Eleven stand outs from two thousand eleven

Being sick and missing church on the first day of the new year was definitely not on my calendar or in my plans, but alas here I am.  Instead of wallowing in self pity I’m taking the opportunity of some quiet time while my hubby is off at church to reflect on the past year and process (not something I do naturally) and then look forward and make some goals for 2012. I couldn’t think of a few words to sum up a year so full of challenges, joys, disappointments, accomplishments and such but there were some things from the year that seemed to stand out.  So without further ado…may I present 11 stand outs from the year that was 2011:

1. Dan finally got an engineering job!!!  This was probably the single biggest joy from this past year – after nearly two years of not having a job in the engineering field and wondering what in the world God was up to Dan got a job – six miles from our apartment even!

2. I was accepted into InterVarsity Christian Fellowship‘s chapter planting cohort and transitioned from staffing an established chapter at a four year university to planting a new InterVarsity chapter at a community college…and then spent the last four months beginning to establish the chapter at the college.  It has been an incredible journey so far!

3. I completed my third triathlon – for some that is no biggie, but for me the fact that I got into the water yet again was an accomplishment.  I haven’t given up on it.  It is something that doesn’t come easily to me nor naturally and so persevering in it has brought me joy and a sense of accomplishment.

4. I have taken risks in evangelism that I never thought I would ever take…and I have found great joy in it!!  Some of my favorite times on campus have been at our question tables or talking to random students who have lots of questions about Jesus.

5. I have tapped into my creative side a bit more and have come to enjoy creating.  I have started painting, crafting, making, sewing and journaling again.

6. Some of the best uses of my time have been getting involved more with our church – Auburn Hills Christian Center – getting plugged in and developing relationships there and going on dates with my hubby.

7. I’ve enjoyed spending time with my family – particularly canoeing up north (never thought I’d see the day that dad flipped his canoe!)

8. Fundraising for the ministry I do with InterVarsity has continued to be a challenge.  I have been seeing a bit of progress over the past month, but it has come slowly and has been emotionally challenging and difficult for me.

9. I haven’t been as consistent or deep in my times with Jesus as I should be or want to be – my times in prayer have particularly come in spurts instead of being steady and consistent.

10. I have wrestled with confidence, particularly in the area of chapter planting…stepping out with authority…and in fundraising.  It has been an area the past few months that I have been praying through and working through.

11. Movement – this year, more than others in recent history has been marked by more physical movement – in running/cycling/circuit training in particular with a healthy dose of hiking (Shenandoah and Dolly Sods wilderness was fabulous!) skiing, climbing and all manner of things outdoors.

My journal holds further reflections and processing…but it has been helpful to look over the past  year and then think about goals for the coming year.  What have been some accomplishments/challenges for you in the past year?  Look for the next post for tips on goal setting and my goals for the coming year!

Thought on Engaging the Campus…

I love campus ministry – the college campus is exciting…it’s full of ideas, thought and learning.  However it is also, unfortunately, a place where students can hide behind the guise of learning in order to try to escape and delay entry into the “real world.”  There is a fantastic book I love…it has to be up there in my top 10 non-fiction books – called God on Campus by Trent Sheppard published by IVP.  The back of the book sums it up pretty well when it says that it “traces a remarkable legacy of spiritual awakening [on college campuses] that streches from the founding of the earliest colleges in the United States to a global movement of nonstop student prayer.”  Reading the rich history of God moving through college students on campus since the founding of colleges in the America (it began with Harvard in 1636…part of their original purpose statement in the college laws written in 1642 states “let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life.”) gets me excited about what God can and is doing in and through college students.  I read this book a while back…in fact I read it almost immediately after InterVarsity sent it to me, but I felt compelled to pick it up again today and have skimmed and read through the large majority of it again.  You see, I’m preparing to speak next week at large group for OU’s InterVarsity next week on the topic of engaging the campus and this book is chock full of stories of how students engaged the campus and changed the world (hmmm…that sounds a little familiar….IV’s vision statement anyone? 😉  It is an inspiring read!

