It’s hard to rest well this time of year because of heightened expectations. Others place hard-to-meet expectations on us, we place them on others, and we tend to throw a big bag of ’em over our own shoulders! Even when we have moments of bigger-picture thinking and focus on the redemptive aspects of the Christmas season, we still tend to acquire expectations that don’t bring about much freedom. These expectations can send us into stress-frenzies as we search for that perfect gift, seek to prepare that perfect party appetizer, or partake in the proper amount of Christmas festivities so that, by the end of the month, we can confidently say, “yeah, I did Christmas well this year.”

Sometimes our expectations are rooted in the pressure of having to prove we have reached a certain level of “holiness” in our Christmas endeavors, and these are the kinds of expectations I want to focus on in this post. We decide we are going to seek peace on earth, give generously, love unconditionally, make Christmas more about Christ and less about presents, and ______________ (fill in the blank). These are great endeavors! Yes, I acknowledge this.

Here’s what’s on my heart, though: Even if our motives are pure and Christ-honoring this season, I don’t think we are able to give of ourselves well unless we are first gracious with ourselves.

If we don’t accompany our good intentions (Christmas goals, if you will) with kindness for ourselves, we will easily succumb to the stress of feeling we don’t measure up. No one is going to be a perfect advocate of peace, generosity, unconditional love, etc, this season. We will all fall short at some capacity because we are human and in need of a Savior! If we choose to live in the guilt of not measuring up (and we all have our own definitions of what it means to measure up), we will become people of shame. Shame paves the way for a debilitating self-obsession that greatly detracts from our ability to focus on Christ and others. When we choose to live this way, we are essentially telling God that what He did for us was, and is, not enough. And this is NOT the life we were called to live!

Truth is, IT WAS FINISHED! It IS finished! His grace extends. It extends deep, and it extends wide. When we live in this reality, we have increased capacity to be people that bring life and light!

And when we make a mistake, let’s look in the mirror and say, “Hey, you beautiful human, you. Yeah, you messed up. Acknowledge it, forgive yourself, do what you need to do to own it, and then press on in celebration!”

Let’s celebrate the life of Christ that paved the way for freedom IN Christ! 

 

 

PURPOSE & IDENTITY > Limitations.

Let’s get real…let’s get vulnerable.

Most of you, if not all of you, should be able to relate to what I’m writing about here. Not necessarily to the specific life struggle that I am about to share, but to the overarching lesson that I’m learning through that struggle.

LIMITATIONS.

We all have them.

Of the mental, emotional, and physical varieties.

We are often encouraged to push through them. To push beyond them. And while I think it is important to dream big and work hard, I also think it is crucial that we learn to acknowledge our current limitations and seek to THRIVE within them without allowing them to define us. Some limitations can be trumped over time, but that’s exactly what it takes…TIME. We are always working so hard to achieve NOW.

In a society that thirsts for instant gratification, we often ditch our efforts if our end goal doesn’t seem achievable in the immediate future. I, for one, have lived too much of my life thinking that something wasn’t worth pursuit if results didn’t come quickly. On this six-year-long “why am I so fatigued” journey, for example, I have struggled to stay the course of healing if I didn’t see those immediate results. I would hear word of one potential diagnosis, scramble to do all I could to remedy the situation over the course of a few weeks, and then feel defeated when my pursuit ended with hardly any health gains. While I saw glimpses of healing, I still wasn’t feeling like I was making big enough strides. This process, over time, left me feeling utterly defeated. Confused. Angry. Desperate for answers.

I recently found out that I have a condition called Adrenal Fatigue. I wouldn’t say I was excited to be diagnosed with this condition, but man was I stoked to FINALLY have vocabulary to work with! Those of you who know me well know that I am not one (by my natural design) to shy away from social gatherings and adventure. However, my ability to pursue these avenues without health consequences has diminished. This can be discouraging (obviously). But God is teaching me what it looks like to pursue my daily best within my limitations.

