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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

I’ve Got Nothing

It’s not that I have nothing to say.  I’m just not sure how to say what I’ve been wanting to say.

I’m finding myself in kind of a strange season right now – I’ve been internalizing a lot, but experiencing a lack of words to express that with which I am wrestling.

Praying.

Wrestling.

Waiting.

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… really hurts.

So, as I’ve been participating in the Hundred Pushup Challenge for the past 5 weeks or so, I’ve been getting a little bit of an ego boost in the form of arm and shoulder muscles that had been previously non-existent.  That ego boost has also been a bit of a pride boost. (Just picture me parading around the house in a sports bra and sweatpants flexing my arm muscles in front of every mirror – it’s actually kind of ridiculous.)

So, yesterday (on Easter Sunday, no less) as I sat with some of the youth from PLC at the Easter Pancake Breakfast, I was bragging (just a little, I swear!) to them about my buff arms and washboard (ha! not yet) abs from working out.  So of course on of them was like, “prove it!” and challenged me to an arm wrestling duel.  Well, being the competitive soul that I am, I had to take her up on the challenge and easily defeated her on the first try – piece of cake, right?  Yeah.  So then she told me I should arm wrestle Scott.  Since my ego had already been inflated at that point, and I was pretty confident in my new found arm strength, I took her up on the challenge and prepared myself to pin Scott’s arm to the table.

After several minutes of hard-fought battle, neither Scott nor myself were getting anywhere in the battle.  We were at a stalemate (and I was pretty proud of the fact that I was holding my own against my super buff fiance).  Then, perhaps in a moment of brilliance, that youth grabbed both our arms and pulled both down causing me to “lose” the match.

And that, my friends, is when I began to feel it.  Soreness began to creep into my shoulder.  Oh, the pain.  And today, it was multiplied.  My arm is weak.  I fear the gravity of the injury, so I’m waiting it out before I jump to go see a doctor about it.  Either way, I’m feeling the consequences of my pride, and if I can tell you one thing, I can tell you this: pride hurts in the end.

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Although you wouldn’t really be able to tell from looking out my window at the 3 inches of snow that fell today, the seasons are beginning to change.  Winter turns to spring.  Academic busy-ness turns to spring fever and summer fun.  The ministry madness of the Christmas to Easter season begins to turn slowly to the more relaxed pace and flexibility of summer ministry.

As I was glancing today through my calendar for the next few months, I couldn’t help but notice something.  While there certainly isn’t a lack of work to do, events to plan, and family functions to attend in the coming months, they are looking significantly less full than the past few months have been.  Things are beginning to wind down for a season – you know how I can tell?

  • The number of youth events on my calendar has dropped.  SAC lunches are down to a minimum (due to upcoming holidays that fall on the 2nd Sunday of the month) and we’re preparing to wind down this academic-year-season of youth ministry at PLC.
  • There are fewer classes on the calendar this quarter.  Since one of my registered classes this quarter is Field Study, which is mostly taking place in conjunction with my ministry at PLC, I have fewer classes per week and at least the notion of less homework.  It’s a nice reprieve and lead-in to summer.
  • My little sister graduates from college in a month!  Even though her academic calendar finishes up about a month before mine, I’m already hearing the sounds of summer.

In addition to the change in perceived busy-ness, I’ve noticed a bit of a shift in my ministry.  What does this season look for me as I face a calendar with fewer events and more office hours?

  • Evaluation – For the first time I am facing the end of this academic-year-season of ministry knowing with certainty that I’ll be continuing in my ministry in this place.  I’ve been spending a lot of time lately reflecting on how we’ve done youth ministry this year at PLC and trying to figure out ways to build on that for next year.
  • Relational Connections – I’m beginning to step up my efforts in connecting with youth on their “turf” through coffee connections, texting (as much as I despise it sometime) and just checking in to see how they have grown during the course of the year.
  • Future Planning – I’m in the early stages of figuring out where Youth Ministry at PLC will be headed next year.  We’re in a place right now where some shifts are beginning to happen, and I’m excited to see where God is calling us to go this Fall.

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… or perhaps I’m just settling into the “normalcy” of adulthood.

Ever since my silent retreat at Mowana last week, I’ve actually experienced some regularity in my sleeping habits.  I’ve been in bed by 11:00 almost every night and up before 9:00 (actually before 8 most days) every day.

I feel like I have a lot to say, but not the words to say it.
There’s been a lot going on in my life lately.
God is up to some big stuff, and I’m really excited about it.

That will all have to wait for another day, though.

It’s about my bed time.

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God has been challenging me this Lenten season in big ways.  I journaled about this on March 2nd, but figured that it’s definitely blog-worthy:

I noticed a lady in the waiting room at the Cleveland Clinic today who seemed to be upset about something.  I couldn’t tell for sure, but as I occasionally heard what sounded like the sniffles of sorrow, I began to notice something: I was aware.  Not only was I aware, but I felt compelled to do something – talk to her, pray for her, anything.  I’d like to say that the story ends with me walking over, striking up a conversation, and then praying with her.  Unfortunately, though, the ending is quite different.  Rather than acting out of compassion I just sat there, minding my own business and occasionally glancing over to observe her state.  Then a nurse came in and invited her back to the recovery room to join whoever it was she had accompanied to the office today.   I then watched in humility as this woman struggled out of her chair and into two arm braces/crutches and struggled across the room on her clearly handicapped and under-developed legs.

Now, I know nothing about this woman.  I don’t know if she was upset or if she was just getting over a cold.  I don’t know her story, who she was waiting on, or what she believes.

What I do know is this:  I failed to express the love of Christ and seize the opportunity to serve him by loving another person.  It makes me wonder – if she had been undeniably upset would I have done something or said something?  Do I have the courage to step out of my comfort zone like that?  Did I miss out on an opportunity to minister to someone in the name of Christ?