On page 42 Sheppard writes, “One of the greatest myths and most disempowering concepts of our collegiate years is the faulty idea that real life starts later.  As if the daily decisions that deeply influence our friends, significantly shape our campuses and regularly recenter our lives have no actual bearing in the real world. Had the Holy Club [a gathering that started with 4 student at Oxford in 1729 that lead to not only the first rise of Methodism, but also influenced George Whitefield who in turn helped to bring about the Great Awakening] bought into that bogus belief, the world they would eventually transform might still be waiting for some humble and courageous souls to take the risk of actually doing something in the present, rather than forever waiting for the idyllic environment of the future.”

If that doesn’t smack of the potential of college students I don’t know what does!  The challenge is sometimes getting students to see that potential and see that they don’t have to wait until “their careers” to exert influence and exude passion.  Yale, 1909 – William Borden, heir to millions of dollars from his family’s business, had a passion for Christ and reaching his classmates.  He, along with a couple other students, began running prayer meetings and Bible studies with the goal of inviting every person on campus to join them.  By the time he graduated in 1909 one thousand of Yale’s thirteen hundred students were gathering weekly for prayer.  After graduation he set sail to be a missionary and died at the age of 25 in Egypt while studying Arabic – inside his Bible were the words: No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.  He had a passion to make Christ known and he engaged the campus with the gospel and prayer.

Oakland Community College, September 2011.  Thirteen students that are just getting to know me (some may have known me for minutes and some for a few weeks) took steps of faith to work an evangelistic table on campus where we interacted with hundreds of students over the question of whether or not the Bible was worth studying and invited them in to study the Bible with us.  Those kinds of things excite me as I walk on campus.  To see students willing to engage the campus with the good news of Jesus and students excited and passionate about it!!  William Borden started praying with one friend at Yale…the Holy Club at Oxford started with four students…five students at the Haystack Prayer Meeting (which launched the American foreign missions movement) at Williams College…  There is so much potential on college campuses and I am excited to be involved in campus ministry.  I’m believing God for students who are willing to commit to reaching the campus with the gospel and to take risks to do so not only where I serve at OCC, but at OU and at colleges across the nation and globe.  Indeed it is already happening, but I’m believing for more!


Steady obedience….

An edited excerpt from the planting journal I keep…edited for length:

Today (Monday 9/12) I sat outside the F building at OCC for a while with our “Do you believe in God” board.   I went to campus a bit early to make sure I could get a parking spot somewhere near the building.  As I did some work on campus I had to give myself a bit of a pep talk.  I love planting but the fact is that standing at an information/proxe table for seven or so hours, multiple days in a row can be a little tiring…not just physically, but I begin to run a bit low on relational energy and my ability to engage well in conversation with students begins to wane…especially when it is done largely by yourself.  I have been grateful for Steven’s partnership and his willingness to take time to serve.  But as I sat in building F today getting some miscellaneous work done before setting up the table, knowing I was going to have to set it up by myself, I was a little tired and part of me was a little uncomfortable…I was going to be setting up the board without all the other IV banners and such…just the 4’x6′ board with “Do you believe in God?” spray painted across the top and a place for students to “vote” yes, no or unsure.  Having all the banners and tablecloth and all the other stuff for some reason makes it easier…maybe I think the board doesn’t speak as loud.  Whatever the reason I was feeling some discomfort today.   I thought to myself…well, what if I just don’t set it up…or what if I wait an hour until Steven can come too…then I wouldn’t be alone and I wouldn’t feel as odd, etc.  That’s when I told myself to shut up…ant do just do it…even when I feel some discomfort…so I prayed a bit and went to get the board.  It’s a bit of a chore, but I got the massively awkward (in size) board and bag of stickers from the parking lot, up some stairs and set it up against a pole outside of building F.

