Wednesday, December 16, 2015

To Burn-Out and Back Again

I was recently explaining to a friend the toll that ministry had taken on me over the last year. As many of you know if you have been keeping up, I spent much of last year with intense panic and anxiety attacks. With the stress of youth trauma, suicide attempts, rapes, and demonic dreams, I was sick more than I've ever been in my life. I had an awful cold for 3 straight months, losing my voice for quite a few weeks, and I was throwing up with flu-like symptoms twice in less than a year.

The stress and pressure of not being able to save these kids from the bad things that happen to them had led me to a heavy dose of burn-out. Unable to have normal emotions, motivation, or peace, I had to take a step back.

At the time, I didn't really understand God's plan, or if it was His plan at all. These kids were my life, I didn't have time to step back from them! I was distraught and confused as to why I was seemingly being pushed by God to back away for a month and learn how to breathe again.

Over that month I wept, as if part of my soul was being ripped from me. I had spent every waking moment for the last two years worrying about my Apache students and trying to fix their problems. Now God had given me an even harder task. . . taking care of myself.

As the month passed I felt myself begin to heal. My emotional reactions to things became more normalized and less extreme. I began to relate better to Cameron, to love better as my capacity for love filled up again. I had been poured out, dry in a desert, but my cup was being filled and I was amazed when I realized how my lack of ministry boundaries had affected who I was.

As God forced me to heal, I began to finally see how His plan made sense. I was again able to relate to the kids with excitement, and as I finally put strict boundaries on my life and ministry I was able to enjoy ministry so much more. And then, just within these last few weeks it truly clicked:

My ministry now is so different than it was before. . . and it is so much better. Cameron and I are thrilled when students come up to stay with one of us for the weekend, and together he and I are a better ministry team than I ever was alone. This is a new season for ministry as Cameron and I get married, but our ministry seems stronger, healthier, and more exciting than ever before.

You see, God had to pull me away from my calling for a minute, but He didn't steal it away from me, punishing me or forcing me to move on. He simply needed me to be healthy, and ready, and when I was He handed it back to me, saying, "To this I have called you. Now love these kids with a happy and healthy heart." 

And my goodness, what a happy family it is: God, Cameron, me, and these kids. I feel whole again, and so blessed to be allowed to continue in the relationships God has been cultivating for the last two years. These kids are family to me and Cameron, and they know it. So I praise God for helping me do what I could not do on my own. I praise God for knowing what I needed when I refused to see it, and for blessing me and Cameron with the best teenagers in the world as we build a home together.

Burn out or no, I wouldn't trade this last year for anything. But wherever you are, in your ministry or your job, I implore you to listen when God calls you to take a step back. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and His care for our needs is far greater than we realize. Let Him heal you, and watch as His light shines brighter than ever before.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Challenge


As we look to the needs of our community, I believe so strongly that the answer is simple: 

Relationships.  

As we get to know and love each other I believe that we will be drawn to meet the needs of our neighbor. As we leave the doors of our churches as one body, one whole, feeling well loved and cared for, I believe we will be pushed to do the same for our community. To love well, to provide, to be like Jesus as we eat with our community, take care of our community, and put others needs above our own. In 2016, and even now, the challenge is to get to know each other. 

Let's become more than faces to one another. 

Let's become a force of love that cannot be contained.  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Thanksgiving Blessings

I can't believe that at the end of this month I will be standing next to my husband. . . husband. I truly can't wrap my mind around it. It feels so dreamy I swear that if you wake me up I will be so mad. I never want this reality to end. God is so incredibly good. Man, He just knows what we need when we need it. I should be better about trusting Him after seeing Him in action like this. It's all so good. 

I have to admit it has been quite the journey. Selflessness is not my nature. But every day I love Cameron more and every day that leads me to want to serve him more. A good reflection of our relationship with Christ, isn't it? The more we get to know Him, the more we love Him, the more we want to serve Him. Crazy how God gives us such a picture of our relationship with Him through the imperfect relationship with another human. God's a clever fella.

At any rate, as Cameron and I begin our lives together we have the privilege to begin as "mom and dad" and "auntie and uncle" to some of the coolest and most amazing teenagers on the planet. It has been such a light of my life to see my ministry transform into our ministry. We get to have cool experiences together like picking up of our kids for Thanksgiving this year, with all of Cameron's family. When I picked him up at his house he had had a redbull and 2 cookies for breakfast. Thank goodness we had better meals ahead!

It was the greatest joy to bring him through the door as our surrogate son. He is one cool kid and we really enjoy our time with him. One of my favorite quotes was when we were walking back up the stairs to my apartment after being filled up with deliciousness. As I mentioned the problem with the fact that I was carrying everything he exclaimed, "Like father, like son! We both leave mom to carry everything!"

What a privilege to be an example of family for him. What a task set before us to be the father and mother that he wants to emulate. What a blessing to have him and so many others as our sons, daughters, nephews, and nieces as we enter into marriage.

You know what they say. . . the more the merrier! And we welcome any of these kids that choose to walk alongside us in life. I guess I had quite a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. :)

Our "family" picture after Thanksgiving. Love this kid! 
God is so so so good.