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

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rainbow Promise

I have been doing a lot, A LOT, of driving lately. In the past week I probably put close to 1,000 miles on my car. All of this driving has given me a lot of time to think, not like living alone doesn't do that, but there is just something different about being in a car that lets the thoughts just flow. A lot of these trips have happened to be during rain storms and some of these rides have been down right scary. These trips have also turned into some awesome jam sessions, because I am so tired that I have to have a way to stay awake. The radio gets annoying because they play the same songs over and over and if you go far enough eventually the radio gives out. So I have been using my phone, most of my music is Christian music, so these drives have been really awesome praise and worship sessions.

This morning I woke up to a message that a family member had passed away early in the morning, I always think of him as a great uncle, but the truth he is my grandfather's cousin. He and his wife host our family Easter every year, and then I see him at our family reunion every year. His land is also the family hunting ground. So I was really sad when I heard that he passed away, as I have gotten older I feel like I have gotten closer to him and really enjoy the time I have spent with him. I know that his immediate family will be sad for quite awhile because he was an incredible man.

After I got this news I found myself thinking, of course something bad happened, I almost had a good week. This thought and these feelings haunted me throughout the day and as I drove the hour home from Emporia tonight I found myself feeling incredibly selfish. This summer hasn't been an easy one and I have been working through a lot of emotions, some of which I am not proud of like these selfish ones that attacked me today.

As I was driving home tonight my music started to do what it always does for me, opens up my heart and soul and allows God to connect with me in a way that doesn't happen without music. My whole body relaxed as "Worn" by Tenth Avenue North came on. This song has been like a theme song for me this summer and I let my heart scream out with the words from the song. The next song was "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman and this was where I started to realize that I was missing the mark with where my heart is right now. The music continued and my heart started to open up in a way it hasn't this summer. At some point it started raining. Which seemed to be perfect. I started thinking about the crazy rains I had driven in the past few days and weeks and how they seemed to mimic the events of the summer.

The one that stands out would be the severe thunderstorm I drove in last week. This was the kind of storm where you couldn't see more than a couple feet in front of you, and it is either pull over and hope no one hits you or slow down and keep chugging along hoping the storm ends soon. This was the beginning of my summer when my college theatre professor passed away. It seemed like the pain that came with this death would never go away and just might do me in. But much like the rain storm there was light at the end, or after I drove long enough.

Some rains you can feel them long before they show themselves. The humidity in the air is more painful than the actual rain itself. These are those times that you can feel something coming and you know it isn't going to be good, but just having the time to process something coming somehow makes the storm a little more bearable. This would be like when little Sam passed away a couple weeks ago. I didn't know him, but knowing that he was battling cancer and only 9 years old was like feeling the humidity before the rain. Now we were all praying that he would win this battle, but in the end the rains fell and Sam went home to be with his heavenly father.

Some rains come out of no where and will wreck your picnic, or evening plans, or the way you wear you hair. Sometimes these rains are fun and you get to relax in the cooling effects. Other times they are inconvenient and just mess everything up, like getting mud on a dress or something. I feel like these are the normal things throughout a day that are sometimes good or sometimes bad. These are the "normal" stresses in life.

Rain has the ability to destroy things, flood, corrode, and send cars off the road. But rain also makes things grow, brings life to places that look like death, rain fills the land with water that we need to survive. Some of the most beautiful skies come before and after rainstorms. We would never get rainbows without the rain.

As these metaphors flowed through my soul tonight I finally felt some peace. God promised Noah that he would never flood the earth again and the sign of that promise was the rainbow. Throughout life we will have to walk through multiple storms, some that are destructive and others not so much, but a storm nonetheless.  These storms will all test each of us down to the core. The way we react, handle ourselves, and the way they affect our relationship with God all say something about who we are as people and as children of God.

So I am doing my best to push the selfish thoughts and feelings out of my heart and instead look forward to gorgeous promise that comes at the end of the storm, and trying to enjoy the scenery (blessings) that come along the way!


