December. The end of a semester.
Nashville was full of amazing opportunities this semester, as hard as it may have been. I returned from Ireland in early August and came straight to campus the following week. Instantly God began to open doors for me to continue what I did in Ireland.
I jumped back into the middle school youth group at my church here (Ethos), and have been able to lead some worship at several of the gatherings and the fall retreat. Simply being with the students and getting to know them, seeing the things God is doing in them, is such a treat.
One of the campus ministry staff asked me to help coordinate a weekly homeless ministry, so almost every Thursday I have rounded up freshmen to go out in groups of 3 or 4 to talk with homeless people on Broadway. It has been amazing, and one man we even brought to breakfast and church on a Sunday. I haven’t seen him in a while, but Mike had so many stories to tell of God’s faithfulness. One night I brought my mandolin on a whim and played with Hank, another night we sat with two guys travelling to all 48 continental states, and the stories go on and on. I love helping others experience this and step out of the Lipscomb bubble that it is so easy to become trapped in. I told the Ethos middle schoolers about Mike, and his request for some extra large jackets, and within a couple of weeks we had a large bag of jackets and socks to give away. Joshua and Ninja the travelers took two jackets, a wandering man named Steve got some new socks, and again the list goes on.
I began leading a house church (small group) for Lipscomb students at Ethos, which is full of about 15 freshman and a junior who are some of the most amazing people I’ve met. It has been so encouraging to study through scripture with them, make food, wander through the woods, embrace the two lovely girls who were baptized several weeks ago, and just to get to know them. God has been working so mightily as he has woven this group together, and I’m honored to be a part of it. The very first night I sat at the Well coffeehouse waiting to meet them with cookies, as it rained steadily out the window, which is basically how the Irish bible studies began. God is funny that way.
The most exciting change of my semester has been the opportunity to help lead worship at church. The second time that I co-led prayer gathering (a Sunday worship night), I was reminded of how much of a gift it is to be able to help bring people closer to the throne. I sang Broken Vessels and was watching people raise their hands and sing their hearts out with me, and something in that moment was so magical.
This semester has not been without its hardships and stress. My classes are full of essays, readings, difficult exams, and tearing apart scripture in ways I hadn’t before. I’ve learned a lot, seen new sides of God’s character, and watched him meet me exactly where I am once again. In November, Lorraine and Trevor came over to visit some other friends from Ireland, and I was able to pick Lorraine up from the airport and take her around the city for a while. My worlds were colliding, as we dreamed about the church’s potential and talked about life, and they both came to the prayer gathering that night. My dreams seemed so tangible and the church transcended borders, as we switched roles and prayed and sang together here in America for the first time.
I’ve worked two jobs plus photography and random artistic endeavors, to save up for studying abroad, and though it’s been crazy, it’s been worth it.
On the third of January I leave to photograph a medical mission trip in Nicaragua, and at the end of the week I will fly straight to Santiago for three months abroad.
I’m praying for new friendships, new opportunities, and amazing things to happen while I’m there.
What a year this has been!