Friday, December 16, 2011
In January, I came back from Mexico and got right into school and work. I took what K-State calls "Block 1" which is the first part of the education program. It's about 12 hours of classes that all have to do with education. I finished my Spanish classes required for my certification and also got to teach an 8th grade social studies lesson as part of my practicum for one of my classes. I loved it, but I think that I am definitely more of a high school teacher!
Over spring break, I headed to Acuña, Mexico, to build again with a small group from my church. We laughed a lot, cried some, and celebrated with another family that has been touched by Christ's love through Casas por Cristo. It was truly a humbling experience for me as I realized that I had forgotten much of what I learned as an intern, and had to relearn some of the building stuff!
This summer, I headed to Hawaii with my family. We spent most of our days on the beach, which was definitely fine by me. I had been taking a medication for my acne (which has overstayed its welcome...still) and had to stop taking it as the sun made my skin feel like it was on fire. After that I was able to just enjoy the sun! I learned stand-up paddle surfing, which was probably my favorite part of the trip. Amanda and I tried wind-surfing as well, and it was maybe the most frustrating thing I've ever done. Probably won't do that again.
The rest of the summer I worked pretty much full time at my job, which I love. I feel like I have family there and for the most part I really enjoy getting to go to work every day. I don't think a lot of people can say that about their jobs. I learned a lot about serving and trying to be Christ's example to the people I work with. I worked with the same people almost every day, so we got to know each other pretty well and probably even fought like family sometimes!
At the end of the summer, I spent back-to-back weeks in Florida and Seattle. We took separate flights to Florida, so my parents went ahead while Brandon and I were in charge of Amanda and her best friend...it was interesting! We laughed so much on the way there because it was like trying to get small children through the airport! Again we spent most of our time on the beach.
In Seattle, I got to see family I haven't seen in a while, which was great. It was just me and my mom that got to go, and we had an awesome time helping my grandma fix up her house and then just hanging out with my aunt, uncle, and cousin, and starting my teacher's wardrobe at the outlet malls.
Right after I got back, I started Block 2 at K-State, which is more intensive and a LOT of work. Someone told me it was easy and I think they lied! I spent 8 hours a week at the elementary school working with ESL students. Then on the other days I spent a few hours a day in the high school where I will be student teaching next semester. The kids there are great and I am so excited to get started! I had a project due every week, and then my massive unit plan (3 weeks of lesson plans and materials) at the end of the semester. I'm happy to say that I passed with flying colors! I never thought I would survive...but I did! Yay! After ten hours of work on my portfolio, I am ready to start student teaching. I have begun looking at jobs and am not sure at all where I'll end up. I kind of don't like to think about it! Honestly, if I could I would strap on a backpack and head for South America. But that doesn't exactly pay the student loans!
A couple weeks ago, I ran my fourth half marathon and got pretty sick to my stomach after. Two of my best friends ran as well and this was their first race...they finished strong! So proud of them! This is the second time I've been sick afterward, so I might just have to not run them anymore. I am hoping that next year I can move somewhere where I can still be active. I really want to try rock-climbing, so maybe somewhere mountainous?
Anyways, I leave for Juarez on the 26th and I'm so excited to meet another family and get to share Christ with them as well. I'm ready to serve and not shower and get dirty and get blisters and cry and laugh with close friends for a week. We have boxes of stuff to take down to help people stay warm. Thank you to everyone who donated funds, prayer, and warm clothing! I will definitely post about our trip after we get back.
Right after I return from Mexico, I'm headed for student teaching! I will be teaching Spanish 2, 3, and 4 to high school students and I'm pumped about it! I'm ready to finally get to put into practice everything I've been learning for the past five years!
After student teaching, I will be working at Camp War Eagle at Beaver Lake for two months as a camp/cabin counselor. It's a Christian adventure camp for underprivileged kids (many kids don't have to pay) and I was told I might either be teaching horseback riding or rock-climbing....This is a step outside my comfort zone as I'm not quite sure what to expect, but I'm ready for it! I am hoping that God is going to teach me a lot and also use me to help many students that come through the camp.
And if you made it this far, thank you for reading about my 2011. I hope that God has taught you much this year. John Piper said in his new video that he pictures the end of each year as an account before Jesus. What would we say to him? And then he thinks, "I get another year!" God's grace is so good. Hope you are well my friends!
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Lately I've been watching sermons by Paul Washer. At first I wasn't sure what to think...but the more I watch him and listen to him, the more I agree. He has a love for people that is so amazing. He's preaches really harsh truth, and I think a lot of people don't like him because it's hard to hear what he says. But I think it's imperative to who we are...he talks about how you can't put enough worth on a soul.
What would my life look like if I constantly loved people no matter how they treated me? Here's the first video I wanted to share.
The next one is about false teachers and the church in America. So many people are being deceived by these false teachers that gain so much fame...and it's heartbreaking. People pick out pieces of scripture that they want to hear and they twist the rest of it to what they want.
What do you think?
Thursday, October 27, 2011
To be honest with you guys, I have not been okay the last few days. I've been more sad than I probably have been in a while, and I don't like it. For those of you that know me, I'm not a sad person! But lately all I feel like doing is sleeping and running. Some people eat, some people watch endless movies, some people work work work. I run. I could probably run myself into the ground if I had the time to keep going.
I watch my friends work on projects and complete their assignments and I just can't do it. I've stayed caught up with everything, but I have a couple huge projects that are due in December and for some reason I can't wrap my mind around them. Sometimes I wonder if some things are difficult for me now because school used to come really easy for me. I didn't really used to have to actually work on stuff, and now that I do it's just super overwhelming.
