Thursday, 29 December 2011

Tell Me Your Name

Two days ago, I arrived in Byron Bay with my outreach team. We rocked up at about 9:30 pm and went straight to the beach where Impact Summer, the ministry we are working with here, has most of their events. We kicked off our trip with worship in the midst of the vibrant beach-cultured nightlife of Byron.

I had the opportunity to speak to this one girl, who was sitting by herself slightly apart from the crowd. She shared her story with me - that same tale that rings true throughout our generation. She had a difficult childhood, and as she searched for identity, for meaning and worth apart ffom the lies that were spoken to her as a child, she turned to partying and to meaningless relationships. She grew up in the evangelical church of germany, but never really believed in God. Loneliness and hopelessness had such a grip on this young woman, and it was clear that she belived so many lies about herself.

How can it be that we have wandered so far away from our own identity. How can it be that, in a generation so centered on identity, that is the very thing that we are so obviously missing. The story that my new friend shared with me is the story of so many of my brothers and sisters. We are all searching for identity. And the saddest thing is that our Father is standing right there offering us the best life, the best identity, the truest love that you could ever imagine
All we need to do is take it. Step into it. Believe it about ourselves. Embrace it.

Loved. Taken care of. Beautiful. A great success. Enough.

And how do you impart that into people? You point them to the Lord with the way you treat them. You don't just sit with them, you bother to learn their name. You hear what they have to say, and you hear their heart. You show them love, and you recognize them as a brother or a sister.

This is the identity that this girl in the park chose for herself that night.

Her name is Tatianna, and she is a daughter of the King, an heir the the kingdom of heaven, and my own sister in Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Here goes....

Today is the day that I leave with my team on outreach. We set out for byron bay at 10am, and will arrive at about 10 pm. Am I excited? Yep, and a little nervous, too.

I have thought a lot about preparation in the last few weeks. If you had asked me in september if I was ready to go on outreach, i would probably have said yes, based on a little knowledge of Cambodia, and some passable people skills. Now, on the other side of my lecture phase, I can look nack and say that I was no where near ready.

The last weeks of this phase, I have learned so much more about myself, and I have been really focused on discovering the dreams and the vision that God is giving me. I want nothing more than to pursue those dreams with my whole life. If that pursuit looks like it has done in this season of my life - finding role models and a different kind of family to add to my own, studying God's character, being a hobo for a night (I will blog about this soon, i promise. It's a story worth waiting for!) - then that is exactly what I'll do.

I dare say, I'll go to the ends of the earth if He asks me to.

So as we head out, we go with the Lord, and we go with one another, and with a team of supporters, and we'step out into a dream that the King of kings has dreamed. We recognize the extraordinary, and we expect no less.

Please be praying for me and for my team!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


When some people imagine brotherly love, they think of things like nagging, bothering, teasing... maybe even a poor role model... all those things that the world depicts as the extent of a 'brother-sister relationship'.

What I know to be true, however, is so much more. Aside from the necessary bothering and teasing, which is naturally a big part of our relationship, there is this bond between my brother and I that is stronger than steel. He means the world to me.

If you have met Alex, then you probably know him as this enthusiastic-to-say-the-least, willing-to-do-anything-for-God, not-so-normal kind of guy. You've probably gotten to see him at his finest at camp, or at crossroads. You have maybe even had the privilege of hanging out with him outside these settings. But what you might not know about Alex is that he is also this incredible, strong, devoted brother; a true man of God.

When God made Alex, He was thinking of me (and probably of some other things, too...)
He was thinking of the kind of role model that I would need to keep me grounded, to keep me out of trouble. He was thinking of all the times that I would need someone to rescue me. He was thinking of all of the words of encouragement and wisdom that I would need along my journey - that Alex would deliver. He was thinking of all the times that I would want to talk, and all the times that wouldn't feel like talking at all. He was thinking of the times that I would need a brother, in the truest sense of the word.

Alex, you are more important to me than you will ever know. Your guidance has meant everything to me, even though sometimes I haven't let that on. Your gentle heart makes you such a good role model to me and to everyone you meet. And your willingness to serve God - THAT is what sets you apart.

I love you, Alex. And I miss you heaps.

