Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fully Supported!

I am very excited to announce that I have finished raising my support! God has been so good to me, and provided the remainder of my support at a time I was least expecting it. December is a difficult time to raise support since everyone is very busy with family and holiday activities. I was anticipating having to wait until January to get the rest of my support raised. However, God works in such mysterious ways, and it is because of these ways that we can know it is Him working, and not ourselves!

One of my coworker's friends heard about my need for just $235/month in order to get on campus, and he and his wife decided they wanted to cover that need so I could get on campus as soon as possible. Their gift is incredibly generous, and one I feel very undeserving of. 

This is a tad unconventional, as their hope is to finish my support for 6-12 months, and in that time I will continue to raise support to cover their giving. But the good news is that at the same time, I can finally be on campus working with the students at Fishers High School. As my support coach said, this is a little "out of the box," but it is so clearly from the Lord, that he is willing to work with me to make their gift count. 

I will be officially beginning on campus at the start of next semester, and between now and then am able to start some reading and training work in addition to continuing to raise support. Something I'm learning about staff life is that the process of raising support is never quite finished. This is just another chapter of how I can be trusting the Lord to provide that $235 in addition to other needs over the next year. 

Thank you for all your prayers, thoughts, and encouragement over the past 16 months of raising support, I never would have been able to do this without each and every one of you. I look forward to the next step in this journey, and can't wait to share all the amazing things I learn and experience when I begin working with the students! Hopefully I'll get better about blogging more consistently as well...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!!


~Jenn

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Let the mountains sing together for joy...

Have you ever looked at a beautiful view, sunset or a clear sky full of twinkling stars and felt incredibly small and insignificant? I had one of those experiences, this summer, while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. 

A few weeks ago I had the joy of attending Campus Crusade's National Staff Conference in beautiful Ft. Collins, CO. When I arrived, the first thing to hit me was the view of the mountains. They are absolutely incredible. A few days later some friends and I went hiking up the mountains, and I had one of those moments where I felt so small and insignificant in comparison to the amazing view laid out before me. God's handiwork in creating this world was being given new meaning in my life. 

As I gazed out over the tops of the mountains, I imagined the Creator molding each one in His hands, placing every rock where it belonged. And as I stood there taking in the beauty of those mountains, I realized how perfectly creation reflects the majesty of God the Creator.
   

As I was staring at the view, Psalm 139:13 came to mind: "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb...intricately woven in the depths of the earth." This made me realize that each of God's creations are evidence of His amazing handiwork.

I am one of God's children, which means that when He looks at His mountains, sunsets and starry skies, the love He feels and beauty He sees is nothing compared to the love and beauty He experiences when He looks at me. 1 John 3:1 states, "how great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" 

And more specifically, we can know that the kind of love that our Father and Creator has for us is so great because of the gift He gave us when He sent His son to die on the cross for us. 1 John 3:16 says, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." 

So instead of feeling small and insignificant when I looked out over the beautiful mountains, I felt immensely loved and beautiful. As God looks out at His entire creation, the mountains He formed with His own hands, I like to picture God's own Son walking under these same stars, stars set in place by His Father's hands. 

I like to think of Jesus praying on mountainsides just like the mountainsides I beheld first hand. And I can imagine God, giving His most precious gift, as He watched His Son walking to the top of a hill and hanging on a cross.
 
For me.

"I have called you by name, you are mine.
Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, 
and I love you.
Everyone who is called by my name, 
whom I created for my glory, 
whom I formed and made." 
Isaiah 43:1,4,7

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Jesus is Amazing

I can't say it enough, Jesus is SO incredibly good to me. 

I am loving life in Indianapolis so far. Philippians 4:19 states, "And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." I have been experiencing this verse in such a real way recently. God has provided me with everything I need, a place to live temporarily while I finish raising support, a great church, and awesome new friends. 

I didn't know what to expect moving here, and God has provided so much beyond my imagination of what it would be like to live here. And actually, the one thing I did expect, He took away from me.

One of the biggest reasons I moved to Indianapolis was to live closer to my brother and sister-in-law (and my future niece or nephew!) And a few weeks ago, my brother was offered a promotion in his job which would mean a relocation to St. Louis, MO by October of this year. Although I am thrilled for DJ and proud of his hard work, I was obviously a little bummed that I'd be losing two of the main people I moved here for. But as we see in Proverbs 16:9, God's plans often times do not match up with ours. 