And they're pushing for us to start job searching, and I honestly have no clue what to do. I want to end up somewhere in Texas, but there's jobs all over the United States and the world. (Not quite ready to take the international leap yet). My cover letter and resume sit unfinished on the desktop of my computer, because I'm not quite sure what to write about myself.
Lately I feel like Satan has just been shoving things in my face. Things like, "You'll never make it. You're gonna be a sucky teacher. Why aren't you prettier, funnier, more outgoing?"
And I honestly know that these things aren't true. I know that if I desire to be a good teacher, I will be. And Tuesday in class I had to write a rap about boys and do it in front of the entire class and, well, everyone laughed, so I guess I'm funny at times.
The point is, like Brian says in his post, we all are dealing with discouragement at some point in our lives. And God has put amazing people in our lives to help us with that. I called my mom yesterday and basically bawled my eyes out to her. She's the best at listening, and sometimes that's what you need.
I want out of this rut, and I know it will happen. December will come, I will survive, and I will turn in all my projects, and I'll pass just like every semester before. Part of me wishes it would hurry up, but part of me is like, "Whoa! Slow down!"
Please don't think this is me writing about my pity party....this post is my honest prayer request. Please pray that I will be a good teacher, a good student, and even better, a friend and example of Christ to those in need. Because I haven't been doing well at that lately.
My favorite rapper Lecrae said, "Can they tell you value Jesus by the way you rep his name?"
I sure hope so. I really do.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
So right now four of us are planning this huge road trip to Cocoa Beach for a week. I want to Google all of the "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" for each city that we drive through so that when we get hungry we can eat somewhere totally awesome. I think it's going to be a cheap trip, which is what all of us need! It looks like we'll be stopping in places like Fayetteville, Memphis, Birmingham, Albany, and Orlando on the way there....I can say that I'm PUMPED for this trip and that I hope it works out! We aren't going until after graduation in May, soooo we've got a while to think about it.
I've been in "teacher mode" lately because, well, that's what I've been doing. I am now officially working in the schools more than I am attending school myself. I haven't really gotten to teach yet, but I love just being there and learning from my cooperating teachers.
But you know, sometimes I am just SO overwhelmed. Today I have sat here for 3 hours and I feel like I really didn't accomplish much. Teaching does that to you sometimes. You can work on something for hours, decide you hate it, erase it, start over, and three hours later you still have almost nothing done. Sometimes it's really discouraging. I look ahead of me and see ALL the work I have to do over the next six months until I graduate...and it's so much.
Portfolios and lesson plans consume my life.
Right now I'm trying to plan a two week unit for Spanish I. A lot harder than I thought it would be, especially trying to make it flow well between the days.
And as an ESL teacher I am realizing that I need to start learning some other content areas. I have had high school students bring me their AP biology homework and asking me questions that I just don't have the answers to. I was not the best at math and science in high school...but now that my students are coming to me with questions about it, I finally feel like I want to learn more about it.
The past few days I have felt really at peace with God....like he has this huge plan for my life that is slowly unfolding, I can feel it. I have no clue where to go after I graduate...but I'm excited about wherever I'm going to end up. I have this crazy idea...but I'm not quite ready to share it with the world.
I have an amazing family and it was a blessing getting to go home and see them this weekend. And I have felt so loved and taken care of by my friends who are my constant support and chocolate suppliers.
We sang this song at church this morning, so I thought I'd share it with you. It is one of my new favorites.
Friday, October 14, 2011
For those of you who don't know, because I am going to be a Spanish/ESL teacher it is almost a given that I am really into multicultural education. I like studying about things like racism, sexism, discrimination and its effects, and learning how we as teachers can change things like this.
Dr. James Banks, one of the most renowned educators/researchers/speakers in multicultural ed from the University of Washington, came to K-State last week to talk about many things related to these topics. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go, but I'm glad I did. This man has got to be one of the most influential people in education today, and I got to listen to him for an hour and a half. So I guess this is my review and thoughts on what he had to say.
He opened with the fact that our schools in the United States are often more focused on testing and scores than on teaching our students to be humane and to treat one another well. He read this letter that a certain principal wrote to his new teachers every year. This is what it said:
I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness:
Gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and babies shot and burned by high school and college graduates. So I am suspicious of education. My request is: Help your students become human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, educated Eichmanns.
Reading, writing, arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more human."
Even in the elementary classroom I am working in now, I see the beginnings of stereotypes, discrimination, and bullying. And some teachers do nothing to stop it. I won't be that teacher.
He also talked about cosmopolitanism. Now, honestly the first thing that came to my mind was Cosmopolitan magazine (which I don't read and could probably write a whole 'nother blog about). I had no idea what this word meant, but I like his thoughts. We need to educate our children to have allegiance to all people as humans. His example was mourning the loss of men and women in other countries to things like war, famine, and disease, like we mourn the loss of our own people due to these things (and other things).
The last thing he said that hit me was this:
***note: I was really unsure whether I should post this, because, well, me and Dante probably don't agree on everything, and I don't take this quote literally. But I get what he's trying to say.***
"Dante said the worst place in hell is reserved for those who, in times of crisis, were neutral. If this room were on fire, would you sit here and be neutral?" We need to educate our students to be people who stand up for others. Too many students are bullied constantly and people (students and teachers alike) stand by and watch it happen. I realize that Dante was not talking about bullying, but one thing that Dr. Banks said was that the world's most momentous problems come from people who don't know how to get along.
What if our students graduated from high school and knew how to love one another, how to really think through and solve social problems, how to become "world-changers"? Many students are just passed along and never cared about, never invested in, and never taught anything outside the curriculum. I know, I'm not a teacher yet, and I don't know everything. I know there'll be days when I'm fed up and tired and I don't want to teach anymore. But until a day like that comes, I want to be the best teacher I can be, and I think that includes so much more than just the curriculum. I have been blessed to have some pretty great teachers in my life who are now my friends, and I hope that is what I can become to my future students.
