing about your experience.

No doubt it will be at least a little uncomfortable and a little scary (it is a challenge, after all!), but however you are able to participate, I am excited to see how the Lord will use our willingness to step out and serve for His glory!

So what exactly do you need to do?

1. Go read this post on Alene’s blog inviting you to join us. She explains all of this much better than I do.

2. Get a copy of Graffiti AND download a copy of Graffiti Study and Do (the guide is free!).

3. Ask to join the Facebook group.

4. Come back on June 3rd with a ready heart.

That’s it! But if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Are you in?!?

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I’m Going Back to Guatemala! Want to Come?

At the beginning of February, I traveled to Guatemala with an amazing team of strangers-turned-friends under the leadership of author Jeff Goins on a vision trip based on his book, Wrecked, that could only have been planned and orchestrated by God.

Those few short days in Guatemala left me emptied of myself and forever changed.

I came away with a deeper understanding of what it means to be a small part of God’s bigger story by simply being available and humbly learning from and loving on His people.

going back to guatemala

Two months later, I’m still processing and learning what it means to live fully and love well in each moment while being confronted with a sort of uncomfortable tension that won’t let me sit complacently doing my own thing, fulfilling my own selfish desires, because more than anything my heart longs to live for the Lord and to serve where and how He leads.

But even all of that seems rather unimportant. Because none of this is about me at all.

It’s about Christ. It’s about His love for His people. It’s about His beautiful and glorious redemption.

When I left Guatemala, I didn’t know if I would ever have the opportunity to go back. But not long after we returned, one of my new friends-who-feels-more-like-family, Alene, began to share that God was speaking to her about taking a team back to Guatemala.

Specifically back to Guatemala City to serve with Potter’s House and in the community of Treasures surrounding the dump.

So, I’m going back to Guatemala with her team October 9-13th, 2013!!

And you’re invited, too!

Watch this video to get a glimpse of our trip in February…

Is God speaking to your heart to go and serve with us in Guatemala City?

Find out more details and information HERE and HERE.