Friday, December 21, 2012

Elise: An Unexpected Journey

"What are you going to do after college?"

Ever student I know dislikes this question until they actually know what they will be doing! Sure I have an idea, but I am fearful of telling people I am doing that if it doesn't pan out! Ever since going to summer project this summer I so desperately want to go back to headquarters and just learn and grow with such amazing people God has put in that building! But while I don't seen any technical reasons to not go there, He may not be calling me there, so for now I just say I would like to go back to Orlando but I am also looking at other possibilities.

When I am involved in something I am passionate about it in the moment. Spring of freshman year I was taking a sociology of education class and I just kept thinking about being a school administrator and solving the problems of the school system! That fall I started taking American Sign Language and I then wanted to be an interpreter (still slightly a desire, we shall see). I went to Orlando this summer and now I want to intern there. I started to doubt in the middle of the semester if this is where God wanted me.

But I kept thinking about Cru and about how the only thing I loved all semester was doing work for Cru, making sure everything was ready for the next week, meeting up with girls on a weekly basis, etc. while it "took away" from me doing my course work I loved it. Sure there were stressful moments, but I kept thinking "If I could do this all the time and not do school work, this would be the best thing ever!"

So I started to examine why maybe I was hesitant about doing an internship, and it came to money. I am scared of raising support (even though I have observed the training of full staff support raising so I have a better knowledge of what I will be getting into than many other people simply interning!) It is not just raising support though, I am worried about financial stability, basically the sin of greed and lack of faith in what God can do. So I swept my love of Cru under the rug and thought "I will wait for the spring to see what God does and I will take steps of faith" basically giving myself the excuse of not telling people my full desire for Cru in case some awesome job or internship came my way to that paid me!

But a few nights back I was on Pintrest and this quote showed up on my newsfeed from a sweet friend, it said "If your dreams don't scare you, they are not big enough" and that is when it hit me. I am scared of interning/staffing with Cru because I am really scared that I am not "Christian" enough to join in and contribute to all of the amazing things that they do. My dream is big enough, God's plan in my life is big enough, I am terrified. But what that quote is missing is "If it is big enough, trust in God, He knows what He is doing."

The fear of what God could be calling me to do is good, but I also just need to start running the race with God showing me the path step by step. If I wait to see the entire route he is leading me on, I will stay still and frightened and will not be able to do anything for His glory. He might be yelling in my face CRU! CRU! (Which I really think he is) and so I need to say "Thine Will Be Done" and start taking steps of seeing what all Cru is doing and maybe where I can fit the gifts God has blessed me with. There will be trial and error, but that doesn't mean I am doomed, but rather that God is going to teach me great things during each season in life to allow me to be used!

Even in writing this blog I keep thinking "Man, God has been showing me in numerous ways that Cru is such a possibility after college!" I have always thought of interning in Orlando, but I have also been asked by OSU Cru to consider interning with them to help build the TU Cru, and also regional headquarters in Austin has asked me to consider interning there. As for support raising, the head pastor at the church I go to in Tulsa has said twice to please come and talk to the congregation to be a missionary for the church! Many people have come up asking me about summer project and follow up with "Do you think you will join staff?" or even when I tell them my thoughts they have been encouraging and excited for me! Sure this is scary to feel such validation, but man, I keep asking God to give me discernment in where I should be after college, and he has blasted open doors of insight to show me that if Cru is His desire as well as mine, God is making it happen!

How beautiful a God is He who I love and worship! Words cannot describe how much I feel loved and cherished by Him while in this trial of figuring out the next step to take. God is there behind, beside, and in front of me in this journey, I shall not fear anything except Him! 

Beauty and the Beast

(Meant to be posted during the end of finals, oops!)
So I was about to write this blog and talk about all the bad things that have gone on this semester that I have not liked. But while typing I listened to Gungor's Beautiful Things and it hit me. If I keep talking about all the trials God put me through more than pointing back to the beauty he has put in my life than I just want for my flesh desires to be pitied by others. Sure, this semester was a new challenge than what I have experienced in the past, but wonderful things have also come about!

This is the first fall semester that no health problems occurred, so TU Health Center has not seen me at all! God knew my body must be strong in doing all the course work he asked of me.

I am living with such wonderful roommates! I am learning and growing with them. This is the first year that I have had roommates I knew and got along with. They provide me with laughter and open mouths for when I bake a little too much! We all have had more challenging semesters but we do not lash out at each other because of our stress, we rather try and make sure others are stress free! I am learning to serve these beautiful women because they are always giving to me when I don't deserve it.

Another place I have been complaining and feeling desperate is in Cru. But really God has done things through that ministry as well. We have some freshman students who are regularly coming for reasons beyond me, but the Lord is encouraging them to continue to come again and again. They jumped at the chance to go to Fall Retreat when we only announced it once! I have been so frustrated with my non involvement this semester because God put research there so that He could grow the ministry and that I would not try and make this my ministry. That was so humbling to experience and I am entering next semester with a better mindset to prepare for when I leave instead of trying to "leave a legacy" because God is not asking me to be remembered, but for Him to be the reminder that He is good enough for everyone.

In this time of challenge I left the Word, I did not make time in my life because I thought that time needed to be spent completing all my coursework. God kept teaching me and giving me time in church and at Fall Retreat to fall more and more in love with Him, but I was allowing myself only big gulps of water instead of taking sips of the living water each day. These past two weeks I knew I needed to be in the Word to get through finals, and my spirit has been unquenchable! I keep trying to find new studies through my Bible app on my phone to read and go through all at once. The Cru advent series is wonderful (I know the writer personally, he is so inspiring!) just go to and it should appear in the slide show, I encourage everyone to do that little devotional it is so eye opening yet simple!

