This summer feels as if it’s lasted a lifetime.
It’s not even over yet, and I’m already starting to mourn its passing. It’s funny, moving back to Pullman, entering into what should be a familiar context, has felt so natural and so unsettling at the same time. The things that I anticipated would pose challenges have been (in no surprise) challenging. But there have been other aspects of coming back to the Palouse that has tugged on my mind and heart as well.
Instead of reflecting on who I was at the beginning of the summer though, my mind has been wandering back to who I was a year ago; a girl who was running away from what she had let the world make of her. Or maybe, more accurately, I was a girl running towards something, I just didn’t know what. I was excited to join a community of Cougs, Thetas, and college students all in the same boat of entering into a new fresh start. As I promised myself I wouldn’t be the same person I was in high school, I set out to find my place and experience everything WSU and Greek life had to offer.
And what I found was happiness.
It may have been in a fairly shallow sense, but at the time it's what I knew happiness to be, I didn’t know anything deeper. This was the happiest year I had had in so long and WSU gave me so many new people and experiences I would cherish. But now I see that God was preparing something even more joyous and fulfilling in my life that I couldn't even imagine. Just as I was running towards something greater than myself, GOD was running towards ME.
I think people just want to be known. And this summer I have never felt so known or seen in my life. Living in Christian community has taught me so much. Each woman in Christ I met taught me more and more of God’s character and truth. They showed me resiliency, patience, kindness, strength in vulnerability, and love. As Elevate ended and we eventually set off for the Palouse, I found myself feeling very “meh” about going back to school though.
The excitement I had to leave behind my hometown in trade for Coug games, decorating my dorm, and running around Greek row was gone. I was surprised to realize I didn’t find joy in the same things anymore. Instead, it felt as if I was leaving behind more things than the Palouse had to offer. I was leaving behind coming home to friends that would always point me to Christ. I was leaving behind moments like singing along to OT on our short, 10 min drive to the beach to reach the people of San Diego. I was leaving behind setting up for church in a little white building, praising God surrounded by 50 familiar faces. I was leaving behind huddling together around a bonfire on the beach singing praises to God.
In other words, the things that I thought could bring me so much joy and fulfillment seemed so much more empty now because I had, for the first time, experienced true joy.
I looked around as people became so excited for everything that another year at WSU brings and I couldn’t bring myself to find the same excitement. I missed La Jolla, I missed living in a Christian community, and I missed the California sun.
But the same God I served this summer in California is the same God I serve in Pullman. The same joy that filled me each time we gathered in His name and learned more of who God is, is the same joy that is within me now as we instead meet as a church in an auditorium on campus (after all, the Church is made up of a people, not a building).
How great is it that the joy I was scared to leave behind in California is always within me? How amazing is it that God gives us His spirit with all joy in praising his name, no matter where we are.
I guess what I came to realize in recognizing that I felt as if I had lost something (the excitement I held towards going back to the Palouse) is that I had gained so much more in Christ. I guess I was just shocked to come face to face with my transformation this summer in a way I didn't expect. That in my heart I know the things and pleasures of this world are incomparable to the life we are meant to live in Christ. In Him, we can find our joy.
I think in this field, the warm sun beating down on me, God was reminding me the sun that sets on La Jolla Shores is the same sun that rises upon the wheat fields in the Palouse. Just as His grace and power and holiness are the same in all the earth. Just as His spirit has carried me through summer, His spirit will carry me through winter.
I am sure God is working through his children in the Palouse, and I am so so ready for this wild ride he is about to take us on. He is preparing something more significant than I could ever imagine. It’s so comforting to know that no matter what I can place my joy in Him to carry me though.
So today, I am thankful for these fleeting summer suns, I’m grateful for a Christian community that I have kept and continue to find in the Palouse, and above all else, I am thankful to serve a God that is constant and loving and good.
I’m learning to accept this new season of my life with open arms. I can't wait to see Gods work in the Palouse this year, and allow the Lord's strength and spirit to continue to fill me and use me to continue His Mission where he has placed me. God is SO beautiful and powerful and HOLY. I can't wait to share this newfound joy and salvation I found and have in Him with those at WSU and on Greek Row. As always, God is on the move!
Each week one person from our room picks a verse that relates to the “theme” of what we've been learning about lately and looks deeper into it to share with the rest of the room. Weeks 5 and 6 we focused on Community, learning about the intention and importance of it. I wanted to share the verse that I chose and the teaching I did on it because it sums up most of what I have been learning these last couple weeks. I hope you're encouraged by it.