This song is from my favorite band, and it even quotes my favorite scripture. It kind of works with my storm metaphor! So enjoy!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Polymorphic Light Eruption

Polymorphic Light Eruption - three crazy words that have completely changed my life. What is this you may be wondering? An allergy to UV rays....which means an allergy to the sun.

My body has this weird ability to become allergic to things. Growing up it has always been antibiotics one time they work and the next time I'm allergic to it. Then after 9 and half summers of being a lifeguard and spending a lot of time outside I started breaking out with a new rash. After a few doctor visits and some research it became clear that Polymorphic Light Eruption was my newest medical issue.

It has been interesting to learn how to live with this, there is no pill to take or easy way out of this. I break out through sunscreen so the only way to prevent this from happening is either to not go outside or to be completely covered up when I do go outside. My dermatologist gave me a steroid cream to use when I do have break outs, but I'm not sure I trust it if I were to have a large breakout, so covering up it is.  We found these awesome clothes that are really light and they block UV Rays. They are much nicer than having to wear normal long sleeves or jackets because they are so much lighter. This also means that I wear jeans all the time. So it gets incredibly hot. Every time I do go outside people are like, aren't you hot? Are you cold? The answer is, YES I'M HOT....no I'm not COLD....its summer!!!!!! Of course I would rather be swimming and chilling by the pool in shorts and a tank top, but I would rather be hot than dealing with the ridiculous itchy rash that is the alternative.


This is what a normal break out looks like for me.


Coolibar is the brand of clothing that is amazing! 


My current list of allergies:
Pretty much all antibiotics
The Sun (added Summer 2012)
Bananas
Fresh Pineapple
Fresh Peaches (added Summer 2013)
Blackberries (added December 23, 2013)
All Melons



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What's Your Purpose?

Every time I hear this song on my computer it reminds me just what my purpose in life really is. Ministry is much more than my job. This is my life, my calling, my purpose for being on this earth. I have spent the day working on a new ministry for the church and it is one that is near and dear to my heart and a big part of that is helping young people find their purpose. Your purpose in life is so easy to lose sight of even when you have heard it and known it for almost half of your life. So I found it perfect when this song started playing on my iTunes today to remind me of my own purpose.

This is my prayer for my life. If I lose this part of me then I am no longer who God created me to be.

Somebody Else's Story by John Waller

So what ever your purpose is whether you know it now or are still searching for it. I pray that you get the chance to be a part of someone else's story the chance to make a difference in this world and stand for something greater than yourself!

Monday, July 8, 2013

When Words Fail...

I have been thinking the past couple of days that I need to be blogging about the songs that sing to my soul. God speaks to me through music and even when I can't see Him or feel Him anywhere else, it never fails that a song will play on the radio screaming out everything that I either needed to say or needed to hear. In college I used to take these songs and create a lesson with it and send it to people on Facebook, it has been awhile since I have done a song lesson but the music is still speaking to me. I don't think it is fair for me to hog these amazing songs and why they mean so much to me.

I have two currently that have been my "theme" songs lately so I will do them together. I think it is pretty obvious to anyone that reads my blog, or knows me well enough to read between the lines that this summer hasn't exactly been a party for me. I have found myself exceptionally low the past month and a half. People at work ask how I'm doing and I either have to lie and say I'm good or be prepared to explain why the opposite is actually the truth. The lie is easier, and I just keep moving through the day. The truth is, I'm ok, but no, I'm not good. With everything that has been going on there are days that I feel like I'm achieving something just by getting out of bed. I've cried more tears than I knew my body could produce and my prayers have swayed to the form of my soul just crying out Jesus, and sometimes, Why God, Why? I don't have any words, I mean I can still talk all I want and obviously blog, but when it comes to what I'm feeling and where my heart and soul are right now. There are absolutely no words. I don't even want to answer the question, How are you? No one is ok with the answer, I don't know. That is the truth though. I don't know.

