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I’m currently sitting at Starbucks in Louisville, waiting on Brian to get off work so that we can hang out. It’s weird to be in the same place as him, and it’s even weirder to think that after nearly five months of this relationship, we might actually experience something that resembles a normal date this weekend. BeStillMySoul.

I think I’m actually feeling brave enough today to blog about being in a relationship. Maybe.

I just got to Louisville yesterday, and we basically went straight to Brian’s community group for the evening last night. Over the course of our discussion, the topic of idolatry came up, and then it came up again during the separate guy and girl time. We were sharing different areas of idolatry and struggle that we face in our lives, and one of the things that came up over and over again was that we (the girls) all seem to struggle in some capacity with idolizing the next season of life. The single girls idolize the season of dating and engagement.  The engaged girls idolize marriage….and so on. And in our mind, every season becomes nothing more than a waiting period and a stepping stone to the next.  We crave this security and settled feeling, and we dream that it’s always just one season away from where we are. We crave answers to our questions.

I was sharing with the girls at the community group last night that I just keep looking for the season of answers. My journal is filled with one question after another. My mind is filled with thoughts that are racing way ahead of this season, trying to get answers to questions that I shouldn’t even be asking yet. And in the context of being in a dating relationship, I’m craving a season when I don’t have to start every statement with “if” and “when”.  I’m weary of waiting and transitioning and not knowing what is next, when it is, or what it will look like. And I’m weary of every answer bringing out a hundred new questions. I want to have fewer questions and more answers.

And it’s elusive. I always think that I’m going to get to this season of answers. And I keep running into more questions.

I’ve been reading a lot in Psalms recently, working my way through the Message version to gain some fresh perspective. And one of the things I’ve noticed over and over again is that it seems like the Psalms are full of David’s questions. Over and over again, I find these little clips of Scripture where David is asking big questions. But there aren’t a lot of answers. When will my enemies lose? When will I be safe again? And there’s not a lot in there to really answer the big questions that David was asking. Instead, what I’ve seen over and over again is that David’s questions mostly go unanswered. But instead of looking for answers and sitting in a place of discontentment, David goes back to what he knows about God’s character. He affirms that He is the rescuer. He is the help. He is faithful and unfailing and gracious and victorious. And even when David never gets answers to all of his questions, he trusts God’s heart for him.

I want to be like that. I think the Lord is okay with my questions. And I’ll continue to ask them. But when I can’t find answers, can’t find contentment in the season that He’s placed me in, I can go back to the fact that God’s character is unchanging. And while He may never allow that sense of security and that feeling of being settled and having answers, He is still worth trusting. He is still good. He is still faithful. He has the answers, and ultimately, He is the answer.

“…All of my life, in every season, You are still God, and I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship…”

I’ve been humming the tune of this little chorus I heard at the Desperation conference all morning…

…Romance me, oh Lover of my soul, to the song of all songs.

Dance with me, oh Lover of my soul, to the song of all songs…

They threw it into the “How He Loves” song, and it caught me off guard when I heard it a few weeks ago. My initial thoughts were mostly cynical because I could easily guess that half of the students around me had no idea exactly what they were singing so passionately about at that point in the service. And then, I got a little flustered by it because the idea of Christ as our “lover” or “husband” is not the most appealing metaphor for me. I get it. I don’t disagree with it. But I’ve always thought of myself as less than romantic, and the idea that Christ loves us in that way has been an idea that I’ve generally brushed off passively.

There have been a lot of things going on recently that have just driven me back to the Lord in a fresh way. Things outside of my control. Things happening in a way that was neither what I expected or desired.  A lot of questions and uncertainty and insecurity and frustration. All kinds of things that have driven me to my knees because I don’t know how else to deal with all of it. Burdens to be poured out in my journal. Questions that I don’t really want an answer to. Problems that don’t seem to have a winning solution.

And when I went to bed last night, thoughts running wild about all of it, I literally fell asleep with my journal laid out across my chest and my Bible tucked into my hand. And I woke up in almost the exact same position this morning.

