Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Grace and Snow

This afternoon, Dave, Jen, their son, and I ended up sitting down and eating lunch together, and as we sat I found my rather easily distractable self staring out the window from time to time. It wasn't that I was bored with the company, as we seem to laugh more every time we're together. I was simply mesmerized by the snow. It's been falling for over a week, and I found myself saying this morning that I was sick of driving in it. However there's something in my heart that goes varying degrees of giddy when I see it falling. It's similar to the feeling I also get when I see Christmas trees with lights, ornaments hung, candles lit, and nativity scenes set out. It's the start of something new, exciting. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow!!!" (Isaiah 1:18, exclamation points mine) This verse seems to wrap itself around my head every time I look at the snow. It flows through my thoughts as I drive up the hill. It allows the snow to serve as a continual reminder of the grace I have been given, and am overwhelmed with daily. You see, I tend to forget things easily. I need frequent reminders if I am to accomplish anything. "Though your sins be as scarlet..." Ever tried to get a red stain out of a white shirt? I find that to be a rather perplexing task, and honestly doubt my own ability to completely obliterate the stain. "They shall be as white as snow." That kind of clean is something I am incapable of accomplishing. And yet it's not up to me. All I have to do is come to Him and accept. No matter how many times I fall short, He is able to make up the difference. In my weakness He is strong. When all around me is dark, He is light. When I fall, He picks me up, He lifts me up "on wings like eagles." What incredible grace! 
As I contemplate His grace to me, I realize the opportunity I have to model this daily. Each day, I will rub shoulders with 25 other people who need grace as much as I do. How do I show them this grace that has been given to me, and which belongs to them as well? This has been one of the most incredible lessons to work through for me this semester. It has made me reevaluate everything that I do, the thoughts I think, and the words that I say. It so often feels like an uphill battle, and yet, He is faithful. His grace is amazing, and I pray that it will overflow in my life daily.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dorm Thanksgiving

I am always amazed by the joy that can be shared when a group of people comes together under one roof. Last Thursday we celebrated 'dorm Thanksgiving', which means that we celebrated a week earlier than in the US (which also means I get to start listening to Christmas music now, but I won't get too ahead of myself...). We celebrate it this week to give the dorms a chance to take ownership of the holiday, and also because of how busy the next (and last) four weeks of the semester will be. So back to the joy. All day Thursday (and some of Wednesday too), Jen, my dorm mom, and I were in the kitchen, we laughed and sang, and cooked, and even cried a little and managed to come up with dinner for 32 people. My contributions this year were pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake (actually just a cake in the shape of a pumpkin), and ciabatta bread with sundried tomato dip. We seriously had a great time in the kitchen all day, getting ready and anticipating the guys' arrival home. We made an effort to have the table set and decorated by the time they walked in the door to set the mood, even though it was still several hours until dinner time. The guys had been looking forward to this day, and their excitement was infectious as our other guests arrived, and the food was set out. The meal was delicious, and the love around the table was nearly tangible. The highlight of the meal for me, came right after dessert was served. Normally, when the guys are finished with a meal, they want to get up and get on to chores and homework. Thursday evening, however, they were in no hurry to leave. One by one, we went around the table sharing what we were thankful for. The first few shared how thankful they were for the dorm, for the unity we share, for the staff :), and for their dorm brothers. Always encouraging. By the time we were halfway around the table, the theme was still the same. Each student shared genuine thankfulness that God had placed them at Sonne with each other. It was truly thrilling to hear them share so openly. When people make themselves vulnerable to others, there is a bond felt between them; if it was absent, it's presence is felt. If it was there before, it becomes stronger. After the meal was over, the spirit of thankfulness continued as everyone helped with clean up, and then sat around to rest and simply enjoy each other's company. So much joy. 
So although dorm Thanksgiving is past, I want to make public my thanks to God for allowing me to be here this year, to work with an amazing staff, and the best students anyone could wish for. I am also incredibly thankful to my praying and financial supporters who have partnered with me as I walk through life with these students. Your influence is felt every single day. To my Sonne guys, past and present, I am thankful for every single one of you. Whether you knew it or not, you were and are tools in God's hands to shape me into what He desires. Thank you for touching my life. You know that I love you! 
Pumpkin cake!! I think this was the chocolate-vanilla marble one.

