As I reflect on my journey of the past year as a graduate of college, I thought it was an appropriate time for a blog post. I am writing this post sitting on my bed, at my parent's house, in a room that has a lot of good memories for me that I have lived in for the past two years after I moved back home to do my senior year of college. The past year has been full of celebrations, had it's share of hard moments, and seen many new, exciting adventures requiring courage and bravery as I lean on God and trust that he is not done with me, and that the best is yet to come.
One of my purposes in writing this post is to say that as a single twenty something, still living at her parent's house,
I see you, and so does God. As a millennial, I can say we open ourselves up to a lot of lies that come from a lot of different places. We see pictures of a friend's engagement, spend time with people who have their own apartments or houses, answer questions about what we've been up to, our plans for the summer or next year, and sometimes we feel like we have failed. Well, I'm here to say that just because your life does not look like someone else's or what the world might define as "normal" or "successful" for a twenty-something, doesn't mean you have failed at all.
Those different words and status that you may think define you, don't. As a Christian, one truly defining word sounds something like this- "loved", and our biggest job description sounds something like this -"follower of Jesus". We are loved by family, friends, significant others, and above it all, a God who knows us better than we know ourselves, loves us with a love that outlasts any good or bad thing we encounter in life, and has answers to those prayers that you have been praying for what feels like forever (you know what they are). One big word that I've had to make peace with as I've gone through this past year has been "patience". I've invested time in job applications (some have worked out, and some have not), sweet friendships, physical fitness, and making time to sit "face to face" with God as I bring my concerns to him in prayer and worship. Being patient doesn't mean sitting on the couch and watching that next episode of your current favorite TV show, it means doing what is in front of you, and listening to God along the way- from one day to the next. I have spent the past nine months working as a Paraprofessional for a kindergarten classroom getting the privilege of helping some sweet five and six year olds start their educational journeys, teaching them music, while pursuing musical ventures in various churches and continuing to write and perform my own songs. In truth, I'm saying that if you are finding ways to pursue doing things you know fill your soul, while finding ways to come alongside someone else in their life journey, then you are doing just fine.
FINDING JOY IN THE JOURNEY
If I can leave you with a few take- aways from this last year, it would be as follows: First off, don't be in a hurry to get to what you might call the next "big thing" in your life, because God has things to teach you right where you are. Second, recognize important relationships in your life and show up for those people and celebrate with them, simply because life is short, and tomorrow isn't guaranteed. Thirdly, life requires bravery- so fill out that application, spend time with that person, because you never know how they could affect your story, and on the reverse, you could affect theirs. Lastly, find joy in the journey. It is by far much easier said than done, but joy can be found when you are doing things that fill your soul, connect you with God, and help someone else. And when we remember that life is a journey, we are reminded that it is full of incredible opportunities when we have our hearts open to God, and our eyes open to the people around us. I know I am not the same person I was a year ago, and I'd say that is a good thing. So keep your head up, keep your eyes, ears, and heart open, keep your future self in mind, stay patient, and know you are just where you need to be.
Love and Hugs,
We are back in Wrocław (pronounced: vrotz-wahv) after an intense, wild, and sweet week at the Fusion Katowice (pronounced: cat-oh-veets-eh) camp. For all of the Fusion interns, this camp was like coming home. Having built relationships with students and leaders earlier in the summer, this camp was great for meeting new campers, as well as continuing to dive into relationships formed earlier in the summer. For one teammate in particular, this camp is special because of the fact that so many of his friends come from Fusion and I can tell that he loves the opportunity to serve and lead them and meet new students and give them a taste of Fusion.
For me personally, this camp was special for many reasons. To begin, I loved the opportunity to get to continue building a relationship with one young leader from Katowice I meet earlier in the summer and had the opportunity to live with while I was in Suszec as she took on the role of camp photographer and I was leading Fusion choir workshops. Hearing her talk about how she saw herself a year ago versus how she sees herself now is amazing, and a testament to God’s ability to work in our lives and hearts. My two roommates for this camp were incredible young women who have such sweet hearts, they were full of laughter, and I was so blessed by each of them as I saw them take on roles as section leaders for Fusion, as well as leading discussion groups with three to four girls. Hearing both of their stories was an incredible honor and I can’t wait to see how God will use the places he has brought them from to be incredible forces for his kingdom. It’s moments like these where I want desperately to see them a year from now but am nowhere near able to make any sort of a decision about what next summer will hold for my ministry in this country that has been two years in the making.
