Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lots of Excitement

Well life sure is exciting right now!

Last Thursday we had an awesome event called The Maze on campus. Crusade sponsored it, almost 900 people came (the max number the auditorium could hold), and 111 people trusted Christ and decided to become His followers that night! WOW!!! Now we have the awesome priviledge of meeting with all of those new believers and helping them process this decision and begin "walking in a new way of life." We're also getting to meet with people who didn't make decisions to follow Christ, but want to talk about the event, things that got them thinking, life, God, eternity, truth, etc., so hopefully even more people will set free through Christ as they have these conversations and wrestle with some big questions.

I hit a HUGE pothole late Saturday night that flattened not 1, but 2 of my tires, leaving me to wait for AAA at midnight, get my car towed the next day, and all culminated in me purchasing 4 new tires (the others needed to be changed anyway) and probably having to get my alignment worked on in the near future. So lots of excitement there!

I thought I lost my phone for a few hours yesterday, which created a lot of panic and stress, especially due to the fact that my best friend since I was in middle school is pregnant and past her due date and I was expecting a call at any moment telling me that she was going to the hospital! I freaked out slightly, then found my phone and was fine.

Em is, in fact, in labor now, and I expect to head to the hospital in NC in the next couple of hours!!!! YAY! I'm going to be an aunt!!! I'm so excited I can't hardly stand it!

I have been calling some of the girls that I work with to discipleship over these past couple of weeks. Basically it means that I am asking them to commit to meeting with me once a week for the purpose of helping make them into biblically mature disciples. That sounds serious and scary, but I'll pretty much just be doing the best I can to help them grow in the areas the God is revealing in their lives, challenge them, pray for and with them, and train them by giving them practical experience in different areas. The goal is to make disciples who will go out and in turn, become disciple makers. I absolutely love doing this and I am really enjoying going deeper with these girls!

Finally, on Saturday I will be going with the Bridges team (Cru staff who work with International students) to Ober Gatlinburg ski slopes. They're taking about 50 international students, most of whom have never skiied! So I get to help teach these students to ski, and ski myself, and it should be loads of fun, along with a lot of laughs!

That's all for now - but don't you agree about it being a pretty exciting time lately?!

Monday, January 17, 2011


With Christmas break and all of the snow and now MLK day, I'm beginning to feel really spoiled with all of the days off that we've had! I mean, I'm not complaining :) But it is a little weird.

Today I am trying to be really productive. I'm making a gift for a friend; looking into ordering a special mail-delivered cupcake for a friend's birthday; purchasing, printing, and binding the new Bible study I'm doing with my freshman girls - very excited about it - Tim Keller's study on Galatians! I'm also going to the grocery story, blogging (currently), picking my roommate up from the airport, and going to the gym. Whew! Don't be too impressed with me though - this is totally making up to complete laziness for the past few days of snow!

On a more reflective note, I was at small group last night and was challenged to express where God has me right now, even just this past week. I love this group of women that I meet with on Sunday nights - it is such a blessing in my life, and such an answer to prayer that the Lord literally dropped in my lap soon after I moved here. We usually just take one discussion question and spend the whole night just talking it through - sharing what God is doing, how He's speaking to us, praying. So simple, yet such beautiful times together. Last night's question was simply, "Where does God have you right now?" Interesting question, since this has been my question to Him lately! One of the women began to share how she has been in a hard season of life, and how she is learning even more deeply how we are always looking for the "next thing" to satisfy and fulfill us. She was comparing her situation (a wife and mom of 4 kids) to a friend's (a 35-yr-old single woman), and how both of them were talking the other day about the lies that we believe will make us fulfilled. She said maybe we are supposed to have this unsettled feeling, this longing for more. Maybe we just need to recognize that this is our longing for our true home, and we will always have it, at least hints of it, this side of eternity. Or it is simply a sign that we have yet to figure out how to be fully satisfied in Jesus all of the time. Maybe both.

I was just struck by this thought, because it is so true and so clearly part of what the Lord has been teaching me lately. I have had these thoughts circling in my head for months now - how this place is not my home, yet how I long for community and to feel at home in a place. How much of this is because I was created for that and is a good thing, and how much of it is me seeking fulfillment, sense of belonging and value, and joy in things that will never satisfy. It's sad and strange how we as humans seem bent on taking the gifts that God has given, and twisting them into something that they were never meant for. He made me to find joy in community, He made us with a longing for that feeling associated with home, but when we look to people and places and even those feelings themselves to satisfy us, we are missing it all. He is home. He is fellowship and joy. And He provides us with amazing gifts of friends and family and familiar places simply because He loves us. But heaven is my home.