A huge part of the healing process involves me saying “ummm, byeeeee” to my guilt complex. God is walking me through the process of dissolving this guilt complex of mine that I’ve held so “near and dear” for as long as I can remember. Guilt has kept me from resting (on various levels). I’ve felt guilty for taking a nap because that was time that could be spent achieving something. I’ve felt guilty for turning down a hangout request because I didn’t want my decline to falsely communicate I don’t value my time with the inviter. I haven’t completely eliminated this guilt complex (’cause, remember, healing/transformation takes TIME), but God has granted me helpful tools in overcoming this toxic way of thinking (feel free to ask me about these tools).

Ultimately, I am learning to be an advocate for myself. If I am constantly working tirelessly to push beyond my current set of limitations, I WON’T HEAL. I won’t get the rest my body needs. I won’t thrive. I won’t operate out of my best self. I’ll get worse and function less optimally. Ah, hell no!

I find me, myself, asking I the following:

“how can I best invest in myself these days so as to best invest in others?”  

Today’s investment looks differently than

yesterday’s and tomorrow’s.

As I do my best to thrive within these current limitations, I am seeking to live with purpose NOW. Not gearing up for living my future purpose as if it is currently unattainable, but acknowledging that my purpose preceded my production. I am making the conscious effort to live with intentionality, celebrate little victories, and enjoy being me. You ready to join the club?

Friendly reminder here. We aren’t called to be perfect, guys. We are called to put forth our best selves. So, what does that look like for you considering where you’re at? And what has your identity been rooted in these days (hopefully not your limitations…)?

Maybe it’s time to reassess and recalibrate.

 

Sea-Kayaking // I’m not ready to say goodbye.

These last two weeks have been SO life-giving for me. I’ve experienced bliss. Overflowing with joy, head-deep in contentment. I’m SAVORING my time with this specific group of people at this specific time in life. 

Sea-Kayaking in the San Juan Islands last week was divine! One of the best adventures I’ve ever embarked on. Kayaking a total of 40 miles within a five-day period was challenging, but the scenery and rhythm of motion was therapeutic. I also had an awesome kayak partner (shoutout to Tyler Burnam). My favorite aspect of this trip was the community. It was so restorative. As with any family, the Kairos class has experienced their fair share of relational tensions and frustrations over the course of the season. Though there is still room for growth in this realm, I am confident in saying that this trip was a unifying experience. Something I shared with the students recently is that I am encouraged by how they’ve persevered in their relationships with one another…how they haven’t given up on each other. This demonstration has spoken volumes to me. A good reminder that relationships, as hard as they may be at times, are worth restoring….that people are worth the effort. And that being in right relationship with others often means we take a seat in the humility chair (what).

Our fearless leader, Brian Meaden, asked us to reflect on three words throughout our adventure: with, stillness, and joy. Though kayaking on the sea waters was peaceful, we had to be intentional about being still. We had to intentionally acknowledge God’s intimate presence and allow ourselves to be present with Him. We started off the morning of the third day with a period of silence. I felt it paved the way for me to establish my rightness with God and contentment in being myself at His feet before entering back into times of relationship building with my people. I got so much out of that day. There was stillness WITH God, and there was immense joy in my interactions WITH students and fellow staff following that time of stillness.

We didn’t see any whales, but we did observe porpoises, seals, sea lions, starfish, crabs, and eagles (of both the golden and bald variety…haha). Why don’t you just take a look at these pictures and see why I fell in love with the sights: Sea-Kayaking Pictures!

This is our last week together as family. So far, it has been rich! While this week is comprised of meetings with the students and evaluations, we are also making time for fun and community. My roommate and I hosted a coffee/waffle bar + games + movie evening with the Kairos fam a couple nights ago, and it was too legit to quit (so we didn’t quit)! This morning I had my three small group girls over for a sweet time of laughter and good food – OUR LAST SMALL GROUP TOGETHER!!! 😦 Afterwards, we met up with the rest of the class and went rock-climbing! Tomorrow, we will run a 5K (seeing if we can beat our times from the beginning of the season), Friday we will enjoy a park BBQ together, and then Saturday is graduation. I’M NOT READY TO SAY GOODBYE! I do not want to let these people go. But, alas, I must. I must trust God’s way with them and anticipate the beautiful ways God is going to guide their footing. These students have impacted my life greatly. I have learned a lot from them. Life will not be the same without them around. UGH! NOOOOO!!!! Students, if you’re reading this, DON’T LEAVE ME!!!!!

