A few days ago, my headlight burnt out. Because I’m naturally a penny-pincher saving for my honeymoon, I decided to save some money and just buy the bulb instead of paying an auto shop to do it.

I have absolutely no car knowledge. None. (I know how to fill it up with gas, wash it, and drive it. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I grasped the distinction between a car and a truck. I really don’t do my own maintinence) So, in the past, I would have had my friend Rob or my fiance to do it, but sadly Rob has moved away, and Clay is in Florida for the week. I sat, considering this fact, after I’d already bought the bulb. For a moment, it seemed it would have to wait until Clay got back from Florida, over a week later.

But then, a thought.

“I’LL DO IT MYSELF!”

So, like any strong, independent, college-educated, 21st century woman, I grabbed my toolbox and a flashlight and headed out to my car (still in my red dress and leather boots, of course).

I popped open the hood and stood there, staring at the engine with the owners’ manual in my hand. I must have looked pretty pathetic standing there, because my neighbor came up and asked if I needed help. I turned him down, citing a “need to learn.”

I wrestled with the bolts for about 15 minutes, before concluding that the one last bolt that I needed to get out was deep within the car at an impossible angle. Stalemate. But I wasn’t willing to give up. This wasn’t just about changing my own headlight anymore. This had become a matter of personal pride. To quit would be to admit defeat. I could never quit now.

Again, I stood, contemplating my options. It was then that I realized I had an advantage that the mechanic who had written this manual didn’t have: teeny-tiny “woman hands.”

I didn’t need to take the entire headlight out, I could just stick my hands in there and change it while it was attached!

15 more minutes later, some scraped knuckles, and a little bit of frustration – bingo. Bulb changed. I turned the car on and – LIGHT!! I did it! I had changed the bulb, all on my own. In a dress and a cardigan, no less.

I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!!

 

car

This is what success looks like.

This time next week, I’ll be building my own car from scratch.

Oh, how he loves us. I don’t know of anything more beautiful, and more worthy, than this.

So. It’s been 10 days since my last entry. Please don’t boo me.

I know, I know. I said this year I’d be better! I’d update this blog at least once a week with stories of what God was teaching me and what was happening in my ministry.
And now, here I am, almost done with my 2nd full month of ministry, with 3 blog posts under my belt, and a very long “Things to Write on My Blog About” note on my iPhone.

It’s not that I’m not trying. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’m trying really hard. It’s just that, despite the fact that I spent 4 years in this ministry as a student, that my parents did a fantastic job of launching me into adulthood, and that I have enough energy and drive for 10 people – I’m only one person, and this whole thing is really hard.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my job. I’m loving every minute of being on my own, and working in ministry. I would never go back. But it’s just hard.

I’m trying to be a responsible adult; Do my job well, pay my bills, eat healthy foods, exercise, sleep enough, keep a clean, homey apartment, socialize, spend quality time with my fiance, actively participate in my church, maintain my personal spiritual life, and stay on a budget. In theory, I can do all of those things. In fact, I know i can, because I’ve done them all. Just not all at once.

I can seem to actively keep about 9 of those 12 things going at a time, if I work hard and buckle down. But those last 3 keep slipping out from under my fingers, no matter how hard I try. It’s like trying to pick up a tennis ball when you’ve already got an armful. Just when you’ve managed to pick up one, two more go bouncing out of your arms.

I’ve been pretty hard on myself for my failure.

But I know that’s not right. The God I worship and serve is a God of grace. He’s a God who does want me to be a responsible adult – to steward my body, my money, my relationships, and my ministry well. But more than that, He is the God who saw a sad, sorry broken bunch of failures, and sent His Son to succeed in every area that we’ve failed. Because of His success, in God’s eyes, I am a success. On my own, I’m a total failure. I’m spiritually bankrupt. I have nothing to offer. But now, because of grace, I am co-heirs with Christ, and have an eternal kingdom waiting for me. There is grace for every place that I fail.

Right now, there is a coffee mug sitting next to me that’s been on my desk for a week. There is a pile of clothes on the floor that I’ve been stepping over since Sunday. I haven’t exercised in a month.

I’m 22. I don’t have it all together. I probably never will. But there’s grace enough for that. And I’m thankful.

