9/2/13

Haiti, part 2||the mountains shake before You.

Those haunting questions begin to creep into my mind. What if I get sick? What if the heat is unbearable? What if I'm unable to sleep? What if the airplane is rough? What if my nervousness gets to me and I can't eat the entire week? What if I come back with some foreign disease? 

"Worrying is not an option."

I struggle with irrational fears. I struggle with creating irrational scenarios. I struggle with worrying myself sick with my irrational ideas.

What I have had to realize though, is that through Jesus, I have the power to overcome those fears. The chorus of Great I Am keeps coming to mind:


"The mountains shake before You the demons run in fear
At the mention of the name King of Majesty
There is no power in hell
Or any who can stand
Before the power and the presence of the great I AM"


I may be scared, I may have fears, I may come up with crazy scenarios, but what I have to continually cling to is that through Jesus, I can overcome. Worrying is not an option for this trip. I have to keep remembering my purpose and why I am doing this.

I am gong to fulfill God's duty. It is as simple as that. He has called me, and I am responding to that call.

7/28/13

proof that you don't have to let the word "introvert" control you.

        Constantly, we are labeling ourselves as something: Fat, skinny, ugly, pretty, short, tall, introvert, extrovert, shy, outgoing, you name it. It typically starts when we are toddlers (and our personality begins to develop) and people begin describing us. Maybe folks always commented on how cute you were and how you were just born to be on stage. Maybe you were always the pretty little diva. Maybe you were pudgy and devious. Maybe you were quiet and sweet. No matter what we were described as at an early age, we begin to subconsciously cling to those molds. All of them? Not necessarily. However, I would go as far as to say that we cling to at least one of them, and that is part of what makes up our "identity" as we grow.

For me, I was always the cute and shy one. As a toddler, I would turn my head from those obnoxious old women wanting to talk to me and bat my eyelashes. "Awwwwh!", they would dramatically remark, "She is shy, isn't she?!" And ooh and ahh over how precious my shyness was. At home? Pshhht. Shy at home? Heck no. I was a strong-willed, spit fire of a little girl who crossed her eyes at her parents while being scolded, mocked the rules, "Anna Gray, go to your room.", "No YOOOOU go to your room!" and was downright sassy and a little overly dramatic diva. But you see, in public, I was much more subdued and "keep to myself". It definitely didn't help that people praised my quietness in my early days either. All that did was subconsciously remind me, "I. Am. SHY."  So naturally, I became what some would call an "introvert". I am not a "Shy" person, because I definitely talk to people. If I don't have anything of importance to say though, I feel that there is no need to say it (okay...unless I am around my small circle of girlfriends) and therefore remain quiet out in public or in larger group settings. Yesterday, however, I completely shocked myself. And I really do mean that.

  Yesterday I had an appointment for a photoshoot/headshots for this journey of acting and modeling I am heading into. As makeup was applied and hair was styled, I found it quite easy to chit-chat with the stylists. They were warm and friendly and bubbly and it created an overall relaxing and fun setting before the photoshoot. I understood that the photographer would probably be asking some questions and I knew that I would definitely be fine talking to him. It's so strange...when I audition or am chatting 101 with somebody in the industry, I suddenly do not feel quiet anymore. I feel a sense of confidence. Moving on though, as I walked into the room for my headshots, I didn't just politely talk..I babbled.

I told my story. I told how I was obsessed with Mary-Kate and Ashley when I was little (and prayed for a twin sister), how I put on little shows for the two dogs in our backyard, how I am an artist all around and how acting came into the picture. The conversation went in all different directions. It went from my passion of acting to a lady stealing my neighbor's wallet, from Nikon cameras to my mom accidentally swearing when our dogs got tangled up on their leashes around her legs. Guys, my voice started cracking I talked so much. After I talked on and on, went from subject to subject, he chuckled and asked,

"Are you always this animated?"

I found it funny myself, because truthfully, I am not.

"Well," I replied, "It depends on the situation. If I were in Wal-Mart? Heeeeck no. I just want to book it out of there. It's the same way in large group settings or parties. I am the wallflower. Now with close friends, I am not quiet and in auditions, I suddenly feel so confident and get this weird adrenalin rush! So it just depends on the situation, yep!"

I have never mastered in small talk. Ever. I ask what I want to ask the person and then mind my own business. This time though, truly, I shocked myself. I left the photoshoot and thought, "How did I do that?" And you know what's funny? I still have no idea. If I can guess at it though, I would assume it was because I felt so passionate about the acting industry in there and I knew that these photos were a part of the industry and would help me. So naturally, I became more open and actually wanted to talk, because this was something that both interested me and would help me. Does that make sense? Probably not. But maybe!