God has done an incredible work this season. I have the coolest job ever and am feeling ridiculously blessed by this community. I guess that’s it for now. 

Brief Recap: Grand Canyon // L.A. mission // Costa Rica mission

GRAND CANYON // January 11-17 // For those of you that thrive off of details (haha), we started at the top of the South Kaibab trail, proceeded along the Clear Creek trail (along the north side of the inner rim), and then hiked out via the Bright Angel trail.  Our first night was spent at Bright Angel campground, the following two nights at Clear Creek, and last night back at Bright Angel (by Phantom Ranch). 40 miles were traversed over a five-day period! We divided up into two groups so that each of the ten students had the opportunity to grow their leadership potential as they led a full day. Overall impression of the trip: God and His creation are majestic.What you should know about the Grand Canyon backpacking trip is that is was challenging and AWESOME!

L.A. MISSION TRIP // January 18-25 // THE DAY AFTER WE FINISHED BACKPACKING, we drove to L.A. (that’s right…we drove to the Grand Canyon in a 15-passenger van, and we drove to L.A.) to serve alongside the Kairos Minneapolis team. Most of our ministry looked like serving at food banks, distributing food from food trucks, partnering with the Compton Initiative to help restore the aesthetics of some Compton homes, and literally walking around looking for ways to meet the needs of the homeless. Hearing facts and figures regarding the homeless population can be eye-opening, but looking into their eyes and hearing their personal stories is life-changing. We also visited Buddhist and Self-Realization temples to gain new outlook. We sought to understand before being understood. We are so often concerned with being heard that we forget to listen! All in all, we journeyed to L.A. to serve, to learn, and to love. This week of service further expanded our perspectives on what it can look like to reach out to the homeless population in our own communities. Beyond the need for food, water, shelter, and clothing, we all desperately need to know that we are SEEN and that we are LOVED. Our students were reminded of this re-orienting truth.

COSTA RICA MISSION TRIP // Cariari, Cachi, Nicoya // March 1-22 marked our pioneering and groundbreaking mission to Costa Rica! Our first ten days of ministry were spent in Cariari, a town that was hot, humid, and rich with opportunity. Leading VBS and youth ministry programs at the local school and church allowed us a substantial amount of time to engage with the children and high schoolers of Cariari. While these programs opened the door for fun times with the youth, they also paved the way for our Kairos students to share their testimonies. I love testimonies because they highlight God’s unique intervention in our lives and showcase our one-of-a-kind love story with Him. No one can argue against your personal testimony (well, they can try, but they won’t get far).

From Cariari we traveled into the beautiful mountains of Cachi! There, the students received teachings on youth ministry from Curtis Burnam (also on staff with Reign Ministries) and had some time to recuperate. Three days later, we drove to Nicoya and stayed at a camp that was alive with exciting wildlife – the boa constrictor outside the girls’ bathroom, the 20+ moneys just chilling in the trees, the huge beetle flying around the girl’s room after having just turned out the lights. When we weren’t enjoying the exotic wildlife, we were investing in the youth! We were back at it with VBS programs in the elementary school and language exchange programs at the vocational high school. Though the schedule of classroom opporuntities was changing on the daily, we made our way into a handfuls of classrooms and engaged with multitudes of youth.  We shared and we loved. It was as simple as that. Not only did this mission trip grant us the privileged opportunity of demonstrating Christ’s tangible love to the youth of impoverished parts of Costa Rica, but it also instigated much growth in the lives of our students (and staff).

Personally, the trip was really hard. I didn’t feel well most days and was living in somewhat of a disconnected state. I didn’t experience many emotions, and I definitely didn’t experience any spiritual highs. Despite the challenge, though, I was all the while able to recognize the TRUTHS at play:

  1. Truth>feelings 
  2. God is faithful
  3. Kingdom work WAS being accomplished even when I didn’t FEEL it
  4. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME! [Move on over, Marissa Jestice]

Onward!

The Marissa Files: Part II

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Praying encouragement into each other’s lives following Wick Nease’s teaching on destiny last semester.

