Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Goodbye Georgia!

My term of service is complete.  It was the most rewarding two years of my life, but like every chapter, I pray it's not the best.  I hope life continues to amaze me and that God continues to amaze me with amazing opportunities.  For all faithful followers, I am moving blog sites.  I realize I posted 3 or 4 blogs so far this year, so I'm extremely inconsistent, but I'm going to continue to try harder.

While I attend the University of Indianapolis and explore the first year of marriage, I'm also starting a new hobby, gardening.  If you're interested, please come see me at hoosiergardener89.blogspot.com!

Here's a few pictures from our wedding :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Finishing Last

This week, our kids are on spring break which means... Cottage Competition!

The rec department takes over during the morning and afternoon activities for lots of silly games, races, relays, and fun!  We've had a lot of good laughs already and only a few slightly hilarious injuries.  I'm super competitive and so thankful that I get to help lead the games and am not on a specific team, because I may have possibly lost my cool several times otherwise.

I wanted to record some of my fondest memories thus far in our cottage competition. #sb2014

1.  Monday, we had a 5-on-5 basketball tournament.  Even though I don't have a team, you knew I couldn't sit this out.  I volunteered to help a team that had only 5 participants, one of which asked me "how do you play basketball?"  Sadly, we were far from impressive and lost both of our matches and I had to encourage my other competitive team member who was a little frustrated.

2.  On Tuesday, we had track practice and ran our normal 3 miles.  However, unlike most practices when I am cheering on kids to finish and work hard, I spent this practice panting and trying to catch up.  We have four new teenage boys who have joined the "crew" as I call them, and let's just say they're a little faster than some of our previous participants.  I'm really excited to take several of them to their first race this weekend!

3.  Today, we kicked the day off with our new favorite activity, the warm-up!  Monday, we started playing music in between basketball games and the kids started dancing, so we decided to create warm-up dances, which are just fun when everyone participates.

While thinking back to track and forward to more practices and races, I couldn't keep Stellar Kart's song Finish Last out of my head.

I want to finish last
Last in the world's eyes
No matter what I do
I will be first in your eyes

Even though the week has been just plain fun, I thought I'd share this song for days we feel defeated, days we feel like we're finishing last.  Remember that you are first in God's eyes, and that is what matters!  Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I Depend on You

This week's question from #rethinkchurch: What are those temptations that rule me?

I've always been very confident in my ability to resist temptation, at least the obvious ones like sex, drugs, etc.  The temptation that rules me was explained in the following sentence.  Over-confidence.  It doesn't sound like much of a temptation, but it is a stumbling block for me.  My independence, or over-confidence in me, keeps me from seeking the help of others more able or more qualified.

My mom estimates that I was five or six years old when I stopped letting her or anyone else help me.  I've never struggled to help others, but I do not like being on the "needy" side.  The best lesson I've learned as a missionary is how to be in partnership with those I think I'm serving.

I shared with two UMW circles this week about the strengths of the children I work with.  I shared that they have some unique abilities and features that often go unrecognized.  They may want to fight sometimes, but they always stand up for their friends and others they care about.  They form strong attachments and like me, always want to help.  I've been trying to remind myself of their strengths and allow them to help me, because they do have a lot to offer.

They've been forced to ask for a lot of help in their life times, and I hope this is something they can teach me.  It's okay to ask for help.  It's okay to be dependent.  Today, Lord, I depend on you.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

It's that season again...Lent.  I think some of us dread this time where we are asked to refocus our attention and either give up or start a new Christian practice.  I've done the traditional giving up chocolate, or fried food, or even Facebook and they did help me to refocus, but this year I signed up for the text alerts from Rethink Church.  Each Sunday, they send out a question to focus on and ponder for the week.
On Ash Wednesday, I received the first, asking "What are the basic needs in my community?"  Interesting... I thought about the basic needs and how many go unmet.  I am so blessed to wake up every day and not have to worry about my basic needs being met.  I laugh often with my fiancĂ© about the difference between wants and needs.  I think that's the point of Lenten disciplines; it's time to sort out the difference between your needs and wants.  I've been interviewing at graduate schools the past few weeks, and their first question is always Why are you pursuing graduate studies?  After being asked this question over and over, I decided that my Lenten discipline was going to be asking Why?.  
Why do I want xWhy do I do y?  Why am I so focused on x and y?
While I try to refocus and sort out my wants and needs, I need to ask these questions.  I need to get back to the source, and I need to remember whose I am.
Sunday morning, we sang the doxology that most of you probably know by heart:
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
I don't think I've ever listened closely enough to that.  All blessings flow from God; it's an idea so simple that I sometimes miss it.
Why do I praise God? Because the blessings given to me by God are more than I could ever earn.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Happy Shrove Tuesday!

It wasn't until college that someone finally explained to me what Shrove Tuesday was.  As you may be aware, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar.  Lent is a period of fasting, and its start is celebrated by a day of cleaning out the cabinets and using the sugar, flour, etc.  Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday is the festival of celebration before Lent and so is Shrove Tuesday.  Traditionally, the celebration of Shrove Tuesday involves delicious pancakes.
Read more about Shrove Tuesday here.

I was shocked this morning to learn that IHOP was celebrating Shrove Tuesday by giving out free stacks of pancakes on this special day.  I curiously scanned the internet to find IHOP's religious affiliation (of which I had no prior knowledge, only to learn that "IHOP will be giving out free pancake short stacks in celebration of National Pancake Day, a holiday the company created in 2006."  Fancy that, IHOP created a holiday that mimics the celebration of a Christian holiday.  This is not something to protest or even be frustrated about. This is something to celebrate.