When I was here in May for three weeks, I spent a lot of time with my Student Venture team. I was living with a couple on my team, Brian and Erin Clark, and really enjoyed spending time with them. I felt like I was a part of their family for those three weeks, and all the couples on my team have made me feel that way. Another couple, Mark and Angie Rumschik, have been so incredibly generous with helping me drum up support and get connected with ministry minded Christians in the area, despite still raising support themselves. Everyone's generosity and hospitality has been so overwhelming, and God has been using my team to pour his riches over me. 

It was after those three weeks that I found out about DJ's job. As I was praying about it I really felt like God was telling me, "I needed DJ and Annie to get you to Indy, but I don't need them to keep you there." And ever since then, He has been showing me more reasons why that is true.

One of the connections Mark and Angie gave me was John, the pastor of a church in the area called Waterline Church. We all met for lunch one day and John and his wife, Danielle were so encouraging and supportive of my ministry. John offered to interview me at the service that Sunday and challenge the church to come around me and help me get connected and supported. I was once again blown away by the goodness and provision of the Lord. 
That Sunday at church, after John interviewed me, a number of people introduced themselves to me and a few filled out cards saying they were interested in hearing more about my ministry. 

Now that I'm back in Indy, after a quick visit back to PA, I've gotten together with a couple girls from Waterline who have helped me get connected, and after church last night got to meet a ton of new people. The community at Waterline is awesome, and people have welcomed me in immediately.

God has provided so many blessings for me already and I've only been here a week so far. I cannot wait to see what He has in store for me over the next few months! I think the biggest lessons I have learned through the process of moving and settling in here is that God can most definitely be trusted, He has an amazing plan for each one of his children, and even if it feels like it in the moment, He will never forget about you. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Moving to Indianapolis, Part 1: Solo Roadtrip.

After much prayer and discussion with my support coach and Indianapolis city director, Ken, I have decided to move to Indy to finish raising my support. Raising support had become very slow in PA, so Ken and I thought it would be a great idea to try raising support in a new area, where I will also be with my Student Venture team for encouragement and support.

I am actually sitting in my friend Karen's apartment right now, having driven from Pennsylvania on Wednesday. The fact that the move I have been working towards for ten months has actually become a reality hasn't really sunk in yet. Leaving home felt somewhat like another trip for work and to visit friends. Although leaving this face is never easy...



Since before this trip the longest I had driven alone was around 3-4 hours, my parents were very relieved that my friend, Lynzi, who attends Ohio State University graciously allowed me to stay with her Wednesday night, a little over half way through my drive. It definitely made the trip more enjoyable, knowing I wasn't going to be driving 12 hours straight.

Yesterday, I said goodbye to Ohio, or rather, "you're welcome," and was on my way to Indiana!


I arrived at my friend Karen's apartment at around 3:30 yesterday, where she welcomed me with a big hug and a trip to get Froyo to celebrate.


It's surreal that I'm here, because I've been waiting for this for so long. And also because before I can really relish in the fact that I'm officially in Indiana, I have to run 13.1 miles along with thousands of other crazy people tomorrow.

But I am here, and thanks to the Lord made it without any trouble. I have no clue what the Lord has in store for me over the next couple months, but I am very excited to find out His great plans for this new phase of my life. He is good and no matter what happens, I can trust that He will take care of me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Prep Time

A couple months ago, I wrote about trusting God in times of waiting. As I have looked over the past ten months of raising financial support, I have a new perspective and appreciation for this time of waiting. I realized how much God has used those months to prepare me for my future in Indianapolis working with high school students. 
When we are in periods of waiting, I think one thing is important: diligence. Not necessarily diligence in working to get what we want, but diligence in spending time with the Lord so we can learn all that He wants to bestow on us during this time. If we accept this time and lean on the Lord, He will teach us and grow us so much in times of waiting. 
Francesca Battistelli has a song called “Time In Between,” and the chorus is amazing:

“It’s the time in between
That I fall down to my knees
Waiting on what You’ll bring
And the things that I can’t see
I know my song’s incomplete
Still I’ll sing in the time in between.”
Isn’t it so true that times of waiting bring us to our knees? We have no where else to go, but to our knees. There’s nothing we can do to make this time go any faster, all we can do is trust and seek the Lord. A friend recently shared a quote with me about waiting, “sometimes God is waiting to see if I’m waiting.” Sometimes all God wants is to know that we are waiting on Him, so if we give into the wait, and fall into the Lord’s expectant arms, we will be closer to what we want than if we fight against it.
If you think about it, nothing worthwhile in life comes without a wait. Marriage comes after engagement. Babies come after pregnancy. Healing comes after sickness. Employment comes after schooling. Even most food needs some sort of prep time. 
God has taught me so much over the past ten months about myself, the kind of woman I want to be and desires I have for my future have become clearer. Some have become stronger, some have become less significant. I think this period of waiting and preparation has made me into a very different person than I was just last year, and because of that I am thankful that the Lord has brought me to this time, and in His timing, He will bring me through it. 
Through verses like Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps,” we know that our timing is not always the Lords. Therefore, I have learned that if my period of waiting is not over when I think it should be, God must have more prep time for me. And why would I want to rush ahead when God doesn’t think I’m ready? 
 
