January 31, 2008

Joy in the End

I feel like I'm on the edge of something good.
God has opened several doors for me in the last week or so. He's provided a small income in babysitting and a small chance to feel like a part of some families while I am away from my own. He's allowing me to really be a part of things that I'm passionate about in the church. He's giving me great opportunities to learn from some phenomenal people in all of this.
I'm in a great mood today, mainly because I feel like He's really at work in me and really ready to prepare me for some big movements in my life.

I'm going through the gospels because through reading "The Last Word and the Word After That" I learned a lot about Jesus and what He was really about: Love. I'm learning so much about love lately, and I'm trying to form myself around that. I finished Mark last night and to kill some time before more babysitting, I figured I would start Luke. In my bible, there's an introduction to every book. Before Luke, my bible explains that Luke's point of view made everything seem like a joyous celebration. The Messiah was coming, and that was something to celebrate.
In chapter 2, verse 10, the angel brings news of great joy. God was preparing the world for something huge. To me, the best part is that there was a period of despair stuck in the middle of it. God knew what He was doing, but to the rest of the world the task seemed too great and too depressing to bring forth joy in the end. Even Jesus Himself wanted to skip the hard part (understandably so, considering He was to experience the ultimate pain: separation from His Father). I haven't listened to this week's sermon yet, but I understand it's about the process. It should make the process easier to understand that no matter what we do and no matter what happens in the middle, the outcome is always full of Joy.
I'm in a huge process. While I feel God is opening some really great doors for me, I am also dealing with some really painful issues right now. What's great about pain is that I've learned to find good in it. I've learned to expect joy in the end. I understand that there is something to learn from every situation. So right now, while I feel it in my heart, it's important to understand that God has great joy for me at the end. The middle might hurt, but He is in control and He will remain Sovereign in all of it.

January 29, 2008

Strong Women

On my way home from the leadership event (Movement. I like it) last night, for some reason God put on my heart how lucky I am to be surrounded by so many influential, positive people. More specifically, I got to thinking about how blessed I am by the women that He has put into my life in the past couple months. And I don't know if this is going to be weird or awkward to read, but I really started laying it out in my head how each of these women have positively affected me and my attitude and my outlook in the past several weeks alone. I feel like most, if not all of them, read my blog or come across it at some point and they deserve to know that I admire them for who they are and who they're trying to be. It might not be much coming from a 19 year old, but I think it's important and God put it on my heart at a really random moment when it's the last thing I could have been thinking about.

Growing up, I've had several strong (almost stubborn) women in my life. But there's never been anyone in my family that I would say is necessarily Godly. At times, it's even hard for me to say that my mom or dad are Christians. I just don't know. And our family doesn't talk about it. So being able to be poured into every now and then by these women is so essential to me. Especially at this point in my life where I wake up and go to sleep almost every day utterly confused, trying to figure myself out. The truth is that I don't know very much at all about any of these 3 women, but I know that they love and encourage and speak hope to those around them.

Anita: You have been such an amazing example of what a patient, kind, loving mother is. Your daughters are beautiful, and they already have huge personalities that people are drawn to. Your love for your family is amazing. I think it's so funny that you guys haven't been here very long, but all four of you fit right in. All of you have so much to teach us, and I'm thankful that you can trust me to watch your daughters and hopefully teach them a little bit, too. I hope that you're feeling at home here in Charlotte.

Ferris: I feel like I'm always running up to you going "Hey Ferris you're awesome! Hey Ferris you're amazing! Hey Ferris let's be friends!" I'm glad you're okay with that. I think you're such a cool person, and your personality, your perspective and your age makes you completely approachable for a lot of different things. I'm so excited for you as you move into this next HUGE season in your life, and I know you are, too.

Kelly: We share a name and apparently a lot of personality traits. When we were talking on Sunday, after almost every sentence you said I ended up thinking "Wow. This is exactly the way that I feel all the time" and it's really comforting for me to see someone as amazing as you come through a situation that's so similar to mine. Your daughters are beyond beautiful, and they almost literally light up any room they enter. You've given them so much love so that they can give it to others as well. Your encouragement in the past couple weeks has been so helpful to me, and your willingness to talk to me and pour into me makes me feel completely safe and at home in this community of believers. I look forward to seeing you every Sunday morning.

I just hope that I would be able to pour encouragement back into the 3 of your lives the way you guys do for me. My life is constantly changed by women like you. You're helping me grow up.

