I feel so bad for leaving you hanging, and leaving this little blog unattended to! I’ve meant to run in and whip up an update, but usually a behind-the-times blog is intimidating to come back into! Anyways, I have fifteen SPARE minutes that opened up in my life, and I’m feeling accomplished and energetic, so it’s your lucky day!
1. I miss Colorado like whoa. Like really really whoa. I’ve been longing for some in-person friends to share my heart with, so if that’s you and we just haven’t connected yet, I’m sorry you’re hearing about it here first! But ain’t nobody got time for friends when they’re in grad school, super sadly. In the dough of my heart, God twisted and kneaded and pulled a space in the middle and shoved a big chunk of Colorado in. This summer was the most dramatic, craziest time IN MY LIFE, and yet it was the culmination of ministry and trusting in the Holy Spirit up to this point in my then 26 years.
Ever since (oh boy… I hope I don’t get too off on a tangent here) I started walking with God a decade and a half ago, I’ve been soaking up the purpose for my life in being an immortal soul and daughter of THE King. The first part of my walk was characterized by learning and being taught, to a very-legalistic-fault. In college, my easy-til-that-point faith was rocked, and I realized through being able to conjure up a thriving ministry despite my mountainous efforts, that God wanted me to understand that life is about GRACE GRACE GRACE, and He doesn’t need or want me to perform for Him.
I knew that in my head, but still had this whirling desire to GIVE in ministry – I was willing, so I thought I should go. I did go; to South America I went. As it turns out, as great of a missionary as I thought I’d make, I didn’t actually feel like missionary material – single missionary material in particular. After feeling 100% sure of being called to marry Whit, I still wanted to do the ministry thing, because that’s the best thing a Christian can do with their life, right? Well, I decided I was a crummy discipler, and while I improved my Bible study leading skills, I was still not the Fantasy Bible Study Leader I thought I could be.
Even STILL, after that I thought I could give in ministry by single-handedly paving my way into International student ministry in downtown Philly. I had the heart and was willing, so I was waiting for God to fill in the gaps.
Well, after a lifetime of ministry failure (in my mind), at the same time that ministry year started, I completely felt like I was in over my head with it and all my other responsibilities as a brand new shiny staff member with Cru. I came in every day knowing that I was NOT worthy of all the responsibilities I was being given, and humbly asked for help, help, and more help, as I also prayed for maturity in my personal life – knowing that I wasn’t a domestic goddess or anytime ready to become a mother (though I wanted to be one day, and I did have household responsibilities as an adult and wife).
Okay, okay, I know this hasn’t been at ALL about Colorado yet… so maybe this is turning into more of spilling my guts about how I’m feeling right now, and you’ll take that as an update, right? Right. Okay, thanks. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
So, you kind of know what happened after that – God definitely answered my wanting to be mature and humble prayers! I was roped into a gazillion jobs and given more and more responsibility with work, all the while my health took turn after turn for the worse. I was lenient in the most upon God for every day, just to get through and to do my best at my job.
Yada yada yada, next ministry life changing move: leading a Summer Mission trip to Australia. I think I mentioned – I had NO strength at all for that trip. (Moment of vulnerability – I still feel inadequate for the way I led that trip, due to my end-of-summer co-leader’s review of me. Ugh, the truth hurts. But I know I did the best I can. But getting shot down, as kindly worded as it may or may not be, is never easy to happily get over.) The absolutely wonderful thing was, as little as I did to teach those students about ministry, they shined above and beyond and above again. The only answer I can give for that? God.
The Holy Spirit took those 9 young hearts and moved and welled in them a spirit of servanthood, a thirst for changing others’ lives with the Gospel, and the kind of Biblical community that I had selfishly hoped to teach them with my wow-ing one-on-one conversation skills and my awesome positive godly role model personality. I could go on, but you can see it was that year that I finally *got it* – it being the 100%, from the dirt and roots, by-golly truth that I’m not in charge of what God does in and through me, He is. I could conjure up a pretty painted picture of what I think that should be, but it’s when I’m on my knees, at the bottom of the helpless well, depending on God when I see that “Him working through me” is really just Him working around me, and me being present to see it all unfold.
I could share more about how Christ welled up ministry in my heart from the standpoint of – it’s REALLY NOT anything I do, but just funny and crazy that God chooses to show up and work in people’s hearts and sometimes people want to give me credit for it, but I can’t accept it – from when I helped out in the high school youth ministry at our church. I really LOVED being a part of that ministry, because it was so, so hard every day I stepped foot in that church to talk to those girls, but God never let them go, and I got to see Him shining bright in their new-to-the-down-and-dirty-faith-walk of Christianity.
