Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Voices in My Head (My internal conversations with God as of late)

Do you believe the Gospel?

Do you believe that God loves us so much he wants a personal relationship with you. Do you believe that you mess up and make mistakes even when you try to "do better"? Do you believe that Jesus came to the earth to die for your mistakes so the gates of God's love can open up and flood you with grace and love? Do you believe you must decide to turn from your mistakes and trust that God will provide everything? 

I personally have been asking myself these questions again and again. Do I believe the Gospel is real? Do I believe that if I take a step of faith God will be there? I answer yes!!! A thousand times yes! My heart continually yearns to believe God and give all my burdens to him.

But thinking/feeling and doing are very different things.

If someone asks me to share the gospel with anyone, I freeze up. I choke. I can't do it.

Why?

What if the person is insulted? What if they are angry and don't want to listen? What if they reject me? I don't think I can handle people thinking "that way" about me.

Do you believe the gospel?

Yes Lord I believe, but there are so many things in the way!

Then do you really believe the Gospel?

What?

If you believe the Gospel Elise, then you believe I am supreme. I am GOD! I orchestrate life itself, I can bring people to me without you, but I invite you into this beautiful process. I call my children to take the step of faith to share how I have impacted their lives. Have I impacted your life Elise?

Well yeah, you are everything to me. Without knowing you, I would be spiraling in darkness and feeling hopeless, worthless, unloved and hated. I am capable of such evil and only by knowing you can I understand light, my darkness is the absence of light, of you.You saved me and have changed my life in such beautiful ways. I no longer feel angry, I don't feel isolated. Because of you, I love people, I love getting to know people, to hear their stories. I don't try to prove myself to everyone, I can allow myself to make mistakes. Only by understanding You have I been able to forgive myself for mistakes.

Why would you hide this truth Elise? Why live for yourself when you have given your life to me? It is tiring you, this tug of war, let my Spirit thrive in you. By trying to hide this gift and truth you are lost, you are just stagnant. Trust me, you trusted me with your filth, trust me with your blessings.

If I truly believe the Gospel, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Would I honestly have wanted people to just be nice to me, knowing I was hurt and messed up, and just watch me wander around feeling hopeless and never tell me "Hey, I know of a God who can take that hurt away."

NO!

If someone hadn't pointed me to Jesus and said "This man died for you, and he loves you, he knows your mistakes and still loves you;" I never would have found that on my own. Because I would be wallowing in my own misery! I am pretty good at over-analyzing myself, I can pity myself better than anyone else can. I needed someone to come up beside me  and share with me how God impacted their life, and that I too could open up my life to God.


So Elise, I ask if you believe the Gospel, make it the center of your life. You can't walk this life alone, you can't hide this light, this joy in your heart. I created you to be in community, and to share this light. I bring people into your life in order for you to share this light with them just as someone shared the light and Truth with you. I ask one thing of my beloved children, that is to go make disciples of all nations.

That means talking to people, so see them as I see them, lost children. I need you to step out in faith and get to know them. To share the Gospel with them in actions, words, life. Don't hide me, because that only hurts you in the end. Don't look back on life with regret, because not sharing the Gospel with people only ends in heartbreak for both of you. I bring joy, so share my joy.

If you believe the Gospel, go make disciples, go plant seeds. Go and trust me, because I love you too dearly to let you fall. The Gospel is bigger than you, you are a part of a beautiful story if you let me guide it. Sorry, you aren't the center of the story child, I am. So you can step into the story and go on an adventure, or I can find someone else. But I want you in the story, so just trust me to be the author of your life. I love you, and I want you to share that love with others, because they need it just as much as you do.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

I Think I'm Gonna Like it Here

This post is later than I planned, so it will be jam packed with lots of details and stories of what has occurred since moving here on Aug. 16th!

My dad and I drove from Texas to Florida breaking the trip in two days. I was moved in the 16th (I was the very first intern at the apartments so I got all of the moving hands as well as first pick of my bedroom!) and the others moved in throughout the day. Dad stayed until Saturday morning and headed back to Texas so I was left to bond with roommates, finish up unpacking my room, and start this new adventure!

The first week consisted of activities such as YearOne dinner, a 4 day retreat, as well as days of relaxing in between to process and just hang out with the interns. I met many of the interns in February when we all flew down to HQ to see if we actually wanted to do YearOne. Praise the Lord we all connected really quickly and genuinely wanted to hang out with each other.

We went on a retreat from Monday to Thursday the first week upon arrival. We stayed in Kissimmee,  which is close to the Disney parks, in a gated resort in 2 houses. The interns stayed in one house (guys on the second floor, girls on the first) which was a terrific way to just be together and hang out all the time. We had information meetings, devotional, meals, and fun activities throughout the week. Throughout the fall/winter we are going to share our "life eggs" aka life stories within our team so Brandy and Mandy Pelton, the YearOne staff leaders, shared their stories with us on the retreat. It was so inspiring and humbling to hear the good, bad, and ugly of their stories and to see God's healing and grace in their lives. We also went to Fantasia mini golf (Disney Fantasia themed), Animal Kingdom resort to meet up with Cru Disney team, and as interns played Murder in the dark and Sardines at midnight. It honestly was so great to be together all the time early on because I was able to get to know individuals and to see the group dynamics.

