I too am a (wo)man.

Sometimes I feel like I am not an open enough person. Some of you will scoff at that, but sometimes I really feel like it. The reason being is because maybe if I were more open about the ways I am screwed up, people wouldn’t seem to get this weirdo idea that I’m perfect. But, the truth is, I relate way too much to Peter in Acts 10, when Cornelius falls at his feet in worship and Peter is forced to pull him up and say “Stand up; I too am a man.”

When you’re a missionary, or even a youth minister, it seems as if that label is synonymous with “perfect.” I can’t tell you how many times people have apologized for cursing around me, or making an off-color joke, as if I am the Cuss Word Police and they are about to be read their rights and lead away to the prison I am apparently collecting people for.

I feel I sometimes have missed out on being a listening ear to brokenness because of peoples’ fear of being lead away to that imaginary jail. I am thankful in part for their feelings of conviction, because conviction is from God and brings you towards him, but shame is not, and it takes you away from Him. It makes you hide. Shame says that you aren’t worth being loved. That you in and of yourself are worthless because of what you’ve done. So many people are walking around under that burden, unable to come to Jesus with it, much less other people. I hate when people don’t feel like they can come to me because 1. I am a HUGE sinner and no better than that and 2. All over the gospels Jesus put himself directly in the path of people burdened with shame so that He could love them and tell them how much they were worth. He put himself on the cross for that same reason. What will it take for us to believe Him? He spent his life and death PROVING IT.

There are so many times when I admit I have done the same. I, too, have made many idols. I wanted love so badly that I looked for it from other people. I spit in the face of my Creator. I found counterfeit loves, and they never loved me back; I was never satisfied. I could never seem to get what I wanted. Out of desperation I went to Jesus and laid it all out on the table for once. All my mess. But he didn’t run. If you run away from Jesus, in Romans 1 Paul doesn’t spare strong language to tell us where that path leads.

God INVENTED love. He created us FOR him. I imagine when Peter was pulling Cornelius up he was thinking, “Man, if you only knew. If you only knew how badly I will fail to live up to your expectations. Don’t go down that road, bro.” I bet he knew from experience, too. And I bet he also knew Love, the kind of love we were created for. And he wanted that for Cornelius. And I want that for us.

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a day in the life of laura, part 2

Here’s another Day in the Life of Laura entry, detailing what it is I do all day…for all of you who ask. 🙂

  • Sent emails
  • Met with potential Booster Club president
  • Talked with Shea about future plans
  • Skyped with my brother in India
  • Called student back about small group
  • Got grilled cheese for lunch
  • Stopped by the teen center to get supplies for our young adult ministry’s “prom” event on Saturday
  • Wrote 2 thank you notes and prayed for donors
  • Google translated an electric bill
  • Compared a POR and invoice for our Adventure Camp payment to figure out a discrepancy
  • Proofread my newsletter
  • Wrote 4 more emails
  • Updated To Do list
  • Searched for email address for rep on DTS seminary site
  • Wrote 3 more emails
  • Looked up notes on small group seminar from last year
  • Made list of things to buy for a care package for a student who PCS-ed
  • Sent email to my site team for Romania
  • Went to shoppette to buy supplies for care package
  • Went to Bookmark book store on post to get a birthday card for student
  • Went to PXtra to get care package stuff and stuff for our young adult ministry “prom”
  • Went to the CMR(Community Mail Room) to mail my thank you notes and pick up a box for care package
  • Went to pick up lights and disco ball at the teen center for “prom”
  • Looked in every storage place at teen center
  • Waited for another organization to return the lights to the teen center so I could borrow them (this all took an hour)
  • Stopped by softball practice to say hi to my girls
  • Had small group with my middle school girls

Whew…there you go. Another day in the life. More random days to come.

living in the trenches.

“Living in the trenches” is a phrase commonly thrown around in the chapel by our chaplains, but more often than not they are not talking about literal trenches, which are holes dug to protect soldiers in the midst of combat, even though real combat is close to all of our thoughts these days. No, they are talking about the emotional and spiritual trenches where we do our jobs. Those are filled with scenes of combat, of wounded warriors bleeding, hiding, and trying to survive. Places of pain where we are called to work, not unlike army medics, called to the trenches to stop the bleeding, to inspire courage, to point them to the Great Physician. It’s those places that make youth ministry not for the faint of heart, not for those who get queasy at the sight of blood.  Those in the trenches include kids experiencing abuse of all kinds, alcoholism in the family, neglect, anger, intense loneliness, grief, fear, unplanned pregnancy, loss of friends, parent deployment, addiction, heartbreak, divorce, physical illnesses…the list goes on, and I can attach at least one name to each of those situations.

It’s weird, but it’s in the trenches where Jesus shows up. The guy who could have anything he wants, could wipe us out to keep us from causing issues in His world, decides instead to get messy in the dirt of the trenches of life. He comes in to live amongst the pain, which seems like a crazy place for a God to be. Wouldn’t he rather be sitting on a throne somewhere, watching us struggle like Saving Private Ryan on a divine 1,000 inch 3D plasma TV? No, he chooses to get dirty. He chooses to work in and through us who have also been called to that place, so that we’re not working on our own, in our own power. We have the God of the universe alongside us, who is so much more capable of healing the deepest wounds of his children, whom I love as if they were my own. I can’t imagine how much the One who created them loves them.

Don’t give up guys. I’m talking to youth leaders and students alike. Don’t forget who is in the trenches with you. You are not alone.

“But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.” (Nehemiah 9:17)