Monday, August 19, 2013

Where is the balance??

August 19th, 2013

10 more days until the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  This will mark year 8 and my 5th year here in New Orleans.  I shared recently on facebook how one homeowner was touched by our efforts on her home in New Jersey, a place we serve now because the church in New Jersey came here to New Orleans to serve, caught the vision of what we were doing, so when Hurricane Sandy blew through, they were ready to respond!  It's crazy to think over the past 8 years everywhere God has taken us since Katrina.  And yes, 8 years later, there are still needs here.  If you don't believe me, come visit :)

As we look ahead to hurricane season, wondering where the next storm will go, we recognize that we want to be ready to respond with the love of Christ wherever the Lord takes us.  So right now, I'm intern-free and volunteer team-free but that doesn't I'm on free time (vacation for me starts Sept 1-8).  This is a time of debriefing on how the summer 2013 internship program went and a time of preparation for the Fall 2013.

This fall will include my boyfriend Mark moving to Louisiana.  It'll be interesting balancing ministry with having a local boyfriend but I'm definitely up for the challenge as long distance was never my favorite (but God continues to teach me a lot through it).

Ever since I have taken the role of Director of Interns in June 2010 I have traveled more than been here.  Then when I was accepted long term in October 2011, I was on the road seeking out ministry partners.  So for about 3 years I haven't felt as connected to my New Orleans community and I'm praying about ways to be more connected while still meeting my ministry goals.  I enjoy traveling, seeing how God is working in other places, and sharing how people can get involved with the ministry. I enjoy being an active member of my church and being a neighbor to my community.  So where do I find the balance in being planted in my community and being on the road?

The other balancing act most people don't realize is I live in central city New Orleans in a house with two great roommates but my interns and office are located on the N. Shore of Lake Pontchartrain (about 45 min commute).  So it's hard being in both places and sometimes I wish the lake could be smaller but sometimes it does serve as a good buffer when I need to take a break. So any insights are welcome on how I can balance working on the N. Shore and living in the city from all my commuter buddies out there.

Balance seems to be the recurring theme of this post...and for some reason I can still remember my pastor saying several years ago that you find balance when you "Love God with all ya got, and love people til ya drop."  At first you think, that doesn't sound like balance but let me explain what I think he meant.  When you love God with all you got, you spend time with Him, you find rest in Him, you listen for His voice, you are obedient to that voice, you rest when he says rest, you go when he says go, you serve Him wholeheartedly and everything you do whether in word or deed is done on behalf of Christ.  When you love people til ya drop, you are living out the calling on your life and since you are being obedient to God's voice, you are listening for the relationships you are called to build.  You love people on behalf of Christ, not just to look like a good person. When you love people with all you got, you are pleasing your Heavenly Father and He will give you energy and guide your steps in those relationships.

The idea of balance isn't really spelled out word for word in the Bible.  However, we know that the Lord Jesus was never out of balance.  He was perfectly in balance in His relationships and His work.  He is our example.  Jesus never seemed bothered about finding balance. He always loved God and loved others!  He found time to get alone and pray. He found time to heal the sick, preach the Kingdom of God, and feed the hungry.  He slept, He traveled, He told parables and I'm pretty sure he had the same 24 hours in a day that we have.  Jesus also didn't have an expectation of what balance should look like.  He was willing to serve His Father however He was asked to.  He wasn't selfish with His time but recognized that His time was not His own.  I think sometimes this is where I fail, in fact I know it is.  I want to find MY idea of balance and not the Lord's idea of balance. Lord forgive me and show me what you want balance to look like in my life.

So right now what does balance look like for me?  Spending time with my Heavenly Father, being obedient to His voice, and seeking out His plan for my days through prayer, His Word, and Godly counsel.  The classic Jim Elliot phrase always pops up too: Wherever you are, be all there.  Thanks Jim, I'll keep praying about it :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

It's August Already??

I'm still amazed at how each summer seems to go faster than the last one.  June was spent with the amazing intern Wren and we welcomed intern Anna to our New Orleans family in mid-June!  July was spent welcoming intern Katie (back from her spring internship) and intern Cristi all the way from Chile!  One week in July was spent spreading the news about what Crisis Response does to our leadership conference and another week was spent serving alongside Hershey EFC in Haiti where I got to celebrate my 27th bday (with my boyfriend Mark) and check in with the Haiti interns and staff.  August will be spent with one more week of NOLA teams, lots of summer interns departing, and settling back into life in NOLA along with getting prepared for my trip home to NC at the end of the month.

I praise God for all the many blessings and trials from this summer.  I pray that in every situation I use it as a chance to bring Him glory.  Even though the summer is winding down and we'll have about a month off from volunteer teams, we recognize that God is always at work and to be fully immersed in ministry wherever He has us.  We also recognize that Hurricane Season is in full swing in the months of August and September so we will be preparing as much as possible for the potential for a fall deployment.  (Maybe clear your calendar too incase we need you in the mission field that follows crisis!)

Please pray for me this month as I take some time to discern what God wants for me this fall and where my travels will take me.  I will be traveling to NC at the end of this month and would love to meet with anyone about what God is doing through the ministry and through me.  In personal news, I will be driving back to LA with my boyfriend Mark who will be moving here! (Praise God for a close-distance relationship after a year of long distance!) 

I plan to be in NC August 24th-29th to meet with people then in Cameron NC to see Mark graduate from camp August 29th-31st then at Sunset Beach September 1st-September 7th.  Let me know if you are around to connect with me.

Hope you have a blessed day!  Happy August! :)