Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rain stick Reflections

The other day we had our office Christmas get together. Our VP asked us to sit in a circle and close our eyes. She had this rain stick that she had just got as a present and so she started to let the rain stick go back and forth. Then she started to ask us to reflect on certain questions (and I am paraphrasing what she asked). She asked...

What happened in 2008 that you are glad is over?

What brought you joy in 2008?

What are you going to leave behind from 2008?

What are you looking forward to in 2009?

What do you want 2009 to be filled with?

This really was a wonderful thing for me to do, I felt like I had not really reflected on this past year. Let me tell you, A LOT happened in 2008...for starters I student taught, graduated from college, became a missionary, spent 3 weeks in NYC and met some of my best friends and partners in ministry, I moved to Urbana, Illinois, and I started my 1st real job:) Talk about CHANGE. This has been a year of intense Change...I think I should have a theme song for my life...instead of Seasons of Love, it should be Season of Change (of course there is love in the midst of all the change as well). This all got me thinking a lot.

I am going to compare my life over the past year to the season of Advent...and maybe I am just over consumed with talk of Advent after writing an advent devotional and teaching the kids about it, but I think its relevant and I love metaphors. So I feel like 2008 was a time of waiting for me. It took a lot out of me, I had to wait actively, not passively. I had to struggle to not let the busyness consume me. I had to keep my focus on the coming of Christ into my life. Advent is meant to be a time of preparation for the coming of Christ. I feel like for the 1st half of 2008 I spent time preparing myself for what God had in store for me. Most of the time I did not know what I was preparing for, but I knew there was something great out there for me to do.

This is where I can kind of relate to Mary, yes I can relate to the Mother of Jesus. An angel comes to a teenage girl, in fact probably a middle schooler, (like my dad says, Jesus' Mama was a middle schooler). The Angel tells her she is going to give birth to the Messiah. Mary, a middle schooler, the most unlikely person, is being called to be the mother of Jesus our Messiah our Savior. I felt like Mary this year because I felt God call me to something greater than myself, I felt completely unqualified and unequipped to be a missionary, yet he still called me. He had something in store for me that I could not even imagine back in the early days of 2008. God sent me on a journey similar to Joseph and Mary's journey to Bethlehem. The journey was hard at times, I had to stop and rest a lot, but I knew I must continue on the journey. The journey led to being a missionary at Cunningham Children's home, in of all places, Urbana, Illinois. God has a sense of humor...a manger for Jesus, and a home for kids with severe behavior and emotional issues for me. (if you don't find the humor in below)

While I was student teaching, my one really hard experience was one day when one of our kids tried to punch another kid over a game of jeopardy and then proceed to threaten me, corner me against the wall, and then try to punch my was the day I left for my interview in NYC for the US-2 Missionary position...ironic yes...God's plan, no doubt!

But my journey did lead to Urbana to CCH, and I am not going to equate it with the birth of Jesus, because you just can't compare to that. But I will say that my bright star landed over CCH. This was the best place for me to be, God has equipped me daily to get through it all, even the days that get so hard, he shows me joy through a kids action and I make it through.

My heart has broken for these kids. As I went around with Santa the other night from unit to unit, after working a ridiculous amount of hours of the last few weeks, the kids sat on Santa's lap and asked for Love, their parents back, to smile again...etc.. they admitted that had been bad but were trying to turn it around. This Santa was amazing, the kids talked to him like in some ways he was God. It was like seeing the kids sitting on God's lap telling them their struggles and just wanting to be loved. I teared up, and I thought back to earlier that day with the rain stick reflections & thought...2008 was definitely about change, but those changes led me here, and I can't wait to start 2009 working with these kids for another year.

In the midst of writing this reflection I was listening to this song by Melissa Ethridge and I think it fits well, it's called Light a Light...but I think it could be called "Season of Change" too. I love how it talks about heaven is on the inside and not just above...and how we should choose love. I have changed this year, and I have choose to love these kids with all I have in me. And yesterday we lit a candle for each kids at Cunningham, and a 3 wick candle for all the kids in the past, all the one in the present, and all the kids that will come to CCH in the future. So enjoy these lyrics.

'Tis the season of change
Seasons are the contrast
The key to life and how its done
It's time to let go of our past
And let go of whats to come

write down your excuses
and turn them into dust
plant the seeds of change
water it with trust

Light a light tonight
we light a light
Light a light tonight
we light a light

Now that this time is ending
and everyone is here

We light a light a light this year
'Tis the season of change

What do we have, what do we have not
what do we need that isn't here
this mindless numb consuming
is driven by a sudden fear

It's time we stop believing
that there will not be enough
I know they said it on the TV
so turn it off, break the chains
step outside and feel the love

we light a light tonight
we light a light
Now that this time is ending
everyone is here
we light a light a light
this year
'Tis the season of Change
of Change

We must change
Heaven is inside
it's all around not just above
choose only love
Heaven is inside
it's all around not just above
choose only love
choose only love
choose only love


Jill said...

I thank God for you!

Anonymous said...

I really like the comparison between you and Mary. Feeling unqualified, maybe not ready...but being called to do something greater than yourself.

ashley said...

It's both inspiring and heartbreaking to read what your kids asked Santa for. Thank you for sharing this, and thank you for the work that you do. I hope you have a wonderful and relaxing time at home with your family! :)