I’m seeing God do mighty things in the lives of our students already. In the process of building into their faith foundations, their true identities are being realized. While most are learning for the first time how to be courageously vulnerable, others are beginning to seize the truth that they belong and are worth being loved. As we navigate this season together as a Kairos family, we’re EXPECTING God to continue the good work He has begun in us. I’m so proud of our students for so bravely taking a hiatus from their everyday lives to pursue the things of Christ in both a classroom and outdoor setting. In the eyes of the world (and even in the eyes of some believers), taking a gap year is NUTS! It is all too easy to get swept up into the aggressively churning wheels of life and equate a hurried life to a successful life. When one is caught up in this cycle, it is hard to see the benefit of SLOWING DOWN and investing in a time of intentionality. Hard work and the pursuit of excellence are honorable. However, oftentimes we are striving…so hard…to accomplish SO MUCH in our own strength. We often don’t take the time to actually process who we are, where we stand, and how we can best build into God’s Kingdom while here on earth (and beyond). In addition to spinning our wheels, we are creatures of comparison! If we don’t invest in seasons of intentionality and self-examination, we risk losing ourselves and our sense of UNIQUE purpose. We should focus on being a first rate version of ourselves and not a second rate version of someone else (thanks, Judy Garland).

So. These incredible students of ours? Yeah, they’re pretty courageous and are willing to go against the grain to seize a season of intentionality and Godly pursuit. They won’t have everything figured out by the end of Kairos, but I pray that they will have a better grasp of their unique design and how to (re)orient their lives for success in God’s eyes….an audience of One.

[Kairos students…if you’re reading this….know that I think each of you is uniquely destined and equipped for greatness.]

I am in a unique chapter of growth myself. For one, God is showing me step-by-step how to be my best self as I navigate this whole adult thing (I move into my very first apartment this weekend!!!!). I want to be intentional about living unabashedly me as God guides me through each step of life! Although I find myself feeling anxious when thinking ahead to all that this next semester entails, I am LOVING where God has me and look forward to the unknowns. I will continue to trust in the Lord’s administering of provision, strength, and confidence as I take my next steps. I do miss home, but I am starting to embrace the reality that, irrespective of my physical location, I am HOME as long as I am abiding in Christ. And in all I’m learning, God has made it clear to me that I am not here for myself. God is obviously growing me, but my true purpose in being in this ministry is to care well for those entrusted into my care. He’s called me to pour out and invest in the lives of our students. I just need to trust that He will continue to fill me up as needed. I WILL have the strength and energy as long as I’m relying on Him and not my own strength…I need to do away with STRIVING.

QUICK CHRISTMAS BREAK RECAP/WHAT’S AHEAD THIS MONTH:
I spent some time hanging with family and friends in CA for the first ten days of break! The visit featured both ups and downs, but mostly ups. I always enjoy the times I get to reconnect with those near and dear to my heart. I then spent New Years with some of my favorites in CO! Such a refreshng time of fun and deep connection.

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Kara, Erin, Andrew, and that one girl…

The rest of this month is going to be cray cray (but awesome). As a Kairos class, we leave for our leadership training backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon on the 11th (Yes…we are literally backpacking the Grand Canyon for five days), and then drive straight over to L.A. on the 18th for an inner-city missions trip. Joining forces with the Minneapolis Kairos School, our time will consist of partnering with churches/organizations/food programs to assist the homeless and lower income families, talking with leaders of other religions and learning their worldview, and initiating conversations all the while in hopes of sharing the transforming power of Christ’s love.

Please be praying for traveling mercies, patience, wisdom, physical/mental endurance, and sweet fellowship. Please also be praying that the hearts of the students, and staff, will be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit during our week in L.A., and that we will be used by the Lord to bring life and encouragement to the people we encounter.

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Prepping for our backpacking trip!

XOXO.

Check out our latest Kairos videos!

 

 

We’ve Only Just Begun!