Monday, 5 December 2011

A Grateful Heart

Here, I have gained a new perspective on relationship. I see the way that the people here interact and grow together, I see the way they are intensely aware of one another’s needs, and I see the way that they honour one another. I see awareness, compassion, and real love.

I am beginning to see through these relationships what it looks like to throw myself into what God has in store for my life. He has given me relationships that speak truth and purpose into my life - ones that nurture and grow my faith and my love for God. They expand my knowledge of Christ, and support me I gain God’s heart for the world and step out in my faith.

I hear God’s voice - I see His character - within each of our relationships. You are so good to me, each in your own right. I want you to know that you mean the world to me. I have found freedom in our openness together. I have found companionship in our love for one another. I have found friendship in our loyalty. I have found family in our familiarity.

You make a difference in my life; a difference, dare I say, that spans the gap between life and death. You hold me accountable, you encourage persistence, and you inspire me to pursue the life that God has for me. You have helped me to become a Woman of God.

You have spoken freedom into my life.

I am, and forever will be, so grateful.


It's been a whirlwind of information and processing concerning lectures in the last four weeks. We have covered Spiritual Warfare, Holy Spirit, Evangelism and Lordship. Our speakers have been incredible, and each very unique.

The teaching that I receive here is different from anything that I was taught in school. EVERYTHING IS APPLICABLE, no matter where you are at. And what is TRUE within this people-focused growing environment is different from what was true in school. What I was learning back home was "true" outside of my life - despite my existence. Like, whether I exist or not, gravity is a truth. But as well as all of those academic truths, I feel like there is a lot more to truth here. There are these extra laws, extra truths: they are constant, like the academic ones, but they are equally adaptable to each individual. What makes them true is my life. Outside of my life, these truths are just words, but because of my life and the lives of others, these truths come alive, and become absolute.

The very best example of this that I can think of is God's love. It is very real, almost tangible... a lot like a force. It is constant, but it is to be experienced in a multitude of ways, and for each individual it looks just a little bit different. Moreover, what makes love true is that it is a gift. It is offered to us as a truth, but what breaths life into that truth is that it is received individually. It's true to begin with, but it's the way that it applies to people that makes it real.

Outreach Update


In only four weeks time, the lecture phase of my DTS will be over, and we will be heading out to our outreach locations. We are going to BYRON BAY for our first two weeks to work with young adults and to do some networking and evangelism, and then we are off to CAMBODIA. In preparation, my team has been learning about Cambodian culture. We've each been presenting on different topics such as food, family, and political history. As I learn more, Cambodia is finding a significant place in my heart. It's people have a super rich story, they are hard working, and they seem to value life. I can't wait to be immersed in this culture!!

I have been fundraising over the last few weeks, and have raised $2600. This is thanks to some very generous individuals, and to lots of answered prayers. I still need to raise $1400 by december 20th, so keep praying. If you would like to donate, it is pretty easy. Just fill out this form (and send me a quick email to let me know so I can thank you.)

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pray about this!! God is so faithful and I can't wait to see Him come through and get me and the rest of my time off to outreach on time!

Saturday, 26 November 2011


Time here is different than time at home. Here, it is evasive, it's strangely irrelevant and it's almost frustrating sometimes. It seems to go right over my head. The more time I spend here, the less time I feel I have been here. Does that make sense? I can close my eyes and see separate moments - ones that changes my life and ones that didn't - and I can close my eyes and see a blur of my own realities.
I think that life is a bit like soup. Moments are like the different ingredients, each tasty in their own right and usually nutritious. When you immerse them in water, and add a little seasoning, their flavours begin to blend. The longer you let it stew, the more the ingredients fuse together. Soon, while you remember what you put in, you can't necessarily taste the ingredients in the same way that you originally could. Their flavours combine, and turn into soup. Everything is still separately tasty and nutritious, but this....
This soup is delicious.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Give Him an Inch and He'll Take a Mile

About two weeks ago, we found out that our outreach costs will be about 4000 dollars. And so, my goal became to raise 4000 dollars. I was confronted with a big gap in my faith: the practical reliance on God for my worldly needs. Since I got here, I have heard dozens of stories about God providing students with thousands of dollars in the most outrageous ways, but I never really pictured myself in their shoes. Those stories were great, but they weren't for me. So I decided to start small.

