Friday, May 21, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Today I accept a job with the Young Life Southwest Region. A week ago, this position didn't even exist. Five days ago, I didn't even know it existed. Three days ago, I thought I was going to be pursuing my masters come August. And two days ago, God had me at His feet in wonder and awe. For the first time in a year, I feel like my life has direction and I feel freed in that. I have learned so much during this time of waiting. Much of these lessons, I have yet to figure out. My life is about to change and change fast. As I step into this new journey in my life, I am excited to see how God challenges, stretches, and uses me. Woooohooo...it's going to be a fun ride!
Today these are things I am praising Him for:
Good friends who love me
Peace which transcends all understanding
Joy that only comes from Him
They will be given over to the sword
Monday, April 12, 2010
I know, I know...it has been nearly a month since I last posted. For those of you who love me enough to be faithful to this little cyber thing...I am oh so sorry for boring you with my life.
Today as I was driving to my office and on a slightly more serious phone call, a Scottsdale Unified School District "short bus" drove through the intersection in front of me. There in the front seat was a sweet little boy with his window down about half way and his face outside of the window. At first it seemed as though it was a common thing to see, given I have seen my fair share of yellow buses in my life being the Mountainside Middle School official crossing guard for nearly a year. This was no ordinary head-hanging-out-of-the-window sighting. No, this little boy, maybe 6 or 7 or 8, had his eyes closed with a huge grin on his face. He looked just like little puppy on the way to the dog park so excited that his jowls are flapping and his slobber was streaming down the windows and doors of his owner's car.
His simple joy made me giggle and interrupted my phone conversation. SP understood, though.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
1) Old friendships made new again. God has the ability to redeem.
2) A catch up coffee date with Kathy. She is one of those friends that speaks straight into my soul.
3) TNDC. We are making our way through the New Times Best Phoenix Restaurants. So far, we have three down. Yummy food is the best!
1) In finishing up my paper for the Pastoral Counseling class I took in January, I was reminded of few things: I am chosen. I am valuable. I am purposeful. I am a sinner. God's grace is all I need. Simple, yes, but nonetheless, truth.
2) Watching 60 high schoolers get pumped to get hunted down and then nailed with a water balloon.
3) Driving around town with the windows completely down and Patty Griffin up.
Friday: Having dinner served to us as a WyldLife family. We are blessed by the Ujanos.
Saturday: So much to celebrate! A great hike for Brooks' 35th Birthday and a fun 80's bridesmaids outing in Old Town Scottsdale to celebrate Katelin's last days as a bachelorette.
Sunday: Family. I am so fortunate to have a family that loves me. Here is where I know I am purposeful.
Friday, March 12, 2010
1) Memories of all the fun shenanigans I had living in the Young Life House. I was so blessed to have such a great college experience with good people.
2) Feeling like I was back in college again being on the U of A campus. I don't miss "school," but I do miss the school atmosphere.
3) Having great conversation and experiences all day long with friends.
1) Seeing how He is working on hearts.
2) Lunch with VR and losing time in the midst of good conversation.
3) Knowing I'll never be good enough for God (hard but good), but that He still loves me and sent Jesus for me.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
1) Realizing the lack of work accomplished for my Pastoral Counseling class is not as much as I remembered.
2) Exercising with my sister. Although I may hate it while I'm doing a million squats, there's a sense of pride and accomplishment when I'm done.
3) Spending time with good friends over a new (and yummy) find. Sala Thai, thank you for providing a great environment for conversation and burning my taste buds in the meantime.
I guess I'm getting busier and busier (or lazier and lazier) when it comes to updating this thing. Some days I don't even think anyone cares, but that's not the point, right? I remind myself that I started writing about God's goodness because if forced me to recognize Him in all parts of my life.
This is for Monday:
1) Having a convo over lunch and getting pumped for the upcoming season in Young Life. I know He has great things planned.
2) Knowing that this plethora of rain will bring green mountains and tons of spring flowers!
3) A long overdue dinner with the Allman family. Their friendship is real and refreshing.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Gosh, what a crazy week. Here is my long list of the last 7 days I have missed. Starting from Monday then finishing up todays.
30. Laughing so hard I couldn't stand up anymore at DMYL Meat Olympics. Who knew chicken shotputting could be so hysterical?
