Thursday, August 30, 2018

It's Not Earned

While going through some old files, I found this little blurb I wrote in 2014.

Look at my shoes. These are hand-me-downs from a 13-year-old boy. They used to be
his P.E. shoes, and his mom gave them to me when he grew out of them. My jeans
were bought for me by my old roommate Jane. She loves fashion and she used to
check my outfits before she let me out the door because I can make really bad
choices in clothing. Carol Kelsey gave me this shirt for Christmas a few years ago. I
know it’s too big, but it’s hard for me to get rid of it. Carol died of colon cancer last
summer. Melanie’s mom gave me these earrings. Melanie is an Ecuadorian exchange
student who was here in the spring. Her mom and little sister came up from Ecuador the
last days she was here, so I got to meet them and sort of talk to them in a little Spanish
and a lot of gestures.

Basically, I didn’t earn a single thing I’m wearing. I did not pay a cent. Everything I’m
wearing is a gift.
I guess you wouldn’t know that just by looking at me.

Some friends of mine have told me that I’m a goody two shoes and they’re going to
corrupt me. Others have said I don't seem to make mistakes. It just makes me laugh.
Don’t they know who I am? Don’t they know what I’ve done? But you can’t tell by looking
at me that everything I am inside, everything I have become, is a gift.

The truth is, I’ve really screwed up. I’ve hurt people. I’ve made bad decisions. I’ve hurt
my little brothers and sister, who I used to be responsible for. Sometimes I look at the
way they act and I think, “They do that because of what I did to them.” I’ve planned a
hundred ways to kill one of my older brothers, because I hated him so much.

My head used to be like a circus. There were always several things going on at the
same time in my mind - shame, and fear, and self-loathing. Hatred, guilt, and confusion.
They all just rolled around in there simultaneously and continuously. There was a time
that I strongly considered driving off a cliff in the Van Duzer Corridor with my brother in
the car. And I found that as much as I wanted him to die, I wanted to die more because
I wanted to shut up all the voices in my head.

I was tired of being the weird one. The one that always got left out, because I was too
quiet and looked like white trash and when I did say something, it was weird, because
I hadn't had the opportunity to learn the art of conversation. I was tired of being the one
that held my family together because my dad was too sick and my mom was too crazy.
I couldn’t take the pressure anymore of being the one that took care of everyone else.
I had nothing to give. I didn’t just want to die, I was dead inside.

I think people really misunderstand me when they look at how happy I am and think
I’ve never struggled.
I am happy because I have struggled. I feel so alive because I was so dead. I have
oodles of joy because I lived in complete despair.

It didn’t change overnight. It wasn't like, “Dear Diary, on Monday I almost committed
suicide, on Tuesday I gave my life to Christ, and on Wednesday I suddenly knew how
to carry on a conversation, live with joy and gratitude, make good decisions and have
peace inside my mind.” It was a long process. You know what’s really important about
the process of changing? You can’t do it by yourself. Yes, God can do anything, but
guess what? Christ said the church is His body. He uses us to help one another. You
have to have the support of other Christians. You have to be honest with them, and
spend time with them.

If you want to change, but real change happens when you’re with other Christians,
what would the devil want to make you think?

He would want to cut you off from other Christians. He’ll want you to think all the other
Christians are fakes and hypocrites and bubble-headed morons that you don’t want
to spend time with. Or he’ll want you to think the other Christians are so much better
than you that they could never understand your problems. That you’ll never fit in with
them because you’re so much more messed up.

Okay, you’re not perfect. But neither am I. I still struggle with things that I would very
much like to keep secret, even though I know it’s healthier to talk about them. The
point is, I have changed so much as I keep chasing Christ and getting closer to His
people. I know now that His love is perfect and complete, and the closer I get, the
more His love fills me and completes me and overflows into the lives of everyone I
meet. I want more of that. I want to be filled and to fill others. But it can’t happen if we
keep our distance from each other. It can’t happen if we assume we understand each
other, if we look at each other without realizing that anything good in one another is a
gift from Christ, not something we’ve earned by being extra good. He works opposite
to that. He gives, with no strings attached and for no other reason than that He wants
to give. It’s out of gratitude that we respond to that gift and begin to live differently.
We start to live like we believe we’re loved. When you believe you’re loved, you don’t
want to go to wild parties and get drunk or go too far with the opposite sex or drive
off a cliff. When you believe you’re loved, it changes the way you look at the world,
and yourself.

Do you want that?

