Lessons from the Storm

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I woke up this morning to a barrage of Facebook statuses and Tweets about some Tornado Warning here in my town in the middle of the night last night. I read about how people were in their safe places and up all hours of the night waiting for the danger to pass. Before I went to bed, I had prepared for this storm…unplugged all my favorite electronics, made sure my phone battery was 100% and turned my sound on so I could hear the weather radio warnings, should they come, and I fell asleep.

Years ago I would have stayed up, or tried to sleep with the TV blasted so I could hear exactly when to run for cover. Something has changed. Maybe its just that I “know the drill” or I have a better understanding that tornados are random. They can take one house and leave the one next to it untouched and there is little anyone can do to prevent that. Maybe my subconscious understands that God is in control, that my stuff is just stuff and if its time for it to be destroyed then so be it.

It got me thinking about the time Jesus and His disciples were in a boat during a big storm and at first the disciples were cool and relaxed, then they got freaked out by the big waves crashing into the boat and didn’t understand how Jesus could sleep through the seeming chaos. After Jesus calms the waves down, he speaks these words that I’m sure hit them square in the eyes. Mark 4:41- “Why were you afraid? Don’t you have any faith?”

Then I realized as calm as I can be now about physical storms, the emotional storms or situational storms in my life I totally still freak out about.

I’m like the disciples asking God all the time, “Do you not care that I’m going to drown? Don’t you see this storm or that storm raging all around me? Don’t you see the wind and waves crashing in my life?”

This morning I realized that I need to trust God for all the “inside” storms of my life and not just the outside ones. I need to trust Him with my heart and soul like I do with my physical body….

I’m pretty sure He cares more about my heart anyway.

 

Working Together

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When I was in school, I HATED group projects. I never felt like my best work was showcased in this realm. It was my attitude that if I wanted something done right, I would just have to do it myself. 🙂 My ego led me to believe that I was never placed in groups with people I could learn from…but that it was my job to carry the weight of the group. (SORRY to any of my school friends reading this)

As an adult, I still struggle with working as a team and doing group projects. It is so easy for me to work in “island land” and just put my nose to the ground and get it done on my own.

Needless to say, for me to be writing about the importance of collaboration is so outside of my natural tendencies, but I am learning how important it is to work with other people to get things done successfully. I’ve seen the amazing things that can happen when people come together for a common purpose and it has really become a passion of mine to encourage youth pastors to work together in reaching their communities.

I recently read a great book called “Rural Youth Ministry” by Brent Lacy and it is jam packed of practical advice for those who work with students in small communities. One theme seemed to be woven throughout the book: “working together”. Whether its among your church staff, the other youth workers in town, parents, schools, or even youth workers you meet online, its amazing the lengths that we can go when we work as a team. In talking to youth pastors in smaller communities over the years, I have heard and seen the challenges are dealt with. I’ve also seen many victories as churches come together in reaching their communities. This book is a great resource from someone who has been working in the trenches of rural student ministry.

One sentence hit me over the head like a ton of bricks as I was reading. “Satan strives to isolate us so he can make us feel weak. God desires to partner us together in His strength that is beyond ours.” Scripture also tells us that a cord of three strands cannot be broken. I believe more and more that this applies not just to our spiritual health, but to our professional lives as well. I want to encourage you to look for those opportunities around you to work with others and see the amazing impact that will come from that.

I also want to encourage you to grab your own copy of “Rural Youth Ministry”. Its a short read that you wont be able to put down and will mark all up (if you are like me), You can purchase a physical copy or downloaded copy here.

 

Anticipate

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Last year I took the plunge and decided to participate in OneWord365. It really helped me to look at decisions I was making through the lens of the word that I chose. I took risks in 2012 that were out of character and was stretched by that experience.

This year the word that keeps coming to my heart and mind is “Anticipate”.

Anticipate that God is going to do immeasurably more than I can imagine in my life. Anticipate that I will walk through life with purpose and passion. Anticipate that great things are ahead! Anticipate new friendships, new experiences, new challenges, new opportunities. Anticipate GREAT!

I need to challenge myself in this area. Even with my oh so sunny disposition, I tend to look for what can go wrong. I am a problem solver…which really means, I LOOK for problems to arise and plan ahead accordingly. (HA!)

My desire is to have a more positive outlook on life. To stop thinking that the worst is about to happen and to shut off the negative voices and replace them with life giving words and promises of God. That He has a plan to prosper me and not harm me, that no plan of His can be thwarted, that though the vision may seem slow in coming to fruition God has not forgotten me. I am taking the next 365 to be on the lookout for good in my life and anticipating the best in myself and in others.

How are you going to look at the next 365 in your life?

 

 

 

***HUGE thanks to Melanie at Only A Breath for the fun image up top of my one word! Check out her blog at Only A Breath

 

Connected…a look back

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At the beginning of this year, I participated in OneWord365. My word for 2012 was “Connected”. You can see my goals for this past year here. As I look back at this year, overall, I think I do feel more connected.

I was able to travel back home several times this year and my relationships with family members are stronger than ever. I also feel that this year brought deeper friendships into my life and I took the plunge to introduce myself to people instead of being the wallflower that I am use to being. Online, I have also been more outgoing and taken part in more conversations.

My relationship with God has been growing. Its fun to be learning more and seeing ways I can grow and be a better example of God’s love. Books like “Greater” and “Love Does” have impacted me in a huge way this year and steered me in a good direction in life. God keeps shouting to me through Habakkuk that He’s not done with me and the vision for my life will happen!

Professionally I am excited that I’m coming more and more into my own as an editor and writer. Setting this blog up was a big step in taking writing seriously and going back to my roots of processing things I’m going through and learning. I also learned more about building real relationships with fellow youth ministers. Its been mind-blowing to be a part of youth ministry communities and to even have this little blog mentioned on various ministry lists.

As much as 2012 has been a year of growth, there is so much more growing to do and I really didn’t grow as much as I wanted to. This year was full of failures and shortcomings. Relationships that I wish were closer, goals professionally I wish I could reach, closeness to God that needs to be greater.

I’m learning daily that I just need to let go of yesterday and look at today with fresh eyes. I’m thankful for areas of growth and experiences to learn from. Looking forward to the next 365 and moving forward.