let me pause and brag on some people today.
i’ve been thinking a whole lot lately about transitions in ministry and in leadership, on legacies and longevity. when the primary founder of a particular ministry steps down or relocates to another facet of service, the switch to new leadership can strengthen or divide those who are left to continue serving. over the last several weeks, i’ve witnessed two such ‘success’ stories in this realm.
one the youth pastors i’ve been volunteering under at switch is transitioning to a new role at our church‘s oklahoma city campus, where he and his wife will have the privilege of focusing more on ministering to students’ parents and families. it’s such an exciting season in tim and nicole‘s lives! for the past three years, i’ve been equipped and encouraged as a student ministry leader by tim’s guidance. in his years at the edmond campus, he’s built up a solid and faithful core of volunteers who i know won’t miss a beat over these next several months of transition because of his effective leadership.
i’m extremely close with my former pastor from my home church and his family. i love going to their house and spending weekends with them, and i count their daughter as one of my closest friends. before coming to pastor at my home church in southwest oklahoma, they pioneered a wildly successful ministry in small town that has benefitted hugely from their work. they organized a food pantry and free clinic that continues to operate out of the church in a community of roughly 250. loaves ‘n fishes serves over 600 low-in come families throughout the county, and functions solely through donations, volunteers, and God’s provision. jeff and cara’s founding vision of justice and servanthood to the least of these is thriving, several years after handing over leadership to its volunteers. just look at how full this section of the pantry is!
how were tim and nicole able to release the reigns of their student ministry to others, without it crumbling? how has the food pantry that jeff and cara created prospered tenfold since they’ve released leadership to others in the church? for each couple, building up leaders to take ownership of the ministry they volunteer in was essential. jeff said it best, that ministry for the moment never lasts. leadership with longevity, i believe, is one of the keys to success in any ministry. the ability to step down from a leadership position and see it continue to soar in the hands of those you equipped must be one of the most incredible feelings this side of heaven.
when have you seen this exemplified in your ministry or personal life?
my church and i spent time yesterday serving at a splendid ministry called all things baby, which a woman from our campus started in her garage last year. i cannot brag on this ministry enough! courtney had a desire to combat abortion, and He has overwhelmed her prayers by providing both a warehouse to house clothing, diapers, furniture, toys [you name it!] for new mothers, and also an office where she will hopefully minister to hurting women who have experienced past abortions with bible studies and love. part of our group painted this new office yesterday, but only after many of us wrote prayers on the walls for this new place. i wish i had taken a picture before two coats of beige were slathered on, but i’m sure you can picture the beauty of it all regardless. :)
today at church we sang one of my absolute favorite songs, God of this city. it was all i could do to keep from letting the happy tears flow [though they definitely let loose later in the message – invasions has been an incredible series!] as i thought of so many places the lyrics remind me of – my hometown of mountain view, my college abode in shawnee, the edmond/oklahoma city communities i’ve invested in these last two years, and istanbul. this city captured my heart in just two short weeks back in 2005. my vision is there, my dreams are with the turks, and a little piece of me remained there as our plane took off of the soil. as i copy and paste these lyrics, let me also leave with you one of my favorite photographs from that trip. my former youth minister’s wife peeked her camera around the corner of this tiny street in an instanbul neighborhood and snapped a precious piece of time as we prayerwalked. He is the God of this city, and such bigger things than we can envision are already in preparation – for istanbul, for oklahoma city, for your hometown and mine. let’s join in and be a part of what He’s doing.
