Monthly Archives: February 2010

Dear Weekend, I love you.

Lately I’ve been having warm feelings about living at this boarding school. Its so funny how my heart has changed, because when I first heard about the job I scoffed and thought, “That’s too random, I can’t do that.” But it has turned out to be wonderfully healthy for me. I love having a cute little apartment to myself (even though I wish I had a full kitchen), I love hanging out with girls and getting to know them, I love all the activities that go on here, and I like becoming better friends with the other house counselors. It’s also nice not to worry about paying bills. I do miss living in a house sometimes, but I am content where I am. I’m actually considering living here another year, which is something I never thought I’d do. Who knows? God usually has bigger and better plans for me than I have for myself.

I’m looking forward to the weekend. I don’t have much going on, which is lovely. By the way, I can’t believe it’s already here again. Where does the time go? I’ve been busy at work lately with a big project, but I’m finally done! Well, almost. At least I’m in sight of the meadow and almost out of the woods. I feel like now my mind and body can relax together and it’ll be great. I think one of the girls here and I are going to order a pizza tonight and watch the Olympics – sounds perfect to me! Gotta watch cute little Apolo Ohno win the gold, baby.

And I feel it’s time for another internet-free weekend. I find more and more of my time being spent on facebook or online shopping – it’s a slippery slope. I’ve also been watching a lot of things on Netflix. It’s just so stinking awesome how you can watch things instantly now! I’ve been on this Law and Order:SVU kick…not exactly sure why. So, gonna take a break from all of that too. Maybe I’ll actually *gasp* read more of Love in the Time of Cholera – I haven’t picked it up in ages, even though it’s so good! It’s just a little dense; definitely not a light read. So, reading, playing music, spending time with God…and throw in sleeping in tomorrow, a little Wyld Life club (wahoo!) on Saturday night, church and hang out time with YL leaders on Sunday and I’ve got myself a good ol’ weekend.

Hope yours is great – see you Monday!

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Turn Your Eyes

Raise your hand if you have problems with self-control.

You can’t see me, but mine is raised. This is a characteristic and fruit of the Spirit that gives  me the most trouble. Maybe it’s because I’m just a passionate person, so most of the time I live in extremes. I seem to go through life with an “all or nothing” attitude. This can be good in some ways, but in others, it’s my downfall. For example, when I’m watching a tv show on dvd, I don’t just stop at one or two episodes – 8 hours later I’m half-way through the season. But come on, have you seen LOST?

The Bible says that when we’re in step with the Spirit and spending time with the Lord, self-control is a natural by-product (Galatians 5:22-25). This gives me trouble because I think that I can somehow DO self-control. That if I discipline myself enough to study the Word every day, then I’ll be self-controlled. Now, this is actually true – the spiritual disciplines  (meditation, prayer, fasting, solitude, service, etc.) are real and something I’m going to start taking very seriously. But I can never seem to be consistently self-controlled. I try to be disciplined and I might be okay for a little while, but my determination always wanes. So how does this work?

Last week, a friend and I listened to a sermon on self-control by Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC and my entire viewpoint has shifted. Dr. Keller talked about self-control being a matter not of the mind and will power, but a matter of the heart. Joy power. If we set our heart on the higher thing, on the pearl of great price, we will have self-control in all things. Well, what is that higher thing, that higher joy? JESUS. When He becomes our heart’s passion and all-consuming desire, then we will find ourselves exercising self-control.

Why is this true? Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 9:23-27 – he likens our spiritual journey to an athlete training for a competition. Athletes are disciplined and self-controlled because they have their hearts set on a higher thing – on a prize. Just like these Olympians we’re watching compete in Vancouver. Yes, they may want to stay out late partying with their friends or eating tubs of ice cream, but they don’t. Why? Because they want the prize, the gold. Paul says this is how we should live. We are disciplined so that we are not disqualified and in the end, we receive the prize.

What is the prize, you may ask? It is knowing Jesus and sharing in the blessings of the gospel. Jesus had the ultimate self-control in his life and journey to the cross because He had a “joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). That joy was us! You and me! Before then, He didn’t have us, we were separated from God because of our sin – but after He died, took our sin, and conquered death, He did. He made a way to God, a way to be in relationship with Him. We are the joy of God’s heart, the passion and delight of His Spirit, which led Him to sacrifice everything to be with us.

If we fix our eyes on Jesus, if He becomes our one and only delight, we’ll have self-control. Because knowing how much He loves us will compel us to love Him back, to give Him everything. And when we set Him as the higher thing, as the joy of our lives, we’ll want to spend time with Him and we will be disciplined.

