Well I've let myself get all worked up over this blogging thing. I spend tons of time at work going over in my mind what I want to blog about and then when I sit down to the keypad.....my mind is a blank. So here I am (thanks Ashley for the comfy pjs you made me, perfect blogging attire) I'm going to pretend we're sitting across from each other with a hot beverage on a cold day sharing about what's been happening on the journey.
Quick Job update: I have been working as an Electrician for nearly three years. I have enough experience to be certified by the state of California and the paperwork is in process to schedule a test date.
For two and a half years now I've been serving in a ministry under Youth for Christ called Tapestry. It's a youth group for higher risk youth in the lower income areas of Modesto. The first weekend I spent with them was for a spring girls retreat and my heart was captured by their stories and desperate need for healthy love. Most of them have suffered some form of abuse with parents who tear them down with their words at every opportunity. These girls have become such a joy in my life! They refer to me as "the church lady" to their parents although I'm far from that!! We have a youth group one night a week and outside activities as often as we plan them. These kids had never been to the snow, the mountains, the ocean; nowhere but Modesto, before they came to Tapestry. We are constantly drilling into them that God made them for a purpose and they can accomplish whatever they put their hearts toward. Our conversation usually leads to questions like: why has God let these bad things happen to us? and if God were so good why doesn't he save me when I need him to? These conversations lead me to pray that God touches their hearts because there are no answers for such hard questions. I've told them many times that God has given people free will. He won't force them to do the right thing and often others around them suffer the consequences. Unfortunately it is often their parents making the unwise decisions. A key to them making better decisions may be in their knowing what life could be like. With this in mind we invited a couple of the girls to spend Christmas with my family last year. One of my girls was able to come, uneasiness and all! It may be ranked among my favorite Christmas's.
My first summer camp put me through the ringer! I was so fired up and ready for them to have radical encounters with God and my small group was not cooperating! I was reading Ephesians 1 in my personal time and prayed for them "to have a Spirit of wisdom and revelation to know Him more...that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened to know the hope, the riches, and the power for those who believe!" Glory Hallelujah!!! Then reality came in the small group as the girls refused to sit still or be serious. Prayer! That works every time!! "Lets pray..." so I started to pray and was almost through the Ephesians prayer when one of the girls stuck a pen straight up my nose. My eyes popped open in shock to all six girls buckling over in laughter. There were some tears shed on that occasion!
Right after my prayer-pen experience I came across a poem in Brennan Manning's The Ragamuffin Gospel (pg. 196):
"No, it is not yours to open buds into blossom. Shake the bud, strike it, it is beyond your power to make it blossom.
Your touch soils it. You tear its petals to pieces and strew them in the dust, but no colors appear and no perfume.
Oh, it is not for you to open the bud into blossom. He who can open the bud does it so simply.
He gives it a glance and the life sap stirs through its veins. At his breath the flower spreads its wings and flutters in the wind.
Colors flash out like heart longing, the perfume betrays a sweet secret. He who can open the bud does it so simply." Ever since then He has been reminding me to let Him be God and bring about his timing for these kids to bloom.
One more funny memory that I love to share is when one of the girls asked me for a ride home. I responded "Fo Shizzle!" She looked at me with a puzzled expression and asked, "Are you reading books on how to relate to us?" I said, "No, am I getting cooler?" She just laughed and said "heck no" as she walked the other direction! That was the joke among the staff for months! Are you reading books on how to relate to us!?!
Here are pictures from Tapestry:
I'm distributing soda for a burping contest. The little one in the purple was the champion, no lies!
How about we dance around the parking lot singing Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson!
I'm such a hardcore gangsta!! Yo Yo, Suuuup!?!
Two of my girls did some yard-work to raise money for the summer trip.
After the summer activities I felt the need for a break. I've been faced with the sad realization that within the last year I've let myself be busy but not exactly productive. As Don Miller briefly mentions, the devil tries to sink a man's mind into habit to prevent his heart from engaging God. Now that I've realized my heart has been disengaged, I'd like to make some changes to escape this busy-ness. (I'm still prayin about how that'll play out with Tapestry)