31. Traveling in an RV with 9 other very fun folks. Humor is the same even across four different generations.
32. Getting to know the group I will be spending a month serving with at Woodleaf in July. I have a feeling God has some great stuff in store for us.
33. Praying over a hurting high schooler as she cries in my arms and feeling an overwhelming sense that God had us both in his arms. She is a blessing in my life.
34. Watching over 2,500 high schoolers from all over Arizona rock out to "Don't Stop Believin'" at the All Arizona Young Life Club. Forty of those were Desert Mountain Wolves (The most we've ever brought outside of our own club). "The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few."
35. Spending some long overdue time with my mom. She understands me and loves me just as I am.
36. Being humbled by the greatness of our God. I learned this little fact below in church today. Looks like Teddy Roosevelt understood how little we are and big God is.
President Theodore Roosevelt's love of the outdoors is well documented. He was responsible for the creation of several National Parks and Monuments. In his first Inaugural address, he spoke freely of the blessings of God upon our nation saying, "I reverently invoke for my guidance the direction and favor of Almighty God." It is said that when President Roosevelt entertained diplomatic guests at the White House he was fond of taking them out to the back lawn at the end of the day. As the President stood gazing at the night sky, all eyes would eventually be cast heavenward as his were. In his day, the vast array of stars was not dimmed by the city lights, and the magnificent display of God's brilliant creation would overcome the party. After a long moment, Mr. Roosevelt would say, "Gentlemen, I believe we are small enough now. Let's go to bed."
Monday, March 1, 2010
After a great weekend....
Friday: Ice skating with middle schoolers. I love the freedom of embarrassing myself in front of tons of teenagers.
Saturday: The amazing group of friends I have here in Arizona. The day was filled with laughter and fun. I am so blessed.
Sunday: Connecting with the Lord through worship and a great message looking at the Word.
Friday, February 26, 2010
1) Seeing God's redemption in an old friend who walked in darkness for a long time. Jesus saves.
2) Friendships with high schoolers. Age is just a number.
3) Chatting about the woes and blessings of being a YL leader with a dear friend. Julia, I am so glad you're here this weekend.
Oh and thank you for asking...my shin hurts more each day. My Mars sized bruise is quite colorful and not to mention, I plan on wearing a skirt to the Waste Management Open tomorrow (yep, it is no longer the FBR Open. Kinda trashy, right?). I hope no one thinks my legs are a case of domestic violence (Mandy can be feisty at times, though).
Enjoy your Friday.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I'm finding, in this little task I have set for myself, that God's goodness repeatedly being revealed in the same things. Why has it taken me this long to see Him in these little things? I am a human and I am imperfect. Gosh, I am thankful He is in control and I am not.
1) The BK group. Once every month and little group of Young Life staff women meet to encourage, dialogue and pray for each other. I am thankful to have women like them supporting me.
2) Catching up with Stephanie over ice tea and tears. She is just so easy to talk to.
3) I can't say this enough...the Wednesdays remind me each week how much God loves me. It is a privilege to be a part of the lives of so many amazing women.
Inspired by my brother-in-law, I've started hiking Camelback Mountain a couple times a week. If you are unfamiliar with this beast, it is considered "the Everest of the Valley" (it's hardly Everest, but it is challenging for the amateur hiker). There are two trails to the top, Echo Canyon and Cholla. I prefer Echo Canyon for a couple different reasons: the railings (on the steep parts) make me feel like I am a rock climber (barely) and the never ending cascade of boulders makes the hike more interesting and challenging. I've gotten into the habit of hiking it up and jogging it down. Hopping from rock to rock has become a little game I play with myself....until today....game off. Since it has been raining the last couple days here in the desert, there is much more gravel on the trail. As I was skipping down the mountain (trying not to be passed by my nimble, and fast b-i-l, Brooks) I slipped and slammed my shin into a sharply edged rock and my wrist bent a way it was not designed to bend. After a couple curse words and brief water break, I was back to my bouncing. I was almost to the bottom, I could see the trailhead, and as I was passing a couple mid-20 year old guys, I slipped again. This time my hand caught my face from slamming into the boulder I was maneuvering around (thankfully).
