Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Don't take my word for it, take their's!

Well hello dear ones. First, I want to report how fabulous of a weekend I have had! SIX new people joined my support team and I am so encouraged by their desire to partner with me as I go to work with Apache Youth Ministries. We are moving toward our goal and I will report some numbers in the next week. God is certainly good, ALLLLL the time!

I also got to spend quality time with my lovely college friends in Milledgeville this weekend. I felt at home and it was the best feeling to be back.

So now, I want to announce something really cool that I am excited about. I figured that I could tell you all day every day why it is important for me to be on the Apache reservation and why I love working with these kids, but eventually you are going to get bored of that. So instead, I thought you should hear from the students themselves!

So here we go! The first of the testimonies! I am excited for you guys to get to know some of my students, as well as hear what they think of me.

Dude #1 (He didn't tell me if I could put his name yet, so we are going to call him dude):

This guy is awesome. He just graduated high school and we at AYM are really proud of him. He has really encouraged me with his willingness to talk about his faith, and has shown a lot of growth since I met him last summer. He is an incredible artist and I believe God has big plans in store for him. This is his direct quote regarding my time with them last summer:

"I like how you kept most of us accountable and how you just get along with everybody and you are fun to hang out with and I believe that if you begin to work with AYM you'd be able to connect with more students in high school and Junior High. You were a great blessing to us last summer. We all miss you!"

So there it is! Isn't it cool how the people we go to encourage and motivate, so many times, end up building us up? What a blessing. So don't take my word, take his! And join us in this awesome ministry, where we can be the Body of Christ, impacting the lives of Apache youth as they impact our lives as well.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Let's take a jab at this support-raising thing

If you are new here....welcome! I'm glad you came. Grab a good cup of tea and settle in, this is going to be quite the adventure.

So! I've been home for a week. I spent the first two days in the same clothes watching hours of Masterpiece Theatre on my parent's couch. It was glorious. Then I realized that I had things to do so I took a much-needed shower and got down to business. Because what time is it?? It's support raising time.

If you haven't had the experience of raising full-time support I can assure you that it is both exciting...and not...because it is actually really hard. It is first, exciting because I am being really blessed and challenged by the whole experience. It is second, hard because....well....it's really hard.

It is hard because I have to ask people to commit to giving me monthly donations of money. I don't like asking for much, and I really don't like asking for money. I think it is because I feel bad, but as my friend has so nicely challenged me, this is not a good perspective to have.

It is not a good perspective because in order to do the ministry God has called me to do I am required to ask other people to commit to supporting me financially. It is second, not good, because it hinders me from accepting the fact that I have to be dependent on others. I have to put myself out there and I have to be vulnerable. I have to ask others to walk with me on this journey, being honest that I need you in order to live...literally!

So far my ministry with the Apache has been a journey alllll about learning the art of dependency, and it sucks (to be honest). But it is also beautiful! Because so far this whole journey has been about leading me back to humility. I cannot do my job without the help of others. I cannot even go to my place of ministry until people rally to get me there. I am a dependent being, and I have to accept the beauty of that.

So here we go. Let's do this. Here I am, saying I need you. Here I am, on behalf of all the girls on the Apache reservation that need someone to believe in them saying that we need you. We need you to believe in the work that God wants to do in these girls. We need you to believe that you are an important part of changing their lives, that you can be a part of giving them a chance to succeed, to believe in the beautiful daughters of Christ that they are.

What I need, right now, is monthly commitments. Just $25 a month will make a huge difference, and that is less than $1 a day! Choose to support these girls and their future. Choose to believe that God can work through you and work through me! 

The key information is sending checks (memo line AYM) and commitments to:
Christ's Church at Whitewater
1577 Hwy 85 S
Fayetteville, GA 30215

It is tax deductible, and stamps are still pretty cheap. It will give you a chance to know your mailman a little better. And make sure to send me a paper with your name, address, commitment, and email, so that I can be in touch with you. I want to let you know how God is working through us as a people, as a family. I believe that God is going to be faithful in raising this money, and I believe that He is going to do it by my go month, which is September.

Will you join me? Will you believe in this mission? Feel free to revisit the FAQ for more information, and email me if you want to chat. I believe that God can change the lives of Apache girls not through me but through us. Do you believe it too?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

When the going gets tough...

I had a completely different blog post written for today, but some stuff as happened and I think I need to go in a different direction.

In the past few days I have had a really hard time. From the moment I got into my car to move to Arizona things have been really tough. I have had to fight so hard against sadness, despair, and remorse. I have questioned my purpose, my abilities, and my place. On my first day back at our youth center, I caused conflict. I still stand by what I said, but I don't stand by the results or the way it made other people feel. Let's just say that the past five days have not been my finest.

