Monday, November 16, 2009

Wow, I haven't written in a here goes! It's just gonna be a quick one, but Brittany I hope this will make up for me not calling you yet!

God has been doing incredible things in my life the past few days, man oh man. So Thursday night I went to Living Waters, a group that meets to pray, worship, seek the face of God, and bless each other through the different gifts God has given each of us. It is such an incredible movement that God has started. So Thursday we worshipped for a while, which was really good.

Oh, and sidenote - I realized right after I got in the prayer chapel and went up right by the front that I had to pee. Grrrreat. So I kept figuring out when I could leave and cause the least amount of distraction, and finally decided to ask God to take away my need to go to the bathroom. I didn't realize until a few hours later that I totally forgot I had to go to the bathroom! Thanks Lord for the little things. :)

Anyways, so we worshipped, received a teaching from Dr. Heth on prophecy and how it's presented in Scripture, and then we prophesied over one of the girls that came. At the end when we were about to finish up sharing what God had to say, I heard the Lord say, "Stand up and declare my glory." After I heard him I was kind of confused and was like, "God, you want me to just stand up and say something about how glorious you are? Are you sure? Please clarify what it is you are saying to me." Less than 5 minutes later, and probably more like 2, Stephen goes, "Kristin, why don't you pray for Megan to close." So I was like, "Alright Lord, thanks for the clarification!" Love when he does stuff like that.

Later that night my friend Angela who is an incredible servant and lover of the Lord prayed with me. It was really encouraging. She prayed about things that I was struggling with then and she prayed for healing for my back. Then my friend Lauren came over and prayed with us, and the few times God has brought the three of us together it has been really powerful, so that was awesome! After I left the OPC I was talking with my friend Carolyn on the phone and through our conversation God revealed to me that I still had walls up to him. The next morning I was reading John 14:13-14 and Jesus says twice that "I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may glorify the Father." I felt the Lord telling me to trust his faithfulness in that and encouraging me to ask him for something. I asked him to reveal and remove whatever wall was up between me and him.

After chapel that day (which was about perfectionism, doing, and rest) I felt God calling me to stay and talk with him. The next few minutes he revealed to me what the root of my perfectionism was and he brought my friend Lauren to pray through it with me. It was a powerful time of God ripping out roots that were not of him and replacing them with his truth. He kept revealing to me how constant he is, and unchanging and faithful he is for eternity. It was so awesome to see God answer my request so quickly.

Then Friday night I got to hang out with a friend and spent good time praying with her. Then Saturday night I went to the prayer chapel with a few of my friends and worshipped God and spent time in his presence. It was incredible.

Then this morning I got to meet with two of my good friends at the prayer chapel and we read through Luke 22:39-46 and meditated on different verses. Again, God reminded me of how constant he is and how I need to surrender my will, which is inconsistent, in exchange for his.

The past few days have been so encouraging and have been filled with great times with people and learning to rest in God's consistency.

God is so good!

Sorry this is so long. I said it would be short....but it's not. :)

Love you all!

Monday, July 27, 2009

So many questions, only God has the answers

So I'm wondering in what ways God wants to use me. Old people? Teens? Music? What God? All of them? At different points in my life? Now? Later? Never? I just want to figure out what makes me jump out of bed every morning. What is it that I live for? I know I live for God, but what does that mean?

And I'm starting to realize that most of my thoughts and actions flow from this belief that I need to do everything exactly right and be perfect in all I do. But really should be functioning out of the truth that God calls me to be faithful and to glorify him in all I do. That's different than what I function out of. I've been realizing that since Alan challenged me to figure out what my definition of success is. So I'm praying Romans 12:1-2 for myself. If you want to join in that, that'd be great!

I really want to figure out what my identity is to. That's similar to what I talked about at the beginning. But I want to find out who I am and what my identity is. What purposes has God made me for? What does he want me to focus on? Why am I here? What is my sweet spot? Alan and I have been talking and he said to me that because I don't know who I am, I don't have a point of reference to go to. So I don't know what to say yes to and what to say no to because I don't know who I am and I don't know what God wants for me.

So all of these things are going on, but I don't really take time to think and pray about it. I do sometimes, but I feel like that's not enough. But maybe it is. Maybe I just need to wait and trust that God will reveal that to me in His time.

