when he placed an african sized dream in my heart

i was sitting crisscross applesauce in my comfy white chair.  it was the first week of january, 2012. watching the live stream of the Passion conference that was going on essentially down the street in atlanta for several days. i had signed up to volunteer but realized at the last minute that logistically it wasn’t going to work. one of my girls was going to be attending the conference which has played a significant role in her walk with jesus.  i physically felt deflated and wondered perhaps if i had made the wrong decision.

during one of the breakout times, i pulled up the Noonday Collection website. having first been introduced to them the year prior through emily at jones design company, but until that morning had no idea i could actually join their team. i knew in my heart this was to be part of my story. i could advocate for these men & women. i could use my voice & raise awareness for their pathway out of poverty. champion them. represent them.

years ago when my first husband was battling terminal cancer, i quit watching the news. not in some vague denial of reality, but essentially because my heart could only handle so much of “real life”. i guess i sorta closed off the world years ago & perhaps became a little over focused on my own little world. my home. my family. my groceries & carpool. my upper middle class american life. my large church where i can freely sing corporate worship. iphones  & laptops. designer shoes and picket fences. me & my little world. sigh.

after a brief break that morning the passion live feed resumed. chris tomlin & the band came out and began singing “How Great is Our God-the world edition”. i remember vividly sitting there & weeping as the children walked up on stage in their native african dress. the visual with those lyrics touched a place in my heart like never before. i was blissfully unaware of the magnitude of all these little details being woven together that very morning.

the giving initiative for passion that weekend introduced me to many organizations, nonprofits and ways to help & support others that day.  i connected with the heart of noonday collection~ to be a voice for the voiceless. to raise awareness. to represent & to champion. sex trafficked women. oppressed people groups. violence against the poor. up until that day in 2012, i knew very little about poverty & slavery. but my little world was beginning to change. and once you know these things, you can’t unknow them.  the lord has told us what he wants us to do in those situations. it’s pretty simple really. do justice. love kindness & mercy and walk humbly with him.

fast forward to january 2014.  my three oldest daughters were all at passion conference, again in atlanta. i was in austin texas for our annual noonday ambassador conference. jen hatmaker & jennie allen were there as guest speakers & were blowing us away with talks about living called, not driven and more. ( shared about here). as if that weren’t awesome in & of itself,  jessica made a big surprise announcement~noonday, in collaboration with international justice mission would be sponsoring their first story telling trip to rwanda!

two years prior, during the same month, my daughter at passion seeing live the video i was so moved by, the lord laid the desire to travel africa on my heart. the desire to get outside my little world, the desire to see more of his people- to visit them, to meet them, photograph them, come along side them in whatever way i could.  two years later, same month, while my oldest three were once again attending passion—i can hardly believe this is real— i was invited to go to africa and be a part of that story telling trip!!!!! i felt as if i let my girl down that day in 2012. perhaps missed something monumental, and maybe i did,  yet now i see the lord had me exactly where he wanted me to be that day. i love that we have a father in heaven who sees details. i love how he brought to fruition a dream in my heart at the exact same time ( albeit two years later) it was birthed that morning sitting crisscross applesauce, feeling deflated. this time, in a room full of women who i’ve walked alongside the last two years. regular women doing extraordinary things with their voice.

you wanna know another sweet connection & detail not lost on jesus? guess who else is coming along? emily. as in jones design company emily. the original connection, through blogging, i had to noonday years ago. meet our team~

StoryTeller Deck

wanna know yet another awesome detail? YOU can come too!! ( you may need to pause video below )

come advocate with us! want to join us in Rwanda as we #StyleForJustice? we are offering the opportunity to include some one we may not yet know to come with us! tell us why YOU want to join us in winning people’s hearts to chase a global vision of economic empowerment and justice and you may receive a spot on our team (we will cover the trip cost!)

enter here!!



& just for fun….the video from that exact powerful morning two years ago. and perhaps a glimpse into what heaven might just sound like.

Chris Tomlin – How Great Is Our God (World Edition) from chris-tomlin on GodTube.

May 14, 2014 - 9:05 am

wynne - best moment ever to get to hear about this trip with YOU! oh i’m so excited for the adventures that lie ahead!

May 14, 2014 - 9:41 am

keri - aaahh! so happy i got to witness that moment at the conference…i was in tears with excitement for you!!! i can.not wait to hear every detail of this trip!!!xoxo

May 14, 2014 - 10:03 am

Elizabeth - Eeek! So very excited!!! I’ve been to Africa twice on missions, and truly, it’s my first love. I can’t articulate how my heart was captured and crafted there. I was broken and remade on that dark, dirty soil in the very best way. I absolutely cannot wait to see this journey unfold and watch more hearts change for God’s Big Plan! I keep praying about moving my life in that direction again,but until then,I’m cheering from the stands! Feel free to email me if you want to chat about Africa!

