Sunday, February 22, 2009

Valentine's Day '09

Even at a retreat with 50 kids, we found a few quiet moments to spend together on February 14th. Our first Valentine's Day together!

Chapel Message from Feb. 6th

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of sharing in chapel again, for the third time.

I challenged our students to share their secrets and become children of the light (Ephesians 4.) I keep coming back to the concept of freedom, knowing that many students have junk they are hiding in the dark.

I've recently been intrigued by PostSecret and the man behind it all: Frank Warren. He's become known as the "most trusted stranger in America." Basically, Frank had an idea for a community art project which has now turned into a worldwide phenomenon of telling secrets. He left 3000 blank postcards in public places with these simple instructions: "reveal anything, as long as it is true, and send to to me."

The art project is long over, yet Frank continues to receive 1000 postcards per week. In addition to publishing several volumes of postcards (available at most bookstores), he has created an online community where he publishes 20 new secrets every Sunday. Many of the proceeds from Frank's work go toward the Suicide Prevention hotline.

Why is this secret phenomenon so intriguing? Why have over 1 million people visited the website? Why do so many people send this stranger their secrets?

Relief. Freedom. Healing. To not feel so alone. Community. Love. Forgiveness. Relief.

This whole concept is Biblical.

Proverbs 28:13 says "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy."

John 3:19-21 Light has come into the world but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the Truth will come into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

Healing happens when we confess. James 5 says "Therefore, confess your sins to each other any pray for each other so that you may be healed."

I challenged our campus to participate in our own version of Frank's project: Campus Secret.

The message was way better received than I had anticipated. The response is heartbreaking and leaves me... speechless. My RA staff has been so affected by this project, too. During our staff meeting, I read each postcard aloud and laid them on my carpet. We sat in silence, feeling the pain, courage, and bondage behind each one.

Feelings of inadequacies have arisen: "How do we even begin to deal with such hurt?"
"I don't feel like I have anything to offer."
"These secrets are so huge."
"My problems seem so insignificant. I'm getting the bigger picture."
"For being such a small campus, I really thought we knew each other. I was wrong."

For me, I'm in awe of how big God is. Only God can handle all these secrets. Praise God.

The timing of all this has been incredible, too, and none of it was planned. Though this topic has been on my heart for several months, it "just so happened" to fall into a campus-wide concept of repentance and forgiveness. Our display was brought to an end with 15 straight hours of prayer, where at least 10-15 students signed up for at least one hour each. Our campus pastor even shared a heartbreaking piece of his testimony in chapel that has opened up another door for vulnerability, trust, and respect.

It's so humbling and lots of things are left undone. Many need counseling. They need help climbing out of the pit. They need someone to listen, to love them, to sit by them. I know about unwanted pregnancies, deaths in families, sickness, financial hardships, hospital visits, broken hearts, etc.

I devoted the proceeding blogs to sharing more about the Campus Secret project.
I encourage you to follow the steps (as outlined in the post) and take a virtual tour of our exhibit.

May you, too, experience grace and wholeness as you journey into freedom with our Healer.

Press Release

Students Collaborate For Campus Secret Art Project
EUGENE, Ore. — Students from the NCU campus have joined together to share a secret: they are not alone. Inspired by the Post Secret Campaign begun in January 2004, when 3,000 postcards were distributed for people to share their secrets anonymously, students at Northwest Christian University have also taken 126 postcards—some blank, some with designs, others with pictures and personal drawings—and are sharing their anonymous cards as a reminder of the need for living wholly without unhealthy secrets.
Elizabeth Seybold, Area Residence Coordinator at NCU, shared the vision for Campus Secret is “to provide more awareness for what students are carrying around campus.” Within the element of confession and repentance, she hopes that “people are experiencing freedom from sharing these things on their heart” in a Biblical sense.
As this is the first time Campus Secret has been held on this campus, many are questioning the authenticity of these secrets. Seybold responded “While I don’t know if all of them are true, I think there is truth behind all of them…But I’m treating them, like they are true, as this was the intent of the project.”
These postcards range from zany, funny, and strange to heart-wrenching confessions with images of teardrops. The most common secret shared is the feeling of being alone and unnoticed in the midst of such a small campus. Along with this posting, people have left anonymous responses: “You are not alone” and “You are loved.”
“I didn’t know this project was going to be so big,” Seybold commented. “I’ve been really, really impressed with the response and that people took it seriously.” Seybold hopes, along with many other faculty and staff members that this project will bring about a time of healing and communal bonding. As Seybold shares, quoting the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”

Campus Secret

Instructions for submitting secrets:

The secret dropbox:

A description of the Campus Secret project:

Steps for viewing the Campus Secret display:

The display in the chapel lobby:

Our campus' secrets:

"I think Jesus died for everyone else and I deserve to die and suffer in hell."

