searchin’ for prayer warriors

Next Monday I’ll be heading off to a Bible camp with one of the amazing girls I do inclusion with.  I think, though, that this is going to be a challenging week [especially emotionally] as I attempt to help integrate and involve her on a more personal level than she integrates and involves herself.

I want to see growth so, so much.  I want to grow by seeing her grow.

I put a call out on Twitter last night for people who will engage in prayer with me during the week next week, and to those of you who have responded I am so grateful and want to hug all of you.

You probably all know I don’t do these kinds of things often, so here’s what I’m requesting prayer for:

  • Spiritual growth and engagement; lessons that become tangible.
  • Health [for both of us!] and safety
  • Emotional preparedness — for the weeklong and perhaps intense journey that camp will be.  For the girlie, manageable homesickness if any.
  • Patience and compassion
  • Sleep.  Oh my goodness, sleep.
  • FUN

I’ve never done anything like this where I’m on-duty 24 hours a day for like five-and-a-half days.  I’m very stoked to see what God teaches me through this.  I feel really blessed by those of you who have already committed to be on my team of prayer warriors next week.

I love you all — thanks for joining me on this journey!

i only notice Your face, no matter what You’re gonna break my shell

I’m Sorry | Flyleaf

So the day started off sucking.  I woke up to a nosebleed [which like, never happens but has happened twice this winter], both my debit cards and my bus pass were missing, and you know, it was early.  I was pretty much ready to write the day off before it even started.

Starbucks fixed me.  Not only because of the copious amounts of caffeine and sugar it caused me to consume, which did help, and not only because it was delicious, but because out of nowhere, Starbucks messed up both mine and Terina’s drinks which we looked at in confusion as they arrived on the counter:

DSCF7345

That is one heck of a Frappuccino.  Not only that, is that I discovered White Mocha Frappuccinos, which are delicious and I was okay to consume a large amount of white mocha Frapp due to that delicious.  But yes, huge.  Thank goodness for Tiffani sitting beside me helping me with it throughout the service this morning.

The Frappuccino sat under my chair as the service went on and as the service ended awaiting consumption, perhaps awaiting when I would need another cheer-up. 

Our latest series is on tough stuff in general–today was no exception, today delivered, because life can be hard.  They’re services that it’s hard to get through if you have any sort of personal connection to the topic.  Today’s service was especially hard for one of my friends sitting beside me, and it spoke to parts of my past, too, parts that I have overcome with Jesus . . . things that Jesus is working in my friend to overcome.  At times like that, He Loves Us is more impactful than it is on a non-heavy Sunday morning.  I definitely didn’t get through “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about . . . how He loves us.” without some tears (which happens more often than not.  I mean, how GOOD is that lyric?]

I firmly believe though that tears are outward signs of God working on the inside, outward signs of beginning or continual healing, and that is a really cool thing.  A thing that lead to the end of service, sitting with my arms around the same friend from above and just praying for God to help her feel that He is walking with her through this . . . tears heal.  Love heals.  JESUS heals.

And Starbucks to pick you up again doesn’t hurt . . . prayer being draining is definitely a good thing too.  There is LIGHT in all of this.  But if darkness didn’t exist . . . light wouldn’t matter.  It is amazing how God created such things to complete one another.

The irony is, LIGHT ended up being our unintentional theme in our room today with the three year olds.  I was trying to think up a quote about children [since our Bible verse had already been there a month] for our board.  I got this:

photo (14) The lady at the desk behind me told me I was very creative when I was drawing stars all over it.  I think being creative is a prerequisite for working with three year olds.  So, I guess I’m in the right place.  [See also: I know how to deal with criers and new kids ;).  New kiddo today and it was her family’s first time at our church.  She clung to her mom, I showed them around, she got excited by the trains, and did not care about her mom leaving anymore (though, she did wait for me before going anywhere, but that works, whatever).

Here was our craft:photo (15)

photo (16)

How cute is that?

LIGHT, hugs and high-fives from three year olds and goofy praise songs were exactly what I needed after the service.

(Oh yeah, and my bus pass and one of two debit cards were found)

. . . Cause there’s a light in your eyes, and it tells me that God is on our side.