For those of you who don't know this, I get fairly attached to my pens. At the start of my DTS I had this really great steadler ink pen that I loved. However, three weeks in, I lost that pen. So, I asked God to give me a new one. This was actually pretty meaningful because I really feel that God has given me a gift for writing since I got here... I have been writing texts and songs and a lot of poetry.

A few days after I made my request, I had the opportunity to buy a great pen. I was almost at the cash when I decided that buying it wasn't what I was meant to do. I put the pen back and chose to wait on God, even if it meant that I would have to keep taking my notes with a regular ball point pen. Later that day, someone handed me $500 towards my outreach fees.

Two days passed and I still had not recieved my pen. I was telling my friend Sez about it when she offered me a pen that she had upstairs. Sez said "Natalie, I have a thousanzend pens upstairs. You can just have one." And I told her no, that God will give me one so she didn't need to. At this point, I'm sure that people thought I was being a little bit ridiculous, but I really felt like this is what I was meant to do. So, later on that day, someone handed me a hugely generous $1000 dollars for outreach to cambodia. This was the same person who had donated the first time. (If you read this... Thank you. Your generosity blesses me more than you know!)

So miracles do happen. In just a matter of days, I have gone from needing $4000 to needing $2500 all because of one person's incredibly giving heart and because of my teeny step of faith. There will always be a faith gap: you just need to throw yourself into it, expecting the very best, and fearing nothing.

What a Wonderful World

I have been here for five weeks now, and they have all been incredible. It feels like just a few days ago that I was running around montreal packing up all my things, and hanging out with the wednesday (or is that thursday?) worshippers. I have made friends here who are from all sorts of places. We all have different styles and REALLY different ways of speaking, but we all have one thing in common: our heart for God and for the Nations. God has turned this into a really sweet family, a home away from home.

This coming week, we're going up to an old bible college campus called Tahlee for our National Leaders meeting and for our lectures on Spiritual Warfare. Apparently, it's got heaps of kangaroos with their little joeys in their pouches...Plus, The other group was up there this week and they saw and TOUCHED a 7-foot long python.

I'm not making this up. We're sleeping in tents up there, so please pray for me.

So far, We have had lectures on The Holy Spirit, The Father Heart of God, The Fear of the Lord, The Bible, and Hearing God's Voice.
We go on prayer walks around brothels every friday afternoon.
We're well into planning our outreach to cambodia,
We have intercession about three times a week on things around the world that really matter,
and we worship together regularly.
I'm being filled to the brim with passion for God and for His people and for relationships... and when I feel like there is nothing more to learn, God blows my mind AGAIN and I remember that I still have anouther 7 weeks of lectures to go before outreach, which will probably also blow my mind.

My Faith is being grown and stretched in ways that I can't describe in words. What I am gaining is knowledge that is not of the mind, but of the heart. It's not even that God is starting to speak to me... It's that now I am paying attention, and it's amazing.

God wants to speak to every single one of us.
He wants to love on us.
He wants to ROMANCE us ladies
He wants to tell his Sons that he is SO RIDICULOUSLY PROUD of them.
He wants to give us these incredible gifts,
and He wants to give us PURPOSE.

And all we have to do is turn around and pay attention.

The people you are surrounding yourself with have this huge power the change the way you are looking at your life, and what you are focusing. You've got to find people who inspire you to walk with God, because when you do, it will change your life. You will find freedom in persuing God like you can't even imagine.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Biblical Truth

"It is no surprise that we have so many misconceptions about the book that have have never read."

I used to think that the bible was a little irrelevant, and a lot out-dated. But this week Jonathan Spainhour spoke and showed me otherwise. It is a book filled with promises of love and hope and purpose. It is a book of heroes who strove for peace and for justice in society, who were prepared to die for what they believed in. Who in this world could do without a hero like that? Who in this world is above the need for love and for purpose? The Bible is loaded with timeless truths that have meaning in our lives today.

So we read it. We wrestle with it. And we apply it, because it's all true. And we find love, purpose, and meaning in our lives.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

"The Man of God" by Natalie Richards

This is a man of God:
He is a knight and you are his king.
He is kneeling before you
The bells of the battle he's ready to ring.

For the glory of your name,
He is prepared to serve.
He will go where you ask;
He'll go without reserve.

He will stand in the gap
for those that you love.
He will answer your call,
And he will rise above.