You don’t always move straight ahead in your walk with Christ. Sometimes you’ll
wonder if you made any progress at all. Sometimes you’ll get confused, and you’ll
forget that you can’t earn anything from Christ. That’s when it will be extra important
to be with the body of Christ. Being honest with yourself and God and other
Christians is hard. Spending time with Christians gets messy, and there can be
drama, because we’re dealing with humans here. But it can also be the most
fulfilling and rewarding time you’ll ever invest into something. I guess you have
to decide. Is the messiness of real friendship worth it? Is the risk of being honest
worth it? Is it worth it to trade in my mask and charade for the real love and
joy of knowing Christ through His body?

Here is a hint:
It is totally worth it.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Talk to him

Why couldn't I let go of the resentment? Why couldn't I simply talk to him, and talk to him honestly? Why did I always think there would be more time?

I finished reading a book called Divine Direction and the last chapter triggered memories. The author said he had led many memorial services, and sometimes when it came time to share about the loved one who had passed away, there was an awkward silence.

At my dad's service, there was an open microphone for sharing memories. We were urged - Eme, Steel, Craig and I - to go and share, but none of us did. In the others' case, I think it was mostly shyness. For me, I was so determined to dislike the man, that no good memories came to mind. I did not want to honor in death a man whom I had not honored in life.

And he wasn't a saint, to be sure. But with the bitterness rooted out, I can remember now his joy in "seizing the teachable moment." If there was a skill or bit of knowledge he realized he could pass on to us, he would happily spend hours teaching us. That's why I'm good with computers, and Steel is good with cars, and Craig is good at woodworking. Recently I found myself singing the Greek alphabet, and I remembered I learned that because my dad had created a program on the computer to teach us Greek.

Mrs. Johnson, my first and second grade teacher, had been my dad's first girlfriend. She told me he wrote her a song on the piano. I remember he used to complain about music. It was for women, he said, it was irritating - but he was actually quite good at it. He couldn't sight-read but he made beautiful melodies just by trial and error.

Once, instead of taking payment for computer services, he traded for a trampoline and roller blades. He worked long hours when I was little, but I never felt that he was missing. He would fix my bike whenever I crashed it. My favorite time of the day was sitting on his lap in the evening, playing "tickle monster."

First, he would hold up one finger, bent at the knuckles. "Do you know what this is?" He would ask. I would shake my head, knowing exactly what it was, but wanting him to say it. "This is a corkscrewing tickle monster." There were many different tickle monsters, but the game always ended the same: "Do you know what it's going to do? It's going to TICKLE you!" And he would tickle me until I was gasping for air.

God, please clear my heart and make me pure. Teach me to love a daddy like You. And if there is anyone that I hold bitterness in my heart toward, please help me to root it out and love them like You would.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Fairy Tale Romances

Maybe it was doomed from the start. He was a senior, I was a freshman. His wealthy and prominent family paid for his schooling, while I worked two jobs and still had to take out loans. He was in the sciences, I was in humanities. Either it was doomed to end, or it had all the makings of the beginning to a fairy tale. I’m a 21st century girl, so I bet on the fairy tale.

I’ve always been good at research. Every time I discover a new creature, I search out all the information I can find on it. I want to know what it is, how to take care of it, how not to kill it, and what boundaries will keep it the healthiest. But no matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find a single clear and logical guide on how to deal with a guy.

Huh. Go figure.

So I winged it. And maybe I didn’t do very well - I was certainly terrible at setting boundaries - but I did end up falling in love, which is just as sparkly as you’ve heard it is. Everything I remember from this time has a warm glow to it. Sometimes it was like being as light as a sunbeam, thinking about him, and sometimes it hurt in an odd way, especially if I didn’t see him for a while. He was always on my mind. I even smiled and laughed differently, and it must have been obvious to anyone who knew the signs, because one day my Polish work study boss asked me, “Beth-Ah-ny, are you in luff?”
“Yes,” I laughingly replied, “How are you?”
Well,” She said emphatically, “I am not in luff!”

All my big plans and dreams were changing to include him, or abandoned entirely in favor of him. He could’ve told me he got a job manufacturing nuclear weapons for North Korea, and I would’ve started thinking maybe North Korea wasn’t such a bad place after all and look into real estate in scenic Pyongyang.

The last time I saw him was when we had lunch together at Bob’s Cafeteria a few days before he graduated. We had a great conversation, as always, and as we left he smiled at me and said, “See you later.”

I never heard from him again.

I knew he was alive, because this is the 21st century and we have Facebook. He posted updates and commented on friends’ statuses, but ignored my posts on his page and didn’t reply to my texts (I only sent a few because I didn’t want to be that girl).

