Category Archives: service

this encompasses my adventures out in the world. it includes mission trips, local outreach, and things of this nature.

why stephen ministry is simultaneously the best and worst use of my time

About six months ago I started Stephen Ministry training. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I wasn’t involved in service with my church community, I found myself recognizing fewer and fewer faces, and I needed more volunteer experience. Being a graduate student and a reluctant efficiency expert, I decided to try something that would allow me to check all these boxes and maximize my time. Stephen Ministry seemed like a good fit for me.

And then training started.

I was in a class of about ten students. Don’t get me wrong, these folks were awesome, and I have succeeded in making more friends because of this experience. But the curriculum reflected a sort of trite, over-simplified, by the numbers faith. A faith that is so sugar-coated that it makes me sick to my stomach.

Once that was finished, we started the required bi-monthly supervision and continuing education time. In this group, I am the youngest by a good 10-15 years. Which doesn’t normally phase me, except that in this case it means that I have a very particular role to play. If I don’t play it, a certain voice in the conversation is lost – usually the one that is calling for fresh perspective and a step out of our comfort zones. There are also interesting choices made on how to spend our time in small groups, and what information in our caring relationships seems important enough to focus on for extended periods of time. I am waiting to have my mind changed about this part of the process, but at this point it feels like a monstrous waste of my time.

Then there is the heart of it all. I have been paired up with someone who has requested a little extra TLC. I must confess, I fell into the worst trap ever and passed judgment before we started meeting. But here I am eating my words, like I should be. In this pairing, I have the opportunity to not only meet a need for another person, but to exercise my own gifts. We get to dialogue about Scripture, about what this crazy book means for our lives. I have already been thinking profusely about how to teach a healthy theology of Scripture to others, and now I am blessed with a chance to try it out one-on-one. This part of Stephen Ministry is what it is all about. This is what makes that lame meeting worth it (hopefully). I am growing because of this interaction, and hopefully she is too.

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Arrest Me

I am returned from my latest jaunt in Haiti. Lo and behold, this trip has had its own group of challenges and lessons. I had the benefit of realizing them during the trip this time, and thus I am not left with confusion or trying to find answers. God spoke pretty clearly, and I left with some pretty clear calls for how to move forward.

To give you a sense of where I am at, here’s a song written by my friends in the band The Hills Beyond. It describes both where my heart is at this current point in time, and also is my prayer as I seek to move forward. I will post more about my processing, and the specifics of how I want to be growing in a future post.

Arrest me, O God. Arrest me, O God

Take captive my attention
Take hold of my affection
And seize my adoration

For they have wandered far
They have wandered far

Arrest me, O God. Arrest me, O God

Correct my indecision
Confront my indignation
Contain my own rebellion

For I have wandered far
I have wandered far
I have wandered far

Arrest me, O God. Arrest me, O God

Receive me in adoption
Reform me in redemption
Restore me in salvation

For I have wandered far
I have wandered far

Make me a home, for I have wandered far

You make all things new
And you help me love you
You make all things new
And you help me desire you

Help us love you, Help us desire you

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i’m hooked on a feeling

sorting through an experience like going to haiti is always a process. i confess this time around it has caught me off guard. i thought it would be easier this time, being the third time i’ve been to haiti. i thought it would be easier this time, being a leader. i thought it would be easier this time, not having specific ways i was hoping God would show up.

boy was i wrong. this trip hit me hard.

first of all, being a leader adds a whole host of dynamics to both the trip as well as the processing experience. not only did i get to go to haiti, but i got to watch a whole team of people go to haiti. i got to see people and places through entirely new eyes. i got to hear how God was speaking to other people on the team. that was a bigger blessing than i think i even hoped for.

second, i didn’t have any questions this time around. both previous trips, i had very specific things that i’d hoped God would reveal to me, or questions that i’d hoped were answered. sure enough, they were. this year, i didn’t have questions. my goals were to get everyone there and back safely, and to give God as much room to work in other people’s experiences as possible. beyond that, my expectations were slim. shockingly, i got answers. the only thing is…i have no idea what the questions were!