The verse I chose to dive into and share with my room is Hebrews 10:24-25
“and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”
To start with a little context I looked a bit into the history of the verse. We still don’t know for sure who the author of Hebrews is but what we DO know, and perhaps more importantly, is that the author wrote this letter to Judaea Christians that were living in Jerusalem at the time. We know that the author knew these people very personally and it shows in the way he speaks to and moves to convict these newly converted Christians. The author writes to this group of people with encouragement in a call to faith and endurance because many were facing terrible persecution and were considering calling it quits, leaving the church, and reverting back to Judaism to escape the prosecution.
Hebrews was written around 63-64 AD, about 30 years after the resurrection and only about 6 before the temple was entirely destroyed by the Romans…. This gives you an idea of the level of unrest these people were facing. The author, because he is writing to Christians that had knowledge of and faith in the OT, often quotes and references the OT in LIGHT of the new gospel that Jesus’s birth, life, death, and resurrection presents. He reminds them that Jesus is above all leaders, angels, and prophets. In this chapter, in particular, the author is trying to convey that we MUST encourage one another and come together in community to endure and build one another up in faith.
“and let us consider…” The word consider stood out to me in this section because it was used almost universally in different versions of the bible. I think this word is important to take note of because it describes the action of continually having others' needs and self in mind. In this context “…how to stir up one another to love and good works…” we are called to continually seek out how to bring out what is Christ-like in them. How can we serve others in a way that allows them to serve others as well? How can we create environments that demonstrate the value of loving and caring for one another?
“…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another..” This part of the verse points out the importance of physically coming face to face with one another. This is part of the reason we have Fam nights and huddles. This time spent together, pouring into, serving, and caring for one another is not JUST to get to know one another more, but rather to build up a faith-centered community and encourage and hold one another accountable in our walk with the lord, all while encouraging one another to bring out our gifts to serve one another.
“and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” You may notice the word day is capitalized. This means that the author is referring to Christ’s return and judgment. He is pointing out the urgency of the gospel. Our eternity is at stake. A community is not only essential it is also urgent. It is so crucial to be continually building one another up and pointing each other to Christ. To show one another what it means to live for God by the way we love and care for one another is not expendable to our faith, it is necessary to the Christian life.
I mentioned a few weeks back the meaning behind our room name Parks Hall and that our leader's main prayer for our room that we would grow to be women of resiliency. I think encouragement as a common theme in Hebrews is also fitting for our room because it tells a story of encouragement towards resiliency and perseverance. Just as God draws us up out of the pits, we are also called to draw one another up. We will all face persecution and hard seasons and tests. Meaning all of your brothers and sisters in Christ will also see harder times. It is our role to see one another through those times while pointing eachother to live for heaven.
Loving someone goes so far beyond not “hating them” or a feeling an emotion towards them, but it means to serve them ACTIVELY. This passage is also a reminder that Community is not what THEY can do YOU but what YOU can do for THEM. However, by serving and lifting one another up, you can draw closer to God and understand more and more what God intended true community to look like. In other words, this model of meeting one another, encouraging one another, building one another up, and pointing each other to Christ is Gods design for community.
“The Day drawing near…” the gospel is urgent, our faith is urgent, our community is urgent. We all need to remind ourselves that the day of Christ is coming and in the end, our faith is all we will have. Our community in Christ is created to help each other through times where we find ourselves lost, in confusion, or at a point where we simply find that following God is hard.
Personally, God has been teaching me these last few weeks what it looks like to be a part of a community. I've never felt as If I had a strong sense of community much less a faith-based community. I think to HAVE friends and community you have to learn to BE a friend and a part of community.
I feel beyond blessed for the community I have found here in San Diego, and I am blown away how quickly these people have become my best friends and family. I am in awe of how deeply those who are pointing you to Christ care for one another. Dang, you guys, God is so incredible in his timing and placement of us all together this summer. Each person I have met has been placed in my life for a reason and I in there’s. One of the main reasons I was interested in Elevate was to grow a community, and He has blessed me beyond what I could have ever imagined.
This was from this week’s beach party. One of the girls that joined us this Sunday saw all of our longboards and wanted to start learning how, so a couple of us started riding along the boardwalk with her. It was at sunset and as a fellow HUJI queen she wanted to have a moment to take photos. This was the result.