He is annointed
And he is equipped.
His heart and his life
He is ready to give.

You have for him
A plan and a way.
From your unending love
He can never stray.

You will carry him
And you will hold his hand.
It is to this son of yours
That you will deliver the land.

Without you
His life has no meaning,
But he is covered by the blood
of the Creator of things.

You have brought him to a place
Where he is made new.
He will go. He will run.
He'll seek nothing but You.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Beach Days

The Beach here is beautiful. It might be one of my favorite places to be. EVER.
Look carefully, and you'll see a dolphin jumping in one of the photos. What a moment!!!

DTS Photo

This is my Beautiful DTS. These are the individuals who are changing my life in huge ways. These are people who will change the world.

Beautiful Things

In the last few days, I've realized just how much I love this place. Down at Newcastle beach, there is a break wall that you can walk along. I took that walk for the first time on Friday night with a few of my new friends, and just enjoyed listening to the waves and got to know my mates a little better.

I went for coffee on Saturday night on Darby Street with my friends Nate, Ben, Julena, and another Ben. I had the best Soy Chai Latte of my life! The coffee/ beach culture here is so rich, and so casual and inviting. It combines all of my favorite things, so I feel right at home. after that, I stayed up really late with a bunch of people to go to the "meteor shower". While the meteors never showed up, the experience was beautiful. We all lay on the benches around the field near the house, and just talked under the stars.

The girls from my DTS all went for coffee together last night, and I had... the SECOND best soy chai latte of my life. :) We all bonded, which I think is so important. In the time that I have been here, my friend Becca has become someone I can talk about anything with, and just joke around with too! She's the best!

I really, really love it here. I'm having an amazing time.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Created Word

To look at a painting without having any understanding of the painter takes away from the meaning of the artwork. I mean, the painting might be beautifil, but it is the painter's story that allows the full experience. In the same way, God's creation declares the story of our Lord. It tells us of His creativity, of His generosity, of His ABUNDANT LOVE for us. He has painted for us a world purposed for our enjoyment. He has canvased a picture of His plan for our lives, of His promise to His people, and of His love.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Youth Street!!

Youth Street is this epic vision that YWAM Newcastle has for local (and not so local) young people. YS consists of an afternoon program that meets young people where they are at. The "crew" is divided up into different teams: Skate, Skoot, Sports, Dance, and Surf. We split up into our teams on crew and leaders and spend a few hours on saturday afternoons out and around Newcastle, doing what the crew love and having a great time. I have the privilege of hanging with one of the YS sports teams for my time on DTS, and I'm stoked about it. The crew are so awesome and so enthusiastic.

This past Saturday, we played beach cricket!! We had a great time with that, but since there were so many of us, our game didn't last too long. We ended up just cruising along on the beach, picking up shells, skipping rocks and getting to know each other. I had such a good time. 

The day wraps up at Lewis House, where all the teams come together for dinner and for Youth Street Live.  YS Live is a service for youth that includes worship, a talk, prayer and all that good stuff. 

Saturdays have already become my favourite day of the week here, because  of Youth Street. This ministry is so simple and so effective.. YS is growing so fast, and so strong, and it's really making a difference in the lives of so many of the crew. 

Only six days to go 'til the next one...

Outreach Planning

Hello Everyone!

So I know you are all really wanting more info on what we have planned for the outreach phase of our lecture, and I'm really sorry it has taken me this long to update you!

My school will be splitting into two teams for outreach. One team will travel first to Latvia and then to Russia, and the second will be travelling to Cambodia. Both of the teams will be focusing on un-reached people groups and people at-risk.

I am proud to say that I will be on the Cambodia outreach team with 7 other students, with the fabulously hilarious Jeremy as our leader. We will spend the first part of our outreach phase in Cambodia's capital city working with an orphanage there, and running a program for children at risk. We may even get the chance to teach english! Then, we will go out to a smaller city, where we will be volunteering our time at a hospice, and helping out with a few community development projects. I am really looking forward to our trip, because I have the opportunity to do some things in the world that will contribute to real change. We will get to share God's love by taking it to those who otherwise may never have chance to know it. We will get to demonstrate God's character by humbling ourselves and serving others.