so now, i’m working backwards. i have these things God showed me…but what was the question i was asking – or need to be asking?

i don’t know yet. i’ll get back to you.

here’s what i do know:

this trip was an affirmation of both my gifts as a leader and relating to others along their journeys. it was also an affirmation of my heart for haiti, and the world. i have been questioning the call i have felt to be a missionary. i don’t think this call is in question anymore, though i have been humbled to the point of allowing God to decide if/when and what that looks like, and i have officially given up following the call on my terms.

this trip was also a call to grieve. grief has been a theme in my life this year (see good grief), and this trip continued that. there are specific things that i repeatedly felt pushed to grieve: mistakes i have made, things i regret, people i’ve hurt, sacrifices i’ve made. things i didn’t want to let go of. by the end of the trip, it hurt more to hold onto them than to let them go. some of these things i’ve had to let go of completely, with the intention of moving on. others i’ve let go of control in order to allow God to work. i have already been surprised by God. when i give God the space and freedom to work in my life, God does. i need to trust in that more.

i am now going to refer back to some of the lessons i learned last year in haiti, as outlined by the Red Sea Rules:

1. realize that God means for you to be where you are.
2. be more concerned for God’s glory than your own relief.
3. acknowledge the enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.
4. pray.
5. stay calm and confident and give God time to work.
6. when unsure just take the next logical step by faith.
7. envision God’s enveloping presence.
8. trust God to deliver in his own unique way.
9. view your current crisis as a faith builder for the future.
10. don’t forget to praise him.

God is good. all the time.

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Haiti, part three

in just three more sleeps i will be headed back to Haiti with a group of really awesome folks. we are working with Bruce and Deb Robinson, specifically on a school that the children of our church started raising money for over a year and a half ago. i just have four words to say to you:

I. AM. SO. EXCITED.

my bet is that this trip will be much different than the last two times i have been there for two very important reasons: a) i’m in school, and will thus be doing homework :/, and b) i’m leading this trip. i have gotten to plan, recruit a team, organize, purchase supplies, run meetings and pray for this team and trip for the last 9 months. and now we are finally going.

keep your eyes peeled for stories, blogs, pictures and the like. 😀

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to haiti, with love

dear haiti,

my heart breaks with you at the situation in your country. 2010 has been a year full of trials and tribulation on top of centuries of unrest, corruption, and devastation.

2010 also marks the year that we met. i was there with you when your foundations shook on 12 january. i cannot pretend to understand the devastation that ensued, as i was relatively quickly whisked back to the safety and security of my “american dream”. i returned in april and saw tent cities and heard stories of life after the quake. and i’m coming back.

this summer was hurricane season, and i watched as winds and rain tore through your makeshift shelters. in october, because of horrific living conditions and poor sanitation, your people have suffered an outbreak of cholera.

and today, the glimmer of hope that a new elected leader might change the tide was squished out amid controversy and scandal.

haiti, i have set foot on your shores, felt your earth under my feet, swam in your seas, hugged your residents, played with your children, tied rebar for your school buildings, and worshiped our living God with you in your churches. my heart is inextricably linked with yours, and i will see you again.

heavenly father, maker of the universe and lover of our souls, i pray for haiti. i pray for your glory to shine through the corruption, for your provision for those who have no home or food, and for a moving of your spirit so completely that haiti would know your name and turn to you. i pray for those of us of privilege, that we will know how best to help the situation without perpetuating it. i pray for a revival. and most of all i pray that your church will never forget our brothers and sisters around the world, that we will never forget the orphan, widow and foreigner. and that your church will remember what it means to be the church…to love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength…and to love others as ourselves. in the name of jesus, who in his death and resurrection redeems us all. amen.

your friend,
carly

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haiti, round 2

so i’m back from a second trip to haiti, and here’s what i’ve got.

this trip was very different from my trip in january, but was no less special or transformative. the team of people this time around was great. we had several generations with very diverse skills, and it ended up being a great time.

some of the highlights for me include:

-getting to see the gentlemen on our team who are engineers have such a great time interacting with bruce, with haiti in general, and finding ways to help and serve.