"Be ashamed to die until you've won some victory for human kind." - Horace Mann
You can listen to Dr. Banks HERE.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Up until now I've been working, taking classes, running, planning this trip to Mexico (which if you haven't read my post below, you should!), tailgating in the very unusual September cold.
God has blessed me with amazing friends who know exactly how I feel right now. Sharisse came to my apartment the other night and said, "Aubrie, I barely have time to think, I'm three weeks behind on reading in this class, I come home just to sleep, I haven't had time to go running, AHHHHH!!!!"
Exactly how I feel. Exactly.
Something God's been teaching me: my plans may not be his plans.
"We can make our own plans,
but the Lord gives the right answer." - Prov. 16:1
Honestly, I have no idea where I'm going in my life. None. Zip. And for some reason I become less afraid every day.
Gosh. I really want to write something REALLY good. And it's not that nothing good is going on. I'm loving my life right now. Just tough to put everything into words I guess.
My new apartment is GREAT. It's quiet. It's cheap. We have our own washer and dryer with water paid for by the landlord. When the washer is spinning it's SUPER loud and shakes the entire floor, but whatever. It works. And my room is spacious.
Oh, I forgot. My friends and I watched a documentary the other night called Paperclips. If you haven't watched it, watch it. It brought up some good conversation and thoughts among us.
I can't wait for the day I can fill this blog with more than just random crap about me. I want to write about other people, so I have tried, as you can see. But I really want to write. Just gotta find something that people want to read.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
A couple months ago, a friend of mine asked me if I would plan another trip to Juarez this December. I had been thinking about planning one, but never really got around to actually saying I would go.
And now I'm here. I've got barely enough people to make a team. I've got the people, and all we need are the funds. (Which, to me is weird because I think most of the time the problem is that teams are short on people and not funds.)
Last year, we raised nearly all of the money we needed to get us to Juarez, build a house, and come back.
I'm going to be honest with you, we need at least $6600 to do this. Last year, we had donations from $5 to $400. And we needed every bit of that to help us accomplish our goal, which was to build a home for a family who made less than $300 a month and was living in a cardboard shack. We went, built, Christ was shared, and we were changed.
Please seriously consider supporting our team this year! Everything you donate goes to things from nails and shims to new doors and windows and enough lumber for the roof.
We are building the week after Christmas. Temps drop below 0 in Juarez in the winter and many people won't make it through to spring. Many homes look like this.....
Please consider giving up something this Christmas so that a family can have a warm home and the good news of Christ.
To those of you who have donated, THANK YOU so much! Together I believe we are being God's hands and feet, whether it's giving or going.
I installed this donate button and posted it on the left side of my blog. Click on it to donate online. If you'd rather send a check or would like to receive a fundraising letter with more information, email me at email@example.com.
Thanks so much!
Monday, August 22, 2011
I also wasn't sure if I should post this because I really don't know what God's gonna do with me after graduation. MY plan may end up being different than what he plans out for me...but here's what was on my heart.
Big Dream Gathering - Casas por Cristo
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Last night I asked myself the same question I asked myself all summer last year. Why is it that I get to live here? Why do I get to eat three times a day and sleep in my own bed and turn on the AC? I have been very blessed this summer. I've been to Hawaii and Florida, and next week will leave for Seattle. I've spent time with friends and a pretty cool guy. I've worked so much that people at work have become like family (it seriously is gonna break my heart to leave that place when I graduate).
Lately I have been seeking out what I should do after I graduate. And you know what? I haven't really got a clue. I have ideas. I have hopes. But I am learning in life that you really can't plan much.
For the past few years I have had this dream that I could one day move to El Paso/Juarez and find a teaching position on the El Paso side. I want to open a school in Juarez, like a Saturday school, where people could come and learn English, math, or maybe things they could use to make a living.
I am coming to this place where Mexico isn't always on my mind anymore. There are days when I don't think about it. It scares me because I feel guilty and I feel like I'm going to forget about people who need help, who need Christ's love.
And then there are days when the sights, smells (pleasant and not-so-pleasant), tears, and laughs come flooding back in. I remember the faces of the people we built for and the voices of people who impacted my life. I remember the tears shed when three families' homes burned to the ground and we saw the $14,000 come in so that we could rebuild, and the feeling of I-wanna-rip-my-hair-out when it was week 10 and I was more exhausted than I've ever been. I remember the days teams would ask me questions I didn't have the answers to, but the house got built and Jesus was shared.
I miss the feeling of dirt under my nails, callused hands, of waking up and putting on a dusty, tar-stained old pair of jeans, of searching for bobby pins and only finding roofing nails, of late-night conversations about God and His heart and His dreams for this world, laying on top of the truck looking at the Juarez stars over the desert mountains.
I love that God is moving in my life and keeping his promises no matter where I am. I realize that I may not end up in Mexico, at least not right now. God promises that he has a plan for our lives. I have always put God in a box and tried to plan my own life, as if He isn't big enough to put me where he needs me. How can I expect to give Him my life if I'm constantly planning everything? So this year, I'm going to follow Him and maybe try not to plan so much.
Can I just say that I am pumped for this year?
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
And I have to say that I disagree...somewhat. I believe there are people all over the world living in God's will who may or may not be happy with what they've been dealt. Missionaries who are being persecuted daily, people in general being persecuted daily for their faith in Christ. I mean, look at the prophets in the Bible! Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet for a reason. Isaiah probably wasn't too happy that God called him to preach judgment on the "deaf and blind" people of Judah. And I don't think Jesus was too happy sometimes either. I mean, he prayed that God would find another way besides the excruciating death he knew was coming.
