Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Big Truths for Little Hearts

So I know it's been forever since I last blogged. Whatever, only like 3 of you read this anyways. Today I spent most of my day translating a VBS lesson in Spanish to teach in Guatemala. I am incorporating the foundational truths we teach in Little Village into these lessons. The first lesson I translated today was about the birth of Jesus, the foundational truth being that Jesus came to save sinners. I remember teaching last semester for several weeks about miracles, explaining to our kids that a miracle is something so amazing that only God can do it. So, I changed this lesson up a bit, incorporating that in there, because it is a miracle that Mary was a virgin and gave birth to the Savior of the world; it was a miracle that Jesus came in human form as a little baby so that he could die an incredibly brutle death, taking the punishment and shame that we deserved and saving us from our sins. For 3 days I will be teaching about the birth of Jesus, the death of Jesus, and the resurrection of Jesus. I was sitting here talking to Bekah about how I want to focus on the resurrection of Jesus. In the Latin American culture, I feel like they worship a dead Jesus, not focusing on the fact that He is alive and I want these kids to get that truth. If Christ did not raise up from the dead, then we would not be able to have life and his death would be void. I have 3 lessons and have to teach 4 days. As I was sitting there contemplating what I should teach for the other day, thinking about what I've taught in Little Village, I turned to Bekah and said, "I think I want to teach about the fall on the first day. I want to explain to them what sin is, and that we are born with sick hearts, and the foundational truth to be that God is Good. Even though Adam and Eve sinned and had to be separated from God, He was still good, still loved them and loved us enough to send Jesus to save us." Bekah said, "I definitely think you need to. And that way they can understand a little better about why their world is so broken-it's because of sin, but because God is good, they can have hope in Christ." Romans 5:8 popped into my mind, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." As Bekah and I sat across from each other on our beds in our room, working on our computers, we started to talk about these truths. I just realized how HUGE they are. These are BIG concepts for such little hearts, but how great and faithful God is that He can enlighten them even at such a young age. I see it in Little Village every week, and it fills my heart with such joy. I kind of sat there in amazement for a second at how God is preparing my heart, the passions that He's given me, and how they are going to be infused on this trip. He is taking my love for orphans, my love for Spanish, my love for teaching, and putting them altogether. Wow. I sat there a little overwhelmed thinking, "But how am I going to memorize all this? How am I going to communicate this in a way that they will understand?" And He quietly calmed my heart, reminding me that He is enough. It's not about me. My job is to listen and be obedient. He will do the rest. He will make them understand. He will communicate through me. He is allowing me to be a small part of His big, beautiful work. And I stand amazed. I've heard these big truths over and over and over again, but daily have to be reminded of them. God made everything. God is good. God is in charge of everything. God wants to talk with us. Jesús vino para salvar pecadores.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

10,000 Children

10,000 children and all I can do is just talk.
While my house is full of possessions that negligence bought.
Everyone tells me that I'm not to blame,
Why do I still feel the same?

Only love can save us all.
Only love can save us all, save us all.

10,000 children are my invitation to change.
To continue in excess now suddenly feels oh so strange.
Prayers and money should not be confused,
But I pray that both still are used.

Only love can save us all.
Only love can save us all

What will become of me?
Inside of history

10,000 children and all I can do is just talk.

