*blow blow* *cough cough*
Sorry, just blowing the dust off of this blog that’s been sitting here inactive for the past 5 months 😉
I can’t believe 2015 is already over. I’m home on break and have some time to write! I thought it would be good for me to look back on this year and recall the lessons I’ve learned. The scriptures encourage us to remember the things the Lord has taught us so that we are better able to navigate the future. Think about the Israelites. The Lord was faithful to them , yet the people quickly forgot His promises, the ways He had provided and the works He had performed. Because of their forgetfulness they fell into sin again and again, turning to other gods to meet their needs.
I believe God is honored when we look back and reflect on all He has done in our lives and the lessons we have been taught. So as I look back on 2015 here are a few lessons I’ve learned, along with some pictures to tell the story.
January-February: Lesson #1 Faith requires jumping into the unknown.
Almost a year ago, I became a Young Life leader in Grove City. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. My heart was stirred by the mission and the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of kids in need of salvation. I spent hours in prayer but felt crippled by fear. What if it gets hard? What if I wanna quit? What if I fail? What if I regret missing out on the typical “Grover” life? Fear after fear crossed my mind and I struggled with whether to view them as good or bad. Were my fears wise reasoning? Or were they the devil’s attempt at keeping me from ministry and following the Lord’s call?
I struggled immensely but decided to take a leap of faith. I felt that the Lord was asking me to take His hand, trust Him, and jump into the unknown. I think we tend to believe that trusting God means trusting that He won’t let any harm come our way. In reality trusting God is trusting that His plan is better than our own and that He will remain sovereign and faithful through every trial or victory we face. Young Life was an unknown. I didn’t know how I would be a leader or if leading was the right decision. I jumped head first unaware of the challenges I would face, but aware of the the God who would navigate me through them. Faith requires leaping into the unknown and trusting that He is jumping with you.
February: Lesson #2 Just do it.
I apologize for the poor picture quality but yep that’s me and yep- that’s a mic I’m singing into.
I’m going on 4 years since I’ve been able to sing like I used to. (Read more here) During that time I’ve kept myself off the stage and away from the mics. I began to view the stage as only a dream, a longing, and a hope I knew I should ignore. Last February I asked myself, why not? I mean sure, I wont be joining Taylor on her next world tour, but why not perform again in some capacity even if it hurts? Athletes sometimes play with pain right? Why shouldn’t I?
I had a lot of fears and hesitations but after some encouragement from my roommate and Mom I shook off the fear and went for it. I asked my friend Coby to sing and accompany me on guitar. We sang one song at an upperclassmen talent show.
It was great. It was the first time I had been on stage singing for an audience since my Junior year of high school. Sure, there were things I could have done better (I’m my own worst critic), but it has been one of the highlights of my college experience thus far. My family was there and my friends were there. It felt good and freeing to do something I really love. I felt joy. I felt comfortable on stage. I felt proud of myself for taking a risk and doing something scary, even though I knew I would be a little rusty. Yes, I still have voice issues and yes it is still painful to sing, but it’s okay to stick it out for a night. Why not?
June-August: Lesson #3 His plan not mine.
This past summer the plan was to take some of my middle schoolers to Wyld Life camp (a Young Life camp for middle schoolers). I was hopeful and excited. I prayed and prayed for girls to come. I prayed that God would bring just the right kids to camp and that He would have His way. When August came, I soon realized that “just the right kids” meant no one from Grove City. I was confused and discouraged but recalled my prayer that “just the right kids” would be at camp. If Wyld Life is God’s ministry and not my own, and is for His purpose and not my own then I have to trust that God was once again, doing something greater that I couldn’t quite see. I was reminded that it’s all about His plan, not mine.
(The picture isn’t related, but I did take it over the summer. So there. 😉 )
August-December (#1): Lesson #4 Keep seeking
I’m blessed to have one of the best roommates, friends, and sisters in Christ on the face of this planet. Her name is Melanie and if “Bomb Dot Com” were a Wikepedia entry her picture would be on the right hand side. She’s loving, caring, one of the funniest people I know, and loves Jesus with her whole heart. Even when I’m a lame roommate she extends more grace than I deserve.
Part way through the summer she sent me Proverbs 2:3-5 and requested that I paint it on canvas so we could hang it in our room as a reminder. It says,
“…indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
Mel never stops seeking. I can see it in her actions and hear it in her words that she desires to understand the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God. I am thankful for the wisdom and truth she has spoken into my life, the ways in which she has challenged me, and how the Lord has used her this semester to help teach me to never stop seeking Him with my whole heart .
August-December (#2): Lesson #5 Only HE can keep me afloat || In our weakness HE is stronger.
In August, Penn West Young Life went on a little retreat. It was a way of preparing for the upcoming semester and getting our hearts ready for ministry. One of the talks that weekend was about “staying afloat” during the semester. It was about maintaining strength, perseverance, and the desire to do His work. Brad, our area director, talked about how if we, as leaders, rely on our own strength and abilities to carry us through the semester and lead well, we will fail. We have to remain rooted in Christ and do nothing apart from Him. I saw this to be true very quickly.
This was one of my busiest semesters. Late nights, early mornings, lots of papers, lots of coffee, lots of reading, lots of homework. Balancing it all with Wyld Life and life on campus was tough. Really tough. But again and again I was reminded of my need to stay rooted in Him through scripture and prayer. There were weeks when I should have done more homework or studied more for an exam, yet He was faithful to help me succeed in the classroom. There were weeks when I hardly saw the middle schoolers because school had me tied down to campus, yet He was faithful to bring 40 (YES 40!) kids to club.
The Lord taught me that if my heart is fixed on Him, He is faithful and will take care of the rest. In our weakness He most certainly is stronger.
December: Lesson #6 Cherish the moments.
See all those stockings? 13. This was the first time in 3 or 4 years that all of my siblings, their spouses, and their children were home for Christmas. We spent around 28 hours together before some had to part ways. The time was short but sweet. The older we get the harder it is for us all to be together. Work, school, and distance (thank you China) tend to get in the way. I’m thankful for the 28 hours that we got to be with each other. As I get older I am learning to cherish the times when I see my siblings and better yet, when every member is present. The Lord gave me some pretty wonderful role models and friends I look up to, laugh with/at, and can learn from. I cherish the loved ones who are represented by those stockings, and the time we spent together this past holiday.
Take a look back at 2015. It’s good to recall the Lord’s goodness.
Here’s to a new year of learning to be anchored in Him. Happy 2016 friends,