Monday, March 30, 2009

It's Nice to Be Known

This weekend was incredibly refreshing. Recently I have tried to be consistent about having a Sabbath, but it even if I haven't had any major plans or obligations, I haven't felt refreshed and I couldn't figure out why. This weekend I discovered what I was missing: I got to have a Sabbath from being an adult.

Brittany, Stacy, and I grew up together at Asbury UMC and this weekend Stacy and I flew into Atlanta to visit Brittany. We did some goofy tourist things, but the most valuable time we spent was spent just laughing together. We each live very different lives, but I doubt we'll ever lose our connection to each other. The people that have seen you through 4th grade crushes, middle school acne years, high school relationships, and all the awkward things that comes with growing up are those who have the ability to keep you the most grounded.

Re-living the past is not always fun, nor is it necessary most of the time, but having people around me who understand my past can better ground me in the present, and help me dream of the future. Brittany and Stacy are two of those people for me. I'm now convinced everyone needs to have a weekend like this twice a year. To get with people who you haven't seen in a while and who have known and loved you for years.

My normal life as a pretend-adult is full of responsibilities and logistics and busyness; but this weekend released me from all that and allowed God to really refresh me.

Saturday night as Brittany, Stacy and I sat around talking about how much we all needed this weekend, Brittany described it best: "It's nice to be known"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Strange Blessings

Sometimes God's strength comes in crazy places. I am leading our missions team to South Africa in July and I have been very stressed about it. Recently I have been worried that I did not bring this enough before the Lord in prayer and I have worried that this will never work.

But God completely recharged my heart today. First, I had my ipod on at work and was listening to the podcasts of nlcf's latest series on pursuing social justice around the world (they called it "Ripples"). The stories of what people have done and are doing began to open my heart again to God's desire for the Church to be the leaders in bringing justice to the broken places of the world.

There were two verses that stuck out to me...
Isaiah 1:17: "Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.* Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow."

and Micah 6:8 "What does the Lord require of you? To do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God."

Just those could have been enough to inspire me, but God also used something else very odd. Saying this requires the confession that I watch TLC. A guy at my office calls it "The Ladies Channel" because long ago they stopped putting informative programming on there... and most of it's just reality-type shows.

So anyway, there's a tv show about a family named the Duggers. They're the really famous family with 18 kids. They're a conservative Christian family, and though the channel doesn't focus on their faith - it is obvious in the decisions they make. And there are times I've seen this show and it makes me crazy (some of the theological stances aren't entirely accurate...) but today it was exactly what God needed to tell me.

The dad and about 12 of the kids went on a mission trip to El Salvador to bring Christmas presents and food to some very needy families. Watching their missions trip and seeing all those kids and families in need completely broke my heart. I realized that no matter what we do in South Africa - whether it's digging ditches or playing with kids or whatever - we are honoring God with our sacrifice by just not being afraid to go.

Bob Pierce was the founder of World Vision and Samaritan's Purse and he said a now-famous quote that I want to bring before the Lord,

"Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God."

That's why we're going to South Africa. And God is already laying out our steps.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


When I read the old testament sometimes I think, "Really, were the Israelites just dense?" How many times did the prophets say the same things to them, and yet they continued to make the same mistakes.

But I do the same thing. I can look back at my life and see the same struggles, temptations, and immature attitudes repeating like clockwork. It doesn't matter how many well I think I've beaten something, it won't take long before it will creep back in.

In college I fought really hard to learn how to be graceful. It became a great desire of mine to pursue being a woman of grace and humility. I certainly wasn't perfect, but I made great strides. Two years later... here I am again. Yet again I am battling with a heart that knows neither how to be compassionate nor graceful. I stopped being vigilant and I lapsed back into my old habits.

I think ministries have this temptation as well. It's easy for ministries to get stale, clique-y, or misdirected if the leaders are not constantly analyzing the present state of the ministry and bringing it before God.

So my life and the ministries can be just like the Israelites; predictably and perpetually stuck in bad habits. Each day I have to decide if I'm going to continue to pursue away from the bad habits and into the good ones.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My First Talk!

Wow... what a crazy week.

A while ago I posted about how God was teaching me about Hope and that I've been studying it. Well a rare opportunity came up that we had an open night in Fuse where we could choose our topic. James had a really hard message the week before so he asked me if I wanted to speak.

