Autumn Ramblings

A glimpse into the past few month since I helped with Training Camp…

H Squad at Stirred Conference Photo by Casey Wells

Stirred Conference in Gainesville, GA. A refreshing weekend of worship and being with my AIM family. I was surprised to see many people that I love dearly, including some of my H squad family and my roommate from Haiti. Most surprising of all was seeing my dear mom and dad Hillebrand who drove down from Indianapolis. Worship was led by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser and was phenomenal as always. I suggest checking them out if you have never heard them. I respect them a great deal and love their heart for God and His Kingdom coming.


Photo by Sean Williamson


My dear friend, Vicki Welch, celebrated her birthday during the same weekend as the conference and I drove to my home in Auburn, GA to be part of the celebration. Vicki and her family will be moving to Tanzania next August as missionaries with EITanzania. We had a big sleepover, played Imagine If (which I’m horrible at) and watched Fried Green Tomatoes (though I bailed somewhere in the middle for sleep). I was reminded once more how much I love my Ekklesia community.   (I also thought if I put any photos I managed to sneak from the party that I may get jumped … you can all thank me later).



Jeff and Alycea Hylton



A Little Alpaca Love



I spent the next week with Jeff and Alycea Hylton and their wonderful family.The Hylton’s are precious and have such a heart for their home being a retreat for people. It is a home filled with peace, love and laughter and I know God is going to use them in a lot of people’s lives (and already has). They are doing some renovations to add on to their haven, please keep this process in your prayers.


The Adventures of Hillebrand and Pridge



Very concerned for our safety



One of my best friends from the World Race, Kim Hillebrand,  just finished squad leading and flew in for the week. It was a great time filled with lots of laughter, deep discussions, movie watching, prayer and entertaining the kids. Of course Chick-fil-a and Swedish Fish were also a part of the week, as well as a Target run. It is kind of hard knowing it will be at least a year before I get another Kim hug. . . but we aren’t talking about that fact.


Amazing Chicken Salad Sandwich

Leaving Gainesville, I popped into Riverside Church where I worked as an Office Admin. It was great seeing the staff, whom I miss greatly, even though I don’t miss answering the phone and scheduling appointments. Kay, Melanie and I enjoyed a great lunch and time of catching up in Athens at a place called Marti’s at Midday. My first time there, but definitely a place I’d go again. You should check it out… the chicken salad sandwich was WONDERFUL!



I also had the chance to sit down and visit with my former professor, slave driver and friend Jennifer Benson in the Communications Department at Emmanuel College. Seems I won the Comm Dept. Alumni Award this spring, but I was in Haiti and unable to attend. They were gracious enough to accept my reason for absence.


Now I am in Royston for a few days, back at my home there with Mary Beth and enjoying the Roystonian breakfast. In a few days I will be traveling to North Carolina and will be there through Thanksgiving (well that’s the plan for now, but we know how my plans function these days).


Are You a Dragon Trainer?

Snuggled up under a blanket, armed with lime and salt popcorn and a plate of hot from the oven brownies, Kim Hillebrand and I settled in to watch How to Tame Your Dragon last night, which I have been wanting to see ever since it released in movie theaters during my stint in Haiti.

It did not disappoint and, honestly, I almost put it in again today to watch one more time and I am certain it will become a part of my all-favorite animated movies list right under Beauty and the Beast and Up. So if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend (Mom… wait until I am home!)How to Train Your Dragon

One bit of dialogue that has been rolling around in my brain for the past 24 hours is this:

Hiccup: If only I had’ve killed that dragon when I found him in the woods! It would’ve been better… for everyone
Astrid: You’re right. Everyone else would’ve done it. So why didn’t you?
Astrid: Why *didn’t* you?
Hiccup: I don’t know… I couldn’t. Look why does it matter?
Astrid: Because I want to remember what you say, RIGHT NOW
Hiccup: Oh for the love of – I was a coward. I was weak! I wouldn’t kill a dragon
Astrid: You said wouldn’t that time
Hiccup: Well whatever! I wouldn’t! The first viking in 300 years who wouldn’t kill a dragon.
Astrid: [pause] First to ride one though. So…
Hiccup: [sighs] I wouldn’t kill him, because he looked as frightened as I was. I looked at him, and I saw myself.

Poor Hiccup, even his name suggests that he’s a misfit and rightly so. What I love though is that he doesn’t do what everyone else would have done. He can’t and won’t. And because of that he comes to discover what 300 years of vikings missed out on, to see the dragons from a different perspective and to change the lives of countless vikings and dragons thereafter.

Do you have the gift of a dangerous dragon in your life? Can you look past your fear and see it from a new perspective, one that might not just change your life but the lives of others as well?

