Monday, June 30, 2008

My First Attempt...

So here I am, joining the blogging world. I have always been a little bit intimidated by the idea of launching my thoughts and ideas out into cyberspace for the world to see. However, I know now that I need a better way to stay in touch with my friends and family who are located all over the country. So here it goes, my first attempt.

As most of you know, I am now living in Carmel, Indiana, which is a suburb of Indianapolis. I work at a small Wesleyan Church (about 250 people) as the Director of Children’s Ministry and I love my job! I work Tuesday-Friday in the office planning for Sunday mornings and meeting with kids, parents, and other staff members. God has truly blessed me by placing me at a church with an amazing staff! John and Danielle Freed, the youth pastor and his wife, have already become great friends of mine! Danielle helps me get to know families in the church and she is always there when I need a girl to talk to. And John is so protective and caring. He lets me know everyday that he has my back and that no one is allowed to mess with me. It’s like having a big brother with me at work everyday. They have been amazing! I am constantly amazed by the way that they know how to love people!

John stole my camera and took a picture of himself. This is pretty much what our lives are like in the office everyday. This is a picture of Danielle and I out to lunch with Drew and John.

In the afternoons I work in the church daycare. For the summer I hang out with the first and second graders which means I play games and break up fights over legos. Hopefully during the school year I will start running the daycare’s after-school program. I am really passionate about the program and I hope to establish a focus and purpose for what the kids are doing. The church daycare is a HUGE outreach opportunity. Right now they have over 100 kids. 100 kids right there, in my own office, for me to reach out to and love! I’m so excited about getting to know my daycare kids as well as my church kids.

Sunday mornings are my most exciting time of the week because that’s when I get to teach! Right now we are doing a curriculum series from Group publishing. We are doing focused one month segments about different issues the kids face today. Right now we are in the middle of Music Camp, which is the segment focused on worship. My kids range in age from 4 years old all the way through 7th grade and each one of them has a personality! We have discussion time every week and I am always amazed by the answers that the 4 year olds come up with. They are so sweet and eager to learn, constantly asking questions and listening intently. God has been so faithful to me by providing me with this job. I was called to full-time ministry when I was 15 years old and now I get to live out my passion every day! There have already been some serious challenges and I am learning how to “refill” myself every week so that I don’t get burnt out. Ministry is demanding and it takes a lot of time and emotional energy. However, I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Fall Creek Wesleyan Church has been on my heart since October of last year, before I ever visited or met anyone here. Now I am a part of it! Again, God is faithful.

A picture of me and two of my girls from church, Lauren and Lexi. We got tattoos at the church's family fun night and they kept me entertained the entire time. We laughed a lot and made plans to get ice cream and buy a goldfish.

There is a lot to learn when moving to a new city. For example, basic directions: the grocery store, the bank, the mall, the movie theater. (I just read over my “basic directions” list and laughed. I guess I should probably know my own address and where the hospital is etc. but the mall and grocery store were my first priorities.) Anyway, along with learning my way around town I have experienced some serious culture shock. I have spent the last four years of my life living in Marion, IN working with kids who live in low income housing, don’t have proper clothes or medical care and come to church hungry. I remember at one of my churches where I served during college I had a little boy whose teeth were literally rotting out of his mouth because his family didn’t have the money to take care of him. Another boy had a winter coat that didn’t zip up, which is a huge problem in the middle of a bitter Midwest winter. I dealt with kids who didn’t have fathers or whose fathers were I jail. They had violent outbursts and didn’t know how to respect authority. I had kids who only knew how to punch, kick, scream or curse at me when they were angry. Lets just say it was easy to see the hurt and the pain that they were going through because they wore it on their sleeves. They were in a battle to constantly defend themselves. That’s what I was used to. Those were the kids that I knew and that I LOVED in Marion. Now I am here, in Carmel, and it is drastically different. I have a 20 minute ride to work and one of the things that I do to pass the time is count the fancy cars as they drive by. One day on my way home I counted 3 BMWs, 2 Merecedes, and a Ferarri. This is my life now. This is my community. I have to adjust EVERYTHING that I know and everything that I have learned over the past four years to fit a whole new group of kids. The kids here are dealing with an entirely new set of issues. These children are worried about status and expectations. Image is HUGE around here and kids will do whatever it takes to fit in. I’ve noticed that problems are not talked about, fears and insecurities are not discussed. These kids have learned how to play the game and exactly what they need to do to make it look like they have everything together. I have to say, this terrifies me and it excites me at the same time. I was really worried about this transition but I have realized that no matter where I go, kids are kids and I love them. They have a beauty and an innocence that I wish I still had. They trust and they love genuinely, without expecting anything in return. God is teaching me how to relate to these kids and how to let them know that they are loved. This is my calling and this is what I set out to do everyday. I am praying that we will have some break-throughs in the coming months and that I can get my kids talking about some of the issues that I know surround them. I have the opportunity to lead the 5th and 6th grade small group on Sunday mornings and right now I am really trying to get my kids to open up to each other and start talking about things but it just hasn’t happened yet. I would appreciate your prayers as I continue this process.

The other exciting part about my life right now is that I am living within 30 minutes of two of my best friends in the entire world! My college roommate, Debra and one of my friends from college, Jess. They understand me and know me better than most people I've known my whole life. I am so incredibly blessed to be able to have them so close! We get together once a week to talk and laugh and sometimes cry together. They have helped me through some difficult times in the last couple of weeks and I love being able to share life with them. They both have a lot of wisdom and insight to share with me and they always give good advice! And believe me, I have needed it lately! I praise God for them everyday!

My beautiful friends and I out celebrating Debra's 22nd birthday.

Overall, my life is pretty “normal” right now and I love it! I haven’t been able to say that for a long time. I think I had forgotten what normal feels like. However, God is constantly taking care of me and continues to heal my brokenness everyday. I am so excited to see what He has in store for this next phase of my life and I am also excited to keep you informed! Thank you for your love and your prayers!