Many of my thoughts lately have been focused on God and his will for my life. Mainly wondering lately how my internship and time spent in Mexico fits into the rest of my life. Because honestly part of me feels like if I go another way (staying here), I am guilty of forgetting about the suffering going on in the world. I realize I'm not going to get to heaven someday and have God say, "Well, sorry, your salvation is void because you didn't spend such-and-such amount of time in another country." (We could go into salvation by works or faith, but....not tonight).
I am in awe of how I am changing this summer. I have no doubt been in a spiritual valley. But it weirds me out that I am even thinking about doing anything besides missions. Because missions has been my passion for the past four years.
But you know what the exciting thing is that I am learning?
God has my life in his hands. I have a year before graduation. And I have my whole life ahead of me (God-permitting). I know that our God is a missional God...which means he is constantly moving and constantly molding us and shaping our hearts. So maybe I will impact lives of students in an inner-city school here and then God will move me to another country or another State or another career.
Anyways, that's enough of that rant for tonight. Oh, and I'm not saying that if you're happy, you're not in God's will. Just saying that I don't know if we should base our decisions just on happiness. Happiness is different than finding joy in the difficult parts of your life. (Does that make sense?) Happiness. Joy. Different.
Second thought of the night...while in said spiritual valley, my attitude has sucked this summer about many things. I've snapped at people, slacked off, complained, and wanted to slack off some more. And that's just not me. Last summer I was working 12+ hour days. And I was exhausted and sick (literally sometimes). Now I work 7 hour days, I'm a little hungry and grouchy...yeah. No reason to complain really.
So Tuesday, I decided to shape it up. Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men..." I guess I desire that to be my focus from now on. Of course, I get burnt out and cranky and I just don't want to "work heartily." But instead of slacking off, I'd like to go to God and say, "Hey, I'm tired. Make me new."
***Last thought, and most random-est: if you haven't heard of Groove Shark, you should try it out. It's basically like Pandora, except you get to pick the songs you want to listen to.***
I am blessed beyond belief. And it's been an awesome summer so far.
Monday, June 20, 2011
But that night God shattered my heart. And I can't even explain to you how. God has a way of doing that, I guess. Breaking in and revealing himself to you when you absolutely least expect it. I felt that today. I felt pain that I had prayed for for a long time. I have to be honest with you. I have not been okay in my walk with Christ lately. I haven't been an example, I have had no desire to read the Bible, and I have felt like when I pray that God has other things to worry about. I've been hateful and angry. Angry with God because I couldn't go serve this summer. Angry because people I've prayed for haven't changed and Satan tells me every day that they won't and that God has much bigger things to deal with than my worries.
So I began to sink back. Sinking back is a very dangerous thing. Going back to old habits that you broke a long time ago is what marks the beginning of moving away from Christ. I began to doubt God's role in my life. I doubted that he cared about me. I surrounded myself with people who didn't know Christ because I thought I was strong enough to not be affected by it.
And then God hit me square in the face with something tonight. I need him. (Duh, right?) And I need to stop dwelling on the past. I need to cut the crap if I don't want to be fed spiritual milk instead of spiritual food (Hebrews 5:11-13). I'm not producing fruit. And we all know what Jesus said about branches that don't produce fruit (if you don't, read Luke 13:6,7).
Maybe it really has taken me a year to realize this. I am not in Mexico, but yet I dwell there in my mind. God has begun to sever my ties with Mexico in different ways. I haven't been productive here like I said I would. God needs me to have my mind here. I have things to do and accomplish for him here. And I have failed for the last 10 months. I have pushed people away and been judgmental and frankly pissed people off because I just didn't want to be here. And I'm sorry. I really am.
My dream for the last four years has been this: Get a teacher's degree, graduate, move to El Paso, open a school in Juarez for those who can't attend school. And so I had set my mind on that. I lived for the next time I got to be there. I was warned against this by a former intern, and I walked right into it anyway. I focus so much on this that I literally push away anything that might change that plan. And I've hurt a lot of people because of my "plan." It is a good plan, meant for good and meant to be used for God. But what if I'm pushing past things that God wants me to see? What if God has something different planned for me than I have for myself? I am realizing that just because my plan is good and can be used for God, doesn't mean that's what he may want right away. What if because of my focus I am missing something?
Now, I'm not forgetting about the people there. I can't. I'm going in December because people need Christ and they need a warm home. But I can't neglect the people in my life while I'm here. I have been blessed with a good job that I enjoy going to (not many people can say they enjoy going to work), great friends, and an awesome family.
If I desire to serve God with my life, then I have to know him. And he doesn't get "known" by me sliding backwards and never studying the Bible and skipping church services and not finding accountability or a Bible study. This was my life since about January.
Sometimes I think that when Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow, he wasn't just talking about stressing about what's coming tomorrow. How am I going to finish this paper, how am I going to fit this into my schedule, how am I going to pay my bills. But sometimes I think he was saying, "Live now. Live for the people around you. You have today to make a difference, to love people, to show them Me. God will call you to move on when it's time, and it's his job to worry about that, not yours."
The title of this post was the title of the theme song for the week I accepted Christ at Survive. I chose it because I believe I am finally coming back down, if that makes sense. It took me almost a year to get my mind focused on where I need to be.
God took my heart back today and said, "Look, Aubs, you need me whether you admit it or not. I know that you're backsliding, but we'll keep moving from here."
I have never been alone this past year, although I've felt like it and although I was angry and wanted to walk away. I will never be alone, even though there are days I doubt that Jesus is coming back for me and I forget that it's not my doings, but his that save me. And so I move forward. Please pray for me.
I'll be there for you.
You don't have to be alone
With what you're going through."