As a result of my clumsy feet today, I have achey wrists, raw palms, sore ankles, a bruise the size of Mars, and a golfball sized bump on my shin.
This picture doesn't even do my injury justice. AND I am not asking for pity here...just using this as evidence that God did not design me to be a graceful Gina.
This is for yesterday and today's will come tonight.
1) Rest. Why does it still surprise me that He knows what I need?
2) My family. They bring me so much joy.
3) My mom's cooking. Seriously, I can't say it enough. She's amazing. Last night was pot roast. A classic, but a goodie.
Monday, February 22, 2010
1) Sleeping so hard I don't wake up until my alarm goes off. This is a rarity in my sleeping patterns. God knows I need rest.
2) Being told I have beautiful eyes from my eye doctor (I need to be reminded that my eyes are not boring). God gave me these eyes to see the world as He created it.
3) Being reminded that God authors incredible stories in each of our lives.
What a fabulous weekend I had with the Scottsdale Young Life and WyldLife leaders. From sledding into mud and staging a murder mystery to playing sardines in the dark and staying up late watching movies; I had the most fun I have had in a long time. From worshipping our Creator and spending time listening to the Lord to taking communion and praying for each other; I am blessed to be in a community of believers who are seeking Christ.
Here's some goodness that brought me through the weekend:
Friday: Excited middle schoolers who call me friend.
Saturday: The simple number three. Cramming into a 3 feet by 3 feet space with 3 people and waiting for 30 minutes for someone to find us.
Sunday: Knowing crumbs from Jesus' table is enough. Matthew 15:21-28
Thursday, February 18, 2010
1) The subculture of Young Life Area Directors. I am encouraged when I am surrounded by 40 missionaries who are passionate about hurting and lost kids knowing our Creator.
2) Seeing my high school friends get fired up about Jesus.
3) A sweet, real, and vulnerable conversation over some hocho and chai. I see Christ in you daily VR.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
1) Doing the "super baby" with Stella. It has become our special thing. If you haven't seen it...I'll try to describe it. I hold her up over my head from her waste while yelling "Super babyyyyy!" and she screams while taking the pose of a superhero. To be so fearless and carefree is a God-given gift.
2) Conviction and confirmation. He has gifted us with the Holy Spirit.
3) Ending the day with birthday celebration with our great group of friends. Happy Birthday Blake!
1) Another day of beautiful weather. Excuse me for this double negative, but I just can't be unhappy when God seems to put Arizona in this perfect little ozone.
2) Great conversation and laughs with Kathy. She can speak straight to my heart.
3) Starting my taxes and realizing that I will be getting back more than I had expected. God provides.
As I was digging through all my files and piles of paperwork looking for a very specific piece important to finish filing my taxes (that always seems to happen like that, right?), I came across the bag of keepsakes (or some may describe as just stuff) from my six week adventure from this past summer. From London to Italy to Uganda, I had a bag full of little things that held memories. One was a program from the choral service we went to at Westminster Abbey in London.
If you are unfamiliar with the Abbey, here is a brief history:
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
So remember how I said I was going to start a little series called "behind the tinted windows"? Well, of course, as soon as I think I have a great series of unusual stories to tell you, they all seem to come to a halt....until today.
I always like looking at people as I pass them on the freeway. My curiosity goes crazy over seeing confused, frustrated, distracted, happy, or dazed drivers. As I peer to car next to me, I am often thinking...I wonder how their day is going.
I was exiting the trusty 101 freeway today and I glanced over at the old green Buick that seemed to be driving (irritatingly) slow. To my surprise, perched on the driver's shoulder was a large bird. Just chillin' like it's a normal thing to be sitting on his owner's shoulder cruisin' down the freeway. I erupted in laughter and continued to laugh for the following five minutes.
This is to give you an idea of what this feathered creature looked like, but picture it being about two feet tall.
I went into the weekend with a cold and came out rested, but missing the cyber world writing that I have slacked off on these past few days. Regardless, God is still evident and consistent in all parts of my life. Here is a goodness from each day I slacked and God didn't.
The Olympics. It seems that somehow in all the mayhem of this world, that countries can put aside differences and conflict and share one commonality: ridiculously good athletes.
