We live in a world of sin and imperfection. I am a child of God striving each day to live out my calling. Welcome to my blog where you get the inside scoop of this Youth Pastor's world!
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

You Love Me Anyway

I'm sitting here in my office today with a lot of things I need to be doing and a lot of things on my mind. But I'm feeling very humbled today and the words of Sidewalk Prophet's song You Love Me Anyway are ringing through my head. This is not a new song by any means. I know it has been out for at least three years, but it seems to strike me hard during holy week. This song starts with normal questions that people ask, like why do loved ones have to die, and other things that sometimes seem to pull us away from God. But then it gets to the most powerful part of the song and these are the words that keep resounding over and over in my mind.

I am the thorn in Your crown
But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway
I am Judas’ kiss
But You love me anyway
See now, I am the man that called out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then, I turned away with this smile on my face
With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night, I still called out for You
So ashamed of my life, my life, my life
(follow the link to hear the song)


This song continues to knock me down. It is often too easy to forget just how incredible our God is. I am leading Francis Chan's Crazy Love study again for me, but the first time for this group and he talks about it as well. How we need to be making the Cross the center of our lives. Chan says to think about the person you love the most and then picture them on the Cross dying for all of the world's sins. Most people think of their spouse or their children at this point, but being that I am single and have no children my mind flashes images of my parents, my brother, and my best friend on the cross. I can't entertain any one of them for very long because seeing any of them in that form of agony is just unfathomable. I have seen the movie The Passion of the Christ almost every year since it came out and the idea of replacing the person in those bloody scenes with someone that I hold near and dear to my heart is just too painful to even think about. Which just brings me to a state of awe. My God did that for me. He sacrificed the one person that meant more to Him than anyone else in the most brutal way possible, for me. 

And then to throw the words from the song into this already horrifyingly humbling picture. Now I'm the thorns, and the nails and the kiss of betrayal. Me? I'm a good person how is it that I was there all those years ago denying my Lord, hiding my shame from the world as He hung on that cross for me? 

It would be easy to live this life however I wanted because I can say well He loves me anyway and know without a doubt that that is true. But when I become the nails in His wrist, or the thorns in His head I can't even imagine not wanting to live my life for Him. I have spent my whole life trying to live like Christ and usually I feel really good about myself, but nothing stabs me in the heart faster than picturing myself as the one that put Jesus on the cross. It is so easy to look at Judas and see a selfish man that wanted life's riches and was willing to do what it took to get them, and you can almost be angry with him and glad that he hangs himself out of shame in the end. But the reality is I'm no better. How many times in my life have I let money take over my life, either the abundance or the lack thereof? How many times have I been greedy or selfish and not put Christ first? I don't even know the answer to those questions because they are so numerous. 

It is easy to look at Peter in his time of weakness and say shame on you for denying your Lord, you could see Him, you got to know Him, I would have been stronger. But would I? Would I really have been able in the midst of all that chaos that day been able to stand up and say YES, I am a disciple of that man you are trying to kill? Probably not, saying that would more than likely have been a death sentence for Peter or any of them. The mob mentality was so strong that day. Peter did what a lot of people would say was worse than Judas, because he denied knowing Jesus, Judas just gave Him away. And it is Peter that God uses to build the church, but Peter said he didn't know Jesus.... But you love me anyway! 

But you love me anyway? Really you love me, each and every time I fail you? But you love me anyway! How could I use that as an excuse to live a worldly life? Not when I caused the pain, the blood, the death of the only perfect human to ever walk this earth the epitome of divine and you love me anyway. I sit here humbled today, as I push away the thoughts of why do we have Easter Egg hunts in the church? The bigger picture here is not did we get enough candy donated to have this hunt, but we are in what is supposed to be the holiest of holy weeks of the year. My heart is heavy at this moment with the thought that we continuously miss the gravity of what happened during the first Holy Week, and He loves us anyway!

I don't want to be ashamed of my life anymore. I don't want to bury God's grace and turn away smiling. When I cry out at night I don't want it to be in shame. I have been called to walk on the edge of the world and I don't want to miss what I have been set here for, because of my own selfish desires. This Holy week I have been knocked to my knees in the realization of my own sinful unworthiness. I can't change that I am a thorn in His crown but I can change how that affects my life. God loves me and I should be living every moment of my life in a way that resounds that like a gong in the dead of night. GOD LOVES ME ANYWAY! These words are working in my heart today. How does it sound to you right now?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Safe Haven


I recently read Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks. I happen to be a fan of Nicholas Sparks, I haven't read one of his books that I don't like. I have this thing that if I watch the movie then I will never go back and read the book, so I generally read the book first. So when the movie came out, I really wanted to see it so I took the time to read it first.

This book takes an inside look at the effects an abusive relationship has on someone. Sparks does a really good job giving both sides of the unhealthy relationship, from the psychotic justification in the husband's brain to the gut wrenching fear in the wife. The story unfolds as Katie moves into a quiet town to restart her life laying low. She is a waitress and she lives on the outskirts of town in a cottage, and as she is constantly looking over her shoulder she slowly starts to fall in love with the people she meets. The owner of the grocery store and his children just happen to be three people who catch her attention and keep it. Alex is a widower and he is raising his two young children and running the store. He is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure his family is happy. His daughter has an instant connection with Katie and she seems to continue to bring them together. After a few dates and play days with the kids Alex and Katie can't seem to spend enough time with each other. Katie lets her guard down and lets Alex in, she tells him her past and slowly starts to heal.

