Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Few Favorite Things

Just a few pictures and links I want to share with you this morning...


In this post I wrote a little bit about why I keep encouraging notes on display in my room. I'm sure this would have a similar effect.


I thought these were little pillows when I first looked at them... they might not be. But they're adorable. Houses are my very favorite thing to draw. I think the detail on these would make them fun to sew, too.


One of my favorite memories from being a little kid is taking trips to the craft store with my Mom. I went through a latch hooking stage where getting a new latch hook set would have been the most exciting thing ever. I tried cross stitch (like the picture above) a couple times, too. When I saw this picture for the first time, I told myself I should start a cross stitch this summer. I love having a project like this to keep my hands busy.


Brad Leach, a church planter in Philadelphia, wrote a great post called "Uncertainty is Good For You". You might not believe it... but this post will change your mind. This week I'm going to allow God to soften my heart and increase my faith with this lesson. Take a minute to read it!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I woke up this morning in a slump.

I was feeling negative and just a little discouraged. I'm really thankful for how quickly the morning changed, though. Sometimes when I wake up feeling like this, I allow it to last hours. But not today. :) God got a quick hold on my heart and helped me get some much needed perspective.

Honestly, most mornings I wake up feeling that way, it's a result of how I used the moments before I fell asleep. It's about what the condition of my heart was and what I allowed it to be. There's a big question: Did I read my bible? (Or 'Was I willing to listen to God instead of just going to sleep?') I'm NOT making this legalistic... I just know my heart can go in a bad direction really fast and I need all the encouragement and truth I can get to keep it pure and on the right track. God really wants to help us with that.

This morning as I made my bed and cleaned up my room a little bit, I was reminded of something by the Holy Spirit. When I feel this way, the solution is to be purposeful.

Let me say one thing... being purposeful is NOT the same as being busy.

In fact, being busy is probably the worst thing I can do when I feel like I did this morning. Want to know why? It's because I knew the empty, negativity I was feeling was simply a hunger to be with God.

I want to share a couple things that really helped me this morning in getting free from the slump I woke up in. I don't think I'm the only one who experiences this. And I know we don't have to live every day just ignoring how awful our hearts feel by being busy.

1. Make a decision to purposefully get out of the slump.
Half-hearted attempts don't usually work out. They just keep the cycle of discouragement going longer.

2. Clean up your environment.
For some reason, being purposeful about making the area around me look nice and restful really prepares me to take care of the condition of my heart, too. It gets my day going. I have to get out of bed and start improving something. It takes me out of the mindset of just letting things take their course. (It makes sense to me! :) )

3. Close the computer, stay away from the phone. 
Opening facebook and checking emails becomes way too distracting for me. Some mornings I'll be so confident that I want to start my day with prayer. But by the time Facebook is opened and I'm done thinking about the emails I just followed up with, I end up just wanting to be busy. I'd rather "do stuff" than share my heart with God and hear from him about his. It's really important to embrace that stillness we have in the morning... it's an awesome time to prepare for the work of the day.

4. Pray and write.
Just share with God what's on your heart. What has most of your attention and gets you excited right now? I get so excited about prayer all over again when I remember that God desires to give me wisdom and better insight into what I'm facing if I'll just listen. In prayer and listening, all of our plans, our relationships, and our thought life are refined and made much more beautiful. Journaling is a big thing for me. I spent a long time this morning doing the same thing I did in prayer. I finished writing feeling so encouraged. God is really, really good to me. He is to you, too... we just have to purposefully reflect on all we're seeing him do.

5. Be Encouraged.
This one has to do with your environment, too. Keep things in your room that remind you of how good God is. Our hearts naturally go toward selfishness. I keep cards on my window sill from some of the biggest encouragers in my life. They remind me why relationships, my faith, and the dreams God has given me are worth all the work and self discipline they require. (And they're pretty.) :)

6. Share what you learned.
That's what I'm doing here. I'm convinced that when God teaches us something big, especially something that is key to getting out of a trap we've found ourselves in before, the best thing we can do is teach it to someone else. We take ownership of that lesson and we help other people get free. We think through it in greater depth and understand why it works so well. It's the idea of pouring out what God gives to you so that you can receive even more from him.

Hope this helps!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

All Things GMC

It's been almost a month since I last blogged, and it's been a big, wonderful, change-filled month.

May went pretty quickly... my Gettysburg Master's Commission team traveled to and around Armenia for about a week and a half. They did worship services, teaching, leadership training... and from what I hear... a lot of eating, too. I was told several times how hospitable and generous the Armenian people were to them. My good friend Kimmy and I stayed in Gettysburg and spent the week doing work around the church. It was great to have that week with Kimmy. Every time I spend time with her I become more and more aware of how blessed I am to have her in my life. Not sure that anyone can make me laugh or do weird things like she can.

The team returned and we wrapped up our final week together here in Gettysburg. There were great prayer times, lots of laughter, a photo shoot at the battlefields, a cookout, and, for me, many moments of looking at each of my 5 team members thinking "I won't have this much longer..". What an incredible team I had this year. I love each one of them and I'm so thankful for the way I saw them grow and for the way God used them to grow me.

We graduated on May 22nd in what I thought was the most perfect graduation ceremony. Simple. We started with worship. Then Lance spoke and addressed our team, using the metaphor of the shaping of an arrow and the shaping of a disciple that he shared with us our first week at Master's, all the way back in August. Gerry spoke out of 2 Timothy where Paul encourages Timothy to fan into flame the gift of God that was in him. We were each called to the stage where Lance spoke to us individually about what He saw God do in us this year or how we impacted his life and the team. They were some of the most meaningful words I've ever received.

After receiving our diplomas and a gift from Lance, the pastors and staff at Freedom Valley prayed over us. Then we were done. Graduation closed out as we were congratulated by friends and family and some of the team said a few "final goodbyes" (at least until next year :)

That afternoon standing in the sanctuary I really felt released into my calling and into the future. It was a powerful year. I learned more about faith, leadership, ministry, and relationships than I ever could have expected. Daniel, especially, spoke into my life in ways that stirred up God-sized dreams in me and confirmed that I am headed in the right direction. He spoke to Luke and I saying "This (motioning to the two of us) is good. You need someone like him and he needs someone like you." Sounds simple... but moving forward into the future and into the ministry God is calling me to... I'm so glad it's with Luke.

I said goodbye to my team and cried a little with Kimmy. Just because I love her... I wasn't really sad at all :) Lunch at Montezuma's with my family and Luke followed by a Catalyst leadership meeting closed out the day.

Three hours after graduating... a few of us began planning for Gettysburg Master's Commission's future. This summer I'll be staying in Gettysburg, working part time, and working on a team that's developing and strengthening the program. More on that to come.. :)