Getting to teach guitar for the first time was also a unique opportunity that I had, and one that God has used to show me that teaching is a skill developed. I taught this workshop with one other teammate, and we had four sweet girls, one of which was a roommate of mine for the week. It was incredible to see them all grow in their skills, see them open their hearts to Christ throughout the week, as well as well as how far they had come by the end of the week. One of these girls in particular I will remember because of how I got to work with her as she was set on playing in the concert on Saturday. She was incredibly resilient in learning, and it was an honor that she asked me to play with her in the concert. This girl also ended up making a decision to accept Christ at the end of the week, which left me praising God and in awe of how He moves in hearts. My prayer for her is that she continues to grow in this decision that she has made, and that she will be mentored by someone here who will continue to encourage her and help her learn more about what it means to trust Jesus every day.
Now that we are back in Wrocław and in the debriefing process, my heart and thoughts have been here as I spend these last few days with the people who have become family this summer, but also 5,000 plus miles away as I start to think about what being home in just two short days will feel like. Reflecting on the entire summer, I return to a place of gratefulness as I praise God for the people that have been around me, and the opportunities we have had to speak into the lives of these students and impact their eternities. The story of David has taken on a new meaning as I find ways God uses this story in the Bible to speak to me, and others. It is one of the many stories in the Bible that God uses to show just how faithful and how much of a promise keeper he is, something that I will be leaning in to and learning even more about as I make the transition home. To everyone who has supported me both financially and in prayer, I want to thank you IMMENSELY for believing in the work that God is doing in his church around the world, and partnering with me in this venture that is just the beginning of many more to come. I can’t wait to share more about what this summer has meant to me.
I’m sitting in a small café taken aback by the thought that there are only about three weeks left of this internship experience for me. Our team is back together in Wrocław (pronounced vrotz-wahv) after splitting up to do two different camps. I got to spend the week in the small village of Suszec (pronounced sue-shetz). Our week consisted of doing one hour long workshops where our choir learned four songs, as well as leading worship for our evening programs and helping in English classes. I was paired with a beginner English class that I had the pleasure of working with for the week. When I think about my experience with the students in this village, it was amazing to see a group of students who were very reserved at the beginning of the week come alive as they participated in classes, workshops, theme nights, and our day trip where students were given the choice to either bike or kayak. I had the privilege of being hosted by our camp director who is an absolutely remarkable 21-year-old girl that I greatly admire and we quickly became friends. There were also several other young people from this community that I came to admire greatly as I see their potential for leadership one day. By the end of the week, I was tremendously proud of the Fusion students after our performance at the closing ceremonies of our camp. If you ask me where God was in this week, I saw him in the faith of all the young polish leaders who gave up their week to serve with us. I saw God in conversations had with my hosts as well as with other people from the American team we served with. I saw God in my interactions with the students as we went about the day, and was left in awe on the night we shared the Gospel and students responded after a time of worship that was one of my favorites thus far on this internship. The God we serve is truly faithful and mighty. I’m thankful for all the Fusion students who made this week something I will remember forever, and I am left in awe as I see God’s plan unfolding in this community.
Happy Fourth of July from Poland! With the addition of wifi I thought it was time for a post. It blows my mind that it's already been a little over a month since I began this crazy adventure called my Josiah Venture internship. My time in Europe has been filled with making music, new friendships, building relationships with the students we meet, as well as time for asking hard questions. For me, these hard questions involve what life will look like after August comes, and what God’s will for me in this new season of life is. The hard thing about these questions is that we don’t like to ask them, but for me, part of my reasoning for coming on this internship was to take a step forward in answering these very questions. Devotionals recently given by two of my teammates were very timely in the fact that I was forced to confront the question of what brought me back to Poland for a SECOND time, as well as questions like: what does knowing God that wants the best for me and promises me a full life when I trust him, and knowing his heart for bringing people to himself make me want to do? It’s with these questions in mind that I want to go into the rest of the summer.
I want to be able to be still enough on the inside to hear the voice of God from students I encounter, from teammates as we continue to go through the summer together (some of us in a very similar place: listening, looking and leaning in to God as some prepare for another year of college and are exploring the future, and others including myself are living the twenty-something life wondering what’s next) and act accordingly as I dive into the two camps that we still have on our schedule. I want these questions to be the guideposts for my heart and actions. Patience will also be something that I want to characterize this time, something that may seem counter-productive in American culture. It’s so Christian to say “I’m waiting on God”, yes, I know. However, I know that the God I am waiting on is also the one who uses all things for His good, and when we walk in his will there is peace and life beyond anything that we can comprehend. So, it’s with this new attitude that I meet my next few weeks, headed tomorrow with a group from Oklahoma, and one teammate as well as our “boss” for the summer to a village called Suszec (Sue-shetz) for an English camp with a Fusion track. It’s exciting to be off on another adventure, and I can’t wait to see God at work in and through everyone involved.
Starting the packing process was the inspiration for this post. Packing for an entire summer is easier than one would think, but also harder. Not wanting to be unprepared but also seeing the freedom in not needing much helps me make the decision about what I want to take, and what I want to leave behind. While it will be hard to be away from my family and friends this summer, I want to dive head first into the community that God is creating as a part of this internship experience.