I don't know why this hurts so much. I don't know why all of this is piling up on top of itself. I don't know  why I'm not handling it better. I don't know why all those "pastory words" don't help anything. I don't know why I don't want to read my Bible, or anything for that matter. I don't know why I can't fix this. I don't know... I don't know... I don't know....

Then these songs come on the radio
Worn by Tenth Avenue North



Pray by Sanctus Real

So no I may not know how to answer questions or even understand everything going on in this complex soul of mine, but I do know an amazing God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. I know He is bigger than anything that happens on Earth. This life is not everything, there is more, there is a greater purpose for all of this! So if you're struggling with anything right now, saying I don't know, or just wondering why God, why? Then maybe you can find some comfort here too!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Little Sister

August 30, 2006 - I met Autumn for the first time. I had signed up for Big Brothers and Big Sisters and our match was finalized. I was so nervous when we pulled up to her house for the first time, I went inside to meet her and was shocked at just how much she looked like me. Little did I know that this little 9 year old girl would change my life forever. Our journey started with an ice cream date to Braum's. At the beginning of my senior year of high school I just wanted to make a difference, be a mentor, do something that was bigger than me. My mom always said that we were sisters "matched" on paper, and blessed by God!

That first year we had a lot of ice cream, played dress up, hung out at my parents' house. Autumn spent her 10th birthday going to one of my Choir Concerts! 
                                       
We began our tradition of hanging out at Christmas. We hadn't been matched long enough for a sleep over our first Christmas, but we put up decorations and made sugar cookies. 
                                       

She came to my Gma Jo's Family Christmas for the first time, and even though she was really quiet she enjoyed hanging out with everyone. In the Spring we spent time together at the Rec Center Spring Break Camp, swimming at the pool, and getting some use out of the trampoline in the backyard. 
                                           

Sister Year 2: We got to have our first Christmas Sleepover. We made sugar cookies, decorated a gingerbread house, opened presents, watched Christmas movies and slept on the living room floor. 
 

She endured another Call Family Christmas, and just seemed to be a part of the family by that point. 

She was a 4th grader at Francis Willard and I was Freshman at Cowley. She went to the Rec Center Spring Break Camp again and we were thankful for the extra time together, because my school schedule was starting to interfere with our weekly dates. We had an end of the year slumber party and many more ice cream/Sonic dates. I introduced her to Camp Horizon that summer, where I was working. 
                                    

I remember that she spent an evening with the counselors one weekend. In that one evening we went swimming, road around in the gator, and made a Walmart trip. She started to open up and talk to more people than just me, her personality really started to shine through. Board Games became a staple of our time spent together, anywhere from Jenga to Sorry we were always happy playing games and helping my mom decorate the house for holidays. 
                                  

This was the year that we did High School Musical at Cowley, I thought it was stupid, but she was so excited to get to go backstage and meet all of the actors. Her 12th birthday fell during Arkalalah. We ended up with some awesome pictures with her in her Halloween costume, and me in my tiara!

                                    

 Sister Year 3: We celebrated our 3rd Anniversary by going to Wichita and seeing a movie in 3D with my friend Nicole and her Sister. We watch G-Force. Then we went to the mall and rode those stair thingies that she loved so much and I can't stand. We went to Build-a-Bear and made sister bears.


Christmas of 08 she decided to share her Christmas sleepover with her sisters. It was a very selfless act and an eventful night. She decided after that she wanted to keep that one to herself from then on.


I had to Camp Sit one weekend and she came out and joined me. We took lots of silly pictures and enjoyed having Camp all to ourselves.







There was another Spring Break Camp and she decided she was getting too old for it. We went and saw Daric go to Prom and experienced the Health Fair at the Fire Department.

We got together and celebrated her 13th Birthday and my Dad's birthday with some Mexican food. That year she asked for a purity ring for her birthday. I was so proud of her!


There were many opportunities in my family to hang out with little ones, especially at Christmas with all of my cousins around. Autumn always had fun with them.


Another Christmas Sleepover, more cookies, the annual sister book, and flannel pajamas.






Autumn really enjoys band:



The Camp Horizon Staff went to a Stellar Kart concert at Cowley College and we just happened to run into each other!



