Impossible Is Nothing

Last week, I attended The Global Leadership Summit for my very first time. It was incredible to be surrounded by some of the greatest leaders around the world: Colin Powell, Bill Hybels, Patrick Lencioni, Bob Goff, Henry Cloud, Brené Brown and many more. More incredible than these speakers was the thought that a leadership summit reaching over 100,000 people globally happens every year in my home town. The intrinsic desire of every person who attended to learn more about being a better leader, even just a better version of themselves, fills me with joy and motivates me to be the best leader I can. It has been such a gift to learn from some of the greatest leaders in the world throughout the last eight years of my life, and I feel that God is going to use me to write and share stories as a way of giving back the wisdom that I have been so blessed to receive.

The Leadership Summit reminded me of a few things about myself that have felt dormant or they were the wrong way to think about myself, but to make things short and sweet, I want to share with you one particular story from this weekend.

To give a little background on this story, I have to share with you about last summer. I was meeting with my small group leader from church and she told me (as she always does) that I need to let me emotions be real. She also told me that I needed to watch the Brené Brown Ted Talk titled The Power of Vulnerability. When I heard that word, vulnerability, I rolled my eyes because that’s how indifferent I felt about it, but I knew I should watch it because first, I love Ted Talks and second, Kristin would be asking me about it the next time we talked.

I watched it. I watched it again. I laughed, I was angry, I was sad, I was so glad that Brené Brown is a real human being and admits her imperfections. Brené addressed that human beings need two things: love and a sense of belonging. Not only did I have a better understanding of myself, but a better understanding of other people and how important vulnerability is to each and every one of us. After seeing that Ted Talk, I told every single person I met that they too needed to watch this Ted Talk. Seriously, I was so annoying about it, I subtly shared it in one of my communication classes this last semester. I didn’t think I would ever meet Brené Brown, so I shared her with as many people as I possibly could because I believe that every person can benefit from watching her Ted Talk. In May, my dad sent me a list of all of the Summit speakers and Brené Brown was on that list!

Finally, it was the week of The Summit. I was so excited. I checked the event schedule and saw that Brené would be speaking in the morning on the second day. The day finally arrived and I was so excited. After the first session on the second day, there was a thirty minute break. During that break, I decided that just hearing Brené Brown would be cool, but being able to meet her would be sublime! I took the stairs down to the first floor and went into the main auditorium. I waited a while, because there weren’t that many people there. The entire time, I was thinking to myself: ‘Oh my gosh, I am such a creep right now.’ and  ‘I should just go back up to my seat. Why am I even doing this?’ Then I saw not only Brené, but Shauna Niequist, one of my favorite authors, just walking and talking together. Two role models in my home church (well technically it’s Shauna’s home church more so than mine). I began to take little baby steps closer to the front of the auditorium. Baby steps turned into long strides and before I knew it, I was right in front of them both.

I could have said a million things, asked a million questions, but I was so humbled to even have gotten to this point, and all I could do was say thank you. I’m sure they receive thank you’s over and over again, and my thank you was no different and yet entirely different all at the same time. These two women have inspired me to be courageous rather than comfortable, vulnerable rather than closed off, that it’s not the critic who counts and to be myself over anyone else even when being myself makes me cringe. It was great to talk to Brené about her struggles with vulnerability and know that I am not the only one and that she is the voice of the millions that I just haven’t heard yet.

This experience has taught me impossible is nothing. We can achieve anything if we are persistent and persevere.

I believe there are times when God holds something out for me to just take a bit, and sometimes I do just take a bite, and then there are other times where God holds something out expecting me to take a bite, but is so satisfied seeing I swallowed the whole dang thing. This experience was a bite that I swallowed whole and I am so glad that I did. God knows my potential but more importantly He knows my heart.

