Leading and Loving Community

I’m so blessed to have community both locally with friends and the people I ministry with in Springfield AS WELL AS finding community with some awesome new friends.

Friends from all across America. (and 2 that split their time in Kenya)

Friends that are all single (and 1 newlywed).

Friends that are all involved in ministry. Some with students. Some with women. Some with college. Some volunteer staff. Some full-time staff.

It’s a beautiful friendship that we have developed. We are able to have honest conversation. Share laughter that almost makes you pee your pants. Share hurts that cut to the core. Share wisdom that someone wiser than us has passed along at some point. Share prayers that continue past our scheduled meeting times. Share passions, dreams and situations that can’t be shared locally.

I love my virtual community group. And here is my shameless plug 🙂

For all my ladies in ministry 0r those married to men in ministry…get plugged in over at Leading and Loving It. New groups start at the beginning of the year. Consider which group you could join – or if there isn’t one that fits what you need, start one.

It’s the easiest group I have ever led/been a part of and it’s fabulous! I look forward to my hour. The girls in our virtual community group have truly become tight-knit and true friends…..girls meeting up for coffee when they are within hours of each other, people taking vacation to go meet VCG members, the dream to go on a VCG mission trip together to love on babies. Cool things are happening in our online community.

Thankful!

Leading and Loving Community

Meet a Need

Mom please skip the next line 🙂

Today I woke up at 6:30am. I went to bed at 3am. So I laid there ready to go back to sleep, talking to the ole J-man about a few things – when a good ole CSM phrase bombarded my thoughts

Meet a Need.

When was the last time I intentionally met the need of someone else. Not just loving on my friends or buying groceries so my roommates and I can eat. Not just seeing someone hungry and deciding to take her to IHOP. Those things are all great – but why isn’t it my everyday?

My everyday is spent around me. My schedule, my list, my obligations, my job, my workout, my food, me, my, mine. I get that right now my life and schedule is different than when I was in Nashville but at the core of who I am, who we are as Christ followers there is a responsibility and love for others.

One of my favorite parts of CSM was when we taught our groups to meet a need for someone – that excursion brought back some of the best stories, the greatest moments of life change for our groups. It becomes real when we stop our schedules and take 5 min, 20 min or an hour to meet the need of someone else. No longer are “they” just people on the side of the road or downtown they are people with a story and face – and needs. Just like you. Just like me.

A need could be conversation, food, clothing, a poncho, a cup of coffee, a smile, really anything.

For me – meeting the needs of others is an important part of who I want to be. So, since I’m all into challenging myself on this blog – here’s my next challenge.

*To intentionally meet a need for at least 1 person a week.

With purpose.

With passion.

With love.

Join me?

Meet a Need

Schooled

“I have been praying for more patience and to be more selfless”

E’s not even 16 yet she teaches me. Yesterday we spent hours sharing a table at a local restaurant and caught up on each other’s life. It had been weeks since I had spent real, quality time with her and she was full of updates. The first update she had for me was what she and Jesus were working on – “I have been praying for more patience and to be more selfless”

SERIOUSLY?! what  teenage girl says that on their own accord?

It’s amazing to hear E speak about people. Her passion and desire for people to be loved is exquisite. 90% of sticky situations she gets into are because she cares about people to the point that she frequently sacrifices herself and comfort to make sure others experience love. Which is great, most of the time. And it’s a lesson we are learning together.

E is such an encouragement to me without even knowing it. Because each time we sit down and talk she is teaching me.

She’s not perfect. She’s almost 16 :0) but she is well on her way to a beautiful life.

And I am so very thankful that I get the chance to learn from her.

Who teaches you?

Schooled

Shameless Plug…Wreck Your Life

I think we all desire to do “good”

We all want to “make a difference”

We want to “do what we know we need to do”

Then every once in awhile we actually do something about it.

….And it wrecks our lives.

Taking a summer to serve with Center for Student Missions was the best 3 months of my life. It was also one of the hardest, most challenging experiences ever! But I would not trade it for anything. Those 3 months shaped me.

csm staff trampoline

It introduced me to these incredible people. They challenged me in big ways. They showed me what a life sold out looks like. We learned how to work as a team, in all our weaknesses and strengths. We learned what it meant to become a family. We learned how to impact lives together. We learned how to find truth. We learned how to hold each other accountable. We learned. And we were never alone.

staff spaghetti factory

We got to go on a journey together as a community. It was an incredible experience to see the church as it should be. We explored Scripture. We had fun together. We supported each other.

It was a hard road. There were groups that came in and had their perspective changed. There were people that we met that became names, faces, stories and impacts on our lives.

staff pottery

At the end of the summer we all went our separate ways with the attempt to continue on the track we had this summer. It’s a ride. The kind of ride that catches you off guard at the craziest times.

It is the kind of ride that makes you cry during class months later. It’s the kind of ride that makes you notice people that you looked past before. It’s the kind of ride that makes you fall more in love with Jesus. It’s the kind of ride you never want to get off of.

And it’s the kind of ride you should go on.

Consider serving with CSM this year. Apply now to be a summer host or sign up to take a group! www.csm.org

Shameless Plug…Wreck Your Life

Aware

One of the great things about spending a summer (or a week) with CSM is the awareness you gain from the experiences.

Luke 14:12-14

12Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

To be able to invite someone to a banquet you have to know where they are. You have to know their address to send them an invitation or their e-mail for the e-vite or where they hang out so you can tell them when to meet. An invitation requires interaction of some sort.