After all, no one wants to eat chicken that hasn’t been properly prepared. Only when God has adequately prepared us, should we venture out of the desert and into our own Promised Land.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bruno Mars and Jesus

On any given day, it is extremely difficult to turn the radio onto a popular music channel and not be bombarded with messages about sex, drugs, alcohol and everything in between. It’s easy to get sucked into the catchy rhythms and beats, only to realize that those are the songs with the worst lyrics. 
I have recently begun contemplating ways of connecting pop music to Jesus for today’s teenagers. Most teenagers' first instinct when getting in the car with their friends is not to pop in a Chris Tomlin CD. They want to listen to the popular music that their friends are listening to. Even Christian teenagers. Music has always been a huge part of life and culture, but unfortunately now most of the popular songs are complete trash. 
When listening to the radio, I started trying to find glimpses of Jesus in the songs. This was quite the difficult task, and it wasn’t until I heard Bruno Mars' “Grenade” that I finally heard something that could possibly be connected with Jesus. Here are some of the lyrics:
Gave you all I had
And you tossed it in the trash
You tossed it in the trash, you did
To give me all your love is all I ever asked,
Cause what you don’t understand is
I’d catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya
I’d jump in front of a train for ya
You know I’d do anything for ya
Oh, oh
I would go through all this pain,
Take a bullet straight through my brain,
Yes, I would die for ya baby;
But you won’t do the same.
The love described in this song, is what most teenage girls would dream of receiving from a guy. Someone who loves them so much they would be willing to die for them. Sound familiar? What these girls (and guys) don’t realize is that there is Someone who has already done that. Someone who, like the horrific scenes expressed in this song, went through an unimaginable amount of pain and finally death, because He loved you and me so incredibly much it was worth it to Him. “And being found in appearance as a man, [Jesus] humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8
In response to the last line “But you won’t do the same,” some girls may be aghast that any woman would not return that intense love from a man who would be willing to give his life for the sake of hers. But don’t we do that everyday to Jesus? Non-Christians and Christians alike do this by constantly choosing the desires of the flesh instead of being willing to give up those shallow and wasteful things for the abundant life Jesus promises. For more information see Galatians 5.
In the second verse, Bruno Mars talks about going through even more pain only to realize the girl never loved him the way she claimed. To which he replies, “I’d still catch a grenade for you...” Can you imagine the love someone has for another, where even if that love is not reciprocated, that person would still die for the one he or she loves? The normal reaction would probably be resentment, bitterness, anger or hatred. But no, Bruno Mars still states that he would willingly catch a grenade for the woman he loves no matter if that love is reciprocated or not. Sounds familiar once more doesn’t it? Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus didn’t wait for us to love him back before He died. While we still didn’t love him, like the woman in the song, He willingly gave his life for us. 
I know it’s a bit of a stretch to think of comparing Bruno Mars to Jesus. But maybe in a world full of songs about one night stands, getting drunk, and equating the “teenage dream” to wearing skin tight jeans and “going all the way” with your boyfriend, Bruno Mars gives us a little gem that can be used to metaphorically illustrate the love of Jesus. As long as we remember the many differences between the two. One of which being that Bruno Mars simply sings about the prospect of giving his life for the one he loves, Jesus actually did it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why?

Why do I want to help reach high school students?
 
This is why...

video

Do you want to help?

Monday, January 31, 2011

I'm waiting...

Everyone’s lived through times of waiting. Maybe it’s unemployment, waiting for the right job to become available. Maybe it’s singleness, waiting for Mr. Right or Mrs. Right to come along. Maybe it’s an illness, waiting to finally be cured. Maybe it’s trying to have a baby, waiting with anticipation to become a parent. Life would be so much better if we could just get to that place we desire: employed, married, well, a parent etc. The question is, what are we supposed to do while we’re waiting for that thing we so desperately desire? 
I’m currently in my own period of waiting. I am raising financial support for my ministry with Student Venture. I am waiting to be fully funded so I can move to Indianapolis, Indiana and begin serving high school students by telling them about the love of Jesus Christ and how they can have personal relationship with Him. 
 