We went ice skating at some point that year and it was a blast!


These two go in here somewhere, not sure where but just some more of the fun we had that year.


Sister Year 4-7:
You can't forget our sonic trips and matching hair cuts!

Year four things started to get more hectic, my school schedule was insane and I had moved on to Southwestern in Winfield, and even though it was only 10 miles away it seemed like light years sometimes. She was also now in Middle School, which brought in a whole different realm of school activities from band to sports. I came home as often as I could. That summer she got to go to camp as a camper for the first time and it was awesome to see her for an entire week having fun and loving the place I loved so much. She started running Cross Country and I teased her that she should have chosen a sport that was at least fun to watch! She always laughed but for some reason loved to run. We got manicures that year for her birthday and just enjoyed being girls together.









At this point our times together really started getting scarce. Between work and College I was getting really busy and her event schedule was keep her equally occupied. 

January of 2012 things started changing. There were issues going on in Autumn's life that were big and painful. And there wasn't really a lot of ways to help her. School became hard, and the little ways she had been acting out over the years became more real. She started High School and struggled. She wouldn't turn her homework in and that caused her to fail a class and be grounded for the majority of the year. We emailed every single day because it was the only way I could consistently keep in contact with her. She got herself in enough trouble with school work that we did not get to celebrate our 6 year anniversary, no Christmas sleepover, no Call Christmas, no ice cream dates, or movie nights, and she never got to come see me in Hesston. 

It was a frustrating year and half for everyone involved. I know Autumn was hurting and acting out in pain and needing something. She felt alone and like no one cared, most of the time. 2 weeks ago things changed again and she ran away, this time she was gone for more than 24 hours. I have spent the last two days/ two weeks doubled over in pain and prayer for this beautiful young lady who is now 15. She was found late last night, and as I spoke with her aunt this morning, who she calls mom, I know that what is best for her is a change of scenery. I don't know where she is going or what is going to happen but I do know that this move ends our Big Brother and Big Sister match. So as I sit her looking back on the past seven years, it just seems insane to me. We are 2 months shy of our 7 year anniversary and I'm not ready for this to end. 

This young lady is such a part of my life, my family, and who I am. I have forgotten so many times to explain that we are not actually related. I mean she looks like me, so we might as well be related. But it is not blood that brought us to each other, or held us together all these years. We are much more than the current longest running match in Cowley County we are family. So this isn't over, and even though I'm battling those stupid thoughts that I failed her, I know that this match was made for a reason. Autumn has changed my life in so many ways. She has given me a purpose, helped me understand my calling, reminded me that life is not all about me, and that there is a bigger force involved in everything we do.

So these tears that are pouring out of my soul are for this incredible young lady.

Autumn,
  I wish I could be with you right now. I wish that I could fix this for you. I wish that I could take away all of your pain. I wish you could have a normal 15 year old's life. I wish that life had been good to you. But I know that wishes don't come true, but prayers do. I have prayed for you so much since I met you 7 years ago. The past two weeks you have been constantly in my prayers. The past 36 hours it was all I could to function because the only thing I knew how to do was pray for you. I prayed that God would keep you safe and bring you back so you could get the help and healing that you need. You are no longer that little 9 year old that I took for ice cream that day. Your life has been all kinds of Hell on Earth and somehow you are still pushing on. I pray that you will receive whatever it is you need to heal. I pray that you can feel God's presence in your life and that you can feel all of our prayers for you. I know you feel alone, but you're not. We are all still here for you, but sometimes the best thing is to let someone go. So please, I pray, get the help you need, stop scaring us, stop running, and don't ever, ever forget that:

YOU ARE LOVED
YOU HAVE A PURPOSE
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL
GOD MADE YOU AND LOVES YOU
I LOVE YOU

You will always be my sister, you will always own part of my heart, you will always be part of my family, and part of who I am. I love you more than words can say. I leave you now in the only arms that can hold you, protect you, guide you, and heal you. Lord, please hold her!