Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weeding and Pruning

Over the course of the year I have felt like God has been teaching me about rest.  I mean, when we started 2014 and I asked him what my word for the year was, that’s what I felt like he gave me.  Toward the beginning, he showed me that I am allowed to rest.  I took a month of from the ministries I am involved in.  Nothing fell apart.  I mean, there were a few things that needed to be adjusted and fixed when I came back, but nothing too drastic. 

During the summer, I feel like God was showing me that I can find moments of rest in the craziness.  And also that it’s ok to be protective of those moments.  He also showed me why rest is so important.  It’s like; I tried to love people out of my own strength.  I tried to make myself be there for them, and take care of them while I myself was falling apart at the seams.  I missed things then.  I was so busy trying to hold myself together so I could take care of them that I missed a lot of opportunities to be there for my friends.

For the last month I have felt like September 1st was going to mark the beginning of a new lesson in my life.  So far that has proven to be true.  About a week ago I felt like God gave me a heads up that this was going to be a season of weeding and pruning in my life.  God is going to pull up those things in my heart that don’t need to be there so he can plant good things.  And he is going to prune the areas of my life that are producing fruit so that they will produce a bigger harvest.  Since seeing that, I have had some mild anxiety about this new lesson.  I feel like it’s going to hurt.  I had no idea how badly.

I have felt like my soul has been in chaos recently.  Like, every few days I feel like my soul is just getting the shit kicked out of it.  You know that feeling that you get when you are somewhere you are unfamiliar with, and then you get separated from the people you are with?  That panic and fear that just consumes all of you?  That is what I feel deep in the core of who I am.  I lose sight of myself.  

Tonight, I was thinking about a lot of things and nothing in particular when I felt the tug on my heart that God wanted to tell me something.  So, I asked him to speak up.  “Kate, there are a lot of things from your past that we need to deal with.”  That’s what I heard.  I have always thought that I was over most of my history and had moved on.  Apparently I was wrong.  So, it looks like I’m in for a painful couple of months.  I know in the end it will be good.  I am just praying for strength and peace in the meantime.

"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  Philippians 1:6

Sunday, June 1, 2014

It's 4:45am, Don't Expect This To Be Super Coherent

Friday night I went to Chris' house for a worship night.  Three of the boys played guitar, one guy played the cajon, and the rest of us sang.  It was super laid back, but I know for me it was exactly what I needed.

At one point in the night I looked around and realized the amazing work God was doing in each of our lives.  I've been having a lot of conversations recently about what makes a team work well, and the best way to lead particularly in the context of church.  Our church is going through A LOT of changes, and let me just tell you that it is not comfortable.  But as I looked around the circle and saw my teammates from Impact and other brothers and sisters in Christ faces as they worshiped I suddenly had hope that we could get through this rough patch.  

I'm starting to learn that the only thing we need is for God to be our focus 100% of the time.  If we can continue to worship Him through all of the drama, politics and pain then He will come through.  I'm starting to really grasp that God really does love our kids more than we do.  When I looked at my friends in the circle I could remember a time when they each were one of my students (other than one of Chris' friends who has started to hangout with us, that is.)  I can remember when the times when I wasn't a good friend or leader to them.  None of it was ever on purpose, but there were times I hurt them, or they hurt me.  If their spiritual maturity relied entirely on me, they would have been screwed.  But that's not how God works, is it?

Over the last couple years I have watched God what has done in the lives of those high school students who were more interested in playing Ultimate Frisbee than they were learning something new about God.  He is turning them into college kids who voluntarily pray for each other and who earnestly seek God's face.

When I think of where I was in my faith when I was their age I know that they are light years ahead of me.  They are hearing God call them to do things, and they jump to it.  Right now one of the boys (19) is in Slovenia doing a 6 week mission with Cru.  Another guy  (19) is getting ready to go to Haiti, this is after he went to India earlier this year.  My sister (20) is studying the Bible with one of her friends, and is so comfortable inviting people to come to church with her.  One of the other girls (19) in our group has been on mission in Russia 4 or 5 times now.  Another girl (21) is getting ready to go to Burundi for a year.  We have people studying to be teachers, and others who want to go into the military, another who wants to run tech at our church.  All of these things are callings from God.  They already are hearing him so much better than your average 20 year old.  

I am so thankful that God has been doing such incredible work in their lives.  If this is where they are now in their early 20s, I can't wait to see where they are when they are in their 40s.  For now, though, I will enjoy watching them grow up, and continue to worship our God along with them.

Monday, January 20, 2014

One Word Project

Its interesting how easily what we do can become who we are.  

I have been totally exhausted recently.  I know I had at one point said that I was going to forever trust God with the ministries I am involved in, but that was easier said than done.  The worst part was that I didn't even realize I had put the burden back on my shoulders.  Either I am addicted to stress, or Satan has done a bang up job of messing with my head.  I had fallen back into the thought pattern that said it all was up to me, and I had to make the ministry great.  Somewhere along the way my view of reality became incredibly narrow.  That caused me to feel even more responsible, anxious and tired.  I felt like everything I did was criticized and picked apart, nothing was good enough.  

This is the state I was in when I talked to a friend about New Year Resolutions.  She said she wasn't doing those this year, but rather picking one word and focusing on that.  I loved that idea, so I stole it.  After a little prayer, I came to realize my word for 2014 is REST.  

I guess God wants to start this year off with a bang because very soon after coming to my word, I felt like He asked me to take time off from the ministries I am involved in/leading.  I was not pleased with that, at all.  I started telling him all the reasons that was a silly idea.  'I don't want to take time away from my kids.  I love them, and they need me.  Plus, what am I apart from youth ministry...?"  That's where I stopped.  I don't know when it happened, but my identity has shifted from who God says I am to what I do for God.  

This is not a new problem for God.  Jesus had a friend who seemed to face a very similar issue.  Our story is found in the tenth chapter of The Gospel of Luke.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:38-42)

In the same way that Martha though serving was the most important, I have put my work in ministry above my actual relationship with God.  That's not to say I don't believe, but rather I have been knocked off my center.  

I think of it like this; a washing machine that is off center will still clean clothes, but it wastes energy by bumping into the sides.  A well balanced washing machine is more efficient.  I need to recenter my life on Christ and make our relationship the priority.  I will be much more effective if I do; not because of me, but because God will be able to use me when he chooses to.  I (hopefully) won't get in the way so much.

So, I'm taking a month off from all youth ministry.  This month is going to be incredibly hard.  I am already a mess and I'm only 4 days into it.  But, I'm going to trust God to take care of everything, and pray that I am well rested and recharged during this time off.  Like a friend of mine pointed out, even God rested after creating everything. (Genesis 2:2-3)  Who am I to think I am above the need to rest?  If it's good enough for God, it is more than good enough for me.