Sometimes God uses times in the desert not to simply see the bad things going on that point to needing him, but to also see that desert rose in the land and realize the beauty in it. God gives me trials so that I might learn, that is the beauty of the trial in the first place! I disliked being in the desert, but looking back, God gave me more desert roses than I deserved and I am grateful that he did!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Finding My Doctor

So I am a little obsessed with Doctor Who.

And by a little I mean a lot.

I have been watching the seasons constantly, no other show holds a candle to Doctor Who. If  you don't know about it 1) you are missing out but 2) if you do start watching it, you will be hooked and wish you knew the Doctor in real life. The Doctor is a Time Lord who travels through time and helps species and maintains justice and peace. Sounds cheesy, but if you watched the series all of the adventures and trials that are endured make the plot seem epic and surreal!

I love seeing posts on Pintrest and on FB with pictures from an episode with memorable quotes. I always think "awwww, I love that part!" or "that was so good!!!" you get the picture.

And sadly that little thought of "what if?" has creeped into my mind. Wouldn't life be so much grander if the Doctor were real? That aliens existed and this Doctor could go through space and time and pick me as his traveling companion. That would be insanely awesome and fulfill my life! I have seriously had these thoughts.

And that scares me so badly, because I am treading that fine line between enjoying a TV show and desiring something beyond God. 

I know, I went there. When I first had this thought in my head my stomach turned into knots. I thought "is this true? Am I desiring an alternate universe because I don't think this one is good enough?" And honestly it was true. The Doctor seems like a great adventure because right now I am not enjoying the adventure I am on right now.

I have senioritis, like insanely bad. I am done with school, I just want to intern and join staff with Cru so badly! I want to be in ministry instead of trying to juggle 3 research projects. So yeah, I do want to jump into the TARDIS (the Doctor's Time Machine) and have adventures!

I think a lot, so within this little debate in my head I suddenly thought, "Jesus is better than the Doctor!" Jesus is actually the ULTIMATE TIME LORD! He has survived millennium without needing to regenerate (become injured and thus change bodies) and has impacted so many people in this world. People fear his name whether they believe in him or not. Jesus invites me all the time to join him in the adventure of the Great Commission. He truly won't ever say goodbye to me or leave me on Earth to live life without him. I can call on him and not need to wait years on end for him to rescue and love. Jesus loved and felt emotions, he desires a deep and personal relationship with me. He will not lead me to harm, while I might not know His plan, it is always for my benefit. When I fail He won't yell or scold me but cover me in love. 

That means Jesus > The Doctor. And if I ever think Jesus doesn't use people for crazy insane adventures I can pick up the Bible to see all of the epic battles and adventures that people went on for Jesus, with Jesus, after hearing about Jesus. I'd say that's better than any TV show can capture. I can also pick up the Bible again and again and find something new and different about all the adventures, honestly after I finish watching all the seasons of Doctor Who I won't enjoy them half as much as when I watched them the first time. The Bible will always be new and different because not only do I have The Doctor (Jesus) but I kind of have the TARDIS in me, by way of the Holy Spirit. 

Okay, so maybe I am reading way too much into Doctor Who, but for me having these crazy insane parallels allows me to appreciate and love my God all the more. He truly can be seen in everything, even in secular British sci-fi TV shows! 

And while there are moments when yes I can't always feel Jesus' presence, I have the promise of seeing him again when I enter the eternal gates and he will never ever leave me.

But for that time in between here and there I look at songs like "I Will Wait" by Mumford and Sons to remember that the wait is completely worth it, because one day I will look and see him standing there in the distance, and hopefully say something like "Hello, I am Jesus" and I will fall on my knees and realize that He is what has been in my life, He is what I have always wanted. 

Lyrics to "I Will Wait"
 And I came home
Like a stone
And I fell heavy into your arms
These days of dust
Which we've known
Will blow away with this new sun

And I'll kneel down
Wait for now
And I'll kneel down
Know my ground

And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

So break my step
And relent
You forgave and I won't forget
Know what we've seen
And him with less
Now in some way
Shake the excess

But I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

So I'll be bold
As well as strong
And use my head alongside my heart
So take my flesh
And fix my eyes
That tethered mind free from the lies

But I'll kneel down
Wait for now
I'll kneel down
Know my ground

Raise my hands
Paint my spirit gold
And bow my head
Keep my heart slow

Cause I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

I would love to look back on my life and think this; " I travelled across the world. From the ruins of New York, to the fusion mills of China, right across the radiation pits of Europe. And everywhere I went I saw people just like you, living as slaves! But if [Elise Hebert] became a legend then that's wrong, because my name isn't important. There's someone else. The man who sent me out there, the man who told me to walk the Earth. And his name is [Jesus Christ]. He has saved your lives so many times and you never even knew he was there. He never stops. He never stays. He never asks to be thanked. But I've seen him, I know him... I love him... And I know what he can do" 

Jesus is and always will be my Doctor, and that is better than any made up Time Lord!

Monday, August 20, 2012

New Beginnings

I have had a really hard time coming back to Tulsa.

It finally hit me that I was not on vacation from Orlando Summer Project, that was my vacation from college. God needs to use me on this campus and He has not called me to another foreign land because I am needed in this land one more year.

I suddenly realized I was in this land when I drove by my university to move into my house, I almost cried while driving because I was so desperate to run back and be in the safe arms of project friends. I also had a really hard time when I arrived at church on Sunday because I kept thinking about Grace in Orlando. The Lord did a great work in my heart by showing me why I fell in love with First Presbyterian in the first place. The worship and the sermon were so convicting and humbling.