Today on our way home from church my friend Jenn and I stopped at Wal-Mart on the poorer side of town. I spotted a man walking along the street with a duffel that was dirty and packed full. We went inside and a dirty man with worn clothes and long hair was using change to buy a 24 pack. We went outside to see a guy packing his meager groceries in a worn, torn suitcase while he hunkered in the shade. We pulled out of the parking lot and watched a guy rummage through the garbage for cans (he had a whole wagon full).

These men may not have been homeless. There is not a tell tale sign to spotting the homeless population. But they visible had less than I did. They visible looked worn and tired. And I hate to admit it, but I’m not sure I would have noticed them all the way I did today this time last year.

I felt conflicted when I saw them. Partly because I should have noticed them last year. Partly because I wanted to talk to them. Partly because I didn’t want to talk to them with my church clothes on. Partly because there was no smooth way to approach any of them without it looking like I had pegged them for a homeless person.

This summer can’t just be this summer. It has to make me aware and active where I am now, and talking to these guys whether they are homeless or not is a big part of that. I came into the summer desiring to love a forgotten demographic and I need to go into this school year loving that demographic and inviting others to join me.

So I think Jenn and I are going to go hang out downtown some evening. Have some conversations, find a new Daniel, love the way Jesus would.

I want to invite them to a banquet….even if it’s just a banquet of pb&j.

Aware

Thankful

Back when I was a little tiny two year old with eyes too big for my head and little curls, God had a plan.

He had this summer planned. He knew what He had in store for me serving with CSM this summer and what it would take to get me there. He knew I would be in Nashville and not Chicago. He knew I would struggle with leaving and fall in love with this job. He knew the lessons and healing that I had to learn this summer. He knew that others would have to be obedient to His voice.

And I am so thankful that my youth pastor was obedient to God’s call. He knew back when I was only two that he was to take a group to CSM, not just any urban mission but specifically a CSM trip. Due to churches and locations he was never able to go until he came to our church. I was still too young to be in youth group when they took their first trip to Chicago. Then they went to Nashville. And finally when I was in 7th or 8th grade I went on my first CSM trip to Chicago.

It shaped me in ways I didn’t even realize back then. It broke my heart for a population that I felt was forgotten and overlooked. It opened my eyes to things I just didn’t see in my tiny town. And that trip continued to replay and those lessons relearned throughout the years. I knew after that trip that I wanted to do this type of work on day, but I lost sight of that for awhile and left it for others to do. I went on a second CSM trip to Washington D.C. and was reminded of feelings and lessons from Chicago.

This last October my friend Jessica was telling me her heart for inner city kids and ministry and I told her about CSM. We decided to pray and then we applied. And after a period of waiting and relying on God I entered the most beautifully wrecked summer of my life (thus far) :-).

This summer taught me more than I can express right now. God is continuing to mold and shape me. He has a work in me that is not yet complete, but I know he is faithful and will one day complete it. He broke my heart for what breaks His. He took me back to my foundation of faith and strengthened it; not always in easy or pleasant ways but always in love. He gave me glimpses at growth and was there as seeds were sown, watered, and harvested. He showed His sovereignty. He brought people into my life that made a deep impact on me, the way I think, and my heart. He showed up in big ways.

And it’s not that CSM makes God magically appear. It’s that while serving with CSM we are put in situations that require obedience to God’s Word. We are given schedules and days that are modeled after what the Bible says we are to do as Christians. We feed the hungry, we clothe the naked, we visit the orphans and widows, we love. And when we are in obedience with what God says Big things happen and our worlds are rocked ultimately for the better.

So I am thankful for this summer of growth and tears and service.

I am thankful for CSM as an organization and what they stand for as a ministry.

I am thankful for my bosses, Jes and Kristin who pushed me and required that I step up.

I am thankful for my fellow hosts who became my good friends and blessed my life immensely.

And I am thankful for Jerry Bush, my youth pastor, who with patience was obedient in the call God had for Him so that I may be where I am today.

Thankful

Order

Solitude.

Community.

Ministry.

Henri Nouwen, Paul, and Jesus all exemplified that to be spiritually disciplined these three things were needed, in this order.

I personally really struggle with solitude. I bad at it. And I have to get better at it. Because to be able to do offer community and do ministry I first need to be filled by God alone and spend time in silence with Him.

We read (as a staff) Henri Nouwen’s article “Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry” that discusses the importance of these three concepts and how they interplay into each other. The article refers to Luke 6:12-19 and how Jesus took time in solitude before gathering His disciples in community and then going out and beginning in His ministry. The very next week I was reading in Galations about how Paul took time to be alone before gathering Titus and Barnabas to continue on in ministry.

I have been challenged to spend time in solitude. And right now it’s way hard! But I know it will be worth it and to create the spiritual discpiline of waiting in solitude will eventually bring something.

I am blessed to have an awesome and trustworthy community here at CSM that have partnered with me this summer as well as helping me prepare for ministry beyond CSM this summer and next school year. I will miss them when I go home later this week. I will miss the constant knowing that our community was right there willing to challenge and help. I am blessed to have Jessica as a roommate this next year and the fact that she knows what’s going on in my heart and saw all the same things I did just in NYC.

There is a lot going on my heart and mind right now as I transition out of CSM and back into school and whatever else God may have for me. I need to start with solitude. I have to learn to make time for it and see it as a vital part of my life and ministry.

Order