Light in Your Eyes | Flyleaf

stuff, mostly awesome, that happened today

  • We planned our small group event for next Friday.  HELLO BOWLING.
  • I was standing in the upper level of the athletic centre waiting to go in for my kinese test, and talked to some random girl who was like “Oh [intro kinese prof’s name], with his vague notes and tight pants . . . distracting”.  She then wished me good luck on the test and left me thanking her and laughing.  I love people.
  • So my kinese test was not actually awesome, but being DONE it is awesome.  Also, apparently we have reverted to kindergarten, as the prof wrote IN HIS INSTRUCTIONS on the test to go to the bathroom before starting the test and not drink too much during the test.  Okay then.
  • I am not doing school all weekend.  That is awesome.
  • I ended up at the mall with my friend’s sister.  The following occurred:
    • I bought two CDs – Live’s “awake” [the best of album] and VersaEmerge’s “Fixed at Zero”.
    • I got dragged into the anime store and paced around outside.  I do not understand people’s obsession with thinking cartoon characters actually are something to squeal over and freak about about.
    • I tweeted a letter to some girl in there: image  I like when people give me things to tweet about.
    • I was introduced to someone as “the Dungeonmaster”, and said Hi and was unable to stifle back a laugh.  I hope he wasn’t too offended . . . Like the anime thing, I don’t get Dungeons and Dragons and its hype.
  • I walked mostly down the road home because apparently clearing sidewalks is not priority.  I am still alive to to tell about it despite crap road conditions.
  • I worshipped with hundreds of youth and dozens upon dozens of leaders tonight.  I knew my girls weren’t going to be there which I was sad about, but I did really think on some stuff with Jesus.
  • Found out one of my fellow Leaders is on TWITTER!  I love when I find out people are on twitter!
  • I came home and had yogurt.  Yogurt is healthy and awesome!  YAY!

Nutrition exam is over.  I BS’ed an answer or two, probably.  I went on a ramble about ATP in a question about concerns regarding low-carbohydrate diets.  We talked about ATP in intro kinesiology this morning.  I am like an ATP ninja, sort of.  Without the ninja, and without a full grasp of ATP.  So mostly not an ATP ninja.

I got stuck a bunch.  At one point I found myself stretched over the table, at another looking up to the ceiling and being all “Jesus, help me, please.” It is fortunate I was in a little room by myself, even though it had windows, I don’t think my invigilator was too much staring at my sprawling half on the desk or staring at the ceiling or playing with my hair when I spaced out.

So pending I got 55% it is over, except the assignment I have to finish.

And rock, hopefully.

trust, hope and isaiah 53:5

I’m really realizing that God puts me where I am for a reason.  I’ve been learning lessons in trusting Him lately, which is very cool.

The other day I said to Kim “What’s the point of having a story if you don’t share what’s strengthened you cause of it, right?”

So I hope it helps.  I hope that this will be God using me, speaking through me when I’m telling my story tomorrow afternoon.  Praying it’s used in HEALING for one of the youth girls.  And because God knows the specifics, please just pray.

He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our sins.  He was beaten so we could be whole, and by His wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

plaid, snow and healing hearts

We kicked tonight off with a change.  It started snowing before we started rocking.  Change–change set the theme.  Tonight was our monthly youth event—hundreds of junior and senior high students, four churches.  Lots of plaid—it and “country” was our theme, after all.  Lots of tears, hugs.  Lots and lots and LOTS of Jesus reaching in, healing.

I’m doing one-on-one with a super sweet girl this year for youth.  She’s awesome.  She’s quiet and just likes sitting back and soaking it all in.  She likes hugs and high-fives. 

I like watching how God works in people.  Sometimes, the girl I get to hang out with just totally comes alive from her usually quiet position.  One moment she’ll be standing, just listening, the next she’ll be clapping or dancing.  I’ll be acting like a goofball for Jesus, and she’ll look over and give me a smile when I least expect it.

I like seeing hearts change.  I like looking up to the front of the room and seeing arms wrapped around one another in hugs over what is being thrown at someone in life, and what God is doing to move in them.  I like looking around and seeing boxes of Kleenex at the ready, prepared for whatever God has in store.  I like seeing kids celebrating LIFE, celebrating JESUS, praying for each other in a way that is totally real.  I like seeing relationships build up.  I like surrender—I like seeing inner surrender to God outwardly—the tears, the hugs, the arms around each other’s shoulders . . . The group of students on the floor, in a circle around another student, praying during a song.  I like seeing hearts being healed in big ways that only God is responsible for.

I like leaders I don’t know grabbing me to participate in a high-five clapping-circle in the midst of a high energy song.  I like leaders who aren’t afraid to grab anybody to just go nuts with during a song, but completely transform when it’s time to do one-on-one prayer.  I like striving toward that.  I like groups of people clustering together during a song, unified, hands on each other’s shoulders and praying. 

I like love how real this place I’m finally at is.  This is not about pretending you are the person God wants you to be, it’s about growing and getting to be that person.

I say it time and time again, that thing about reason.  The why of the things happening around me, in me.  The reason Ramona asked “How do you feel about doing one-on-one with a tenth-grade girl who attends the junior high group?”  Inclusion is one of my favourite things, I just didn’t know if I’d be good at doing it.  I remember at the same time as I was saying yes, I was thinking “God, I hope You know what You’re doing”.  And of course He does, right?  Getting to hang out with this girl, though challenging at times, is totally a blessing.  It allows me to participate in worship on a different level.  It’s allowed me to adapt myself to trust that Yes, my God totally knows what He’s doing.  My God knows me, He knows what I am capable of before I know it myself. 

And it makes me hope that she sees Jesus in me in her own special way, as I do in her.  Makes me hope that I’m doing this thing right, in a way that’s tangible to her. 