Not the ending you expected? I definitely didn’t see it coming. I felt so devalued, as though I mattered so little that he didn’t even have to bother breaking up with me. Maybe I was just his fun distraction during his last semester, and that made me feel like an idiot: a used idiot. I’m a little ashamed of it now, but I cried nearly every day that summer. Once, I had a dream that I saw him eating dinner with another girl and they were kissing and cuddling. I walked over to his chair, grabbed the top, pulled it backwards onto the floor, put my foot on his throat and snarled, “You could have at least told me.” I woke up surprised by my own violence.

Just as I could find no guide for keeping the relationship healthy, I couldn’t research out an answer to why it ended.

But fairytales always have a lesson, and I’ve learned a lot from this one lovely, horrible experience. For one, I can empathize with others who are entering relationships without a guidebook, and at least tell them, “Here is what I did that I should not have done.”

Also, when I read in the Word that not only does Jesus love me, but He’s in love with me, I understand a little bit more what that means.

When I flipped open the Message translation of the Bible this morning, it fell to Psalm 45. “Now listen my daughter, don’t miss a word: forget your country, put your home behind you. Be here - the king is wild for you...her wedding dress is dazzling...she is led by the king, followed by her companions. A procession of joy and laughter!”

I think this psalm is actually talking about a specific and historic wedding, but it sounds a lot like the wedding between God and the church (the church being Christians, not a building) described in the New Testament. It used to weird me out, trying to think of God as a groom and the church, including me, as a bride. But I think I’m starting to get it. I am so in love with Him that I will go to North Korea if He holds my hand all the way there, and I will go laughing because His love makes me light. It would hurt to be apart from Him, and the closer we are, the more joyful I am. To become so close to Him that I become a part of Him - that we become one - is my hope, like the hope of a bride planning her wedding.

Oh, don’t get me wrong - I still secretly want a sweet husband and chubby, dark-eyed babies. It’s just that I want God even more, because growing closer to Him has been more fulfilling and thrilling than the temporary experience of falling in love. Seriously, though, I’m not just saying this like it’s a religious requirement. Falling in love keeps sliding down the “awesomeness” scale, steadily being one-upped by the experiences of staying up into the early morning to describe God’s love to a Buddhist, and praying for a stranger on a train in Fort Worth, and finding all my financial needs met in the most unexpected ways, and repeatedly, the sudden feeling to say or do something specific to one person and then discovering it was exactly what they needed. We are told that falling in love is the best thing that can happen to you, and maybe that is the best thing that can happen to you. But the best thing of all is to be Love.

An Unexpected Ransom

We have your glove. Give us the money or else.

I was working hard in the Commons, trying to make good use of schedule break. I glanced at the text from Pierce, and quickly replied, Prove that it's my glove. Why should I believe you have MY glove?

Instead of a reply, he sent this picture.

That's definitely my glove, beneath the frowny face on Brianna's hand. I gave up trying to work and we bartered the terms of my glove's return.

Pierce: $5,000,000,000,000. Meet us in the alley behind the homeless man with a purple hat.

Me: Well...I can't pay that, but I do have something that might interest you more. But we will meet on my terms. Indoors, near people.

Pierce: We are in your work study building. We have lots of people. But they are hostages. Be here. Or be square.

Me: Ok, ok, just don't do anything...drastic.


I packed my backpack and hurried down to the engineering complex, making sure to take a route where they couldn't see me coming. I swung open the door to the pedestrian sky bridge they were on and caught them in the middle of a wrestling fight over my glove.

"I got the goods!" I declared, and pulled a new box of chalk out of my pocket.

Brianna and Pierce stopped struggling over the glove, eyes lighting up at my ransom. "Forget this!" Pierce grabbed the box.

Then we decided to draw a picture outside.

This is just one of the many unexpected, wonderful things that happens often at college. Every day is different.

A Pursuit of Larger Ends

When I went to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day speech last Thursday, I really didn't expect to end up in front of a crowd.

It was one of those odd switches. It's something like when you buy a cup of coffee for someone with your last dollar, and then someone buys a whole meal for you. Hours after surrendering my pride and the need to have attention, I stood with my back to an audience of hundreds who cheered and clapped for me.

This wasn't planned. I had already been wanting to go to Les Purce's speech, not because he's the president of Evergreen College, but because he was speaking on topics related to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and as the first black person to be elected as an official in Idaho, I thought he would have an interesting perspective. So instead of staying home watching episodes of Turtleman, I climbed the hill to the Administration Building to listen to Purce.