I can blame it on the transition, the lack of sleep, the stress, and I do think all of these things contribute, but I am convinced that the cause of this is much bigger.

I have been given a purpose, and the enemy wants me to run in the other direction. 

I have to say, the enemy's power is strong. As I sit in my parent's living room it is taking every ounce of faith I have not to give up, to give in, to say that I am not needed so I will not go. I have no doubt that the enemy wants me to fail before I even start, and I am actually a bit encouraged by that because it means God has amazing plans.

So where do I go from here? Well, for starters, this is a battle and it is hard, but I will not give in. I will not believe that I am worthless, that I am a nuisance, that my education is worthless and that my presence is not needed. I. Will. Not. Believe. It.

Every moment of doubt, despair, and frustration, I choose to lean on one truth. God has called me. I believe, I know, I am sure that God has called me to work with these Apache girls. I know without a shadow of a doubt that He gave me a vision those months ago, to create a transitional place for these girls to move out of poverty and into flourishing. I know that God has a plan and a purpose, and that He wants to use ME to accomplish it. 

As I write this I am moved to so many tears, not just because this is hard, but because I finally understand the beauty and worth in the Body of Christ. You guys have been so strong. Over the last five days the Body of Christ has been all that has held me up. You have texted me long messages of truth, of my value and worth, and of support. You have prayed for me, and you have listened to me as I spilled all my feelings (even the unsavory ones). You have asked me how I am, and you have believed the Truths when I have lost them in the midst of the lies. You guys have been my rocks, my support, and in the midst of this tough stuff, I have never felt so loved in all my life. I mean that. You guys are fighting this battle for me, and I believe that you are winning. You are combatting the enemy and I have more gratitude and humility than ever before. No amount of words can express just how much I love you all and appreciate your place in my life. I will remember it for the rest of my days.

So that is where we will end for now. This is just a chapter in God's book for me, and I believe that He will prevail. The enemy will be defeated and I will cling to the Body of Christ who has shown me what it means to be loved and valued. I hope that one day I may get to return the favor. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Treasure of Words and the Gift of Dependence

I want to tell you everything, to repeat every kind word and every heartfelt moment from this past week, but words cannot contain all that is in my heart. My mind cannot wrap around it. Perhaps I finally understand what it meant that Mary “pondered these things in her heart.” 

I have been filled with so much encouragement, so much love, gifts, joy, and change, that language does not even have the capacity to express their impact. My brain cannot process, cannot contain, cannot express. I have received so many words, blessings, and prayers, and all I could do was place them close to my heart and let them absorb. In the center of my being I pondered the beauty that has surrounded me and the words and encouragement has seeped into everything that I am. As the words of faithful friends wrap around me they have fortified me, and I am overwhelmed. My heart is the only place that can process all that I have received, and it is a beautiful and overwhelming feeling.

I am blessed beyond measure to have the strength of others holding me up. And I have come to understand what it means to treasure up words and ponder them in your heart. It is to have your heart so full that pure words cannot reflect the power of what you have received. 

All the blessing of the past week I have received because I am in transition. One year ago I drove across the open roads of California and Arizona headed for the first time to the White Mountain Apache reservation, armed with a “fierce sense of independence.” Over the past 2 days I drove the same roads, this time with my car a little more full and my heart a little more heavy. The miles passed much as before as I headed to my new home, but as I continued to ponder everything in my heart, I realized that I no longer possessed the previous summer's independence. 

That fierce sense of independence had been replaced with an overwhelming sense of dependence. Gone was the girl bent to do things on her own. Instead the miles passed with an overwhelming sense of need. Not a single mile was traveled without the words of my friends running through my head and giving me strength to keep on. Not a single moment passed without remembering their blessings, their love, support, and encouragement. Every mile I wanted to turn around, but their support spurred me on and held me up as all my strength left. I could feel them pushing me onward with their prayers and thoughts, and as I crumbled, they carried me. I relied heavily on the words of Fuller friends spoken to me over the last few days, and I was only able to drive with peace because I was reminded that angels had hemmed me in, protecting my journey. 

And in those hours of driving I realized that what I had been fighting for for so long I no longer wanted. It was not independence that I was made for, but dependence. I have had to lean heavily on my Fuller community, and in this God has strengthened me, lifted me up, and given me the ability to do what I cannot. It is only through dependence that I have been able to make this transition, and I am beyond grateful. For even though the days ahead are uncertain, I know that I am loved, that I am cared for, and that I am believed in. I know that my strength comes not from me, but from the people who have been active examples of God in my life. 