The total cost of this trip will be around 3400 AUD. (1 AUD = 1 CAD). I currently have about 1000 AUD, so I still need to raise about 2400 dollars. If you feel called to give towards my trip please send me an email and we can figure out the best way for you to do that. Even if it's just $5, every donation will help!

If you would like to support me in prayer on this, I'd love to hear from you, because this is going to be equally important.  I want to set up a solid prayer network for my team, for Cambodia, for our outreach plans, and for our missions, and if each person who reads this prays consistently for  an aspect of this mission, I can't imagine a more solid foundation for a hugely impacting, life-changing trip. Again, fire me an email ( and I'll give you a prayer topic!! :)

I will keep updating you on our plans as we get to know more of the details!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Kangaroos, Koalas, and Compassion.

Hello Everyone!

I'm safe and sound, and completely loving my time here in Australia!! Yes, the weather is warmish, and getting warmer by the day.

At first, I was a little hesitant about a few things, but they all looked heaps brighter after I had the chance to eat, sleep, and get to know a few people.

Life here at Lewis House in Newcastle is super busy, and so time is already flying by. I can hardly believe that I have been here for just over a week, but at the same time i feel like I have been here forever.The people here are so genuine and so kind that they almost instantly felt like family. My roommates are three super sweet girls that I'm getting along with great. We share a teeny little bedroom with two bunks, but it isn't as difficult as it might sound. Our regular days are filled with a variety of things that are all focused in their own way on serving one another, and serving God. I get up at about 6, have my first cup of tea for the day, and have my quiet time in the pretty sunny dining room. At first, I really struggled to settle into it, but I'm growing to treasure this half hour in which I really just start my day off right. At 8 o'clock, we have Tidy Time when everyone on base has a job that contributes to keeping the house clean. Then we have our lectures, which are all around so interesting. We have heard from some great speakers already, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the weeks' topics like crazy! This week is "Father Heart of God" week, but I'll post more on that soon. Our evenings vary from free time to more lectures to little outreaches.

My DTS is doing a few local outreaches during our lecture phase. Today, we went on a prayer walk near a brothel in Mayfield (the suburb we live in), praying for the women who work there, and just praying for the situation of brothels as a whole. (FYI Prostitution is completely legal in Australia, and while the law states that women must be 18 to work in the sex trade, a blind eye is turned on the younger women who get involved with it.) We are also spending some of our evenings working in a local soup kitchen and hanging out with elderly people in the home across the street.

Finally, this past weekend was Base Retreat, and everyone from YWAM Newcastle went camping at a beautiful place called Rosewood. It was.... LEGENDARY. I have never felt so dirty as I did by the time we got back, but we all got so close in just one weekend, and I wouldn't have traded it for the world.

I am beginning to see God move in ways that I NEVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE. I am realizing that I am in the business of changing lives, and I am loving it. He is so good, and so in love with His World and His Children and with Me.

I love you all, and I miss you so much.
For you Canadians, Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, 29 September 2011

Here's to A Thousand Things To Do and Only A Few Hours Left

Today, I am gathering up the last of my things, stuffing the last flip flop into my pack, and saying my goodbyes. Tomorrow morning, (at 6 am, no less) my plane takes off and my journey begins!

I am setting off to do a five-and-a-half-month Compassion-focused Discipleship Training School (Compassion DTS) with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in Newcastle, Australia. This will involve three months of intensive ministry training at the YWAM base in Newcastle, followed by a ten-week outreach phase: Two weeks in Toowoomba, Australia and eight weeks Cambodia, Then, there will be one follow-up week back in Newcastle. The training I will receive is mission/compassion focused, so I will not only be given the tools to be an effective missionary, but I will also be equipped to reach the oppressed and the poor in ways that are truly valuable.

I'm really looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime chance to devote myself to the things that I have always felt called to do. Everything has fallen into place in such a way that I KNOW that this is exactly what I am meant to be doing at this time in my life, and I can't wait to get started! I'll be posting all of my news and updates here, so stay tuned.

Obviously, going away for six months is no little thing, so I will need lots and lots of prayer. I also want to thank each of you for your parts in making me who I am today. Without the support that you have all given me already, I would not have the courage to step out in faith like this at all. I will keep all of you in my own thoughts and prayers, and I will to make you proud.

Adieu, Montreal!

Love, Nat