Four years ago today, I was an overly-dramatic, wild, semi-undisciplined freshman girl. I moved to OU, filled with dreams and restless for adventure. I loved books, but was never much of one for classrooms. I kept a list of all the places I wanted to travel to. Filled with wanderlust, I chose majors that would graduate in no more than four years, and could launch me immediately into world-traveling.

But I couldn’t have imagined what God had in store for me.

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 I wandered through that year, alternatively joyful and upset. I made some of the best friends I’ve ever known. My heart began to heal. I had a thousand more stupid crushes. I began to find that my greatest joy was found in knowing God, and making Him known. The thirst for adventure never decreased, only grew. At times, I felt repressed – thwarted, even. Why would God give me such a thirst for adventure, such a hunger to see the world, and then stick me in a “middle-of-nowhere” college town?

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And then, at just the right time, He introduced one of the best people I’ve ever known. Our friendship progressed and grew. With faltering, wobbly, baby-steps, we walked. And somehow, suddenly it seemed, since I’d hardly noticed it happening, we were no longer friends – we were companions. Without even looking for it, I found myself in the middle of the greatest earthly adventure of my life. I began to see the world, right in the middle of that small college town, as I learned what it meant to “traverse the hills of the human soul.” Like any good adventure, it’s had it’s good days and it’s bad. There have been peaks with great views, and valleys with no light. There’s been sweet, warm days, and really, really, really (really) long nights. There’s even been a lot of days where I’ve just wanted to turn in, pack up, and head home. It’s been a hard adventure, but once I’m exceedingly grateful for.

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Clay Selway, I’m so grateful for you. You are my best friend. No one cares for me the way that you do. No one accepts my faults so readily, but also pushes me to be better so persistently. You make me laugh when all I want to do is cry, and even when I cry (which we both know is a lot,) you readily stand by to comfort me. Life is more fun when you’re around to share it. You think my jokes are funny, even when they aren’t. You tell me my hair looks good, even when it doesn’t. You keep track of my stuff when I can’t. You tell me the good things you see in me, even when I see nothing but bad. Most importantly, you continually point me to Jesus. You are God’s most visible picture of grace to me. The way you love me is such a beautiful picture of the way Christ loves his people; Sacrificially, without conditions, without price. Every day, I see something new about the Gospel as the thread of grace that has run through our entire relationship continues to bind us together. I am so excited for what lies ahead of us, whatever that might be.

4 years later, I’m still in Athens – but somehow, that seems more than ok.

You have been, and will continue to be, my greatest adventure. 

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We belong together, like the ocean needs the shore. You hem me in at my wild edges; I bid you to stretch out, and be so much more.

I hope for heaven. All my longings and desires are pointing there, pulling there, drawing me ever forward.

Because of heaven, I can live with the fact that my earthly body is permanently broken and often in pain. I have a sure hope that one day, I’ll be in a body that is perfect and whole.

Because of heaven, I can live free from the fear of losing the ones I love. I don’t fear for my fiance’s safety, my friend’s cancer. My fiance and my friend will live eternally in heaven with me. Even if I have to live the next 60+ years without them, those years of missing them will pale in comparison to an eternity with them.

Because of heaven, I can put aside lesser things that I love in favor of greater things that God loves. I can forgo a large salary to take a job that serves God’s kingdom. I can give up stability and safety to do what God asks me to do, when He asks me to do it. I can forgo living near my family, seeing my dear friends, living in the places that I love, in order that I might share the Gospel with those who most need it. I can even give up my own life, because I know that nothing I say “No” to now will compare to the infinite “Yes’s” that I will have in eternity.

Because of heaven, I walk in peace, sleep in comfort, and live in joy. Nothing – from a bad day to incurable cancer – can touch me. A present comfort with a promised future. I am, of all people, the most truly free.

As I am almost done with my third week “on campus” here as an intern with Cru at OU, I thought it was about time for an update on what I’m learning.

I’ve been doing a lot. Handing out questionnaires, making a billion phone calls, sitting down to meet new students and share the Gospel, leading Bible studies, making flyers, formulating “social media strategy plans,” going to house parties, and on and on. From 9 am to 10 pm every day, my mind is buzzing with the billion tasks I have to do, and the excitement/exhaustion that is meeting a 1,000 new people and having the opportunity to share Jesus with them all. But even in all that activity, I’ve really only learned two things.

