Sunday, September 23, 2012

These Are My People


This weekend, I have spent spending time with close friends and fellow Duke alumni celebrating Homecoming.  I somewhat consider Duke a home-away-from-home, but it's hard to say I feel completely at-home here still.  Things change, and when you're not present for the transition, that change seems drastic.  For example, the furniture in my living room at the Wesley House is no longer the same, the paint in my old room has changed, and there are people living in what I called home that I don't even know.  But that's okay.

Part of the growing process is letting go of those things that seem so important and moving on to the great possibilities that are before us.  While reminiscing at Homecoming, we remember the past and talk a lot about our futures, but what is so beautiful is the present.  At Asbury UMC this morning, I got to share about the ministry of presence and how it has manifested itself in my life.  I shared the story from "Love Is A Beautiful Thing" and was overwhelmed by the response from the church that I called home for four years.  I say the present is beautiful, because had I not moved on from Duke, I wouldn't have that story to share.  I wouldn't have the glow of true joy on my face that comes from seeing God every day in this ministry, and I wouldn't have this adult perspective that I have attained.

Friday, we attended the President's Homecoming Ball, which I cherish among my top Duke social events of the year.  Walking into the gym, it was hot, crowded, and I couldn't hear my friend trying to talk to me 3 feet away.  In undergrad, that was fun.  Not so much now.  Maybe my priorities have changed, but I enjoyed sitting in Nick's house watching football Saturday night more than this fancy cocktail party.

With so many fellow Class of 2012 alumni gracing the campus with their presence, Duke seemed like the home I remembered, but my personal affect was different.  I started to realize that maybe Duke hasn't changed so much, but I have.  These are my people, always have been, and always will be.  The tides have changed, but the ties remain.  I look forward to them visiting my new home in a few weeks.

Wesley break team trip to Atlanta!  S/O to Courtney Murray!

Monday, September 10, 2012

You Know How I Feel

I haven't written recently, because honestly, I didn't want to.  I've had a rough week - not that anything bad has happened - but my spirits just haven't been the highest.  I started wrestling with some of God's reasons for not making this whole missionary/chaplain thing easier.  As much as I wanted to push everyone away, claiming that they couldn't and wouldn't understand, I knew that others had felt pain like mine, even if it wasn't the exact same situation.  

Yesterday began week one of "Lost and Found", our group bible studies in the cottages.  I did not expect every child to be enthusiastic about a bible study, but I was not prepared fully for the welcome party in the boy's cottage that was my first stop.  Apparently, the activity for everyone else was outside, and they were extremely mad that I was taking up what would be their football time.  This was a crisis, the worst-case scenario for them and I was the villain.  Needless to say, I was feeling a little unappreciated and unwelcome.  We suffered together, and I got them to hear me out when I started sharing a story related to sports.

Luckily, a mere two hours later, I met with a group of very intelligent young women with lots of questions that are eager to know more about the bible, God, and faith.  I was sad that our conversation had to be cut short, because I was learning from their perspectives and enjoying their presence.  At the end of our evening, I had heard this repeated struggle from many of them.  Basically, where are you God and why aren't you helping me in this situation that I'm in?  I felt their pain, but I thought my 1 Corinthians reference to one body with many members and how we all suffer together wasn't quite sufficient.  As I flipped through the Psalms for a prayer to offer up, I literally fell into Psalm 22.  By the grace of God, I shared the first five verses to help them realize that their pain had been felt by others, and there is hope for the future.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

When I looked up, there were tears in several eyes, and one girl asked me if I felt what happened in that moment.  Of course, I felt the presence of God, but I was so happy to know that she had felt it too.  The moment was special, beautiful, and when I came close to tears in my frustration, this passage came back to my mind to remind me that others have felt my pain.  "Our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them."  

Deliver me, Oh God, because You know how I feel.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Like the Rain

I never liked the rain until I walked through it with you
Every thunder cloud that came was one more I might not get through
On the darkest day there's always light and now I see it too
But I never liked the rain until I walked through it with you

I know this may hit some of my Oklahoma friends hard as they would appreciate rain and cooler weather SO much right now, but I'm pretty much tired of rain in Cedartown.  It has drizzled/sprinkled/rained nearly every day this past week, and I am ready for some sunshine.  Mostly the rain is calm and peaceful-- no thunderstorms or gusting wind.  But this post is not about the weather, it's about the emotional and spiritual storms and rain showers that we encounter daily.

We've had some rain showers, some thunder claps, but not what I would consider a thunderstorm.  Of course, thunderstorms are nothing once you've experienced tornadoes and hailstorms.  I've shared about the beauty that can be found alongside pain, and I truly believe that I'm learning to bear the rain and thunder, although I can't say I enjoy it.

The wonderful thing about the rain is that others are walking along with you.  Playing in the rain is fun, especially when you can get a little muddy, but it's no fun when you're alone.  Labor Day, we played in the rain.  My lifeguarding training came in handy as I was able to open the pool for the kids, and they enjoyed the rain (so did I).  Don't leave someone out in the rain alone.  There's beauty and enjoyment to be found when we don't run inside, but instead play and sing in the rain!

I never liked the rain until I walked through it with You.