You’re the God of this city
You’re the King of these people
You’re the Lord of this nation
You’re the Light in this darkness
You’re the Hope to the hopeless
You’re the Peace to the restless
there is no one like our God
there is no one like our God
for greater things have yet to come
and greater things are still to be done in this city
greater things are still to come
and greater things are still to be done in this city
this past year brought me new responsibilities that i never expected to come my way so soon. one of these is a position as the what’s next coordinator for switch at the edmond campus of lifechurch.tv, where i have the opportunity to disciple new believers and follow up with them on their spiritual journey. discipleship is something i am deeply passionate about, especially when it comes to the youth i work with. it is so amazing to be a tiny part in raising up a biblically literate and spiritually mature group of kids! in the last two months at switch, He has allowed me to become close with a group of several high school girls who are all close friends themselves. they approached me together one week after switch to talk about recommitting their lives to following Christ, and He has opened up a great line of communication between us since. each girl has been faithfully attending church on the weekends and wednesday evenings, and their excitement at discovering new verses that are relevant to whatever they’re experiencing at a given time is so delightful to witness! last night at switch, one of the girls expressed an interest in getting more involved at the church and finding a place to serve there. i was able to get her into contact with coordinators from lifekids, and i’m excited to see where this leads her! to me, this is such a demonstration of her growth in the last several months. one of the biggest fruits of faith is service to others in His name, and i cannot tell you how warm and fuzzy it makes me to get to see that emerge from behind the scenes. =)
okay addison, i’m copying some of your creativity today! slipping into another january is always an exciting, unknown moment. and, being my retrospective self, i’d like to pass along a few things that made this year what it was. i have a whole new appreciation for the past twelve months after looking back at this list. =)
- began my second semester of college with a break-up i thought would surely kill me
- took my first class in the honors program at obu
- maintained a 4.0
- initiated my last year as an official teen in february
- experienced further heartbreak from my first love
- attended the memorial service of his precious little cousin on my birthday
- realized i had the most loving and supportive friends and family [once again] as a result of my darkest hour
- spent priceless weekends with family who had been on the west coast for far too long :]
- had a good ole red dirt night at a randy rogers band concert with my best hometown friends
- initiated into the phi eta sigma national honor society
- continued serving with switch at lifechurch.tv and discovered amazing ministry opportunities
- went on a mission trip to eureka springs with my switch kids
- helped construct a kickin’ gravel driveway on said mission trip =)
- drove to phoenix with my sister, niece, and mom, and watched my sweet cousin marry his soulmate under palm trees
- got published in the bison
- played on a few slot machines with my mom and her best friend from college, hehehe
- experienced a medical scare that tested me financially and spiritually
- watched my brother successfully run his second full marathon – complete with hand-painted signs and loud cheers at almost every mile marker =)
- received scholarships that were blissfully unexpected
- watched a dear friend from back home graduate and accomplish great things
- craved an apology which i was sure would fix everything
- served as a team leader for the first time at super summer
- received the apology i had been craving, and remained unsatisfied
- lived in edmond for a summer
- became a member of the lifechurch.tv prayer team
- saw another close friend marry the sweetest girl in all of texas
- worked at a new place may through august and met splendid new people
- began doing on-stage activities at switch
- witnessed the greatest fireworks show of my life on independence day
- served as a sponsor for the first time at falls creek
- went to the mountain view-gotebo free fair and saw many old friends
- started serving at fuse
- began my third semester of college
- caught the domestic bug
- started teaching conversation classes with the international students at obu
- became the switch what’s next coordinator
- began a new job at the wellness center
- went on a retreat with sweet friends and opened up my heart
- participated in my first race for the cure with my family
- spent fall break with my mom on a girls’ trip to branson
- published in the bison again
- voted in my first presidential election
- learned how to play texas-hold-’em
- learned my sister is pregnant again!
- survived my first semester of western civ with an a
- realized i won’t find happiness if i won’t let go
- rekindled an old, dear friendship
- wrote a blues song =)
- learned a few french phrases
- maintained a 4.0 again
- discovered a love for the food network
- played the heck out of hungry hungry hippos with my precious nieces
Filed under church, college life, family, favorite things, love, missions, pals, politics, switch, travel, work
i have so much to say and so little ability with which to articulate it all. amidst a busy weekend of studying for what just might be the death of me, a welcomed break came in the form of such a familiar routine today: church. [i know, routine is such an awful word to describe the assembly of His body, but don’t you agree that at times we allow it to get that way? i’ll add that to an ever-growing list of things to erradicate for 2009.] i love my church and have invested alot of time and effort into the goings-on there that i am passionate about. this particular morning evoked such a tidal wave of emotions that i certainly was not expecting, and i fear that if i do not take the time to record it all, it will soon become just another sunday that i pack away into a box. so, here goes.
the worship set was gorgeous-as always-with an unplugged version of some of my favorite christmas songs. i had almost forgotten this was the weekend for child dedications, though, and as the first noel began its first few chords, couples began assembling on the stage with their precious babies and toddlers in tow. the entire concept of dedicating one’s life to raising his or her child in the ways of God and making that commitment publically is so radically wonderful. i couldn’t stop smiling at the sweet baby girl who looked in kelly and i’s direction as her mom bounced her softly, and i almost thought happy tears were going to flow if i didn’t swallow that lump in my throat. but then i felt a twinge of sadness, envy even. i stared at all of the beautiful couples and their perfect gifts and wondered if i would ever get to stand in their shoes. this is a fear which plagues me almost daily, in which i picture myself perpetually unwed and, as surely will follow, alone. my joy for my siblings’ and friends’ families sometimes turns to an embarassing, private jealousy and sorrow for what i fear i may never get to experience.
