Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Schedule and Cities

If there is one thing I've learned through all that has been going on in my life, it's that when we make plans, we should keep in mind that all things are subject to change.  I've found a new name for God, and that is the Divine Editor! He's editing my life and the direction I'm heading in, and I'm so grateful that He loves me enough to step in and put me on the path that HE plans for me.
That being said, here is the schedule and list of cities I will be visiting, but it is subject to editing :)
I will be making five loops in this journey, stopping back in Memphis between each loop to gather supplies, gain support, and get prayer! 

Loop 1 (September 10- October 12)
Nasheville, Tennessee
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Atlanta, Georgia
Birmingham, Alabama
Memphis, Tennessee

Loop 2 (October 16- December 7)
St. Louis, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri
Denver, Colorado
Omaha, Nebraska
Chicago, Illinois
Memphis, Tennessee

Loop 3 (January3- February 1)
Pheonix, Arizona
Los Angeles, California
San Francisco, California
Salt Lake City, Utah
Las Vegas, Nevada
Memphis, Tennessee

Loop 4 (February 5- April 12)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Houston, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
El Paso, Texas
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Little Rock, Arkansas
Memphis, Tennessee

Loop 5 (April 23- June1)
Louisville, Kentucky
Columbus, Ohio
New York City, New York
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Baltimore, Maryland
Washington D. C.
Richmond, Virginia
Asheville, North Carolina
Knoxville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennesee

That is my route!  Loop 3 is a more expensive loop, because it will require a plane ticket from and to Memphis, whereas I will be driving my own car on all of the other loops.  I know, though, that God will provide a way!  If you know of any connections or programs in any of these cities, please let me know. That would be very helpful! Please keep these cities in your prayers, and pray for God to provide in unexplainable ways and to revive these cities and bring His lost sheep home!

The journey that brought me to this journey:

There are many layers to this story; I feel like everything that has happened in my life so far has a part to play in where I am today and the journey God’s about to take me on.  But for the sake of time, I’ll try to narrow down my story and only include the layers that are necessary to get a basic understanding of what I’m doing and why.

            As many of you know, my plan since the beginning of my senior year was to go to East Tennessee State University for college.  I did well in school so that I would get the scholarships needed to make college possible.  This plan was supposed to work out easy:  ETSU is where I wanted to go, I got the scholarships necessary to cover almost all of the tuition, and I was assigned the perfect roommate. The plan was golden… except for the fact that it wasn’t God’s plan.

            ETSU picks one out of every three students to be verified for financial aid.  This is like being audited, and is all about tax and IRS stuff that I don’t completely understand.  Students that are verified have to fill out a bunch of tax paper work in order to be awarded the scholarships that they earned.  I was picked as one of the students to be verified.  When I found that out, to me it was no big deal- we fill out the paper work, fax it in, I get my scholarships and go to ETSU like planned.  But, due to the poor decisions of someone else, it wasn’t this simple and I was affected by circumstances completely out of my control.  But this isn’t about bashing anyone or airing dirty laundry, so I won’t go into detail about that. The point is, because of circumstances out of my control, I no longer would be awarded the scholarships I earned because of someone else’s actions.  At first, we thought that there might be a way to work things out, but as time went on, we realized that ETSU wouldn’t work.

When I first learned this, less than a month before I was supposed to leave for college, I didn’t understand why this was happening to me.  I was sad and angry and didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t see any bright side to the situation.  At that point, my attitude wasn’t giving God the credit He deserves and I didn’t see a way that this would turn out as a positive. 

Sunday, August 12, I went to a fellowship group called Fire Starters.  There was a feeling of oppression in the room, which was strange because Fire Starters is always a place of huge freedom.  But I was hit with the conviction that I’m a consumer.  I want to go to church and Fire Starters to get filled up with the Holy Spirit and God’s word, but what do I ever give? I don’t want to be a selfish Christian who is always consuming God’s love, but never pouring it out into others.  As I felt this conviction, I cried out to God and asked him, “What do you want with my life? What do you want me to do? I’m sick of being a consumer who doesn’t advance your Kingdom.  I don’t want my plan, I know Yours is better. Show me your plan!”

The next day, I went to meet my mom at her work to talk to her about what was going on in my heart and try to seek counsel from her.  When I got there, though, she was too busy to talk, so I decided to go back home.  On my way, I was thinking of who I could call to talk to about this, and God said, “Tori, hello! I, the Perfect Counselor, am here! Who else do you need?” And to that, I said, “Touché.” 

            So I just quieted myself and listened to what God had to say about all of this.  And He showed me this vision of Love Works:  America Tour.  I would drive around the country, going into the cities and seeing their needs, loving and feeding the homeless along the way.  Whether that means going into inner city schools, serving in homeless shelters, doing service projects, whatever the needs were in the city, I’ll go and be a servant and share God’s Word and God’s love everywhere I go. 

I thought, wow, that’s radical.  And God said, “Isn’t that what you’ve always asked for? For Me to show you My radical plan for your life and to change your consumerism?”  And I thought, that is what I’ve always prayed for, now that He’s given my a radical plan for my life, I can’t reject it!

But even though I didn’t reject it, silly human that I am, I thought that I would try to fit God’s plan into my agenda.  I thought that I would put His plan on my timeline, by fitting the Love Works:  America Tour somewhere in between my backup college plan of going to Memphis.  I kept making these perfect plans of doing a year at Memphis and doing LWAT during the summer, or doing a semester of Memphis and then take a semester off to do the Love Works tour.  I even contemplated going the normal college route without interruption and saying I would get to LWAT eventually. On my own time.  But none of the plans I made really had a way of working. So, finally I realized God wasn’t going to let MY plans work out.  He showed me His plan, so I just needed to surrender to it.

So that’s what I’m doing.  I give up my plans and what I thought was best for my life in order to step into God’s Sovereign plan in His Sovereign timing.  God saved me so I can be an ambassador for Christ and advance His Kingdom. That’s what we are all called to do, advance the Kingdom of God.  So, on September 10, 2012, I will begin Love Works:  America Tour, the radical journey God planned for me.

            And here is where I ask for your support.  I don’t have the resources, the connections, or the money to do this.  I don’t know how all of this is going to work, but hey, I thought I knew how my life after high school was going to work out, and we see how that’s changed!  One thing I’ve learned through my circumstances is that we need to surrender our will and our plans to God, because His plans are all that matter in the end.  We’re just along for the ride.  And as for not being able to do this on my own, I think that’s a good thing, because if I could, it wouldn’t be God.  By me being incapable of pulling this off, God is going to get all the glory, because only through Him are all things possible.

The most important support you could give me is prayer!  Please pray for my safety on this journey, for God to guide me and for me to listen.  Pray that God prepares the hearts of the people I will encounter and that He would soften their hearts and make them receptive to His message.  Pray that God provides the way and the financial support needed.  And if this story spoke to your heart, you would like to do this but can’t take the time to in this stage in your life, or if God just lays it on your heart to support financially, that would be appreciated beyond words!

And just because you can’t take a year of from school or work, doesn’t mean you can’t go on Love Works mission in your own way.  There are opportunities everywhere to spread the love of God, you just have to open your eyes and be obedient when God tells you to do something.  I want God’s love to be contagious and His people need to infect the nations! When we’re saved by Christ, we are commissioned to be His ambassadors, so go love on some people, because LOVE WORKS.