Thursday, November 26, 2009

once upon a time...

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had a blessed day celebrating with family and friends. :)

I just finished my first batch of support letters, so they will go out tomorrow. Thus, I decided I should explain my story of how I came to hear about LeadTime and the journey the Lord has taken me on to get here.

Two and a half years ago I was working at T Bar M, a Christian sports camp in New Braunfels. One of the girls on leadership that summer was Ashley Dady, who became a dear friend of mine. At the end of the summer, she was planning on going to LeadTime, which at that time was in Denver. As she told me about what she would be doing, I had a desire to pray for her and the girls she would be ministering to.

That October, I was able to go to Denver and visit Ashley for a few days at LeadTime. That afternoon, I just hung out with some of the teenage girls at the house and heard some of their stories. I was so moved by what I heard, and by the end of the night, I went outside and just wept. There was so much brokenness, not just in the lives of the teenagers, but also in the lives of the people involved in LeadTime. So much pain and hurt, but there was a beauty about it that I was drawn to. I didn’t want to leave.

Soon after that trip, I decided to change my major in college to Social Work. I was a nursing major at the time, but spent most of my time in class journaling and trying to figure out what to do with my life. The more I heard about social work, the more excited I became. So I switched – and now as I graduate next Saturday, I know I made the right choice.

After I left Colorado, I began to write letters to a few of the girls I met at Shelterwood, the residential treatment program that LeadTime works with. One of the girls was Ashley’s little (they call the teenagers Littles, and those involved in LeadTime Bigs). She encouraged me so much through letters she would write back, and I constantly prayed for the teens and LeadTime class. I was able to go visit again during Spring Break with my mom, and one more time in May to see Ashley’s little graduate from the program. I felt so blessed to have had an inside look of the program, and now I am excited to finally be involved myself.

I applied to LeadTime over a year ago, and I tried to work with my school to allow LeadTime to count as my final internship. However, the school decided that I should stay in Austin for my internship, and I have spent the past semester working with teenagers in drug rehab. I absolutely love it, and know that the Lord has me in His hands. I have learned so much this semester and know that my time here has prepared me even more for LeadTime.

I am leaving on January 2nd to drive up to Missouri with my parents, and I officially will start the program on January 4. I am really excited to go, but sometimes I feel anxious or sad, because I know I will miss my dear friends and family in Texas. However, I must say, I feel so supported by every single person I have told about LeadTime. Time and time again I have been given affirmation that this ministry is something I will do great at, even by people that I just meet. I have such peace knowing that this is exactly what the Lord has called me to do, and I look forward to sharing how Christ moves and reveals Himself this next year. I invite all of you to pray with me and follow me on this sweet journey. I pray that you will be blessed and encouraged.

I am so grateful for all of you, for your words of encouragement and support, your love, prayers and friendship. I could not do this without you, and I know that each of you have taught me something about life, love and the Lord that He is going to use for His glory. I love you all so so much.

Feel free to ask me any questions. I look forward to sharing stories with y’all, and hope you will share some with me. I love snail mail (yes I do!) and voicemails and e-mails and comments, so please don’t hesitate to ask me questions, share prayers requests, or tell me about what the Lord is doing in your life! He is faithful and good and His love endures forever. To Him be the glory and praise forever and ever! Amen. :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

the truth will set you free

I graduate from college in 2 1/2 weeks! I am so excited!!! Then I have about a month to just chill, hang out and get ready to move to Kansas City! next blog will be the story of how I came to hear about LeadTime. :)

I am about to send out support letters for the program. And I am finishing up paperwork and getting details about what to bring and whatnot! It is hard to believe that I have only a little over 6 weeks left in Texas!

My internship has been good. I don't think I have fully engaged there as much as I could have. I can be timid sometimes and hold back. I have learned so much though, and I know my experience there is really preparing me for Shelterwood. Last week I heard so many hard stories, and witnessed a physical fight. It was a lot to take in in one day, but I know I am going to experience more stuff like that.