So I was at the park today reading and listening to Pandora on my phone and this song by Dave Barnes came up. It's come up before and I liked it but I actually sat there and listened to the words this time...and I was thinking..Yeah. I feel you Dave. I have no idea why he wrote this song. I listened to that first verse and knew EXACTLY what he was talking about. I just started thinking about the not 10,000, but millions of children who are fatherless, hungry, abused, sold, ect. and sometimes there's nothing I can do but talk about it because I can't save them. And sometimes there's lots of things I can do but instead I waste my time and money on things that don't matter at all. Sometimes I help as much as I can and see tragedy and feel guilty, that I could've done more, usually that means I'm not trusting Father to work and move and trying to control the situation myself, like I'm better at it than He is. Most of ya'll know I'm a social work major (after I say that I always get alot of "Oh....what is that?) and my heart is for adoption (here and abroad) and foster care. One of my biggest fears is that when I get a job and constantly see the corruption and brokennes that I will become numb to it and it won't even affect me anymore. It's been hard even this past year working with CPS and walking into homes and situations that are just...totally screwed up. And these past couple of months mentoring at the Nelson Center has been by far my most challenging yet. And in two months I'll be in Guatemala at an orphanage which is exciting for me because it's something I've always wanted to do, but I'm fearful at the same time that I'll come back and just talk about it and do nothing else. Apathy is something I've really been struggling with this summer in so many areas of my life...and that's never really been an issue for me before (or it has and I'm just now seeing it). I've always been a take action kind of girl. But...

Only love can save us all. Love was never displayed more fully than through His death and resurrection. He chose to love me despite my broken heart that is bent to sin and runs to things that rob my affection towards Him. He chose to adopt me and love me through the grossest of times when I am rebellious and a control freak. If I could choose one word that these kids need, it's love. Consistent, undeniable, unconditional love. Oh that they may know that they have a Father and His love is deeper than they could ever imagine. I hope He uses me to spread that and that I do not sit back and apathetically watch. Alright I'm done rambling. That song just made me think.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


So as I was sitting in Jupiter House tonight, I sat there contemplating, realizing more and more how my life is going to be changing this year. My parents can attest to the fact that I struggled all through middle school and high school finding good girl friends. I dealt with all of the "mean girl" things and just never really had a good consistent group of friends. I remember praying for so long for God to please bring me some good friends. Oh how He answered that plea. I met Grace through Super Summer, who introduced me to Caroline and Hannah. They became my consistency in high school, although it was difficult not going to the same school as Grace and me, Caroline, and Hannah, all being in different grades with different friend groups at school. And then when I got into college, He truly blessed me with the greatest community I have ever experienced, especially when I moved to Denton and got involved with The Village. Now, my parents can attest to the fact that God has greatly blessed and enriched my life with so many people, especially the good girl friends I had been asking for for so long. After years of walking with these amazing girls, it's all about to change, and I'm honestly a little fearful for my adjustment.

One of my best friends Grace is moving to Italy for 2 years as a journeymen with the IMB in October. She has been walking with me since we were like 14 in Orange School at Super Summer. After that week, we decided to be accountability partners and God just ran with our friendship. We have been through so many ups and downs together and it our friendship has been nothing but beautiful. Both of our love languages is words of affirmation, so we know how to love one another well, encouraging when we need to encourage, rebuking when we need to rebuke, laughing, crying, you name it. Even though we don't get to see each other often, it is going to be a HUGE change for me to not be able to pick up my phone and call her whenever I want to, send a text message encouraging her or telling her I need prayer in something, or even getting in the car and driving 4 hours to hang out with her in Austin. I can't just hop on a plane and fly to Italy whenever I want to (although that would be an amazing luxury). I know that distance is not going to change our friendship, but it is going to change the way we communicate and that is going to be a big deal for me, especially since quality time runs a close second to words of affirmation for me. I'm going to miss that girl so much. I'm so excited to see how Father is going to use her Naples. But for now, I'm just going to enjoy spending time with her this week.

Oh Hannah Ruth. Who would've guessed 4 or 5 years ago that we would be this close and living together in Denton? I can honestly say that anyone who knows or spends 5 minutes with us can tell that we have such a unique and funny friendship. I absolutely love it. We joke ALL the time that we are like an old married couple. And it's true because we've spent so much time together the past 3 years. It seems like everyone associates us together (and we realized this when we got an invitation in the mail addressed to both of us). What am I going to do without her if she moves?? Who am I going to eat a Freschetta pizza with and watch musicals? Who is going to talk me into crazy ideas like noodling? Who is going to make me coffee and bring it on a cute little tray to my room when my head is about to explode because I'm so stressed out about homework? Like Grace, we can laugh, cry, encourage one another so well. Once again, I know distance will change the way we communicate and not necessarily our friendship, but it just won't be the same without her. If she moves (which is a strong possibility) that is going to be a huge blow to me.

