Monday, November 15, 2010

beauty in the brokenness

Hello! The days are counting down to the end of my time here as a Big. It is absolutely crazy! I think at this point I have more days that I am off then I am actually on before I go home for Christmas! That is crazy. I have a week off for Thanksgiving and I took 3 vacation days and my regular two days off a week! Crazy! I am not ready to say good-bye to so many people here...Lord, prepare my heart for whatever you have planned for me. This has been my life for almost 11 months! Its weird to think of leaving...and it freaks me out. So I try not to think too much about it! :)

I am going to miss some people over Thanksgiving break! I will be gone 8 days, but that seems like so long. Days here are so filled - its like you're gone a week if you are off for a day. Seriously. I don't even know how to explain it. I am driving home on Wednesday to Austin to see friends and family. I will celebrate Thanksgiving, however I will actually be here on Thanksgiving Day. I am actually kind of excited about that because a lot of the other Bigs will be here, too, and in ways, they have become like family. I mean, we do all live in the same house! :)

I spoke in chapel last Thursday. I played the song "Healing Begins" by Tenth Avenue North (my fave!) and talked about stepping out into the light, finding healing from our shame possible only because of the gospel of Christ. I read the story about the woman who was caught in adultery and brought before Jesus. The crowd was about to stone her, but as Jesus pointed out that they were all guilty of sin, one by one they walk away until only Jesus is left, and He does not condemn her. Its such a beautiful story because it reflects the rich grace and compassion of our Lord. Only before His grace and mercy can we deal with all our junk openly and honestly. However, as we do, we find healing, freedom and life. Its amazing! I was really encouraged by people's feedback, and especially touched by a handful of guy Littles who told me they really liked what I shared. I just pray that the Lord uses it as He wants to to draw people closer to Him.

So there is one relationship with a Little here in particular that the Lord has been growing each day and overwhelming me with by what He is doing. I get to learn something new about her everyday and am amazed and blessed to get to watch Christ literally transforming her heart. Last week I went on a walk with her. The weather here has been beautiful - cool, crisp autumn air, amazing sunsets and beautiful fall colors. (The reds are my absolute favorite! I wish fall in Austin was like this...) We walked and talked a little bit, but we were quiet at times, too. Its nice to be able to just walk with someone and not have to say anything and it not be awkward. On our last lap around the loop around property, I picked up a leaf and explained to her a metaphor I came up with because I love metaphors. :) I explained how the leaf was dead and it had fallen off the tree. It was dried up, and it seemed hopeless. However, there is the hidden hope of spring. We have different seasons in life - fall leads to winter, which is often a depressing time of the year, everything dead & dormant. But under all that lies the hope of spring, of new life. In life, sometimes things have to die before they can truly be alive. We go through times where we feel like we are dying, but there is the hope of new life, of healing, beauty, peace, and grace possible in Christ. Amen.

I gave her the leaf to keep. I found a note from her on my bed later in the week, where she made a new metaphor. The leaf was torn in pieces and in her note she talked about how she felt like she was falling to pieces. It broke my heart to read, but I also loved her honesty and metaphor that she said was more relevant to her. So I gave her another metaphor! :) I tore the leaf into even smaller pieces then glued them on a note card in the shape of a heart and wrote out Hosea 6:1-3:

"Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us; He has injured us but He will bind up our wounds. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”

This is what God does. He tears us apart then puts us back together in a more beautiful way. It can be painful beyond belief, but He is good and He has the power to heal, redeem and restore. This is my prayer for her, to truly come to know Christ and to experience the power of His love, grace, forgiveness and healing from her shame and hurt and find true peace in God. She gets closer each day and leaves me encouraging notes that make me really excited. The Lord is so faithful and overwhelmingly good to me. As He has brought healing, hope and freedom to my life, I get to show others the way to Christ to find the same hope. He alone is worthy and I am humbled to be able to do this with my life.