Building F is a building with a lot of classes in it, right across from a large parking lot.  From that parking lot students will either go directly across to F or over and down to D so right before and right after classes the entrance to F got pretty busy – or when classes had breaks and the smokers came out to smoke.  As I was carrying this board from the parking lot though, part of me was pretty self-conscious…especially as I set the board up.  There is a road that runs between the parking lot and the building so as people would drive by they would stare at me and at the board – even the OCC police officers would stare.  Admittedly I was self-conscious and a bit uncomfortable.  I had these thoughts and images of the outdoor preachers that would come to WSU (many of them preaching a message that was not Biblically accurate) and how people would ridicule them or how even I would be judgmental toward their judgmental and unloving message as I walked by.  As I stood there today at the beginning I thought of how much easier it would be to pack up that board and drive home – I would save myself from hearing dozens of “no,” “no thanks,” “not interested,” etc.  I wondered how many people driving or walking by instantly labeled me or thought I was a complete nut, or weird, or whatever thing you can think of.  I knew that there were people immediately judging me without coming up to engage with the question or me…and as I stood there the first thirty minutes without any super significant conversations I wondered if I was doing any good.  I had passed out a few flyers…a number of people interacted with our station, but nothing of super significance, to me anyway.  I wasn’t able to get the names of anyone who might be interested in joining InterVarsity or investigating Christianity…so I wondered if it was worth my time and worth my discomfort.

However as I stood there I constantly reminded myself every time the sun was out in full force (which it often was) – that even if I didn’t have any radical conversations…that my faithful obedience was what God asked of me.  That everything I do is for the glory of God…it is to exalt his great name.  We are in the business of helping in the mission of Jesus to rescue people from darkness into light…pulling people from death to life.  This isn’t about my discomfort…it is about my faithfulness in proclaiming the name of Jesus and to see students and faculty transformed by the good news of Jesus, to see the campus renewed, and to see students leaving the campus to go out into the world to do great things for the glory of the King.  Sure people might think I’m a little crazy or nutty for being out there…but that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.  I ended up having some decent conversations…nothing earth shaking by what I could see, but some simple and significant conversations.  It wasn’t our largest “haul” of names, but it was formative for me as I took simple steps of obedience to what God has called me to even if I was a bit self-conscious and uncomfortable.

I can’t expect any of the students to do what I’m not willing to do myself…and if that is standing outside the road and parking lot with a big sign asking students if they believe in God then I have to do it as well – even if students don’t join me.  But I’m showing students that we are about engaging the campus with the news of Jesus.  As I hauled the table back to MIVO (my Explorer…short for MobileInterVarsityOffice) I had a student offer to carry the board for me (which I was appreciative of) – as I talked with him he mentioned that he is an atheist, but was really respectful and engaged in a brief, but good conversation with me.

Today might not have been campus shaking but it was a bit Teresa shaking as God challenged me in the places of my insecurity and doubt.  I have the greatest news that can be offered on that campus – the greatest “textbook” to be studied…the hope that no academic subject matter can offer and good news that has the power to change lives.  I read in Acts 4:20 after standing at the table for two and a half hours “for we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard!” – this coming from Peter after he and John were brought before the Sanhedrin for preaching about the salvation that is only found in Jesus.  It provoked me to write down the reflection question “what is it in my life that I have seen and heard about Jesus that motivates me to say ‘I can’t help but talk about it?’ If I can’t think of anything then I haven’t really internalized and grasped the implications of the gospel.”  We have an amazing gift to give the campus and I have the awesome privilege to be used by Jesus to bring the gospel to OCC.  It’s humbling and so exciting…even if I feel a bit self conscious standing by the road.

*My follow up to that journal entry:*

A girl came to small group Tuesday night…I had met her briefly at the table on Monday.  We talked for maybe a minute, but she came to small group and added us on facebook.  As I looked at her facebook wall I saw this post: “Thank God for InterVarsity 🙂 I finally feel connected at occ. Bible study was great, but now I just want more.” THEN another student we’ve connected with replied with “Aren’t the InterVarsity people awesome!!!” – I was super encouraged reading that and felt so blessed…I love my job!!!

