He is always near – October Update

Hey everyone!
It’s been about a month since I’ve written any kind of real update, and I wanted to let you guys in on everything that’s been going on in my BSSM world.

Coming to ministry school is kind of like drinking from a fire hose. Someone will speak and somehow, it will bring up an issue in your heart that you didn’t even know was there. As quickly as that happens, another incredible speaker gets up and gives insight into life that changes your world. After that, it’s time for worship and holy cow, how do you even process everything? It can leave you speechless a lot of days, honestly, and it takes awhile for language to be put to all that is going on in and around you. (So for those of you who have asked “How are you doing?” and you’ve gotten three word answers, it’s because things are hard to articulate right away, not because I’m not learning anything :P)

Jason Vallotton taught a few classes on emotional prosperity this week, and I was absolutely thrilled to be attending. For those of you who don’t know, one of my greatest desires in coming to BSSM was to gain practical life tools to sustain the presence of God in my life, and to thrive in every season. He shared lots of pages worth of incredible information (that I’d be happy to share with anyone that’s interested), but one thing he mentioned is that people are rarely willing to spend money on their emotional health.
We’ll spend money on gym memberships and new cars and vacations, but if an individual is suffering greatly in their marriage or barely pressing through life under the weight of depression, it’s hard for them to justify spending money on counseling sessions to get better.He said something along the lines of “$60 a session for a few months is nothing for a brand new wiring system.”
In the midst of this, he shared this quote:

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.
I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself,
and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself,
I could have made an impact on my family.
My family and I could have made an impact on our town.
Their impact could have changed the nation and
I could indeed have changed the world.

It is not selfish to spend time on you. 
It’s hard, in this success-driven, measurable goal kind of culture, sure, but I’m seeing over and over that God is just as concerned about loving you well and helping you thrive as he is about all of the more impressive, tangible testimonies that we often believe are the ultimate (or only) goal. Processing pain successfully, walking through conflict with someone and seeing a relationship reconciled, having incredible relationships with your kids, having an internal world filled with peace much more than it’s filled with anxiety – these are all testimonies of the Gospel and fall under the umbrella of what Jesus died to give us just as much as 4,000 being saved in a day.
Maybe for you, it’s not counseling sessions (which, shameless plug, counseling is good and healthy and right and for everyone – no one gave us a manual on this life thing, and we always have something to learn) – maybe it’s working less or reserving Saturdays for your family and no one else or paying for an art class you’ve wanted to take for years – YOU are worth the investment, and you were never meant to come at the bottom of your priority list, if and when everyone else’s needs are met.

Some practical updates with a couple of nuggets of awesome:

  1. As a part of the school curriculum, students attend a mission trip in the spring. The goal of these trips is practical application of everything we learn throughout the school year, seeing God touch people all over the world. I will be going to Tecate, Mexico from April 1 – 8 where we will be teaming up with Ranchos de sus Ninos.
  2. I’m spending a lot of time cooking at home (because eating out is so expensive and you realize that much more when you’re a ministry student) and absolutely adore trying new recipes. Sometimes they don’t turn out at all and I wonder what on Earth happened, and other times I feel like I was totally made for this adulting thing.
  3. Every Thursday each BSSM student is involved in some sort of City Service – a way to serve and give back to the city, depending on our passions and where there is need in Redding. Starting this upcoming week, I will be working in an after school program for middle school students, with the goal of making the students feel loved, seen, and known, serving the administration team, and stewarding the school well.
  4. We take AMTs (Advanced Ministry Trainings) for 5 weeks at a time, and I’m currently in “Developing Intimacy with God”. Y’all, it’s changing my life. The first week, the leader of the class laid foundational beliefs for our relationship with God, some of them being:
    1. GOD is the Pursuer (not me) and he’s been pursuing me all my life; she encouraged us to think back to the times that we felt the closest to God – even the things that we were drawn to as children, and gave full permission for our connection with God to be unique and OURS, not just looking the way we believe that it should.
    2. I don’t have to have a problem to connect with God. He wants relationship with me mountain high, valley low, and everything in between, and I can connect with him just because.
      • One pattern I recognized in my own life is that there are times when I believe that God is close, speaking, and involved, and many other times where I feel far away and closed off from his voice. Through this class, I’m learning that God is always near and always wanting to connect and be present – it may look different season to season, and there may be moments that he feels closer than others, but I never have to relate to him as if he is far away because the truth is, he’s living inside of me.

 

I think that’s all for now! Thanks for everyone who took time to read and journey with me – I miss ALL OF YOU so much and can’t tell you the number of times I share stories about you and long for so many of you to experience things with me.