The book goes back and forth between the characters' points of view. I think that when Sparks starts to really get into Katie's husband's mind things get really real. He fully believes that he doesn't do anything wrong when he hits her and controls her life. He is angry because she left him, and he quotes scripture a lot. Even though everything he is doing is against what God has planned for marriage it is justified in his messed up mind. I have always thought the mind is an interesting thing to study. There was definitely a lot of psychology that went into this book to be able to write out the insane husband so well, and the victim yet strongness in the wife, and the caring profound love in Alex. I think that Nicholas Sparks did a really good job with this book. If you are looking for a book that will open you up intellectually and emotionally all at the same time being a great chick book then I recommend this one!

Monday, March 4, 2013

One Year Anniversary

March 8, 2012 I left Camp Horizon in the early afternoon to drive north for the first time to Hesston, KS. Probably the most nervous drive of my life. I pulled into the Chinese Restaurant parking lot and parked. I was early, like planned. As I sat in my car for a couple of minutes praying, I looked out my windshield to see a camper parked at the camp grounds with a huge scorpion painted on it. I had to laugh at the fact that a scorpion felt reassuring and like home. I took a deep breath and went inside. I don't really remember a lot about my interview with the Staff Parish from the church. I was so nervous that it was hard to enjoy my honey chicken that I was so excited the restaurant had. I remember the faces that were all so reassuring and the ease of the conversation at hand. We then drove over to the church and finished the interview there. They gave me a tour of the church and everything seemed good. I drove away to spend the night in Newton with my close friends Sabrina & Jarrod. I did my best not to get my hopes up as I fell in love with everyone I had just met.

March 9, 2012 I woke up a lot earlier than normal because Quinn was ready to be awake and Jarrod was headed to work. So I enjoyed spending time with Sabrina and Quinn that morning as I got ready for round two. I had a lunch interview in Salina for another church. As I drove past the Hesston sign on the way north I couldn't help but smile, and my heart really did not want to drive all the way to Salina, but I told myself I couldn't get too excited and I had to keep my options open. That hour drive was spent in prayer about my life, my future, and God's plan for me. I pulled into the church and got a tour of the building, and then went to lunch with the pastor and a couple Staff Parish members. This was an informal interview that had the potential of leading to a full interview. They were so nice setting it up last minute for me so that I could do both in one trip. I remembered at the time how much I had fallen in love with the town of Salina the previous summer during other interviews and how much I wasn't a fan that day. As I was leaving the interview, it just didn't feel like the night before but I was trying not to compare the churches and give this one the fairness it deserved of standing on its own. I got a text that the children's director from Hesston wanted to talk to me after one. I didn't want to be on the phone while driving so I went to Target to kill some time. I bought a swim suit top that I had been wanting and debriefed the interviews on the phone with my mother. As I pulled into Sonic the children's director called me and we talked. She was so excited to meet me and was so nice and positive on the phone, I couldn't help but get my hopes up. As I left Salina the reality of everything started to sink in. There weren't any other openings that I knew of and Salina just did not feel right, I couldn't allow myself to get too excited about how awesome Hesston felt because I had had the same feelings at a previous church and I didn't get that job. As I drove I couldn't stop the emotions as I prayed, "God, if it isn't Hesston, I don't want to play this game anymore." In trying to keep my hopes at a normal level my doubts started to creep up, but by the time I passed McPherson I was smiling and had a peace of heart. I got back to Hesston and decided to drive through the town during the daylight so I could see what all there was in town. One of the first things I saw was the Police Truck. I laughed because once again something so trivial was so reassuring. As I drove out of the town I got a text from Stan asking when he could call. I told him in 30min, and I drove to the mall in Newton and parked, and waited.  The phone call came and he offered me the job, it was all I could do not to scream yes, as I realized I wanted to discuss this large decision with my parents before accepting. I called my mom and we talked and by the end of the conversation she asked why I hadn't already said yes, she told my grandparents that I got the job. I then called my other grandmas and told them. I called my brother and told him I was moving to Hesston, and he told me I had to wait until his transmission in his truck was fixed, and then I realized I hadn't even accepted the position yet. I called Stan back and said yes. We set up that I would return to Hesston the following Wednesday to meet the kids.

It really is hard to believe that it has already been a year. So much in my life has changed since last March. From March to August were probably some of the hardest, most stressful, rewarding times of my life as I drove to Hesston every week to work with the kids and returned to Camp to fulfill my duties as the Graduate Intern there as well. I was swamped with homework, as I was determined to complete my Master's degree in less than a year, and at home we were housing a very troubled young lady that was pushing against everything we had to offer. I was Maid of Honor for my friend Leslie and planning her showers and wedding events, and somehow trying to keep my head on my shoulders and staying true to all of my commitments.

This past year truly has been insane. I feel so incredibly blessed to have this job and get to spend my time with all of these amazing students that choose to spend their time here. I have met so many incredible families and people that are part of the ministry happening here. Yes, there are days that I think I'm going to pull my hair out, and days that I would rather stay in bed than deal with the stesses and chaos that are part of working in a church but I wouldn't trade my job for any other. As much as I love camp and talk about it, my heart is here. I know that to be true. When I spend time away from the kids I miss them, I get excited when they are excited. This is my calling, this is my life, this is who I am. I looking forward to all the amazing things we will be able to do in Year 2!!!