Friday, March 29, 2013

Finding my Apache Roots: Part II

I am an extrovert, 100%. I love people, being with people, doing nothing with people, anything but being alone. So one aspect of my weekend on the Apache rez that was so fulfilling was the many interactions with people. By the end of the weekend I thought my heart might explode. I received so much encouragement from students, co-volunteers, and staff members that by the end of my time I felt filled up to overflowing. Here is a recap of why the weekend was so great: 

Relationships with inspiration: The first stand out interaction was that with one of my students from the summer. This girl is my inspiration. When I met her she was pregnant, and just a few months before the baby was to be born her boyfriend/the father killed himself. It was unexpected and devastating. But she held strong, clinging to the sweet life of the baby that was to come. This weekend I got to hold her sweet baby and spend some time with her at her house. Here she gave me some ridiculously awesome news...she got into college!!! This is HUGE and I am so so proud of her I almost cried. I am so impressed by her strength, her drive, and her attitude. I don’t know if I could have come out of all she has been through with the same strong spirit and confidence that life is not over. I am so inspired and so proud of who she is. 

Relationships with “family:” I got to spend a lot of time with the team that works with AYM this past weekend, something that was an unexpected surprise. As some of you might know I have definitely missed family seeing as I am so far from those I love back home, and as a super-extrovert, living alone has been hard. But for the first time in a while I felt part of a community and a family. Whether it was surprising a friend with a party, laughing until I cried, or eating standing up with a bunch of kids running around, I felt a part of something. There were no expectations or pretenses to be held. Everyone was simply who they were, trusting that the rest of us would love them for it, and it was so very refreshing. 

After this weekend I realized how much my heart beats for the students from the rez. I want them to succeed, I want them to know they are loved, I want them to realize their potential. Coming back home my prayer life has increased exponentially as I try to discern what this all means and what God is calling me to do. None of this decision-making process is easy, but I am so grateful to know that I am surrounded by so many who love me and care about me. Leaving the rez I feel fulfilled, and for the first time in a while I feel genuinely excited about my future. 

So here we go, let's see what happens :) 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Finding my Apache Roots: Part 1

Guys. What a weekend. Seriously. I don't think I can imagine it being any better and lovelier than it was. Ok, well, actually the first part could have been better. Perhaps my readers were not flexing their prayer muscles quite yet because the first four things that happened were as follows:

1. My plane was delayed 2 hours. (Not fun. But I did get hit on by an attractive guy which was, in fact, kind of fun and a total ego boost.)
2. I hardcore slipped in the shower.
3. I broke my friend's car she let me borrow. First thing. Just sat down, pulled the seat lever, and tore it right off. Who knew I had such strength!?
4. I had to listen to the Luke Bryan cd on repeat for two hours b/c there were no radio stations. Bad. So so bad.

So the beginning was rocky. But it got so much better.

The first stop was the rez where I got to hang out with the kids at The Kennel after school and then go to The Rising (the youth group meeting thing) that night. I was thoroughly satisfied with the excited reactions from the students when they saw me, and even more excited when I got to meet one of my student's new baby. Phe-nomenal.

Then came a morning of Duck Dynasty watching with my Apache sister. I found my niche guys. Everyone at Apache Youth Ministries is as obsessed with the show as I am. It was lovely. But I did make the sad discovery that I am in fact, a yuppie. When you only pack skinny jeans and a pair of "cute boots" to go to a retreat in the wooded mountains, you can't really pretend you are country. Oops. (Although later I did try to prove my country side by getting some mud on my boots. It was a small step in the right direction.)

And then came the retreat. It was so awesome. It was also so freezing. When I got there I wore two coats, gloves, and a hat. I later realized that was a little crazy, so in an effort to be cooler I ditched one of the coats.  But seriously, the retreat was a great time to be with my students from last summer. With bonfires, manhunt, mud obstacle courses, and a boatload of encouragement from my students and the AYM team I left the weekend exhausted but filled up. Being back with my students was such a joy, and having the chance to have intentional conversations with them was truly a blessing. I was so impressed with my students who have become student leaders, and I was encouraged by the willingness of my girls to listen to me and talk to me about their lives and struggles. I laughed so much and loved every minute of my time at the retreat (well, except for the minute at 3:30am when some of the girls decided to shower with loud music. That moment was not so exciting).

There is so much more to tell from the weekend at the rez, and my heart and soul are so full. God worked greatly in my life this weekend and I am so excited about the days that may lie ahead. Tune in Friday for Part 2 of my Apache adventure! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Prettier Blog, a Trip, and Some Prayer.

Guys, isn't the new and improved Revealing Grace so pretty? I have to thank my friend Mica for taking the time to patiently listen to me (and believe me, it took patience. Finals week made me tired and brain dead), for helping me form my vision for the blog, and for creating such a wonderfully girly, oh-so-me header. He is definitely the bomb.

In other news, I am going back to the reservation today!!! Yay!! I fly out tonight and will drive the 3 hours to the White Mountain Apache reservation in the morning. I am so excited to take a break from SoCal Fuller life and get back to the nitty gritty. I will be spending 6 days hanging out with my students from this past summer, laughing with my Apache family and fellow staff members, and having so much fun at their spring retreat. Can you tell I'm excited?

At the same time we all remember how tough the summer was for me as I worked with my students through their struggles and hardships (see here if you just tuned in). So I would like to ask my readers for a bit of prayer this weekend (in convenient list form).