I keep needing to remind myself that God is the one to call me into different lands. There should be no permanent place to rest my head on this earth, but that means God cares enough to not make my life mundane and boring! Sure there will be ups and downs, but those are more exciting than doing the same thing over and over again. Yes, it is comforting and comfortable, but I also think of those comfortable times and I always regret the things I was not able to do. Looking back on ups and downs reminds me of what I have come from, what I need to battle with, and that God is real.

Summer project was full of ups and downs, so looking ahead I thought "Great, comfort and bland life here I come!" I didn't desire TU, I didn't desire my classes or my classmates at all.

But God made every moment today beautiful. I saw old friends in every class and saw a few new faces (hard part of being a senior, not seeing so many freshman!) I got to school a little too early so I decided to start reading the bible on my phone in 90 days! I have plenty of slow moments, so why not fill those with God's word? It might not work, but I am determined today! When I thought I wouldn't have a lunch buddy, a friend who studied abroad last semester also brought her lunch so we sat and talked for a few hours! Then had coffee with two girls randomly, and also had a dinner buddy that popped up out of nowhere! I have a night class and not quite enough time to run home to get dinner, so God put Daisha in my path and we went and talked about the coming semester. I realized that people think Sherlock Holmes was a real person (seriously, watched a documentary about how people hypothesize what his childhood was like, what?!) spoilers, he is fictional!

God answers prayers I don't even lift up but I need. I needed to see God's desire on this campus and I want to do what He desires me to do on the campus. I don't want to sit on the sidelines this next year and regret not having ups and downs and settling for comfortable. I want to be challenged and proclaim the news of God above all else!

Today in senior seminar I had what I am calling a "Steve Douglas" moment. We went around class saying what we want to do after graduation. Everyone voiced grad school of some sort and I said "probably join staff with Campus Crusade for Christ" I didn't use the name Cru because I wanted my professors to know my intent and the others around me. I want to be part of Christ's plan, not my own.

Senior Year, here I come!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Time to Say Goodbye

While it has been a week since I have left project, I still don't feel ready to say goodbye.

About 2 weeks before I left Orlando I started listening to one of my favorite songs "Time to Say Goodbye" I listen to Katherine Jennings usually but I do enjoy Sarah Brighman and Andrea Bocelli. Yet this time I listened to it, I knew that this goodbye from project would be one of the most difficult ones.

How could I say goodbye to people I have been vulnerable with, in community with, been honest with, laughed the hardest with, cried the hardest with, had the most fun with? I have never experienced such roller-coasters of emotions, faith, relationships, personal growth all in such a short span of time. How could I drop that all and just go back to life? It was not, and is not easy to do.

 I am not saying "Boo, I have to go back to boring unemotional friendships" but rather II am having to challenge those dark thoughts and think "How can I bring this back to my relationships at home? How can I continue this in my relationship with the Lord?" It is me struggling with loving this project so much and also trying to find that joy in my life beyond project.

Our project director during debriefing showed a trailer for Once Upon a Time the TV show (which I love and adore!) and he made a great connection: Project is fairytale land. We won't be able to go back to life and have set times to be super vulnerable to people, to be trained every week to evangelize, to be super honest and open with housemates. It won't happen all in a week to be sure. Now this doesn't mean that I can't do these things in smaller portions, but fairytale land had to end and I must go into the real world.

God has called us to experience these pieces of heaven in order to encourage us to go out into the world to tell others what this piece of heaven was like and to also point others to the real heaven and salvation they can experience with Christ.

When thinking about this blog and the song I decided to look up the translation (because most of the song is in Italian, the only English is "Time to Say Goodbye" how beautiful that songs can still speak to us through other languages!) and here is the translation:

When I'm alone I dream of the horizon and words fail me.
There is no light in a room where there is no sun
and there is no sun if you're not here with me, with me.
From every window unfurls my heart the heart that you have won.
Into me you've poured the light,
the light that you found by the side of the road.

Time to say goodbye.
Places that I've never seen or experienced with you.
Now I shall, I'll sail with you upon ships across the seas,
seas that exist no more,
it's time to say goodbye.

When you're far away I dream of the horizon and words fail me.
And of course I know that you're with me, with me.
You, my moon, you are with me.
My sun, you're here with me with me, with me, with me.

Time to say goodbye.
Places that I've never seen or experienced with you.
Now I shall, I'll sail with you upon ships across the seas,
seas that exist no more,

I'll revive them with you.
I'll go with you upon ships across the seas,
seas that exist no more,
I'll revive them with you.
I'll go with you.

You and me.

 Now I am no officianado of translations and interpretations, but I see this song in two lights. 1) Two people have left each other and are not going to see lift the same way. 2) Two people are about to depart, but they decide they can't go through life without the other. I read again and again this translations and I have to lean towards my second choice. This may be due to me reading this translation and realizing this is me and God. I will go unknown places with him, the world is dark when I am not seeing His light. I cannot say goodbye, because I need Him so desperately. I am not whole without Him. He and I are going to walk life together.

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1: 16-17)

I love the part of the verse "where you go, I will go" because I desire that so much! I want to go where God leads me to go, because right now in life I want to forge my own path and lead God there.

Not only must I say goodbye to my project friends, I must also say goodbye to my flesh, my sins that keep me from running to God. I must decrease so that God can increase in my life. But this is not a bad thing. Like the song says, when I am feeling alone and pitying myself I don't see God's light and I hate that. I would rather give myself to him than live life in a dark room with no light to be seen. 

With some of the project people this may be goodbye until heaven (I really hope not!) but maybe God will gift me with seeing them again and remembering this little bit of heaven he gifted to me though I am so undeserving of it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Emotions are My Enemy

This week has been super difficult.

