I never wrote more than I had to growing up, but that day a pen found its way into my hand and the ink flowed as if it controlled me. Words found their way onto the page and settled into their new home.
They say love makes you do crazy things. Without fully knowing why, I changed my degree path and settled into my new dream of international journalism. My relationship with writing evolved and I knew it was like a close friend that would never leave. The years that followed brought more questions than answers. I questioned why God had called me to missions but then closed doors to certain opportunities, like that Costa Rica trip. I wondered what I was doing changing the plan to become a writer. As I sifted through those years, I wondered if God really knew what I was passionate about and how it would all play out in the future.
I gave up. Not on my degree, but control over what would come of it. Weeks after graduating I stopped looking for writing jobs. With a clear focus on solely contacting mission organizations, I was able to notice opportunities, which led me across Ride Nature. Within a few months of applying for a staff position that had nothing to do with writing, I was en route to Florida to oversee an up-and-coming project for the organization: The Pursuit Collective.
One of the first staff conversations I was a part of was the dream of starting up a girl's skate ministry. Weeks later Shred Sisters was born. I remember the first night as if it were yesterday–one girl showed up to skate. With a fire burning inside of the hearts of our girl staff, we kept at it, knowing how special this community really could be. Quicker than we even expected, one girl became thirty in the matter of weeks and Shred Sisters’ heart has been beating loud since. Monday night skate sessions evolved into a consistent community throughout the week as we watched Shred Sisters become a hub to girls in all stages of life, some even driving hours to be a part of it.
Joy is the most vibrant word I can use to describe being a part of Shred Sisters, and not just for me. Girls who used to go throughout their day avoiding any female community–from past hurt or a deep belief that they just didn't belong–are the most consistent faces we see. Joy for skating, encouraging community, missions, and most of all joy for Jesus, keeps these girls wanting more. We started dreaming about what “more” would look like as we planned our first international trip with just ladies. Of all Ride Nature trips–over 100 international–this one booked the fastest; within 20 minutes the trip was full. A few weeks later–with more girls than we had anticipated–we were on our way to Puerto Rico for a week of intensive discipleship and to introduce our Shred Sisters to global missions. The fruit from that trip led us to begin our second Shred Sisters trip, this time to Costa Rica.
Cue Jess. Jess and I met downstairs in the coffee shop one afternoon. She sat quietly in a corner chair taking in the space around her. I get to talk to girls that come into our shop daily, but Jess felt different; I felt an urge to know her. She skimmed through a Bible she had picked up off of the shelf next to her and I was dying to know what she was thinking. Conversation weaved around shyness as we talked about Christ and His Word. I was excited to see her at Shred Sisters each week following and also get to watch her make our little coffee shop a safe space for herself. Leading up to Costa Rica, we invited her along with us. Emotion flooded her eyes as she and I sat and dreamed about serving the Lord through international missions and what that could look like. Having never left the state of Florida, she had only dreamt of an opportunity like this. With a heart to glorify God in all she does, she was cautious of going on the trip with selfish intentions and we processed if this invitation was one the Lord would want her to accept.
“You know Jess, God has taken me places and He’s also kept me places. Start pursuing it; if you’re not supposed to go, He’ll make that clear, and if that is the case, it’s good to keep in mind that when He says ‘No’ to one thing, He’s saying ‘Yes’ to another, all for His glory and your good.”
That’s when it clicked. The very reason I’m now able to go To the ENDS is because years ago, I didn’t. My travel plans had just been delayed. If I had gone on that trip to Costa Rica years back, I would have never picked up a pen. I would have never changed my degree or transferred to the school where I’d be surrounded by skaters and start skating myself. I would have never imagined becoming an international journalist as a missionary. I wouldn’t have met aspects of God’s care and character the way that I did. And I would have never been able to get myself to where I am now–not having to choose between passions at all. What better way to celebrate than to pick up where we left off: Costa Rica.
Getting to travel and serve internationally with Jess was a constant reminder of God’s providence over each one of our lives. We worked with a ministry in Jacó where we painted a local skatepark to help them spread joy and hope throughout the community. The day we got to the park we washed off the face of a monster and replaced it’s canvas with a dove. The same God that stood with me through disappointment years ago, stood with me once again as He reminded me of my death, and now because of Him, my hope and life. He stood with Jess just the same as she was met with a holy intentionality and heard God speaking truth over lies with each bright color she brushed over the dull cement of the skatepark.
Shred Sisters is just a piece of the puzzle, but a bright, beautiful piece at that. How I was led to a place where writing, skating, and traveling all coexist–in Jesus’ name–amazes me still. All of this because of a death–the death of my plans, my strength, my understanding, my control. This death brought abundant life I didn’t know was out there, alive and well. Jesus, He’ll do that to you–capture your heart with no intention of giving it back; He’ll take a destination from you in exchange for The ENDS of the Earth. Surrender led me here, and here is leading me to so much more.