Thursday, May 28, 2015

Themes & Thank Yous

Where to begin? Some context about my life might be helpful, so let me see what I can do for you there first.

I finished my freshman year at Coe College, and wow was it a year. I am home in beautiful (rainy) Colorado for the summer, and interning at my home church with the children's ministry. I could not be more psyched about that.

On Tuesday (which was technically my first day on staff), I went on an all-staff day retreat to a fabulous little nook of the mountains. While up there, my head pastor, Erik, asked us to walk through the past year with the Lord. He encouraged us to ask the Lord to show us themes & patterns, and just to enjoy some time out in the woods.

Maybe I'm an oddball for never thinking of it, but until Erik asked us to, I had never thought of reflecting on a past year with the Lord. It was a super neat chance, and I think I probably ought to make it a more regular habit.

So I did that. I found myself a very nice corner of a trail and perched on a rock. Then Daddy & I got to talking.

If I could sum up my semesters in sentences, it might be these:
1) I don't know how I lived through most of what happened first semester, but I know the Lord carried me through it all.
2) Second semester, he kept telling me, "I know you want ____, but I'm going to tell you no, because my plan for ______ is better."
3) This summer, he keeps asking me to take things off my plate, and to actually rest.

Perhaps that first item sounds a little negative. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE college. My first year was unusually good compared to most people's first years, and it was full of answered prayers. But first semester was tough at times. I averaged about 4 hours of sleep most nights, especially in the second half of the semester. I had one night that will stick in my mind for a very long time-- it felt like the very bottom of my heart had fallen out. I remember this strong mental image of darkness swallowing all of my hope and every word of encouragement sounding hollow. Additionally in all of this, I was fighting hard to figure out who on earth I was (I'll let you know when I work it all out) and how to not be lonely when I was alone.

It was a recipe for a tough semester. But somehow, the Lord brought me through every single wave in one piece, teaching me to praise Him in the storm. Teaching me that my circumstances don't matter when my faith focuses on Him. He provided wonderful women in my life, strong women who modeled trusting him in every circumstance. He blessed me with a church and a connection group through that church that was always uplifting and full of challenging discussion. That group welcomed me so openly, and I am so blessed to call them my friends & siblings in Christ. So blessed. Daddy blessed me with the motivation to not fail calc 2, even when I napped through it and thought the world was probably going to end. He blessed me with the incredible community and friendship of my ultimate team, who are some of my favorite people on the planet. He blessed me with best friends, great talks, and more than enough cheap pizza. Despite all of the tough spots, I came out of first semester beaming and loving the previous months.

Second semester I learned over and over again that He is good, and His plans are good. I also learned that his plans are often quite different from mine. I could cite four or five specific times when I thought I had a pretty good plan, and he told me, "no, but I'll give you something better." And his plan always was better.

I'm learning to trust that Daddy knows exactly what he's doing. It's a process, especially when I panic about leading a class or not knowing how I'm going to balance all of my commitments. It's really hard to believe him when he asks me to rest instead of work always. It's really hard to trust that he will work out my future-- my current favorite thing to worry about is that if I study abroad, I will almost certainly miss an ultimate season at Coe. I have to keep going back to the fact that he knows what he's doing. I have to keep returning to him.

Isaiah 30:15 is a solid reminder to me. "For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, 'In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.' But you were unwilling."

It is so easy for me to be unwilling to rest, unwilling to return to him, unwilling to quiet myself and trust. But that also means I lose out on the benefits of those things-- being saved & strength. It's an adventure for me to learn to rest and return.

That's what I love about God though-- it's always an adventure, and he always makes a way to learn what I need to learn. Take this summer as an example. People (and Daddy) keep telling me to rest. Keep asking how I'm resting and taking care of myself. Keep encouraging me to take time with the Lord. He is making so much space for me to learn to rest and return to him. Thank you, Daddy, for your grace and for the room you make in my life to learn to obey you and rest.

I am so incredibly grateful for such a fantastic year. Thank you to every single person who supported me through it-- whether we talked once, maybe you just held open a door for me in some random Cedar Rapids store, or maybe you're my best friend. Thank you. I know that I cannot say it enough. Thank you for encouraging me, for teaching me, for challenging me, for giving me rides, for laughing with me, for dancing with me, for loving me. Thank you for everything. (A huge thank you to Daddy for providing me with adventures and people to adventure through life with too.)

I look forward to continued adventures with you all! xoxoxo