I leave project in 6 days.

I don't want to leave project.

I have already cried twice.

How can I describe the most intimate fellowship and community ever? That leaving summer camp is but a minute fraction compared to how I feel at this moment? That even college friendships can't compare to summer project connections? That when I leave these people I fear going back to my selfish humanistic nature? That I will again bottle up my emotions and life and just be an observer to the world? I have changed so much in these 7 weeks that I don't want to stop!

It is hard to see life continually transforming without these people beside me. I am prayerful I find community and create community like this wherever I go, but I also don't want it without these 19 other people.

I am realizing this is but the beginning of a year of goodbyes. God is going to call us into different places and opportunities, and not everyone at home can come with me on my next step in life. But I have to cling to God more and more so that I can smile at these goodbyes, not just cry my eyes out with the realization of loss of friendships.

Don't get me wrong, I love my friends and family, but I have not allowed myself to be vulnerable to those people because I have yet to ask them to be vulnerable with me. Summer Project in the beginning basically invites you to let all your shadows out and be accepted as you are. Youth group really isn't designed that way because it is scary to be vulnerable. I can't necessarily go to my parents and say "Tell me all the good bad and ugly in your life up to this point!"

We humans don't like airing out dirty laundry. But when we do is when we grow the closest with people. I feel like when I leave this project part of me will always be left here. I am also so scared because I know what it is like to say "Of course we will stay in contact, you guys are just the best!" from summer camps, conventions, etc. and I can't really think of anyone that I stayed in contact with beyond the first month. I am so scared to loose these people in my life, that once again it will be a short season.

I want to see God and cling to him, yet for some reason I just cannot see anything. I can't see my future, what He desires in my life, how my senior year will even play out! I feel stuck yet the need to move on.

Serious prayers are needed for me to go through these next few days and to see his face and not my sad state of mind.

I am a 9 Layer Dip

I cannot stop thinking about what my boss said yesterday. I am not mad at him at all; he has just challenged me in my mindset on what I will do with my life.

When I am in a certain environment I get super passionate about that cause (education, poverty, personalities, theater, singing, musical theater, movies, Disney, TU). So with that I am always seeing myself doing 1,000 different jobs with all the passions I have. But with each of those passions I am seeing how I will be tempted in some way.

So what do I do? I keep just feeling this sense of waiting. That God has not even opened my eyes to the plans he has in store for me. So I shall wait.

The Voices in My Head….

Don’t worry, I am not schizophrenic, I have checked myself.

Wednesday we had our meeting time and Spencer, one of our student directors, spoke on the Holy Spirit and being satisfied with the Spirit. We must decrease so that we can experience the Spirit increase. The Spirit doesn’t literally increase, because God has given us all the Spirit we will ever need, but when we are putting ourselves first, there isn’t much room for the Spirit in our lives. But once we decrease ourselves, we see and experience the spirit much more!
So we were in discussion in small groups and we were talking about just listening to God’s voice even for the small things. I realized (and confessed) that I doubt God’s voice all the time. I will sit in silence and say “God, please speak to me” and I will hear something like “I love you child.” My immediate reaction to that is “Oh, that is obviously Satan” and shut it out. When I feel content in doing something my thought is “Oh, obviously God doesn’t want me to do that because I want to do it.”  Courtney (the other student director) was so mindful in reminding me in scripture it says that God knows the desires of our hearts and will grant those desires. I do not need to find misery to say “Oh, there’s God.” Also, Satan may be taunting me and seducing me, but I need to just listen to God and obey Him so that I truly can discern between His Voice and Satan’s voice.
I am coming to realize when it comes to me, I analyze, re-analyze, over analyze, (and analyze my over analyzation). It is hard to live in my own head! I don’t give God any time or room to work in me since I am always questioning and doubting myself and Him.
Specifically I have not known what in the world to do beyond college. Do I intern with Cru, but in that do I do Year One or campus ministry? Do I study for the GED, do I want to go to grad school, but then I am desiring money so obviously God isn’t calling me to that, but I love kids, but I can’t teach, so I won’t teach…..on and on and on my head is processing all of this.
Do you know what that does? Courtney reminded me that just thinking on the matter and continually waiting is paralyzing me. While I am questioning and analyzing everything about me time keeps going by and I am not doing anything for His Glory. Sometimes God needs us to actually do something to show us what he desires us to do next. A baby doesn’t just wait until walking comes to them, they crawl, they pick themselves up, they fall down, and in all of that the parent is encouraging and showing them how to do the next step. One doesn’t usually pick up an infant and just start walking it around, you try and show it how to crawl and encourage it on. God does the same. Sure, he may give us a glimpse of what is to come, but he is constantly telling us the next step when we are ready, not before.
I still have a year of school left. This summer project first is preparing me for going back to TU to spread the gospel. I need to focus on that before trying to make any life plans. (At least I keep repeating that to myself, but who am I kidding? I am a mess trying to choose what to do next year!)

Looking in the Future

One thing I love and appreciate about my internship is my boss. He is so terrific! Early on he asked if I could appreciate being coached on something I wanted to get out of the summer. The first thing that came to mind is finding out places in Cru that I might be able to work in once I graduate from college. I have done StrengthsFinder and surveyed friends and family to find who I am. Now we are transitioning to seeing what does Cru have that I could potentially do. So my boss asked me to write a page on what my ideal job would look like. Not in Cru necessarily, but just in general, if I could make up my own job description what would I be doing?

I have been struggling with it for 2 hours! It is not because I can't condense it down to 1 page, it is that I just have no idea!