Looking back on my college experience, deciding to be a music major was one of the best, and most challenging choices I made. Choosing a major that puts students of all different ages and abilities shoulder to shoulder can come with great experiences, but also great repercussions. I'll admit, there were times when I wanted to give up, but the community within the School of Music is what kept me going. There were times when I would be plagued by such a comparative spirit that I didn't find it easy to be able to write music, or find much joy in my major. I wanted so much to be that person that fit in with a certain group, and was frustrated when God closed doors of opportunity that I wanted desperately to open- but I powered through. I prayed, sought God, and eventually got to a place where I found joy, and began to find my voice. I reminded myself that being a leader doesn't always mean being in the spotlight or getting recognition, but it's in the everyday ways you do life, and go about your relationships. You have to love deeply, not be afraid of making mistakes and failure, and trust that you have something to offer. But that is easier said than done when you are struggling to find your place as a college student (and eventually, you do) and you want so desperately to use gifts you have, but get frustrated when (at that particular time) all it seems is that you are getting overlooked and don't have much to offer. As I have grown, I have realized that some of those moments are fully intended to be teaching moments that help us grow, and it's up to us to soak all of those in and ask God to bring our hearts to a place where those moments spur us on to maturity. Other times, those are simply moments where we must realize that even at a christian university, we are all broken people and we must live in community and love one another the best we can. There is something you have to offer the world, regardless of what it might seem like right now.
If you are living from a place where all you are thinking is that you'd rather be someone else, God wants you to live from a place where you find complete joy in HIM, and who he has made YOU to be. Compare yourself to Christ and and not to other christians, because this is the place where we learn about Him, and how we are to love the world and those who are in our lives. Whether you know it or not, those moments that seem hard are intended to help you grow. Don't miss opportunities to become more of the person God made you to be. And regardless of how you feel right now, those people who you put on a pedestal are just people, and with time and intentional effort, you find the people who you are meant to walk through different times of life with, and they will love you regardless of what kind of day you are having.
I want this summer to be about leaving behind fears and lies about myself and what I have to offer that until now I've been believing. There will be so much to be present for that I don't want anything to get in the way. I want to take with me those things (a ready and willing spirit, an open heart, a mind on Christ) that will help me love the students and my teammates to the best of my ability, make way for sweet memories from the beginning of this new season of life, and watch as God's plan unfolds for me through this summer and beyond.
This week I graduated college. This week I have also been particularly taken with a song by Zach Williams called, Fear Is a Liar. This song not only has a music video that will make you look down in an effort to hide misty eyes, but it's simple message is something that hits a tender spot in the human experience. While fear is something that we need in order to give us sound judgement about what it means to be safe, there are some moments when fear is one of the most confusing emotions humans have the ability to experience.
Being a young woman embarking on the post-grad journey comes with its fair share of fears... Do I have what it takes to be employable in a musical context or otherwise? What happens when I come back to the United States after my summer in Poland? Will I be able to find a job that I can both whole heartedly enjoy and sustain myself with? What about the relationships and routine of life that feels like it's taken four years to develop? What about my desire to continue to make music and perform, yet still needing to earn a living and contribute to society? All of these are valid questions, enough to raise doubts and cause fear as I (like most people) immediately jump to the worst case scenario. These next three months (and beyond) will take boldness, great faith, and trust that can only come from God as I take time to celebrate where I have been, but also continue to bring the future in prayer before Him and act accordingly.
In moments where life is hard, I want to let peace replace fear. I want to let moments of feeling inadequate be replaced by perfect love that casts all fear into the fire where it is no more. In moments where I am tempted to worry about the future, I want to remember that even the birds of the air are not unnoticed by God (Luke 12:22-32), so how much more will he take care of me in this next season of life called post-grad?
Copy and paste the URL link below into your web browser to watch the music video for Zach Williams' FEAR IS A LIAR:
Just under one month until I leave for Poland. Two weeks from now I will be a college graduate with a bachelor's degree in music. The past year has been filled with so many victories, moments of learning and achievement, and the unavoidable dark times that are only made better by the love of those who are closest to me. The opportunity to better myself through a college education is something that women my age in other countries do not have, and this work has not only helped me grow as a musician but as a person, and more importantly, as a follower of Jesus. I expect nothing from this summer except that God will move in ways that I find unexpected, that I will grow not only as a musician and person but as a young woman after God's heart, and that He has a plan for my life through this internship and beyond this summer. Even in the midst of so many changes and a time where it seems I'm letting go of a lot, I will choose to lean into the steadfastness and faithfulness of God, because He is the rock that never moves, and that is where I want to build my ministry this summer and beyond.