Okay, so I basically (although not as eloquently) just reiterated Dr. Keller’s sermon to you. But to me, this is revolutionary! The key to self-control is JOY power. It’s turning our eyes to Jesus. I know that I currently have self-control problems, but I pray and ask God to give me a passion and love for Him that makes everything else pale in comparison. I want to set my heart on things above, not on earthly things so that I’ll be able to put to death anything belonging to my sinful nature (Colossians 3).

During Lent, my desire is to fix my eyes on Jesus and, in so doing, have the desire to spend time with Him daily and do less of the things that distract me. I can already see this shift taking place. Because I want to look to Him and because I want to minister to high school girls and share God’s unbelievable love with them, I want to spend time studying His word and listening to Him. I want to be plugged into what He is doing in the world around me and I can only do that when I am setting my heart on Him. I can only hear when I take the time to listen. I can only learn by studying. I can only find by searching.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus – Look full in His wonderful face – And the things of earth will grow strangely dim – In the light of His glory and grace.

Amen.

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When our dreams come true

I haven’t really been watching the winter Olympics – mainly because I don’t have a tv in my room and it just slips my mind to go down to the rec room to watch – but I really love them. The excitement and energy of the athletes jumps off the screen and draws you into this incredible world. It’s fun to feel our world unite as we come together to play games. Now, I usually have a problem with the amount of money spent on sports and entertainment. It’s quite obscene how much a professional athlete gets paid – and how can we get excited about the winter games with a war going on and places like Port-au-Prince lying in ruin? But maybe it is okay to join the fun every two years and cheer on our favorite stars.

I like the winter Olympics specifically for a couple reasons. One, I do like cold weather and winter (well, for the most part, since this has been one of the coldest winters ever) and I love watching skiing, speed skating, and figure skating. Snow sports are just fun to watch. Two, how beautiful are those Canadian mountains?! The winter games afford us some of the most spectacular views; I definitely want to visit Vancouver someday. The summer games are undoubtedly bigger and get a lot more press – and I usually get more into it because of swimming and volleyball – but this season I’m reminded of my fondness for the other Olympics.

Like I said, I haven’t been watching them, which makes me sad. It makes me sad because I am one of those people who just likes to be a part of things. I don’t like it when something huge is going on and I’m like, “huh?” I want to jump on the bandwagon, I admit it! Probably the extreme extrovert in me showing its true colors. Anyway, I’m visiting my parents for a couple nights and I was excited to watch the Olympics with them. I can’t tell you how many memories I have of watching figure skating with my mom – she loves it. But last night, the cable/internet went out! We were crestfallen. Truth be told, it actually was kind of nice because I spent time reading, but we were disappointed nonetheless. Around 11:00 I randomly decided to check if the cable was back on and…victory! It was. And the cool part was it came back on right as the last few men were getting ready to skate. I got to see the competition that the commentators were calling “one for the ages.” It was so cool. And that guy Evan Lysacek is kinda cute.

The best part was watching Evan win (the first American to win gold in that event since Brian Boitano in 1988!) and the gold medal being placed around his neck. They always show a close up of the winner’s face as they hear their name called, step on the highest podium, and receive their prize. The look on their faces is priceless. Especially as they raise the flag and play our national anthem. I was sitting there realizing that I was actually witnessing somone’s dreams come true. How many times do you think Evan dreamed of that moment and pushed himself to the absolute limit so that dream could become a reality? Seeing the look of awe on his face was priceless. How cool to watch that happen. I just think we don’t get to see that very often.

And maybe we don’t get to feel it very often. As I was watching, I was thinking of what it must feel like to finally be experiencing the thing you’ve been waiting for your entire life. For me, the only thing I can compare it to is the feeling I’ll have on my wedding day, and when I first hold my children in my arms…and when I stand before my Lord and Savior when He calls me home. The joy that these gold medalists feel will be nothing compared to the feeling believers will have when face to face with Jesus. I just love how so many things in life are a picture of what’s to come, albeit a vague and fuzzy snapshot. Oh, how I long for that day, when I stand in Him complete, when I see Him and hear Him call my name. I’ll run as fast as I can into His embrace, on the highest podium. Then all of my dreams will come true. I’ll have won the gold.