This second photo was from Tuesday after teaching night. It’s become a tradition to go out together to a restaurant called BJ's after teaching night because they have their famous Pizookies for 3$. If you don’t know, a Pizookie is a giant cookie in a personal pizza pan that comes straight out of the oven with two scoops of ice cream on top. I don’t think I have to tell you they are well worth the 3 dollars and stomachache of eating the entire thing to yourself. They do have mini ones but they're more expensive than the big ones on Tuesdays so like… obviously you have to get the giant one.
On Wednesday we had our first out event which is when our Fam works as a missional community and goes out to places near us and join the people as a way to connect and bring The Kingdom into different areas. Our Fam broke off into smaller groups and about 11 of us decided to watch a softball game but after getting the wrong address/date, changing our plan to go to campus, realizing that campus was empty because school was on break, and finally arriving at a different softball game we sat down with only about an hour left of the game.
The park we were at had a bunch of various fields, courts, and running trails, so a couple of us wanted to explore what else was going on as well. We found a group of people across the field playing Quidditch, which is the game played in Harry Potter on broomsticks, and I wanted to talk to them to see what it was all about. They had adapted the game to be played on the ground, and apparently they have huge tournaments in LA from all across the state and there happened to be a team here in San Diego. Long story short I was able to get one of the girl’s numbers, and they all invited us to come to play or watch their practices anytime and hang out.
Unfortunately they changed their practice time to Thursday instead of Wednesday, so I have work and can't make it to their practices, but I was still proud of myself for being able to walk up to strangers and start a conversation that could lead to more opportunities to build relationships etc. (sometimes you have to celebrate the little victories, ya know?) It’s amazing that through many frustrations of trying to find a place in the community to go God brought us exactly to where He knew we needed to be. We can set so many plans for our lives and our days but in the end God's plan will always be better than what we could even imagine. It can be such a blessing when our plans don’t work out the way we imagine because it can show us that his will and his design is always far greater than our own. I don’t know what would have happened if that first softball game had actually been going on but I never would have ended up at the other park where I met these people and where God gave me the opportunity, courage, and confidence to meet them in the first place. God is so good.
Another week means another beach party and of course another round of beach photos.
This first picture is of Meg and I, who is also a Kappa Alpha Theta at the University of Idaho, it’s always special to meet sorority sisters from other places, and it's so awesome to get to be sisters in Christ as well!
This is another group shot, from left to right it me (obvi) Dillon, Meg, and Austin!
If you’ve been reading my previous blog posts, you know that one of the things I’ve been struggling with is learning how to be missional in settings that push me beyond my social comfort zone.
Because of this, something that stood out to me during Sunday service, as we continued through Luke 19, was that every single one of us has gifts and talents that God has given us that we can leverage to farther His Kingdom. Hearing this was reassuring because it put into perspective that even though going out and walking up to strangers isn’t my strong suit (i'm continuing to work on it), I still have the ability to reach and let people hear who Christ is in other ways.
Sometimes it’s hard to recognize your gifts though. Because they tend to be things that come so naturally, it's easy to not see them as unique because you've never considered that it could be hard for others. When I was sitting in church, I was encouraged by this, but a felt at a loss of what mine could be. I prayed that God would allow me to see what my gits were and how I could use them farther his kingdom.
Later on, I called my mom, and she mentioned how many people back home were reading my blog. Without her even realizing, God was using her to answer my prayers as she mentioned how I’ve already been using something I love to do to share how God is working in my life with all of you. It's ironic that because our gifts come so naturally to us, we sometimes can't recognize them for what they are. It's amazing how God worked to answer my prayers through a simple conversation which also gave me encouragement in areas that God knows I needed.
I’m so thankful for every one of you who are still reading and keeping up with my blog. It’s given me so much joy and encouragement to hear how God is using everything from my adventures and struggles to bring glory to His name; it has been so beyond worth it. I hope whether you’re reading to see what adventures I’m going on or to see some pretty awesome San Diego sunsets you feel encouraged of how awesome Jesus is and the amazing things he can do in anyone's life when they simply start saying "Yes" to Him.
Last week, coming from a place that was very drained and discouraged, it’s also been amazing to see how a community can help call you out and recognize when you're not yourself. At the beach party, I had a friend approach me and check in with me. It was encouraging to know that even when I don’t feel like it (I’m learning that feelings can lie) people do care and consider me a part of their lives.