May 14, 2014 - 11:25 am

Erin @ Blue-Eyed Bride - Paige! I am SO excited for you and this trip. I will be praying for you all!

May 14, 2014 - 11:40 am

Amy B - Thank you for sharing this! Your excitement among many other things has lead me to enter the contest to join y’all. I’ve already written my submission. Please pray for God’s discernment for everyone involved that He may send the person of His choosing, whether that is someone else or me. 🙂

May 14, 2014 - 12:46 pm

chrissi - so thrilled for you paige. if anyone can bring back the faces that are africa it is you. i can’t wait to see how you ladies make the world just a little bit smaller for us all♥

May 14, 2014 - 2:16 pm

Maddie - What a WONDERFUL opportunity Paige! Very excited for YOU! Considering entering the contest to join you for JUSTICE!

May 14, 2014 - 5:43 pm

Linsey @ Bravehearted Beauty - I didn’t expect to cry on this one. Should’ve known better by the title. Big dreams make me cry. And I have no idea what God is doing in this moment, but I’m moved to tears for something I can’t quite name. Wondering, pondering, dreaming…what would it look like for me to go on a trip like that? All of you are Bravehearted Beauties for sure! xoxo

May 14, 2014 - 6:13 pm

lori h - Oh my goodness, Paige. I love How Great is Our God, but had never seen the world version. Tears and joy welling up. And how exciting that you are going to Rawanda! I can’t wait to hear all about it, and what an amazing group of women going. Wow.

May 14, 2014 - 10:11 pm

heather - completely dying at this trip. my most favorite people. for real. so excited for you to get to go to africa!!!!

May 15, 2014 - 12:46 pm

jennifer - how awesome! and kelley hampton going too. her pictures and the innocence of her children and how she makes such small things so special. you are going to rock this!

May 15, 2014 - 3:17 pm

Carol D. - How amazing that you posted this story on the very day that my 19 year set foot in Ahero, Kenya from Raleigh, NC…Kayla was at the same Passion event that you spoke about…but God placed Africa on her heart about 12 years ago with a VBS, themed with Africa, and conducted by a new church member who had been a journeyman in Tanzania..Tiffany’s love for Africa and the people spoke to my child’s heart and she has nurtured it for years~a group of our college students and chaperons are in Kisumu, Kenya for 11 days building mud huts and loving on children and moms and dads….I can’t wait to hear about your journey!

May 15, 2014 - 3:21 pm

Carol D. - How did I miss the IJM connection in this story until I clicked on another link???? A friend’s daughter works with IJM in Bolivia…IJM is a life changing group! So happy to hear there is a partnership with this group too!! I am already praying for mighty works to be done with all who cross your path!

May 15, 2014 - 3:32 pm

Alecia - I can’t even begin to tell you how thrilled I am that you’re going to AFRICA!!! Oh my goodness…I’ve been to Africa 4 times and I’m going back in less than two months…it’s so life changing! HOLY MOLY I can’t wait for the post Africa posts and pictures…EEEEKKKKK!!!! If you have any questions regarding how to prepare for that trip…please don’t hesitate to contact me…I’d love to help!

May 16, 2014 - 1:57 pm

What’s New - […] see their ad over there – takes you to my friend Paige. And I could NOT be more excited about the trip IJM is funding for these awesome ladies. Did you see how they are taking applications to take one more person? […]

May 22, 2014 - 4:45 pm

tara - a GOD SIZED dream.
this has been in your heart for like EVER.
so excited!!!!!!

May 26, 2014 - 7:06 pm

Lindsey - The last couple of weeks have been crazy so pretty much all blog reading has taken a back seat. I’m finally getting the chance to catch up read your part of the story and WOW. Love it, Paige! So much! Praying even now for what God will do in and through you. Thanks for sharing the back story!

June 19, 2014 - 11:21 am

Real Deal - Meet Paige Knudsen - Courtney DeFeo - […] chosen to travel with Jen Hatmaker, Jennie Allen and the rest of the incredible gang on their huge IJM trip this summer. Keep posted on her blog for those exciting blog posts – and of course get a […]

May 27, 2015 - 8:56 am

when you need rest~lindsay letters new art & SRT » simple thoughts from Paige Knudsen Photography - […] be able to say the following line again….when we were in africa together (still pinch me that trip occurred) raechel & i were sitting together at dinner while on the other side of the globe, the […]

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