Where to even begin?
I’ve officially been here for 30 days, and it might just have been the best 30 days I’ve ever had (sorry, America), and I’m incredibly glad that I have another 4.5 weeks ahead (sorry, Agnews).
So many things have been going on and I can’t even begin to express my excitement for it all.
This past week we had holiday bible club at First Monaghan, and it was an absolute blast. I spent 4 evenings in a row playing ninja, dancing, and talking about Jesus with a herd of ten year olds, and three of them decided to give their lives to Jesus! 73 kids heard the gospel through speaking, memory verses, songs, and crafts, and the Spirit was alive and moving as always. One four year old left the first night upset that she didn’t get to speak to me, and the rest of the week she was front row, giggling every time I looked at her, which made me start giggling, then I couldn’t sing along to the songs we were teaching. She sat with me on the last night and said, “I prayed for you last night! I prayed that you would have fun at club and singing.” She proceeded to follow me around, asking her leader where I was, and after I sang a solo she said, “I could cry!” and she did. Explaining later with a soft smile and more little tears welling in her eyes, “because you were singing a song.” I don’t really know how to take that, actually… but I choose to tell myself it was a good thing..?
Even though we were out with kids every night, the bible studies went on and we all learned a lot through the stories of redemption and reversal in Esther (the Jamie pratt and sarah Matthews simplified version). “Who knows, but that you are in your royal position for such a time as this?” Who knows, but that we are where we are this summer for a specific purpose? God was going to save His people, and He gave Esther the opportunity to be a part of that. Will we take the opportunities God’s given us? Nearly everyone had something different to take away from Esther and to apply to daily life, whether it be the simple fact that we’re all chosen or the example of Esther’s boldness and bravery and reliance on prayer.
These bible studies have been going so well, both the older and the younger one. Every Wednesday night the 18+ group meets with whatever baked goods we’ve tried to make, and digs into scripture. We started in Colossians, reading out loud together and picking out applicable promises, principles and commands, and once that was done we studied Esther in one night as the whole story. I’ve loved using these two different methods and seeing just how much you can get out of each one.
The younger group meets on Thursday afternoons, after long mornings of already being at Hope Café, and they’ve gone just as well, but in a different way. Where the older group starts to talk about other things like the role of the church or current Christian issues, the younger group stays focused on our text for most of the time. We started in Colossians as well, then studied Jonah and Esther. All of the girls loved seeing the stories in a different light, and getting to know them on a level deeper than Veggie Tales can go. This past week we had ten girls, plus me and two other older girls. The conversation was surprisingly deep, and it’s so encouraging to see the girls who don’t go to church, getting more involved and hearing from Christians their age.
Mornings at Hope Café are still one of my favorite parts of this town. I’ve learned to make lattes, and the design on each one is different, because I have zero skill in the area of latte art and the milk does whatever it wants to do. The conversations are still fantastic, and the difference between this and talking to random people on the streets of Nashville is that I’m building relationships, and with each conversation I can piece together a bigger picture of each one’s story. I’m often greeted by massive hugs and big smiles, and Jesus is talked about more than almost anything else, even with the random passersby who wander in.
With lunch dates, “beach parties” (aka 4 tons of sand poured into Hope Café for a youth dance party), coffee conversations and sitting with four year olds, God is reminding me daily of His sovereignty. I’m being pulled closer and closer to our Savior with each moment. But in my little prayer notebook the other day, I wrote the following:
“What will I be like when I’m home? Will I be any different? Will I have changed at all?
Faith: I trust that you will provide for me. I trust that you will help me accomplish every task. I trust that you will guide me, and will use me for your name’s sake.
Prayer: I will not lose sight of the importance of constant prayer, and intentional prayer. I will set out time throughout my day to pray, and to be thankful.
Rest: I will set aside a day to rest in you.
I will look for the needs around me and try to fill them.
I will do EVERYTHING for the Lord.
I will say “no” when I need to, “yes” even when it’s hard, and will build Christ-centered relationships.
I will not fear the unknown.
I will trust in the Lord, and I will never be put to shame.
I will look for Jesus in people, and…
Holy Spirit, I can do none of this without you. I need your help. God I give you my fall semester with open hands. Use me for your name’s sake.
Jesus thank you that you care so deeply for me. Thank you that your love is unfailing. Thank you that you are actually all that matters in life. Thank you for drawing nearer to me, and showing me so much more of yourself. Help me to see that you will deliver me when I rely on you. Thank you for humbling me to the point where I see you in everything I have and do. Thank you for giving me this Spirit of surrender, God thank you that you’ve counted me worthy to go out and declare your name, fully surrendered, because I could never have done that by my own power! If I didn’t know you, I can’t say I’d be pursuing music or photography, because you gave me those things. I don’t even know what I would enjoy doing outside of that which you’ve placed before me. Thank you for leading me here, to a place where I ccan find rest for my soul and refocus on you. Be the fire in my heart, be the wind in these sails, be the reason that I live, Jesus! Thank you for moving in my heart to be the priority of my life. Thank you for emptying me of myself and for filling me with you. Thank you for all that you’ve blessed me with, and I ask that you will help me use it ALL for your name’s sake. I am your daughter, you are my king.”
God is mighty, and He is moving. Will we be a part of it?