Since being down here, I've also felt as if I haven't been doing enough or haven’t been “Christian enough.” I’ve been seeking change in my life, but I've been trying to force it and do it all on my own because I’ve been worried I’m not becoming a new person in Christ “fast enough.” I believe that God has been showing me this week to lean into his plan for me without thinking about what my journey looks likes compared to others.
He has been working on my heart to believe what my mind already knows, that you can’t spend time with the Lord every single day, and actively seeking him without Him transforming you. To believe anything else is denying His power and ability to transform your heart and your life. Since working through this, I have been able to find so much more joy and rest (even at 6am or 11pm) by spending time with him in his word and through prayer because instead of worrying about what my time spent will do for me, I’ve focused on how it brings glory to God first.
This has allowed me to reshape my mindset and heart posture towards devotional time (and everything else in our crazy schedule) and realize it for what it is, an opportunity to spend time with Christ. This week our weekly reading modules focused on rest, meditation, and taking a Sabbath. We were asked to plan out our schedule and be intentional about making a day to spend with God to rejuvenate from the week. I think this was an important reminder of how important it is to be intentional in your rest and it was a good tool to help manage my time and not feel so overwhelmed.
Because I’ve started working more, I haven’t had opportunities to explore San Diego as much, but it makes me appreciate the time that I do have so much more! On Wednesday (fam night), we decided to go to Mission Beach! It was my first time going and was more touristy than the other beaches which means there was a lot to explore (they had a roller coaster!!!) (And slushies!!!) Afterwards we built another campfire and enjoyed each other’s company for the rest of the night.
This week has been full of so many answered prayers and questions, and I feel so ready to take on week five where I know God is going to continue His work in me. As always, I appreciate you checking in.
The week started off Sunday with our second official beach party!
Another part of being a student on Elevate means being on a team that coordinates specific events for the project to allow for us students to implement our ideas, take leadership, and make Elevate our own.
The teams include Campus team, IN team (organizing fam nights) OUT team (organizing fam outreach) Sunday Service team, and Beach Party team. Every individual is placed on different teams by their room leaders which allows opportunities to work with people from across project who share unique abilities that contribute to each team’s roles.
I’m on the Beach Party team, so our role includes setting up and tearing down the picnic tables, volleyball nets, party lights, etc. Our purpose is also to make sure the beach party runs smoothly while reminding the rest of project to use this time to focus on outreach.
It’s been so awesome to see us all work as a team to make the beach parties as successful as possible. Being on the Beach party team also allows us to bring the entire project together and watch the lord create amazing opportunities to reach the people of San Diego. In other words the beach parties aren’t for us, but rather to farther the Kingdom of God
To get a better idea of what exactly goes on during our beach parties, we start out with a playing volleyball, longboarding and having a barbecue picnic. We provide food for everyone on project plus any coworkers we may have invited or anyone else who wants free food that’s hanging out on the beach. Food can always bring people together and it's a good way for us to bring people into our community.
After sunset, we transition to the dance party and set up lights on the palm trees and turn up the music. We play everything from classic throwback songs to country music so we can swing dance. I’ve only swing danced a couple of time before coming on Elevate, but it's been so much fun learning how!
I don't have any photos from the dance party because its so dark by that time, but here's the sunset from this night. This picture doesn't do it justice but you could see the rays of light shine through the clouds and reflect off the water and it was BEAUTIFUL. God is such an artist.
Last week I talked a bit about feeling pretty drained and tired from the constant fast pace of elevate but this week has been pretty trying as well.
I usually need quiet alone time so living with seven other girls has been challenging to get that needed time by myself. Last week I mentioned that the lord has been telling me to spend time with Him but it’s hard to find time between all of our responsibilities and the craziness of life. It’s also hard to train yourself to find rest in the Lord instead of finding rest and comfort in the things of this world (which are really distractions in disguise, because only true rest can come from the lord).
In other words, its has been hard lately to tune in to what God is trying to tell me when I do my daily devotionals. This is partly because we do them very early and very late in the day, and also because we've been doing them for three weeks now and it’s hard not to let it slip into something that’s merely routine or just another thing that I have to check off my to-do list.
I can’t say right now that I’ve mastered this but I’m trying my best to push through and work on making my devotional time as valuable as possible.
It wouldn’t be a week in La Jolla if we also didn’t go on at least one adventure so this Friday we decided to check out Coronado which is an island right off of San Diego. We watched the sunset on the beach then walked over to where a couple of hotels sat on the beach and watched vacationers dance the night away to live music.