(***Wow, super random post. I hope it made sense.***)
Friday, June 17, 2011
We’ve been told as interns that we will at some point come to a place where we need God so desperately, where we think we won’t be able to go on and finish the summer. I really haven’t hit this place yet because I think I’m still ecstatic that I’m done with my spring semester, but part of me hopes that I reach that place. The place where I realize that I need God more than anything else. The place where I don’t think I’m going to make it to the end of the summer unless God carries me the rest of the way.
This past week was our first build without a staff member, and I really think that it went great. We built a single for a young couple with three kids. What was crazy to me was that in the picture on the application I had for the family, Carlos (the youngest) was wrapped in a blanket and laying in his mother’s arms. He’s now almost 3 years old.
On the first or second day we were building, a neighbor came over and began explaining to me how he had been waiting for his house for two years now and he wanted to know when it was going to come. And in my limited, beginning-of-the-summer-in-Mexico Spanish, I tried to explain why his house hadn't come yet.
My mind flashes to many things when I remember this man and his question about when he was going to get the house he was promised. I think about how we complain about when we’re going to get our food at a restaurant because we’ve been waiting twenty minutes and the table next to us got their food before we did. When maintenance is going to come fix our hot water heater because it’s been out for two days.
Can you imagine going up to someone and saying, “Hey, I put in an order for a house two years ago and was just wondering when it’s going to come because my family is hot and my kids have to sleep on the concrete in the dirt that blows in through the cracks in our walls. And every time it rains our plywood ceiling molds and I hope my family doesn’t get sick from it. And in the winter the cold wind blows through the wooden pallets we put up as walls, and I’m afraid my elderly mother won’t make it. And because we spend so much money fixing our shack and paying for land, there's no money for food, so sometimes we eat the rats that run in the streets.”
I wish we all could have experiences like these. Eye-opening, heart-wrenching experiences. I wish I could learn to control my temper when someone else complains about something lame. I wish I could learn to stop complaining about something lame. (Man, I'm a hypocrite sometimes.) I wish that people didn't have to ask for houses, but that it would be something available to everyone.
But that's not the way it is.
And so God calls.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
I don't know what God's trying to tell me, to be honest. But I know that my heart is restless. Lately, with the thought of graduation in the back of my mind, I've been terrified that somehow I will mess up God's plan for my life. For the past four years, I've believed that I belonged in Mexico, teaching or building or just simply loving on people. But for the life of me I can't understand why I think about being there more than anyone else, and yet I'm not there.
Some people may think I have lame excuses for not being there this summer. It's driving me absolutely insane, watching pictures go up every week of families who are receiving homes. And maybe I need to stop and remember that whether I'm there or not, families get new houses and hear about Jesus' love for them...and that's the thing that matters.
So I looked up some verses about God's plans, and the one's I found were these:
"...the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever." - 1 Chron. 28:9
"...for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail..." - Acts 5:38
"May he grant you your heart’s desireand fulfill all your plans!" - Psalm 20:4
"The counsel of the LORD stands forever,the plans of his heart to all generations." - Psalm 33:11
"Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed." - Proverbs 15:22
"The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD." - Proverbs 16:1
"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." - Proverbs 16:9
There's a lot more, but I'm going to stop at this one. Because I think it's here that I find my answer. I can plan and plan and plan. My heart can even be poured into each of those plans. But God is the one who ultimately establishes and finalizes those plans. He's the one who makes it all happen.
I just need to learn to trust that this is true. God is big enough to handle my mistakes and he's big enough to know what to do when I veer off the path. I'm tired of worrying about planning my future. So here's to upcoming senior year (part 2). Sharisse, Liz, and I are going to make it a year to remember.
Sorry if you're tired of reading about Mexico. People tell me they're tired of hearing about it. But when I prayed a while ago that God would align my dreams with his, I believe he answered. I believe that he wants the people of a nearly-forgotten city to know that he loves them. They aren't forgotten by him and they aren't forgotten by us, no matter what the media posts about them. Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I'm just passionate. Maybe the two go hand-in-hand. But when my life is over I want to know that God used my life to make a difference.
“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart...pursue those.” - Michael Nolan
Friday, June 10, 2011
Last week I went to Hawaii with my family and I had a lot of time to think while I was there. This is a huge prayer request. And I ask that you would please pray seriously with me over this. Last year we went to Juarez in December to build a home for a homeless family with Casas por Cristo. We raised nearly all the funds, took two cars, a small van, and nine 20-somethings to build a home in the bitter cold. Yes, it's cold there in the winter. It snowed on our last day. You can read about that build here.
Well, although it's June, December will be here before we know it, along with the cold and snow that threatens to take the lives of families living in cardboard boxes and houses made of pallets and box springs.
To be brutally honest, I dread the money part of this trip. It stresses me out. I try to give it all to God, but I worry, "What if it all doesn't come in? What if we only reach $3000 and have to find a way to give it all back to the donors?" But I'm not going to let that dread stop a team of willing people from going and being the hands and feet of Christ!
I'm going to set the bar at $6500. We need $4700 for the materials for the house. That leaves us about $1800 for food, gas, truck rental, offerings, and gifts/necessities for the family. (I think last year we spent about $800 in gas...it's EXPENSIVE.) More than $6500 would be amazing, because anything leftover would get put back into Casas or given to a Casas rep.
I'm just laying the cost out there plainly. Please help me pray for the money to come in. If you have fundraising ideas, post them here! And if you want to go, email me, leave me a comment, Facebook me. You don't need to be good at construction or speaking Spanish. Just come! :) The more money we raise and the more people we get to sign up, the less the cost will be per person. I'd really hate for money to be the only thing stopping us from providing a home for a family.
Thank you so much!