This picture is blurry and quite silly because I was geeking out. But I know that one day I will be writing and sharing my stories just as these two wonderful women have done and continue to do:




For the past few months, I have been able to get to know and become friends with one of my closest friend’s cousin who is from Caracas, Venezuela. It’s been beautiful to be a part of her life-even if just for little snippets- and see how she continues to grow. At first she was quiet, but as her English progresses, she continues to share more and more of her life with me. At this point, she isn’t entirely sure how long she will stay here in the United States, and she is persistent about doing certain things here while she can because she had been unable to do them in the past.

The list includes:

·         Go to a horserace (and wear those big fancy hats).

·         Learn to ride a bike.

·         Learn to drive.

At the beginning of summer, my friend came up to me and said “My cousin wants to learn how to ride a bike, she never had the opportunity to learn how when she was younger. Can we teach her how to ride a bike?” Being the amateur cyclist that I am, I said yes.

After two months of being home from summer I finally taught my new friend how to ride a bicycle. On an incredibly hot Saturday evening, I picked her up, pumped up the tires on the bike and made my best attempt to teach this 18 year old how to ride a bicycle.

It took a while for her to get used to the bicycle, and it took me a while to put into words ‘how to ride a bicycle’ because I had been riding once since the day my dad taught me how. This wasn’t the case for my friend and it broke my heart to think that her dad was not around to teach her how to ride a bike when she was a child. There we were though, having surpassed every obstacle however different or similar each on may have been in our lives so far,  and my friend persevered to ride the bike. I walked along side of my friend, holding on to one handle and the back of the bike while my friend practiced pedaling.

Twenty minutes went by of balancing and pedaling, she began to pedal faster. I stayed alongside of my friend, and finally I let go of the bike. She was pedaling all on her own! I could tell in that moment-though it only lasted a few seconds- she felt free from the anxieties and limitations in her life that she had been carrying with her. This was a moment where she had no obligation to be strong for anyone else, but she was strong, empowered by our Lord and the infinite hope he fills each and every one of our lives with.

This young woman is so strong and although I have only known her for a few months, I know that she has experienced hardships on a level that I sometimes can’t fully understand because I have not had those experiences. I am thankful for her, because she gives me perspective that I otherwise wouldn’t have. I really look up to her for her strength, patience, and trust in the Lord.

My friend has been able to overcome the pain of her past, which has been washed over by a new, unfamiliar present that keeps moving her into the unknown future. She continues to move forward: living with her Aunt, Uncle and cousins in the U.S., making new friends, learning to drive, practicing her English, and even learning to ride a bicycle.

Although she will return to Venezuela in 22 days, she is already planning on coming back to the United States to study English and I know that no matter where God puts my friend, she will always be safe with Him.

Your past and present sufferings should never limit you.

New Perspective

“I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.” -Mother Teresa

I used to wrestle a lot with this quote and the idea that God only gives us things He knows we can handle. When I was in high school, I saw a lot of destruction around me, but I never was at the center of destruction, more of a bystander, if you will. Seeing my friends broken truly broke my heart. I always wondered why bad things would happen to these wonderful friends: being victims of abuse, addiction, depression, among other tragic happenings.

When I first read the above quote, I thought about another book I read a few years ago and I quote: “there are no second causes even the most cruel and unjust things, that God has permitted them as opportunities for us to react to them in such a way that our Lord is able to produce in us His lovely character.” (Hinds’ Feet on High Places, 12) I then meshed the two quotes together because they seem to go hand in hand and came out with this: God does not give us anything we cannot handle and allows bad things to happen (even to the most wonderful people) so we can react in a way that produces His lovely character. I thought about whether I fit into both of these quotes and became a complete mess.

I’ve had an incredible life so far. Filled with support from family and friends, opportunities galore, abilities to adventure and so much more. I’ve been very blessed and really haven’t gone through an extremely difficult season of life, well, not yet at least. I have watched and felt a lot of suffering within the lives of the closest people around me over the last four years, which is probably the largest extent of pain I have had in my life, and it’s nothing in comparison to what has happened to those friends. The suffering doesn’t end with my friends either; people all over the world are suffering from a smorgasbord of oppressions.