Our lovely Thanksgiving table

Appetizers. Can you find both turkeys? :)
The best part about Thanksgiving here is that I get to celebrate multiple times!! Stay tuned for more celebrations of thankfulness this week. Blessings!!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Catching Up

So it's been a little while since I've blogged last, and so much has happened. The school year has been in full swing for about 5 weeks, and we have already seen God's hand at work in so many ways, both in ourselves and the students, that it has been hard for me to verbalize. These last weeks have been filled to overflowing with change and transition on many levels. For one thing, the staff at Sonne is nearly completely new. Although helping new dorm parents and a new RA to acclimate to BFA dorm life, and specifically that of Sonne, could be super challenging, the word that comes to mind is overriding joy. They all approach life with energy and excitement, and have already endeared themselves to the guys. We are coming together well as a team, and I am so thankful. In this area, I find myself asking God the same question this year as I did in my first, "What is my role? with the staff? with the guys? in the BFA community?" It's very humbling, but also healthy, as it causes me to evaluate the role that I hold here. This year, it is again my privilege to walk primarily with the seniors. Already, I am immensely enjoying working with them, learning from them and growing with them. Each one is asking questions about life, learning to prioritize, and most of all desiring to please God with their lives. As a class, they lend a special unity to the dorm, and the younger students truly admire and respect them. In this setting it is really important to have a unified senior class because the influence they have filters down through the rest of the students. All of the guys enjoy spending time together, and with us as staff, and it feels like there is always laughter or good conversation to be had.
I also want to say a special thank you to all of you who are supporting me, prayerfully and financially. Throughout the two months I've been back in Germany, there has been confirmation after confirmation that staying a 3rd year in the dorm was the right decision. Sometimes after working through a difficult situation, even one that is extremely introspective and personal for me, it almost seems like God is somehow point it out to me, "This is why I led you back." So I am thankful, to Him for leading and providing, and to you for partnering with me.
I am hoping to blog more regularly from here on out, so thanks for checking in! Have a blessed day!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

This God, His way is Perfect

Last week when I wrote, camp was ending and I was facing what I thought was going to be another intense time of raising support. Today, camp is over, and God has rained down support in ways I never dreamed possible. For most of the summer, my support level had increased slightly from about 60% to around 65%. I have to admit that faith is not one of my stronger gifts, and so when I originally arrived home in June with my support level was in the negatives, I wondered if I should even go to Csehy. I prayed earnestly that my support would reach 90% before I left for camp. I kept saying, "God, you know how difficult it is for me to focus on two things at once." As if He needed reminding :)"This God--His way is perfect" (2 Samuel 22:31...amazing chapter!!) Throughout the summer, I prayed and waited, asking God to cause me to focus on the campers and not be distracted with things I cannot control. I had done all I knew how to do, and all that was left to do was wait. Looking back, I know that I could have worried more, and honestly there were some dark, lonely moments. However, I am amazed at the focus which God gave, and the relationships He caused. It was such a joy to sit and pray with campers as they rededicated their lives to Christ. To be able to sit with them and talk about their futures. To see in them so much of myself. I think the thing which impressed me the most (and I think I mentioned this before, sorry!) was the tenderness of heart towards spiritual things. During Sing and Share time each night (it's exactly what it sounds like!), at weekend bonfires, and in individual conversation, so many campers poured out their hearts, about problems in their lives which they knew needed to be changed, about a desire to know more of God and become more like Him. Some were keenly aware that their lives were not sold out to Christ, and desperately wanted to change that. What precious rebukes! With each encounter, I felt a pressing in my spirit, "Lauren, how much do you love Me?"
I also want to take a second here to acknowledge my counseling team. Words fail to do justice. This group exemplified the servant hearts of the early church. Acts 1:14 says that "with one accord [devoted] themselves to prayer" I wish that you could have been with this group when they prayed. Each was sensitive to God's leading, and the blessing of praying with and being prayed for by this group was incredible. When there was a need, they instantly responded. To any of my fellow counselors reading this: I know your sacrifice, and of the love you had for each other, the students, faculty and staff, and for our God. Thank you for the privilege of walking with you through this summer. To both Csehy counselors and campers, if any of you read this, know that because I knew you, I am closer to my God. I hold you in my heart, I love you, and I am praying for you.