There are some life lessons that you just can’t learn in a classroom.  One of them is humility.

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I’ve been journaling a lot through this Lenten journey.  What I have lacked in “blogging” I have certainly accounted for in pages upon pages of internal reflection during this time.  I think it’s been healthy.  Here’s a glimpse at where I’ve been so far:

Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent – a time for returning to God, a time of preparation for Christ’s death on the cross, and a time for emptying ourselves of those things which hold us back from a deeper relationship with Christ… I am so excited to see how God will use the extra time and energy in my spiritual and relational walk.  I am anxious to see what he has planned. (2/24/09)

I’m not so sure this would be such a big deal if others didn’t make it so dramatic…I haven’t felt it yet, but I half expect to experience at least some phase of loneliness during this thing. (2/25/09)

I’m finding that it’s really easy to make this whole deal into some over-dramatic pity party about how I’m completely cut off from civilization, blah blah blah.  I’ve tried to blame it on other people being over-dramatic, but I must admit that I have committed much of the dramatization myself…I’m really experiencing a considerable amount of FREEDOM… I’m praying for the endurance to run this course and to finish it better than I started it. (2/26/09)

If I spent half the energy I do on wondering what everyone else might be doing right now actually seeking to understand what God is up to right now… there would be freedom… I could potentially feel much more connected to what God is already doing around me and could thus become more connected to His mission and will.  (2/28/09)

I’m sure Satan is lurking and just waiting for my guard to drop – I pray that it will not! (3/1/09)

While there are certainly challenges in a culture that is so chained to the internet, the blessings have already far outweighed any “suffering.”  It’s hard to put into words the ways in which things have changed.  There’s a sense of freedom that I love. (3/3/09)

I continue to anticipate the ways that God will continue to provide provision, pardon, and protection in this season. (3/4/09)

I know that I can’t place my self worth in what other people do or say, yet I found myself doing exactly that on several occasions today… I’m in a position where I’m forced to face these feelings… No more escape.  No more running.  Just some real honest reflection about what’s really going on here.  Where do I get my self worth?  To whom am I really connected?  How do I face feelings of loneliness?  What do I do about it?  Where do I instinctively turn?… The breaking isn’t fun… the truth is, though, that we need the brokenness to experience the healing and restoration.  That is the hope that we look for in the resurrection.  (3/5/09)

It’s raining right now.  Well, it just started raining.  It always rains, doesn’t it?  I don’t really want to be around anyone, but I feel really lonely… God is definitely humbling me in this Lenten journey.  It’s not glamorous.  It’s not supposed to be glamorous.  I don’t want it to be glamorous.  (3/6/09)

The breaking – the tearing – the destruction of the old for the sake of new life.  I feel it… I feel it in my soul and I feel it in my bones.  Little by little God is tearing me down – peeling away the layers upon layers of selfishness, of pride, of fear, of insecurity – slowly working His way into the depths of my soul.  It’s a painful process.  My failures and insecurities are being revealed.  (3/8/09)

I feel like a complete and total failure… I am terrified for the rest of this week.  I feel disconnected from people.  I am worn out from awareness of my insecurities… I’m incredibly frustrated with myself – for being selfish, for acting defensively out of anger, for getting angry with people, for not putting enough into my school work, and for failing at doing the things I am most passionate about. (3/9/09)

Thy will be done.  Use me as you will.  Be my everything. (3/11/09)

I do find it interesting that God does not simply offer rest for the weary, but he commands it. (3/12/09)

I feel like I am learning so much lately – and not just head knowledge… but heart knowledge… It has included breaking, and humility, and heartache… I know that God is up to something big in me, and I’m excited to see it as it continues to unfold.  (3/13/09)

Tonight I am completely and totally exhausted.  I need rest – the deep kind of rest that revives the soul.  This process of breaking down has been a challenge unlike any I have experienced up to this point.  I have become raw in the process as my own flaws and insecurities and fears have been brought to the forefront.  I have been reduced to tears, and anger, and humility.  And now I am longing for restoration.  I’m aching for the hope of the resurrection.  I long to rest in Christ – to know that I belong to him and that I am loved. (3/15/09)

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I love watching people who I care about do the things that they are passionate about.  And more than watching, I love involving myself.

Perhaps that explains my recent fascination with high school basketball.  It’s strange.  When I was in high school, I never attended a single basketball game, and I had no desire to do so.  This past December, I attended my first high school girls’ basketball game to cheer on a girl from our youth group (and a friend of hers who is a frequent visitor) who play on the varsity girls basketball team.  Since then, I’ve made it to four additional games and become almost compulsive about checking scores for not only their team, but other teams in the district and conference, and even my own high school (which I graduated from over 5 years ago!).  I don’t even particularly care for the sport, but since I have a connection through a person I’m invested in, I have become involved.

I love watching people who I care about do the things that they are passionate about.  And more than watching, I love involving myself.

While in college I used to sneak up into the balcony of the chapel during the times when the worship dance ministry practiced.  I would sit up there reading, or journaling, or just watching.  It was almost as though through watching the movement of others in worship I was able to participate in that which they were so passionate about.  I’m not a dancer, and probably will never have the poise or grace to lead others in worship through dance, but since I had a connection through people I was invested in, I became involved.

I love watching people who I care about do the things that they are passionate about.  And more than watching, I love involving myself.

What is it that draws us into things?  What is it that involves us?  For me it is the passion of a person in whom I have a vested interest.  It kind of makes me wonder.  What is it that I do with such passion that others are drawn into involvement?  Is there anything that I do with such passion?

I’d like to think that I am passionate about following Christ.  But do I really follow Christ with such passion that others are drawn into a relationship with Him?  I sure hope so.

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