It’s such a picture of the way He is pressing into me right now. When everything around me is chaos, when nothing seems certain or true or sure, when I am just done trying to figure it all out and done fighting to make everything work, I’m driven back to my Constant and my Keeper in the most intimate and tender ways. He carries the load for me. He sees and hears me. He speaks to my need. He brings rest to my mind. He calms my anxious spirit. And He sweeps me away with His overwhelming love.

He is romancing me in a way that I’ve never known before….to the song of all songs.

I’m having a hard time articulating why this season of ministry is so sweet.

That’s one of the reasons why I’ve had no time to blog in recent months. Every time I turn around, there is another opportunity to meet with a girl, another parent I can speak Truth over, another note to write, another party to plan…and it has become one of the sweetest seasons of ministry I’ve ever experienced.

We had a candidate in for our middle school pastor position last weekend. In the process of his interview, he asked this question to me: “What is your vision for what you want to happen at Woodmen Heights?”

And I stumbled over words for a few sentences, making up some terribly unarticulate statement about wanting to figure out the ins and out of multi-campus ministry and to create an environment where both believers and nonbelievers feel loved and welcome. As soon as I closed my mouth, I was embarrassed. I knew I hadn’t given him the succinct answer he was looking for. And I knew there were a few silent “I told you so” nods going around the room concerning my inability to give a clear vision statement for what I want to happen at my campus.

I’ve been flustered about that moment all week. I hate feeling like an idiot. And it definitely didn’t make it feel better to realize that some of the other staff in the room were holding back their disapproval over my inability to give a clear vision statement for my campus and ministry.  I know what all the leadership books say about having a clear vision statement. And I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But I think there is something to be said about being so busy creating a vision statement that we aren’t fulfilling our vision. And there is also something to be said about being so busy fulfilling our vision that we don’t have time to create a succinct vision statement.

And that’s where I’m at with my ministry these days. I don’t have a way to give a clear vision statement or my dream for the girls at Woodmen Heights. But when I get in the middle of a Sunday night service or our Wednesday night girls’ group, I can look around and think that this is it. When I get another phone call from the girl whose family is in shambles, I know that I’m living in the vision. When I get another late-night text message asking questions about how a middle school girl should be dealing with grown-up situations, I know this is it. And when a new sixth grade girl tells me that I help make church “wicked fun”, I know that I’m living in the vision I have for these girls.  I love these girls. I love this season of ministry. And when I think about what I want to happen in the next year of my ministry here, I think about right now…because this is the dream. Statement or no statement. I’m walking in the sweetest season of ministry right now, and I’m grateful for the way the Lord is fulfilling a vision before I even really know how to say it.

I found this quote this morning and thought it worthy of sharing. Felt like it is such a picture of the way I am experiencing God these days:

Intimacy with the Creator grows through sharing every realm of experience. I’ve wept bitterly with Him. I’ve screamed in frustration. Sometimes I thought He was going to break my heart in two. But I’ve also laughed out loud with Him. Wept with unspeakable joy. Left the chair and gone to my knees in awe. Squealed with excitement. I have been to every extremity and back with God. But I would tell you that He is the absolute joy of my life. I don’t just love Him. I love loving Him. Surrendering my heart to Him has not been a sacrifice.

Beth Moore, Living Free

Winter Camp is over.

A picture of our staff on the last day:

We had a fantastic weekend…took 390 students + 66 leaders + staff and band and a few other extra adults. I got somewhere in the mid-50s for middle school students from my campus. And that is an EPIC VICTORY for team Woodmen Heights.

I’ve been learning a lot about ministry lately…about my vision for it, my hope in it, my belief that this is exactly where I am called to in this season of my life. Over and over again, the Lord has been reminding me that there is nowhere else He wants me right now more than here. I was made for this job and this season.

Today was the first work day in our office without my boss, the middle school pastor. It was weird to even think that he is gone for good. I’m sure the reality of the transition will hit the first time I have a meltdown over some graphic design issue or the first time we’re stumped for a creative idea. He was a genius at that stuff.

