Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Refreshed and Ready.

Caution:  This is going to be the longest post any blog has ever seen!
Haha but really! SO SO SO much has happened since the last time I posted.
I've visited Harding, found out my major, met my roommate, officially signed up for Zambia, went to Impact, and am leaving for Africa in 2 DAYS!
So, here we go!

Early June I visited Harding to get classes, meet my roommate, and other cool kid college stuff!
On our way there, me and my parents talked about my choice of major. We had 6 hours to get there, so I figured we had more than enough time! :) I told them basically what I talked about in my last post. I told them that my minor in Missions was concrete, but there were two basic categories that I was pretty interested in as a major; teaching and nursing. Why not major in Missions and minor in the other? Well, I've been told that it is much much easier to find employment and opportunities on the mission field if you have something you can offer. And a degree in either teaching/nursing with a minor in missions looks a lot better than a degree in missions with a minor in what you're wanting to do. You wouldn't think it would be that way, but it is! So back to my convo with the parents: I told them in teaching, I would love to either be a Kindergarten teacher, possibly a teacher for older kids so that the ability to build a relationship they will remember is there, or special needs. In the nursing category I would love to either be in the premie unit, or maybe even a Hospice-like nurse.
After weighing the pros and cons, I decided............NURSING!
Who knows, I may come back to school and become a teacher, but as of right now it's definitely nursing! My focus is the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), something that my heart just melts over every time I think about it. I've talked to many people who say it's definitely something that is a calling because of all the emotional whiplash. But I can't think of anything more rewarding. Your job is to serve. Like I get PAID to serve people. And to comfort parents that are in a mental, emotional, and physical wreck. Call me crazy, but I actually like things like that. I like bringing people from hopeless to hopeful. I like taking people from completely stressed out and changing them to being level-headed and calm. Maybe it's just because I love it when people help me. Haha, who knows! I've been told by my friends I should be a therapist, so I guess this could be considered a type of that. I mean how  much more perfect could this job get? It's like my love for children, my intelligence, and my spiritual gifts all wrapped into a job! And I'm so excited!
Of course, it will be the hardest thing I will ever have done. Not just because of the schooling, but because of what the job entails. There will be days that I will have to stare parents in the face and tell them that there is no chance for their baby. Or maybe even that their baby has already passed. But, there will be days, many many days, that I'll be saving lives.
What a reward would it be to see babies who come in for one year check-ups, and to be able to look at them and know that they wouldn't be here if it weren't for people like me!
The only struggle will be the schooling and the grades, because something like that requires incredible memorization and application skills. Which I don't have the BEST of, but what can stop me with the knowledge that I'm fulfilling God's calling, saving lives, and actually loving what I do? I'd say nothing that a little Jesus-power can't handle!
So my schedule has been made and I have 15 hours which isn't bad at all. I just hope I am able to balance my time wisely. But I'm pretty good at that already when it comes to studying and putting more important things at a higher priority then having fun.
While I was at Harding I also met my roommate! And I love her so much! She is such a sweetheart and is so friendly, which is what I need! We already discussed how we're not letting ourselves gain weight..haha :), and about helping each other through other issues that we know will probably come up in our first year on our own.

Basically in short, I am so ecstatic for fall of 2011!