I went back to the surveys to see what people said and saw a pattern (needs to be with people, maybe in ministry, with children, etc.) but that really wasn't helping. I went to my StrengthsFinder results and read over my strengths (Individualization, Responsibility, Communication, Developer, Connectedness) okay, that helped a little bit more. I then tried to not think about Cru, that helped more because I was trying to think of jobs I could do with my strengths. Since I don't know all the jobs Cru has I can't really fit my personality into that. I was also stressing because I don't necessarily see myself using my degrees (Sociology and Psychology) directly in my future job. I will use the concepts in how I interact and approach things, but I do not desire to do research or study people. I want to be with people. Through all of this I kept thinking, "This fits close to a counselor but it just doesn't fit, why?" I have been berating myself because I feel like I need to use my majors and the closest thing I could ever be is a counselor, but I don't see myself doing that!

I like helping people with problems, walking alongside them where they are at and giving them ideas and different ways to approach difficult situations, but I do not like just watching them struggle with it on their own. A counselor has to be able to step back and allow them to struggle through problems and you are essentially the parent waiting for the child to finally discover the problem. Something in me feels wrong about that. Obviously I am approach counseling in the broad sense and not all styles of counseling does this. But I so much prefer interacting with people and learning their stories than always trying to find the problems and helping them fix everything. My ideal job is me learning from people, interacting with people, loving people and encouraging them. Making them smile and laugh, being a leader but also allowing others to take the lead as well. I have not clue what God will put in my path as the ministry/job he needs me in, but I am much more content in feeling like I don't have to pursue counseling for who know what reason. Maybe after a few years I will find a type of counseling that fits me, but right now I so much prefer intentionally helping people with whatever, not psychological problems they can't seem to break through, but practical problems. I think I have finally finished the page assignment and my boss is going to connect me with an HR person who will help me see what secular jobs and Cru jobs might fit my personality. Let's see what God will bring to light!

Who Am I Living For?

“Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life, well, valuable but small. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave?” – Meg Ryan in You Got Mail

I am starting to think about when I leave this Garden of Eden. I am so frightened and scared because I can already see parts of this time with God starting to end and temptations running full force to take over me. I am not beseeching the Lord as much and I am trying to find comfort in things like food again.
The Accuser is louder than ever and trying to pull me down into my old self. Why can I not run this race for longer than a few weeks? Why do I turn my face from His Beauty and Glory and stumble at the petty little things upon the road?
I know it is of my flesh but since I have experienced this beautiful glimpse of what heaven is like I don’t wish to return to the broken world.
And this is a horrible mindset to have. Because if I am only living for Eden that is not what God has called me on this earth to do. I am not supposed to mope around and wait til this flesh is dead. I am supposed to keep running, to not give up.
What am I living for? I need to live to glorify God, not to wait for moments like summer projects for God to come to me, I need to earnestly seek Him in every situation, that is when I experience Eden. It should be in the little things that God is doing, not just the explosive moments. It is all about my perspective, because if I am looking at those little blessings and journeys, they too can be explosive.
I am already in the struggle about bringing this back to school, specifically sharing the gospel to people on my campus. I think my life up to this point has been small, because I haven’t been brave enough to actually step out of my comfort zone and starting new adventures.
My heart has been heavy today, truly the Accuser has been beating my down today making me doubt myself and that life outside this project is going to be as fulfilling. I would love prayers of encouragement and that I realize the Devil has no power unless I give it to him. I can overcome things with Christ, but in these moments of doubt is when I feel farthest away from Him.

I’m Nemo!

Being at Rollins College observing MPD training has been a wonderful experience! One perk is having internet! I finally went online today (I didn’t so much yesterday because I didn’t want to get on FB until the end of the night) and I went to IMDB which is a movie data base that has everything about every single movie made! I love that sight and go on it regularly to look at upcoming movies, trailers, and a little movie gossip. When I went onto IMDB I found out a Hollywood couple had split up. I suddenly had this thought that I was so behind on my majority culture desires (gossip, media, etc.) but also so relieved that I wasn’t always looking up these trivial things.

I realized that I am living in this little bubble (community is a better word) and I don’t want to leave. I am so fearful that when I go back into my everyday life that everything I have learned will be a distant memory and my sinning egotistical self will re-emerge. It feels so weird to even talk with people outside of project because I cannot describe this awesome vulnerable community that has challenged me, uplifted me, humbled me in so many ways that I never imagined! I have been so busy living out the Great Commission I have not watched but 2 movies/TV shows by myself (and those were on a Sunday when everyone else was napping!) and I have had little internet access so I have not been on IMDB, Facebook, Pintrest, and Pottermore! And since I am not distracted by any of those things I have truly seen God, I have seen my sin and I am talking with him more than ever!
In Finding Nemo the cute little clown fish is only use to himself and his dad. He lives in an anemone and knows nothing beyond that. When he goes out “into the world” (aka Sydney Australia) he is first scared, but that is when he starts to find himself and see others as unique and special and appreciates all the more how much he loves his dad and his home.
I can take that whole premises and apply is in different ways. I want to go out into the world like Nemo and see the world as different and the people in it unique and special. I also feel like I want to rush back into this community and I hope to appreciate and treasure it (not just feel depressed and hopeless) for the home it is. God I think made us for the community I am experiencing here and I have been out into the world and realize how beautiful this home really is. Also I think God has put us on this earth in our broken state so that we can realize how much we desire an eternal home and community with him. I want God to send me out again being uncomfortable and not just sinking back into my sinless hole, but to find the community where I am, wherever in life that may be, and cling to Him. I am Nemo and I am realizing how much I need my Father to encourage and challenge who I am, not just on Summer Projects. I want to bring this everywhere.
Maybe my story is that this Cru community is my home and God is going to send me out into the world now in college and have me realize how much I am needed to be in Cru so that His Will on this Earth can be done.
Being on Summer Project and also seeing the new staff being trained to go out just makes me want to stay in this home forever and ever! I need to pray to God that instead of just being uncomfortable to also be prepared as I go out from this place and use the tools that God has given me to use in the outside world. I want to see people as unique and all with a beautiful story and to build community with the people I am interacting with like on Summer Project.
Right now I just need to keep swimming, forever trying to find my Father in every moment and finding home in the little moments until I finally reach the ultimate home in heaven.