He made it hard for me, so I had to depend on Him. He made it so that I had NO idea what was going to come around the next corner, from one evening to the next morning to the next afternoon repeat repeat. He let me struggle to my breaking point of wanting to just quit my job for once and for all, and to know my DESPERATE need for just one worship session, one heart-to-heart talk with a friend, one cry-out-to-Him-in-the middle-of-the-night prayer when I can’t sleep.
And you know, I was thinking that I would get that satisfaction of talking it out, crying it up, being filled to the brim with spiritual love and joy and goodness. But actually, that wasn’t the case. The summer didn’t wrap up all nice and cozy like it doesn’t when you’re being wrecked to the bottom of you heart at a pretty week-long student high school conference. I hoped for that with ALL MY HEART and yet life didn’t give me that, because I’m an adult and you have to just keep moving on, even when it’s tough.
But what was going on in the midst of all that dredgingly, stickily hard pain, was God doing something through me that I have longed to attain since I was fifteen years old standing on a dirt makeshift soccer field in Reynosa, Mexico: I was able to speak into someone’s life with the gospel, unscripted. I got to know people who don’t know Jesus, and got to love them and pray for them and want to hang out and talk with them and hope for a chance to share my own hope. God let me meet and befriend people who desperately need Him, and even let me speak the words from my mouth, on a couch after midnight in the middle of regular life, that told my friend why I depend on and why I need Jesus. I want to cry just thinking about that, and believe me I say that almost nothing moves me to tears.
So it was when I had nothing to give, hardly anything to hang on to, just trusting Jesus day by day, etching out a prayer in the midst of real life going on. Not being super spiritual and spitting out praise like a smiling Christian songbird, but just a human who knows that sometimes life requires a margarita, but over margaritas and enchiladas what is really required is talking with your husband or one of your best friends about how we can continue to be the light of Christ when we want to say choice words to choice people, or just run away and forget the whole thing ever happened, or give up on the people we know God put us there to impact the most.
That’s when God really does ministry in my life. The funny thing is, as much as I’ve always wanted that to happen, I now know I can’t control when that happens. I can only surrender to the flow of daily asking the Holy Spirit to rule my life (whenever I remember – whether that’s right when I wake up or in the afternoon when I first think about God for the day or in the evening when my attitude really sucks) and ask for Him to use me, make Him like me, and give me the utter boldness required when the opportunity comes up.
PLUS we actually did have a little bit of fun in Colorado…. 😉 We looooved living downtown and being able to bike to Old Town, and to campus or class. Fort Collins has the highest restaurant ratio per capita in the US, and like most cities, offers a lot of gluten-free options, so I was in heaven! There are tons of cool bars, and cool food shops (like an olive oil company? yes please!), and MUSIC. We went to several free concerts with music that was actually our taste, and there were a ton of other shows we could have gone to but didn’t. Also, microbreweries. Which don’t apply to me that much anymore, but it’s great for Whit. And Fort Collins just has a lot of fun festivals and events. Lastly, of course – the hiking!! Colorado hiking is the pinnacle. Everywhere you go is absolutely amazing from every angle. So yeah, take me back please… asap!
Soo this was supposed to be a life update, whoops! Other than missing Colorado, my classes are going well! They are consuming a LOT of my time, but I am achieving a better balance as of the past couple of weeks. Whit is loving working from home and is so much more productive than when there are a lot of people to distract him with questions and tasks at the office. We live in an adorable little old white house, which has been my dream for the past ten or so years. It’s got a ton of character as well as a few downsides, but for the most part we find it charming. Tela loves the backyard. 🙂 I have so far pretty much only hung out with people that don’t live in town, which is ironic; it’s fun because we didn’t have many visitors in PA, but I also really want some good friends in town, so I’m missing that. There just isn’t any time… but I need to just make time. That’s how it goes I suppose! We also haven’t gone hiking much, and have only enjoyed town a little bit. It’s weird being in such a small, southern town as compared with Fort Collins and Downingtown/Chester County. Blacksburg is like home to me, but I’ve changed a lot since being here so it’s not necessarily such a great fit anymore? I don’t know. It’s fun being here for now though, we are loving life even though it looks a lot different for us now!