These are lots of random thoughts, but they're just some things going through my mind tonight. So here they are in case you were wondering what exactly goes on in my head.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

So I got to go rock climbing today!!! And it was pretty awesome!!! Actually, it was very awesome. We started out the morning by meeting at the church at 9 and heading out to Garden of the Gods. I was a little disappointed by the turnout because only 4 students showed up, but then I was told that smaller groups were better, so I was satisfied. Once we got there, we realized that we left the gear in the church van, so as Alan and Zach ran back to grab the gear, I headed out with two students to explore the park a bit. Now, I had been to Garden of the Gods a few times, and had just gone there on Tuesday with Eric and did lots of exploring off the trails. So I went into it thinking I had seen some pretty sweet things there, but I had no clue how big and beautiful that whole place is, and probably still have no clue. The students and I found this sweet rock to climb on, and we just sat there and talked for a while. It was such a blessing. The day was already for sure going to be great because I would get to rock climb with students, but it was even better that God planned in time for us to have more time to talk. That's my favorite anyway. : ) It was wonderful looking out at the beautiful mountains and talking with students. What a great mix.

After about an hour of hiking around, we met Alan, Zach and 2 other students at the rock we were going to climb. It was 80 feet tall, which isn't that big compared to the others, but MAN was it far to climb! I had never been rock climbing before, so this was a big deal to me. Eric and I were supposed to go rock climbing with Alan and Julie on Sunday, but it had rained, and Eric left on Tuesday so I was doing this on my own. Everyone else went before me, so I tried to watch and remember how they got up, but my memories not so hot, so that didn't really help a whole lot.

Finally, after watching and cheering as everyone else scaled the rock, it was my turn. I was pretty nervous, but excited too. It was scary! And hard! It was definitely a challenge for me and I conquered some fears. I found out rock climbing is a lot of pushing yourself to trust your body. You need to trust that your legs are stronger than you think they are, and that you can keep yourself steady balancing on the toes of one foot. There were so many times when I had to stop myself, take a deep breath and reach for a rock that I did not think I could reach. But it turned out I could. There were some parts that, at first glance, just seemed to be impossible. But after people coaching me from down below, and trusting my legs in a new way, it turned out to not be impossible at all. It was actually quite possible if I took a minute to look at my surroundings. As I neared the top, it became windier and windier, which stopped me in my tracks a few times and frankly scared me a bit. Again I had to say, "Kristin, you can do this. God, help me" and continue on. Man was it awesome to get to the top of that rock. It was so great. But I couldn't have done it without coaching from below. There were so many times when I stopped and asked for help and direction on what to do next. I wouldn't have made it to the top without that.

The best and worst part for me was once I made it to the top. I had seen 5 people before me struggle with belaying once they had reached the top. I saw Alan explain it 5 times, how they had to fully extend their legs, keep them out in front, drop your butt and just let yourself fall. By the 4th person I was thinking to myself, "Come on guys, just get this already." But when it was my turn to belay, it was a different story. After checking out the awesome view from the top, I told myself exactly what Alan had said to do so many times. But every time I tried to drop my butt and fall, my legs kept bending again, keeping me from being able to do it. The problem was, I was scared, and didn't trust that Alan had me. I didn't trust that he was watching me and would keep me safe. After 3 or 4 times of trying to belay and failing, I finally said to myself, "Kristin, you have to do this" and then - legs extended in front of me and after dropping my butt - I finally began to belay down the rock. While it was a humbling experience for me, it was also a very encouraging one as well.

I can't wait to keep thinking about this experience because there is so much to learn from it that I can relate back to life!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Executive Pastors and Swaziland

So this morning we started at 8:30, which is a little bit earlier than my liking, but it was good. We started out with prayer, which was so awesome. God's been turning my eyes back to prayer which has been awesome, but I'll share more about that later.