Monday, May 23, 2011
Sunday, May 22, 2011
1) Patience, patience, patience. As I watch some of my friends' lives taking off (I was supposed to graduate this year) I feel a sense of loneliness, although I am surrounded by good friends. God has blessed me with a great roommate, and because we're flying solo now in the apt. we hang out a lot! We are trying to plan an epic camping trip on very little cash. I am watching friends leave for jobs, internships, summer camps, and to serve in other countries. In church today I was thinking about how restless my heart has been, and it's like God was saying, "Aubrie, you need to chill out." I guess I feel like He's telling me that my life will "take off" soon enough. So I will be spending this summer in Bible study, reading, resting, hanging out and impacting the people around me. Compared to last summer, I feel....lazy? But I know that God is using me in ways that I probably don't realize. Things I don't miss about Mexico: getting sick a lot...that's it.
2) I have become addicted to America's Next Top Model. It does not help that every episode since season 1 is on YouTube. Gah. I need to get over it already! I guess I can't bash The Bachelor anymore!
3) I have been researching some different ministries I'd like to work for after I graduate. Many of them need ESL teachers and I've ALWAYS wanted to teach abroad. I'm looking at Makarios International and NICS...but we'll see. Part of me wouldn't mind teaching in the States if that's what God calls me to....but again I've ALWAYS wanted to teach abroad. :) It is so crazy to think that this journey may begin in just a year.
4) In talking about working for a ministry, most ministries require you to raise your own salary. I am terrified about this. It's not that I don't trust God to take care of me, I just don't like asking for money. And I have debt. Not a lot, but some. When I was 8 I struggled asking people to buy Girl Scout cookies...so we'll see how the money thing goes.
5) This summer I'm going to start training for my fourth half-marathon! I just don't know if I'll ever be hardcore enough to do a full. Kansas is so dang hot that I am going to have to get up at like the behind-crack of dawn to run. Because in Manhattan the creepers come out at night and there's no way I'm going out then! This race is in September in Omaha. Gonna be H.O.T. I've never been to Omaha. And I don't like Nebraska that much. But it should be fun!
If you've read to this point, I am sorry that I have nothing deep to tell you. Only that although the rapture has not happened, it will! One thing I want to work on this summer is living prepared.
"But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake."
- Mark 13:32-36
Of course, God isn't saying, "YOU CAN NEVER GO TO SLEEP." Just be prepared. Today in church Pastor Ryan told us that we need to think about Christ before we go to sleep and when we get up...a good challenge. I hope this post finds you all well! Please let me know how I can be praying for any of you.
And again, I miss Mexico. Please, please, pray for the families this summer who are still waiting on homes. Many people will die in the heat this summer. Blunt and harsh? Yes. True? Definitely. Does it have to be that way? No. Interested in coming to build? Let me know!
Thanks to Google (and the original photographer) for the picture.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
|Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,|
|And sorry I could not travel both|
|And be one traveler, long I stood|
|And looked down one as far as I could|
|To where it bent in the undergrowth;||5|
|Then took the other, as just as fair,|
|And having perhaps the better claim,|
|Because it was grassy and wanted wear;|
|Though as for that the passing there|
|Had worn them really about the same,||10|
|And both that morning equally lay|
|In leaves no step had trodden black.|
|Oh, I kept the first for another day!|
|Yet knowing how way leads on to way,|
|I doubted if I should ever come back.||15|
|I shall be telling this with a sigh|
|Somewhere ages and ages hence:|
|Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—|
|I took the one less traveled by,|
|And that has made all the difference.|
- Robert Frost
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Now I feel skin deep
I count on the make-up to cover it all
Crying myself to sleep cause I cannot keep their attention
I thought I could be strong
But it's killing me
Does someone hear my cry?
I'm dying for new life
I want to be beautiful
Make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart,
and be amazed
I want to hear you say
Who I am is quite enough
Just want to be worthy of love
Sometimes I wish I was someone other than me
Fighting to make the mirror happy
Trying to find whatever is missing
Won't you help me back to glory
You make me beautiful
You make me stand in awe
You step inside my heart, and I am amazed
I love to hear You say
Who I am is quite enough
You make me worthy of love and beautiful
Monday, April 18, 2011
So as many of you may have heard, Casas' intern program has been canceled for this summer.
This year, Casas is down about 250 builds from 2007. That's a lot of families, most of whom have been waiting for homes for over three years.
Basically after finding out that the program was canceled, the interns got together and decided to build this summer anyways. They will be the team. All they need is the prayer and funds to make these builds happen this summer. They'll build until they're out of money.
Those of you who have been to Juarez may know that many people froze to death last winter in the below 0 weather (we were there even before it hit 0. It gets bitter cold in Juarez in the winter), and many more will die this summer in the 100 degree heat without adequate housing.
It's time for us to help out! God's word says that to those whom he has given much, even more will be required (Luke 12:48). God has called us to give to the needy. If your church is not coming back this summer, consider having the interns build a house in your church's name. Please, please pass this on. Families are waiting on the good news of Christ and the hope of a warm place to live next winter.
Any donations can be made online at casasporcristo.org (just put intern builds in the comments) or you can write a check (with intern builds on the memo line) and send it to:
Casas por Cristo
PO Box 971070
El Paso, TX 79997
If you have something/someone that you are truly already supporting, I just want to say AWESOME. Keep up the work for God's kingdom. If not, please consider supporting Casas this summer!
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope you will pray along with me for the interns (or rather "summer builders") of 2011. Many of you have supported Casas in the past and I can't tell you how thankful I am for that!!! THANK YOU!
