Monday, March 29, 2010

Would You Go With Me?

If I gave you my hand would you take it
And make me the happiest man in the world
If I told you my heart couldn't beat one more minute without you, girl
Would you accompany me to the edge of the sea
Let me know if you're really a dream
I love you so, so would you go with me

This weekend I had the chance to see Josh Turner in concert! This was a long-awaited concert, and I was so excited to finally get to see him perform! For those of you who know me, you know that he is one of my absolute FAVORITE singers. I love country music and specifically fell in love with Josh Turner's music the first time I heard him sing. I love his voice :)

My camera doesn't have a great zoom, so my pictures of him on stage didn't turn out so great, so I am anxiously awaiting copies from my sweet friend Lindsey (*hint*hint*). But here is a cute picture of me, Lindsey, and Laura at the concert:

It was a sweet time with friends, and I really enjoyed having a night off just to have fun!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sic 'em Bears!!!

I know this news is a few days old, but I just had to post about it...the Baylor Men's Basketball team is headed to the Sweet 16!!!

This will be their first Sweet 16 appearance in school history. When they made the Final Four in 1948 and 1950, the NCAA tournament featured only eight teams. I know that was a long time ago, but that's what makes this such a big deal! And with Texas and A&M both out of the just makes the victory that much sweeter :)

And of course, the Baylor Women's Basketball team is also headed to the Sweet 16! The women's team has had a little more experience with the tournament, so it's just expected that they make it. But it's still exciting nonetheless!

You can bet I will be watching the men play tomorrow night and the women play Saturday as they battle to earn their spots in the Elite Eight.



Pine Cove Work Crew!

This past weekend, our singles group headed out to Pine Cove in East Texas to serve on the work crew. I have served on a work crew with the 20s group before, so I was really excited to go with our singles group. We got to serve meals to 5th and 6th graders from Ruston, LA, and we also helped the staff move their offices. It rained for most of the weekend (and we woke up to SNOW on Sunday!) so we were not able to help with the outdoor projects. But that allowed us to have a lot of free time to just hang out together, play games, sing songs, frolic in the woods....despite the fact that I ended up getting sick and completely losing my voice, it was an awesome weekend with sweet friends!

Here are some fun pictures from the weekend (courtesy of the beautiful Melissa Miller):

Serving in the kitchen

Yeah. So I like organization....

All work...A LOT of play :)

Proud to represent!

Hanging out in the loft...


Campfire and S'mores!

Another really great thing about the weekend was the devotional times we had together. Clint, one of the other leaders, did an awesome job of leading these for our group. Our focus this weekend was intentionality, integrity, accountability, and discipleship. As leaders, we really want this group to move beyond just "hanging out" to actually growing together in our faith, encouraging each other in our walks, drawing each other closer to the heart of God. Some of that already happens; but as our group grows, we want to ensure that that remains our ultimate focus. I am so excited about each person in this group; I love each and every one of them, and I am so thankful for the people He has put together. This weekend was an awesome time to get away from distractions and just refocus on the Lord. I am excited to see all that God will do, and I am so humbled by the fact that He has allowed me to be a part of it!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Praying for Jos

I have talked about BSF before; it is a Bible study that I absolutely LOVE, one that I have had the privilege of being a part of for several years. I have never been a part of such an in-depth study, and I have grown so much through the study of God's Word through the tools that BSF provides. One of the really cool things about BSF is that there are classes around the world. So what I am studying in Dallas, TX is also being studied by brothers and sisters across the globe- from England to Malaysia, from Singapore to Australia, from Belize to the new classes in CHINA! It is such a blessing to see all that God is doing across the world through the study of His Word.

**Warning: This is not an easy post to read. I will try to be sensitive, but I do not want to censor the reality of the violence occurring in Nigeria. Some portions taken from national media reports, as well as firsthand reports from those in Jos. As one who claims to be a follower of Christ, I CANNOT ignore this and pretend that things like this don't happen in the world I live in. I CANNOT turn a blind eye and say I don't do so is a grievance against the heart of God and the love He has for His people.**

Recently, the classes in Jos, Nigeria have been heavy on my heart. Recently, we received word of the escalating violence in that region, and it has so escalated that the media has finally decided to make it a feature story. The bloodshed is a vicious expression of long-running hostilities between Christians and Muslims in this divided nation. Jos and the region around it are on the fault line where the volatile and poor Muslim north and the Christian south meet. In the past decade, some 3,000 people have been killed in interethnic, interreligious violence in this fraught zone. The pattern is familiar: uneasy coexistence suddenly explodes into killing, amplified for days by retaliation.