Today we met with Rick Klapp, the Executive pastor of Vanguard. I hadn't ever heard that title until now, or at least not that I can remember, so I didn't really know what I was in for. We began the morning by watching a video the church made about their commitment to Swaziland, because that's where a lot of Rick's story starts, or at least his more recent story. Three years ago God put Africa on his wife, Laura's heart kind of out of the blue. That same time Rick was offered an opportunity to visit Swaziland with Children's Hope Chest, and so 3 weeks later he was on a plane to Africa where his heart was changed. This was the beginning of Vanguard's vision for partnering with Swaziland, and that is a big part of what Rick does. We now have a care center there for orphans that provides 2 meals a day (totalling 320,000 meals so far), a preschool, and 3 churches. Vanguard's vision is to plant 5,000 churches in 40 years, and we're in year 12. Rick and Laura have also recently adopted two of the cutest kids ever from Swaziland. It was AWESOME hearing about his heart for that. It is something Rick is really passionate about. Right now he's in the process of helping them start a rose-geranium farm. Rick really enjoys micro-financing, so this is something he is also passionate about. Rose-geraniums are what produce the oil that is the base of every perfume and frangrance produced. Rick's hope is to provide the people there with 200 jobs within the next year. He wants to help the economy but also make the care centers self-sustainable, so as not to rely on other people giving all the time. It sounds so awesome. I loved hearing about it.

Sustainability is something I've been hearing about a lot since coming to Vanguard. In the Church so much of what is done passes so quickly; clearly not the things that God does on people's hearts, but the way we do ministry is not often sustainable. It's usually based around a person, a fad, or a concept that's principles just aren't sustainable. We often don't think that far ahead to ask the question, "Is what I'm doing sustainable without me?" I think thats a question often overlooked. I know I don't think about it a lot. I just think about the quick fix, and what can be done right now to best serve the situation. But here I've been challenged a lot about legacy and sustainability. How can we do things that will last? How can we run a ministry in a way that is based on biblical principles and is sustainable so that it won't die out after time. I have so much trouble looking ahead at things. When people ask questions like, "Where do you see yourself in 20 years?" I have so much trouble finding an answer. I don't know if I'm just scared to look ahead, or if I'm in a good place that I don't have everything all planned out and that leaves God room to move more. I don't really know but I've always struggled with that type of question. So when I'm asked that, or when we're thinking about a ministry in that context, man that's hard for me. That's something I'm going to need to put more thought into. Sustainability.

Along with all of these things that I've been rambling about, I really did learn a lot about Rick's role as executive pastor, and I also learned that I don't think I would be very good at it, nor would I really enjoy it. I would not enjoy creating or maintaining the structure of the church. I also would not enjoy pouring into the business/financial side of things. Alan asked Andy and me what parts of the job we clicked with and which parts we didn't click with. The only part I really liked was that he would meet individually with the staff regularly. That's the only part I liked. BUT I think Rick is AWESOME and was super encouraged hearing about his story and being challenged by him when he asked what my strengths are and what I'm passionate about. I'm finding that I need to think through that a lot more.

So that's my Wednesday so far. I've got worship practice, awwww yeah! I'm really excited. And then KlopStop!!!

Thanks for the prayers!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Welcome Back!

Okay, so I wrote on this a long time ago and I'm finally writing again! Things at Vanguard have been awesome so far! It has been exhausting and trying, but so good and full of sooooo many blessings too! The family I have been living with is AWESOME, and they are finally back from Puerto Rico today!! They've been gone for two weeks so it's just been me and Roxanne hanging out. Which has been so great! God has blessed me so much through my relationship with Roxanne. We clicked from the first day I was here and it has been awesome ever since. It has been so good to have her as encouragement, someone to listen to me, someone to pray with, someone to do ministry with and someone to have fun with! I cannot wait to see what God will do through our relationship this summer! And now that the whole family is home I'm super pumped to get to know them more!

Things have been great in the ministry aspect of things too. I learn something from Alan every time he opens his mouth, which is both overwhelming and awesome at the same time. Andy and I have been getting along pretty well too, considering Zach isn't here to even us out. Zach is in Nicaragua for 2 weeks and will be getting back Sunday, so we miss him too! Andy and I have been working well together and have fun too, so that's been great. I LOVE the students at Vanguard and getting to know them more. I can't believe how much I've learned about them in the short time I'm here, so it'll be sweet to see what God does through those relationships.