So what happened with my support in all of this? Literally, when camp ended, the gifts, donations, and monthly commitments began to flood in. Starting on the final Friday of camp, I began to hear of people giving, and desiring to give. At the concert on Saturday, A family friend told me she had already sent a check and wanted to support me regularly!! Affirmation? Absolutely! By midnight Saturday night, I was at 80%! I couldn't have planned it that way if I had tried. So many stories, and so little space. So much blessing. Today, I am joyfully (elated, really) able to tell you that I am at 100%. So many have sacrificed for me to go, and I do not take this lightly. If you have given, and are reading this, I want to say a huge thank you! I am so grateful for the way in which you have responded to the Lord's leading and for your partnership in the ministry at Black Forest Academy. Lord willing, I will leave next week, and am able to use the return part of the round trip ticket purchased this spring. My heart is full. Great is Thy faithfulness!




Aren't they gorgeous? Some of the reasons why I came home this summer.
Handsome, no? Some of the many reasons I am aching to go back to BFA!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Hope

It is hard to believe that almost 5 weeks ago, I was helping with wedding preparations for some close friends, and getting ready for Csehy! Now we are nearing the end of Csehy, and what a season it has been! To say that I have been filled hardly seems adequate. It is amazing to me that while pouring out everything in me every day here, God can somehow fill me to overflowing. I absolutely cannot wait for what the school year holds. When people ask me how camp is going, one phrase is at the tip of my tongue, "God is at work here!" He is using the humble yielding of the faculty, staff, and counselors, and doing incredible things in the hearts of several hundred teenagers. Several have accepted Christ, and others have made decisions, and come away with a resolve to know and serve Him better. I was so blessed at the beginning of a week when my hall of campers went around to share testimonies and each of the six girls there shared a desire to take steps forward in their relationships with Christ. Wow! There has also been this remarkable sensitivity toward the steady hand of God changing hearts. Numerous campers have shared with me how deeply they desire to be freed from sins that they struggle with. It has been a joy to be able to look into so many eyes and tell them of the love of Christ. So, can you tell how amazing this summer has been so far? Well it doesn't end there. When I returned home from Germany after an incredible year, I was tired, wrung out, and hurting both physically and spiritually. This spring had held a lot of grieving for me, and I was ready to be done with it. I also knew that I had a lot of support to raise in order to return to Germany. TeachBeyond, my mission, now asks its members to have 90% of their monthly support committed before returning to the field. This is in our best interest, and I am thankful for this. However, with two weeks and counting before camp, I had practically no time at all to raise more support. Add to this the factor that my account was in the red. Not only did I need $1500 per month, I also owed money! I have to admit that I felt that I was staring up an unattainable mountain. I am able to joyfully tell you that as of today, most of my debt is paid, and I am at 65% of my needed support. This is the Lord's doing, and marvelous in my eyes!!!!! I praise Him for working in my behalf. All that I need is $450 per month worth of commitments, and I can return to Germany!!
Some have expressed concern that I will be going back at all, but I want to put those fears to rest. Over the past week or so, God has confirmed in my heart that my desire to return to Germany is not simply a desire of mine. It is His calling for me. So, I want to ask you something. If you are not already supporting me, would you consider partnering with me? I would be honored if you, my reader, would consider it. If you are already partnering with me, I want to say thank you! You have allowed me to be able to serve for 2 years already, and the fact that you are staying with me in prayerful and financial support is a blessing beyond words. Thank you!!
So, if you are interested in partnering with me, feel free to comment on this post, send me an email at laurenholland25@yahoo.com, or contact me via Facebook.
You can also donate via paypal on the TeachBeyond website here: http://www.teachbeyond.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=98&Itemid=76
Also, if you are interested in learning more about Black Forest Academy, please follow this link: http://bfacademy.com/

God is able, and I look forward to sharing with you the joyful news of my departure for Germany!!

Blessings,

Lauren

Monday, June 11, 2012

Careful what you wish for...