Friday, April 15, 2011
I've been listening to this song called "Make War" by Tedashii...I listen to it almost every day as it's on my running playlist, and as I'm running God uses the lyrics of this song to stir my emotions and my heart and my thoughts. Now I'm not usually a hip-hop fan, but I make an exception for this song.
It is very easy to forget about the war that is going on in this world when we are surrounded by so many distractions.
But "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." - Ephesians 6:12
I believe first and foremost that we are to fight for souls. Because Satan has already lost and he knows it. He's ticked and he's taking down whomever he can. And we can't waste time sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves,
"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." - 1 Timothy 1:7
And how do we fight for souls? I don't think it's by standing on a corner and shouting condemnation at people. And I don't think it's forcing your beliefs on someone at your job or at school. But I think it's this: Be Christ. Be his example everywhere you go. (I am a major failure at this most of the time). And people will notice. They will ask why you're different.
Back to the song...the song basically talks about making war on our own sins, but it always makes me think of getting out of my laziness and nonchalant attitude and doing something. Because I think sometimes we're asleep and we don't even know it. We don't realize that our next-door neighbor just wants someone to acknowledge the fact that they exist. Or the fact that in the three seconds it takes to turn on the faucet for a drink of clean water a child somewhere will die because they have no water.
It is so easy for me here to forget about people that need love, that need God, that need a home, that need food and water. Because I have all of this. And so, sadly, I forget.
It is amazing to me that here we can go into a restaurant, order whatever we want, eat, and leave. Obviously, nothing wrong with this, but it is so weird for me to think about because I wonder how many people in poverty would actually believe me if I told them that there's a place where they can ask for food and in a few minutes they will get it.
So again, I am anxious for graduation next May. I am ready to get out and help and love on people for God's kingdom. I'm ready to be a teacher and work with students and feed, clothe, house them if necessary. People always say they have a "life verse" and I never really had one because I believe they all should be life verses. But I guess if I had one that I would focus on it would be this: "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." - Luke 12:48
God has given me so much through my awesome parents: plenty of food, a nice house, my own car, my own apartment, and a lot more. And I will spend my life giving back to people and to my parents (when I can...I always joke about how I'll never be able to repay them because I'm just a college student with almost no money). But I am going to give back.
I am so ready to make war for God's kingdom. How will you choose to spend your life? Are you living for God or living just to get through? Although you may not feel like God has called you to a life in missions, I would highly recommend at least visiting a country where poverty is rampant and there is the risk of getting hurt (I know, you're thinking I'm crazy...but this is what God uses to change you).
Get out of your comfort zone and do something for the people who are hurting around you. If you don't have any ideas, message me, because I could probably help you.
My favorite part of this song?
"Wake up, and let's get it."
Friday, April 1, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
It was a really great week. We built for the Cabello-Flores family on the south side of Acuña...a single mom, four children, one uncle. This was our church's first time to build a double, which is about 30x14, compared to the 22x11 single that we've built for families in the past. I have to say, I think the house went up REALLY quickly and really well. We had 14 people, five high school students and the rest adults, and everything just went really smoothly. For those of you who've built with Casas before, you know that something usually goes wrong during a build (whether it's a power-outage, a flood, or a broken generator) and you just go with the flow!
It took us about 12 hours to get from Wichita to Del Rio, and we stopped for the night in San Angelo, Texas to stay at a church. We found a closet of rollerskates and basketballs, so we put on some skates and skated around the gym for a while, which I have to say I've never done before a Casas trip. The next day, it only took us a few hours to get to Del Rio and we hit Wal-Mart. Our church family had donated a lot of money for us to spend on the family, so we were able to get them a couple fans, carpets, a table, pots and pans, a bike for transportation, blankets, clothes, and lots of food and decorations for the big party we threw at the dedication.
The first day we poured the slab, and it was our church's first time to have a concrete truck. These things are amazing and I will vouch for a concrete truck any day. Hand-pouring is good, because it's hard work. Like, HARD work. Especially pouring a double by hand. I think I poured one double by hand last summer and it took close to five hours. It was also great to have some nail guns handy, and we put the walls together pretty quickly.
The next day while we were standing walls and putting on blackboard and chicken wire, we realized the family was cooking for us again. (They had made lunch the day before). This is crazy because the family we built for made $45 a week. And to cook for about 15 people twice in a row is a LOT of money. There isn't much price difference at all between the US and Mexico. It was delicious food...she made tacos, gorditas, and posole.
This year we had an all women roofing team (until Brandon got up there to help after a while). Even Mariela, the nineteen year old girl from the family, was on the roof helping. The girls ran out of 8-penny nails and had to use 16s...which are a lot bigger so they had some trouble but still rocked it out! One of our high school girls, Allie, asked Mariela what she enjoys doing. Mariela said she liked music and that she wanted to learn to play the guitar, but that she'd never be able to afford one. With the money the church sent with us, the girls were able to buy her a new guitar.
On the last day, Tim (our pastor) shared Jesus with the family and the many people that showed up for the dedication and the party. The awesome thing is that the Mexican pastor had already shared Jesus with the family even before we got there, and they all had already decided to follow Christ. SUPER cool!
Anyways, that was pretty much the trip. We built right next to another team so I got to see a couple Casas friends, which was good. It was good for me to let others do jobs they had never done and then I'd just work on little things along the way.
Thank you to all who prayed and supported us financially. It was an awesome trip.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
On Jordan's stormy banks I stand
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan's fair and happy land
Where my possessions lie
All o'er those wide extended plains
Shines one eternal day
There God, the Son forever reigns
And scatters night away.
I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land
I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land
No chilling wind nor poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore
Where sickness, sorrow, pain and death
Are felt and feared no more
I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land
I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land
When shall I see that happy place
And be forever blessed
When shall I see my Father's face
And in His bosom rest
I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land
HEY! I found it. Jars of Clay version. El mejor. The best. I don't know the family in the video...but hey the music's good!
