Tag Archives: new life

“is it really just a coincidence that we’re struck with such apocalyptic snow mere weeks after frozen became such a hit? is it?!”

there are so many awesome things that are happening right now.

i’m in my final semester as an undergrad. that’s insane. and i’m not taking any classes, i’m just at practicum, which is kind of like the social work equivalent of student teaching. since i want to do counseling with kids, i’ve been placed at a local elementary school, longfellow, under the school counselor, leslie.

it’s been incredible so far. i’m learning a lot, and it’s been a privilege to get to know the students and faculty. it was pretty clear from the first week that all the teachers and staff really love these kids. leslie knows the names and seemingly the stories of each student, and it’s obvious that they love her. plus, even though i’m sure it’s annoying having to explain things to the new guy (who will only be there for a few months), i’ve felt nothing but welcomed and appreciated since i arrived.

while it’s been an odd schedule so far (i’m supposed to be there from 8-3 every day, but we’ve had so many cancelations and delays from the snow that i only have about half my hours right now), it’s been a change to get into a new routine, which has been really refreshing. i get up early, get ready for the day, and have some time with Jesus before I leave. most days i have other commitments upon my return, but i usually manage to get to sleep around 10 or so. i feel oddly grown up.

i’m also getting a taste of what it looks like to be a school counselor, at least in an elementary school. it’s exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. this could legitimately be what i’m doing in the future. like near future. like way sooner than i would have thought possible.

to be honest, i’m not sure what kinds of updates i’ll be posting this semester. clearly i haven’t made it  priority so far, but there were many reasons for that. mostly i was wanting to settle in and get my rhythm. in considering the benefits of including relaxation in the midst of a busy schedule, i’d like to post once a week, or more if time allows. so we’ll see.

so what else has been going on? list time!

1.) youth group stuff. so much fun. with each passing week, i am praising God all the more for the blessings that come with helping to lead such an incredible group. i’ve been growing closer with matt, adam, jessy, and jami. just a few nights ago we got together to eat dinner and play games. just the five of us. and it was the best. matt and i are loving the direction that the middle school guys are taking. we’re leading them through the hand illustration developed by the navigators that teaches about five different aspects of being in the word. then we plan on studying 1 peter together. the guys have shown such growth over the year, and both matt and i have been humbled and excited to watch God work.

2.) okay so maybe i got way too excited at the thought of a list. because that’s kind of it with the main things. but i have been continually blessed by the guys i live with. God has provided a lot of time lately for me to spend individually with many of them, and it’s been really awesome. such a testament to the power of blessing of fellowship in the body of Christ.

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so. there’s that. looking forward to a more consistent blogging schedule, and hopefully a full week of practicum!

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“your beard connects all the way to your hair!”

life is in full swing here at ball state (it has been for the past month, actually), and it’s been way too long since i’ve posted. is it weird that one of the main reasons i’ve waited so long was because i got a new camera and just hadn’t taken a whole lot of pictures yet? it’s hard to get out of the camp mindset. i never had to warn anyone that i loved taking pictures of life… it was kind of just a natural thing there.

in actuality, the main reason i haven’t been on is that this year has been a big adjustment. there are lots of new things this year, awesome things, but things that take some getting used to. but they’re all awesome. seriously.

i live in a house this year with five of the coolest guys i know—dan, austin, sam, drew, and tom. they love Jesus, they love fellowship, and they take responsibility and accountability and the pursuit of God seriously. it’s the best.

we celebrated tom’s birthday recently with applebee’s, cake, and monty python. last sunday we had our first official monthly house meal. austin, sam, and i grilled up some steaks and made some mashed potatoes and corn. it was delicious, and we got to take some time to just talk about life and encourage each other.

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last saturday drew organized a time of prayer in the morning. we got together, praised God for all He had provided, and prayed for each other and our ministries. these are the kinds of things that constantly remind me how blessed i am to live with these guys.

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even though i’m not at camp, God’s provided tons of opportunity for me to hang out with and minister to kids. i’m leading my church’s middle school boys’ bible study with matt, who i know but have never spent a whole lot of time with before, and i can already tell that it’s going to be awesome. we’re studying the book of jonah, and the guys are all really invested in legitimately growing in their relationships with Jesus, which is just super encouraging. plus, leading with matt is a total blessing—his honesty and insight are both encouraging and humbling. i’m so excited for what the year holds!

i’m also involved in two other ministries: kids hope and college mentors. both are things i’ve done before, and God’s given me the time to invest in both. through kids hope, i meet with a second-grader named isaiah. he’s the best… talkative, hilarious, and really sweet. last friday we spent his lunchtime taking funny pictures and talking about books we both like to read. he asked if next week i could try to get some pop rocks, which he’s never tried before.