After a fantastic semester, I am very thankful to be home! My flights were smooth, and I was even blessed to be able to travel part of the way with a good friend from BFA. We didn't realize until a few days before we traveled that we were on the same flight, and the fellowship we shared was an unexpected blessing! I've been home for nearly a week, and I'm happy to report that most of the jet-lag is gone. I think. I'm not waking up in the middle of the night any more at least :) I'm enjoying some wonderful family time, and was overwhelmed yet again by the love shown to me by my church. 

Over the past week, I have discovered that if you ask God for things like humility or faith, He takes you very seriously. I asked God for both, and He is certainly working on me in both areas. Before boarding a plane for the US, I was thinking about how my faith grew during my initial support-raising stage. I found myself asking God to increase my faith again. A couple of days after I got home, I was informed that my account with my mission was in the red, and seriously so. I'll admit, my response was very poor. I was angry, and wanting to put blame on someone or something other than me. I was frustrated, and could think only of what I could have done better or differently. Then came the "what ifs." What if no one wants to keep supporting me? What if my supporters all drop me? What if I can't go back to Germany? What will happen to all the new staff? What will happen to my guys? I could feel my heart breaking. And this is when God taught me a simple, poignant lesson. "You, Lauren, are not indispensable. I can do this work without you. I have merely chosen to use you." Although I would have told you before that I believed this to be true, at this moment this statement became a reality for me. I acknowledge that He is right, as He always is. And then I asked Him what He wanted me to do. After a long, painful, tearful afternoon, I began to send out requests for support, both asking current supporters to renew, and asking new individuals to begin supporting. I have been amazed at the responses that I continue to receive. From the first request I sent out, there has been a steady stream of responses from those wishing to support me and the work at BFA. At this point, I have about 60% of the 90% percent necessary for me to return to Germany in the fall. The implications are still rather serious. If I am not at 90% I cannot board the plane in August. But after seeing the way that God supplied the need two years ago, and now is doing again, I am confident that He has a plan. I'm doing what I know how to do to contact supporters, and He is doing the major part of moving people's hearts. My faith and  confidence in Him is growing already, and I am excited to see how things will turn out. So when you ask God for something, know that He hears, He answers, and He is always working for our good and His glory.
Sonne guys: classy...

and crazy!!

I am still prayerfully looking for individuals to support me, especially monthly. If you are interested in partnering with me and BFA, you can either contact me directly at laurenholland25@yahoo.com, or follow this link: http://www.teachbeyond.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=98&Itemid=76 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dear reader,
First I want to thank you for sticking with me and walking through this year together. It has truly been a wonderful journey. Right now, I'm sitting in my room preparing to leave Germany and start the trek home. I'll be honest, I am completely exhausted. I miss my guys. I miss the staff. I'm anticipating a lot of change, much of it good. My heart is hurting, but it is full. As I think of my guys and the times we've shared this year, tears fill my eyes. I don't like saying goodbye. Parting is so painful, but the investments made far outweigh the loss I'm feeling. But as I sit here and reminisce, something deep inside me stirs, and says, "Let's do it again!" Although I'm worn out, I also have hope that the work God began, He will continue to perform. So as I board this plane, please pray with me that God will move in hearts to support me prayerfully and financially next year so I am able to return. I'll blog more about that later, because for now, I have a plane to catch.
May the God of all grace keep you in His perfect love.