Personally, this has been a tough semester, but I am coming to see what the Lord has been doing through it all. Previously, I wrote about feeling like a freak in my friendships. And the Lord has shed some light on that, and while it has been painful and I didn't want to see the truth for a long time, I am more aware of my sin - and can find healing. Relationships are difficult when you are dealing with people. Everyone is a sinner and so in relationships that comes out. I have struggled with dependency in some of my relationships in the past - which was a very scary thing to come to face. I think immediately I felt so much shame, and was hit with fear that I can't do any relationship right. And considering that I am very relational, that thought scared me, and I felt like a complete failure as a person. However, shame has no place in our lives because Christ died to set us free from that. And He is healing me from that shame, too. His grace is sufficient. And I know I am not alone in this struggle, and by the grace of God, He can use me to encourage others as I seek healing in this. I think it is very freeing to finally admit it and have it exposed  and in the light, because then it no longer has power like it does in the dark when we try to hide our sin. I think sometimes I also don't ask for help enough either. So its two sides of the same coin - trying to find the balance between finding support from others and being okay on my own. We need other people, we need the Lord. And His grace is the only thing that allows good, close relationships to be possible. The Lord is so sweet to us. He is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I have so much more peace and joy. Hallelujah!

All that to say, I am a mess...a beautiful mess. All glory goes to the sweet Savior who came to set the captives free, bind the brokenhearted, and release the prisoners from darkness! Amen.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him...

The past month has been crazy, and tough. But the Lord has been so faithful through all of it, as He always is, and there have been some sweet times! I feel much more comfortable at my internship, and truly enjoy my time there every day. I am probably most known for helping the teens with their math homework. All of them are failing math except for one girl, who asks me for help every single day with her math homework. It makes me question the math teacher honestly...but thats another story. I enjoy getting to help them and spend time with them. I am going in today - on a Saturday - to help in study hall. And I am looking forward to it!

I only have 4 weeks left...I graduate in 4 weeks from today - from college! That is crazy to think about, but I am excited. Then about a month later I will be in Kansas City, Missouri for LeadTime!!!! This week a few of the girls who are already there contacted me on Facebook and said they are praying for me - which is so encouraging to know. I am excited to go, but I know I am going to miss my friends and family very much.

I went to Sea World a couple of weeks ago - it was so much fun! One of my friends works there and used to be an animal trainer with the sea otters and sea lions and just told us a lot about how things run and how to become a trainer and whatnot. We all agreed that if our planned careers fell through, we would all just work at Sea World as animal trainers. I would love that! It was amazing. One of my friends and I just sat in the aquarium forever being in awe at the various kinds of fish and sharks. They are magnificent creatures - all glory to the Creator. It was a sweet time of worship, laughter, awe and joy. I enjoy just being with people, so it was fun to hang out, laugh, dance, talk, ride roller coasters, and enjoy the Lord's beautiful creation. And we went through the Haunted Forest...and laughed the whole time! We are so going back...

At church we have been studying the gospel according to Genesis. I have loved it! I have been encouraged to be still and enjoy the creation around me. I have also been reflecting on how God made man in His image and likeness. I have been compelled to sit and enjoy who He is in the people I spend time with. Life is beautiful.

All that to say, I have graduation announcements, support letters and postcards from camp to send out soon! Its the holidays and lots of exciting times are ahead. And happening now. This week I had so much fun celebrating one of my friend's birthdays. We are having a little sleepover tonight, too - haha I know it will be great. Last night I went to dinner and bowling with my parents and aunt and uncle. It was such a fun and sweet time. My aunt is hilarious (if you ever have met her - you know) and there were cute little kids dancing and I saw a few people wipe out...I had some gutter balls, but when I did good I turned around and all four of my family members were clapping and cheering. I am so blessed by them and the support they give me - not in just bowling, but life. And seeing them was just a very clear picture of who they are constantly in my life - and I am so grateful for them. And I love them oh so much. I am going to miss them when I leave, but I am soaking up my time with them now! I know that everything is held together in Christ, and in His grace, love and peace I rest. I hope you all are well and knowing more of the Lord everyday! :)