the message, i then thought, would surely take my mind off of this little fear. we started our second week of a phenomenal series on prayer, and as i began circling the verses we referenced, God peeled back my blinders to new truths i needed to understand. craig told us that our relationships with others have a huge impact on our prayer life. simple, right? but i, presumed to be semi-mature in the realm of spiritual things, never before considered how my grudges effect my communication with God. mark 11:25 says, “but when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” oh brother. so this means i have to let go of the things he did and said that continue to cause my heart so much hurt? will You empower me to release my bitterness for this heartache and forgive him? my mind raced and was, at the same time, filled with peace. the next part of the message led us to proverbs, where He confronted me with a verse that wasn’t even part of our study! proverbs 16:1 spoke directly to the fear i let steal my joy earlier during worship: “we can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.” my plans of marriage and motherhood may or may not be in His framework for my life, and ultimately it is His answer to that prayer that is right. oh brother againnnnn.
next came fuse, the fifth and sixth grade ministry i and my college friends serve with after our own church experience. what was the message in there about? fear. that’s right. triple whammy. at the conclusion of the video teaching, brian asked if we would allow our fear to keep us from experiencing the adventures of life that are right before us. no, i thought, no they won’t. i still strongly desire to fall in love again and have it last forever, to bring children into a home of faith and love. but i also have to accept that whether or not that falls in line with God’s plan for my life, i will be okay.
so, while i may have a few tears in the shower tonight, i will eventually wipe them away and remember that God did not give me a spirit of fear or timidity. i will try my darndest to play with and love on my nieces without pausing to remind myself that i may never have a daughter of my own. i will go to my friends’ beautiful weddings and not feel heavy-hearted at the possibility i may never wear that dress. i will remember that i have an amazing circle of family and dear friends who give me constant laughter, and a future that will likely bring me more adventure than i can fathom now. and i will realize that the greatest Love of all has been mine all along.
Filed under authentic faith, church, college life, family, fear, fuse, love, pals, patience, prayer, scripture
those who know Your name trust in you, for you, o Lord, do not abandon those who search for you. // psalm 9:10
this week we wrapped up an amazing series at my church called practical athiest, and one of the final verses our pastor addressed was this beautiful one from the psalms of david. believing in and intimately knowing God are two very different things, and one of the most telling signs of our intimacy with Him is demonstrated by what we call Him. craig asked us to consider what name we call our God, and that that name would reveal the level of intimacy we have with Him. i started thinking about all that i have called upon Him with, trying to weigh the level of holiness each name might represent. but to tell you the truth, putting all of His names on a scale like that didn’t seem quite fair after awhile. different seasons in our lives will produce different designations for this incomprehensible God. rather than trying to pinpoint the most personal names for Him, maybe examining the ones i have addressed Him within the context of life’s seasons is just as revealing and challenging of an exercise.
heart-mender: remember when i came to You so desperate, begging for You to hold my heart in your hands and get me through that hard night? You stitched me back together again.
emmanuel: God with us. how precious those words are to me. it is this attribute of Your character that helps me understand all of the rest. You are in our midst.
everlasting: as i have watched other things crumble, – friendships, efforts, love, even dreams – i know that You will not. You are the strong one who will uphold me without tire.
daddy: whether using this as a code name during out-loud prayers in hostile nations or during appeals from my most vulnerable state, “daddy” represents such a wild, uninhibited love that i hope will always refresh my words to You.
king: recognizing Your lordship over me is not always a simple task. though i hate to admit it, i think i have a stubborn seed in me at times. :] but i have discovered such freedom in recognizing Your kingship and reign in my life. thank You for that.
sanctuary: You have been my hiding place for so long. even as You protect me, though, You teach me to not keep silent the things You whisper in my ear.
husband: a lover for the lonely You are. i have asked You so many times for someone to walk beside me in my future; let me not forget that in the mean time You are the only companion who can satisfy.
what are some of your favorite names for God?
what seasons of your life do they represent?