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Welcome to Winter Camp preparation season…and welcome to the reason why I didn’t  need a master’s degree to do my job.

Bahaha. Wish you could be there to see the rest of it. Let’s just say that Bambi and I have a few obstacles coming in our near future. Our road trip might be more of an adventure than a race.

Remember this from last year?

I’m totally exhausted right now. I was at church from 9:30am til 9:30pm setting up, having this event, and tearing down. And that was after nearly two full weeks of details and planning and organizing supplies. CHAOS.

Tonight was our annual iSpy event. It’s hard to explain in any sort of short format, but the general idea is that students are either smuggling diamonds from South Africa to France, or they are arresting diamond smugglers and sending them to the CIA prison. We set up a whole building of our church campus to be different game areas where diamond smuggling could take place…a casino game room, a movie theatre, a techno glow-room, a Hawaiian restaurant. Every room is themed with lights and music and food and decorations, and students compete to see who can smuggle the most diamonds, use the best trading strategies, or make the most arrests.

In short, I’ve spent the past two weeks channeling Jennifer Garner on Alias. Add “Pro Spy Strategist” to my resume, please.

The set-up and take-down for this kind of thing is intense. And the students made a huge mess. And we probably spent quite a chunk of money on supplies and free food and skit props.  And it’s just two hours long, so it’s not even like taking the students on a retreat or to a camp.

While Jordan (our new intern) and I were cleaning up tonight, I was reminded of something he said in one of his interviews with us. When we asked him why he would be excited about making the switch from a high school ministry to a middle school one, he said this. “I think that there is something really cool about being able to teach younger teenagers something that they don’t fully understand the value of yet. They may not know how significant the stuff they are learning is…but if we can teach them when they are young, maybe they’ll understand it’s value later.”

I wrote down what he said in the middle of the interview because I thought it was so significant. It was echoing in my mind while we were taking down the decorations and vaccumming up the movie theatre popcorn.

I doubt any of my middle school students really understand the full value of being a part of the body of Christ. They have little sense of their desperate need for Godly community. They have no idea why they should get out of bed every Sunday morning to make the trek to church in sometimes snowy weather. 

But doing crazy iSpy events and making a huge mess in our church building and spending a chunk of our budget to get lots of kids there…that is teaching them something that they won’t fully understand the value of until later.

We’re teaching them that they have a place in the body of Christ…and that the community of believers is something worth being a part of. And even if our strategy involves crazy things like a diamond-smuggling spy game, it’s cool to be a part of.

ILOVEMYJOB.

Mind games.

What if they aren’t lies?

“And we take captive every thought…”

But what if the thoughts we’re trying to take captive are truth…ugly, hurtful, and terrifying – but true?

I genuinely don’t struggle in seasons like this one to believe that God is who He says He is. I trust that He is faithful and that He is working out His purposes in me. I really do believe that – even when I don’t see daily evidence of it.

And, for the most part, I think I can believe that I am who God says I am. At least in the understanding of the way He sees me. I know I am loved, protected, and treasured in His eyes.

But it’s seasons like this one, seasons of struggle and questions and loneliness, that bring out the mind games. I battle back and forth with all these thoughts. Truth and lies about insecurities, relationships, my character and depth…and on and on and on.

And I’ve been wrestling with this question for several days…what if they aren’t lies? What if it’s just truth that hurts?

I’m sometimes quick to think that every negative self-thought that enters my mind must be a lie. And I’ve spent years working on my ability to “take captive every thought.” I’m good at repeating the mantras…God is who He says He is. I am who God says I am. But what if (apart from what I know about the way God sees me), I really am awkward? What if I really do come across as standoffish or arrogant or judgmental? What if it’s true that I’m not good at community or authenticity or relationships? What if I really am needy?

I’ve been learning a lot about myself lately, a lot about the difference between hurtful truths and lies. I’m seeing all this stuff in my life, and it burns to really evaluate it honestly instead of chalking it up to spiritual warfare and lies. It hurts. And there are moments when I want to go back to believing that some of these thoughts running through my mind really are lies – that I’m not messed up, not failing at something, not measuring below average.

But the more I’ve wrestled with the Lord, the more discernment I find about the ugly realities of my brokenness. They are real. They are there. And really taking captive my thoughts looks a lot more like facing the truth head-on instead of hiding behind it as a spiritual quick-fix for negative thinking.  There are certainly lies that float through my mind, waiting to take root and wreak havoc in my life. But there are tough truths to be found in there too, things that need to be dealt with, hurting in one season to help me avoid hurting again in others.

“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” Ps. 51:6

I just finished watching The Bachelor with some girls from work.

Don’t judge me. I love it.

I try to pretend sometimes that I only love the show because of the amusement I find in girl drama. In fact, I’ve told people on plenty of occassions that I think that the drama between girls is more of an attraction than the idea that one of them might actually find true love with some beautiful man on a reality TV series.

It’s not true though.

The drama is interesting for sure. But it’s usually the love story that makes me go back for more, forsaking every attempt to be profound and intellectual by watching a cheesy, made-for-reality-TV love story.  

I like the love story.

You missed a lot of my life in the past few months…starting with a failed dating relationship.  It never got super-serious, and I had major questions from the beginning. But it was fun – and exciting – and it brought out all these hopes and dreams in my own life that I’m not sure I really knew existed until now. And now, post-relationship, I’m not sure what to do with them.