Growing religious hatred, political and ethnic rivalries, and increasing poverty have led to two outbursts of savage violence in recent months (one in January, another this month). Wielding machetes, knives and cutlasses, raiders have swept through three villages in Nigeria, cutting down anyone in their path. Innocent women and children have been slaughtered, their bodies later recovered from wells and sewage pits. Hundreds have died. Generations have been wiped out. Now, many people carry weapons and man impromptu road blocks, fearful of the military, the police and each other. The violence is coming from both sides- Muslims and (so-called) Christians...I cannot even imagine how much this grieves the heart of God.

BSF class members reported hearing the sounds of approaching gunfire. Thankfully, our class members and leaders have been safe, though many have family and friends directly affected by the violence. And yet despite the fighting and turmoil, classes are still being held! They are having to make adjustments because of the government-enforced curfew, but these men and women are committed to the study of God's Word. How humbling this is when many people here in the U.S. refuse to attend class because it's raining outside. It makes my heart sick; because I come up with lame excuses all the time. How much I take my religious freedom for granted in this country!

I cannot imagine a world of fear and violence. In our comfortable world, we have no idea the meaning of persecution for the sake of Christ. How immensely blessed we are that we can attend Bible study without the fear that we may not make it home that night. I can't help but cry over the situation that fellow brothers and sisters in Christ live as reality every day. How often do I think of God's Word only as an afterthought, simply because "I have better things to do," "I am too busy," or "I'll get to it later..." I am so humbled by these faithful ones who persevere through the fear and violence to meet in His name to study His Word.

Please pray for Jos, Nigeria. Pray for peace in the region, that the fighting will stop. Pray for the physical protection of the BSF area team, leaders, and class members. Pray that Christians can be a testimony of God's love to their hurting neighbors.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Surrender, Simplification, Stewardship

My church has been doing a Transformation series on spirtual disciplines. We have already studied Celebration, Being in the Scriptures, Practicing Sabbath, Solitude, Surrender, Prayer, Fasting, Simplicity, and Stewardship. I have loved this series, and it has been very challenging/convicting. It's amazing to see how the disciplines are interconnected, specifically how they must be practiced simultaneously in our walk as Christ-followers. I have been learning a lot about the things that I value- both good and not so good- and how I need to take a closer look at how I am choosing to live my life for the sake of Christ.

The most recent thing I have been convicted of (which I have mentioned before) is how I spend my time and money. And God has really been tugging at my heart about one thing: TV. It's the age-old struggle of "do I need it?" or "how much time do I waste with it?" I don't really watch a whole lot of schedule simply doesn't allow it. And lately, the time I have spent watching it, I just feel empty. After much contemplation and prompting from the Spirit, I have decided I would rather use the time I would normally watch a show to read His Word, or spend time in prayer, or serve Him in some way. I have decided to use that money to advance His kingdom, rather than for my own personal pursuit of self-gratification and entertainment. After all, if I want to truly be transformed, I have to actually do something to allow for the Holy Spirit to work.

Please don't misunderstand me- this isn't a post about how TV is bad. I will admit that there are still a few favorites I will probably catch on Hulu now and then. Instead, this is a post about what God has asked me to "give up" in order to free up both time and resources to better serve Him. The fact of the matter is that God has asked me to remove it from my life, and I just want to be obedient. I don't need it, so why do I keep it? This weekend's sermon challenged me to do something this week that seemed ridiculous to the world. Removing TV from my life is definitely ridiculous to the world :)

When I called to cancel my service, they asked why I was cancelling. I told the guy I needed to simplify my life and getting rid of cable was a way to do that; I simply didn't need it. I don't think he really understood my reasoning because he asked if I was trying to save money. I told him no, and he was even more confused. Haha. I wish that I could tell you I got to impact a soul for Christ with my decision; but really he was just confused and wanted to try to keep me as a customer. But it felt good to do something "radical" that the world didn't understand. I realize it's such a silly and simple thing; and in all reality, it's not a huge sacrifice. Yet I feel joy for being obedient in this small matter, and I am excited to be taking a step closer to the heart of God with one less distraction.

