Wednesday, March 31, 2010

but He said to me,"My grace is sufficient for you..."

I am tired and drained. The past couple of weeks has been rough. I have come to the end of myself, been faced with my inadequacy and weakness, and come to a place where all I have to cling to is the grace of Christ.

I've learned a lot about myself and been weighed down by the sin, hurt and brokenness I see in myself and those around me. I realized that in high energy situations, I have a tendency to shut down. When people get escalated and angry, I have no idea how to respond. I feel alone, weak and helpless. It is overwhelming at times. The girls have a lot of hurt and pain, and they put up walls and push people away with their anger. They don't know what to do with their pain so they lash out, and I feel lost as to help them. I am learning, but I realize how much I don't know and how out of control things can get sometimes. It has been humbling and hard. But I praise Christ who holds all things together and is faithful to work in me. He is patient as I learn to be all He desires me to be, and I am grateful for His infinite wisdom - God knows what these girls need and is faithful to provide. He also has the power to change hearts, to change my heart, and allow me to be more bold, giving and compassionate as I continue to learn how to love well.

Yesterday was one of the craziest days here. One of the girls here has been making violent threats to other girls and staff. She also was inappropriate most of the time and had earned herself over 80 work hours in consequences. She never acted out on the threats she made, but she wouldn't stop making them, so staff made a contract with her over the weekend. Yesterday, they told her she was being dismissed from the program. She was going to be allowed to stay until a more appropriate placement could be found, but she asked for them to call the cops, who came and took her to a hospital. The hospital wouldn't admit her, so last night I went with another Big to sign her in at another facility at 2:30 am. It was a strange experience to sign her paperwork and place her in the care of another place. I didn't feel like I had the authority to do such a thing, even though legally we are their 'guardians'. I am 22 - what do I know? I feel so unequipped and unqualified sometimes in what I am doing. We got back at almost 5 this morning, so I slept for a couple hours, then got to sleep again for four hours in the middle of the day.

I haven't really been able to process it all. It was really tough to watch everything happen. A lot of the girls were intimidated and afraid of the girl and were frustrated in the house. It was affecting them a lot, and even harmful at times. However, I had some great conversations with the girl who had to leave - one-on-one we got to talk a lot and she had great insight and was very loving. Around everyone as a group, she was a completely different person. It was hard to see the way she lied and manipulated things. When confronted individually, she would apologize and understood she was wrong, but later she would deny it. I feel confused, my heart hurts for her, because I know she is really struggling. I just pray the Lord will do an amazing work in her life and that she can get the help she needs. I was glad I could go see her last night to say good-bye, but I still don't know what to think about it all.

One of the girls graduated from the program this morning. She was a fun girl who I really enjoyed getting to know. She really encouraged me a lot and would give me huge hugs everyday and we had some really great conversations. She has been here 19 months, and I am really proud of her and excited for what she will do.

We are now down to 11 girls. The house seemed much calmer today and quieter, but its weird. There is a lot going on with everyone, Bigs and Littles, and I just pray that the Lord would unite us in it all. Sometimes I feel like we are so disconnected and trying to deal with everything on our own. I desire to see us truly learn how to love one another and support each other. I know I fail other people a lot, but I am seeking the Lord on what my role is here and how to best love the other Bigs, and the Littles as well.

I am a bit weary, but I also have hope in Christ. I feel weighed down at the moment to be honest, and discouraged. But I will cry out to Jesus and wait upon the Lord. He will be faithful to come, renew, restore and redeem. So I will wait...

Thank you for your continued encouragement and support. I love you all so much and thank the Lord for you and ways He pours His love on me through you. I would love to hear from you all. May you learn more of the grace of Christ in your own life. Even when things are rough, His grace is enough. Amen.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

You know my shame still You call me beautiful

Hello everyone! Sorry it has been awhile since my last post. Things around here can be crazy at times and are rather busy. I don't like how I feel disconnected from people back home while I am here, but I trust that the Lord holds us together even when we are apart!

After Beyond Week, there was one week of school for the Littles before Spring Break. We had another bad cutting incident that week, which was a bit traumatic for some of the girls. It's hard to see how one girl's actions affect the other girls so much. However, I know that the Lord is working in the midst of these difficult situations, its just hard to watch the girls wrestle with so much. I just pray that they come to know the Lord more and that He will grace them with understanding in their pain. I asked to speak in chapel - which happens Thursday mornings with the Littles, Bigs and staff. I was going to talk about being different, but I might talk about suffering and why God allows and sometimes brings difficulties into our lives. We shall see...