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Last summer, I was building in Acuña with a team from Indiana. It had been a rough week, not at all because of the team (they were great) but because of the weather. Hurricane Alex had hit the coast of Mexico and blew tons of rain into Acuña...so much that some teams were gathering rain water to pour their slabs because concrete trucks couldn't make it to the sites and there was no running water in the city. It was a hard build and I was exhausted. About halfway through the week the team decided to have a community night. They had brought boxes and boxes of clothes and shoes, so we set those out in the church courtyard and grilled hot dogs while people from all over the neighborhood came to pick out free clothes and have a hot meal.
As I was sitting in the corner talking with some other Casas leaders, I noticed an elderly woman lugging a black trash bag full of clothing in one hand while carrying two plates of hot dogs and chips in another. She started down the street and I got up to go ask if she needed help. She gladly accepted and I took the bag, which was in fact pretty heavy. We talked a little bit as we walked slowly towards her house.
When we got there she had me hold the hot dogs as she unlocked the pad lock on the piece of wood that served as a front door. We went inside and she told me to sit down and cool off, turning the small fan on and pointing it towards me, even though she herself probably could have used it more. She opened the trash bag and dumped all of the clothes into a box. As she arranged them how she wanted I looked around. She lived in a house like many families in that area, two rooms with a dirt floor, one small bed and one small chair, and a few old kitchen appliances.
She talked to me for just a little while, and at this point in the summer my brain was on Spanish overload, so I honestly only picked up a few things. I understood that her husband was abusive and she left but had nowhere to go. The house she was living in had been given to her by a friend and so she told me she got the hot dogs and clothes to give to her friend as a thank you.
She also told me she had diabetes and her feet hurt really bad all the time and sometimes they would bleed or wake her up in the middle of the night because of the pain.
After talking for a few minutes, she told me she had to get back to the church because she wanted to go to the service. She didn't have a fridge, so she put some foil over the hot dogs to keep the flies off and we headed out again.
Without anything to carry, I started off walking my normal pace, which is faster than most people. My best friend always gets peeved because I walk too fast. I didn't realize that my new friend was struggling to keep up until she said, "You walk really fast!" I apologized and slowed way down. She said, "With my diabetes I walk really slow." Then she paused for a second, looked down, and quietly said, "You have good feet for serving God."
I almost stopped dead in my tracks. Because that week I was feeling pretty worthless. I wasn't a builder. I was a shy, insecure girl from Kansas who at the beginning of that summer was terrified and had almost no confidence in myself, and sometimes even less in God. And this woman probably has no idea that I will remember that sentence for the rest of my life. Because through it God reminded me that he has a plan to use my life in some way.
Most of you from Kansas have heard of the Burnhams...Gracia and Martin. They are from a small town just outside Wichita, and they were missionaries to the Philippines. Several years ago they were celebrating their anniversary on one of the islands there when they were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf. They starved and struggled to survive in the jungle as prisoners for a year before Martin was killed in a gun battle, and Gracia was rescued shortly after. And I will always remember watching an interview with Gracia in which she said that she didn't understand why Martin died and she lived, because he was the strong one. And then she said through tears, "I am reminded that God uses the weak things." It is a heart-wrenching interview, which you can watch here.
God can use anyone to do his work. Whether you're young or old, weak or strong. And that is what I believe is amazing about our God.
Friday, March 4, 2011
So I was reading through the country profile that Casas put up on their site (www.casasporcristo.org) and I see this:
"The Guatemalan school year runs from January through October. Students get a break during the harvest season, which is May through December. Most children grow up to work in the service industry in some capacity. Children are expected to attend school for six years, but nation-wide attendance is only 41%, and 70% of the population is illiterate. Rut, the first Guatemalan woman to apply for one of our homes could not even sign her name on the application. We had to take her fingerprint instead."
When I read something like this it's like I get this feeling in my chest. An ache. A longing.
Sometimes I try to convince myself that I could just do a job outside of teaching, which I definitely could...but I don't really know if my heart would be in it. I want to teach. (I say this and part of my mind flashes back to kindergarten agony that I endured last spring. Yeah....)
I want children to feel like they have hope and a future. And here I am again with God saying, "Wait. Just wait. Be patient."
And I get this image in my head of myself yelling, "I DON'T WANT TO WAIT!" and crossing my arms and pouting. I am so mature.
And this is probably because I feel like I'm ready, but God knows I'm not. I have been inspired by so many people who follow God and he takes them to big places and big things. People who get to see the world and spread Christ's love to all different people of all different cultures and beliefs and backgrounds.
One passage comes to my mind as I write this:
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act...Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him." - Psalm 37:4-7
And so I will wait and try to learn to seriously trust him with everything that I have.
I think my heart's top three desires are these:
1) Serve God with my life
2) Go into missions and/or teach children of poverty (whether that's here in the US or abroad)
3) Get married and have a family. Part of me wants a big family...you know the kind where the front door is usually open and there are people coming and going.
I think #3 is kind of difficult for me though because the whole relationship thing is pretty terrifying to me...Maybe I'll work through that one someday. I better or my sister will keep trying to randomly get guys' numbers for me. I also, for those of you who know me, am pretty stubborn and I like to be the leader of things. I'm not sure how well that works out in the married world.
Random thought of the night: One of these days I am going to wake up and realize that I'm not 18 anymore...that I'm going to be 23 this year. All you older people can laugh, but 23 seems very weird to me. It is INSANE to me that like 50% of my friends are married now and graduated and on to their lives and jobs. That is crazy!
So my point is: I'm ready to grow up, but I'm not. It is a big world out there.
And that is how my crazy mind thinks right now.