January 26, 2008


Okay, so it's not a super cool title like Thankful Thursday with the whole "th" pattern going on, but run with me here. It's a short list.

I'm thankful for:
-The amazing families at Elevation who trust me enough to watch their children. I got to babysit three sets of amazingly beautiful, smart, growing kids this week. And I'm really excited because the Hubatka's are next.

-Incredible friends and a roommate with whom I can actually hang out, laugh and grow.

-El Roi. The God who sees me.
This name for God is found in Genesis 16:13 when Hagar says "You are the God who sees me. I have now seen the One who sees me."
His name is permanently written across my back. And even though it is, I think I often forget what it really means. I am loved by the God who knows every single last detail about my life. He knows every doubt I own right now, every scar I've made on myself, every complete screw-up. He knows every time I've ever managed to show a bit of patience or humility, every time I've loved someone as Him, every word of praise I have offered. There isn't one detail about me that He has ever missed, and I'm extremely thankful for that. What's even better is that He knows everything and manages to love me and erase the past and keep looking. He looks for the best in me and helps me find freedom from the worst (but that's another tattoo and another blog in itself).

January 24, 2008


I need prayers.
Considering Sunday's sermon and tonight's small group discussion and recent events, I feel like now would be an appropriate time to ask for prayers. Even via blog.

I have never been so desperate for something for a period of time and received absolutely no consolation, no answers, no relief. I have no problem putting my personal feelings on this website. If all you need to know is that I need prayers, then you can quit reading.
It seems to me that the only time lately that I've been able to feel like my heart is on fire for God is during worship, specifically through singing (and dancing if it's in Motion), and this leads me to believe that my worship is based on very specific circumstances and is therefore conditional. And I am not okay with that. I'm not okay if that is the only time I feel God's presence in me. The past couple of months have been a whirlwind of change and drama and general shifting within my closest friends. Maybe all of that took my attention off of my most important relationship. And after tonight, I'm hoping I can begin to find peace with what's happening so that I can really honestly focus on the opportunities God has been setting up for me.

I wasn't in the service on Sunday, but I wish I was, just for the end when certain people were prayed over in a specific way. I got a glimpse of it Sunday morning when the amazing people I lead worship and act with in Motion basically wrapped their arms around me and prayed for peace over my heart. And tonight when our small group took turns praying over each other. Jesus is taking time to physically wrap His arms around me through the people He's blessed me with, and that's helping. But if you think you might pray for me this week, please pray that He would continue to reach out to me and allow me to feel Him personally again. I can't do this alone, and I can't do this just with the people around me. Before any of that, I desperately crave His personal affection and attention.

January 22, 2008

Just a Test

Lately, I've been praying for 2 things consistently:

1. That God would become personal to me again (because somehow I've lost the feeling that He is real and alive in me, and it's painful. I'm not sure how to get that back).
2. That God would begin to transform me from the inside out. My heart needs some huge changes.

What I want is for my heart to change into something more loving and a lot less negative and sarcastic. I'm aware that God chose to build me with extreme emotions. I'm learning how to be okay with that because that's just how the Creator made me. There's obviously a reason for it. However, I have a problem with the way I've learned how to release my emotions. I have 3 main ways of getting rid of my angry/upset/sad emotions: yelling, crying and one that is really more of just a personal bad habit at this point. All of these are harmful to myself and to the people around me who have to deal with it. So my thinking is that if I can let God change my heart then that would change my thinking which would change my reactions and the way words come out of my mouth. I think this Sunday was a test of how well I'm letting go of myself so that God can change me.

Long story made very short: I was 2 and 1/2 hours late for church on Sunday, on a day that I was given more of a leadership role and another chance to step up. The first hour of my day was spent crying, speeding to Butler and asking God why He couldn't have woken me up earlier. I was really mad at myself and really glad that no one was around because I was FREAKING OUT. Looking back on it, I was a lot calmer on the inside than I let myself show on the outside. I've gotten so used to freaking out and crying that it was like I did it regardless of the fact that God gave me some peace about it
On my way home Sunday night (at around 3am when all the best thinking happens haha), I was praying, and I realized that maybe Sunday morning was a part of my change. Maybe God gave me this really frustrating (but comparatively small and insignificant) situation to let me work on changing the way I react to situations. I would say I pretty much failed...but at least I realized it later.

I very strongly believe that God plans well and everything He does and everything He lets happen happens for a very specific reason. Some instances make it hard for me to remember that, but I trust that He has me in His hands and is perfectly capable of teaching me through absolutely everything.