Always,
lauren

Thursday, May 24, 2012

All Grace

So it's a little late, at night that is, and also since I've posted. I am sitting up waiting for our guys who are on the soccer team to arrive home from tournament, which should be in about 20 minutes or so. Just hold the eyes open a little longer...We are super proud of our guys. The season came to a dramatic end with our guys losing 1-0 in the championship. Second place is something to be proud of though, because this team has really grown this season. It's been a quiet week with 7 of our guys away, and I am excited to see them walk through the door in a few minutes.
There is a nostalgia accompanying this time of year that is pervasive in every single event and conversation to be had. It is comprised of joy in accomplishment, sadness in leaving, contentment with memories made, and seasoned by the depth of time. Leaving and goodbye-ing are difficult, especially to do well. I struggle to do these things well myself, and it has been an interesting journey thus far with our seniors. Each one of them is making his exit in his own particular way, saying goodbye to people and places, doing things for the last time. As difficult as it may be to acknowledge all of these 'last things,' it is also very healthy, because for them (and us), it is an acknowledgement of truth. Doing this will enable them to actively preserve memories here and start well in a new place. If it seems that I am rambling, please forgive me. Since I am relatively new to this place, it is something I still struggle to wrap my mind around. Please pray with me for the guys as they transition. They need your prayers, and so do I. No one likes to say goodbye to friends, but we have to do it. Pray that they will transition well, and in a way that will enable them to start the next phases of their lives in a healthy way. Pray that I will be even more proactive in spending time with them, that I will speak truth gently and in love.
Not only are we saying goodbye to students, but the other 4 members of our dorm staff are leaving as well. They will still be in the BFA community, but the guys and I will miss their presence in the dorm greatly. This staff knows how to love well, and this is something I am praying will continue with our new staff next year. I am also saying goodbye to many close RA friends who have been here these last 2 years. We have walked through many dark valleys, and witnessed the incredible victories all side by side, and all clinging tightly to our Savior. These friends have sharpened and shaped me, and my life is richer because of them. This is not an end, it is merely the turn of a page.
As another year closes, more than anything I find myself extremely thankful. For friends, for my family who loves me, for my sending church, for everyone who prays for me, for my dear Sonne guys whom I love so much, for our wonderful staff, and most of all for my Savior who draws me closer to Himself daily. His grace is perfectly sufficient; it has brought me safe thus far, and will lead me home.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Quick Update

It's been a while! There has been A LOT going on here, with much to process and share, however my time is limited right now so I only have a minute to share a couple of prayer requests:
1) The guys are coming back today!!!!!!!!! Can you tell I'm a little excited? :) I'm totally stoked to see them, but I (and their families) would appreciate your prayers. Some of them are coming from areas of the world which you may have seen in the news recently, due to unrest so please, please pray for safe, uneventful travels for them.
2) We have the unique privilege of celebrating a dear friend's call to Heaven. Her death was completely unexpected and a shock. Please pray for her family, the BFA family, and especially the students here as they process.
3) 6 (or so) weeks til graduation! Not much time to wrap things up here, and yet SOOOOO much to do! please pray that we will make every minute count, and that God will be glorified in absolutely all of it.

I look forward to being able to share an even longer list of answers to prayer in another day or so!
Thank you!!

Blessings,
Lauren

SDG

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I really hope He knows what He's doing

A few days ago, I learned a lesson that I’d love to share with you. Our dorm dad, Marty, was working on a student’s ipod. The ipod was sitting in about a thousand pieces on the table in the living room, and Marty was hovering over it working away. Charlie, the owner of the ipod, was also hovering nearby. In fact, he sat next to Marty for nearly an hour, watching with great intent and concern on his face. At one point, I happened to catch Charlie’s eye. He gave me this incredibly serious look that said “I really, really hope that he knows what he’s doing!” From Charlie’s vantage point, Marty was picking apart his beloved ipod, and at times it definitely looked like it was beyond repair.  I walked away a minute later, and I realized that I’m really glad that I can’t always see just how God is working in my life. If I could sit and watch, like Charlie was doing, I know that I would experience a lot more anxiety. I would probably have the “I really, really hope that He knows what He’s doing” look etched permanently on my face. As it is, sometimes I do wish that I could see what He is up to. But in reality, the fact that I cannot see leads me to trust, and to lovingly follow Him in faith. I know my God is trustworthy (Proverbs 3:5-6). I know He has a plan, even though I can’t see it: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11.  He offers strength and security: “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken,” Psalm 16:8. “The Lord is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation.” I must walk in faith, following my Savior even when I cannot see. His way is best, and He is good, All the time.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Student's Perspective: Caleb

When interacting with supporters back home, I often find myself saying, "I wish you could meet my guys!" So, I would like you to meet a good friend of mine. Caleb is a junior, and this is his first year at BFA and at Sonne. His brother was previously a student here as well. Caleb is a fun, intelligent guy, and so I asked him to introduce himself to you in his own words. 