Celebrating Jordan as she prepares to become Mrs. Whitlach. Being able to celebrate the God-given covenant of marriage is a privilege.
1) In spite of it being Valentine's Day, I am so very thankful to have those I love so near to me. Mandy and I celebrated this day with people I love. Mom, Erin, Brooks, Stella, Bean, and Grandma, thank you for loving me so well.
2) Knowing that we are all a part of God's HUGE plan for our lives. We are just riding His wave. In church, Pastor Jamie used this illustration to show us what being a part of God's wave looks like. Pretty exciting and humbling when you think about it.
Driving with my windows down and Ray Lamontagne up. God created Arizona for days with 75 degree sunny weather (I begin to doubt why He created it when it's a boiling 110 in July).
Friday, February 12, 2010
Woops, I went to bed yesterday forgetting to post. It must be this cold that kept me up all night. Blasted stuffy, runny nose and phlegm.
This is for yesterday:
1) Having a hard, but encouraging conversation with JI. God knows my heart.
2) Free Chick-fil-a sandwiches. Seriously, CFA+Yogurtology in the same week...risky, but nice.
3) Worshipping with 30 high schoolers. Your love never fails.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
1) Hiking Camelback Mountain and seeing how beautiful the valley really is (for those of you who say Arizona isn't green, look from above). He created all this.
2) Being able to be a sounding board to my sister. I am blessed to have the same in her.
3) Understanding a little bit more God's love for me...just as I am.
In light of Valentine's Day (and my lack thereof a Valentine. This will be my 24th year without one), I thought I would add a little bit of insight on love. No, not worldly love, but heavenly love. The love that only comes from God. Scripture tells us that "God is love" (1 John 4:8). Replace love with God in 1 Corinthians 13 and this is what you get...
God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. He is not rude, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
God never fails.
Did you know St. Valentine was a Christian martyr who spread the love of God in prisons?
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
1) Being able to pray over our area, community, and ministry at a set time each week. He listens.
2) Getting excited about high school romances (no, not mine). I know God giggles at our simple pleasures.
3) 35 cent Tuesdays at Yogurtology. Why is this stuff so good?
Monday, February 8, 2010
1) Getting some well needed rest. He knows how to take care of me.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Whelp, just got back from spending the weekend with 400 middle schoolers, so I will post one from each day I was up north.
Friday: Having curious 6th graders ask me a million questions. He created curiosity.
Saturday: Witnessing seven 12-year-olds have an "ah ha" moment after hearing the cross message. He chose me to be a part of His work.
Sunday: Spending an evening eating good food with good company and celebrating the life of a spectacular woman, my mom. I am blessed to have such a wonderful mom.
If you don't know her...you should. She is the best cook in the world, she cares and gives of herself to our family more than I can explain, her creativity inspires me, she listens to me even when I'm being ridiculous, and she loves me unconditionally. She is one very special lady.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Today was a good (and tiring) day. God showed me His goodness in so many ways. I will leave you with a few as I pack for WyldLife camp and head to bed early.
1) He is evident in volunteer leaders even when they aren't using words. He gives us purpose.
2) Fighting with 2 high schoolers over who gets to pay for the frozen yogurt and still finding $10 in my purse after I drop them off. He provides.
3) Having a WyldLife girl who I've been praying for all year sign up for camp the night before we leave. It is in His timing.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
In our Wednesday night Bible study, we're going through Philippians and reading the book Embracing the Love of God by James Bryan Smith (if you haven't read it yet, you should. It's fabulous.) The first chapter starts with a quote by St. Augustine, "By loving us, God makes us lovable." Lately, everything in my life (as it should always) seems to point to my need for a Savior. Or maybe it is that I have been opening my eyes wider when my need for a Savior has been there all along. I claim the latter. It still fascinates me that God is the only reason we are even able to experience love. The only reason why we exist and can experience Him is because He loves us, because He is love. Smith quotes the fourteenth-century mystic Julian of Norwich saying "Everything is enwrapped in love and is part of a world produced not by mechanical necessity but by a passionate desire." So as I look back on my Wednesday, I am looking at the things that prove everything is "enwrapped in love," God is good, and that He is love.
1) Celebrating my mom's
58th 29th birthday with women twice my age. He made life fun.