I’ve never been the girl who has hated this season of singleness. Even if I’ve always known that I wanted to be married at some point in the distant future, I’ve never really been dissatisfied by the lack of dates or boys in my life. I’ve been okay with being a little independent. I’ve been fine with doing my own thing for awhile. 

Then I had a boyfriend. Now I don’t. And my passive acceptance of this season of singleness is over.

All these hopes and desires and dreams I have of falling in love and having my own love story are awake…and empty.  It’s frustrating beyond what I could have imagined.  It’s not him that I’m missing the most. I miss the hope…I miss the hope that maybe it’s my turn to know love, my turn to find a best friend to do life with.  So I read a magazine about celebrity relationships. And look through hundreds of pictures of my friends’ engagments and weddings on Facebook. And watch The Bachelor.  And try to ignore this profound dissatisfaction as if it’s not the center of my journal writing these days.

This is a whole new world for me. I didn’t think I would ever be this girl – and now I am. And I’m not sure what to do with it. I feel needy even writing this out. And for whatever reason, I’m embarrassed to take my turn in the season of Single&Dissatisfied. But I couldn’t help but think about exactly this while driving home tonight.

I like the love story.

And I want a shot at one of my own.

Well.

Long time no see, blogging world.

I made plans to get back in the swing of things with a thoughtful and elaborate post on why I haven’t blogged in recent months and why I suddenly feel the need to do so again. But after three days of sifting my thoughts on the topic, I decided that there is no important reason… and that is neither thoughtful nor elaborate.

So, more-or-less (emphasis-on-less) important things on my mind tonight:

 – I just got a new rug for my apartment today. I don’t have a roommate right now, so it’s currently the most exciting thing going on in here. It cost me several body parts and my firstborn child to buy, so if you come over to see it, I’m going to need you to  say, “OMG!” and “Where is that from!? I NEED one!” like it’s the cutest rug you’ve ever seen in your life. It is. But you still need to say it.

– Today, my schedule looked like this: coffee, work, gym, store, eat a whole box of fruit snacks on the way home from said store, clean. Which one of these does not fit? At least they are fortified with Vitamin C.

– I read the entire Twilight series in December. I started it once last year, and then I never got around to finishing it. So I started over and read it in full. Up until the last book, I thought it was relatively harmless. And then during the last book, I was literally nauseated at times and decided without doubt that I will NEVER recommend it for any of my girls. Nasty. And dark. And no, I do not think Taylor Lautner is a cute werewolf.

–  I spent some time with Long Hollow people last weekend before I came back to Colorado post-holidays. I felt so old. Well, I didn’t feel old exactly. I spent some time with all of my favorite girls, and they looked significantly older than when I was last there…which in turn, of course, made me realize that I must also have gotten significantly older since the last time I saw them. Boo on that thought. I am quickly approaching a quarter-life crisis.

– Church stuff has just entered it’s busiest season for us. I’m finally getting another guy intern for the middle school team at Woodmen Heights, and then, just for fun, we thought it would be a great idea to schedule approximately 87 events in the next two months. Hope the new guy settles in fast. And I hope my new calendar magically makes me as organized as I sometimes appear at the office.

– Speaking of The Office, this is an update worth mentioning. Since the last time I blogged, I have watched every single episode of The Office. And I love it. Hey Mr. Scott, watcha gonna do? Watcha gonna do? Make our dreams come true! Bahahahah. Also (sadly), I also watched all five seasons of Alias and am about to start a new obsession with LOST. Sometimes I miss cable TV…so I comfort myself with entire seasons of slightly dated TV hits.

Okay. I’m back for real. My goal is 2x a week most weeks, so I should be posting something again in the very near future. For your sake, I hope it is something with a little more substance. 🙂

Blog again.

I’m back.

I am utterly wrapped up in a season of refining fire right now.

I’ve faced it at every corner and in every direction. All this crap and garbage and nonsense has somehow sifted its way to the top, into the obvious, into the open.

And He has been burning it out of my life, one painful moment at a time.

The past few months have just been odd. One kind of drama after another, roadblock after dilemma after frustration. 

It’s exhausting.

And refining.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt such a strong sense of refining in my life. At every corner, I have felt a strong sense of the Lord’s calling to complete and timely obedience.  It’s like my eyes have been opened to all the depravity and nastiness of my own heart because of the hundreds of times a day that I totally blow it. And removing the garbage has felt both sacrificial and painful at times.

But in the midst of the refining fire, I have been overwhelmed at the evidence of God’s sweet favor. For every instance of drama, there has been a word of encouragement from an unexpected acquaintance. For every frustration, there has been an alternative solution that only God could orchestrate. And for every dilemma, I’ve found something sweet in the Word to confirm the exact step I should take.

Intense refinement. Sweet favor.

My mind has been stuck tonight on the passage in John 12 that talks about Mary pouring the expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus, cleaning his feet with her hair. It seems like kind of an odd thing to do, and the humility required to do something so lavish and awkward is something that I feel like I can identify with more and more in seasons like this one. She was broken enough to pour herself out at his feet, submitting to the refining fires.

And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (verse 3)

Her brokenness was marked by a sweet fragrance of surrender, His refining process marked by sweet evidence of His favor. I’ll be glad when this season of intense refining is complete, but until then, the fragrance of brokenness in my life is overwhelmed by the sweet, sustaining favor of the Lord in each of my days right now.