12074891_10153684609027460_8476396149620753486_nI am here, I am alive, and I am well! This past month has been FULL of preparation, acclimation, adventure, and growth. Transitioning into unfamiliar territory has been difficult; I’ll be honest. I knew it wouldn’t be comfortable. I knew it wouldn’t be predictable. I knew I would miss my family and friends terribly. But I also knew that God was going before me. His peace has paved the way for me, and I am here, I am blessed, and I am growing! Growth pains aren’t enjoyable, but you eagerly anticipate the new heights they beckon (see what I did there) 😉 The growing pains are still present (and will be for a while longer), but I am LOVING my fellow staff members and our unique, dynamic, and gifted students! With 5 gal stunners and 5 boyz (to men), this is the best girl/guy ratio Kairos has ever had! I’m thinking dance classes are in order (ballroom, perhaps?). While Kairos Twin Cities (Minnesota) has entered into their twelfth season of ministry, this is Kairos Seattle’s inaugural year. The ministry is growing, people! Hallelujah. And I have the pleasure of being a part of the team that pioneers this first year in the Seattle area. Thank you, God.

My first couple of weeks here entailed airport pick-ups, office supply and camping gear errands, office setup/organization, student phone calls, apartment shopping (currently hosted by a gracious couple, but will be getting an apartment with another staff member in the near future)…and a myriad of other preparation activities. I also fully entered into a time of staff bonding (rock climbing, donut eating, coffee drinking, testimony sharing), and city exploration.

My small group girls (Amy, Emily, and Carolyn) and I enjoying a meal in a Bavarian village in Leavenworth! 
My small group girls (Amy, Emily, and Carolyn) and I enjoying a meal in a Bavarian village in Leavenworth! These girls are too legit. So blessed by them!

Then, the students arrived. DUN DUN DUN. We spent our first full day with the students (Sept. 14) exploring Fort Ebey State Park on Whidbey Island, and then spent the rest of our first week together camping at Wentachee State Park. Beautiful, peaceful, chilly….full of great conversation, copious amounts of laughter, meal communing, worship, a 9-mile hike, rock-skipping, demonic-sounding horse neighs in the middle of the night [there were literally 20 or so horses (I’m not horsing around!) just down the road from our camp site], and Bavarian village exploration.

One way I took a step out of my comfort zone was by delivering a teaching on the spiritual discipline of silence and solitude partway through our 9-mile hike. This discipline in particular has been heavy on my heart for years now, and, though I was nervous to teach, I felt honored to be given the opportunity to share my experiences and findings with the students! As we waded through this teaching together, we were reminded that silence and solitude were crucial to Jesus’ rhythm of life and ministry. And if Jesus needed these precious times alone with His Father, how much more do we need them!?! Here is Christ’s invitation to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” – Matthew 11:28-30. While Christ’s yoke is easy, and His burden light, fully entering into a time of silence with God can be challenging. Silence and solitude goes against the activity addiction of this age.

Teaching on silence and solitude.
Teaching on silence and solitude.

Following the teaching, we all spent about 40 minutes hiking in silence, and it was awesome. Most of the students expressed that they had a sweet connection with the Lord during that time. Definitely a highlight for me.

All around, our orientation camping trip provided a wonderful platform for our relationships to grow and set the stage for receptive minds and hearts as we transitioned into classroom teachings (this past week). Travis and Stephenie Carr engaged the students with teachings centered on the theme of life as a disciple. They dove heard first into their Mark study (an incredibly in-depth analysis of the book of Mark where students observe, analyze, and then apply), and allowed this study to pave the way for awesome lessons on what it looks like to be a true disciple. I Ioved every moment spent with the Carrs! They are my homies, mentors, family, and friends all in one (if either one of you are reading this….me love you long time).

Now let me take a moment to tell you a little bit about our students:

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And this is everybody! Good-lookin’ faces and good-lookin’ hearts.

They are stellar, and I love them deeply. 

I seriously could not have imagined a better group of students for this first year of Kairos Seattle. They are incredible, dynamic, fun-loving, teachable individuals with potential that is off the charts! I don’t just consider them students….I count them as friends. I thoroughly enjoy hanging out with them. We are already growing so much together….in the depth of our friendships, in our spiritual disciplines, in our acknowledgment of how good our God is…and this is merely week two! The devil has been doing all he can to stunt this growth, but we are calling on the name of the Lord as a defense and seeing His faithfulness. These attacks make it all the more obvious to us that God has big plans up His sleeve for this ministry and all the lives involved.

