AWLE: It’s Official…

…Little E is one of the cutest babies in the world, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Everywhere we go people just ooo and aaahh and tell me how cute and adorable and happy and smiley and chunky she is. And it’s true. All of it.

Yesterday we went to Barnes and Noble for children’s story time and she loved it. She did so great sitting in my lap and listening to the story, and she also loved all the other kids. I’m pretty sure Little E is an extrovert. She LOVES people, and does NOT love being by herself. She is happy and content to just sit in her stroller and stare at everyone around her, although she also loves to talk to them sometimes, making them smile with her gibberish and drool as she chews on Sophie, her squeaky giraffe. Mr. A and his mommy also joined us for story time yesterday, which was a fun surprise! Little E and Mr A get along quite well, which is good since they will be spending all day together every day in the near future.

Her favorite game at the moment is to lay on her back and pull anything around her over her face. Blankets, teddy bears, dolls, burp cloths, her clothes…whatever is near her is bound to end up covering her face. The funniest part about it is that she gets mad when you pull it off. She loves to just leave it on her face, and she kicks and giggles and thinks it is the best thing ever.

Since she loves adventures and going out so much, I am on the hunt for more fun things for us to do, especially as the weather cools down. Lunch at Whole Foods is on the list, as well as some other fun children’s activities at the nearby Towne Center. Hooray for adventures!

Why I am Terricited (and what that even means)

Everything is about to change. Except Jesus. Thankfully, He always remains the same. I’ve been singing the hymn “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness” in my head for the past two days. And that is so true. My hope and my confidence are in Christ alone.

I start off that way because the rest of my life at this moment is in a state of chaos and transition, with very little solid ground to stand upon. Most of the upheaval is exciting, although part of it is absolutely terrifying, and a tiny bit of it is sad. In other words, I am terricited – both terrified and excited all at the same time. I made that word up the other day…feel free to use it as you have need of it. 😉 One year ago, if you had told me this change was going to happen, I probably would have laughed. But now it is real, and really happening. And I am learning that reality is my friend, and to embrace it.

What are these changes, you ask? Well, it all starts about 10 years ago, when I went to Ukraine for the first time and fell in love with a group of unkempt, lost, lonely children living on the street, desperately in need of love, a home, and the gospel. My heart was captured, and since that time I have wanted to work with orphans overseas. For a variety of reasons that I won’t get into right now (feel free to ask me about it though – would love to share!) the Lord has led me instead on a windy path that has moved me from Charleston, SC, to Berlin, Germany and then to Indianapolis, IN, all the time working with university students.

And I have loved it. Serving on staff with Cru for the past five years has been incredibly enriching, challenging, fun, growth-filled, sanctifying, humbling, stretching, delightful and hilarious. It is an adventure that I would not trade, and I am so thankful for the community and growth that came through being a part of this ministry, and the experience of seeing God actively working in the lives of men and women around the world as His gospel goes forth.

But now a new set of children have captured my heart, this time in Southeast Asia. And so, with some sadness, a little bit of terror, and a lot of excitement, I am saying farewell to Cru and pursuing going to this new, unknown place to love on and serve a group of orphans. The Lord is answering a desire of my heart that I have been praying about for a decade, and I am running after it until He closes the door or leads me otherwise!

There are still so, so many things to work out with this new opportunity (hence the bit of terror). So many unanswered questions. For example: How am I going to get there? And who is going to come with me? (Would you like to come with me? I am now accepting applications for a teammate who is fantastic, adventurous, and loves Jesus. I joke. But really. Let me know. We’ll talk). And when am I going to go? And what will my role look like? And am I crazy? (don’t worry – I already know the answer to that one).

What I do know is that there is One who sees everything, all at once, and I can rest knowing that He knows. He knows the answer to every question I have, and as I continue faithfully walking with Him all things will be revealed. It might end up looking completely different than what I anticipate. I haven’t done so well in the past holding my dreams and desires with an open hand, but I am learning. And this time, I am open to whatever the Lord wants this new adventure to look like.

In the meantime, I am moving back to Northern Virginia to spend some quality time with the family & enjoy my new nephew, start learning the language of the place I am going, transition to a new ministry, love Jesus, embrace community and continue growing and learning to love people well. I will also be learning to embrace the chaos, and maybe, just maybe, even enjoy it.

Thankful Thursday: August 18th

Two things real quick: 1. How is it already Thursday again? Wasn’t it just Thursday yesterday? and 2. I started typing “July” for the date, and yet it is over halfway through August already. Mmmmmk. We’re good. I blame it on waking up at 5:30 yesterday. **Editors note: obviously I was so tired I couldn’t even type the right date once I got the month down. Maybe we’re not as good as I thought……**

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Things I am thankful for on this fine Thursday:

1. Telephones. Really, as much as I dislike talking on the phone, Alexander Graham Bell struck gold when he came up with that idea. Literally changed the world. Although sometimes I wish we still wrote letters instead of talking on the phone. That would be great.

2. Wildflowers. The Zinnias in my garden area are taking over the world one bloom at a time. I have filled 5 vases over the past few weeks, and each time I cut a bloom it seems like 3 grow back in their place! They are beautiful and add so much color to my patio. Plus, they do a great job covering up my ugly air conditioner. Sweet.

3. Prayer. Do you ever stop and think about how amazing it is that we can talk directly to the God of the universe? And that He hears us? And that He answers us??? That is stunning. I’ve been thinking about that as I have had the privilege of going before the throne of grace these past few days praying for dear friends, and am just in awe that He tore the veil in two, allowing us direct access to the holy of holies, and now speaks directly to us. Wow.