1. Pray for safe travels as I drive the three hours through the Salt River Canyon to get to the reservation.

2. Pray for my conversations with students G and C. I love these two girls and I am so excited to spend time with them. Pray that I will be able to speak wisdom into their lives and that I will be able to help and encourage them to get on track with the Lord.

3. Pray for the retreat! A couple different tribes will be there so pray that the students will be impacted by the messages, that they will behave well, and that they will build community.

4. And pray for me. I am super exhausted after a long week of work and paper writing so I need the strength of the Lord to get me through the long nights and days ahead with enthusiasm and concentration.

I am so blessed to get the chance to reunite with my Apache family, and I know that the prayers of those who love me truly were my life preserver while living on the reservation last summer. So as I pray and prepare for the weekend ahead I am confident that you all will be with me, lifting me up, as well as the other leaders and the students, in prayer.

I can't wait to update you all when I return. I won't have internet or cellphone service while there so I will make sure to journal and report back on Tuesday.

Thanks for your support....Apache family here I come! 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bad week, bad habits, and a reminder from babies.

You know those weeks where you eat whole pints of ice cream in one sitting and make multiple visits to frozen yogurt joints? (Yes, I tend to bathe my woes in cream and sugar. Don’t judge.) Well, last week was definitely one of those weeks. I have a pretty fabulous life so I normally don’t have more than a few hours of “bad” but last week was just plain rotten. Like when you accidentally leave old food in a tupperware container for 2 weeks and then open it. Gross. (Yes, that happens every now and then. I live alone and I forget things. Again, don’t judge). But I have good news for you, and me, well mostly me because you don’t have to deal with me when I get all bad moody. Unless I leave you voicemails with a quick succession of all the things I hate before going to my group meeting (sorry Jess). If you are Jess then this is good news for you too. 

Today I feel like I have finally freed myself from the bad week monster that was hanging on my back. It has been a combination of things that have improved my demeanor, the most recent being a few hours with a close gal pal yelling out our woes and frustrations, using a few choice four-letter words (not typical for me but oh so freeing), and coming together to grieve over a certain circumstance. Other contributors have been skyping at the library with my Mom, grandparents, and “Aunt” Jean. Or talking to one of my best friends while watching humming birds, again at the library. Or watching Parenthood at the library. Ok, obviously I did a lot to procrastinate from writing my paper at the library yesterday. But hey, in the midst of it I found my sanity!

 But one of the best moments of turn around probably came when I was at work this past week. O is almost 2 and soooo awesome. I adore him. And on this particular day I was sitting on the couch as I turned Pandora to the Christian station on the tv/computer. O was sitting on the couch next to me when he came over, clasped my hands together and squeezed them with his two tiny hands. With his adorable 20-month-old genuine nature he looked me in the eyes, cocked his head a little to the side and said, “pray?” I almost lost it. Here I was wallowing in all my stuff when what I needed was a little reminder from the littlest one I know to pray. “Yes,” I said, “Yes, let’s pray.”

It was the prayer of another little one that got me through this week too. One of my sweet kids who I used to babysit in Georgia apparently decided to pray for me on his way to school this week. The retelling of his prayer from his mom produced many tears from me (I am easily prone to emotions) and was such a sweet reminder of why I am where I am and what my purpose is. 

So its countdown mode once again. Its less than a week until I go back to the reservation for a visit (eee!!!), just 3 months until graduation in June, and 4 until I go on to my next adventure. Its an exciting time and I can’t wait to see what is in store. And I know that whatever it holds, it will be prayer and companions are what will get me through, the good and the bad. 

Well, that and a lot of frozen yogurt.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

What I learned on the Ellen Show.

1. When using the bathroom do not compliment the other person washing their hands on their outfit and its fabulous colors. Perhaps because of the show we are going to she will look at you weirdly and most likely think you are hitting on her.

2. Do not then tell your friends and fellow Ellen Show goers about said encounter. They will proceed to stare at the lady in the colorful outfit and she will become sure that you love her.

3. While waiting to be let in the studio do not stick your finger in the holes of the bench. While your friends are talking about weddings your finger will be seriously stuck due to your rather large knuckles. You will frantically try to pull at it, wondering why you act like a 4 year old child, and have a brief moment of panic.

4. If you happen to get your finger stuck, finally pull it loose, and then look up, you will most likely find the tourist on the other bench staring at you. She will kindly say something generic about "hating when that happens" and you will laugh awkwardly. You will then pretend to look interested in something else instead of looking absolutely mortified that you are dumb enough to get your finger stuck in a bench.

5. Bring snacks.

6. When let into the studio be prepared for some terrible dancers. You will begin to contemplate why everyone dances like strippers and why no one ever told some of the older ladies not to dance like that.

7. There will be a gem that is the older black lady in the glittery outfit who does a mad robot. Watch her for an entire commercial break. Shun all other participants in the dance competition.

8. You will eventually realize that you are tired from all the standing, sitting, and dancing and also realize that you don't have to follow the rules. Proceed to sit instead of stand during commercial breaks and defiantly refuse to cheer for stupid dancers.

9. In the end you will realize that Ellen is nice, people are dumb, underwear models are attractive, and you have amazing friends who will take you to the Ellen show. End the evening by eating Thai food at a restaurant that is literally in someone's house and wa-la! A recipe for a successful day.