If you ever end up on the University of Idaho campus, one of the most beautiful things to see - if you stop a moment and really look - is the administration building on a speech night, when the stained-glass windows glow between the wreaths of ivy just below the stars. I was a little apprehensive about going to the speech alone but the windows were worth it.

Purce joked with Don Burnett, the interim UI president, and sang us an entire song without accompaniment. Surprisingly, he didn't focus too much on race issues. He talked about poverty, and how Martin Luther King Jr. was an advocate of the poor regardless of race because "we are inevitably our brothers' keepers." He talked about his family, especially of how his grandmother found ways to help people even though she wasn't allowed to be the teacher she was trained to be.

Les Purce. With a cake.
After the speech, there were two questions, and then there was a gap of silence. I wanted to get up and share my heart and I figured there would be a way to turn it into a question if I talked long enough, so I walked to the microphone smiling vaguely at the stage.

"Hi, I'm Bethany."

"Hello Bethany, where are you from?"

"Joseph, Oregon."

"Ah, Joseph! That's a beautiful place!"

"Yes, I love it...So I was in your speech, actually."


"I'm the one who never went to high school because of poverty."

I should have been so nervous that my voice would be shaking, but Les has a big smile and this natural ease about him, and that made me feel like I was talking to a friend.

"I can't believe I get to go to college. Sometimes my friends complain about having to take classes, and I try to be sympathetic, but inside I'm thinking, 'I'm so lucky to be here. You're so lucky to be here.'"

We talked about the poverty mindset and I said I didn't believe you could throw money at the poor to fix their problems. The only thing I've seen that's worked is individual attention. Are there any programs that can actually help?

He asked me questions about how I got this individual attention, and made a light bulb click on over my head when he commented, "Programs are full of people."

He asked what year in college I was and what I wanted to do. When I said I'd be graduating in December with a major in public relations and minors in Spanish and political science, he said, "You go!" And the crowd was suddenly clapping and Les said I needed to come to his next speech because he'd sing me a song called "Joe the Bandit" about Joseph. I felt the oddest desire to bow as I thanked him and reluctantly left, so I sort of nodded deeply and smiled sheepishly.

I sat down brimming with gratitude for everything, and feeling like God had just spoken through me somehow to at least one person, so that when Les said we must be in a "pursuit of ends larger than ourselves" he was confirming what I felt like God had been telling me earlier.

I've been a small group leader for a Bible study for the last semester, but I don't think I can do it anymore. I'm too self-centered and power hungry to be a true leader. Somehow I can always turn things around so they're about me instead of God. I'm sure I even steal the spotlight from my group members.

And then God said, "You don't want to be a leader? Then stop. Be a servant."

Brenda Zollman told me as I spilled all my troubles to her over the phone, "If you didn't feel desperate, you wouldn't hang on to Him. If you have to rely on Him, you're exactly where you need to be."

It sounds a little awful to be desperate - but I don't think it's the "my car just broke down in East Portland" type of desperate. Today it felt a little bit more like being in love - when you feel an urgency to be with the other person, as though it almost hurts to be away from them. It's a sensitivity that's impossible to keep forever, but you wish you could, even though it hurts.

Light is Never a Heavy Burden

Listen to this while you read. Or just watch and listen! (Link is here if the player doesn't work.)

Stop. Stop trying to figure everything out. Stop trying to redirect your entire life. Stop beating yourself up because you're not who you think you should be. Stop. And be still. Hush. Hold onto Me. Here I am - just turn around and I will be there.

I am not the petty, demanding God you have in your head. I am HE who spoke the universe into existence because MY words are powerful. I carved canyons with a word, commanded the stars to sing, and gave life with one single breath from MY lungs.

Mt. Shivling, India. National Geographic. 
What do you think I need from you but to look at ME and all I have done out of love? You cannot help but love ME if you truly see ME.

Because I am gently and lowly of heart. My burdens are light - and the darkness cannot understand that.

"In the night the stars shine, and beyond the Cross the love of God shines; our earthly sadness, too, will be lost in the light of Jesus." (Amy Carmichael.)

Spanish Moss in Virginia
So breathe My child - rest, My girl. With a single breath I will give you life. With one word I can teach you to sing.


God, you are in all wordless music. In music videos, people always seem to pair wordless song with images of nature. It is You showing Your beauty, the delight You have in sharing it, and there is even some sense of Truth about it - this beauty is real. You are real.