But for now, I’m excited about the possibility of dreaming again. Being part of a ministry team is such a privilege. But one of the things I’ve felt most intensely in my job here is this distinct lack of ability to dream big. I’ve been told that I can have all the control and ownership that I’m willing to take…. but it must fit within a very specific, very pre-programmed student ministry. And that makes my own vision seem somewhat pointless.  There hasn’t been room for it anywhere.  It’s easy to agree with someone else’s vision for ministry, but it’s not easy to take it on as my own. It was his vision. And it was fantastic. But it wasn’t mine.

When I first came out here, I really just wanted to work with the girls’ ministry. I love-love-love discipling girls in middle and high school, and my original job description made it sound like that was all I was going to be doing…just living my dream. But that wasn’t really true. The middle school program needed running.  Routines were established. Family ministry and event planning and ministry partners became much more of my day-to-day job than anything having to do with my girls.  I’ve stayed busy doing just about anything and everything but dreaming big for these girls.

As we’ve started making this transition in our student team, I’m beginning to feel the vision creeping back into my veins. I have missed the hope and the motivation that it brings. But I’m beginning to dream again. And I’m so excited for the way the next few months look as I really dig into my own vision for my role here.

It’s exciting to ask the Lord for big dreams again… and there is nothing that makes me feel more alive than the idea of living in the vision that He has given me for this season of life. ILOVEMYJOB. And I love even more that He has given me both the desires of my heart and the vision to carry them out.

The brief update:

In list format, of course:

1. Alice came to visit. We went on a snowshoeing adventure. It was fantastic.

2. I went snowboarding…and looked exactly like all those people you’ve been watching on the Olympics. Well…the part where they wiped out often and it looked really painful? I looked like that part.

3. My boss announced his resignation as our middle school pastor. So we’re in the middle of some major transitions, and I’m on the list to teach a lot more in the next few months. We’re starting a series on sex and relationships in April, and I can’t wait to link you to the podcasts…gonna be a fun series!

4. We leave for Winter Camp in four days! YIKES. My plate is FULL this week, but I’m so excited about the chance to get away with our students. The Lord has been doing some cool things in our ministry here, and I really do want to sit down and blog about what I’m learning, but that will at least have to wait until tonight…maybe tomorrow.

5. I just twittered this true story: I caught myself this morning giving thanks to God for allowing someone to create the Sharpie Pen. I said it out loud. Not kidding. And then I realized how ridiculous it is that I’m so attached to one particular type of writing utensil.

6. Another true story: one of my middle school girls wants me to chaperone her school dance. I can foresee a great blog post about that coming in the next few months.

7. Last one. The Bachelor finale is tonight. Jake, if you are out there and listening, don’t pick Vienna. It will ruin the love story. Sincerely, a concerned fan. :)

Working on another post already about what the Lord has been teaching me lately in ministry. I promise it won’t be two more weeks until you see it!  

Eek. How did nearly two weeks pass since the last time I put up a post?

Oh, that’s right. I couldn’t think of anything to post about without sounding like Debby Downer. It’s been a rough series of days. Starting with a sick dog. And some drama at work. And my car breaking down for the 14th time in the past year.  Do you ever feel like there are seasons when you just can’t catch a break anywhere???? BECAUSE I DO.

So, in light of the terrible week I’ve had, it’s time for some blog randoms that will remind me of at least a few highlights.

1. My dog has been sick every other week for the past two months, and we finally figured out that the princess just needs special food. Miserable to pay another vet fee. But having my sweet puppy back to normal has been well worth the aggravation.

2. I got an extra day off from work today. So this will be a 3-day office week, and next week will be the same since next Monday is a holiday. Gotta love those presidents. I surely am looking forward to celebrating them.

3. I’m almost done with the 5th book of the Harry Potter series. A decade after they originally came out, my friend finally convinced me to read them. I might be 24, but hello, THEY ARE REALLY GOOD? What is happening to me?

4. We have less than a month until Winter Camp. And then two weeks later I’m going to visit friends in Vegas. And then a month later, I’m going home for Tiff’s wedding. Those are the things that keep me moving from day to day right now.

5.  It snowed all morning yesterday. And all morning today. And the great part? I haven’t had to drive in yet. I HATE driving when it’s snowy and icy, but I still love the snow…especially when I can just stay out of it.

Oh man. Harry Potter is calling. What are days off for…if not for reading children’s books that were created for people half my age???

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