Sunday, August 31, 2008

Be Still My Soul

For almost four years I have been involved in a small group that meets on Sunday nights. These dear friends have walked with me through some very difficult times and celebrated with me in the joyous moments of life. They have challenged me to grow deeper in my faith and supported me in the times I couldn't do life alone.

Around the same time I joined small group, I started volunteering with the youth group. I have a desire to see all people take their next step toward Jesus, but teenagers hold a special place in my heart. I have loved getting to know the teens and watching them grow and mature over the last four years. Last summer the youth pastors at my church made the decision to change the format of the high school youth ministry. Instead of meeting together on Wednesday night, they started meeting on Sunday nights. Even though it was a fantastic change for the youth, I was devastated because small group and youth group were now on the same night. I toyed with the idea of finding a different small group or plugging into a different youth ministry (like Young Life), but I didn't like either idea. Eventually Seth and Adam made my decision for me. They told me about an opportunity to meet with a small group of teens on Wednesday nights. I was relieved that I wouldn't have to leave "my kids" at St. Mark. And by facilitating a small group on Wednesday nights, I was still able to be a part of my own small group on Sundays.

As great as it was to still be involved with the teens on Wednesday nights, I didn't get to see very many of them. Because of that I didn't feel very connected to the youth this past year. It's hard to maintain a ministry when I don't feel connected, so this summer I made a very difficult decision. I decided that I would leave my wonderful, faithful small group in order to serve the youth on Sunday nights. It was a really hard decision to make because my small group has become my core group of friends, and there are many of them that I only see at small group. When I made the decision to dedicate Sunday nights to the student ministry, I knew I would have to trust God to lead me to another small group. Some days it's easier to do that than others.

This morning I was really struggling with trusting God to provide another small group. I spoke with the guy in charge of small groups, and things don't look promising from my perspective right now. As the service started I was racking my brain and looking at the congregation trying to figure out who could possibly be in my new small group. I almost started crying because the situation seems so bleak: I don't know of anyone who is roughly my age and is not in a small group already. Then the Lord broke through my fear and calmed the storm inside me through the hymn we were singing:

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in every change God faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future, as in ages past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
the Christ who ruled them while he dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow for forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Echoes resound in my heart

Donald Miller's closing prayer on day one of the Democratic National Convention. Read more here.

Father God,

This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future.
We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.
We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy.
Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.
Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them.
Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.
Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.

Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.
Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.
We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help.

Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world?
A lot of people don’t like us, but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American.
Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world?
Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.

Lastly, father, unify us.
Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.
And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments — but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish.

God we know that you are good.
Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.

I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.
Let Him be our example.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


For as long as I can remember I have imagined myself (and the husband I am still waiting for) adopting children. In high school I planned to adopt because I was convinced I was infertile--I even marked verses in the Bible about barren women. (Seriously weird, I know. A doctor never told me I wouldn't be able to have children. I don't have any medical conditions. My reproductive system has always been very regular. One day I apparently just decided that I wouldn't be able to get pregnant.) In college my aspirations to adopt expanded into adopting four children, each from a different continent. I spent hours imagining the beautiful family portraits that would grace the walls of my home, the quick retorts I would whip at people who made rude comments about my family, and the fun to be had learning about the different cultures represented by my children. Toward the end of college the realization that marriage was not in my foreseeable future put the desire to adopt on a back burner. However, in the past few months the desire to become the forever family for orphaned children has been stirred. My heart aches to pour love on children who have been left to face to world alone. My mind calculates budgets, rearranges furniture, evaluates lifestyle changes, and entertains "what ifs" by the dozens. My crafty little fingers even find adoption webpages. I hear radio commercials for adoption and foster care agencies and my very being screams, "Pick me! Pick me, Lord! I'll love them. I'll care for them. I want them."

All of that to say adoption has been on my heart lately, and I can't help but believe God has put it there for a reason. May I be as willing to go where God leads as Kirk and Heidi Weimer.