Monday, September 26, 2011

MAICCD... now that's a mouthful

The mail I received this afternoon makes my heart leap.  I recently requested information about a graduate program in the Seattle area.

"Dear Elizabeth,
It was great to hear of your interest in the Master of Arts in International Care and Community Development (MAICCD) program...."

Northwest University in Kirkland offers a Master's Degree in International Care and Community Development, which is committed to social justice for the poor, powerless and oppressed.  Fuller Seminary (Pasadena, CA) offers a similar program.

Can I/we even afford a program like this? 
Is this the right time?
What do I do with this degree once I've got it?
Could I balance school, work and family?
Would I even want to drive to Seattle weekly?

Yes...No...Maybe so.
I don't know. 

But this girl can't help but dream about that which makes her heart sing, eyes water, and stomach flutter.

I've become a Mac girl

This is the first post from my brand spankin' new MacBook Pro.
I can finally access my email, Facebook, etc. again, and use this wherever I want to, without being attached to an electrical outlet.

I've entered the Mac world.... and I won't go back.

Now, to update my pink razor phone...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Confessions of a Youth Pastor's Wife

Sometimes, I'm fine.
Other times, it hurts.

It feels as though there is a stigma associated with being in ministry.  "I'm a youth pastor's wife, and therefore our life is so full I couldn't possibly have time for anything else."

From the checkout aisle at Fred Meyer: "Paul... now he's a busy man."  And a number of other comments wrapped up in this one: "Gosh, we've hardly seen you, you guys are so busy."

Yes, there are moments of insanity when we we crash on the couch after a long day/evening/week/weekend and are thankful for nothing to do because home  Our summer was full.  Admittedly, we were gone a lot.

June 5: We opened a coffee shop at cafe that I've been managing
June 16-18: Trip to Grants Pass for my dad's 60th surprise party
June 27-July 1: Vacation Bible School
June 27-July 5: Fireworks booths (two stands)
July 6-July 10: Wedding in Santa Barbara
July 17-23: Mayfield Lake Youth Camp
July 28-30: Our escape to Ilwaco
August 1-5: Kids' Camp
August 6: Wedding
August 8: Youth Group trip to Wild Waves
August 10: Youth Group Bonfire
August 13: Wedding
August 18: Youth Group homeless outreach in Portland with Night Strike
August 20: Wedding
August 24: Senior Girls/Freshmen Girls bonfire
August 26-28: Family Camp
September 2-5: Labor Day camping trip with our college group

Summer happened!  ...and you know what?  We live to tell about it!  And the truth is, I had time in between all those things... to BE, to meet up with college girlfriends in Vancouver (you know who you are), to meet halfway to be with family, etc.  I also had lonely moments - sounds rather strange after reviewing our calendar.  There were honestly times where I wished a friend would call and invite me to do something outside of anything church-related.  Times where I wished I had girlfriends here who really know me.  To whisk me away...

The week of the fireworks booth, I spent a lot of time to myself.  Paul was working a lot, and I think the assumption was that I was working, too.  In reality, I walked to the lake twice by myself just to get out of the house because I had nothing to do.  Sometimes, on an evening when Paul is gone, my first thought is to call a high school girl, since they are the ones inviting me to hang out - wanting to go out for coffee and want to come over for breakfast in the morning. 

I spend my days with a 4 year old, Sunday evenings with college students, Wednesday nights with high school students, etc.  I love them.  And what I really crave are friends my own age, and my attempts at getting together have often failed.

I, too, am also guilty of wrongfully assuming things about people's time and have recently been convicted about just that.  I often assume that when my friends have children, they can't do things spontaneously, or come over for dinner for fear of interrupting the night-time routine.  

This entry isn't meant to guilt-trip anyone.  

It's simply the confession of a Youth Pastor's wife doing her best to create a social life while balancing married life, youth group, college group, church, cooking and work.  
And someday, children. :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mayfield Lake Youth Camp 2011

The third week in July continues to be one of the greatest weeks of the summer.  This year especially, I found myself anticipating BIG ways in which God was going to move at camp.  I kept telling my small group girls "I feel like God is going to do some great things with us at camp."  And so, with my camp clothes packed, cabin decorations, camera and ready heart, I settled into a powerful week as a counselor for Junior girls.