"Though I have all Power in heaven and on earth, I am infinitely tender with you. The weaker you are, the more gently I approach you. Let your weakness be a door to my presence. Whenever you feel inadequate, remember that I am your ever-present Help.

"Hope in Me, and you will be protected from depression and self-pity. Hope is like a golden cord connecting you to heaven. The more you cling to this cord, the more I bear the weight of your burdens; thus you are lightened. Heaviness is not of My kingdom. Cling to hope, and My rays of Light will reach you through the darkness."
(Sarah Young)

"And a light shined in the cell,
And there was not any wall,
And there was no dark at all,
Only Thou, Emmanuel.

Light of Love shined in the cell,
Turned to gold the iron bars,
Opened windows to the stars,
Peace stood there as sentinel.

Dearest Lord, how can it be
That Thou art so kind to me?
Love is shining in my cell,
Jesus, my Emmanuel."
(Amy Carmichael)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Brief Summary of Texas

In Texas, all capital punishment sentences are carried out in a prison known as "The Walls." This prison is located an hour south of Houston, in Huntsville, Texas.

That's where seven of us from Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship (XA) went to learn and share more of God's love. I love the irony. It was a great team, too. Our campus pastors, Derek and Jessica Seaberg came, along with my pals Isaac, Brandon, Jessie and Sarah.
Lovely Sam Houston State University in Huntsville,
...with me and Sarah's feet.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't ready to love or learn. I guess I had lost my vision for the future, and I just wanted to feel good. I was already regretting giving up my break. On the first day of travel, I got the worst headache and spent the day weepy, withdrawn, and wishing I had just gone to Joseph over break like I wanted to.

But the next day we went to church, and let me tell you, every church service they have down there is like a full-blown retreat. Here's what I wrote afterward.

I feel like a blob of quivering, proud, and broken humanity. Everything I’ve heard today has been convicting. This morning, we went to chuuurch. That’s not a typo. There was an extended worship time where you could just soak in the Spirit. The message really got me. It was titled “The Root of Bitterness.”

Look carefully lest anyone fall short of the glory of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Hebrews 12:15

Bitterness isn’t just a sin, it’s an infection. Your bitterness hurts the people you come into contact with, causing a spread of bitterness. So don’t be reopening your wounds and meditating on them. Confess, accept God’s forgiveness, and let it go.

I don’t remember how the pastor connected it, but then he started talking about losing awe of God. Awe is fear mingled with admiration or reverence; a feeling produced by something majestic or sublime. Awe is often translated as “fear” in the Bible. There’s several verses about it. 
Psalm 33:6-9 Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of God...

The pastor said, “If ya’ll lose your awe of God, ya’ll is so dead you may as well be buried...You been doing it [the church thing] ‘cause you know you’re supposed to, but you don’t care.”

This cut a little close to the quick!

After church, we had a meeting with the second-year interns and thoroughly picked their brains on their organization structure, challenges and advice. Then we went on a campus tour of Sam Houston State University, had a spontaneous game of office-chair basketball and then had dinner at Eli's, the music team leader's, house. 

After eating potato salad and chicken and looking at Eli's aquaponics setup, he showed us a presentation on how you stop hearing the voice of God, even though the Bible says he is speaking all the time. First, you start thinking for some reason, God does not have your best interests at heart. So you shut him out a little. Because of that, you can’t hear him so well. You start going through the motions of worship, but your heart isn’t in it. Then you start rationalizing, “Well, I don’t need to go to church to serve God. I don’t need to raise my hands in order to worship.” And then you start manipulating.

That cut even closer. I had to process a lot that night, which was good because we were scheduled to go share our testimonies on campus the next day.
At Sam Houston's historic homestead. Is that a light at the end of the tunnel?
Jonathan Bryce, a pastor from another university, drove 4 hours just to take us to Sam Houston and teach us how to talk to people. He made us write down our testimonies and hand them in to him, then tell our testimony to at least three people. I guess I wasn't done processing what I had learned the day before, because I accidentally-on-purpose didn't hand in my testimony, and stewed quietly and resentfully throughout his entire speech. Then we were turned loose on campus, and suddenly I was quite happy to do whatever I needed. I met several girls on their way to class and had great conversations. Several of them let me pray for them, and I was able to share some version of my story with each of them.

After we debriefed and went back to our headquarters, I admitted to my group, “I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t want to be here.” They prayed for me. Maybe it sounds too easy, but I honestly felt like the resentment just slid off me after that.