My God, like her, is quiet but He comes to LIFE time and time again to surprise me . . .  And smile at me when I least expect it.

remain ‘10 – youth leader’s retreat

Friday night at the leader’s retreat was chill, and good.  We got to know each other a little better as cabin groups – girls and guys.  We had a fun drive out, Tara, Shira and I, and I surprisingly semi-knew where we were going, at least to get into the park.

Friday night featured an epic girls’ dance party and then Remain part one.  We spent the weekend digging deep into John 15, and it was a very cool study to do together as youth leaders.  Then after the guys left we had girl talk till nearly 2 am—you know, about ridiculousness and how we all imagine Michael Buble [as a young boy holding an ice cream cone and wanting to play tag].

I have to say, I was really reserved all weekend, which isn’t like me.  I only knew one person really well [Tara], and I’m not the most social in situations like that.  But I think I did open up a little bit over the course of the weekend, and as my relationships with my fellow youth leaders grow, I’ll be able to do the big-group stuff a little better.  Small groups, I am fine.  Groups of twenty, I kind of tend to take a backseat and just chill.

On Saturday we rounded up at the guys cabin for breakfast and then headed back to our cabin for Remain part two, then determination of our spiritual gifts and how we can use those to serve in youth ministry [my top two were faith and mercy]. 

Later in the afternoon, six of us went for a hike.  Now, here’s the deal.  I didn’t take runners with me.  I went for a hike in pink Chucks.  I stepped in mud.  That sucked.  I also had to walk over a log and balance, which was really scary—I have crap balance.  One guy was behind me making sure I didn’t kill myself, and Brenda came back across to help me and hold my hand.  I am not an athlete.  Chucks probably did not help.  Also probably did not help that it was a four foot drop beneath me into like, swampy mud.  I survived.  We kept walking and at one point, four of them wanted to climb some hill or something, so Leslie and I turned around and went back by ourselves, which was a nice opportunity to get to know her better.  She’s an occupational therapist, so we had lots to talk about :-).

We had a really chill afternoon playing Catch Phrase with the other female leaders on either side of the hike, and had four hours of free time in which to just chill and play silly games.  At about 6:20, ten minutes before dinner, we looked out and saw that we had one car to get nine of us to dinner—apparently all our cars were at the guys’ cabin 2 kilometers away.  We could’ve called the guys, but instead, we piled nine of us into Shira’s small car – folded the backseat down, myself and one other leader sat on the edge of the backseats, Brenda in the trunk, three others half in the trunk and half in the backseat, two others in the front seat and of course, Shira driving.  It was crazy.  There are pictures, but nobody has Facebook’ed them yet.

We had some dance parties at the guys cabin on their deck, Tara, Brenda and I.  It was a blast.  That was the theme workout of the weekend – dance party.  I can dig that.

After dinner, we were back at our cabin for Remain part three and some Saturday night worship.  Worship and prayer was definitely one of the highlights of my weekend [see also: nine of us in a car].  Singing How He Loves in a circle in the living room with Jamie and his acoustic guitar in the living room, with huge windows and the lake looming around us, it was just gorgeous.  So, so focused.  We moved into prayer afterwards, which was equally amazing.  It is hard to be in a place that’s breathtakingly beautiful with eighteen other faith-focused people you’re a team with and not feel very close to God, very hard to feel not part of something big.  I think God really worked overtime in all of us over our weekend together, and it was really amazing.  I don’t think anybody stayed tear-free during prayer, it was just amazing.

I used to not understand the need for fellowship as a follower of Christ.  I didn’t get it.  But I think after this weekend, I understand why we need to be a body in Christ—to meet each other where we’re at, to support each other, to care for each other, to pray for each other, to LOVE each other.  To be vulnerable.  To heal.  I learned things about my fellow leaders that yes, I’ve gone through too.  Yes, I’ve felt that too.  And that’s really cool.

I also learned I have a lot of work to do in my relationship with God.  Granted, I know that I’ve been a Christian for much less time than most of my new friends have.  I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, I didn’t go to Sunday School.  In some regards, I, five years later, am still really just beginning.  However, that makes my journey no more or no less valuable than anybody else’s.  I shared my testimony with Shira [and Tara again] on the way to the cabins.  It’s not something I do often, just when it comes up, but transformation just amazes me.

Transformation by Christ just amazes me.  The transformation He’s done, the transformation He did in us this weekend as a body, and the transformation that is yet to come.  Growing in Christ is a metamorphosis, in which we only continue to get more beautiful from the inside out [Romans 12:2 / 1 Peter 3:4].

It was an amazing weekend, and I feel totally blessed to have been a part of it.  God is SO freaking good it blows my mind sometimes.  He provides.  He loves.  And He builds us, changing us from His glory to a bigger piece of His likeness, even deeper into His glory [2 Corinthians 3:18]. 

I can’t wait to see where He takes us next as a church community . . . as new friends.