Archive for January, 2012
Prayer is extremely powerful. When you pray sincerely to God and what you are asking for matches up with His desires for your life, amazing things can happen.
Over the past couple of weeks, our team has been praying for direction and help when it comes to the community dinner we’re supposed to have on Saturday nights. Since we got back from the holidays, we’ve received a lot of “no’s” when we asked people if they wanted to come over for dinner. After some reflection as a team, we realized that many times we would ask the parents of kids we know and often times they would say no, but the kids were usually sitting there asking to still come over. Then the idea struck us, what if we see if the kids can come to dinner and we’ll offer to walk them home afterwards.
This past week we began putting this idea before God and praying for an answer, and God definitely decided to provide us with an answer.
By lunch time on Saturday Josh had put out an invite to a family we know, the parents said no but they were more than willing to let their two boys come over. The two of them were extremely excited to help cook dinner. By mid-afternoon, after I got back from working at the clinic, I found myself walking back home with three more kids coming over for dinner. By the time dinner was ready, we had one more join us for dinner. In the end we had 6 kids/youth, varying from ages 5 to 16 over for dinner.
At the end of the night I was exhausted. There was a point in the evening that Josh and I looked at each other in the kitchen, agreed that we loved having all these kids over, but we definitely didn’t want to have 6 kids of our own.
The best was in youth group today when the 16 year-old stated to the group that the best thing that’s happened to him lately was coming over to our place last night for dinner. And it was great to share with him that dinner last night was one of our best moments lately too.
I am extremely thankful to God for answering prayers and providing us with needed direction. Even though at points yesterday evening things seemed crazy, I am more than happy to be a place where these kids can come and hang out, have fun, and be safe. I feel honored and blessed that their parents trust us enough to let their kids spend the evening with us. And I feel loved by a God who is there walking along side me every step of the way.
Vocation, what does that word mean to you? Is it a calling to a certain career, to follow a specific passion, a call to service and Christian ministry? By definition the word vocation comes from the Latin work vocare which means to call or name, to invoke. Vocation is defined in the dictionary as:
– A particular occupation, business, or profession; calling
– A strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career
– A divine call to God’s service or to the Christian life
– A function or station in life to which one is called by God
So what is vocation? Is it just one of these definitions or is it all of them combined?
This past weekend I spent time at a retreat with the other Atlanta team members for Mission Year and people from various other service corps in the Atlanta area. The focus of the weekend was to discuss this idea of vocation, especially related to the idea of what comes next after this year. Entering the retreat I was very hesitant. Josh and I have been married for almost 2 years, I’ve worked as a RN for the past 2.5 years, and we already have a good idea of what is happening after Mission Year. We left full time careers to do a year of service because we felt that it would be a great catalyst in to the type of lifestyle we felt God calling us to.
For the majority of people attending this type of background was far from their reality. Due to being a married couple in service corp for young adults, you find yourself frequently interacting with single young adults in the same or similar programs that are at very different places in life. Many questions were posed about what’s next – graduate school, applying for jobs, continuing a 2nd year of service, moving home or staying put.
I questioned was this conversation of vocation really meant for me?
What hit me the most was a talk by a speaker Anton Flores (check him out at alternacommunity.org) where he used the story of God calling Moses in Exodus 3 to discuss the idea of vocation. God knew Moses, knew his inner thoughts, desires, and fears. God knew that Moses, even with his weaknesses, was the one for the job to save His people from Egypt. Moses was content where he was at, but God knew of something more and something better.
So I have what I am passionate about and what my gifts are, but where those two intersect, is that my vocation? Or is my vocation the intersection of those with what God needs of me? That point where my needs and wants meet exactly up with what God’s needs and wants are for my life. Vocation is more than a mere calling or a career path, it is a transformative power God has placed on your life that says, “Come follow me.” A calling that you cannot ignore, otherwise the questions of “what if?” will just eat away at you.
Josh and I decided to do Mission Year because we couldn’t ignore the calling that God had placed on us. We both come from careers of caring for others and we are both very passionate about compassion and love for all, but we knew that we couldn’t keep on living our lives the way we were and be content. We knew deep down that God was standing their beckoning us forward saying, “I’ve got better plans.” While our time so far has been full of ups and downs, I know with every part of my being that this is where God wants me and where he wants us as a couple. I didn’t come to save the community I’m living in. I came to learn, to love, and to be loved. I came to be a neighbor and nothing more. To live out what Christ taught to the best of my ability.
As Dr. Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Senior year of high school the most common question a person receives is what their plans are after they graduate. If college is the answer, they’re most likely asked what college and what major. Upon reaching senior year of college, the same questions are heard again, except the questions are career focused. After spending two weeks visiting friends and family in Ohio, the most common question that Josh and I heard was what our plans are after our time with Mission Year.
For a person who would love to plan out my entire life, who would love to reach set goals by the age/time they’ve been set for, I have realized how open and unplanned life seems right now. And for the first time in a long time it feels great to be able to say so. Over the past couple months I have realized how important it is to be focused on the here and now if you ever want to reach the goals and the dreams that you have. If I am so focused on the end goal I miss the amazing opportunities all around me, the chances to truly live and love.
Over the past week I have been asked by multiple people in various ways what my dreams are for the rest of the year and beyond. While still trying to figure out exactly where I want to go with my career as a nurse, I have spent time reflecting and praying about what my dreams and hopes are for my time with Mission Year and beyond.
After much discussion and prayer, Josh and I have decided that we would like to stay in Atlanta, specifically Peoplestown, after our committed time. Amidst various transitions over the next year, like Josh becoming a full time student, we have thought about what would be best for us. Also, and most importantly, we want to have more time to develop the relationships that we are currently building in our neighborhood this year. Amongst so many unknowns with life right now, we both feel a strong calling to stay put and invest in our community. We also hope to build a strong support system for ourselves as we pursue this.
When I look over the past several months and forward to this year, I have realized a strong passion and desire to really dive in and dig deeper with some of the young teens I have gotten to know. I want to connect more with some of the young adults and provide them with a network of support so they can grow and develop into strong leaders for their community.
At many of the community meetings I have been to here, there is a common discussion about needing to get young adults more involved. Outside our team, most people that attend are in their 40’s and older. The issue of getting the young adults involved is the age gap. When I think about wanting to attend an event, I am more willing to if invited by a peer or a mentor just a little older versus someone who is several generations older. I would love and dream to see the young adults getting involved and influencing not only their peers but the younger teens and kids to get involved too.
At times this dream seems daunting; however, as abolitionist and humanitarian Harriet Tubman once said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”