Sunday, March 21, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
Last week of Advanced EXCEL
Five weeks have gone by so fast.
We had to give our last speech on Monday, and it was about what God taught each of us through AE.
It was amazing to listen to how God led everyone here, but it was even more exciting to hear how God has worked in each one of our lives through the few weeks.
Phenomenal. Broken boxes. Challenging. Deep. Intense.
Unchangeable. Surprises. Friendship. Leadership. Vision. Super power.
So many words can describe my time here.
I was challenged to think outside my numerous boxes that I have been carrying for many years.
I had to face the deep fears and lies that were holding me back from flying.
For the first time in my life I asked God some questions about me and He answered me.
I discovered some signs of my unique super power in me.
God started a great work in me!
Excited. Scared. Happy and sad. Mommy. Daddy.
New life. Reality. Keep. Challenge. Friends. Prayer. Discipleship.
These are some words that are going through my mind as I think about going back home.
I feel the anxiety and fear that leads me to this question: Can I do well? What if I fall again? Am I going to be able to keep everything I learned here?
However, this connects me to the next thought. It is true that I am weak. I cannot do anything in my own strength, but God can work mightily through my weaknesses. All I need to do is abide in Him. Keep His Word. Trust in Him.
“For I know that thoughts that I think towards you, thoughts of peace and not of evil; to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah29:11)”
It is an indescribably amazing privilege to be a child of God, His beloved princess. I bask in the Truth that my life is in His loving hands.
Lord, thank you so much for the unforgettable five weeks here!
As the first part of Advanced EXCEL is coming to a close, I have been looking back at the last five weeks and seeing what I’ve learned. It’s amazing how much you can learn in five weeks. God has taught me so much; that it’s going to take a while to process it all. I want to share a couple things that He has taught me.
The biggest truth that I have learned is the importance of God’s Word and the need to be in it. All the speakers that have come to AE have radiated God’s love and I know by looking at them and hearing about their lives, that they have a deep and lasting relationship with Him. Every one of them is constantly in God’s Word and you can see it in them.
From the first week with the Davis and all throughout Advanced EXCEL the constant theme has been God’s Word. I have always known that God’s Word was important and that I should be reading, memorizing, and meditating on it, but I never realized that my relationship with God depended on how much I spent in God’s Word. Meditation on the Word is what brings me to a close, deep relationship with God that I want. Meditating is the most important thing that we as Christians should be doing.
Even though it’s important, doesn’t make it easy. Meditation is hard work and a constant battle. We are always meditating on something; it’s just training our minds on what to meditate on that is so hard. It is one of my struggles, my battle with my old nature. For me to have that deep relationship with the Lord I MUST meditate, that’s the only way I’m going to get that relationship. But I cannot do it without God’s grace to help me do it. This is one area of my life that God has been working on me, and by His grace and His alone will I win the battle with my mind.
Another area of my life that God has been pounding on is who I am. I didn’t realize that the person I had made myself to be was a person that was built on lies and fears. I was not who Christ had made me to be, I was someone that was trapped by those lies and fears. It has been a hard, hard struggle working through my fears and lies and asking God to show me who I am, who He made me to be.
It has been a long process that has yet to be completed, but I am know that God will continue to reveal who He made me to be. Actually He is showing me right now, but it’s a slow process that takes a lot of time. It’s something that is not done in one day or hour. It is a matter of trust…trusting that God is doing something in my life, even though I don’t see it. As a plant never can grow in one day, I will not fully know who I am in one day. It’s hard, but, in the end it will be all worth it.
These two things are just a few of what God has taught me. It has been an amazing adventure that is going to continue for the rest of my life. It’s exciting; it’s hard; some days you don’t think that you can go on; but life is a race that we must persevere at. We can’t stop running, or we will loss the glorious prize in the end. Life isn’t easy, God never meant for it to be easy, but with God by our side, we can win! God isn’t watching us run; He is running right along side of us, helping us through every step of the way.