I could not have done it without all of you, especially my Fuller family. Thank you for being my strength, and for making me feel more loved than I ever thought possible. I am beyond blessed, and I will never stop praising God for placing each one of you in my life. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

I am so tired. It is the kind of oppressive exhaustion that comes from weeks of adventure, change, transition, and to-do lists that never get done. My body and mind are weary, for the last four days have been full of sight-seeing and memory-making in Northern California with little sleep and lots of movement. But the exhaustion comes from more than that. I feel as if my soul is tired, as if my heart is overtaxed, filled to the brim with conflicting emotions. I want to close my eyes and let it all pass over me, waking up with everything done and the change over, but I stay awake, trying to fight all that is fighting within me. 

In these past two years I have been challenged, enlightened, and changed. I have been formed through the fire and I come out a different person than when I entered. I have been in the depths and I have been in the heights. I have cried and laughed and formed friendships that have held me up when I didn’t know what to do. These years have been full, and as the time comes to move on all I want to do is hold on. I want to hold on to Fuller, to Pasadena, to my time here. As it tries to pull away I try to squeeze it tight, eyes closed with determination not to let go, resisting what is ahead. I know that if I let go then it is done, so I want to scream, “not yet! I’m not ready!” I want to resist the change that is coming, to rest my tired head in this safe place of contemplation, learning, and community. 

But my arms are failing me and the resistance is too much. As my last week begins, I feel time slipping out of my hands. A soft and powerful voice falls over me telling me to let go, but I don’t want to. I don’t like endings, and I am afraid that if I leave I will forget. I will forget what these years have meant to me, what I have learned and what has changed me. I fear that I will forget my people here, that this world will move on without me. Even though I know that my attempts to hold on will fail, I defiantly refuse to believe this can all be coming to a close. So I lay for the last time on my apartment floor and I shut my eyes, letting the memories wash over me. I slip into the past and pretend, for just one more minute, that I can stay here forever. 

But the truth is that on Saturday my Father will pull me off, lending me the strength that I do not have to let go. I know that He will wrap me in His arms and tell me that this is not the end, just another stop along the way. Though I may leave, this place will always be a piece of me, of who I am. And perhaps next week I will be able to rest in the reassurance that the next step of the journey will be just as transformative. Maybe, just maybe, I will be able to sleep a whole day through, waking up to a fresh new adventure and a heart full of love for all that has brought me to where I am. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Two Week Countdown- So sad!

The two-week "farewell to Pasadena" countdown is moving along quickly. I'm getting all sorts of sentimental, so if you live in Pasadena, watch out. All you have to say is, "hey!" and I will launch into a monologue on how much I love you and appreciate you. Its all just too much.

2 years may not seem like a long time, but it has been enough time to settle in some roots and build up a family away from home. It is proving tough to say good-bye to all of that family, plus I hate good-byes so that doesn't help. They just seem so final. Everything changes when you have to say good-bye. Just writing the word so much makes me sad. But back to the point.

Tonight I said good-bye to one of the sweetest families I have ever known. Their three kids are amazing, and I have loved being silly and watching movies with them over the last years. They are one of two families that have been amazing additions to my life since moving West. I think their kids all rock, and if these 2 families wanted to get a big communal house where I could live with them and hang out all the time, I would absolutely do it. I cannot even explain how amazing they are.

Add this to my morning, when I took out "my baby" for our last outing. I have been his nanny for two years, parenting him for 22 hours a week, and I love him as much as I love anyone in this world. The thought of not being a regular part of his life is tough. I am attached and I don't want to let go!

At this point, I'm not going to lie, 2-week-countdown-Meredith is getting a little teary-eyed. It is kind of sad to me that sometimes we don't realize the full extent of our love for people until we have to leave them. But perhaps it is a beauty that accompanies the sadness so that the sadness doesn't win. These kids and their parents have been my family in Pasadena. I have loved making obstacle courses in the backyard, building forts, and chatting with their moms when they are finally asleep, and I wouldn't trade that for anything. They have let me into their lives, and life in Pasadena wouldn't have been the same without them.

So what do I take away as I move on? Well, first I take away the hope that I can always be the crazy former babysitter lady that sends books on their birthdays. I definitely want to be that lady. But even more than that I leave knowing that these families have given me more than pizza and paychecks.  They have shown me the beauty that is family, and I will always look back on them with love and appreciation.

The good-byes are inevitable in these next weeks, but so are the adventures, the memories, and the recognition of the great love and family I have here in Pasadena.

I better grab the tissues.