“As a First year student here at BFA I had a lot of expectations. I came here, knowing that my brother had a great experience here and I wanted to have that same experience. What I found when I got here was nothing like what I expected. Yeah, there were a few disappointments like missing home, but many things far surpassed my hopes of what BFA would be like.

Living in a dorm is definitely hard at times, but it is also one of the best parts about being here. There is a great brotherhood and family feeling in the dorm and we are definitely closer than what I had expected we would be. The guys are all friends and the staff are here for us whenever we need them.

I also came here, being a sports lover, but not really knowing what I could do. I don’t play basketball or soccer which are pretty much the main options here at BFA. I found my sport on the wrestling mat and loved it! The bond in the dorm is carried over onto the sports teams and I definitely felt closer to the guys on my team than I ever had on any team before.

I think that is what makes BFA so great. We have the opportunities to make relationships with so many people, from different backgrounds, countries, and experiences. Almost none of us grew up together, and yet we make closer relationships than most people do in high school with the people they have grown up with.

Although it is often difficult living with 18 other teenage guys: it is usually noisy, there is little privacy and, of course, there are times when not everyone gets along greatly, we find a way to make it through and to love it. I often describe living in a dorm to my friends away from BFA who don’t understand it at all as this: It’s like living with 18 of your best friends all the time.

I am thankful to God for placing me in a place where I can grow socially, educationally, and spiritually…all at once."


Caleb at Christmas Banquet


PS: I apologize if the text in this post looks a little odd. I'm trying to figure out exactly what's going on! -L

Thursday, January 26, 2012

So What Exactly Do You Do?

Happy Thursday to you! I hope that it has been a good one for you, or will be, depending on where you are in the world. Today I want to try and answer a question which I was asked a lot during my time home. “So what is it that you do, exactly?” I usually come up with a long list of duties ranging from tutoring, to cleaning, to cooking, among other things. Let me try and give you a better picture. This morning I went grocery shopping with Chris and Timmy. This is a normal Thursday ritual, so after the guys left for school, we took a little time to make ourselves presentable and again went to Kandern (about 9 kilometers down some windy switch-back roads) which not only holds the main BFA campus but also is home to the three grocery stores which we frequent. At our first stop, Pennymarkt, which is about as big as a large convenience store, I grabbed a cart and began to fill it. 20 bananas, 2 bags of about 10 apples each, 20 eggs (we didn’t need much today), 24 cups of yogurt, 6 packages of sliced cheese for lunch, about 10 packages of deli meat, 3 loaves of bread, among other things. All in all, we filled 2 average shopping carts. To find cheddar cheese for our weekend cooking, we head to another local grocery store. We us an average of 7-8 liters of milk a day, so for that we visit yet another grocery store. While these numbers may not sound impressive at first, the clincher is that all of this will last til Monday, when our dorm parents go shopping again. What makes all of this difficult for me is the language barrier. While I am gradually picking up vocabulary, it has been a rather steep upward climb for me.  Here are a few words I have learned that have helped me in my grocery shopping:

Gurken – Cucumber

Zwiebel – onion
Knochblauch – garlic

Tomaten – tomatoes (easy one!)

Salat – lettuce

Eier – egg

Käse – cheese

Schinken – ham

Puten – Turkey

Hähnchen – chicken

While these words may seem simple, it is amazing how much easier shopping can be when you know them!! 
I’ve got a pretty good handle on my numbers as well.

These days around the dorm have been pretty exciting. We have had home basketball games for the past two weekends, and will have them this weekend as well. Our wrestling team also travels just about every weekend. We have six Sonneknights on the wrestling team and it is exciting to hear how they are improving. One of my seniors, Josh, is the team captain, and I am extremely proud of him. These days are eventful for the seniors as well. Most of them have heard or are hearing back from different schools and universities, and are now working through the details of financial aid, logistics, moving to the US, and all of the other facets of a transition out of high school to university. Please keep these guys in your prayers as they make decisions. Pray that they would diligently seek what God has for them, and that they would also stay healthy. We have several strains of the flu virus as well as various versions of the common cold floating around the school. Several guys have come home from school early this week, but with a little bit of sleep and some medicine they've been up and running again before too long. Please pray that no one else will get it, and that we will all get the rest we need. God is so good, and I am so thankful to be here. He is teaching me so much and I look forward to sharing more of that with you very soon. Have a wonderful week!