So don’t stop running, keep going, even in the tough times, “looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Through Him we can WIN!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Thank you Father
There are so many mixed feelings and emotions as we begin our last week of AE. Feelings of excitement that we will be seeing our families soon, feelings of sorrow that will be leaving friends that we have draw close to in these last five weeks. There are feelings of anticipation of how our projects during practicum will go and feelings of hopefulness in seeing God work through our weaknesses.
One feeling that I would like to focus on is the feeling of gratefulness. It is overwhelming me. I am grateful for the all that God has showed me in the last few weeks. I'm grateful to Grace for having Life Vision classes that made us dig deeper and find out who we really are and what makes us tick. I am grateful to God for strengthening me to face the fears I'd been believing and to begin trading truths for lies. The feeling of gratefulness swells as I think of all the work that our leadership team has put into making AE 18 a fantastic success. I will enjoy looking back on the memories, and treasure the friendships that have started.
I'm grateful to Chrissy for the writing classes, even if I still don't understand it, I do understand it better than before and I have a new perspective on writing. I look forward to using the newly learned skills for the rest of my life. Thank you Hannah, for encouraging us in our discipleship class. You gave us opportunities to lead wisdom searches and you gave great hints and advice on the discipleship course we'll be leading during practicum. All three of you have been equipping us to go into all the world and make disciples, and I am so grateful to you for that.
My gratefulness continues to summit as I think of the speakers that took time out of their busy lives to invest in our lives and encourage us to walk closer to our Savior. They have be God's anointed tools in opening up our eyes to truths that God has shown them. I'm grateful to God for allowing them to come and mentor us and encourage us to run that race that Christ has set before us...they are right there along side us cheering us upward, cheering us homeward.
I could go on and on, and fill up page after page of the things I'm grateful for. Instead I'd like to close in prayer...Heavenly Father, you orchestrated each and every leader, speaker and student that was to be in AE18 and I want to thank you for allowing me to be part of it. You have taught me so much, I feel full to overflowing. Thank you for your truth that you desire to teach your children, and help us all to be willing students. Open our eyes to more ways that we can show gratefulness and thankfulness for all the blessing you have bestowed on us. We love you, Father! Amen
Soli Deo Gloria
Friday, February 26, 2010
“We need winds and tempest to exercise our faith,
to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence,
and to root us more firmly in Christ.”
- Morning & Evening
Our Big Sandy trip, last weekend, was incredibly fun, but also challenging. Each activity we did showed us just how much we need each other, and how working as a team gets things done that are otherwise impossible. We also learned more about each of our strengths and weaknesses, and used that knowledge to accomplish the goals set before us.
Mrs. Farr shared with us Thursday night, and something that stood out to me was the idea that we need to “Lift Others Higher.” Philippians 2:3 says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Whether we are mentoring someone else or just wanting to encourage a friend, our goal should be to make them more successful than even ourselves.
In life each of us go through trials and times when we can't do things in our own strength; no matter where we are, God will always make a way for us to move forward. Philippians 4:13 says, “ I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” If God is calling us to do something, He is the one who will do it through us.
“Events and things come with the moment;
but God comes with them too.”
– T.C. Upham
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Best weekend ever!
Saturday was the last day of the Big Sandy Camping trip. I feel like an elephant just stepped on me multiple times. And what does that feel like you may be wondering? Pain, and the interesting question of, did that just happen to me?
The Big Sandy trip was most defiantly the most fun I have had since I have been here at Advanced EXCEL. I don't know about you, but I am a big fan of camping and anything that has to do with outdoors, fire, and hiking. They defiantly had us stretching some muscles that I didn't even know I had. Let me tell you, that was an unpleasant feeling.