As for Spring Break, most of the girls went home for the 10 day break. Some stayed here though because they can't go home on the first break - so we had about 6-7 of the newer girls around property. I enjoyed taking some of the girls to the airport to drop them off! It was a fun time with them and I feel like a parent sorta. I was here for about 3 days of break. The first night we went to see The Princess and the Frog before everyone left and then we went out for pizza another night. One day we went roller skating, another day we were going to the zoo, but we couldn't find it, so we went downtown to a mall and then got ice cream. I left the next morning for my spring break and drove to Texas!!! :)

I spent the next 5 days in Texas visiting friends, celebrating my mom's birthday, enjoying all my favorite things in Austin - including going to Mt. Bonnell to spend some sweet time with the Lord. I even got to have lunch with one of the Littles who lives in Texas. The weather in Austin was so perfect and absolutely beautiful! The time I was able to spend with friends was so encouraging and such a blessing from the Lord. I got to see people I hadn't planned on and loved every minute! :) On Sunday I went to Austin Stone (oh how I miss that place & the people) and then drove up to Memphis. One of my friends from camp last summer happened to be there on a mission trip that week - so I met her at her hotel and caught up with her for a couple hours! I was so excited! Then, Monday was my brother's birthday, and also the day Aubrey, his wife and my amazing sister-in-law, was scheduled to be induced. I didn't get to spend much time with them unfortunately, and I left Memphis on Monday 2 hours before my nephew was born. BUT Bradley McKray Laws was born at 5:25pm and weighed 8 lbs 5 oz. Yay! So excited. I can't wait to meet him! Hopefully I can take a weekend off soon to go visit. I am so excited for my brother and sister and can't believe I am an aunt! :) My parents were in Memphis the same time, so I got to spend some good time with them. I love my family so much! My spring break was amazing and I praise God for it all!

Now I am back in Missouri and its been a bit rough getting back into the swing of things. The girls had a lot to talk about from break - and a lot of crazy things happened with things on property while I was gone, but I think I am used to things always being unpredictable. Thankfully, I feel pretty calm during things, though sometimes I question why I am so calm when everything around me is not - but I'm grateful for His peace that transcends understanding! :)

When I got back from break I found out that one of the Littles was leaving on Friday. On break her family decided she was ready to go home, and so they came to pick her up yesterday. She is an awesome girl who is so strong and really cares for all the Littles an Bigs around here. She is also so much fun and just great to have here. Thursday night we had a goodbye group for her, where we had a chance to tell her what she meant to us and she talked to everyone. It was a tearful time, but also filled with lots of laughter and love. She affirmed everyone in the house, which was so incredible. I am excited for her to go home because I know she is going to do great things, but she will also be greatly missed. It's hard to say good-bye, but I realize that will happen several times while I am here. You love and then have to let go - it hurts, but its the best way. Love hard, hurt hard - but its all worth it in the end.

Today its been snowing all day - crazy! The weather all week has been so pretty and beautiful - like spring! Until we got a lot of snow last night. Happy First Day of Spring with snow! I spent the morning taking all the recycling to the recycling center, going to Wal-Mart to pick things up for the girls, and then going to Walgreens to pick up meds. Now its nice to be inside and rest a little bit. :)

Thats a summary of things here - I probably missed some things because so much goes on everyday - I don't even know how to keep track of it all. Pray for the Lord to make Himself known here, and for the girls to come to know Him more. He is the only one who   can make change happen and to really have an impact in the lives of everyone here. I know He is faithful and His love is what we all need. Also pray that God would really bring us together as Bigs. I miss you all! Thanks for your prayers, support and encouragement. I am so blessed by each one of you! Love.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

His compassions are new every morning

Right now I just want to praise God! The first two months I have been here I have felt distracted by personal struggles, brokenness, and confusion - but the Lord has been so faithful to bring healing and so much freedom. I can look back and praise Him for what He was doing, but in the midst of it all, I was quite a mess and sometimes in despair. Now I am excited and looking forward to what He has planned next! Hallelujah!

Last week for Beyond Week, I stayed here and we did some projects in the community. My group went to a local church and food distribution ministry. I made about 2,000 copies with one of my Littles for 2 days and put together information folders. It wasn't the most exciting job, but we got to talk a lot and I really enjoy her! She has been here for about 2 weeks now and has a lot of wisdom to offer the other girls. On Thursday and Friday last week, we went up to a camp called Gods Mountain, and helped them with construction and cleaning. It was nice to stay away for a night with the 7 other Bigs and 7 Littles that were here. Its crazy how the Lord has given me a special heart for them, and I laugh so much! I really do enjoy being here and am so blessed to have this opportunity.

One evening last week, I was hanging out with some of the girls in their room and started talking to one of them about God and what she thought about Him. Through our discussion, I just started sharing the gospel with her. She said she has gone to church, but after I talked about Christ and how we can have salvation through Him and how loved we are, she was so excited. She said she had never heard that before! It was so exciting, but also made me realize how foolish it is for me to assume people have heard the gospel. She said it was a lot to think about. I decided I wanted to take some girls and really dive into Scripture - so she is going to do it with me, along with one of the Littles in my room and another Little I've gotten closer to. I am looking forward to listening to what they learn from the Word and excited about what God is going to do! :) Please pray for wisdom and humility as we read the Word together, that the Lord would draw these girls to really know Him.

The rest of the people here went to El Paso on a mission trip last week. I heard some cool stories of things that happened, and 3 of the Littles got baptized! It sounds like they had a lot of fun - and I was a bit jealous they got to go to Texas! But Spring Break is next week and I am going to get to go home to Austin!!!! I cannot wait! I also will go to Memphis for a few days to see my new nephew! He isn't born yet, but any day now - and I am going to be an aunt!!!! What a precious blessing. :) I might also see one of the Littles here while I am on break in her hometown - which will be so fun! I also am looking forward to spending some good quality time with friends and family! I miss y'all so much. I am so blessed to be surrounded by so many people who are supporting and praying for me in this ministry. Thank you all so much! Be blessed and know you are loved!