Blessings,
Lauren 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Seniors, and Making Decisions, and Some Sweet Hoodies

While writing this post, I am sitting at the living room table in the dorm, finding it hard to believe that another semester is already begun. This is my fourth semester here, and I can hardly believe it. I only wish my college career had felt to fly by so fast! The trip home was fantastic, with eventful travel on both ends. Spending the night in the airport, arriving home in time for my siblings’ church Christmas program, ordering dorm hoodies, and lugging 3 heavy pieces of luggage through the Frankfurt airport were only a few of the elements. Possibly one of the most stressful, but also exciting pieces to the break, was the arrival of our dorm hoodies. We had a design chosen and ordered, and they were slated to arrive by the time I left for the airport in January. However, by the time my luggage was loaded into our van and we were ready to leave, the UPS truck still had not arrived! Saying I was frustrated is a gross understatement. As we drove down the main road in my hometown I was asking God why, over and over; and then we passed our local 7-11. This was a favorite convenience store in our family growing up, and apparently the UPS guy likes it too, because his truck was in the parking lot as we drove by. We pulled in to the lot and my mom and brother Tim jumped out of our van and ran into the store. This being a small town, we have a sort of friendship with this guy, so he came out to his truck to check and see if he had 2 large boxes from the Sweatshirt company. Would it surprise you if I said he had them? I was amazed and humbled as he handed me the boxes. The guys are now sporting some fantastic dorm apparel, and I am thankful the God cares about things like hoodies and a UPS truck! The reality, however, in all of this is that even if they had not arrived, God would still be sovereign. I think that was the big-picture lesson for me in all of this. I am so blessed and thankful to have been able to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ with my family this year. We had some very meaningful times and I miss them a ton!!

Now we have plunged back into a very dreary, cloudy, but still very lively January. One of the highlights of the month so far for me was seeing them welcome each other back to the dorm. As more and more arrived, they would rush the door in an effort to get the first hug. There was much joy to be had! Please do pray for our students, because although they are happy to be back with their dorm brothers again, they are also far from their families once again. Pray that homesickness would be minimal, and also that their relationships with their families would thrive despite the miles and time zone differences. There is a special excitement among the seniors as they begin their final semester of high school. For them, the end is in sight, and they are anxious for it to arrive. Mixed with the excitement, however, is an element of apprehension. What’s next? Will I be accepted to my first-choice school? Will I still be friends with the same people? Will I make new friends? How will going to university affect my current relationships? What will my transition to University be like? How do I say goodbye well and end my time here in a healthy way? These are all some of the questions that are being asked right now. Please pray that this class, more than anything else, would seek Christ first in this time of transition. With Him to guide them, they cannot go wrong. He has promised to never leave or forsake them, so I invite you to pray with me that they would know this as reality, not just for their parents, but for themselves.

Finally, I want to answer a question which I have been asked many times over the past few months. What am I doing next year? It gives me great joy to tell you that I have committed to staying at Sonne for one more year. This decision was not made without much prayer and seeking of guidance, and I am confident that this is the door which God is opening for me at this season. So what about music? While this is the area in which I have my degrees, I can honestly say that for this season, my heart is with these students. I love music, and I always will. Currently I have several projects which I am working on with the BFA music department, and I am excited to continue to use my gifts in that way. In a way, you could say that I am ‘weak’, since I don’t have any special training to work with people. However, God has lovingly promised that in my weakness, He is strong, and I have seen Him prove this over and over, especially during my time at BFA. My burden for the ministry in the Residence Life program here has only increased in the past year and a half, and God has continued to open the door to more time of service here. So it is with confidence that I make this decision. Confidence, not in my own ability, but in the God of the universe Who made me, saved me, and enables me to love. It is the desire of my heart that as He molds me and changes me, others will see more and more of Him, and less and less of me.

As always, I want to thank you for reading, and for your continued financial and prayer support. God is doing great things because of you!

Blessings,
Lauren