And my soon-to-be-married girls. My sweet Caroline whom I've walked with since high school. She's about to move to Austin in August and then marry Lawson next June. She has been such a huge blessing to me over the years. The one word I can use to describe our friendship is sweet. I think one of the biggest blessings for me (although this day was horrible for her) was when I got a call at 10:30 in the morning 3 years ago and Caroline said, "I need to come over right now." So she walked into my room and sat down and said, "Lawson's moving overseas and I don't know when he's coming back." And then she just sat there and cried. I know ya'll are thinking, "What?! that's a horrible story!" But it was such a blessing to me! If you know Caroline, she is certainly not a cryer, and I had NEVER seen her cry before this. I was shocked at first. But I just got to sit there and comfort her. The fact that she was broken with me was huge and although it was one of the hardest years of her life, I enjoyed every minute of walking with her in that. Our friendship is going to really change after her and Lawson get married.
Rebekah is someone that God definitely placed in my life in His perfect timing. It was my first year in Denton when I joined home group and Bekah was there. As we shared each week, I was always blessed by her and encouraged because I could tell we struggled with the same things. We began walking in accountability with each other and she is just amazing. She has pushed me in so many ways and our accountability is truly what church should be like. She has helped my relationship with the Lord grow to new heights. Not to mention all the fun sleep-overs and just enjoying hanging out together. I absolutely love and adore her. I really can't express in words what she has meant to me these past couple of years. She's about to embark on a new journey with marriage and new daughters and I can't wait to walk with her in that. The good news is she'll still be close, so even though it will change a little bit because her life will be different, it won't change too much ;).
And Miss Chelsea. She's about to marry the most interesting character in 2 weeks! Ha, I love Nick and they're so great together. I met Chelsea through HG as well and she is just a joy to be around! I don't think she realizes how many things she's been there to talk me through and encourage me when I'm fearful and anxious. Her and Nick will still be in Denton, but us seeing each other will be different when they get married. I have loved hanging out with her seeing her growth and leadership over the past couple of years.

So change in community is coming for me, and honestly (and selfishly) I'm not ready for it. I don't want it to change. I want to stay exactly the same. Tonight I was thinking, "Uggh! But God you just gave me this and I asked for it for SO long! Why are you taking it away from me?!" The song Blessed Be Your Name, came to my mind, especially the part where it says, "You give and take away." And I was thinking, "But I don't understand why you're taking it away. What am I going to do without these girls?" But he gently made me realize, it's not like He's angry and so He's ripping them out of my life. They will most certainly still be a part of it, it's just different. And He is going to be taking me places, and introducing me to new people, and will be faithful to continue to surround me with good community. But it will be hard. And I won't like it at first. But "My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hard Day, Hard week

For some reason, in the week that was supposed to be my restful because Stretch-N-Grow took off this week at many of our schools for the 4th of July. Unfortunately, everything just seemed to go wrong this week!