The first day we got to the ALERT campus we got settled into camp and ate lunch. After that we all headed over to the volleyball field. We played a bunch of games and had an awesome time. That night we went to Mrs. Farr's house, who is the wife of Mr. Farr who runs the Alert cadet program. She challenged us with a really interesting topic: mentoring. This made me think for quite a while. I have just finished EXCEL, where they mentored me. I am going through AE where they are again mentoring me. But Mrs. Farr is talking about me mentoring someone? That was a totally different thing! I had never really thought about it really. I mean, I knew that someday I would be helping other girls, and teaching different classes, but it just never occurred to me that I could start mentoring other girls in the way of the Lord. This was a really simple, but awesome discovery.
Mrs. Farr went through some different points on successfully mentoring girls. We talked about how in the Bible it says, Admonish the unruly, encourage the faint hearted, and help the weak, so in simple terms, when mentoring, I need to correct the wild ones, encourage and push the one who think they are too small or not good enough, and help in whatever way you can the ones that are too weak to help themselves. She also told us when mentoring someone there are five steps. First you show them what to do. Then you teach them how to do it, then you do it with them, then they do it. Then when they can successfully do it on their own, the cycle starts over again, and the person you helped goes on to help someone else. I was really encouraged by all that she had to say and it made me want to get out there and start trying it out!
That night it was really cold, but we managed to all live to see the next morning, and thaw out by the nice warm campfire the ALERT staff made us. They also made us all our meals, which were all very tasty. They were all pretty much amazing.
Some of my favorite activities we did throughout the weekend were the river crossing, and the rope course. They river crossing was where you are in a harness, and they hook you to a rope that goes across the river, and you have to get all the way across by kicking your legs and pulling with your hands. It was cool to look down and see the water a foot under you, but know you’re not going to fall, or probably not going to fall. Anything could happen though, it’s a fifty fifty chance!
The rope course was really challenging for me since I am pretty short, because on a lot of them you have to reach across to grab a rope or your partner, but in my case, me and my partner Chrissy just had to trust each other and fall, knowing that when we leaned on each other the weight of each other would hold us both in place. This was an awesome way to learn teamwork, and trusting your partner! I think we did well for two short girls!
Another one of my favorite things we did was the rope swing. There was a little platform on both sides, and a rope in the middle. You grabbed the rope and swung to the other side. You know, the whole Tarzan and Jane thing? Our team had seven people, six of us girls and an ALERT staff guy. Everyone went by themselves across except one of our leaders, the staff guy, and me. We all went across at the same time. My strategy was to grab the rope as high as you can, curl up in fetal position and hang on for dear life! I am proud to say that we got across successfully every time. It took our whole team sixteen seconds to get across. Yes, we won.
I think all in all everyone had a blast the last three days. We got to do some really intense and fun activities, learned about team work and leadership, and I am pretty sure we all know quite a bit more about each other. Even though I still feel like an elephant trampled on me multiple times, I would gladly do it next weekend again if it meant being able to have a fantastic with all my friends and eat more smores.
This past weekend has been my highlight of Advanced Excel. Why? Because we got to be outside the whole time. How? We went camping. We slept in tents, sat around the camp fire, and stretched and pulled more muscles than we thought we had. We were pushed to our limit d beyond. All the while learning about leadership, teamwork and TRUST.
Thursday afternoon we arrived anticipating all that we would be doing this weekend. We played several competitive games of volleyball, and ultimate Frisbee, with trust building games between those sports. Would you trust someone to lead you through “a” frames and around cones while blindfolded? I didn't have a choice. Teamed up with the shortest girl on our team I was praying I wouldn't hit my head on the “a” frame. She did a marvelous job of looking out for me and my head.
Dinner was a lovely four course meal prepared for us by Mrs. Far. It was quite unexpected to be sitting down to a table of china and crystal and we all felt somewhat out of our comfort zone because we were dressed for camping and eating a dinner that you'd eat at a 5 star hotel. After dinner Mrs. Far talked to us about mentoring others and being a wise leader. The thing that stuck with me the most was a mentor will lift others higher than themselves. She gave a picture of children standing on there parents shoulders, being lifted to higher callings, bigger dreams and greater ambitions. ( Thanks mom and dad for lifting me higher, for having confidence in me.) She gave us all food for thought.