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we haven’t had our first activity day for college mentors yet, but our buddy family rocks and i got to meet henry (not my buddy but one of the guys in our family for the year) on tuesday, so i’m super excited. my guy’s name is malakai, and he wants to be either a police officer or a target worker. so he’s obviously the best, even if i haven’t met him yet.

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other things are awesome. like action group and learning to make food instead of buying it at woodworth and seeing camp people everywhere! we made hobo dinners and i can always count on running into a fellow camp crazy, usually while we’re wearing our respective unit shirts. not mad about it.

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life is good, God is great, and there’s a lot more ahead this year. i’m excited to share it with you!

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“…you’re going to have to blur out that red solo cup.”

while i had two finals this week, the vast majority of work took place in the previous two weeks, so this one is kind of like the most relaxing seven-day stretch of my entire semester. this past weekend was filled with people i love and stuff i love to do.

thursday was the last cru of the year. creative team pulled off an insanely awesome mc transition experience. it parodied the parodies that mc transition videos usually pull, zipping through a variety of possible movies to use (the notebook, the dark knight rises, skyfall) and ending with a live performance of “one day more” from les mis. i got to be a part of it and it was awesome.

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it was also a night of celebration for all the amazing things God did throughout the year. there was some beautiful testimony and worship that night, and i left praising God for the way He chooses to show up in so many ways.

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friday night was the last servant team. also a time of celebration for what God had done, we got to welcome the new servant team members and talk about how each of our ministry areas had been blessed throughout the year. there were crazy games involving searching for staff team members (one of whom may or may not have wrapped himself in a trash bag and hidden in a full dumpster)…

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a bonfire, complete with s’mores, pink lemonade, and the passing of the torch from the senior class to the underclassmen…

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and general merriment and singing and picture taking…

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it ended with some a capella four-part harmonies to hymns. no big deal.

saturday was awesome because i got to hang out with these people:

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some of the cru staff parents dropped off their kids so they could have a day to relax with each other, and a bunch of us volunteered to watch them. it was basically the best thing ever. it took a little bit for some of the kids to get used to us, but by the end we were running around drawing chalk flowers, setting records for the longest amount of time we could keep a bouncy ball from hitting the ground, and being flung to the side by tyko’s “iron man hand”, which was quite the rage.

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that last one is tyko helping ben perfect his iron man hand technique. he took it pretty seriously.

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also he and hallie are inseparable, which was adorable.

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daniel and i finally got to rematch in our checkers game. he won, and i wasn’t playing easy on him. he has an eye for triple jumps, and i was slightly embarrassed. but this just means we have to play again so i can regain my dignity.

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that sunday was the final youth group. crazy shenanigans were had, naturally.

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definitely a bittersweet time, because i’ve grown to love them all so much. thankfully, i’ll be back next year, Lord willing. adam managed to find a bunch of pictures of me without a beard and strung them together in a slideshow for the kids… if it sounds weird, it’s because it was, but in an endearing way. everyone (including me) decided i look better with a beard.

and that was the last weekend i will ever experience as a junior! crazy to think about.

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thoughts on psalm 23: still waters.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

this is a continuation of some of my thoughts from a sunday school class i’m attending at new life about Jesus being the shepherd and His children being the sheep. same as last time, much of this comes from pastor brian’s insight along with content from phillip keller’s book a shepherd looks at psalm 23.

water is essential to life. this is no mystery; we’ve all experienced thirst and know what it is to be refreshed by an ice-cold glass of water on a crazy hot day. for as long as we live, we will never not need water. it sustains us. it’s for this reason that the imagery of water is used to heavily in the bible. Jesus is referred to as living water (john 4), salvation is often paired with the image of a fountain that flows freely and endlessly (isaiah 12), and revelation 22 describes a river of water of life flowing from God’s throne. it is associated with cleansing, rejuvenation, and new life (words that also describe the blood of Jesus).

not surprisingly, water also plays a significant role in the work of a shepherd when tending to his flock. keller notes that there are three main sources of water from which sheep find their sustenance: dew, deep pools, and flowing streams.

dew is the most consistent of water sources. it shows up every morning, and often in the early evening as well. the shepherd will lead the sheep to fields in which they spend the early hours of their morning, grazing and taking in the dew. it’s reliable, and it’s always enough.

in the same way, the Lord provides dew for us. when we spend intentional time with Him on a daily basis, we are sustained. we don’t experience an overwhelming spiritual high every morning (or at least I don’t), but we don’t need to. simply being with Jesus is enough. sometimes i forget this. i find myself disappointed because i’m not on some spiritual mountain, discovering deep truths every time i open the bible. but the fact is, being with God looks different every time it happens. sometimes it’s simply a reminder of who God is, and what He wants us to know about Him from His word.