I pray that you are coming to know Christ more. Whether you are in the process of being torn apart or being put back together, or anywhere in between, I pray you know that you are being held close to His heart. The Maker of the Universe is making something beautiful out of you for all the world to know Him more. How incredible is that? Only Christ can take what is broken, bruised, tattered and turn it into something beautiful. Only a holy God can takes the things in our lives that have brought so much shame and hurt and use them for His redemptive purpose and glory. This is the Lord who I want to give my whole life to. To Him I owe my life, my everything. May you know Him more today. I love you & miss you all. Thank you so much for following me on this journey, for your prayers, love & support. I can not walk this alone and I am so grateful for each of you. Hope to see you soon! :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Love is here, Love is now

Hey y'all! Sorry I haven't updated in a it seems impossible to explain all that has happened in the past month. I don't even remember the past week sometimes...

A couple weekends ago we had Parent's Weekend. All of the Littles parents came in for a weekend retreat where they had family counseling, parent groups, time to hang out together and we as Bigs got to hang out with some parents and watch Littles with their families. I loved the night all the families showed up and was in awe watching the Littles hugging their parents and playing with their siblings. It was beautiful. I enjoyed the weekend, but parts of it were tough, too. The brokenness the Littles struggle with extend to the parents and entire families, and it was interesting to see how different families relate. It causes me to pray BIGGER prayers for the family as a whole and I have a better understanding of why girls relate the way they do. Overall, it was a great weekend, and through some of the tough stuff God has done some incredible things!

One of my favorite times here is still Tuesday nights with Bible study. It is awesome to dig into the Word of God with the Littles and to see their incredible faith in God. It humbles me and encourages me more than I can say. There is also a couple girls here who I have been blessed to get really close to. One is a strong believer and her faith inspires me everyday. And we laugh so much together! haha. I love being here.

There is one Little here who I get to have incredible conversations with. Through my relationship with her, I have come to thank God for things I have struggled with in the past, things I used to feel so much shame for, because through them I can connect to her and share how the Lord has set me free and healed me from shame. I have been so humbled and in awe to see the Lord changing her heart in unbelievable and amazing ways to bring healing. I get so EXCITED - like excited to the point I literally jump up and down and run around the house with a huge smile on my face. The Lord is so faithful! I feel like I am getting to see Isaiah 61 play out in her life as He sets her free from captivity, turns her mourning to joy, bestows beauty for ashes and brings her new life, restoring what is broken. I cannot even imagine what God has in-store next, but I simply thank Him for bringing certain girls into my life and ways He works that I can't explain but leave me speechless - and dancing around! :)

I love the community I live with now. I know that has been a struggle throughout my year, but I really enjoy seeing each of our gifts and personalities come together to allow us to connect with the girls in different ways. I love the diversity and how we are different parts of the body of Christ, but all necessary for the work we are doing. I have really connected with some of the Bigs who started in August. I am not ready to leave them yet or the Littles I have connected with. It is hard to believe I graduate this program in 6 weeks! What? Thats crazy. And some of that will be Thanksgiving break. This year has gone by so fast.

I am not sure exactly what is next. I have several ideas, from taking a few months off, looking for a job in Austin, or a new possibility of potentially staying here in a different role, but still able to invest in the relationships the Lord is growing now. Nothing is set and I honestly have no idea, but I have great peace that the Lord will lead me exactly where He wants, and I am excited about that! I was overwhelmed yesterday thinking about how Christ has worked in my life this year, walked me through trials, struggles, joys, times of laughter and great tears. I am not the same. I am walking in so much more freedom and confidence and have so much joy! I have come to this place of great peace and trust in my Savior that I know no matter where He leads me, He will me with me to provide all I need. He is faithful to the end. I can cling to nothing but Him, but I have everything in Him. To Him alone be all glory honor and praise forever and ever! Amen.

I love you all and miss you! Thank you so much for your prayers and support. They mean so much to me and encourage me to continue to pour out and live as best I can for the sake of the gospel! May you know more of Christ today. Much love!