Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Reflection: Never to be the same...

This doesn’t feel like it should be the end, like it should be over. In five days I will be in my car, driving westward…home. They say home is where the heart is. If that’s true, half of my home is here. My heart has become so …

I don’t even know what to say.

Reading over my posts from this last semester caused my spirit to quench. Academically I did not keep up with the posts and comments as I should have. Spiritually, however, I will never be the same. In my first post I said I wanted to never stop searching for the fingerprints of God and two weeks ago I sat on the JCB floor at two in the morning telling girls they were the fingerprints of God.......I found them. They exist in crumby situations, in beat up shacks, in fights, in laughter, in good families, and in admitting suicidal thoughts. I have never found so many fingerprints from one hand before. The D-group nights, open house nights, leadership dinners, hang-out times and all-nighter placed me face-to-face with the most beautiful children of God and so many of them don't even know it.
I don't want to leave.
These leaders, these kids have changed my entire view of life. My heart is renewed, by soul refined. As I read through my spiritual journey of the last 10 weeks, I remember the desperate feeling of hope I desired, the dark night I still find myself in, and the selfishness I owned. I wish you could look within me now. God not only worked around me and I not only was able to watch, but I was transformed as well. My Savior has constantly reminded me that it isn't about me, that my heart beats with His, and my life is not my own. To truly be surrendered and to sincerely grow, I must abandon myself here at His feet. I need child-like faith. My heart has been so warmed and tuned to those of my middle school girls and leaders who seek, every week, to reach outside of themselves and touch the life of someone else.

And they didn't have a clue they were touching mine...

I have often found myself at the bottom of me; in the pit of my life, my situations, and my choices. I was consumed with ME. This time, however, I was brought into the filthy grime of someone else, into situations they did not choose, into routes traveled to escape pain, and into compassion and love I wish I could possess. Needless to say, I know exactly why I want to do this for the rest of my life. As God places me in more situations just as scary and rewarding, I know I will continue to scuff of my knees as I fall and fail, but the eternal implications are worth every scar. My life is about to transition once again, but I will remember that God stays constant and my salvation is set despite what comes my way.

And love...
well it surpasses all boundaries.
I know.
I saw it happen.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Week 8 - 10

I cannot believe we have come this far. The last three weeks I have spent 8 hours at D-groups and youth group and 14 hours this last weekend at an all-nighter and then 21/2 hours on Sunday for Sunday school, D-groups, and dinner with my leaders.
I don't want it to end. It finally hit me a few days ago that I will not BE here this summer. It's as if I thought I would not have to do school, but I would still be with the same people. But the reality is: I won't be. I have begun to wonder what in the world I will do with out these kids, these girls especially. All of the leaders have carved special place in my heart and the girls....I simply do not know what I will do without them. Their love for each other and their desire to spread the love of God has truly amazed me. I wonder who I think I am when I witness their innocence and their trials. This last weekend at the all-nighter......... God worked in ways i was not expecting. I sold Him short. I did not believe in His power. There were tons of games and laughter, but when we sat down for a short lesson given by a college student sharing her testimony it became silent. The next wo hours were filled with tears; tears from pain, tears from frustration, tears of compassion. Girls from all walks of life gathered, broke a barrier, and became the body of Christ. And the great thing? They didn't even know they were doing it. A couple weeks ago they began asking all these questions on evangelism during D-group time. The whole time they had the answers and they showed that on Friday night. I never thought I would have to listen to the stories I heard. They are 12, 13, 14 years old. They are still KIDS. "I want my childhood back" as one girl said. Two girls came to know the Lord in the next 6 hours, and one rededicated her life. God worked, and He worked well! One girl asked me the question I knew I was going to be asked one day and the question I knew I would never be able to answer: "If God loves me so much why I am going through all of this?" I pray my frustration with the evil and my answer of "I have no idea...but I know there is a God who loves you and does not cause it to happen..." showed a hint of my love and compassion for her. She came to know they Lord. I am buying her a Bible today. She has a most precious place in my heart. All of this was by God's power --> and we weren't even expecting it.
My heart is not sure what to feel, and my head not sure what to think. None of this is fair, none of it is right. These girls should have no idea what an unloving parent looks like. They should feel safe at home, not like it's the most unsafe place they have ever been. I wish these words could slightly portray where my heart is and how I'm feeling...they never will. Needless to say, God is doing huge work in my life right now. My complaints, my cares are nothing. God has a picture SO much bigger than I will ever seeand all I need to do is fall into His plan and allow Him to work.
Never become fooled into thinking it is. That is when every priority falls out of place. God is the I AM. We are not. I am not. I wonder where all of this will lead me...
Praise God today. Although we don't always feel Him or see Him working, He is. Even if it's at an all-nighter in a small city, in a youth building with 24 middle school girls.
He was there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Week 6/7

Since we were on spring break last week, we obviously missed some days with the kids, and I found myself truly missing it! The week before spring break I spent 2 hours on Wednesday with the kids, 2 hours last Wednesday, 2 hours on Sunday and 2 hours today. It has been so great getting back with the kids!
I have fallen more and more in love with these kids and leaders every week. God truly placed us here together for a reason. The love I get from these kids makes me never want to leave. Some rarely, if ever, recieve postive attention and it is a blessing to give it to them and watch them give it back. This last Sunday I had the opportunity to lead small group. It was such a great time of discussion and honesty. We talked about having faith and spreading the Word...their insights and simplicities to life are humbling. We had a prank planned on the boys as well and so, silly stringed them before we started! The craziness combined with the passion was great!
I am finding myself searching more and more for God everyday. Even though this dark night I am traveling in seems broad, I know He is holding me, helping me, and yearning for me. How beautiful is the love of our Savior and how humbling His mercy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Week 5 - Becoming intimate...