1) I have no idea what I’m doing.

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I keep telling people this, and they keep laughing. But really. I’m serious. Most of the time I wake up in the morning and beg God for grace. Even though I worked in the ministry as a student throughout my four years, being on staff is a whole different beast. There’s so much behind the scenes that I didn’t know even existed that must be done. So many small details, so many strategies – my head spins. A student asks me a question and the best I can say is, “Man, I don’t know…I can find out!”
At the same time as I’m figuring out my job, I’m trying to figure out how to be an adult in general. How does my health insurance work? (My current theory is maaagic.) Is there any way to avoid paying my rent and my credit card bill and my gas bill in the same week? (Holy money-suckers, batman! Yikes!) Why is the bank only open during hours that I’m at work? (Why, bank?? Why?) WHERE CAN ONE FIND A TOILET PAPER ROLL TO FIT A CIRCA-1970’S HOLDER?? But really. How does this all work?

The second thing I’ve learned, however, seems to fit nicely with the first thing I’ve learned.

2) God has a pretty good idea of what he’s doing.

Somehow, even in the midst of what feels like a whole lot of failure, everything is getting done. My bills are paid, and I have enough to eat. Women are coming to Bible study, and accepting Christ, and learning more about the Lord. I haven’t managed to crash our website yet and I’ve only sent the wrong file to the printer once.

God has got this under control. I just have to keep remembering that my calling isn’t to be perfect, but to be faithful. Everything else is up to Him.

I definitely don’t rest perfectly in that fact everyday, and there are still a lot of things that seem unresolved (for instance, Clay and I still haven’t found someone to marry us….*sigh*) but I know that somehow, He’ll see this worked out too. Resting in that fact today, and for the rest of days.

I usually like to end with a profound quote or a good song, so today I will leave you with these wise words to sum up my feelings.

We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical….Hey, I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22!

…Don’t judge me for quoting Taylor swift. She’s actually nailed how it feels to be 22, I think.

“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” – Hebrews 11:16

Oh, how I’m longing for a better country. It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve acutely felt the ache of living in a fallen, broken world. A beautiful, but broken world.

A freshmen student at OU lost his life just days after moving in. A good friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My sweet great-grandma passed away.

At night, I lay awake and stared at the sliver of light creeping under the door and prayed. I prayed for the students I work with, my family, my dear friend. I prayed for hope, for healing, for comfort. But all the while, my deepest ache was crying, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus, come!”

I know that all my prayers are temporary. No matter what I pray, decay is an inevitable part of living in a world of entropy. Death will come to claim us all, tomorrow or 50 years from now.

And no matter what anyone claims, we were never meant to die. We were never meant to be separated from the ones we love, or the One who loves us. Our eternal souls were made for eternity. To experience anything less is excruciating.

They were longing for a better country.” Come, Lord Jesus, come, and with it bring Your eternal kingdom!

will update this blog regularly. I will, I will! I know I’m typically a pretty sporadic blogger, but this year I’m hoping very much to be different. I want to use this blog to update my family, friends, and ministry partners about my year as an Intern. Also, my big sister essentially threatened me with eternal nagging if I don’t, so there’s that. Let the update commence.

1. I finished my support raising on time! Woo! It was a crazy whirlwind. For those of you who weren’t keeping track, on July 1st, I had 36% of my support in. By August 1st, I had about 95%. Crazy. Insane. God is so good. It literally came pouring in from all directions, and it was all I could do to keep up. I wish I could physically hug each and every person who helped make that happen!

2. I moved back to Athens. This life change was also a crazy whirlwind. I didn’t set a hard and fast date for moving, simply because it was so hard to know when I’d be at 100% supported. And, in accordance with Cru policy, until I was at 100%, I would not be allowed to “report to campus” (aka go to work.) My job, until that point, would be to stay home and finish my financial support raising, which is most efficiently done from my parent’s home in Dayton. So I stayed. And suddenly, my support went from 80% to 95% in a week, and I was looking at having to move – quick. I had a wedding to go to first, though. Then, while at that wedding, I got word that some furniture I was poised to inherit needed to be picked up – now.
And thus, I found myself in a car at 6:30am with Clay, making a journey that looked something like this.