the second source of water comes from deep pools. this, keller notes, is usually where the best and purest water can be found. sheep can drink deeply and richly from these pools. the thing is, these deep pools aren’t found just out in the open. in order to reach them, shepherds typically have to lead their sheep through rocky, often dangerous paths. the journey is difficult, sometimes painful, and filled with uncertainty. but the end results in the best kind of water.

any of you guys ever experienced trials? difficult times that made you question the Lord and His goodness? think of how the sheep feel. sure, the shepherd knows exactly where he’s going and what’s waiting for them at the end of the path, but the sheep must think he’s crazy. they might see an easier road to travel on, and wonder why a loving shepherd would ever lead them down such a difficult path. for me, it’s really easy to relate. i like the end result, but i figure that i know a much better way to get there. certainly not one with so much frustration, confusion, or pain. i like paths that don’t expose my sin. i like paths that don’t push me out of my comfort zone. i like paths that don’t remind me i’m not ultimately the one in control. but without these kinds of paths, we would never actually reach the best kind of water. often we drink most deeply from these pools in the aftermath of a harrowing journey… sometimes in the midst of one. Jesus knows exactly what He’s doing when He leads us through these seasons of life. we are forced to rely on Him and His strength. and when we do that, we find true peace.

the final kind of water comes from flowing streams. these are places of ease for the sheep, because they can rest along the bank and drink freely. sheep become anxious around swift and fast-slowing rivers, but these quiet streams are perfect. they aren’t very common, but every now and then the shepherd will lead his sheep to one, and they can enjoy the experience.

i have experienced a lot of craziness this semester, but also many moments of inexplicable peace and blessing. the Lord has brought me to these streams, where, in the middle of a chaotic and overwhelming life, i’ve been able to take comfort in His word, fellowship with my brothers in Christ, learn under solid teaching, and experience deeply fulfilling times of prayer. these times are precious, and we can all experience them from time to time. it’s just important to remember that the Lord isn’t delighting in us any less when He takes us through times of trial. ours is a Shepherd who delights in leading His sheep to water that sustains, satisfies, and brings peace.

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thoughts on psalm 23: metaphors.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

so at new life i’ve been attending a sunday school series that pastor brian’s been teaching about the dynamic of shepherd and sheep in our relationship with Jesus. much of the content and direction of the series is based on phillip keller’s book a shepherd looks at psalm 23. it’s been awesome, and i wanted to share some of the really cool stuff. the following is a mixture of content from the book, content from sunday school, and my own thoughts.

at the outset of the series, brian opened up discussion to talk about metaphors in the bible. there are tons of ways we see the relationship between us and God depicted. Father and children, King and kingdom, Husband and bride, Head and body are all examples. the imagery of a shepherd and his sheep is also quite prevalent.

the thing is, i am not a shepherd. nor have i ever really spent a lot of time around sheep (i’m actually trying to think if i’ve ever been around one… yes. camp tecumseh. the mini-farm. check). so this metaphor, while i understand it on a surface level, isn’t extremely relevant to me. is it important that i dig deeper to have more than a superficial understanding that a shepherd leads sheep?

pastor brian’s answer was an emphatic yes. God is described using so many metaphors in the bible because no one metaphor can contain Him; He is infinite. it’s important for us to understand each one of their implications, including that of Jesus being our Shepherd, because only when we understand the nature of our relationships can they be strengthened. how strong is a child’s bond to her father if she doesn’t recognize that he will protect her? how can a boy truly know and appreciate his mother unless he grasps the fact that part of her role is nurturing him? in the same way, if i’m not seeking to understand every facet of my relationship with Jesus, i’ll be missing out on a lot.

ergo, the metaphors.

but what about the metaphors that many people might feel disconnected from? if someone has a bad relationship with their dad, the idea of God being a father might not sit well. if a woman has been married to someone who was unfaithful, the metaphor of Jesus being the Bridegroom may not hold much weight.

i think this reveals two things: first, people are imperfect. second, Jesus is the opposite. we will never find any perfectly satisfying or fulfilling relationship here on earth, because we are all flawed people. but Jesus fulfills every aspect of every relationship. He truly is the perfect father. He loves us, protects us, disciplines us for our own good, and guides us. He’s the perfect bridegroom… faithful (even when we are consistently unfaithful), loving, tender, selfless (and everything else).

i want to chase after this God.

i know i didn’t actually get into the shepherd metaphor at all. but that will come soon. for now, i want to seek after the Lord. learn more about what this relationship looks like from all sides. sometimes i forget the wonder of this reality. i forget that the Creator of the universe died so that i could be His son.

i will gladly be a sheep of this Shepherd.

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