Back at the campsite we all got ready to spend our first night sleeping side by side in the biggest camping tent I've ever seen. All eight AE students slept in this tent and our fabulous leadership team (Grace, Chrissy, and Hannah) slept in a separate tent. We layered up and crawled into the sleeping-bags, longing for sleep, needing the rest and eager to see what the next day held for us. Even with the crowded tent the cold snuck in. We woke up Friday morning freezing somewhat sore, and tired, but looking forward to the days events.
We did the climbing wall first. There is one big wall 70 ft high with three separate challenging walls on it. We were all impressed and a little more cautious of Chrissy who was the only one of us to do all three walls. I tired to do all three and managed to make it a little more than half way each time. I was disappointed about this. In looking at the wall it didn't look that hard. I had given myself a false confidence that this wouldn't be to hard. God wanted to use this wall to teach me something about myself. Often God will take our fleshly confidence and grind it to dust until we are willing to put all our confidence in Him and in His strength. God showed me that I can't be good at everything. I thought I was strong enough, tough enough and able enough to conquer that wall. God chose that moment to show me the real truth about myself, and it was rather disappointing.
After lunch we started our Excel Challenge...this challenge pulled us, pushed us, bruised us and came near to defeating us. We pulled, pushed, received the bruises and conquered the challenge. In 4 and half hours we learned how to work as a team, be leaders and willing followers. We learned to trust those that guided us while being lead backwards or blindfolded. We encouraged those who got weary and were encouraged when we got weary. We saw God bond us together in only the way that sweat, dirt and pain can bond people together. I find it amazing that God can use so many different ways to teach us unity. In the 7 challenges we had that afternoon unity was a part of every one of them. Dinner was craved for and sleep was sweet that night. None of us had any trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or staying warm.
Saturday morning dawned and with it 7 surprised girls, the leaders had chosen this time to have a little fun and they collapsed their tent on them...why only 7? Because one of us got up and out of the tent before it happened. That person had a wonderful time taking pictures of the rest of the team in the flattened tent. The girls managed to climb out and set it back up without to much difficulty. It will be a good memory to think back on.
This was the confidence course day, which included more sweat, more pain, and more trust. We also learned the importance of communicating with one another and not being afraid to speak up with solutions to problems.
What could be so hard staying balanced on a log? What if all 11 of you get on and then have to get into alphabetical order without touching the ground? What if then 3 of you fell off at the same time??? U-oh is right. 2 other girls and myself fell off the log in trying to get to our proper places. 1 of us got to hole a basketball to hold and I got blindfolded. All the sudden you have no choice but to rely on the others around you to help you keep your balance and get you to your proper spot. Trusting in others goes up a couple levels when you can't see anything.
What do you do when you have to crawl through 5 rubber tires without touching the ground? You just start doing it until all 11 of you are across. You talk to one another and learn to swing tires at the right time. You work as a team not an individual. I must say, I'll never look at tire swings the same every again.
It was a stretching morning, learning to be patience, using your brain to think up solutions, and being willing to stick your head out with a new idea. Sometimes the ideas worked great, other times they failed. Failing is ok if it doesn't defeat you. We all fail in life its impossible not to. Its how you deal with the failure. Will you jump up and try again and keep trying or will you just lay there be defeated and be a burden to others?
AE 18, learned that unity, communication, and trust are all very important in our walk of life. We can not become dependent on ourselves. God made us human. We are to depend on others not only times of trial, weariness, and pain but also enjoy the times of success, strength, and joy. God not only made us dependent on each other but also on Him. I know that if it wasn't for my Heavenly Father this last weekend would have been a total disaster, but as I put my faith, trust and confidence in my wonderful, merciful Savior, He allowed me to have one of the most unifying, painful yet enjoyable, and trust building weekends of my life! Soli Deo Gloria