God has given me a gift to counsel. Anyone who knows me remotely (or my mother) will tell you I am the type that people, sometimes even complete strangers, will pour their heart out to. I find so much joy in this because I love people. Doesn't matter where they're from I just love sitting there listening and showing compassion because everyone hurts. Everyone goes through trials and sufferings and I love to help. Sometimes though, I can get a little overwhelmed. At times I bring it upon myself wanting to help anyone and everyone so I commit to too many things. Other times, Father asks me to get my hands dirty and messy and invest, and it's exhausting. After this week, I am literally exhausted in more ways than one. Sometimes I just get so tired of hearing about problems! I don't even have a degree yet, let alone a master's, and I already feel like I do this for a living. I see hurting kids in my daycares every single day. Father placed me in my classroom in Little Village and had me invest (which I take joy in) in one particular child and his family which involved me once again in CPS. This week though, it wasn't with my kids, it was with friends. I literally can't begin to tell you the amount of phone calls I received this week with upsetting news. Today alone, which was my one day where I didn't have to do any work at all and I was really looking forward to sleeping in, I ended up starting my day at 7 a.m. (worth it for the friend I had breakfast with :) and ended up meeting 4 different people today and got home in time to shower, go mentor, and I'm off again. This was not a day off. On top of that, I had another hard day with my girl at the Nelson Center. This first week we met was beautiful and broken at the same time. Last week our time was cut in half because she wouldn't listen and chose to cuss me out and throw some papers at me instead. Today, I got there and stayed a grand total of 15 minutes. We briefly talked about what happened last week, and I told her as she began to get an attitude that she had to listen to me like she listens to her staff, to which she replied, "I never listen to them." Which at times is very true. Then the next words out of her mouth were, "I don't want to see you today." So I said ok, well I love coming to see you and hang out with you every week. I'm here for you to get away and have fun and be able to vent if you need to and I love doing that. So, you have a choice. I am coming back every week, even if you don't want to see me, I'll be here because I want to be and I enjoy seeing you. But if you want to go back to the unit, then you can go back. And if you don't want a mentor, you can tell Miss Rebekah. So we sat in awkward silence for a few minutes, and she said, "I want to go back to the unit. This is boring. I don't want to do anything and I don't want to see you." So I took her up to the front so staff could take her back. She left with an attitude and me saying, "I'll be here next week and I hope it's better next time." The girls are SO much harder to mentor than the boys. Talk about getting messy...that's the least I could say. She has been one of the hardest girls so far. But I have to keep coming because I love her. And she NEEDS consistency. She NEEDS unconditional love. She NEEDS to see that even when she makes mistakes and acts a fool, I'll still be there. I'll still love her. The last girl I mentored even asked me that on the first day I met her, "If I mess up, are you going to come back or are you going to leave me?" I told her it doesn't matter what she does, I'll be there. "Will you still love me?" was her next question. I will never ever forget that. Pray for her. Pray our time together goes well next week.

But exciting news is I got a mentor!! I love her and we've only met 2 times, but she is AMAZING. It is so nice to have someone pour into me and disciple me. Our time together has been SO encouraging. When I'm with her it's like I can't stop talking I have so much to tell her and ask for her to walk with me in. She's been so great and I'm excited to see how Father is going to use her in my life. Well, that's all. It's just been a hard week. But I'm so excited to go home tomorrow and relax and see my family! Happy 4th everyone!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No puedo esperar para Guate!!

I can't wait for Guatemala. For those of you that don't know, I'm going with The Village to Guatemala this September. Words can't begin to tell you how excited I am. I have been wanting (and trying) to go to Guatemala for.....about 3 years now. People keep asking me why that specific country. I honestly don't know why. When I was at DBU I hung out with my Japanese girls constantly. Because I love Japan, people expect me to go back there. Although I do love Japan and the Japanese people, and going back would be great, that's not where my heart is. I've never been one to have a passion for a specific people group. God gave me the gift of compassion, so naturally, if I hear about a need, I want to go there. But there are needs EVERYWHERE. Down the street and around the corner, there are 60 children whose needs have to be met by people other than their parents. If I walked down the street about 6 blocks, there are more than 34,000 people who are looking to anything from drugs and alcohol to boyfriends and girlfriends to meet their needs. People here and overseas are living on less than $1 a day, fighting for survival. In Japan there are well over 34 million people worshipping over 8 million different gods, looking for their needs to be met. In Guatemala, about 2/3 of the population lives in poverty, and unfortunately there is a very controversial baby-selling business that has been going on for several years now (I found this after I had to write a 20 page paper over interracial adoption). In Mexico, thousands are being robbed and murdered and the entire country is being turned upside down and run by drug cartel. There are needs EVERYWHERE.

