Sometimes, life is just good

And it’s usually people who make it that way. It’s hard to imagine life without people, and I’m not sure I want to either! I really need time on my own to rest and recharge, but the reason that I want to rest and recharge is so that I can be a fully functioning human being around others again.

This is something that I’ve been learning about and getting better at over the past, I don’t know, 10 years? I still don’t love people to the best of my ability all the time. And sometimes, “to the best of my ability” isn’t very much. Which is why I was glad that this week was about evangelism. Often we think about evangelism as this scary thing that involves preaching on the street, trying to tell people things they don’t want to hear, and generally being annoying. But this week we learned how to make evangelism genuinely about good news. We learned that evangelism is about loving people and listening to them, asking questions and sharing our stories. We learned that it can be fun to tell people that they matter to God and how Jesus lived and died to make all the broken parts of life and the world whole.

So even though it’s still a little bit scary to start conversations with people (because you don’t know how they’re going to react!) it’s become more of a joyous adventure than a dreaded chore. Hopefully that will continue to grow, because I truly believe that telling people about the hope that God offers is one of the best ways that I can love them.

So, about the photographs. Thursday nights, my colleague’s family comes over to dinner. It’s a loud, crazy, boisterous, and fun evening each week, and I love it! Their youngest daughter, who is four, has been using my camera to take photographs more and more often, and this week, I taught her how to use my remote. Some of the photos are hers, some are mine. ¬†Hope you enjoy them!

Wonders and Miracles

Staff Photo (Bob-shopped)

A (very) photoshopped photo of our staff team this year!

The beds are made, the welcome cards written, the floors swept and the bathrooms cleaned. Tomorrow, it all starts. For the first time, even though I’ve staffed three schools before. Because each time it’s different-there’s different people who come with their own stories, their own hurts and hopes; the things we do are different-we sing different songs, work at different ministries and hear different lectures; and God wants to do something new with us in the community where we live each time.

And of course, I’m different each time too-I’ve had new experiences, met different people, read different books and had conversations that I’ve never had before. This time last year, I was worried that I was going to get bored because I was doing the same thing (in the same place!) that I had done the last year. I can say with certainty that I’m not worried about that at all this year! I have a role and responsibility that I’ve never had before (co-leading the school with my friend Sarah) we have a nearly-full house that is going to be bursting with life in a couple days. By Sunday night, six amazing young women will be here, ready and willing for whatever God has in store for them, and looking at us all with wide eyes, expecting us know what we’re doing!

But that’s the funny thing. I was explaining with Sarah to the two other staff what our hopes and dreams for outreach and the discipleship process were. As I heard my self talking, I thought, “Wow, it sounds like I actually know what I’m talking about.” And then I realized that I kinda actually do know what I’m talking about. When did that happen? I still remember the first time I really mentored someone, and how afraid I was to say (with a tiny, scared, quiet voice) “Excuse me, but I think, just maybe, possibly, what you’re thinking could be wrong. I could be wrong of course, but would you be willing to…maybe…consider it?”

Stranger things have happened. A donkey talked to Balaam and told him he was being an ass, and the disciples believed the testimony of three hysterical women one Sunday so long ago. I’m excited to see what wonders and miracles God brings about in the lives of those who will be coming to this strange place in a couple days!

Favorite Holiday Songs

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Mildly to the frustration of my roommate, I love non-traditional Christmas music. Don’t get me wrong, I think carols and songs by Bing Crosby are fantastic. But after three winters working retail, I got sick of hearing the same songs over and over again! But thanks to Noisetrade, I can get new music for free every Christmas. Here are some of my favorites from this year to enjoy during advent!

Wrapping paper and advent

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This year, I went the “I’m too lazy to go to the store and buy wrapping paper” route and made my own. I found some newspaper laying around, pulled out my acrylic paints and got started. I happened to find some silver acrylic paint laying around the house, so I used that too. Voila! Fun, silver, purple and goldenrod wrapping paper!

Earlier today, I went with some friends (who are all about the same age as my uncles) to Colwyn Bay to visit an art space/gallery thing centered around advent. It was fascinating to see how people interacted with the biblical narrative from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from non-spiritual to “I follow Jesus”. One of my favorites was an archeolgical re-creation of tablets that Zechariah might have written during his time of silence. There were actually several artists who were inspired Zechariah’s silence. I wonder what that means.

The reason the four of us went to see the exhibition was that we are all interested in seeing the church interact more with the arts here in Wrexham. I look forward to seeing what will come of this adventure in the coming months and years!

Something I’m reading

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The book is called Culture of Honor, and it’s all about loving people well, especially within the church. It’s challenging and thought provoking. What would the church look like if we really lead and loved people the way God meant us to lead and love them? We’re reading the book as a staff team and trying to work through some of these questions for ourselves.

That said, I haven’t read the book in awhile, in want to finish it before Christmas! I’ve been occupying my time with other things however; like wrapping presents and writing support letters and spending time with people. How can I fit everything I want to do in 24 hours?! Who knows!

Bright

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Even though I’ve lived all my life fairly far north, it never ceases to amaze me that the sun stay so low in the winter. Today, it barely made it above the rooftops across the street! And the sun isn’t even that bright! But I’m still very glad of the sunlight we do have. Life would be miserable without it.

We went to a ministry tonight that I personally find very challenging. It’s a youth club/drop in center sort of thing for teenagers to come hangout of Friday night. I just started volunteering there in October, and each week I struggle to want to go. I find it difficult to connect to teenagers in general, and I don’t thrive in unstructured environments.

I’d love to say that God magically transforms my heart each time I go, and that I have amazing, life-changing conversations with the teens there. But I’m afraid it’s an agonizingly slow process of building relationships and earning trust over long periods of time, perhaps years.

Oh Lord, would you turn me into a bright light without having to hollow me out first? That’d be less painful! I don’t really mean that though. I know what you’re asking me to do is worth it…

Today’s temperature

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Chilly, that’s what it is outside today! But our house is warm, and we were inside for most of the day.

The day started off in the best way possible: listening to someone’s story. Our teammate Dave has been with us since October, and we hadn’t had a chance to hear his testimony. It was good to finally sit down together and hear again how God makes broken lives whole!

We also had Taryn talking about destiny for most of today. We looked at the difference between what many people think about destiny (it’s fate, it’s inevitable, it’s unchangeable) and what the bible has to say (God cares a bit more about your character and being in relationship with you than ‘the plan’ for your life). We’ll get to talk about it more tomorrow and Friday.

Lastly, Taryn, Sarah and I went to the salvation army to help out with the foodbank and Christmas hampers for an hour, and came home to a tasty meal of Mediterranean chickpeas and couscous. There’s a lot more of the evening to go, but so far, it’s been a good day!