One of my favorite parts of my week is when we talk through "In the Name of Jesus" and when we meet with people from other ministries. This morning we talked through the book and it was so good. Alan has questions that go along with the reading and they are really challenging and have helped to give me great insight into myself. I would love to write more about that but I have to run off to Palmer Park to have some Godtime so I can get home to see the Gonzalez family since they're finally back! Love you all!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tired out of my mind

I can't believe how tired I feel. I think I've been more tired every day this week than I have ever been any other week of my life. Maybe that's not true, and it's probably not, but I'm definitely more tired than I am in a typical week. I just get so tired. And today I wasn't just mentally and emotionally exhausted, but I was physically exhausted too. I spent the day painting a woman's living room and dining room, and I also helped move boxes into her house. We worked from 9-5, and then I cleaned up the paint tools until just before 7. I am just not used to a day packed with manual labor like that. Even though it was tiring, it was good to be helping someone like that and good to be using my body more than my brain for a day. Plus I got to make $!! : )

The reason why I worked today was because it is something we do with the students every other Tuesday. We do landscaping, moving, painting or any other handy job someone might ask us to do. It's such a great idea. We charge $10/hr for each person working, and we usually have 5 people at each sight. We do these work days so that students can raise money for their mission trip to St. Louis. It's a pretty amazing idea. It has so many purposes and great things that come from it! Not only is it a fundraiser, but it also helps people out, builds character in the students, teaches them good work ethic, and helps them gain practical skills for life. It's such a good idea. Alan makes sure the students work hard all day, with only a few 3 minuteish water breaks and a lunch break. Something else that I really appreciate Alan doing is the way he meets with the students beforehand to talk about the purpose of what we are doing. That's something I was challenged on a lot in my Evangelism in Youth Ministry class this past semester. So often we do things without explicitly sharing our intentions and motives behind what we do. That all too often leads students into participating in things that they don't actually know the purpose of. It's so important to help students to start thinking about what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how God might want to move in it.

At 8 this morning, we met with the students and Alan talked about why we have these work days. Then he told them he expects them to work hard all day. Then he asked them why it is important for them to work hard. It was great to hear their responses and you could see that our discussion started their brains working in a new direction that would more benefit them throughout the rest of the day.

After thinking, talking and writing about the importance of guiding students towards the purpose of everything we do through discussion, it was awesome to see it played out.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

So many thoughts...

I don't know where to start! I've had so many thoughts and challenges placed in my mind since Wednesday and I have no idea how to hold onto everything or how to sort through it all. I'm sure I've forgotten over half the things I learned (which I hope isn't really true). I hope I've retained things somewhere in my brain, even if I can't get to them right now. I'll have to trust God with that one.

Friday I met up with Alan, his wife Julie and the interns to go camping in Canyon City. I was looking forward to it so much, and it turned out to be better than I hoped it would be. We drove about an hour in the party bus , passed the skydiving place where Alan proposed to Julie and then made it to the campground. I had been craving to spend time alone with God in his creation and this camping retreat was exactly what I needed. After lunch we had a few hours to spend however we wanted. I chose a cozy seat on the edge of this cliff and had an awesome time talking with God while looking out at the mountains as well as down in the canyon (valley? I don't know CO lingo). It was sprinkling when I first sat down and it was thundering in the distance by a mountain which was SWEET. It was such a refreshing time with God. Then Alan gathered all of us together and sent us out to have more alone time guided by some questions he gave us. We were supposed to pray through them and listen to what God had to say. They were questions about our expectations for the summer, fears regarding the summer as well as fears for our lives, and how we thought God wanted us to grow through this internship.
As I answered the questions I realized I had a lot of fears. God also talked to me a lot about humility. I think that's one thing he really wants to teach me this summer. That's kind of a scary one to learn but I'll be excited when I become more humble. I think my pride really hinders me from spreading the kingdom. I want to hold onto it like it's something I should be proud of or something that is more for me than for other people, but that's not true at all. I'm praying that God breaks down my humility so I can more freely and fully share the gospel with others.
Alan really challenged me in the van on the way back on Saturday to think about how my theology has changed over time. I really want to think about that question. I wish I hadn't waited so long to type this though because my mind is shutting down. What I talked about with Alan when he asked me that is my theology about evangelism. I no longer believe that there is always this one point conversion. Some people experience that, but not everyone. And I don't think you have to pray the prayer to be a follower of Christ. Look at Peter. He started following Jesus before he even knew who he was. When was his point of conversion? When did he become a Christian? He just took steps every day towards Christ and became an apostle. Why do we try to make it this mass production thing?