So I have been asked, why Guatemala? Why do you need to go there when there are needs right here in America? Well, this is true. There are needs in America. It really wasn't until I moved to Denton that I realized this. I am so thankful to go to a church that pushes and challenges its body to live missionally ( because it's biblical). Because of my good friend and pastor at the Denton campus, Beau, he really challenges us to love our city, to have broken hearts for our city, and to meet the needs of our city because God has placed us here as missionaries. Every week after we take the Lord's Supper, we are always told, "Go out as missionaries this week." Although I've been frustrated at first for the past three summers because I've wanted to go to Guate, God told me differently. I want you to be a missionary here. But I'm here ALL the time. I want to go somewhere else. But everytime He was faithful to continue to break my heart for the city He placed me in, to love and meet needs here. And I have so loved and enjoyed my summers here. I wouldn't change that. And I know He has used these summers to prepare me for September now. And now I understand why He wants me to go in September. It's a long story but some things have changed with our church and the connections we had in one city in Guate. Used to, they went and worked in the orphanage all day and then went back to wherever they were staying. But guess what? Now, we are going to be living at the orphanage for a week. Eating, sleeping, laughing, loving, teaching, playing, with them 24/7. And on top of that, I get to meet my little girl AND her parents that I sponsor through Compassion. We've been writing letters back and forth and I can't wait to meet her!! I don't know why He broke my heart for Guatemala. It was so random to me too. Some of us are senders (support financially), some of us are prayer warriors, some of us are connectors (linking and partnering overseas), and some of us are goers. I don't know why He asked me to be a goer. I didn't ask to be one. In fact, I distintcly remember being about 7 years old and hearing a missionary family in church (the way it was presented was not good) and telling God, "I will never do that. I will never go anywhere." I can just hear Him going Haha. Oh really. We'll just have to see about that. And I remember sitting in the Rainbow service at Super Summer when I was 15 and feeling that calling to go somewhere, and fighting it saying, "But I can't eat weird food. And I've never been so far away from my family before. And I can't speak their language. No, surely you're not asking me. I told you I didn't want to do it. Please don't make me." And He made me. And now I'm hooked. I think because of the love I have for orphans and traveling internationally, in some way, I will always be a goer. But I've been blessed to see friends go and me stay, and although that was hard and different, I really loved both sides. So pray for me and my team of 12 as we prepare for Guate. Go out as missionaries this week.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Happy Birthday!

So today was one of my best friend's 21st birthday! Miss Grace, although I did not get to see her, is officially legal. Although she was a little disappointed she could not enjoy her first alcoholic beverage, I think she had a good day (She can't drink because she has been accepted to be a journeyman with the IMB in Naples, Italy for the next two years....yeah she's suffering for Jesus). I'll get to see her tomorrow when she becomes our fourth roommate for the summer :) It's going to be weird when she leaves in August...I'm doing this whole someone special to me is going overseas thing once again (although differently this time) so I know it won't actually hit me until I hug her goodbye and she excitedly gets on the plane. Two years...I know it will go by so fast, but it's bitter sweet for both of us I think. It's funny to think we shared our first mission trip together in Japan four years ago now! The longest either one of us has been overseas is 2 weeks. Even in that short time you go through so many things. Spiritual warefare seems so much more real and present because you are in a very dark place that is significantly different from the bible belt we grew up in. You can't just walk around the corner and go to church because there aren't any. It's difficult to find solid Christian friends because most of the locals have never even heard the name of Christ spoken before in their lives. It's not like here. She is going to experience times of excitement, frustration, loneliness and homesickness, silliness, and unspeakable joy. But every moment is worth it. I know she's excited and I am so excited for her...but I'll miss my best friend. Thank God for technology and the invention of skype! We even use that now when we're only an hour from each other so it will definitely come in handy when she's in Italy. Even though it won't be the same, at least I'll get to see her face and hear her voice. I can't wait to hear all of her stories. I know God is going to use her greatly and grow her in unthinkable ways. Happy 21st birthday Grace! Love you!

