Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hi there! My name is Elizabeth Allen and I am here to tell you about our Monday. It was, for the most part, an average Advanced EXCEL Monday here at the DMC. It was our last Monday here and also our last day of speech class. (yay!)

Today, we had our last speech test and gave our last speech until we come back for graduation in June. Our speech topic for this week was Testimony to a Secular Audience and it had to be over 10 minutes long. We had to find a way to share about what God had done in our lives to people who might not know anything about the Bible or God and figure out how to do it without sounding “preachy”. I discovered that it was a whole lot harder than it sounded. I realized that God really is everything and that it is almost impossible to take Him out and still have something left to say. It definitely took some creativity.

When we had all finished our speeches, Emily and Amy gave a surprise performance of Abbott & Costello’s, “Who’s on First?” Emily stood there so seriously proclaiming that Who was on first, while Amy bounded around wearing a baseball cap. It was wonderful to be able to laugh after the stress of giving a speech.

As I said, aside from speeches, it turned out to be a rather uneventful day. I had a nice date with God today discussing how He saw me as opposed to how I saw me, I loved what we had for supper, and we had our weekly openness and honesty sharing time during our team meeting this evening.

Well, only a few more days left here in Dallas, and I am definitely going to miss the time we’ve had here. I can hardly believe we have been together for only six weeks. In some ways in seems so much longer. At the same time though, I am looking forward to getting back home. I am so excited to see what new things I will learn about my awesome and amazing God in the next few months!

To all my family and friends, I love and miss you all!

Friday, March 6, 2009

You Are A Princess

A princess, that is truly what we are, daughters of the King who have been set apart for His glory. We have all been put here for such a time as this, to influence, encourage and set the example. Think about it for a moment, a princess is always in the spotlight and everyone is watching, waiting to see what her response will be. What she does reflects back on her Father, her King. We do not realize that when others look at us they are really seeing God in us.

What kind of example are we setting? Is what we are doing going to honor Him? We are called to be different and to stand out, this is a time for fourteen princesses to learn these lessons and ask such questions. As well as becoming equipped and trained for future challenges and battles. In all the fairy tales you hear of the wicked schemes and plots against the kingdom. And that is where these “Princess Lessons” come in handy. In knowing the truth, we are able to see these dangers more clearly and stop them before they cause destruction in the kingdom.

Identifying these problems is the first step then we must take them before our King because we know that in our own strength we can do nothing. With His armies, He battles then on our behalf because He loves us and we are His most prized possession. He is seeking our love and that is all He asks in return for everything He does. It is our choice then, what are we going to do with the love that we have been given? Are we going to spend our time kissing frogs and wishing for Prince Charming?

Remember whose you are and do all that you can for Him where He has placed you. Use the abilities that He has blessed you with and build up His kingdom. Realize the position that you have been placed in and do not wish for the things that can hurt you. Your life is a fairy tale and you will have a happily ever after when you learn to be content where He has you and in His love.

Lauren Bell shared this song with us that she wrote and I think it is a perfect example of our happily ever after:
Happily Ever After
Some little girls play dress up from the time they learn to walk,
Describing their own fairy tales from the time they learn to talk.
We don’t need to teach them; it just happens naturally
Across all times and cultures, the longings there you see.

Our fairy tales are echoes of truths that are divine;
Of humble girls, of wicked schemes, of rescues just in time.
These shadows paint a picture that points us to the One
Fighting for His dearly loved ‘til the unseen battle’s won.

One day when we are working and praying for our rescue,
The trump will sound, the sky will part, our Prince ride into view.
With power, grace, and glory, He’ll claim His princess bride
And ride off in the sunset to the land of no more night.

For once upon a time, God loved them and happily ever after started then
Before the founding of the world, His kingdom had no end
The roles were set, His only Son would be the noble prince,
And He would woo and win His bride to share eternal bliss.

It is your choice; will you live for your King? What will your happily ever after be? You are a Princess and your life is a fairy tale, are you making the most of the time that you have now?

-Hannah Coggin

Thursday, March 5, 2009

This has been an interesting week so far. Some of us are still recovering physically from the demands we placed on our bodies during the trip to Big Sandy, and everyone seems a bit tired. But we are excited; only nine more days until we head back home and get to see our families again! While we are eager to return home, we will miss the friendships we have deepened here and all the classes and speakers.

We finished up our sessions with Lauren Bell today. She spent the day talking to us about the blessings of boundaries, full time Christian ministry, when God works outside the box, and treasures of darkness. All of her sessions have been very good and make you think.

In the evening, everyone headed outside for fresh air and volleyball. We played several games of volleyball, some people jogged around the parking lot, others sat and cheered the players on. It was good to get outside and look at the stars and skyline of Dallas.

We have several papers due on Monday and Wednesday, and a speech on Monday. We are also working on memorizing Ephesians 1. Please pray that we would be able to get all our assignments done well to the glory of God.

Continue to pray for us, as we pray for y'all too!

In Christ,

Anna McElmurray

For all the girls of Advanced Excel 17

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Picture Update

Strong, Smart, and Good looking

Team Building

The amazing raft

Two fearless leaders (Lauren and Chrissy)





Jamie, Emily, and Alaina hanging out



Watching the girls climb

Kristin and Amy

Birthday Party

317 is finished!


Sarah, Alaina, and Chrissy at Big Sandy

Chrissy, Kristin, Amy, Rachel, and Sarah at Starbucks

Kristin Young, Lisa, and Amy

Enjoying Cheese Cake on Valentines Day

Julie, Hannah, and Anna

Tornado drill with the EXCEL girls

Allison, Jamie, and Alaina

Getting ready to paint!

Shopping Trip to Salvation Army

Excitement before giving the first speeches

Monday, March 2, 2009

On Thursday morning we left the DMC for our trip to Big Sandy. On the way, we stopped at the home of Glenda Lauter. Mrs. Lauter, who is one of Lauren’s mentors, very graciously opened up her home to us. She served us a delicious meal and made us feel at home.

It felt very nice to be in a house after almost four weeks of living in a training center! The time we spent at her home was very relaxing for us. Mrs. Lauter, her daughter Julie, and Lauren’s mom all spoke to us during the course of the day.

Julie shared with us part of her testimony, and told us that nothing outside of ourselves can satisfy us, only Jesus. She told us that God designs frustration to push us into His arms. Mrs. Lauter told us that we are all Esthers in our kingdoms, that we are all where we are for a purpose. She also emphasized that God wastes nothing in our lives, and that he uses our “warts” as tools. It may look like we’ve messed up or made the wrong decision, but God uses that. The only thing that we should be concerned about is intimacy with God.

Our day at Mrs. Lauter’s was a huge blessing and encouragement. After we left her house around 4:30, we went to the ALERT campus in Big Sandy. On the way we got slowed down by a traffic jam, and all of us non-Texans saw something we had never seen before. People were using the shoulder as a third lane, and some drivers were even driving on the grass on the side of the road! We eventually made it out of the jam, and arrived in Big Sandy at dusk. We spent the first part of the evening at the home of Mrs. Farr, and she had us play some games to build teamwork. In one of the games we learned how important communication is, and that each person is vital to the team.

Afterwards we all gathered outside to hike to our campsite, in the dark. It turned out that we were going to be camping primitively (no electricity, no bathhouses, and no running water). It was an unexpected turn of events (even for the leaders), but after the first shock (and the arrival of daylight the next morning) things looked a little better.

Our Thursday was quite full; we learned a lot in it.

For all the AE girls,

Lisa Dzimianski