-getting to spend more time with the children at the school we worked on in foison. it is definitely cool to have names and faces of the kids that will be benefitting from the school we are working on.

-spending quality time with bruce and deb, getting to see more of their ministry, learn more about their experiences, and both give and receive encouragement.

the week that we were there, bruce and deb decided to take us through a devotional book called the red sea rules. they are taken from the story in exodus where God leads the israelites out of egypt across the red sea. bruce and deb started with the first one on the first night we got there, and let me tell you it was a huge answer to prayer. let me start with the rules, and then i’ll tell you what i’m taking home from the trip.

1. realize that God means for you to be where you are.
2. be more concerned for God’s glory than your own relief.
3. acknowledge the enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.
4. pray.
5. stay calm and confident and give God time to work.
6. when unsure just take the next logical step by faith.
7. envision God’s enveloping presence.
8. trust God to deliver in his own unique way.
9. view your current crisis as a faith builder for the future.
10. don’t forget to praise him.

tell me these things aren’t legit. literally every night i’d sit there on the porch dumbfounded, because God was speaking right to my heart.

take homes:

-there was a moment while we were eating lunch in foison when a haitian man told us that it was great that we were spending time with the kids because they didn’t really know how to handle all of the stuff that’s happened because of the earthquake. this helped to provide a little clarity of vision for me. one of my biggest hopes in this trip was that God would provide a bit more discernment as far as how i can keep moving forward toward what he has called me to. i think i got that. i’ve had a picture in my mind of what this “vision” is for my life, and i feel like every once in a while something happens that brings a little piece of it into a bit more focus. i love kids, and i love walking with people through tough things and helping them to find healing and redemption. now, i am definitely not an engineer who could bring people fresh water or teach them how to build solid buildings. but i can definitely encourage, provide hope and skills to maintain mental and spiritual health, and work with kids to help them to grow up to make positive changes in their country and redeem situations from their past.

so, i’m looking into counseling, child/adolescent development, something along those lines. i haven’t made any decisions on schooling, but my perspective has widened a bit, so there’s more to look at and take into consideration.

-there are some doors in my life that i need to close. things that i’ve been indulging in that i need to give up. not bad things, or sinful things, necessarily. but things that are not where God wants me to be spending my time and energy. some of these doors are on people, some of them on time commitments, some are topics that occupy my thoughts. rules number 1, 2, 5, 6, and 8 come into play on these things.

-i like to pretend that i’ve been including God in my life lately, but frankly its just not true. he has plans that i can’t see because i’m off doing my own thing. i am aware of what he wants to be doing, but a lot of what i’m doing isn’t quite on track with that. its time for a radical refocusing.

-tacked onto the end of this trip was a visit home to california to meet four new additions to my family. long story short, they are all beautiful and i’m lucky to be able to count them as brothers and sisters. but this comes with its own set of lessons and areas to grow. being away from my family is not a big struggle i’ve had so far while i’ve lived in seattle. but throwing little kids into the mix is a whole other story. i find myself sad to leave them, and sad that i wont be there for birthdays, and school plays, and all the fun things that come. i also want to be there to facilitate their transition and healing from their past. i want to be able to show them what love really looks like, and that’s harder to do from 1000 miles away. so, i’m thinking on how i can be a great big sister, even though i don’t get to see them very often. (also, the adoption isn’t final, and i probably can’t post pictures until then. but you better believe that as soon as i’m allowed, i’ll be showing off these kids)

this is by no means a comprehensive list of all i did and learned, but these are some things that are high up on the list. i would love to share more with those who want to hear it, and would love input and affirmation and suggestions or comments if you have them.

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