The second photo is of me and Karissa, we ended up matching so we had to take a picture together.
I know that I’ve said this before, but I’m still in awe of how blessed I am to live in a place where vacation spots are my backyard. While walking on the beach we met another group of Christians that invited us to dance. We were able to have some cool conversations with them to explain what we were doing down here. It blows my mind how living on mission, a concept so foreign to this world, is part of our purpose and it’s so amazing to see others taking the gospel to the ends of the earth as well.
Afterward, we got In-N-Out, which isn’t that notable but the burgers were pretty bomb, and I got this photo so... yeah :)
The rest of the week I spent mostly working, but I look forward to week four! Talk to you soon!
Hey! I wanna jump right in so here we go.
Project officially started Saturday the 19th! I spent most of the day traveling and finally arrived at our hotel around 4 pm. Once everyone rolled into town, we had a barbecue to kick off the summer. Afterwards we sat around and shared our travel stories (most people decided to road-trip down and had interesting stories to share from along the way) and we also found out what room we were going to be living in!
I’m living in Parks Hall with seven other girls including our room leader, MaryAnne! Parks Hall was named after Rosa Parks for her deep-rooted Christian faith and resilient nature when faced with prejudice and injustice.
MaryAnne’s main hope for our room is that we would become women who are resilient IN Christ, FOR Christ; that we would be women who are built of spiritual endurance when we face obstacles and hardships. Her central prayer for this room is that we would grow to be women who are deeply rooted in the love of Christ, where we find our truest strength and remain steadfast in Him in ALL things. Being in Parks Hall means being a woman of Resilience!
The next day was Sunday, and later on in the day everyone on project gathered at the beach and spent more time getting to know one another. This is our first group photo together of Parks Hall, from right to left is Rachel, me, Hallie, Jennifer, Karissa, Bridget, and Gabby.
This was when it started to set in that I was actually here in San Diego! We had all made it, and we're going to be living together for the next ten weeks! When we took this photo, I imagined looking back at it at the end of the summer and realizing that these strangers would grew to be my best friends.
Monday we started the job search (YAY!) Searching for a job can be very draining but there is also an opportunity for it to be very God-driven and glorifying. Our prayers in the job hunt were for God to guide us and open opportunities that would allow for us to bring the Kingdom of God into our workplace, that we would follow in his plan for us to impact the lives that we would meet along the way.
Each room got assigned a mall or part of town to spend the day handing out resumes and applying for jobs. We had two weeks to find a job, so we were expected to treat the job hunt as a 9 to 5 until we found one. After you were hired one you were encouraged to act as a cheerleader for the rest of your roommates and help them find jobs. I probably handed out 40 resumes over the next week and was blessed with finding a job Thursday! I’m working part-time at a clothing store called Abercrombie and part-time at another clothing store for kids called The Children’s Place.
Monday was also our very first huddle! Huddle is made up of all the girls in our room where we can talk about what we are learning and hearing from God. The main purpose is to confide in one another and hold each other accountable for following out what we are learning, and to challenging each other to grow. I genuinely feel as if every girl in this room was put together for a reason. God has such a beautiful plan for all of us, and I already feel so blessed to be a part of these ladies lives and thankful that they are a part of mine.
This is a picture after our first huddle, if you can’t tell we were all laughing as we squashed onto the same bed to take a group photo
Thursday some of the room leaders got a bunch of us, together and decided to go to a different part of La Jolla shores to go body surfing. We hung out listening to music, swimming, and getting to know one another till the sunset. It’s been so special to be able to spend this quality time with one another and get to know each other more.
Sunday was also our first beach party! I’m sure I’ll talk more about the beach parties more in the weeks to come, but our beach parties are made to create opportunities to invite the people we meet this summer to join our community and have gospel-driven conversations while also having a lot of fun! We have a barbecue, play volleyball, walk along the beach and dance into the night.
That's all for this week but I can’t wait to continue to share my summer with you all!
By now you probably already know I've been thriving my first week down in La Jolla, so here's a little snapshot of what my second week was like.
Hallie and I started the week with Monday off, so we both headed to Pacific Beach to explore for the day, which is about an hour bus ride from our hotel. I had never been, but Hallie had seen a sporting goods store in the area while job hunting, so we both decided to check out some longboards. We’ve both been wanting to learn how to ride, and after borrowing some friend’s boards at the beach party, we wanted to look about getting our own.