For a while I would think about how much I have been given and really was disgusted with myself for what I have (thus the complete mess of Caroline). Don’t get me wrong, my life has had hard moments, but in the grand scheme of things, it hasn’t been extremely difficult. I thought about how God doesn’t give us things we can’t handle and I wondered why nothing tragic had happened to me. Does God think I am too weak to have any tragic moments in my life? No. Is he just waiting to put his thumb down on me in some drastic way that ‘tests’ me? Absolutely not.

God doesn’t give anyone anything they cannot handle and with all that He has given me, I believe that He expects even more from me. For example, when I returned home from my trip to Zambia, I made a promise to God to learn as much as possible in the next four years of college and work as hard as I can during that time. I was really set on fire by the many students my age in Zambia, for they all had great dreams of becoming doctors and professors, but the likelihood of even one of them being able to do that is very slim. This promise I’ve made is for myself but ultimately for those friends. God has shown me great love from family and friends and it is my responsibility to not only reciprocate it, but also share it with those whom have never known love or overtime lost site of what it means to be loved.

I know that the Lord trusts me and has given me this life because He understands I can handle it. Everything could change in a day and I could lose everything or suffer unimaginably, but I know in those moments, there will be a community of people willing to hold me tight and love me in my suffering and brokenness just as God had me hold them tight in their seasons of suffering and brokenness as it says to do so in Romans 12:15. Until then, I will continue my studies and learn as much as I can so that some day I can get back to Zambia. As God provides for me, I will give my all to Him. In seasons of drought, I will give my all to Him.

Whatever season of life you are going through right now, know that God has had this planned out from the very beginning. What resilience it is to know that God has allowed for all things to happen- good and bad, joy-filled, and tragic! God uses each season of life to shape us so when you stumble upon the next season of life you will be stronger, wiser and can react to it in ways that continue to produce God’s lovely character.

Best Self.

This last Sunday, I was sitting with a few friends talking about the world. At one point we got on the topic of Africa and Lauren’s response was “There must be something in the water there, because everyone always wants to go back!” I thought on that for a few minutes, because when I think about my trip to Africa, I was sent through every sort of emotion, yet I never put myself down (which I often do) nor did I want to leave the Samfya community that I became a part of(which again, I have that tendency to do). I had times of weakness, but God was able as he always is, and gave me strength. Quite often, I have thoughts about my trip, sometimes negative, where I ask myself “Where is that loving girl who just wanted to hear the stories of others and make kids laugh?” “Am I even that same person?” “Does that girl even exist?” So I responded to Lauren by saying, “It’s like I left the best version of myself there.”

I’m not sure that is entirely true, but I’m an introvert when it comes to my thoughts and I believe me when I say I had thought about this independently for a long time before allowing myself to be vulnerable and share that with others. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my experiences in Samfya and I’m okay with that. The reason I’m not sure it’s an entirely true statement is because I do feel as though I am able to be the best version of myself here, it just takes more work and less distractions.

When I have meaningful conversation with people I love(or even don’t love for that matter-because this makes me love them), listen to the stories of others, and tutor at Martin Luther King CLC I do feel like I am the best version of myself; the version of myself that God has intended to use for His glory. I am suffocated by worldly distractions and a culture that tells me (one) that I’m supposed to look and act a specific way and (two) that I’m supposed to be on this journey searching for who I am. I have been shaped to be unshaped.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1, we learn that for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. I’m confident God used this small fraction of a season, this mission trip, as a gateway for me to learn about myself. It was a way for God to reveal to me the best parts of myself and how they were able to serve and glorify His name.

To the girl who yelled ‘chau-nau-lei!’ at the top of her lungs while digging the well, who danced and laughed with the children of Samfya even though she was exhausted, who spoke as much french she knew with a refugee from the Congo, who giggled and shared stories of boys with the young women at Samfya High School, who didn’t let the inability to communicate well get in the way of her ability to communicate, who spoke to an entire village, who’s heart broke for the lost and poor in spirit in the township in South Africa, who loved there and continues to love: God isn’t done revealing Himself to you.

Our God is a sovereign, loving God.