My quote of the morning:
"For the next 2 minutes I would like you all to believe that I am a large, paisley bird. Go!"
-my philosophy professor. You have to see this guy to understand.

January 20, 2008

Just a Kid

Last night in the car around 2am when Jennica and I were driving back to Winthrop to get a couple hours of sleep (which proved to not be enough for my body, as I soon found out by waking up at 10:37 when I was supposed to be at Butler at 8...but that's another story that has already been heard by anyone who reads this. That's done. I'm okay with this morning. It just furthers my emotions of my previous post and reinforces the fact that our Butler Motion actors and worship leaders are phenomenally dedicated and on top of things when it comes to getting the message of Christ out to kids), I was talking about some of the things that are stressing me out lately with my relationships and friendships and church and school and blah blah blah. Once I got all of that out of my system and we got out of the car, I was walking and it hit me that sometimes I forget how young I am. I'm just a kid.
I really think I'm at an age where I can still claim a tiny piece of childhood. I'm still dependent on my parents, and I still get really really excited about things and jump around and play with kids and run around in snow. I'm still just a messed up ball of hormonal emotions. But I'm also at an age where I can claim adulthood a little bit. I can vote. I can get a real job. If I wanted to, I could live in an apartment and pay for rent and everything. I have to make adult decisions and be a little bit more mature about some things (not that I'm good at it).
So this morning, in between periods of hyperventilating, I was thinking about how much of a kid I am. And I realized that I'm just a child. I've always loved the image or metaphor for people of God as His children. He's given us the ability to make our decisions and to be grown-ups, but at the same time He is the Ultimate Protector, who has to pick us up and take care of us and help us make the right decisions. I like the whole idea of free will, even though I'm very sure we often make wrong choices, but I don't care if you're 5 or 50, you're still a child of God. You're His precious, tiny, finite, dependent, child who can not stand on their own when it comes down to it. And He continues to pick us up and help us continue to move forward towards Him, and especially today, I'm so thankful for that.

[I am a child in the eyes of God
and I have been broken by the weight of Love
so I am running into the arms of the One.
I am a child in the eyes of God]

January 19, 2008

Thanks guys.

This is going to be a really random post that could probably wait until after Sunday, but I was thinking about this tonight and getting really excited for this coming Sunday. The past two Sundays I got to do background vocals in "big church," which I love. However, I am so freaking excited to get back to Motion for the next 2 weeks. I'm finding out more and more every week how much I love the people that work in Motion at Butler.
Today Jackie sent me an e-mail checking with the schedule for this coming Sunday and saying she would not be there so I would generally be making sure that all of our run-throughs and things get done, which I've done before. I miss Jackie when she's gone, but I love the chances I get to "run" things in Motion. Partly because I like the few chances I get to step up into a leadership role (even if temporarily). But mostly I love getting the chance to do it because it proves to me how dedicated and amazing the people I work with are. I spend a lot of time at Providence because my best friends are generally there. But I get excited about working at Butler because I know that I can ALWAYS rely on the people there, whether I'm physically there or not. Moreso, I'm sure it gets redundant to them, but I love getting to sit down with them (Katlyn, Phillip, Josh and Megan specifically) and tell them just how much they are appreciated in Motion. Getting to pour any amount of encouragment into them is amazing to me. They put so much time and effort into making a good experience for the kids, even on the weeks they aren't "scheduled" to. They are really set on showing the love of Jesus to these kids and they are excellent at getting everything set up and running, no matter who is in charge. God has surrounded each of us with a group of loving, selfless, dedicated people who know what it means to invest in the work of Jesus so that kids' lives will be changed.

January 17, 2008

You took my heavy heart and made it light

Last night was a major experience for me. I started off the night in a pretty unhappy mood, worrying about how much needs to change in me and how long it's going to take and how much I desperately need God to move in my heart right now. I ended the night at almost 5 this morning, sitting across from my amazing roommate (who has a far more detailed account of last night on her blog than I will present here) thinking about how phenomenally Jesus presents Himself and His love to us.