Though I miss my family and friends back home, I am so thankful to be here with these people in this capacity. I have an open hand about the future and trust wholeheartedly that God is going to use us to further His Kingdom here on earth (and beyond) in outlandishly beautiful ways.

Check out this video montage I created using footage from our orientation week! One of my primary roles here on staff with Kairos Seattle is to oversee our social media strategies and to create enticing videos 😉

PS. For even MORE pictures, you can meander through my PNW/Kairos Facebook album HERE!

PPS. If anyone finds this Slotherine T-shirt and wants to buy it for me, I would not object! 😉

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So long, Royal Servants Training Camp 2015!

TC-montage

After three-weeks of residing in a tent, my time at Royal Servants Training Camp 2015 has come to a bittersweet end. I loved getting my video-swag on amongst my Royal Servants’ family in a place that has radically changed my life.

Making videos for Royal Servants this summer was even more fun because of my partner-in-crime, Corin McHargue. He is a tech genius and has a knack for all things creative. We had the privilege of filming and editing together, and we thoroughly enjoyed the teamwork aspect! The videos we created are pretty legit, if I do say so myself. Check them out HERE!

For one of the videos I shot, I asked students to describe their experiences at Training Camp thus far with one word. The most commonly used word was “crazy.” And that is part of why I love training camp so much. It is a crazy, unique, alternate universe (haha) experience. You may not understand how beautiful training camp is at first glance, but, once your first Royal Servants’ summer has come to an end, you realize that Training Camp is one of the greatest places on earth. It is challenging….stretching…uncomfortable at times. It is also a place where you are beautifully broken, brought to a posture of surrender, and then pieced back together with a glorious God glue that transforms the way you do life! I love seeing the student’s move towards a more confident stance in Christ as they progress through their week at Training Camp.

Though it was hard to say goodbye to some dear friends (old and new) these past few days, I am feeling good about my decision to return home instead of heading overseas this summer. I look forward to being intentional with my family and friends in the Folsom area before moving to Washington State. I am still feeling SO peaceful about my transition into ministry with Kairos, and my excitement is growing! But uh….question……WHERE IS THE TIME GOING!?!?! I cannot believe Training Camp has, once again, come to an end and that I only have a month and a half at home before my big move! Crazy! Awesome! Crazy awesome! If you would like to know more about this upcoming adventure of mine, and/or would like to partner with me, please email me at mjestice@reignministries.org.

El Fin.

Make what you want of this…

I oftentimes feel a bit disconnected from my surroundings. Lately, I’ve been feeling as though I’m walking through life blindly. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Because I’m given the opportunity to trust in God more than I trust in myself and the things I see. I’m sure much of the daily fog has to do with health issues that I’ve been battling for a while now….that’s got to be it. And I hope that’s it! Cause then I can hope for reaching a place of being healthier and stronger and seeing things with more color and feeling more vivacious and alive!

The founder of Reign Ministries, Louie Inks, says that for every day you are not living out your purpose, a piece of of your soul dies (something like that). Sometimes I wonder if that is what I’m experiencing. But, then again, I can’t discredit all that I am involved with now and how God has been in those things. That just wouldn’t feel right or true. I am doing the best I can to follow God and seize the opportunities He has laid before me, so I can just trust that where I am is OK at the present time, right?

I do know that God has prepared me for this point in life and that He is preparing me for my next big adventure in Washington State. I wonder if it is there that I will thrive! I know things aren’t going to be perfect, but I sure do feel a gut peace about this move and transition into the Kairos ministry. It’s interesting how sure I am about this decision despite my lack of ENTHUSIAST EXCITEMENT right now. I honestly don’t feel much of anything right now. Just living in a state of feeling neutral. Here I am referring to flesh feelings…not gut feelings. There is a difference. Ya dig!?!