So for the last couple weeks I've been attempting to write a talk about Hope. It has been UNBELIEVABLY DIFFICULT. I have given talks before, but something about this was so difficult to get my hands around. How do I boil such a broad topic down into 20 minutes?

But Sunday night I did it. I always feel that giving a talk like that you never really know how well you did until later when you can listen to it. I was really nervous, almost threw up beforehand (though this is not tremendously uncommon for me when I get butterflies in my stomach), but I did it.

I haven't had the courage to listen to it, but tonight I finally did. Wow. God totally came through. I was listening to it and thinking "is that my voice saying that?" which is so awesome, because that means it was really God speaking through me.

These are only audio - but the only way I could figure out how to imbed them into a blog is to make a video, upload it to youtube, and post it here. So I don't think you can download it - just listen/watch.

I'm trying to get it posted to a podcast, but right now we are having trouble getting our Fuse talks on Itunes. So I'm working on it.

I'd love feedback if you care to give it, that way I'm better next time I do this =)

Anyway, this has been a really a great blessing =)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Month Recap!

It's embarrassing that my posts have been almost a month apart, and it's not because there's not much to talk about; it's because there's too much to talk about and I run out of time to write it down. So here's the month recap:

Fuse: February was a month of challenges and growth. God has really stretched our leadership team creatively, emotionally, and spiritually. It certainly has not been easy, but lots of great changes are happening. Our Sunday night worship venue continues to grow in numbers which is making awesome and scary challenges. Our creative arts team has been trying new ideas to enhance worship with visual interest and sound characteristics.

However, the most exciting Fuse event of the month was the launch of a 2nd Homegroup & with it, Lifegroups. The worship venue is important and valuable, but there's nothing quite as important as community. To recognize that our homegroup community was so successful, that it got to multiply, is a great victory. Having two homegroups will allow many more people to get connected. Our lifegroups are also great because they connect people through intimate relationships and accountability - this is where real growth happens.

Youth Ministry: This month was our winter trip (my last post talked a little about it) where we took 36 middle schoolers and 23 high schoolers to camp for 4 days. I love those settings, because it gives the kids time to get beyond the tough outer shell and start opening up deeper parts of their hearts. Kids I've known for 6 or 8 months finally started to come forward with the stories of things in their past that have deeply wounded them.

One of the reasons so many kids were able to go to camp was because of 2 guys. Two weeks before camp, Dusty & James decided that they hated the idea that so many kids could not go to camp because they didn't have the money. So they set out on a quest to raise $3500 in 2 weeks to get the kids who couldn't afford it to camp. They played golf sunrise to sunset, road beach bikes in the snow for 36 miles, got shot with paintballs, and a dozen other rediclious stunts people paid them to do. Their victory was not only getting these kids to camp, but in demonstrating to them how valuable they are - some of those kids may never have known anyone sacrifice for them. It was so much more than money.

Camp is awesome!

Also exciting this February for the middle schoolers was moving our youth group "Nitelife" from Tuesdays to Wednesdays. On Tuesdays we were stuck upstairs in our classrooms while the high schoolers had the downstairs in the big open worship center. With the middle school averaging 35-40 kids those classrooms were just far to small. Moving to Wednesdays allows us to use the worship venue, opening up awesome room for growth. We hope to be averaging 60 by mid summer =)

As far as work, things are going well, I'm staying busy and learning a lot. My boss retired first of January so it's been a tough period of transition but we're making it. I feel really blessed to have this job, particularly in this economy so I'm trying to pull my weight and work hard.

Today officially marks 2 months that Greg has been in South Africa. Wow, hardly seems possible. It's been cool how God has really given each of us peace about our relationship. It's also been really exciting to see how God has been working through him to battle his depression and serve the kids of Pretoria. If you haven't been getting his updates, he's right now coaching mini-cricket to kindergarten-3rd graders, various soccer teams, and softball to girls age 10-13. This final coaching gig happens to bring out some of the more hilarious incidents. I had to explain to him that the reason the girls are so excited about joining the team and staying after for pitching practice might not have to do with their enthusiasm for the sport. I think they've all fallen for the new young American coach =) This provides great comedy because it makes Greg immensely uncomfortable.

So... That's probably all you possible wanted to read about my February.

Of random notes - I'm speaking for the first time at Fuse next week. I'm quite nervous so if you could be praying that'd be awesome.

Maybe I'll write sooner than a month from now... we'll see. =)