So long TV. I will no longer be tempted by you, and I will no longer waste my time with you. I choose to be obedient to God's call of transforming my life and to his command of looking different from the world in every way possible.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March Madness

So my poor little blog has been slightly neglected in recent life could be summed into one word these days: BUSY. I have been busy before, so it's not something new. I think I am just a different kind of busy. A good busy :) I knew this semester was going to be tough, as I am trying to juggle two very time-consuming ministries. I am so blessed by both, but am just feeling the pressure of both commitments. It's really hard sometimes because I really want to serve well in both places...and because my time is so limited, it's not always easy to do that. But I press on, and I praise God for the blessings He is providing- both in strengthening me to finish well, and in the relationships I am forming through the work He has called me to.

Here's a look ahead at some fun things coming up in March...I have lots of work and studying stuff going on too, but I'd rather focus on the fun stuff anyway haha. And as far as March Madness goes...I doubt I will have time to enjoy the real NCAA March Madness, but hopefully I can catch a game or two in the midst of the craziness ;)

Communion Dinner- I know I have said this before, but this is one of my favorite things in the 20s group! I love spending time with this sweet group of friends, taking time to fellowship and pray together as we remember our Lord's sacrifice. It's one of the things that I sit and revel in the idea that this is how church was meant to be. This month is Mexican-themed, so I need to figure out what dish I am going to take.

Singles Hockey Game- This weekend, the singles group is heading to a hockey game! We're going to see the Allen Americans take on the Mississippi Riverkings! I'm not much of a hockey fan- to be honest, I have a hard time following the stupid puck-lol. But I think this should be fun! The guys are hoping for a fight, and I am just hoping I can stay warm :)

Phantom of the Opera! I am SO excited to finally see this play! I have wanted to for a long time, but have never been able to. But it's here in Dallas, and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to go. I'm going with a group of people, and we're planning to get dressed up and make a fun night of it; I have already been serenaded the soundtrack, and I can't wait!

Pine Cove Work Crew Weekend! The singles are heading to a work weekend at Pine Cove Camp in Tyler, TX. I have been with the 20s group before, but this trip is specifically for our singles group. I am really looking forward to this- I think it's going to be a good thing for our group. The other leaders and I are working to make sure that we take the time to focus on why we hang out and where we want our group to be in terms of our relationship with God and with each other. There's just something about serving together and being out in the woods with a group of friends to help solidify friendships and draw people closer together.

Josh Turner Concert :) I have shared with you in recent posts about my love for country music. And I have tried to see Josh Turner in concert for some time now. And I found my chance....he will be at Billy Bob's in Ft. Worth at the end of this month and I am going!!! I cannot tell you how excited I am! I am going with a couple of sweet friends (Laura and Lindsey), and I can't wait for it to get here :)

First Nica '10 Meeting! I haven't mentioned this yet, but we will be having our first team meeting in a couple of weeks, so now is as good a time as ever to announce it. This summer, I will be going on a mission trip with our 20s group to Nicaragua! We will be going to serve with missionaries from our 20s group who are serving in Managua. I participated in mission's trips with my high school youth group, but have not done any since then. I have felt the Lord laying it on my heart to go on another trip for some time now, and I am excited about this one. I can't wait to see how God prepares our team for this trip!

First Day of SPRING!!! I just have to say it. I am SO looking forward to SPRING. I have never liked cold weather- I live in Texas for a reason ;) Moving to Dallas, winter is definitely longer and more severe than way down in San Antonio. I know I don't know what cold is...I have friends that have endured the winters of Chicago and Virginia. But again....I live in Texas. We're not supposed to have cold weather- lol. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed our snow day, but I am just done with cold weather. Enough already. I am ready for some sunshine and warm weather! :)