So I got back from Harding in time to rest and pack up for IMPACT! I wish every single person had the opportunity to experience this trip. This is my fourth year to go, and God has done mile-marking things in each one of those years. Each year I have discovered new things about myself and my future that would not have happened otherwise. I'll just give y'all a small preview of my experiences there so you can understand!
The very first year the theme was "Days of Reckoning". It was a western theme, talking about the nearness of the end of time--the final shoot out between good and evil. God tugged at my heartstrings, gently breaking my heart and letting me know that what I was doing was NOT His plans for me. That year is when my transformation began.
The next year, "Hidden!" was the theme and I have never seen God move so powerfully through a group of teens in my life. It focused on the dark secrets we have and how it rips us away from the Father and our church. It warps our minds into thinking thoughts that Satan wants us to think. Thoughts of, "I am unusable.", "God is too angry to care anymore.", and "I can never let anyone know any of this. People would not only judge me, but will identify me with that struggle for the rest of my life." But those thoughts didn't stop our group. Our youth group spilled our hearts to each other sharing with one another the hidden things in our lives that have us captive. I have never experienced more closeness than in those nights of our group devos. At that time in my life, I was hurting deeply. I'd never felt more depressed or betrayed than in that summer. But seeing others in the darkest place of their lives, like I was, and SHARING it to each other? Now that brought some serious healing. A summer that can be considered my worst, was turned into a season of restoration.
The third year's theme was "buried, ALIVE!" and that's where I received my calling for missions. It discussed the fact that God's people are not their own. We are meant to bury ourselves, desires, and hopes alive. To let Christ's desires become our own. Which was exactly what I needed to hear at the time. Isn't God just so good?
So THIS year's theme was "Hooked", and in a way it was similar to the Hidden! year, but different. This year a man named Chris Seidman spoke every night at our evening sessions, and he was amazing. He spoke about how it is time for our people to GROW UP IN CHRIST. No more infants. It's time for us to stop making excuses in why we don't know more than we do, and to realize that the things that are hooking, or keeping, us from knowing what we should, HAVE to go. Whether it be the feelings that what we've lost along the way are too great, simple laziness, or even the desire that we just want to stay young forever, actually KEEP us from being able to be true Christians. It's a bold statement, but one I completely agree with. So after finding out what your hook actually is and becoming unhooked from it, Chris talked about how we need to become hooked onto what Christ was hooked on. And that was the Kingdom come. His life revolved around bringing Heaven to Earth. Healing, drying tears, comforting, and loving. And how much more should we?

Impact has pretty much been a God-send in my life. And I don't think it's a coincidence that I was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to parents who would eventually go to University Church of Christ, and into a youth group that just so happens to go to Impact. Not at all.

So as you can see, my summer has already been a breath of fresh air. A time that has just refreshed me to my core and validated even more my future.

And NOW it's off to Africa!
Y'all, God has been AMAZING in my journey leading up to this trip. One of my good friends, Amber Norris, had a fish fry at her church to raise funds so that she would be able to go. They not only raised enough money for her to go, but they were able to give ME ~$1,750. Like, WHAT. I was just GIVEN almost $2000. For nothing. Except the promise that I would come back and share our experience for their congregation. But how easy is that? I'm going to come back WANTING to tell people about it, so that isn't even payment in my eyes.

God is so amazing it's like my own brain can't really understand it. My head sees all of these wonders and incredible stories, but it's like He's SO great, my heart can not comprehend it. My mind knows, but my heart has a hard time understanding, and even at times believing that these happenings are really what they claim to be. But in a weird way it's almost a comforting thing. To know that the One I'm living my life for, is SO great, I can't even fit Him and all of His love into my heart. I CAN'T understand everything about Him. He's SO amazing that to the human heart it seems impossible. That's how powerful He is. And if Someone who is THAT big and THAT powerful has a plan for my life and has promises for me, what in the world is stopping not only me, but everyone else? What keeps us from dropping everything and devoting our lives to each other and for what Jesus was hooked on? The fact that serving 24/7 doesn't bring in the paycheck it takes to live? Because I'd beg to differ. I was given $1700 for doing absolutely nothing but being available and willing.

Giving everything is not a calling that some people have and others don't. Everyone is called. Whether it be here on U.S. soil or somewhere else, giving everything is what a Christian IS. 

Deny it. Justify it. But I know it to be true. And to deny this truth from your life is a huge risk to take considering the consequences.

This trip is what I have been waiting and waiting for since the beginning of 2011, and is only TWO DAYS away! I will be journaling every day and when I come back I'll blog each entry so y'all can catch a glimpse of what I experience!
I am so so SO ready. Ready to experience James 1:27 Christianity, ready to see first-hand what it is I've been dreaming about the past year, and ready to touch and hold and hug my brothers and sisters.

However, I am off to pack! I've got to get everything together so that I will have tomorrow to get anything I'm missing! If you are still awake from this terribly long post, I beg you to pray for me on this trip. That I will know if this is is right for me. And for people's lives to be changed from the very fibers of their very being.
I want nothing but Christ's will to be done, and I know His will is always for His people to return to Him!

"You're all I want in heaven! You're all I want on earth! When my skin sags and my bones get brittle, GOD is rock-firm and faithful. Look! Those who left you are falling apart! Deserters, they'll never be heard from again. But I'm in the very presence of God--oh, how refreshing it is! I've made my Lord GOD my home. God, I'm telling the world what you do!" 
-Psalm 73:25-28 The Message.