I’m not exactly sure what the guy at the store thought when we told him we had moved to California the week before and decided to buy a longboard 24 hours before but yes, it took exactly one week of living in California to hop on the longboard bandwagon. The good news is I now have eight more weeks to learn how to ride, and when else am I going to be living 10 min from La Jolla Shores with prime areas to longboard?
Here’s a picture of me with my new longboard in front of some angel wings because #socal and whatnot.
Tuesday a team of us went to the University of California San Diego (UCSD) campus during the day. The purpose of these teams is to reach out, join, and get to know the students in their own environment. This sometimes looks like playing Frisbee on the mall to invite people to play. Or even walking around striking up conversations with students that are fundraising for their philanthropies, taking graduation pics, or even just hanging out at the Starbucks.
Our goal is to make connections with the students. The hope is to eventually form relationships with people to have faith-based conversations with them. This might not happen in one day, but meeting people is the first step to building a relationship, and forming opportunities to share the gospel with them.
So far spending time on campus has been one of the most challenging things about Elevate, mainly because it is the farthest outside of my comfort zone.
It amazes me how others manage to simply walk up to people and start a conversation with someone, eventually invite them to our beach parties, or get their numbers to meet up later. During the time we spent on campus I managed to come up with so many excuses as to why I couldn’t go up to people and talk to them. Whether it was “They’re busy studying I can’t interrupt them” or “I wouldn’t know where to start,” I struggled to find the confidence to believe I have what it takes to be missional in this way.
And to be honest, alone, I don’t. In the sermon on Sunday, our pastor mentioned that there is a vast difference from what we are capable of doing and what we are called to do. That gap has to be filled with God through the power of prayer. The thing is, we were MADE to share the gospel and seek out a community. Where we come up short, the Lord is meant to take over and work in us, but I have to allow myself to lean into the lord despite my insecurities telling me I’m not cut out for this.
And besides, if you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone you’re usually on the right direction to growth, I’m still learning to look at it that way.
Wednesday I had my first day at Abercrombie! I came away from my first-day hopeful in what’s to come out of this job. I work with mainly people my age, so I’m excited to get to know my coworkers and find ways to be missional to those I meet there.
After work on Wednesdays, we have “Fam Night” which is a smaller group of people within project, that commits to spending time with one another at least once a week to talk about and praise God. It’s a space in our community to pour into one another and grow stronger together as fellow Christians.
This week we decided to get tacos from a taco stand the some of the locals rave about (obviously they had never had tacos from RKA Taqueria in Ephrata, WA but hey, tacos are tacos).
Afterward, we headed to La Jolla Shores. A couple of people brought their guitars, so we built a bonfire on the beach and sang in worship together as the sun set behind us.
This was probably one of my favorite nights so far, I felt so full of love and joy, and was in awe of how blessed I am to be here in California, praising God with people who also love the Lord, while listening to the sound of his creation. I felt as if I could have stayed in that moment forever. It felt honest, stripped down of all the fluff in our lives. I could feel His joy pouring into me. All I wanted to do was soak up the feeling that can only come from being huddled together next to the warm fire in His presence. Real joy is out there ya’ll, and I am awestruck by just how good He is to me.
After we had ran out of songs to sing Bridget decided she wanted to run into the ocean. I stared at her for a half-second wondering if she was serious before saying “I’ll go with you.” We were fully clothed, it was pitch black, and we went running straight into the waves anyways. I don’t remember the last time I've laughed so freely and so full of joy, the kind of laughter that swells in your chest when you don’t even realize you’re laughing till you stop. Here’s a picture MaryAnne took of us after we ran back to the fire.
After I got off work on Friday around 1:30 I decided to head to the beach to meet up with some other people on project.
The group decided to leave after a bit, but I wasn’t quite ready to go so I stayed behind. These last two weeks have felt so non-stop I wanted a moment to not be rushing off to the next thing. It’s been amazing having so many opportunities to go on adventures and have new experiences, but I’ve felt as if I’m wasting my summer if I’m not doing something fun with others every moment of the day. In other words, I feel pretty drained from worrying I’m missing out and running around all the time.