It's My Birthday!

My birthday was such an eye opening experience!

I woke up at 5 a.m. because my boss was picking me up so that I could borrow his car for the week. I was going to observe MPD training over at Rollins College for the week so I needed transportation and being that I turned 21 some car rental places do not allow people to rent until they are 25 along with other complications, so my boss was going to let me borrow his car while I dropped him off at the rental place to rent the car. I dropped him off and rushed over to Rollins to meet up with the coach I would be observing.

MPD training was fascinating to observe (both research wise and personally considering my future) and a great gift was being able to see Mary and Alex from TU who are in new staff training to go to Italy! They knew it was my birthday so they took me out to lunch where we had a break. I finished observing went to Monday Night Meeting where they awkwardly sang happy birthday (that was a theme this year, lots of really weird happy birthday renditions). Our speaker happened to be an ITG (tech person) who use to be a magician! So I had my very own magic show for my birthday. The girls in my house also made me a little booklet with personal notes and "21 Things We Love About Elise" which was the sole gift I got and I loved it! The girls also went out to fro yo afterwards and my house decided to share our personal journeys until I finally went to bed at 11:30 because I had to get up at 6 the next morning.

So there were lots of little blessings throughout the day which was delightful. This birthday was a lot different than in the past. 1) My family was not there. 2) None of my friends were near me 3) My love language is gifts and the only gift I actually got on my birthday was the booklet (a family friend and my grandma sent me gifts but those didn't come until the next day).

That last one was a really hard struggle for me. Birthday and Christmas are really the only time people give me gifts so in my mind they are a big deal. People telling me they love me by the gifts I receive. But this year I was not near friends or family. I had to battle with my selfish desire to feel loved by those directly around me and also feeling like no one outside loved me. I put way too much thought into gifts and God really showed me that in the days leading up to my birthday.

I need to realize that people will fail, people won't give me gifts and they won't show me love all the time. But God shows me love, grace, humility, all gifts I don't deserve yet He gifts freely and abundantly. I need to see love and appreciate it, not trying to have love fit my needs, because love fills me. Gifts can be in many different ways and from different people, I just need to see them as from God. God loves me, HE LOVES ME! That is enough, that is more than enough! Others love is secondary to God's love. How can I love if I do not see and appreciate God's love for me?

My birthday was more of a gift than I could imagine. God granted me insight and clarity into love. Who can ask for a better birthday?

The Light of God

Last Thursday (July 5th) I was sitting on my bed doing reflection time. I was praying and I looked at my bedside table and I saw 3D glasses. On the 4th at the outreach they gave out these 3D glasses to put on for the fireworks show. They weren’t the 3D glasses one gets at the movies, but the ones that when you put them on and look into light the prism is broken and there is a pattern. I have seen these during Christmas time with snowmen, snowflakes, etc. so when you look into Christmas light you see snowmen coming out of the light. The ones on my bedside were like that but they weren’t any picture, more like squares. Anyway, I am doing reflection, laying on my bed and I decide to put them on.
The light on my ceiling is a square, so I was seeing squares upon squares of my light with rainbows all around it, so I reached up and tried to touch this beautiful light. My hands looked like they were translucent almost. I started to think about God.
When I put my hands in front of my face I could only see the outer edges of the light (God). When I barely started opening up my hands rainbows of light were shooting through.
When I decide to live like this Earth, I am putting my hands in front of my face and not allowing God to enter in. I am blinded, yet God is still there, I am the one putting a barrier between me and God. But once I start opening out my hands either from brokenness or curiosity, God is there. I give him an inch and he goes a mile. When I put my hands away from my face and just look at Him, I see the entire beautiful picture. I may not understand how the picture works or why it is that way, but I can still marvel at it and delight in it.
God never leaves me, I allow barriers to come up that prevent me from fully seeing him. God can come in and do things, but not as much as when I fully submit to Him.
How easy it is for me to try and make my hands fit into the picture, but like when I literally was doing it lying down, my hands are dark and it makes the picture worse than better. When I try and step in and become God is when my life can feel distorted and without hope. I tangle myself up in my own need for control. I am slowly learning what it means to give it all to the cross and letting my sins go and just walking towards the beauty.
“I see your face, in every sunrise.
The colors of the morning are inside your eyes.
The world awakens in the light of the day. I look up to the sky and say ‘You’re Beautiful’.
 I see your power in the moonlit night. When planets are in motion and galaxies are bright.
We are amazing in the light of the stars. It’s all proclaiming who you are, you’re beautiful.
You’re Beautiful
You’re Beautiful

I see you there hanging on a tree.
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me.
Now you are sitting on your heavenly thrown.
Soon you’ll be coming home.
You’re beautiful.
You’re Beautiful
You’re Beautiful

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
When death is just a memory and tears are no more.
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and sing
‘You’re Beautiful’
You’re Beautiful
You’re Beautiful
You’re Beautiful
You’re Beautiful”  -You’re Beautiful by Phil Wickham

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! (4th of July!)