The general rundown of the last 13 hours goes as follows:
1am: Jennica sees a strange person waving at her to come down and play in the snow with his group of friends. She mistakes him at first for someone she knows, so we decide to investigate. We bundle up, head downstairs, initially get threatened by snowballs to the face which are quickly replace with a snowball flower as a peace offering, I guess. After frolicking on our own for a while and taking some pictures, we head back towards the Nance and meet up with these same guys, who invite us to go on a small adventure with them in the fresh snow. How can you not oblige to that as a college sophomore who totally wants to be 7 years old again?
2am: We find ourselves on the steepest hill around Winthrop using cafeteria trays and abandoned cardboard to launch ourselves into snow. Standing on top of this hill, we started to get to know these guys better and find out that most of them major in some form of arts and are all Christians. Pretty amazing people, not to mention hilarious.
3am: We travel to the house of Stephen and Jared (I think) and get some much needed hot chocolate and warm socks and heat. We spend the next hour or so talking and laughing and learning about each other a little bit.
4:14am: We finally get a ride back to the Nance, where Jen and I both immediately sat down to write about it. I decided though that I didn't like last night's post. So here I am today.

I was thinking about it more today, and I realized that last night was such a fantastic example of people who are living as an example of Christ's love. It was the also the most random example of His love that I've ever encountered. But these people immediately took us in to roam around a campus covered in white (which was something that put both Jennica and I in giddy little girl modes). They immediately opened up themselves and a little bit of their faith to us. They immediately opened up their house to us and gave us hot chocolate and warm socks (I'm serious. Those socks were probably the biggest blessing of the night). I especially feel this way because I know what kind of mood I was in before I met them. For some reason last night I felt more like a sinner than usual. Like a failure. Like nothing worthy of the kind of Love Jesus offers. But then there are these people who don't even care that you're struggling with something, because they can relate to you, so they love you anyways. They could care less that I had spent the previous 2 hours crying in my room. They could care less that I am imperfect and broken. I don't even know if they did it intentionally, but they showed a tremendous amount of Love through actions, rather than words, and it completely reshaped my night. I'm so grateful that God works in ways that we could never think of. He moves in mystery and promises that He knows what He's doing and that there is always Love and forgiveness available in places like a snowy college campus or a warm, small house.

I want so badly to believe

Finally. I think tonight is the night I can get through an entire thought to finally post a blog...No promises.

In Mark, chapter 9, Jesus is approached by a man whose son is posessed by a spirit that has robbed him of his speech and throws the kid into convulsions. As weird as it may be, I love seeing stuff like verse 19 where Jesus is totally exasperated with everyone: "O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me." A.K.A. "Really? Honestly? Still? You still don't believe? How long do you think I'll be around. How long do I have to keep proving myself to you? Let's get this over with; I'll show you." It reminds me that we'll probably just never understand. We'll never get enough signs to satisfy us. But He keeps helping us along.
So Jesus asks the man about it, who tells Him that the kid has been like this since he was a child. He says "if you can do anything, take pity on us" and Jesus is kind of offended. He tells the guy that everything is possible if you believe it. And this is the part I love. The guy's response is:

"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

Because for some reason the last part of this sentence slapped me in the face. Because I know exactly how this guy feels. He so desperately wants for his son to be healed, but he has such a hard time truly believing that his son will be healed. I so desperately want to change from the inside out. I so desperately need my heart to be different. If only I could just BELIEVE that God is already in the process of doing so. But I'm doing what this man did, at least. Crying out to Jesus that He would help me because I obviously am not capable of living and breathing and loving on my own.
Aside from that, I really like the placement of these two statements. The guy did try to believe first. He said he did. He might have faked it, but Pastor says to fake it 'till you feel it. I do believe Jesus is healing me and changing me. But that doesn't mean I don't need help overcoming the unbelief left over. Not that I'm faking belief...I hope this all is coming out okay. I'm emotionally exhausted tonight.

My point is that it's okay for me to cry out to Jesus for help in overcoming my own unbelief as I'm moving forward with all the belief I can muster at the time.

January 5, 2008

Better late than never.

I know we're 5 days into the New Year, but I saw this on Lindsey's blog and felt like it could be okay. Plus, I feel like we've all been on a small blogging hiatus (with the exception of Phillip, who seems to be the most consistent blogger within Elevation). So here we are:

1. List five happy memories of 2007.
-My entire summer spent working as a 3rd grade counselor at the YMCA in Greenville. I learned so much from those kids, and I believe if God hadn't called me back to Greenville for the summer, I would not have realized how much I'm in love with children and I would not have come back to Elevation and thrown myself into Ekidz.
-Getting to serve in Elevation's worship ministry. Ever since I've been at this church, I've wanted to be a significant part of our worship experiences. After a year of sending in demos and waiting, I finally got to be a part of it, and it is one of the most energizing and exciting things I will ever take part in.
-Going through my first experience of clearly hearing something that God was telling me to do and doing exactly so. It was hard and parts of it sucked, but God taught me a lot through that. I'm hoping I can get better at hearing and understanding Him.
-My trip to Hawaii with my family this summer. To me, nothing compares to this place. The funny part is that I think my favorite part of the whole trip was actually the plane ride because it reminded me that no matter how many clouds we can see from the ground, there is always brilliant blue sky waiting above them.
-The assembly of my entourage. I've never met a group of people quite like the ones surrounding me right now. God has strategically placed each one of us in this place and time, and I think we're doing a beautiful job of loving and serving each other. The past 3 or 4 months as a whole have been one giant happy memory.

2. Describe four things you’ve learned this year.
-Not to rely on material things and people. I'm actually in the process of learning right now that God is number one. It seems like that would be obvious, but we forget He's first all the time, not just when we run out of other options. Everything else around me can fail, but He is always there.
-Reading the Bible is absolutely 100% imperative in keeping a good relationship with God. When I stop reading for a while, I start feeling dead, and when I open my Bible after a long break from it, I literally feel like I'm going to start breathing again.
-Do not make definitive statements because that's when God likes to remind you that you have no idea what you're talking about.
-You need good people in your life, and you NEED to cut the bad ones out. What people speak into your life directly affects the way you see yourself and your life. The ones who speak hate and despair into it are worth nothing to you. The ones who speak encouragement and hope are a direct gift from God.

3. Which three relationships in your life have changed the most this year?
-Javy. This kid and I have a rollercoaster relationship that will never be figured out. It's been hard to judge when things were supposed to work out and when everything should have just ended.
-Jennica. From thinking that each of us hated the other to living together...Jen, I love you and look up to you so much. I'm so incredibly excited to be living with you this semester. I know that our relationship is going to continue to change this semester, and I think that God has vast amounts of jank to teach me through you.
-My stepfamily and dad. Somehow we're all able to sit down and talk a little bit about God. It's not much, but I feel like I'm doing a little better at being a witness to them. I would give anything to see the four of them really honestly come to Christ. I know God is using me in their lives, and I hope I'm doing okay.

4. Name two new places you went this year.
-Elevation church offices...haha
-Concord? I'm sorry, this one was hard for me. I don't think I've been anywhere new this year, but I'm at a point where if these two places are enough for me, I'm happy.

5. What one thing you’ve done this year are you most proud of?
-I've learned how to keep my worship from being conditional. It's taken a long time. I used to use Elevation as a filler every Sunday. I used to think I was worshiping at Elevation and not anywhere else. I used to be a very conditional worshiper. Something changed this year, and I can say that I'm fully aware that God is present everywhere in my life: physically and metaphorically. I'm not really proud of myself, but proud of the fact that I finally let Him break through me and teach me something bigger than what I knew before.

January 3, 2008

You're calling us out of ourselves

Lately I've found that I have a really easy time loving the things, people, resources and events that God has put in my life, but I have a really hard time loving the actual Creator God who put them there.

If you've read my blog, you can see how much I love my friends. God has blessed me with a fantastic entourage and community that manages to constantly provide for me in love and resources. These people have taken care of me like nobody's business. I'm so thankful for them. Even if it's all taken care of last minute, I know I always have a place to sleep and a way to get there.
I'm also really thankful for my church and the events that take place in it, both during the week and on Sundays. I love the staff at Elevation. They've also found ways to provide for me, maybe without even knowing it. I'm crazy about the way God has strategically placed me in Charlotte and at Winthrop. I love what I'm a part of.

Lately, my things have been breaking. My car, my phone charger, some other minor things. It's opened my eyes a little to see that I've done a really great job in loving these things that God has put in my life in the past year, but that has pushed me away from my God. I've been focusing so hard on how grateful I am for these people and these material things in my life that I've neglected to take the time to praise the actual Creator of everything I have and everything I am. I am suffering a lot for this. I'm in a hole right now, and I'm struggling to feel God as a personal presence in my life...ironic, considering the series we just got out of.

One of the big things is quiet time (or what I refer to as 'small time.' I'm not really sure why). I've gotten out of the habit lately and I really feel it dragging me away from Him. I'm in desperate need of Him to be close to me because I'm feeling especially empty lately. I think desperation is a good thing in some cases. At least I'm trying. I'm still breathing.