Friday, May 28, 2010

Your love sets me free

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well. :) Today is the first day of pre-summer break and so most of the girls are leaving today and tomorrow to go home for some time with their family and friends. Most of them are really excited to go home!

And I am also driving home to Austin tomorrow - so excited! :D The fun part about driving is that I can also make some stops and see people along the way - like in Oklahoma or Dallas! I'm looking forward to catching up with friends, enjoying the city of Austin, visiting camp (I miss T Bar M!) and spending some quality time with my incredible family. Mmm yes I am so pumped about this next week!

I am happy! And I feel so free. Hallelujah! The Lord has been doing some serious healing in my heart and it has been awesome to really experience ways I knew the gospel intellectually finally play out in my heart and mind and bring much more peace and freedom. I feel so much more secure in who I am in Christ. I feel confident and can rest in the grace of Christ and His unfailing love & forgiveness because of the cross. Even this past week I have made mistakes and felt like such a mess at times, but I have been able to just laugh and be okay with it. I am learning not to take myself so seriously. But I am serious about how amazing Jesus is! :) And how the gospel has the power to transform lives. 

I went on Wednesday to drop one of the girls off at the airport. It was kinda stressful for her - I was fine but she was a bit worried about being late and missing her plane and whatnot. This was one of the times I felt like a mess. ;) She got on the plane just fine, and then as I was walking back, someone said my name in the airport and one of the pastors from Austin Stone was in the airport! It was so crazy. I then found out that the pastor of the church I go to here, Redeemer Fellowship, is good friends with another pastor at Austin Stone! It was so encouraging, just to realize these connections, and feel like a part of the body of Christ transcending different cities. Thank you Lord for Your sweet reminder in that way! 

We had to say good-bye to 2 girls this week. One was the girl who was going to be in my room. We all cried as we hugged her good-bye. Another girl turned 18 a couple months ago and made a deal with her parents to leave at the end of the school year. So she went home yesterday. We now have only 8 girls here, but may get a few more this summer. We don't know really. I think I have learned to let go a lot here, because the only thing you can count on is change. People come and go. Emotions are constantly changing. Plans change, the weather is crazy. The only constant is Christ, and as I have learned to cling to Him, I am okay if everything is chaotic. Christ is the only constant in our ever-changing lives. I had a friend write that one time - and its been something I have come to find so true. Praise God for His peace that transcends understanding. 

Summer schedule looks a bit different. The kids only go to school for half the day, and then we plan different activities in the evening. I am in charge of game night every Monday, but I am most excited about Tuesday! We get to do Bible study with the girls every Tuesday - and I think it might be my favorite! Friday we get to teach them some class - and I think I might be helping with guitar - even though I will be learning myself! I am hoping this summer will be fun and look forward to what God has planned.

I am blessed. The Lord is faithful, and His love never changes. Christ has come to set us free and we are free indeed. Thank you all for you continual prayers, encouragement and love! It is a joy to know you and to celebrate who Christ is together and we seek to glorify Him with our lives! Much love to you all - and Happy Summer! :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

this is where the healing begins

It has been a few weeks since my last update. Sorry for that! It is easy to be consumed by this place. The month of May has seemed to fly by! This Saturday starts my pre-summer break and I will get to go home for a few days and I am so excited!

About 2 weeks ago, we took everyone up to Camp Galilee, a camp about 2 1/2 hours away. We spent time doing work projects, had a campfire, worship, teams where we played crazy games, made up skits, and did team building activities together. It was great to get to build relationships more with some of the kids and to get away from property. It rained a lot during our time there...and several of us came back with poison ivy! And I am pretty allergic to it!!!! I am on meds for it now, so hopefully it will go away soon. Having poison ivy just reminded me of the broken relationship we have with creation because of the fall...yes that is how I think. :) But it makes me excited for God's restoration of all things!

Last weekend I flew home to be in a good friend's wedding. It was such a nice trip and fun to get to celebrate marriage with her and stand beside her at the ceremony. I am excited for how God is going to work in their lives and through their marriage for His glory! Its a fun time to celebrate the incredible love of Christ and His covenant with us. And it seems like so many people are getting married or engaged lately...I feel like I am out of the loop being here though - and not at that place yet. But at the same time, the Lord has been showing me so much in my relationship with Him, how marriage reflects that, and how He wants to change my heart and realize that the greatest source of intimacy and satisfaction is found in Christ and Christ alone. He is the source of love and affection, and He is deepening my roots in His love so I can stand firm in Him - which I am so excited about!!! I have felt so broken here, and I finally feel like He is really beginning to heal me at such a deep level. Hallelujah! I feel a new freedom, a new joy, a new peace. But it is also just the beginning and I know He has much more work to do, but overall - I am pumped!