On campus the first day of classes (9/1) - the question board behind the table was the one out by itself on Monday!

What’s Your Type?

My life is clearer now – my temperament makes so much more sense…after a few hours of diving into Myers-Briggs and the Step II results.  I LOVE this kind of thing…I love taking tests and quizzes and whatnot to see what they say about me, to see if they are “right” and I like to over analyze this stuff.  As an area staff team for InterVarsity we each took the Myers-Briggs Step II and were sent our results this week.  Yesterday at our staff meeting we spent a few hours debriefing them, getting them explained…and my life is so much clearer ya’ll.  Seriously…I now know why I can get so hyper-emotional and blow everything out of proportion when something sets me off (yep…guilty as charged).  Most people wouldn’t expect that I would do that…because I don’t have a very big “emotional bone” in my body.  On the MBTI is and ESTJ…and I am definitely a T.  Here is a little breakdown on how a T makes their decisions as opposed to an F from Wikipedia (a real academic source I know!):

“Thinking and feeling are the decision-making (judging) functions. The thinking and feeling functions are both used to make rational decisions, based on the data received from their information-gathering functions (sensing or intuition). Those who prefer thinking tend to decide things from a more detached standpoint, measuring the decision by what seems reasonable, logical, causal, consistent and matching a given set of rules. Those who prefer feeling tend to come to decisions by associating or empathizing with the situation, looking at it ‘from the inside’ and weighing the situation to achieve, on balance, the greatest harmony, consensus and fit, considering the needs of the people involved.”

So pretty much…to put it bluntly…I usually don’t care about what you need or feel when I’m making a decision.  Which means I can be seen as harsh, insensitive, blunt, etc…which I already knew.  It also explains why I have a hard time working with people who show a strong F preference.  I hurt their feelings, I push them too hard, I just don’t care about how it might impact them personally – I decide things based on logic.   It also probably explains why I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up! Haha!

What was super interesting and revelatory for me though was learning about how I interact with my dominant (T), secondary (S), tertiary (N), and inferior (F) functions AND that in situations of high stress/crisis people will resort to operating through their inferior function and they won’t do that well.  So for me my inferior function is Feeling – I don’t use it and I don’t operate through it much.  So when I am under a ton of stress or in a crisis I will take things personally, overreact and blow things way out of proportion.  My hubby readily agreed.  His inferior function in Intuition (N).  People who are N dominant look to the future with excitement and optimism looking for all the possibilities.  So when he tries (poorly) to function as and N in those high stress/crisis moments he gets a ‘doom and gloom’ attitude…there is no way out…hopelessness…it will never work…the sky is falling type of thing, and its SO true!

There is so much more I could say…it is all crazy interesting to me and it was super insightful.  The last thing I’ll say is that it also explained why I, as a J, don’t always have all J tendencies/operate as a J in everything.  I am a pressure-prompted, emergent ESTJ.  Briefly, J’s like order, systems, plans etc in their world while P’s like spontaneity, pressure, jump right in the middle of things, etc.  I’m pressure-prompted…I almost never complete anything in advance.  If you give me four weeks to do something I will wait until then night before.  I’m also “emergent” which means when I go to do a project I don’t methodically plan everything out step-by-step how I am going to do it (which is a J thing to do), I just jump right in and trust that I can take care of whatever comes up…so true.  But in most other ways I am a J.

Okay…I’m done analyzing myself…and my husband…and all the other people around me, particularly the students I work with.  I love this stuff.

“Speak up for the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8,9

I have been reading through Proverbs for the past several months…reading the chapter that corresponds to the day.  That means I have read through Proverbs 31 several times lately.  We tend to, at least I tend to, focus on the wife of noble character part, but this time these couple verses really stuck out to me for some reason.  Like I never noticed they were there before.  While meditating on these verses the past couple days…pondering what God might be speaking to me through them…this song by Leeland has played in the background of my mind:

Leeland – Follow You
You lived among the least of these
The weary and the weak
And it would be a tragedy for me to turn away.