So I seem to be in a place where I'm not quite comfortable yet. I think He's doing it on purpose. I think I make comfort and the sense of belonging and great community an idol in my life, and He will have no idols. I feel a little out of place in my life right now. But I want to invest where I am. I want to have joy each day, in the simple gifts that are given, and take delight in where I am, right now. I want Him to be my home, and because of that, to be at ease, full of joy, and at peace wherever I am. I want to bless others with the infectious attitude that comes from one who is at home in the Lord first - and everything else is simply added onto that. He leads us down the paths that lead to true joy, true belonging, true community... He leads us to Himself. He leads us home.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Enconter 2010

We had an awesome time at Encounter 2010 - Crusade's winter conference!

These videos will probably say more than I could ever write about - enjoy!

Video made by one of our UT students, featuring our students!

The official video - Midsouth Region Encounter 2010 Recap.!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's Been a While

Wow! It has been such a long time since I've really posted anything of worth. Life has been out-of-the-ordinary for about a month now, since the students have been on Christmas break, and I have been really enjoying the time with friends and family, and resting up for next semester. So for this post, I think I will just hit on some of the things going on in my life and the lives of the people I love over the past month. Things that have been on my heart, and just good times that were had this Christmas break!

Right after leaving Knoxville I was able to take a week and travel to Spartanburg, Charlotte, and Boiling Springs on a marathon visit of old friends. It was such a wonderful time - I was able to see so many friends who have become dear to me over the years. Seriously - couldn't believe how many people I was able to spend really good quality time with. The only bummer was that I missed a few in Boiling Springs, but hopefully I'll get back there soon - I really love that place and the community that became my family. Also, let me just say how much I realize I love the people of Spartanburg. I mean, I knew that I had come to really love being there, but it hit me afresh when I visited a few weeks ago - I have been blessed with AMAZING people who really love me and care for me in that city, and I miss you all terribly. Thanks for showing me the love of Christ and just pouring your lives into mine.

My brothers and I spent the entire week before Christmas working out tails off to make an NC State Corn Hole board for our dad's Christmas present. We had to try and apply a million layers of paint and use saws and drills, etc. without dad finding out about it. Also, paint takes about 10x longer to dry when its cold outside. Suffice it to say - I was paranoid for a week! BUT, it all paid off. I thank Chris Keene and the Gardner-Webb Theatre Dept. for my excellent training in detail work in painting - the end result was pretty awesome!

Another awesome thing - it SNOWED on Christmas! I absolutely love snow, and I absolutely love Christmas, and the two combined was wonderful! We got about 12 inches total, and it really was a Winter Wonderland.
I was really grateful to, and excited by, my family this Christmas. We scaled back our Christmas to each other so that we could give to others and invest in the Kingdom of God. What a blessing.

The day after Christmas we went to our friends, the Teaters' house, and had a sledding party! I love it when we do things like that - like we used to when we're kids. I hope I never get too old to have sledding parties. Also, Luke and Betsy came from D.C., which was wonderful, since I think they're awesome and I want us to be good friends. My not-so-secret hope is that one day Betsy and I will be able to have coffee dates on a regular basis.... Also, I'm dying to visit them in India.

Once they move there, that is!
On December 2, my friends Aaron and Abby had their first baby - little Eli. From what I've heard it was a wonderful day, in that Eli was born, but otherwise pretty terrifying, in that he was way too early, Abby went into seizures and almost died, etc. Their journey has been incredible to watch and read about (Facebook and blogging can be huge blessings when keeping up with friends!). I am amazed at the provision of the Father in their lives, and so thankful for this sweet baby boy who I know already is, and will continue to be, such a blessing. I'm also amazed to see the vast community that has gathered around them in support. They inspire me, and I hope to have such an impact in so many lives. You can read about their story here.

Dec. 27th - Jan. 1st I was in Greensboro, NC for the MidSouth region of Crusade's Winter Conference called Encounter. Wow - lots of capitol letters in that last sentence. It was really an amazing time with students, fellow staff, and the Lord. A huge blessing for me was that it was the first time since coming on staff with Crusade that I began to feel like I "fit." Not that anyone has made me feel like an outsider - quite the opposite - I have been truly welcomed and made to feel at home among the staff and students at UT. But you know how it is - it just takes a while to feel like you're not the new person, especially in my case, not having a Crusade background as a student. It was a wonderful time, and included a dance party - one of my favorite things in the world!

The past few days I've laid around and read some awesome books - another of my favorite things in life. I can seriously get caught up in a story. Something I decided a long time ago - music and books are always worth my money! (not that I blow it all, but if I'm going to spend some - that's a good investment!)

Finally, my best friend is having a baby in about 3 WEEKS!! I think it's really cool that she got to experience being super pregnant at Christmas time - could kind of identify with Mary. (thought I don't know if she feels the same way!) But I get to be Aunt Cayli so very soon, and I CAN'T WAIT! If I love this little baby so much already, what will it be like to be a mom? I hope I get to find out one day!

Siblings and cousins on Christmas day!

Betsy and I at the sledding party!

Beautiful winter berries. Isn't God's creativity and beauty astonishing?