I’ve been struggling with figuring out how to live here, in Pennsylvania, while looking forward to moving to Indiana and beginning my “new life” there. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy living in PA, but I know my passion is to be in Indy, telling high school students how much Jesus loves them. But if I focus too much on my life in Indy, I will be forgetting to live my life today. God has a plan and a purpose for my life in PA right up until the day He sends me to Indy. Just like He has a plan and a purpose for the life of someone unemployed, or single, or sick, or whatever waiting period He has them in. 
That purpose may have several different layers to it, but I think the main purpose is trust. Can we trust the Lord when life doesn’t make sense? Can we trust the Lord that His timing is best for our lives even when we desire something else right now? Can we trust that although we may not understand what is going on, that the God of the universe can see so much more than we can? Can we trust that even if His purpose is that we never receive the thing we desire in the way of our choosing, that maybe He has something better in store for us that we can’t even imagine right now? Can we trust that what we are going through is bigger than us?
Psalm 37:3-7 states:

“Trust in the Lord, and do good.
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 
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.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord and wait
patiently for him.”
One thing we can lean on is the goodness, faithfulness, kindness and love of Jesus Christ. He would never do something that isn’t good, or He wouldn’t be Jesus Christ. He has a plan for our time of waiting. If we focus too much on what’s to come, we will miss out on the blessings He has for us today. I have definitely found myself focused on life in Indy and waiting to move for life to "begin." So I think it's time for a change, time to live my life for today. Here. Right now. I want to see what God has in store for me in PA. I don't want to go another day without receiving all the blessings He has planned for me. I want to glorify Jesus even in times when I’m not where I necessarily want to be at this moment. 
Jeremiah 29:11 is a great comfort in times of unknown and uncertainty: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I have also found incredible encouragement and conviction in the worship song, “While I’m Waiting,” by John Waller. The lyrics remind me that no matter what time of life I’m in, I should always be worshipping the Lord. 
I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait
I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting
I will serve you
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I remember...






When I think of heading back to high school to work with students, I’m reminded of the memories and experiences I had during those years. I remember the first day of high school, knowing my big brother was there to look out for me made the day much less scary. I remember the feeling of pride after scoring a goal during a field hockey game. I remember my heart rate elevating as I smiled from the top of a cheerleading stunt, praying that the girls holding me in the air would remember to catch me after letting go. I remember laughter and friends and acting out Hamlet during english class. I remember the boy my best friend and I both had a crush on all throughout high school and the silly way we would talk about him to each other. I remember the fashion and the hairstyles, and the exact table my friends and I sat at during lunch senior year. I remember thinking high school was everything, and college kids were “SO old!” I remember the heartbreak of a crush not reciprocated, or the awkward feeling of being the one who wasn’t interested. 
  
I remember the day I found out my parents were getting a divorce. I remember feeling like my world was crashing around me and there was nothing I could do about it. I remember my senior year when my best friend went to the hospital with me to visit my dying grandfather. Sitting in the parking lot at school afterwards realizing that could very well be the last time I saw him alive. I remember when that became true. I remember the feeling that no one understood what I was going through and anger that everyone else’s lives were going on like nothing was wrong, like they didn’t feel the incredible pain and agony over the fact that my beloved grandfather had gone from this world. I remember praying fervently that he was with Jesus, and that I’d see him again one day. I remember crying to Jesus that He was going to have to get me through that time because I didn’t know how my life could go on. I remember my last day of high school, realizing that it was finally over, torn between excitement for the adventures of college, and the fear of everything I’d ever known suddenly coming to an end. 
I loved high school. There were many difficult and hard days, but all in all I loved it. I had amazing friends, encouraging teachers and a God that was always there for me. I lived through some tough days, but those amazing friends were there to give me a shoulder to lean on. Those encouraging teachers were there to guide me through and point me to the Lord. And my God was there to tell me He understood that it was difficult, but promised I would never face a single day alone. 
As I think of heading back to high school with Student Venture, my desire more than anything is that the students I serve would encounter the God I serve. And in turn experience a Love like no other. That their days in high school would be filled with fun, friends and laughter, and maybe even Hamlet, but more importantly a personal, true relationship with a Savior who loves them more than they could ever know.  A Savior who covers all their fears, hurts, loneliness, insecurities, mess-ups, failed tests, and bad days with His own blood, shed on the cross for their sins, so that they can know Him personally. A Savior who cares about their day, accepts them just the way they are, and wants to be a part of their lives.
“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 
John 3:16

With my best friends at Senior Prom.