Through the rest of the events that day, I met more fascinating people and scribbled down these ideas they related to me:
"Don’t compare yourself to other leaders - don’t look to the side, look up. Also, love with abandon." 
"Have a strong devotional life so you have something to impart."
"When you fight shoulder-to-shoulder with people, fellowship happens."

The next morning, we had a devotional time with the staff, who have their quiet time together. I was in some pain, and I felt like I couldn’t sit still. I read a psalm, a chapter in Ephesians, and a little bit of Matthew, and then I got up and just paced for a long time. It was weird to be in pain every day. It is not normal for me. I started feeling like God was asking me to learn how to serve him even when I don’t feel good.

Sarah and Jessie playing in the leaves at Sam.
Sarah, Jessie and I debriefed together about what we learned in our God times and prayed for each other. When they were praying for me, I suddenly realized the Holy Spirit was there and strong, and working through these two girls who I've had the opportunity to mentor. It gave me so much joy!

We did tabling on campus. The SHSU interns wrote a question on a whiteboard, and we asked students passing by to write an answer to the question. The question was, “What is wrong with humanity?” One guy wrote down “people who don’t think for his/herself.” I asked him what made him think of that, and this led to a discussion about the importance of deep thought, Plato, religions and Christianity. I love that kind of stuff. I told him my thoughts on the strong relationship between Christianity and intellectualism. He basically said he was exploring religions, but circling around back to Christianity.

Then our team had lunch in Sam Houston's cafeteria, Old Main. Sarah and I teamed up to have conversations. 

What this usually looks like is we walk up to someone and say, "Hi, this is Sarah and I'm Bethany. We're with a Christian group on campus, and we've just been going around and trying to get a feel for what students think about God, and what their spiritual background is and stuff. Would you be willing to share with us your story?" Then you can get to know them and ask good questions.

First, we sat down with a girl named Jacqueline who was involved with the Baptist group. She's on a fast track to being a broadcast anchor, so we talked a lot about how God could use her there.

Then we got up, grabbed dessert, and sat down with Amber, a quiet girl who wants to be a basketball coach. Her roommate actually goes to a Chi Alpha small group and she was a nominal Christian, and pretty apathetic about Christianity. “I’m not ready for that,” she said. Sarah and I both shared our testimonies in the "opposite spirit." This is something Jonathan Bryce taught us. When you're talking with people, you should take on the opposite spirit to what they have. If they're aggressive and confrontational, then you should be calm and peaceful. If they're passive and apathetic, then you should be passionate.

During free time we carried a bamboo tree from Sam 
Houston Park back to the Chi Alpha house. We got some weird looks.

At our debriefing meeting, we talked about how we could apply what we learned back on our campus.

At this point, I stopped keeping careful notes because so much happened!

There was street preaching, where two from our group shared their testimonies on campus (with a microphone!) There was Wednesday night fellowship, which was just as powerful as church on Sunday. I saw some incredible things happen that night.

We went to Rice University and had conversations with random strangers there, and talked to the Chi Alpha leaders at that university. Their students were a lot more like ours - busy, smart and apathetic. From them, we learned how to sacrificially love students by giving up time that would normally go to studying. This sounds a little crazy, but it's not about giving up on school. It's about realizing the immense value of people who are worth investing time in.
Rice's amazing campus had castle-like buildings, owls, and a lot of intellectuals.
Did this week change our group? Will it have long-term effects on our Chi Alpha? The answer - it already is changing our group. Sarah has become more intentional about spending time with people who are at risk for becoming disconnected, and she focuses more on encouraging others. Jessie has a glow of joy that almost makes her unrecognizable. Brandon is already spending less time locked away in an engineering lab, and is instead spending time with people he can disciple. Isaac not only developed a sensitivity to people who need help, he has started to connect people and change our worship culture at Wednesday night fellowship. 

It's more difficult to pinpoint the places where I've changed, except that I'm beginning to understand that it's not about me. It's not about my feelings, although feelings are valid. God is there, and he loves me, whether I feel like it or not. And when I continue to surrender to him, even if I don't feel like it, he honors that.

Well, that and I signed up for a conversation partner from the International Programs Office to intentionally make a friend, and had an interesting conversation about the Bible with a Jewish journalist from The Washington Post, and I've signed up for housing on campus this fall to create Christ-like community in the dorms, and...heavens, I don't know what all I've signed up for, but I haven't done it for the sake of keeping busy. I've caught a glimpse of what living for Christ could really mean. I've remembered what life looks like without him. I don't want to waste my life on things that are meaningless. I want to live for him.