Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,

The first time I heard the song, “Oceans” by Hillsong United I fell in love. It’s a truly beautiful song but have you ever really listened to the lyrics? If you don’t want to be challenged or convicted, don’t. It is full of really big prayers. 

The line that gets me the most:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.

Lead me, WHERE EVER. No boundaries, God. Nothing in my life is off limits. Just go for it, take me where ever. I’m game. That’s a BIG prayer. Ehh, maybe; spirit lead me where I’m slightly uncomfortable but can easily step back into my box. Where my trust is without borders? Deeper than my feet could ever wander? That’s bold. I like borders, I like boundaries, and I like parameters— at least when I’m the one that sets them. There are a lot of places I don’t want to venture and things I don’t want to experience. Like the death of a loved one, an illness. Also on the list-- places without WiFi, flush able toilets and anywhere where cockroaches are considered even slightly normal. However, I prayed that God would take me where my trust had no borders and God answered, quickly. I asked him to take me where I wouldn't take myself and now this summer I will be travelling to Honduras for a mission trip. It’s not that I’m anti mission trip—I've been on two. Both of which were inside the United States, to New Orleans and Detroit. It’s easy to step out of your comfort zone a bit and serve when you’re still within familiar boundaries. Don’t get me wrong, I was 13 and 15 when I took these trips, they were challenging. I was without my parents and the youngest on the trip in both cases. Both places were totally different cultures and environments but…. Wall-Mart was right down the street and I had electricity and hot water—the whole time.

This time around, the accommodations are described as, “semi –modern, with electricity most of the time and hot water some of the time.” I don’t speak the language and I've never been out of the country, except for Canada which, besides the fact that their milk comes in bags, it’s basically the same place. So in honor of my first mission trip out of the country, God decided to go big or go home. I’m not just going on a mission trip, I’m going as a leader for the senior high team going. God not only led me to this trip, he’s having me lead others. Granted I’m not THE leader, (then I would start to question whoever approves these things God comes up with….)

In preparation for the trip we have regular meetings. Two weeks ago, I attended a retreat with the whole team. There are about 20 people going for the elementary ministry and a team from the church attending the DR as well. They told us things like, don’t drink the water and don’t touch the stray dogs. You can’t flush the toilet paper and sometimes people get travelers diarrhea. I spent that whole session trying to control my facial expressions.  Some aspects of the trip appear really uncomfortable or awkward. The language barrier and the fact that we’re staying in a motel that ‘occasionally’ has electricity, are some examples.

However, above all of this ‘noise’- I sat around the circle and felt nothing but peace and reassurance.  I was surrounded by adults and kids who heard God’s call and listened. They took seriously their call to spread the gospel to all nations. The senior high group has eight girls. When I was in 9th grade, I took a hair straightener to church camp and straightened my hair using the generator, so these girls really impress me. These are big commitments, financial, spiritual, emotional, and physical commitments. I am so proud to be able to sit among teenagers, children and adults who are so in love with God and are willing to make these commitments.

This trip is a little out of my comfort zone—but that’s where God works best and I can’t wait.

And, here's the song in case any of you were curious; 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Facing the unknown, not fearing it.

Four and a half years ago, I swore I never wanted to grow up. Sixteen was the perfect age. I constantly claimed I wanted to stay ‘here’ forever. Adults in my life would grimace and shake their heads, “it gets so much better.” No way, I thought. Why would I want to grow up? I could drive, I had my own car. Well, a 15 year old purple mini-van with my parents’ initials in airbrushed hearts on the front license plate. But much to my siblings dismay I had complete and total access to it. I could do basically anything but had very little responsibility and A LOT of disposable income. I had a lot of freedom but none of the adult things like mortgages and e-mail addresses that didn't have your favorite band or celebrity crush in it.

Come senior year, college decision and graduation—I was just not having this whole grown up thing. I went to college kicking and screaming. I was terrified. How can I become a fully functioning self-reliant adult? Yeah, I said I was independent but in reality my mom still did my laundry and made my doctors’ appointments. Despite having a dad for a chef, scrambled eggs and Kraft mac and cheese were about the top of my culinary abilities. I had such a strong connection to my church and community—I was constantly holding somebodies baby or eating dinner with somebodies family. I had a crammed schedule and was 100% comfortable where I was at in life. Living away from the known of my hometown was too much to think about.

However, I went to school and I managed to survive. Slow to warm up to the process, but eventually I learned to love it. It took dropping out and going back, but with 4 semesters under my belt and one underway- I can say I’ve more than adjusted. I’ve made a new home away from home. I’ve found my niche’ and I love it. We can forget that my mom still does my laundry and if it weren’t for HIPPA laws, she’d still be calling the doctor for me too. For some minor reason, like identity fraud or something else insignificant, she won’t call and pretend to be me… but that’s a different story. I still managed to not only survive but thrive. Although I suffer from the occasional homesickness, I still love college. I love the community I built. I’m surrounded by fabulous ladies that carry me through every day. I have people to stand in the gap and help me do what I cannot do. I have a fantastic church family and built a new babysitting ‘business’. I fell in love with a new town, I never new I had so much room left in my heart.

College is hard. Classes are hard. I've been challenged in so many uncomfortable ways and as a result I’ve grown into a person I never would've expected. I've failed, but I got up and I tried again. I came to terms with the fact that things don’t always go as planned. I've had to leave school and be told I would never return. I returned and proved the critics wrong. I defeated the challenges laid before me. I learned the value of working hard for my money and working hard for my education. I've proven that I cannot only attempt 45+ hour work weeks and a full course load, but kick butt doing it. I've shown myself that I can be a good student; I am not doomed to the bad student label I had adopted years ago. I have learned what it means to be a friend and have a friend. I felt the pain of betrayal. I've been faced with the decision of abandoning friendships with no new ones in sight, but made the decision anyway. I've in turn been blessed with a group of friends that I couldn't have picked out better myself.  I've discovered the value of making mistakes and the value of owning your past. I learned the importance of accepting consequences. I taught myself to be comfortable with other people disliking you and not needing a reason why. I was taught that sometimes you have to put yourself first. I've seen first-hand how it feels to do so. Somewhere along this way I grew into this adult that has a budget occasionally makes responsible decisions. Not to brag, but I'm proud of where I am.

I've written this whole new chapter in my life that never would be, had I been too scared to venture beyond the city limits. I have been faced with adversity and instead of letting it chase me in the opposite direction; I stood eye to eye with it. I realized it wasn't so big and scary after all and I simply kept walking. 

Somewhere along the way from middle school to here I blinked and all of a sudden I was classified as an adult. I used to measure being an adult by whether you have a salary and you pay your own phone bill. Somehow those requirements were waived for me, and here I am. I'm teetering between college age and full adulthood. I now stand in a spot where I’m terrified of what the future holds but I won’t let that stop me. I almost let the fear of the unknown hold me back before and

Oh, what I would've missed had I let it.