2) The administration at a secular, public school loves having us, Jesus followers, on campus to just hang out with kids. When we show up, God does too.
3) Having Godly women I can pray, worship, laugh, and learn with on a weekly basis. God has a plan.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
1) Knowing I am in the right place at the right time. Thank you for guiding me.
2) God providing a [brief] nap in my afternoon.
3) 2 long overdue phone conversations with Mrs. Jordan Pitkin and JD. Good friends like them are blessings.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Day 2 and this has already become my favorite way to end the day.
1) God used my sister to speak truth to me. He can use any one/thing.
2) Melodies to jam to (and sing with) in the car. He created sound.
2) My sweet Stella cried when I left today. I am loved.
In light of my previous post, I decided I would list 3 things everyday until my 25th birthday [May 19] that reminded me of God's goodness. That is a feat in and of itself seeing as my last post was four months prior. I am up for the challenge though.
I looked up good in my trusty thesaurus and this is what I found: acceptable, admirable, agreeable, choice, capital, commendable, congenial, deluxe, excellent, exceptional, favorable, first-class, precious, prime, gratifying, honorable, marvelous, neat, pleasing, reputable, splendid, satisfying, stupendous, superior, valuable, welcome, worthy. What an incredible list that describes God.
Here is today's [Sunday]:
1) My best friend, Bonnie, shows me more and more everyday that Jesus lives in us. "Christ in us, the hope of glory."
2) My mom is comfortable praying before lunch with my friends.
3) I can get up before church and take a stroll with a dear friend in 70 degree weather.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
I’ve recently come to some crossroads in my life: crossroads in my family, crossroads in my job, and a crossroads in my relationship with my Creator. In the past, I was an anxious mess, wanting to know and control the next steps in my life. Now, most nights before my head hits my pillow, I am found contemplating the next adventure God has in store for me. During this time I have come to conclude a couple things: I don’t know where to go from here, I am at peace knowing I am not in control (really, this is the first time I can say that confidently) and God is good, He is oh so very good.
This week a well-loved counselor at Desert Mountain High School passed away suddenly and hundreds of teenagers were left with the question that all humans wrestle with in times of pain and suffering, “why?” In wanting the perfect words to console their grief and fear, God whispered to me “I am still good.” “They won’t understand,” I said as I continued in conversation with God. “But, I am good,” He repeated over and over again as I was preparing to talk about pain to 30 questioning high schoolers.
In Genesis, after creating the heavens and the seas, day and night, the birds and the vegetation, God looks at all this and says “this is good.” BUT after God created man and woman, He looks at all He made and says “that is very good.” We know that God is good because only good can create good. God is good so His creation can only be good. And we are very good?
The goodness of God means that we are true objects of his love, not of his disinterested concern for our wellbeing. In C.S. Lewis’ book, The Problem of Pain, he develops four scriptural analogies to explain the relation between the Creator and his creature: love of an artist for his artifact, love of a man for a beast, a father's love for a son, and a man's love for a woman. And we wonder "why [how] can any creatures, especially creatures such as we, have value so remarkable in their Creator's eyes?" and we wish God loved us less. "You asked for a loving God: you have one…the consuming fire that made the worlds, persistent as the artist's love for his work and despotic as a man's love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father's love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes". We may wish for less love, but then we would be dreaming an impossible dream. God is our only good. He gives "what he has, not what he has not; the happiness that there is, not the happiness that is not. If we will not learn to eat the only food that the universe grows— the only food that any possible universe ever can grow—then we must starve eternally."
The proper response of a creature is to surrender to its Creator, but we [I] don’t. We [I] are learning; We [I] are under construction; We [I] are works in progress. So while He is good, I am learning what it means to surrender. In the meantime, I am reassured that His love never fails.
Nothing can separate
Even if I ran away
Your love never fails
I know I still make mistakes
But You have new mercies for me everyday
Your love never fails
You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning
And when the oceans rage
I don't have to be afraid
Because I know that you love me
Your love never fails
The wind is strong and the water's deep
But I'm not alone in these open seas
Cause Your love never fails
The chasm is far too wide
I never thought I'd reach the other side
But Your love never fails
You make all things work together for my good
Your Love Never Fails by Jesus Culture
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39