Each morning and night we spend time with either partners or those in our rooms discussing our daily devotionals. I’ve enjoyed getting in the habit of spending time with the lord, but it also means waking up at 6 am every day, so we have time before others leave for work, and having a nonstop day until we usually make it to bed around 11 pm. A common theme we have been discussing in our devotionals, through making our way through John and James, is the power and importance of prayer. I could feel the Lord telling me to spend time with Him one on one and simply rest. So instead of running off to get donuts for national donut day (if you know me you know I love my donuts), I chose to take a nap on the beach instead. When I woke up, it was golden hour, and I spent the next hour or so reflecting on the last couple days and praying for the summer to come.
This alone time with God made me feel more centered as I entered the weekend. I’m still working on leaning into His word fully. There are so many aspects of my life I wish to control for myself, but by listening to his word, sharing my anxieties and blessings with Him, I feel closer to Him and want to reach out to his will because it will never fail me .
I’m excited about what week three will bring. This summer already feels as if it’s going too fast, but I’m thankful for every minute of it. Thanks for stoppin’ by.
Sometimes I repeat who I identify myself to be in the mirror as a sort of mantra. “My name is Sophia Giles; I am 19 years old, currently attending Washington State University to study creative writing and sociology. I am a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, a women’s Greek fraternity on campus.” I imagine myself behind a podium in front of important looking people who look back at me as if I too, am important. In this way, I try to secure myself in this world as if my interests, how old I am, and how I spend my time define me by boxing me into neat little packages. I welcome the stereotypes that come with each aspect. “I bleed crimson and gray,” I’m ~artsy~, and I am a “bubbly sorority girl with 70 best friends who wears her letters wherever she goes.”
Treating these surface-level aspects of my life as the big picture allows me to imagine my life as a simple and uncomplicated storyline that (unsurprisingly) doesn’t reflect who I entirely am. Defining myself in these narrow descriptions only allows for half-truths. While these things are parts of who I am, they are not who I am, but minor details about my life. How long would I be able to go on and on about these surface-level aspects of who I think Sophia Giles is until I get to my true identity? How much farther down the list of descriptions could I name until I arrived at my true identity, that I am a child of God. I am saved. I am His disciple. How much time have I spent looking to this world to tell me who I should be instead of recognizing that there is a God who already knows me better than I could ever know myself? By learning more about the good news of the gospel and who God is to me, and I to him, won't I ultimately be able secure myself not in this world, but in His story. Upon recognizing that I am first and foremost His daughter, His servant, and His beloved, I have started a new kind of affirmation routine, one that is true, and unchanging. “I am His child. I am redeemed. I am Chosen.”
This is where Elevate 2018 comes in.
1,000 miles from home, 50+ people living on mission, 10 weeks, and 1 God. Set in La Jolla, California, Elevate is a 10-week discipleship/ leadership program that allows for me to dedicate my entire summer to growing in my faith and learning to take advantage of opportunities to share the gospel with others, while also building and living in a community. I want to apologetically run towards God and see where He takes me, see what He makes of me. I want to build this spark I have towards God and turn it into a full-on wildfire, consuming my life in a way that allows for His name to be seen and heard by the people all around me.
But why elevate? Why pack up all my things, search for a new job, and move across the state to live in a hotel room with seven other girls when I could grow in my faith back home?
One of the main reasons I wanted to come on Elevate was the idea of building a community. Growing up in a small town, I struggled to find my community of people like myself. Although my freshman year of college has treated me well in finding friends and people to surround myself with, the idea of building faith-based relationships that would allow for the support and closeness to pour into each other made me hopeful in finding a real community. In other words, picking up and moving, living with seven strangers, and spending 40 hours a week job hunting until I find one, doesn’t seem so crazy when it means having a community of people who have all agreed to hold each other up in our journey through Christ. So yes, I could serve and learn about God in Washington, but the question is who would hold me accountable? Who would teach me the true word of God? I want to grow in my faith and find my identity in Christ rather than the things of this world, but I don’t have the tools on my own.
Elevate isn’t just about me though, and friendships aren’t about how they can serve us, but rather how we can serve them. Elevate is about bringing the kingdom of God to this earth, how we can learn to seek out others and share the gospel with them, and how to have faith-based conversations with others to bring them to Jesus. There are so many people that I am already eager to share the gospel with, but it’s hard to know where to even begin. In other words, I can’t do it alone. I need a God-centered community of peers and leaders to guide me.
I believe God has provided an opportunity through Elevate to learn and grow in Christ and community in an environment that requires me to lean into his word wholly. So thank you, to every one of you who helped me get here, I believe God has put you in my life for a reason to help me start on this journey. It’s going to be an amazing ride, and I can't wait to share it all with you, God is on the move!