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!