I honestly feel a lack of excitement when it comes to a lot of things. Even things related to spiritual growth. I’m WANTING to grow and WANTING to feel an overwhelming desire to dive headfirst into God’s Word and anticipatingly (made up word?) enter into divine prayer times, but I find myself viewing those tasks as..well…tasks! As activities that require more energy then I want to exert, to be frank! (who’s Frank?).

But I want to KNOW GOD! Deeply. And I do know at my core that He loves me and is a best friend. I do talk to Him and invite Him into things on a daily basis, but I feel like I need to be investing more into “set aside,” “holy” spiritual times. You know what, though? I’ve always been a perfectionist and often feel as though I haven’t done all that I can do or that I haven’t met the mark. And this has definitely negativity affected my relationship with Christ. To be quite honest (not that I haven’t been honest up to this point), I never feel like I am enough or have done enough. Perhaps my investment in the furthering of my relationship with God HAS been and IS enough. Perhaps God’s Words and Truths have become so ingrained in my heart that they HAVE changed (and are changing) who I have become/am becoming. My friend Stephen Hagberg once encouraged me (YEARS ago) with the following: “there comes a point when your m’normal’ way of living life is so grounded in who God is that it seems incredible to those around you, even though its your ‘normal.'” Thanks, Stephen. I do think I could invest more effort into opening God’s beautiful Word and entering into intentional solitude prayer times. However, God calls me to come as I am. And if I am feeling crappy and only read a line of scripture and simply call out to Him with few words, I have to remember that He is still very much so in those moments and can do more in me and with me than I understand. I need to only be still and know that He is God. Now I’m feeling like I’m losing my words…so I’m going to stop typing.

I survived the fire….and it was one of the best nights of my life!!!

So…funny story…

Hours after officially being offered a staff position with Reign Ministries, I had a “little” incident.

Let me break it down for ya: Reign Ministries lent me one of their ministry vans the evening following my job interview. I was a bit nervous to drive the huge thing on the potentially icy roads of Minnesota, but I soon felt confident in my huge-van driving abilities (I do like driving big vehicles..sometimes I pretend like I’m driving a Transformer). About 15 mins into my journey down the highway, the van started making bizarre noises, and acceleration became nearly impossible. I immediately pulled of to the side of the highway (i had no choice, really) and immediately began witnessing smoke rising fervently from the hood of the van. I had a very bad feeling about the situation I found myself in (duh), so I grabbed my stuff, jumped out of the van, and stepped back for safety. I then noticed two things: 1) sparks were dropping down from the front of the van and 2) my phone was almost dead. I figured that calling 911 with my last ounce of battery juice would be the smartest decision (I make good decisions sometimes).

On the phone with the 911 dispatcher, I found myself sounding like a typical out-of-state-airhead…

Me: I was traveling on 35W and just took the 4B exit…

Dispatcher: Were you heading North or South on 35W?

Me: uhhh…I thought I was heading West because I was on 35W….

Dispatcher: No….are you heading towards the city or away from     the city?

Me: You know, I’m not sure…I’m new to this area…

Thankfully, the dispatcher was able to put her professional technology to good use and track my cell phone location. As soon as I hung up, my phone died.

And then the van literally caught on fire. It was engulfed in flames. And it was beautiful. I just wish my phone had still been alive so I could’ve taken a freakin’ picture….

A policeman named Rob ended up giving me a ride to my friend’s house. I am thankful for Rob. He and I had a lovely conversation on the way. I found out that he was once in the Army, that he is married with a 7-year-old daughter, and that only 2% of his job activity is actually exciting…the other 98% is comprised of waiting around for the 2% excitement to happen. Once we had pulled up to the house, and he opened my door (I was placed in the backseat like a criminal and wasn’t able to open my own door…), I shook hands with him and said, “Thank you, this was the best night of my life!” To which he replied, “haha, you’re welcome. Hopefully the next time I see you your car won’t be on fire!”

And there you have it. The picture above was taken by Reign Ministries’ Director, Tom Ives. Because my phone died on the scene, this is the only photo-proof of the incident. The van didn’t make it out alive, BUT IT’S OK!!! It turns out that the van catching on fire was a blessing in disguise! Reign Ministries ended up getting more money from their insurance company due to the incident than they would have if they had just sold the old thing. I guess you could say I took one for the team 😉 

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