This last week I spent a total of nine hours in and outside of JCB. Six of these hours I hung out with Kayal (an eighth grader in my small group) a couple of different times, attended Wednesday night youth group, and Sunday school. The more and more I hang out with the kids and leaders, the more joy I recieve from them. I am truly blessed by them all.
It was such an encouragement to have Kayla ask me to hang out this week. For four hours we ate, laughed, and hung out. It is so important for us to get down on their levels and just be with them. All they want is to be loved on. Although it was super fun and exciting, I forgot that I am an old college student who needs her rest -- haha! Kayla wore me out :), but it was great. Along with all of this I have found it slightly difficult to walk in on Wednesday's and Sunday's with a compeletly chill attitude like my day/week has not been chaotic and stressful. I need to remember to keep my attitude in check always so God can minister through me the best that He can.
Honestly, it has been a spiritually dry week. God is always faithful and has proven Himself to me so much, but He still feels so far away. I am struggling with being someone I don't want to be while being comfortable with who I really am. It is such an important time in life to truly discover who Haley is -- it's who God specifically made me to be.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Week 4 -- Getting to know you...

What a beautiful week it has been! The sun has been frequenting our lovely lives and God has been so gracious :). Since last Sunday night I have had the privilege of spending 6 hours with the wonderful leaders, middle school and high school students of JCB. Wednesday night we had youth group open house for two hours and last night, as well as yesterday, the small group leaders had dinner together and discussed what we would be doing that evening and then had small group for an hour. Also, Sunday morning I attended their Sunday school.
I seriously cannot begin to explain how blessed I am to be working with these students. Although having a practicum is time consuming, it is well worth it! I find it often is an awesome break from the chaos of school. It does have its moments of craziness and confusion, but more often than not, I remember how awesome my job is going to be -- simply loving on kids. Last night was one of the girls' birthday parties (HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SARAH!!!) and we hung out, ate, and played games with the girls. It was such an awesome time. And tonight I am SO STOKED to hang out with my 8th grader Kayla. God has been so awesome in providing such an opportunity for me!
My spiritual life has actually felt quite...bland lately. I am searching for God in the chaos but sometimes fail to see His face admist my complaining. It is so vital that I give up myself and lay down before Him so He can truly be seen in my life and used to draw others near to Him. I look forward to knowning my Savior more as I press through these difficult deserts beneath His wings.
How beautiful our Savior, how awesome His love, and how amazing His will.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Week 3

This week I have spent a total of three and a half hours with the wonderful students of JCB. Wednesday night I attended the middle school youth group for the first time and hung out with the crazy kids for two hours. This morning (Sunday) one of the girls in my small group sat with us at church and we got to meet her parents and get to know each other a little bit. Then, we went to Sunday school together.
I cannot seem to get enough of hanging out with the teens. I get pumped to get up on Sundays in order to see them and go Wednesday nights to chill and meet some more people. God has simply blessed JCB with the most wonderful students, leaders, and volunteers. Every practicum/volunteer student and adult has been such a great experience to get to know, the students are such a joy, and Christ's love makes it all happen. As I am getting to know the girls more (boys at this age still tend to think girls are crazy/scary/smelly) I become more and more comfortable with where God has me. Plus, as they become more comfortable with us we are able to level more, get in on their lives, and love on them better.
Although I'm 18 and in college I still find it difficult at times to put myself out there. I am learning to trust Christ with my identity more and more. It is such an amazing experience when we are finally able to simply let go and allow ourselves to be grounded firmly in who our Savior is. God is showing me so many wonderful things this last week. I cannot wait to see where He is taking me through all of them!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Week 2

This last week I spent 5 hours with the kids in JCB. Their youth group was cancelled Wednesday night because of various reasons, so I have yet to participate in that, but yesterday morning I went to their Sunday school and we worshiped through singing, fellowship, and listening to Charlie speak on surrendering our lives to Christ so we can truly be free. Then, last night, I helped at the Super Bowl party for several hours. It was such a blast getting to know the kids, running around, goofing off, and forgetting that I am 18 and in college for a little while :). We ate, played basketball, football, ate, laughed, sang, jumped around, ate, and cleaned up (there was ALOT of food!!!).

Things like last night remind me why I want to do this for the rest of my life and test my patience with it all at the same time. The time getting to know the teens, investing in their lives, and showing them Christ (even if they do think we're a little dorky) is so awesome. They're entergetic, fun, and frustrating. It's a big mushy ball of sweetness and frustration all rolled into one. Thankfully, determination usually wins and rolls of the frustration in order to let the light shine through. The same wonderful kids can be in their "I'm too cool to think you're cool" state and the "but I still think you're cool because you're older" state. Haha! There was also a point where one little munchkin kept pulling off my hat. "Be patient, Haley," is what kept running through my head. Eventually I was able to cease pressing my hat on my head to keep it from the little menacing hands, but it was definately a struggle getting there! But, ya still gotta love 'em!

My spiritual life has been slightly rocky this week. God is teaching me amazing things and I cannot wait to see where He continues to take me. But, as a perfectionist life tends to weigh slightly heavier on my shoulders -- all a fault of my own. I'm learning to love myself for me and allow others to love me as well. God is my strength, my comforter, and my best friend. I will come out standing on top!!!