All my needs you have supplied.
When I was dead you gave me life.
How could I not give it away so freely?

And I`ll follow you into the homes that are broken.
Follow you into the world.
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy, God.
Follow you into the world.

Use my hands use my feet
To make your kingdom come
Through the corners of the earth
Until your work is done
`cause faith without works is dead
And on the cross your blood was shed
So how could i not give it away so freely?

And I`ll follow you into the homes that are broken.
Follow you into the world.
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy, God.
Follow you into the world.

And I give all myself.
Yes I give all myself.
And I give all myself to you.

I was curious what the back-story of the song was…if there was something in particular that prompted them to write it.  So I checked out the band’s website (http://leelandonline.com/).  They had a mini devotional written up based on the song…here’s what it says:

“We all know that God is omnipresent. It’s a very real fact. He’s everywhere. He has the ability to reach into situations unknown to us. Right now, there are billions of problems throughout the globe; a child soldier in Africa is forced to kill, a street sweeper in Bangladesh has no hope, a teen age girl in Romania is suffering from deep shame after aborting her child. There are problems across the street too. Your neighbor lost their job or their marriage is on the rocks. God knows everyone’s story, and He cares so much!

He’s there, right beside every person in the world. Now’s the time for us to get up and follow in God’s footsteps. It’s really that simple. Find out where God is, and run to meet him there! We know that God’s heart aches for the poor and the needy. They are His children too. As we reach out to people that are hurting, our problems begin to shrink, and we draw closer to God’s heart in the process!

This is what the song “Follow You” is all about. If the church doesn’t respond to the world’s brokeness, it would be the greatest tragedy in all of history. We have what it takes! We have the very love of God in our hearts. We have faith to see the impossible come to pass, and we have a God that’s waiting to back us up in this mission.”

I have really appreciated how InterVarsity has caused me to think about issues of poverty, justice and oppression and how it relates to the gospel message…why it matters.  I don’t know that I would have known that human trafficking exists, let alone care much about it, if it wasn’t for InterVarsity (learn more at http://www.humanwrong.org).  I don’t know that I would have been challenged in issues of consumerism/materialism if it wasn’t for InterVarsity.  I don’t know that I would have cared much or been challenged in issues surrounding creation care if it wasn’t for InterVarsity (Check out this book published by IVP: http://www.amazon.com/Green-Revolution-Coming-Together-Creation/dp/0830836241/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1280726348&sr=1-2).  I appreciate this ministry more than I think I realize and am so blessed to work for such a wonderful organization.  It is hard sometimes when we live in a place of privilege…to step back sometimes and think about.  It has helped me to recognize my own brokenness in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise. 

But sometimes I’m so quick to forget the needs of others…I forget to speak out on behalf of those who can’t.  Sure I might only buy fair trade chocolate (quick intro article to whet your appetite for fair trade chocolate: http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/chocolate_companies_break_hearts_on_valentines_day), I try to ride my bike into campus instead of driving and I give (via direct debit so I don’t even have to think about it each month) to sponsor a child through Compassion International (http://www.compassion.com/) but there is more I could do instead of focusing on myself so much. 

I also watched two documentaries on TV this week – both on “Current TV” – a cable channel.  One was called “Bride Trafficking Unveiled” (watch here: http://current.com/groups/on-current-tv/92357386_bride-trafficking-unveiled.htm) and the other “Vanguard: Soccer’s Lost Boys” (watch here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/156025/vanguard-soccers-lost-boys) – both documentaries on a form of human trafficking and worth the hour a piece watch.  Both left me thinking…okay…so what do I do about it?  Pray and educate at the very least.

I am thankful to God for the reminders this week to stand for justice, for those who are needy – economically, emotionally and spiritually.  Thanks God, for the reminders of my own brokenness and dependency on you; that we can follow you…that we need to follow you.  Thanks God, that you care about the broken and thanks that you have chosen to use us to “speak up for the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute,” and to “speak up and judge fairly; [to] defend the rights of the poor and needy.”