About 250 kids attended (middle school through high school) and there were 3 cabins of Junior girls, which are the ladies I get to spend Wednesday nights with at youth group.  5 kids even came up from my home church in Merlin, OR.  (Just another way in which God affirmed our Spring Break mission trip relocation to southern Oregon.)  Two of the Merlin girls got to be in my cabin, one of whom hosted two of our students during our home stay down south.

I knew about a particular strained relationship between 3 of my girls, and had a tearful conversation with one of them about how it was time to make things right.  With "I'm sorry's" exchanged, God answered our prayer with a worship night that turned into a night of reconciliation for not only those 3, but for another girl as well, who described her moment of forgiveness as a burden lifted.  A smile lit up her face as she struggled to find words to describe her moment of peace and joy.  A smile that represented deep healing from bitterness, hurt and anger.

One of the girls from Merlin was particularly difficult to connect with in my cabin - she pretended to be asleep during our cabin discussions and didn't open up at all.  Finally, during our one on one, we had a breakthrough.  She related a lot to our camp speaker's story (Mike Miller).  As one of 18 kids from a mom who has been with a multitude of different men, she called herself a bastard child - born out of wedlock into a dysfunctional home.  She'd been recently kicked out and was living with her ex-boyfriend/almost fiance (which meant sharing a bed) because she had nowhere else to go.  Grasping for words of comfort and failing miserably, all I could do was agree with how sucky things were for her at "home" and encouraged her to share her story with Mike.  Hesitantly, she agreed.

That night, after the message, I introduced her to Mike.  She didn't feel like sharing, so, with her permission, I gave him a snapshot of her background.  I told him how our mission trip was re-directed to Grants Pass, how we had stayed with her friend who was also in my cabin, made connections with her youth pastor, and how awesome it was that she ended up in my cabin after all of that.  I'm still playing the conversation out in my mind.

Mike looked at her and said:
"Do you know why God would change a mission trip for 30 people so you could be here at camp this week?"
"Why?" she asked
"Because you're worth it."

She rolled her eyes and sighed.
Mike asked her to look at him, and repeated "You're worth it..

"Oh honey, you've never heard that before, have you?"

She began to sob, and he said " Listen, if an old, fat guy can tell you that he loves you after he just met you, how much more does your Heavenly Father love you because he sent his son to die for you?!"

Shaking with tears, we embraced.  He challenged her to look forward and to choose who she wants to be.  Her past doesn't define her- she has decisions to make about who she wants to become.

We walked back into the chapel and continued our worship set, and I was broken inside.  I fell into Paul's arms after the service and sobbed about her bleak situation.  Thinking about how impossible it seemed to "just look forward" when all she had ahead of her was yucky.

After spending a year-ish of job-searching and feeling restless in my current situation, God even moved in me.  He sprinkled water on my dry heart, bringing life to a place I felt was barren.  Missing friends, longing for a career job, desiring to know people outside of church, etc.  And here, among a group of young ladies 10 years younger than I, I found such peace in my current situation and felt God affirm: "I have you here for this."  Sure enough, that same night, 2 other young ladies sought me out to talk.

When the Merlin crowd returned home and attended the church service the next day, the one whom had the "breakthrough" introduced herself to my parents, saying how much she enjoyed being in my cabin.  My mom, knowing nothing about her story yet, said "welcome to the family!" and gave her a hug.  Only later, when I told her what happened at camp, did we recognize the power of her words.  Not to mention, this young lady spent the next week helping my dad with games at VBS.

Because she's worth it.

Photos from camp:

My team: "Calvary Crusaders"

My childhood best friend, Hallie, got to be our camp nurse!

 The infamous game of "antiquing" - with cans of shaving cream and bags full of flour.  The point?  
Get as messy as possible!

 Belly-flop competitions, etc.

 Baptisms in the lake after "antiquing"

...and then a weekend away to recover from it all.  A free trip to Ilwaco/Long Beach at a bed and breakfast, and a moped ride around town. 

Haystack rock in the distance - the view from Crescent Beach