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551 miles. 15 hours. 1 car. 1 UHaul. Way too much gas. A whole lot of exhaustion.

But, at the end of it all, I was moved into my new apartment in Athens, and started to settle in and get ready to start Staff Planning.

3. Staff Planning & Intern Life began. Staff planning happened this past week, and for the first time, I really did anything that made me feel like “Cru Staff.” I was given my list of responsibilities. This year, I will disciple (mentor) a handful of women, lead an Action Group (upperclassmen Bible study), help run the movement at Hocking College (a nearby school), and run the ministry’s communications (i.e. anything social media, photography, videography, design, and printing.) Whew. I’m tired from just typing that.

At Staff Planning we planned for this upcoming year. year. I prayed for it, strategized, took notes, and mostly sat quietly, feeling pretty intimidated. I didn’t I give much thought to what it would feel like to be the only first year intern, but if I had I don’t think I would have come close to what I really feel now. It’s such a mixture. On one hand, I’m so happy to be here, and so excited. On the other, I’m ridiculously nervous.  I’ve been literally thrown into “adult life” in the course of a week (it’s not an easy thing after 19 years of being a student.)  I’m working alongside people I highly admire, and I hate to disappoint. I’m a perfectionist with a performance-driven bent. I’m an introvert who struggles to make deep friendships. And I’m far, far away from almost every friend to whom I feel close enough to bare my soul.

And we haven’t even started to work with students yet! Yup, feeling just a liiiittle bit overwhelmed.

I’m trying to take big breaths, pray, and remember that it’s ok to cry when I really miss my friends, my dogs, and my mom. The next 12 months are going to be a great big adventure, and I really want to fully live each and every minute of them. I don’t want to miss out on a single minute of this crazy, beautiful, wonderful life that the Lord has prepared for me.

“…now at last they were beginning Chapter One of The Great Story, which no one has ever read, which goes on forever, in which every chapter is better than the last.” – The Chronicles of Narnia.

Yay! Moving!

Yay! Moving!

New Apartment!

New Apartment!

Just another day with Cru Staff - at our annual "Staff Retreat."

Just another day with Cru Staff – at our annual “Staff Retreat.”

Ever get to that point in a run where you’re just too darn tired to continue, even though you’re just about to turn onto your street? You’ve just run 3 miles, so a few hundred feet shouldn’t be much by comparison. But you just want to quit. The urge to just sit down in the middle of the sidewalk is overwhelming. You are, for lack of a better word, “done.”

That’s how I feel right now. So, so close. And yet somehow, ironically, the closeness makes it seem even harder. The last hurdle, and I don’t think I have the energy to get over it. 

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

Have you ever felt fractured – like the two parts of yourself are at odds, different people inhabiting the same body? Torn between to extremes that somehow manage to exist within the same frame.

As of late, that’s how I’ve felt about God more often that I care to admit. After so many plans get changed, so many hopes fall short, my heart is so angry, so confused, so tired. It doesn’t feel like God’s ignoring me – it feels like He’s purposely thwarting me. I, with the Israelites cry, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have brought us out here to die?” I want to scream and stomp my feet, to yell at my Maker, “Leave me ALONE! Go bother someone else! Stop doing this to me!”

But in the same breath, I feel the other part of myself cry. Not a strong, angry cry. But the weak, pathetic cry of a sick baby. Helpless, frightened. “My soul thirsts for God, the living God.” I ache for him. I trail behind him, desperate to even touch the hem of his robe.

These two feelings exist inside of me. One part, that wishes so strongly to do life on my own. Wishes I could walk away from the hard things Jesus calls me to, to take my life back and do what I want, how i want it. And the other part, that knows that I can’t go another step without His presence, so desperate for any piece of Him.

If I could have walked away from Jesus, God knows I would have already done it. But by His blood I have been bought, bound and sealed. So here I am, falling between two extremes. I want to leave, and I beg to stay.

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…” (John 6:68, ESV)

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Past Musings