"You guys helped me not kill myself."
"I'm so ready to love, but fear is holding me back."

"I judge people who remind me of myself"

"My heart aches to be more important than your work. -daughter."

Almost every story I've told is fabricated since they weren't good enough. Now I don't know if I remember what really happened.

"I hate that the "beauty" on the outside keeps you from seeing what's REAL on the inside."

Visitors were encouraged to share their initial comments/reactions/responses on the paper provided. This is what some of them wrote:

"I'm sorry."
"We are all so much alike but so afraid to admit it."

"I just pray God uses this to heal the brokenhearted and bring freedom to this campus."

More responses:
"I don't care what you've done. I love you." "Prove it."

"Lord, please show each person both you are there and let them see they are not alone." "Hebrews 6:19 We have this HOPE as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."

"God knew our secrets before the postcard. Don't fear His forgiveness. It is painful, but it works. I know from experience. 1 John 1:9 Romans 8:38"

"Faith. Is not just for the scared ones."

Displayed under the comment section:

The display, part 1:
The display, part 2:


Campus Secret follow-up

I was recently interviewed by the school newspaper about Campus Secret, and this is how I responded:
Frank Warren, the creator of Post Secret started this concept with an idea for a community art project and now travels around the U.S. to talk about the secrets he's collected. I wanted to do our own “Campus Secret” based on Frank Warren’s idea. I think there are so many Biblical concepts behind what Frank started – the art of confession and repentance, healing, forgiveness, freedom, etc.
Frank’s project has become a worldwide phenomenon – both for parties who reveal their secrets and for parties who read the secrets. There is something freeing about telling secrets and there is something freeing about identifying with someone else’s secret. None of us want to be alone in our pain, which is why God created us for community.
I’ve heard several students’ stories about tough stuff they are carrying, and I wanted to have an avenue where they could express their stories in a safe space. The sharing of secrets doesn’t end with getting it off your chest. Rather, it ends by bringing it to Jesus since he paid the price of our sin on the cross. When we know Jesus and accept His grace, we can be freed from the burden of our sins and pains.
Unfortunately, many students have expressed their fear of being judged on our campus, as though they are crying out “if you really knew me, would you still love me?”
I kicked off the Campus Secret campaign when I spoke in chapel on February 6th. The following week we had a dropbox in the bookstore where students could anonymously drop off their secrets. We received 121 postcards – some written on playing cards, hotel keys and coasters. Others were real postcards, magazine pictures, or mini canvases of their own.
I have been impressed with the response from our campus and my expectations have far been exceeded. Small groups have gone through the display, residence halls, passersby, staff and faculty, too. I think the project is bringing important awareness to our campus about the burdens and ‘stuff’ that many of us are carrying with us. It’s encouraging people to be honest and vulnerable and to experience freedom and wholeness as they bring their secrets into the Light.
I, myself, have been through the display 5 or 6 times. Sometimes I reread the cards. Sometimes I read the responses from our campus community. Other times, I observe others as they pass through the exhibit. There is something sacred about the display – it’s probably the most real I’ve seen our campus be. It’s impossible to finish the exhibit and not be touched and/or burdened.
I’m hoping this will teach our campus how to love each other and lift each other up in prayer, rather than passing judgment based on preconceived stereotypes.
I think this exhibit shows that our campus is ready to be healed.
To be freed.
To be known.
To be loved.
To be accepted.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I scream for icecream!

I just finished my RA staff meeting
and I was tired before it even began.

I also just finished some icecream...
straight from the tub. Mmmm.
Don't worry, I didn't eat the tub itself.