4. The Holy Spirit. Conviction of sin by this oft misunderstood and mysterious member of the trinity is rarely pleasant, but there is a sweetness to it, bringing the hope of change and the promise that we are no longer dead in our sin and unaware of our shortcomings before a holy God, but rather alive in Christ, who has made us new and is actively changing us to reflect Him more and more. Now that is a hope I can hold on to!

5. Kiddos. I got to hang out last night with my buddy Asher, who is 2.5 years old. He is precious, and we had a great time together. Some of my favorite moments were him pretending to be a squirrel while eating dinner and using the grapes as acorns, him telling me that we could go “the long way” on our walk around the block, and jumping over every patch of grass growing in the cracks of the sidewalk. So fun.

6. Being a morning person again. I am attempting to go to a cycling (spinning) class at my gym on mondays, wednesdays and fridays before work. The class starts at 6:15, which means that I have to get up at 5:30 to get ready and get there in time. 6 months ago, there is no way on earth I would have been able to pull myself out of bed to get there. No way Jose’. But now I wake up fine! I am LOVING being awake in the mornings again, minus headaches and not wanting to crawl back into bed and stay there forever. I LOVE having energy and making it through a whole day (even though I do still find myself getting tired earlier than I used to and needing more sleep, which means that the nights before I go work out, I need to be in bed by 10:00). So, while I am loving it, we will see how long the gym thing lasts. It may just turn in to me getting up at a reasonable hour of the morning (like 6:30) and still getting to enjoy some time before work begins.

7. The people I work with. They are so much fun! I love that the majority of people in the office are engaging and interactive with one another. It is also quite incredible to me how sometimes the higher the number of people in the office, the lower the amount of work is that actually gets accomplished. Now you know why sometimes I like getting in early. Those can be the most productive hours of the day! But more people also means more fun, so it all seems to balance out in the end.

Staff Conference Re-cap

After months of planning and preparation, our Fall Staff Conference has come and gone like a flash! We ended up with 128 children in child care for the weekend – almost 30 more than I was expecting!! It was definitely a great first conference and a learning experience for me….lots of failures (with lots of grace thrown in), some things done well, and TONS of fun. Most importantly, we didn’t lose anyone, no one had to go to the hospital, and there were only a few minor injuries. At the end of the weekend the kids left with smiles, new friends and Lord willing a better picture of Jesus.

Here are a few pictures from the childcare wing:

Jensen - aka "Luke Skywalker"
Snack time in the 3's room!
Half of the 8-10 year olds!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facepainting and balloon fun with Dooley and Clowney!
More clown fun!

Children Everywhere!

Fact: Children are a great blessing from the Lord. (Prov 127:3, Matt 18:1-6)

It is both humbling and exciting to think about the impact we can have on the life of a child and how they experience Jesus and the gospel. I am thrilled that my job includes getting to plan and run the childcare program for our conferences! Since taking over this job in August, the process leading up to our Staff Conference (my first event leading childcare) has been smooth and seamless.

Until this past week…

  • On Monday I realized that we are 2.5 weeks out from the first day of staff conference, and my to-do list would take longer than that to get done.
  • On Monday 3 of my college workers backed out of working.
  • On Monday we got the final numbers for this year’s group :: 119 children. 119!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (In comparison, last year we had 94)
  • On Tuesday I had a conversation with a couple moms that led to changing up the whole weekend schedule for the oldest class.
  • On Wednesday the Lord provided one new student to replace one of the three that can’t do it anymore!!
  • On Thursday I realized that I still haven’t finalized the lessons for the content to send to the classroom leaders, the snack shopping list, the movie choices for the movie night, or the schedule.
  • On Friday I still had two open childcare spots that need filling, and only half of the paperwork that needs to be submitted on Monday to Headquarters.

On Saturday, I realized that I have two choices of how I can respond in light of the past week:

1. Freak out – stress, worry about how it is all going to get done, wonder what just happened and if there is any way to redeem this situation, think that childcare is now ruined, that I have failed and that childcare is going to fail (maybe a bit extreme, but hey, we’ll go with it)

2. Not freak out – to remember that God is still sovereign, that although these events were a surprise to me, He has a plan in all of it (part of that plan is to humble me and remind me that I can’t do this job without Him), and to remember to keep my priorities straight: if these children are loved well during the conference, get a clearer picture of Jesus and who He is in their lives, and leave having had fun and built friendships with the other kids in their class, then it will be a successful weekend.

By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, I choose option 2. Believe me, my natural inclination is to choose the first. I love being in control, having things go according to my plan, and then stress out when it doesn’t. But that is because I want to look good, to be praised for my good effort, to be known as the one who ‘does things well’, not because I want God to receive more glory.

Proverbs 16:2-3 says “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives. Commit your works to the Lord, and you plans will be established.” When I try to do it on my own, I fail, because my motives are impure. When I commit my works, my stresses, my unfulfilled task lists, and my motives to the Lord, then He has freedom to work in and through me, and receive the glory that He deserves.

I am thankful today that the Holy Spirit reveals my sin, and that the depths of my heart are searched by God. I am thankful that He doesn’t leave me to struggle for control, but convicts me of that sin and then throws challenges in my path that humble me and force me to turn from my own strength and effort and look to Him for the help I so desperately need. I am thankful that I don’t have to do it on my own – that there is a sovereign God who is actively at work in my life (and yours too!), sanctifying me and making me more like Jesus. I am thankful that when I fail, His grace is enough to cover it. And I am thankful that there is a way to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (even if it may take a lifetime to learn how).

Wow – this was not the direction I was originally going with this post at all, nor was it going to be so long. But there it is. Thanks for reading, if you made it this far! Please pray for me this week – mostly that I will continue to trust Jesus with the details, and rely on Him for strength. Pray also that the Lord will provide 2-3 more college students to work childcare, and for time to get everything done that needs doing, and the wisdom to know what isn’t a priority.

Grace and Peace,

Emily