I have been listening to the new Tenth Avenue North cd a lot lately. Oh my! One of the most healing things I have ever listened to. Music tends to be the language of my heart - songs lyrics are, too. I think that is why I love the psalms so much. But the lyrics on their album are raw, real, and honest. And I love it! Megan, one of the other Bigs with whom I have developed a good friendship with here, picked me up at the airport last Sunday and played a song for me that had my name written all over it. I wept of course, but absolutely loved the truth and felt so encouraged. I bought the cd for myself, and every song has some truth I need to hear. It is sweet sounds to my soul! :)

Sometimes I feel so exhausted here in every way possible. And I feel like I shut down and turn off in a way. Which I hate. I realized that beneath all of this my heart hurts and I am sad. However, I don't always have the opportunity to feel this hurt and pain and let it out. I try to deal with it in my mind, but sometimes I just need to cry and really feel the hurt. If I don't, I start to feel not much of anything and become hardened. There is so much pain and hurt here. But - I have been spurred to pray harder for Christ to make Himself known and pour out His mercy and healing. He can heal. He wants to heal our hearts and set us free from the things that hold us captive. Isaiah 61 is a perfect display of that. I long so desperately for these girls to truly know Christ and to experience the depths of His love, grace, acceptance and healing. I know our healing won't be complete until Christ comes back, but I hope and pray for God to be glorified here. In the mean time, I am praying and seeking for wisdom and discernment on how the Lord wants me to be involved in that. I know He is faithful and He is enough.

All that to say - life here is never the same with each moment. Last week we had another cutting incident. I don't understand why that happens and its heartbreaking to see. She might not be coming back sadly. I was able to visit her yesterday, and I just wanted to cry with her. I just pray she will know how deeply loved she is.

We also had room changes this past weekend as well. Things are always changing, and I miss home a lot, too. I am coming to rest secure in Christ, the only constant in the chaos. He is our only hope, but He is also alive and can do immeasurable more than we could ever ask or imagine! And I am ready to see Him work. He has strengthened my faith and deepened my desire for Him. I love the Lord oh so much! Because He has such great affection for me, it sometimes overwhelms me and I just weep. Oh how He loves!!! I pray that you would know more of Christ's love for you today!!! I love you all and miss you so much. I would love to hear from you and know how I can be praying. I am so grateful for all of your encouragement, prayers and support. I am so blessed by the way the Lord has loved me through y'all. Grace and peace to you all! :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me

I am hurting and struggling a lot right now. I am just going to be honest and say I don't think I have ever been so broken as I have been here these past four months. I feel like everyday the Lord strips me down and I realize I have nothing to hide behind, nothing to cling to - I am completely empty with nothing - except for Him. He is still there, somewhere inside, working deeper than I understand, doing something to take the mess I feel that I am and turning it into something beautiful. But I often can't see in the struggle...and I have to really stop and step back, breathe, rest and surrender.

On Sunday, some clouds were darkening and I just wanted to lay down and let the rain fall on me. And so a few hours later it started to rain. I laid out on the back porch of our house and let the cool rain fall down on me. It was refreshing, especially to have the drops fall on my faces. They were like little kisses from heaven, as the Lord dropped each drop, similar to the tears that rolled down my cheeks. It was as if the Lord was going to cry with me, He understands my pain, and His raindrops outnumber my tears by far. The power I could feel in the thunder was a comfort, and the lightning flashing across the sky was beautiful. It was a divine beautiful moment.

After a few minutes, I didn't want to get soaked, so I curled up in the corner of the porch where it is covered and simply watched the rain fall. I felt safe and secure, thinking about how God is our refuge and place to hide even in the midst of the storms of life. After the rain stopped, the sun came out, shining warm and bright. There is hope. There is a coming joy. Healing will come. He is the God of all comfort.

Parent's Weekend went well. One of the guy Littles graduated and it was awesome to see him and to know that the Lord has the power to transform lives. It is only by His power that we can be changed, healed, made new. I think parents were encouraged. It was fun to see Littles with their families. I felt a lot of the emotion of everything. There is still a lot of hurt and pain. Broken people, broken families. I wept several times throughout the weekend. My heart is so tired. But I know God is faithful to His promises, and it is His hope I cling to, and Christ alone that keeps me going. In my moments of weakness, I feel so completely helpless, vulnerable, and exposed. I just think of the words of Christ talking to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you for My power is made perfect in weakness." I pray that the power of Christ is revealed in my weakness. Only by His amazing grace. Grace that I am so desperate for. I just beg God for His grace to fall on me like rain. :)

The past few days I have felt so openly broken. Its hard to hide the tears I so easily shed. One of the other Bigs here told me that is her favorite thing about me. Oh man! I have felt really blessed and encouraged by others here lately. As I have let them see my brokenness, several of the other Bigs have really come around me, to encourage me, just sit with me, pray for me. It has meant so much to me and been such an answer to prayer. Being here can be really challenging for all of us and we can't do it alone. We were created for community - to worship God together, to remind each other of the truth of the gospel everyday, to build each other up and spur one another on. And I have learned more of the importance of that here. Before I always wanted community - now I realize how badly I need it. I need other people to point out where I am wrong, to help me when I struggle, and to point me back to grace and to Christ. I pray I am able to do the same for others. I know I have so much more to learn and more that God wants to do in me, but today I want to rest. I want to be still and praise God for who He is, for His faithfulness, to trust so deeply in my heart that I am loved and accepted by Him because of who Christ is - not because of anything I do or don't do. I want to enjoy God - all that He is. Just to be with Him and laugh and fall more in love with Him. So off I go to a park soon to enjoy this beautiful day that He has made!

Thank you so much for your prayers, love, encouragement and support. I cannot express how much it means to me. May you be blessed today and rest in the amazing love and grace of our Perfect Savior Jesus Christ! :)