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The mountains declare Your glory

I am so blessed by my job. I love the women I work with and I love being a part of Young Life in any way. What’s great about the regional office is that we are the hub of the wheel that is Young Life in most of North Carolina. We get the chance to serve the faithful staff and help them with anything they need as they work hard to reach their communities for Christ. I love it. I love answering phone calls and e-mails and doing my best to find answers to their questions (which usually happens by me turning around in my chair and saying, “Hey Elisabeth, do you know how to…?”). It’s just a great place to work.

Yesterday, Lynn (our regional director) and I drove to Brevard, NC to meet with some Wyld Life leaders. They are going to camp in a few weeks and only a few of them have been before, so they needed some training and preparation. Wyld Life (middle school YL) is just getting started in their community and already they have  a ton of kids involved. And the great thing is, all the leaders are young middle school teachers, which is awesome. Lynn wanted me to come along and talk to them about what to expect at weekend camp and train them in all the particulars. I was so excited! Since I taught 7th grade for a couple years and also worked with Wyld Life in Colorado, I have a pretty good idea about how it all works. I am by no means an expert, but I know enough to help these folks be prepared for a weekend at Windy Gap.

Any time I talk to people about Young Life and Wyld Life, I come alive. In those situations I just remember how passionate I am about ministering to young kids and I feel like I bubble over with enthusiasm. And I also love teaching and training people. So last night was great. And Lynn and I were so encouraged by the ministry in this small, rural community. These folks love Jesus and love kids. They don’t know much about Young Life, but they are so eager to learn and they just soaked up everything we said like sponges. When we left, I told Lynn that it just felt like THAT is what ministry should look like: people in a community finding a way to share Christ with kids and being willing to learn. I hope that this Wyld Life ministry in Transylvania County continues to flourish and that it one day leads to a strong Young Life ministry in the high schools.

Lynn and I stayed the night with a committee couple in Brevard and they have a beautiful cabin in the mountains. I’m completely jealous of it! I hope one day I can live somewhere so wonderful. There’s just something about the mountains that scream GOD to me. I’ve always been moved by the outdoors and nature and I just love how the mountains – and all of creation – declare the glory of God. I can’t help but look at the Blue Ridge mountains or the Rockies or the ocean and stand in awe of how great our God is. He is majestic and beautiful and breathtaking.

The heavens declare You are God – And the mountains rejoice – The oceans cry ‘Alleluia’ – as we worship You, Lord – for this is our song of love.

P.S. Sorry the picture is so dark – it was before sunrise. Lynn made us leave so dang early! (but I love her anyway)

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Cupids & Mortals

There are so many fun traditions here at school! The kind of things that just don’t happen at big public high schools. This week we had “Cupids and Mortals,” which is basically Secret Santa for Valentine’s Day. Everyone who wants to play fills out a piece of paper saying who they are and what kinds of snacks they like and such. Then, each person is given another’s paper and that person is your “mortal.” You are their “cupid.” So each person is a cupid to someone and a mortal for someone else. Starting on Wednesday, you give your mortal little gifts (one each day) until Friday, when you reveal your identity. It’s really quite adorable.

I decided to play because, why not? It’s a great way to be a part of the culture here and I’m just trying to soak up all of these fun things. So I received, as my mortal, a senior day student – and her name is Kate too! How fun is that?!  It was awesome because I know who she is, but I haven’t hung out with her. I was a little nervous because I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, but since this is her last year, I wanted to make it a little special.

On Wednesday I decorated her cubby in the senior lounge and her mailbox. I left her a chocolate rose, a picture of Bachelor Jake in uniform holding out a rose and a note that said, ” Kate, my love, will you accept this rose?” haha I’m so clever! Yesterday, I gave her a snickers (her favorite candy) and some of those Sweethearts with messages on them. Then today, I gave her a little stuffed elephant (her favorite animal), a little puzzle with Disney princesses (with a note telling her to remember she’s a princess), and a devotional journal. Oh, and a note revealing my identity. Pretty cute, right? It was so much fun.

Gifts for Kate! (on the last day...forgot to take pics of the other ones)

My cupid gave me some cute things – a stuffed dog and lots of chocolate (the perfect gift this week). The funny thing is that each day she gave me a Coke Zero. It just cracked me up because I don’t drink soda and I even put on my little sheet that my favorite drinks were green tea and coffee. But it’s the thought that counts!

Gifts for me! (the little baggie is full of m&m's...yummmm)

Ah, what fun. Yet another reason why living here brings me joy. I love it more and more all the time.

And I love afternoons like this that are cold and cloudy and I get to lay on my couch, wrapped in a blanket, eating chocolate from my cupid, watching Grey’s Anatomy from last night. *sigh* Life is good.

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