Today was kind of a rough day for me in another way. Today was also the birthday of the little boy I used to mentor at the Nelson Center (my most recent one that is). I cannot mention his name, but for those of you that talk to me often, you know what his name is (and if not you can ask me later). He turned 9 years old today! This one was harder for me because I really had no closure. His caseworker decided to take him earlier than they thought so I had no chance to say goodbye to him. It really broke my heart. I spent several months with him and it was so good to watch him grow. I'm so proud of him and the progress he made. He went from so much anger to just a little gentleman and a leader on his unit. I will never forget the first time I met him. He came barreling down the hall with excitement and gave me the biggest, tightest hug I've ever gotten from a kid. Then he told me, "When I squeeze you, that means I love you." I got lots of those over the last few months. Lots of "Miss Christa, you're beautiful," "Miss Christa, I stayed on smiley face so I could see you today," To which I would always respond, "I'm so proud of you!" Always trying to give him as much verbal affirmation as I could because I know it is something he grew up without and because of the abuse his self esteem was not good. The hardest part about mentoring these kids is definitely not the process or the behavior (which with their mentors is mostly good, I've only had a few incidents) it's most definitely the goodbyes. You grow such an attachment to each other and I'm not allowed to keep up with them when they leave. I wish so badly I could've at least sent him a card today, just to let him know I will always love him and think about him. I think about my kids often...and I call them "my kids" because for the time that I have them, I treat them as such. Although they are not allowed to call me "mom," I know that I am very much a mother figure to them. So when you get the chance, please pray for my little boy. Pray that he was able to go with a foster family who loves the Lord and will love him unconditionally and continue to help him grow. Pray that God stirs salvation in his heart. Pray that he does well in public school, makes good friends who will have a good influence on him, teachers who will be patient and helpful. Pray that he is able to use his talents of singing, dancing, and sports. And please pray that he will believe the truth that God works all things for his good, even the bad situations he's had to suffer through. It is hard for my kids to believe that God is good when they have seen and suffered more horrible things than most of us will ever know in their short little lifetimes. But He does work all things for our good and He can heal the most broken hearted, and redeem what is so bent to sin. Pray that he learns, believes, trusts, hopes, and that God will use him. And now, you can pray for my new girl I get to meet on Thursday. Although we already know each other, I am excited to be able to really spend time with her and invest in her life. Happy birthday little buddy! Miss Christa loves and misses you!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Summer is HERE!!!

Yes! Summer is FINALLY here! Ahh. Today was a great day, full of dance recitals, beautiful weather-so much so I drove with my windows down all day, laid out with two good friends, and watched my all time favorite show. Yes that's right, the premier of So You Think You Can Dance was tonight! New York and Denver, did not see anyone I was really rooting for like I did when I watched Kherrington audition last season. I did love Natalie, the girl who was Katee's roommate and almost made it to the top 20 last season, and one guy from Brooklyn that was an amazing tap dancer. I'm excited for next week when they go to the South (although they didn't come to Texas and I certainly don't consider Florida "the south"). Another piece of exciting news is that SYTYCD is continuing in the fall this year! Whooohooo! They are holding more auditions this summer, but I've already checked, no Texas.

Hannah and I, being the very artsy and musically inclined nerds that we are, fell in love with another show tonight. We watched the season premier of Glee. It is a show about a high school Glee club who are the underfunded underdogs of the school, and basically every show is a musical! It was pretty funny and the music and voices were great! Here's a clip from it. First of all, I LOVE this song! Second of all, love the voices. Enjoy :) I am heading out to Austin tomorrow to see Grace graduate from UT! Go Longhorns!