Today has been crazy!!! I was really down this morning and frankly my heart was not on God at all. When we got to Headquarters we found out we were doing the Temperaments test. I was so excited and pumped to take the test. Compared to other times I have taken the test I actually tried to look inside my heart and not answer to get a certain distribution of Choleric and Sanguine while trying to avoid Melancholy. It came out the same as usual but I thought back to earlier in the week when I sent out a survey for the OSP interns and staff to do asking about first impressions and what job they could see me do, and they really did answer with strengths and weaknesses of a Choleric and Sanguine. I think I have always been so scared that I am wrong in my assessment of myself but then I was reminded that while this test is fascinating, we are all unique individuals.

My mentor (the great Mary!) had challenged me earlier in the spring semester to stop labeling people in the temperaments which I found to be a great struggle. It was a struggle because I did label people and I thought it was to help me understand them, but really it was me always affirming myself that I had predicted the right temperament combination and never seeing the person as unique and maybe having some similar traits with me, or even for that matter knowing that I needed to not be so sanguine maybe around a person. It was only to affirm me, so Mary challenged me to stop myself when I put people in those categories. So last night when one of the girls asked me what I thought the entire car was (also a problem with trying not to analyze people, they ask me to do it so nicely!) I realized that I had not even put any of these girls in a box early on like I use to do with so many people. I also found out today that I was totally wrong about most of the combinations. It helped me realize that these temperaments are great to learn and see others around you who struggle with the same weaknesses but it is a fine line to take this connection and 1. Label people and 2. Make excuses for my personality hurting others and being obnoxious. I was on cloud 9 this morning seeing everyone learning about the temperaments, but I soon was humbled because I started being my old self and putting people in boxes. It was great to hear the Spirit remind me that this is a human test, not accurate, not how God views me, but I can use it for His glory. Fine line my friends, fine line.
This isn’t even the best part of my day! Today is the 4th of July and we were going to do an outreach at a 4th of July carnival. Again, God had been doing a lot in my heart today so I was not quite in the mood to try and talk to people about Christ. We all got to Avalon Park and I thought I would not talk with anyone and have meaningful conversation. God has a sense of humor though, because Andrew Johnson asked me to be his partner so we walked a little way around this park/lake/pond and I was so shut off. I was so worried because I do not initiate these conversations well (or rather at all) and Andrew was great at finding two guys sitting together and we moved in the Spirit. The conversation was phenomenal! We used a tool called Perspectives that is a deck of cards that has different viewpoints on God, Human Nature, Spiritual Materials, Jesus, etc. and people just chose what cards they believe to be true. We went up to Julio and Jose and little did we know that we would be conversing with these guys for two and a half hours! Julio was a believer and went to church but Jose was very open-minded about religion, science, everything under the sun! I talked mostly with Jose and it seemed like he had a lot of knowledge on lots of things. I felt the spirit reminding me that arguments never lead to anything other than two stubborn people. So I simply listened to Jose (and he talked easily with little guidance) and I knew he was contradicting himself a lot of the time. I had such a feeling of “God, He is so close, it could all click so easily and I don’t know what to say and what not to say!” We talked about many things from his thoughts on Mary actually being a virgin when she had Jesus to his belief that God does not interact with people but people can chose to believe whatever God is to them because it is for their own good. He had a strong opinion that people need to be good and follow the government law (but he also said that the presidents are all ignorant and don’t care about people). So many contradictions but I knew I could not argue because he has so much knowledge that is not going to make the heart connection. Obviously Julio had talked with Jose about these things and God did not desire that Andrew and I bring Jose to that moment of acceptance but it was so thrilling to actually interact with someone with no real conversion agenda, I truly just wanted to find out what he believed and why he believed it. At the end we asked for prayer requests and while Jose claimed he didn’t believe prayer would actually work he allowed us to pray for his anxiety! I ask you all the lift up both Jose and Julio because God is working in them both and if God uses this time to show Jose His ultimate love and power by eliminating the anxiety in his life; oh goodness wouldn’t that be a beautiful testimony! So I am calling on my prayer warriors to help me life up Jose and also to empower Julio if God desires to use him to bring Jose to God’s truth and love and power and knowledge in Him!
I have never honestly had a spiritual conversation with anyone and it was the best experience ever!!! I have known of others having these types of conversations and being transformed, and now I know why! I want to continue to have these honest conversations, no intention of converting everyone I interact with, but being able to learn more about people around me (or who I meet at a 4th of July carnival!). God has transformed my heart to go and fulfill the Great Commission, and to finally start the journey is so exhilarating that I hope my spirit is not so hesitant to talk with others because this feeling is the best high ever and I don’t ever want to lose it!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Becoming a “Responsible” “Adult”