We then had a few days rest and then went to church together Sunday night. We went to Antioch21 where one of the YearOne staffers goes and also a little known Cru-lebrity Steve Douglas. And by little known I mean Steve Douglas is the President of Campus Crusade for Christ and we happen to go to his church. It is a small very intentional community that at first glance I would not deem a "President of an international ministry" hot spot, but then again Jesus went to where the sinners and unloved so I need to rethink what "church" needs to mean. It was a beautiful community and it was fun to talk with Steve (He actually knows where Sherman, TX is!) and see where he worships regularly.

The following week (Aug. 26th) we got our FL drivers license on Monday. I was so on top of the game I had to do it twice (actually they got my address wrong so that is why I did it twice) but I got to keep my TX license (clipped, but I still have it!) Tuesday we went to HQ (also called Lake Hart so you might see me use both terms) and got a tour and had lunch with our bosses. My boss almost left for lunch without me, but luckily I know who he is so I could run out to the hall and inquire as to if I was attending said lunch and he was apologetic (it shall now be a running joke, my boss almost abandoned me!). Immediately I loved my department, the people are so loving and have fascinating backgrounds, the Lord has obviously been at work creating such a loving department to help recruit and send new staff members in the US, and I am beyond excited to work with them!

On Wednesday we had dessert at Erin's (a YearOne staff member) house as well as a devotional. It was great to again process through what everyone is feeling going into this internship and to have a group devotional focused on justification vs. forgiveness. The highlight of Wed. was at night when I suddenly had intense stomach cramping that left me unable to breathe which took me to the ER at midnight! I had just gotten off Skype with my parents and sister when I started to feel uncomfortable. It soon became difficult to breathe and I called me dad bc I know he had weird cramping when he had gallbladder problems. I didn't think through that I would sound like I was panicking and crying bc of my lack of ability to take a full breath. That likely scared my dad just a smidge which meant my mom would not sleep until this health problem was resolved.

If you have known me in the last 3 years you might know that I have had weird unknown health problems that come up in my life that are unexplainable for months on end. I had a fractured foot my freshman year which was misdiagnosed for 3 months, unknown stomach problems that turned into 4 ulcers in my esophagus which would found to be a result of acid reflux disease, so this present problem left me and my parents stressed about how soon we would know answers.

My roommates were blessedly awake when I started cramping so we (along with John, another intern) drove at 11 p.m. to Centra Care who quickly told us because I was having abdominal problems they suggest I go to the ER because they did not have the equipment to do a CT scan or ultrasound to look inside to see what the problem might me. Now I had been on the phone with my healthcare and the RN told me I should just go home and if there was still pain in 4 hours I should then go to the ER. I have never been to the ER so I was scared and nervous because I didn't want to go there if the problem was only gas, so upon conferring with my fellow interns I decided I probably should go to the ER to at least get answers, because if I just went home I wouldn't know what was wrong. As we are headed to the ER in Winter Park (a nicer suburb of Orlando and also a shorter wait time) my pain is subsiding and I start to worry that I am being driven around for nothing. We get to the ER and when I get into my little screened off "room" the pain is gone but I decide answers are needed. My friends were such a blessing, they kept me distracted, prayed for me, all the while they are freaked out by needles, the people also visiting the ER at 12 a.m. but they kept brave faces for me. The doctor comes in and somehow I mention I am interning with Cru and he is kind, intimidating, and appreciates the work I will be doing. I find out I have gallbadder "gravel" so not fully formed stones. This means I cannot eat fatty foods at night (which I really shouldn't be eating at all, let's be real) and also explains why I have had some stomach issues this summer. Praise the Lord this health problem in discovered quickly and with no questions to what the cause is!

So we return to the apartments at 1:45 a.m. and we have our first day of work at 9 a.m. Perfect! I woke up feeling better and while a little sleepy, beyond excited for finally getting to work at Lake Hart and learn about my job!

My first day of work is filled with a welcome breakfast by the Leadership & Development team (my department of Sending and Recruiting is under the L&D department), orientation by my department to understand the vision, lunch with my department, and more orientation! I struggled with some tiredness, but coffee from the coffee bar and excitement kept me going! Friday was slightly easier because I had a full night's rest. Friday was more meetings introducing us to the programs we will use as applicant liaisons and to start thinking of questions we might have from applicants.

Summary: I love my time in Orlando so far! The Lord has just provided blessing after blessing to myself and our group. There are obviously trials we will encounter, but we are preparing ourselves now and just enjoying the community God is gifting us with now.

I hope to try to blog at least every 2 weeks if not more frequently. Also I bought a Canon camera with graduation money before heading down so I will hopefully post beautiful pictures of the activities/places I am at so it will be less text and more visual art!

I am excited to share this journey with you all!