Reckless Wasteful God?

God is into extravagance. I cannot shake the amazingness of it, nor its implications.

Extravagant love.
Extravagant grace.
Extravagant forgivness.
Extravagant mercy.
Extravagant beauty.

You get the point.

Or do you? Do I?

Indulgence.  Absurdity. Excess. Folly. Lavishness. Outrageousness. Preposterousness. Recklessness. Squander. Unreasonableness. Unrestraint. Wastefulness. Wildness.

That is extravagance and God is extravagant.

He orchestrates moments in time, paths crossing, people meeting briefly on the other side of the world to speak what He is saying, to allow heaven and earth collide for a moment, and to usher His life into their situations. From a practical standpoint it is wasteful, outrageous, and absurd, but God isn’t limited to our practicality.

God colors the flower in the remotest part of the world that no eye will ever see with as much beauty as the one that I will stop and breathe in deeply of the fragrance it pours forth in praise. He brilliantly paints the sky multiple times a day in a grand masterpiece that most of us barely even notice. It seems a lot like folly.

He pours out His love on the one convicted of murder, lavishes His grace on the one caught in the midst of adultery, and dines with sinners and tax collectors. It seems preposterous, reckless and completely outside of our comfort.

Maybe the most extravagant of all:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)

The absurdity of God coming to earth in the form of a helpless, tiny baby. The outrageous idea of Jesus, the Son of God, having to grow up, work, and live for years in obscurity. The unreasonableness of God made flesh and dying a criminal’s death, bloodied, beaten, bruised.

It is too extravagant for most of us so we try to tame the One who is wild and untameable.  The extravagance God shows frightens most of us away. It is too messy and it doesn’t fit in our box.

But what happens if we begin to live and believe in a God of extravagance?




Knowing I had to make it to Gainesville for the Stirred Conference Thursday, I knew I had to tackle at least one of my problems head on. Since driving home from Training Camp a week ago and discovering a couple of foreign objects in one of my front tires, I had been desperately avoiding dealing with the situation. Living here I don’t have my trusted mechanic to call and when it comes to my vehicle I am a big baby.

In other words, it messes up and I fall apart.

So after lots of crying and anxiousness the time came to get it fixed. Around halfway through my shower I suddenly came to a, “What the heck? I am a daughter of the King. I will not be anxious about this. You are my Good Father and You know my need. You are my provider and You are going to take care of this” moment. And done.

I left the house with renewed confidence (along with donning a skirt, fixed hair and makeup – more than willing to pull the helpless girl card!). Pulling out of the house I simply said, “Ok God where am I going?” To which I heard, “Go to Buford.” Ok, simple (and logical) enough. Approaching one of the stoplights I sensed I should turn right. Ok, no problem. Driving along I find none other than Discount Tire. That will work!

After having to wait (a bit nervously) for about 15 minutes one of the workers, Mike, asked how he could help. I briefly explained the chunk of metal in my tire, my need to get to NC where my dad has new tires waiting and my desire for them to either patch it or put on my spare so I can accomplish #2.

He responded with, “Now you don’t want to put on your spare tire.”

To which I responded, “Well you don’t understand. I have the money to get home and that’s about it so I don’t really have options here.”

“Well if you were my girl I would not want you driving that far on a spare so I tell you what I’m going to do better than that. I’m going to get you a loaner tire,” Mike replied.

In my head I thought, “Oh boy… how much is this going to cost me?!” So I asked.

As we walked inside and he handed me a cold bottle of water and I asked the important question shouting in my head.

“So… ummm… can you tell me how much this will cost? Just an estimate?” I tentatively tossed out.

“Nothing but your time,” he said.

I’m sorry… what was that?!

He grinned, “Just have a seat in the corner and relax and we will fix you up.”

Returning several minutes later he took down my information, cleared out the fees and sent me on my way wishing me a safe journey home.

But first I gave him a really big hug.

Then I heard God whisper, “See baby girl, I know your needs and I have you in the palm of my hand.”

a moment of transparency

I need to be needed. I need a purpose.

This is one of my more recent conclusions. I have, however, not yet determined if this is detrimental, purely selfish, okay or possibly even positive.

I hate this in between time. I am tired of being transitory.

In Ukraine I’m needed. In Ukraine I have purpose. Here  I feel useless, out of place and constantly calculating my deficits.

It feels like I am always behind, waiting for a miracle to materialize, and forever unsure of what to do or say.

I know it is just a season. I know God has everything in control. I “know” a lot but somehow that hasn’t stopped me from melting into a puddle of tears on an almost daily basis.

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”
Psalm 42:11




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