Please take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and celebrate Shrove Tuesday.  Don't worry, IHOP is footing the bill :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Don't Worry, Be Thankful!

Well it's been two months since my last post.  I'll blame it on the holidays, like everyone else does.

I had the joy of going home for Thanksgiving and spending the weekend with my extended family (including my sister's boyfriend, my fiance, and all our pets).  Life was crazy between Thanksgiving and Christmas as we prepared for Christmas at Murphy-Harpst.  The kids performed a spectacular Christmas play; we did an advent bible study; and, the elves survived the influx of gifts, sorting, and delivery.  I then got to enjoy another week home with my sister and parents before kicking off the new year.

January has been cold in Georgia (too cold for my taste, at least), so a lot of activities have been occurring inside.  Track practice at Murphy-Harpst has been inside nearly all month, but we're running our first 5K of the year this coming weekend.  Bible study has been going well, and I'm sharing some of what my Sunday School class discusses with the kids.  Since I volunteered to help teach Sunday School this quarter, it's really nice to look at each lesson and how it effects me, but also be able to hear the kids' takes on things.

The first chapter I shared with the kids was procrastination.  It's a new year and everything we put off until the new year is still waiting on us.  With a couple extra days out of school due to the weather, we joked that maybe the teachers were procrastinating from coming back.  The next week, we talked about stress and how most of us don't deal well with stress.

One of the young men asked me during our discussion, "Ms. Jerrica, why don't you talk to us about things that you deal with too?"  I chuckled and told him that everything I talk to them about, I deal with on a personal level.  Our conversation continued, and we contemplated Paul's words telling us not to worry.  It's hard to read those words, because I think everyone worries.  But, Paul's directions don't just tell us not to worry; they give us an alternative.

Philippians 4:6-7
"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

The author of Slaying our Giants says that there are two ways to deal with stress and anxiety: concern and worry.  Concern is when you do what you can do and allow God to do the rest.  Worry is when you mull over the same thing over and over for no reason.  Our tendency is to worry about things.  I do it. You do it. We all do it.  Most of the time, our worries are out of our hands.  If you're worried about a friend or family member, you can talk to them and try to help.  But, once you've done your part, you have to give the rest to God and trust that God's will be done.  Only then can we experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.

On Friday, I was in a car accident, and afterwards I thought to myself that there were several ways I could respond.

  1. I could be angry at the person who caused the accident, who was not paying attention.
  2. I could be worried about how I'm going to get places with no car, not enough money to buy a new one, etc.
  3. I could trust God.  Tell God my needs and thank Him for all He has done.  
With only minimal soreness, I am healthier than most people on a normal day.  That's not something to be angry or worried about.  That's something to be thankful for :)  Have a great day, and remember to tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.

Friday, November 15, 2013

God's Sense of Humor

This week has been awesome and super busy.  It's secretly how I like it; I may complain about being so busy and barely having time to breathe, but I agree to do so many things, because I love busy weeks that are full of excitement.  It would take an hour to write all the details, but let me highlight the great adventures of my week.

On Tuesday, I went to Tucker, Georgia - a place formerly unknown to me to speak at the Lawrenceville Road United Methodist Women's Fall Tea.  Of course, I was expecting a small tea with 15-20 ladies and was surprised by the sixty or so women from the Atlanta-Emory District.  We had a great time, and they blessed me and Murphy-Harpst with new books and DVDs for our library, leftover sandwiches and desserts for the kids, and a beautiful love offering.  These women are so passionate about the ministry and speaking to several of the ladies before and after tea was so refreshing for my spirit.

Women at the Lawrenceville Road UMW Fall Tea with their donation

On Wednesday, I traveled to Atlanta for a large career fair with twenty-seven universities and dozens of employers.  I shared with students about the opportunities of the United Methodist Church for service and about possible employment and internship opportunities at Murphy-Harpst.  Once again, I felt inspired to hear so many young people looking for a way to make a difference in the lives of children.

Matt and I at our friends' wedding last week
Now it's Friday, and my week is nowhere near over.  Today is Matt's 30th birthday, so we will be celebrating with his parents tonight, and I'm planning some special birthday festivities.

Tomorrow, I will be sharing with the Rome-Carollton UMW ladies at their district meeting, and on Sunday, I will be in Bremen for a mission event.

Like I said, busy.

Here's where God's sense of humor comes in.  On Monday, I told Matt about everything happening this week.  I even put it on the weekly calendar I got for him to keep up with me. :)  Every Thursday, we have a chapel service at Murphy-Harpst, and I told him that if our chaplain Brother Wayne called and asked me to fill in, I was going to have to turn him down.  Well... last night around 6pm when we were supposed to start, I found out that Brother Wayne's father had been hospitalized due to heart failure and he would not make it.  Was I going to cancel chapel at the last minute with nothing planned?  Of course not.  I chuckled as I walked to my office to get my computer for the service and assured Brother Wayne that we would figure it out.  We lift Brother Wayne and his family up in our prayers because health issues are serious.  However, God laughed in my face last night, saying you said you wouldn't do what? 

We had a beautiful service, full of song, dance, and the Word.  God had plans for the kids to hear a message, and I'm glad I didn't get in the way of that.  To God be the glory, forever and ever, amen.