I entered a bit of the real world this week. I have a 9-5 job M, T, TH, F. I have my own desk, computer, and phone. It feels like I am playing the game grown-ups or something. It doesn’t feel like I could very soon be entering this world permanently.
I was picked up by my boss at the west building rotunda (that is a circular room in the middle of a building) and we headed to the east building. I got to my desk which had streamers around it, a welcome poster, and a basket of goodies, courtesy of my boss’ boss’ assistant (the only woman near me that I interact with). My boss gave me a thorough orientation of what department I am working in, who works around me, what we do for Cru, etc. He even gave me a cheat sheet for when people come up and introduces themselves I will know their name and what section they work in!
If you don’t know where I am working, I shall tell you! I am in the Office of Development but I am not really working for the department. I am doing research for a team that will be trying to help Destino. Destino is our Latino section of Cru that tries to reach Latino students on campus. The group has been struggling specifically with support raising. Many Destino staff cannot raise/keep full support and Cru has the general policy that one cannot work on a campus until they reach full support. So this is a problem because staff are not able to reach campuses and make connections because the support raising is so difficult and can take a long time. So I am doing initial research that combs through what might help the team once they assemble and figure out new inventive ways to help Destino reach into their communities to get support.
My job consists of a lot of reading which will be challenging (cause I will think this is school work) but also fascinating because I will be challenged and stretched in many different views and ways of thinking. I am beyond excited and know that while I will be discouraged and confused at times (I already have been) I know my work will in the long run really help and grow Destino to be able to minister to Latino students. I will constantly remind myself, am I focused on the Lord? Why is God calling this group together? Because I know it is all for us to reach some we have not been able to reach through Cru, it is all to further the Great Commission. Sometimes that is hard to see when I am reading a bunch of articles that make this project seem hopeless. That just means Cru is going to be one of the first organizations to helps others learn the best ways to raise support in Latino communities, and I am blessed to be chosen to jump start this journey!

Experiencing Community

I will never understand God fully. I will never truly understand grace and why God would allow His Son to die for all the black things I have done. I will never know why God decided to bless me by allowing me to come on this project and catch a glimpse of what true community is.
This summer project is opening my eyes to what can happen if Christians come together and live life together. While I have indeed caught moments of this in life, this is the longest time I have continually seen how beautiful community is when everyone is trying to walk in the same direction.
In just our house, there was this unspoken agreement that we would come to the group if we have any problems and we all respect and love each other, junk and everything! There has yet to be a night where we aren’t laughing and doing crazy silly things (like turning off all the lights and trying to scare a roommate) but also there is a time each night where we sit together and talk about things we are struggling with. I have never done this, where I honestly open up about things my closest friends may not even know about. Every time someone opens up someone else is struggling with a similar thing. But at the end we don’t just break up and go about life, we stop and pray about the struggles right then. I am so use to ending with “Well, I will be praying for you about that” and in all honestly I usually don’t remember to pray for it. How much better would life be if we prayed about problems right when they are occurring? I know honestly speaking I say I will pray for a  lot of things but I forget and go about life. If I prayed right then for the problem, I do not need to feel like I broke a promise because I am fulfilling the unspoken promise to life that person up.
In our group, while I am not opening up all my problems with the guys, we still have heartfelt conversations that push my way of thinking. We are always going out into the community to spread the gospel. I know I could not do this unless I was surrounded by so many bold Christians who are just as scared and willing to put their faith on the spot. Not only that, but I want to hang out with the group as much as I can, because every conversation is different, funny, meaningful, and wonderful.
I feel so sanguine here! I am so much more social and hyper than I have been in a few years. I think it is because I am so busy. I thrive off of being busy and that energy just exudes from me when I am around the group. Mind you, I can still have my serious moments, but I hear lots of “calm down Elise” that I haven’t heard in a while. I also have never experienced the desire to continue community, usually in life I get tired of people by this time and just want to hang out with certain people. But I think since God has brought such an intentional group together who all love Him and want to have community, the community just keeps growing stronger.
I want to take this back to my campus. I want to keep growing my community base and desire to want to hang out with people more than just having time to myself (aka watching way too much TV). Because when community is happening, not only am I growing, but it actually allows me opportunity to learn about others and their struggles. Not just community with Christians, but with everyone, to learn peoples stories I need to be with people, not in alone. God did not create people to live alone in their own bubble, He desires us to live in community with others to challenge and grow one another. Not only that, He wants that community to be with Him. If I am alone, why would I want to be with God? But when I am with others who challenge me, I will want to go to the Lord more because He is making this all happen.  I am so blessed that God would allow me this precious little moment in time to actually see true community and desire it for when I leave this place.

What is Moving Us?

I don’t know how I start thinking of these odd ideas from such simple things!!!
Let me explain:
My bible study got out before the one that meets at my house (mine is in the girls’ condo) so I was shut in my room thinking “I am so bored! I can’t read because I hear the girls conversation and get distracted and I have nothing else to do in my room! So I started listening to Tenth Avenue North and sat at the edge of my bed just thinking about little things. Then I picked up the bottle of aloe vera next to my bedside (I got burned when we went to Cocoa Beach, that wasn’t a fun experience) and I started to play with it. I have this green gel kind of aloe and when I want to squeeze some aloe out, I have to “move” the air bubble to the bottom of the bottle to get the aloe out. So I am playing around with the bubble and I thought “How fast does the bubble move?” I then started to proceed to watch the bubble move from the bottom toward the top. Out of nowhere (well really the Spirit) I had this thought in my heart “Which is moving which? Is the bubble moving through the aloe or is the aloe pushing the bubble up?”
Weird right? Kind of a chicken and egg question. And this thought from the Spirit made me think, the bubble is me and God’s love, grace, mercy, everything are the aloe. As I move around and think that I am moving within this world it is me pushing to the surface to reach God, but really God is surrounding me and guiding me to see Him.
This really floored me, because I think subconsciously I have forgotten that God is with us and He is guiding us and molding us, even when we don’t accept Him into our lives. This really excites me because while the bubble did reach the top of the bottle, the bubble was encased in aloe and aloe was supporting it. The bubble also is always changing and transforming shape, it is not a perfect sphere that moves from the top to the bottom. (You see where I am going?) God is always transforming me and lifting me up and also when I fall He is around me supporting me and guiding me back to His Will and His Glory. Does this not empower you to go out and allow God to transform you? He is there every moment guiding you in everything, the ups and downs, He is gently molding you more into His image and He does it again and again! What can stop you from doing His Glory? Allow Him to mold you.