So alllllll of those long paragraphs to say: If you label yourself an "introvert" or have been labeled an "introvert", you don't have to hide behind that piece of identity. You may typically be quieter (and that is completely fine! I know I am), but that doesn't mean you are unable to blossom at times. I'm not saying you have to have to constantly force yourself to talk whenever, wherever, to whoever, but instead to know that it isn't something that can control you and that you can, indeed, blossom.

7/5/13

Haiti: chapter I

     I have never personally been one to get all "pumped" and just long to embark on a mission trip. I have never been against them, but have never had a fire lit in my heart, resulting in a burning passion of going on one. Throughout the years, I have seen folks from my church go on mission trips, friends go on them, blogger friends go on them, family go on them. Me? Well, of course I supported them, but I could not comprehend how they were so passionate about them. I knew that God could light that fire in us, but I wondered, "Aren't they worried about getting sick?", "What about the diseases?", "The sanitation level?", "Aren't they nervous about the vaccinations?". That kind of stuff. I even have thought before, "I honestly don't think God wants me to travel to a foreign country..."

Scratch that.

 If God wants you to go somewhere, you will go to that place. Never assume that just because in the moment you don't feel called, that He will not call you. I used to have the mindset of, "I do not feel called there, therefore I will not go there." He has the power to change your heart. He changed mine.

I saw a lady posting photos of her mission trip to Haiti on Facebook and her blog. Actually, it was Rachel at Finding Joy. As I scrolled through these photos, a thought trickled into my noggin, "What if you went to Haiti?" Even though Rachel's photos were taken from iPhone, something about them felt so raw and so deep. Cliche as it sounds, I truly was incredibly moved by these photos. They were so humbling. The thought of traveling to Haiti on a mission trip kept entering my mind, and more specifically, ministering to the orphans of Haiti continually entered my mind. I decided, "Okay, I will pray about it", and pray about it, I did. As I prayed about it, the vision of working with the orphans in Haiti kept popping into my head. Once I even had the thought of going with a dear friend who was going in September, but I knew their mission team was full. Regardless, I was 99% positive that God wanted me to go to Haiti sometime or another.

Now, back up to last Monday with me, will you? My friend Beth (who blogs at More Beautiful You) was pet-sitting for a lady in my neighborhood, so naturally, she stopped by our house. Actually, she greeted me by pouncing onto my bed at 9:30 in the morning. Horrified and rather hazy, I opened my eyes to see a grinning Beth shout, "WAKE UP, ANNA GRAY!" After my mind was clear, we had a good laugh about it and I tagged along with her to go pet-sit. As we were feeding the animals (translate: cleaning dog urine off the floor), we talked about how two dear friends of ours were traveling to Uganda that morning. I got all excited and said, "All of my friends on going on mission trips this year!" Beth's eyes lit up for a second.

"Okay...so I don't know if you would be interested in this or not...or even if you would even able to do this...but my dad and I are going to Haiti in September and we still need 2 more people to be able to make the trip happen..."

They were going to feed and minister to the orphans there.
It was going to be in Haiti.
Beth was who I envisioned going on a trip with, but I assumed the team was maxed out.
It all made sense. 

Beth probably thought I went into psychogenic shock. It felt like a dream. Trying to grasp the words, I explained to her how that was exactly what I had been praying about. A little weirded out in a good-sorta-way,  she said, "Okay, I'm not confirming anything......but I think this is a God-thing!"

And she was exactly right. The rest is history. We now have a saying, "Who knew you pouncing on my bed would result in me going to Haiti?!"

What really surprised me though, was that I did not blink an eye at the thought of any of the negative aspects. I am one to worry about everything. I can come up with the most ridiculous scenarios and scare myself to death (like the quote says so truthfully, "Fear is the mind killer"). However, the vaccines, the possibility of getting an illness, the contamination of certain things...I feel this strange sense of peace. God is in control. As I prayed about the trip, God said this to me: Worrying is not an option. Whatever happens, whenever, wherever on this trip...worrying is not an option. Focus on the ultimate goal, not the "What ifs...". When I begin to let me mind wander, I keep remembering that phrase, "Worrying is not an option."

So I joyfully announce, September 4th-9th, I will embark on my first ever mission trip to Haiti through "Feed the Hunger"! I have never been more excited for a trip. We will be going to the slums and feeding and ministering to the many orphans. We will experience an entirely new culture and what real poverty is. We will learn basic words and phrases in Creole, "M'rele Anna! Komon ou ye?". We will love on the Haitian community. We will feed the hunger. We will be disciples of Christ and we will spread his love. 

I am ready to experience it all.