Sunday, April 27, 2008

Getting involved

Yesterday was a very long day for me. I (who say that 7:30 am is the middle of the night), arose at this ungodly hour and drove 30 minutes south to my church, the ROC. I have recently been convicted to start serving my church and my community, so I decided to take part in the nursing home ministry we do on Saturday mornings. Apparently they have a fellowship breakfast first, and then break into groups to go out and do the different ministries for the day. Our group, the nursing home ministry, had about 10 people, and we all got into an old van ( it made me remember church trips from when I was younger) with no rear view mirror and drove about 10 minutes to the nursing home. We were broken up into smaller groups. I was placed with two girls, Kari and Terry, and Kari was obviously the one most comfortable with doing the talking. I would have been fine just chatting with the old folks, but she was very much into making sure that they were saved..good thing she was there, as I'm not so great at witnessing like that. I am more relationship focused in my witnessing, you know, let people see that my life is different. Kari is a full-time ministry student, and she doesn't really beat around the bush. She wants these precious elderly people to have assurance of salvation, and I admire her boldness. It was very sad being there. Some of the people were mentally incapacitated, others physically ill, and many were dejected. One lady told us all her family was dead, and she was just sitting in the hallway looking miserable. I was so glad to be able to give her a big hug, and she did say the sinners' prayer with Kari. One woman told Terry to get the heck (edited) away from her as soon as she mentioned Jesus' name. We were also able to talk to a 67 year old man named Jim, and he was very cute. He kissed our hands as we were leaving. Most of the women that were part of the ministry team are residents at one of the two discipleship homes, which means that their service in outreach is obligatory. One girl looked like she was about 16, and was heavily pregnant (no wedding ring). I asked her the sex of the baby (boy), and if this was her first child. It is her third child, and she is only 22 years old. The discipleship homes take in addicts and homeless and give them a hope and a future in Jesus. Many of the women are recovering, so it is awesome to see how the Lord is changing their lives. Before ministry school, Kari the awesome girl was a resident in the discipleship homes too. She was addicted to heroin for four years, and now she wants to work full time for God, maybe being a social worker that can act on behalf of women in the discipleship homes. I am excited to get to know these women better, maybe become friends, certainly I will be able to pray for them, and the people I encounter during outreach. After we returned from the nursing home Kari took me under her wing and asked if I would like to stay and attend the kid' church, which started at one thirty. She and I went and grabbed Subway, and then came back to the ROC parking lot and waited for the buses to start rolling in. About fifteen buses had been dispatched when we left for the nursing home. The buses go out all over Richmond and pick up kids from the worst neighborhoods in the city. The volunteers knock on doors and collect all the kids who want to come to the ROC for a couple hours, and then they bring them and have a service where they learn about Jesus, and have a lot of fun doing it. I can't go out on the buses, because I haven't had a background check done, but I was able to sit on the bleachers and watch kids' church, and those kids were so cute. They had a dance-off before the service started, and let me tell you those kids had some MOVES! I'll just say that there was maybe one white kid in at least five hundred kids. Alot of them were doing some really cool breakdancing moves. The only thing I would break is my neck. I cried when they all sang "open the eyes of my heart". My heart breaks for these kids, who live daily with shootings and poverty and some with parents who aren't really there for them. It's great to see them be able to be silly and just be kids, learning about God's love. Many kids gave their hearts to Jesus at the end of the service. They stood up and said the prayer together (more tears over here). The kids got bussed back home after the service, and then the buses were on their way to pick up adults and homeless for the regular service. When I got home at about eight, I could barely keep my eyes open! I am excited to take part in the ministry that is changing our city one life at a time!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Make new friends..

When I moved to Richmond from Northern Virginia I left behind two very close friends, Amanda and Nicole. I met them in 2002 when we were all working in the same restaurant. Amanda is a sassy, full-figured black lady who has been one of my most dear friends to date. Nicole is a little harder to love at first..she is very intelligent, which is great, but she is also very vocal about it. "I've got a Georgetown education, for God's sake!" She is a little prickly until you get to know her, but she has been there for me many times and she is a very loyal and loving person. It was hard to move away from them..but I needed to live for God and they were not exactly on board when I made that decision. Neither one of them knows God as their savior.They didn't understand why I was becoming "boring", or why I had to move to do it. I just didn't feel like I would have support trying to be a different person around those who only knew me one way..the girl who smoked weed and got drunk and went to clubs five out of seven nights a week. The one who stayed with a boyfriend who obviously didn't have her best interests at heart. When I moved here, my friend Julie was living a Christian life and was able to be my friend and also understand what and WHO I was striving for. I MISS my girls from Northern Virginia, and we still have fun together when we see each other, but it's definitely different between us. I mean what do you say when your friend tells you you should not stay single but go out and sleep with someone for fun instead of sitting around being lonely? And how do you tell her you think it's wrong that she's sleeping with a married man..and her ex at the same time? I feel like I know I am a different person when I am with them, but that I was the same as them at one time so it is hard for me tell them they are going about life the wrong way. Amanda actually didn't come down for my birthday last year because got in a fight. She told me I was turning into a "country bumpkin", and I ended up hanging up on her. We didn't speak for months, but we do love each other so we are okay now..tentative with each other, but okay. She actually told me on the phone a couple months ago that if we were to meet now, we probably wouldn't be friends but since we already are she guesses she's stuck with me. Granted, I had just told her I was going vegan, but still. (by the way, that vegan thing lasted about two weeks. I have, however, gone organic when possible and I haven't eaten beef..I am excited about being healthy!) So, I have two different sets of friends..before, and after. How do I bring them together? I would love for them to know Jesus..but I don't feel up to the job.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

So called out

My church meets on Saturday nights..we are not Seventh-Day adventists or anything I think they do it to give people a positive place to go on a weekend evening. On my way to church I asked God to do something in me tonight. I always want to be moved when I am at church and I usually am but I think most of the time I feel like he's not really speaking directly to me. Not so tonight.

Pastor G spoke tonight about people who truly desire to know God. They seek him out faithfully in prayer, they study His Word in earnest, and they aren't out blatantly sinning. They are able to resist the devil in most situations, and they would just generally call themselves a "good Christian." My hand is in the air right now, is yours? However, they are MISERABLE. I don't think I'm miserable ALL the time, but a good portion of my life is spent feeling dissatisfied and let down. I feel like my soul was just so exposed tonight. I LOVE the Lord so much, so why am I not full of joy all the time? Why is my happiness so dependant on my circumstances?

Pastor G was reading from the book of Isaiah and he told me why I am miserable. It is because I am searching for God whole-heartedly, but although I am obedient in certain areas, GOOD areas, there are GREAT opportunities and callings that I am missing out on.I am not clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, or binding up the broken-hearted. My relationship with God has been focused inward. I need to be taking care of others for my joy in Christ to be made full. I have to stop being lazy and selfish, and maybe a little self-righteous, because I am not fulfilling my potential ministering to only myself and my coworkers when the opportunity presents itself. Time to get out of my comfort zone.

Where's the soap?

I admit it. I used to have a terrible, terrible mouth. God has lovingly helped me out with this problem, and I am so grateful. I am also uber-sensitive to swearing now, or vulgarity. I work in a restaurant. The waitstaff curse. The managers curse. I almost wish I didn't understand Spanish, 'cause the cooks cuss too. I dearly love the people I work with, but I am offended like ninety percent of the time I am around them. When did it become acceptable for people to use vulgarity in everyday conversation..Thanks, pass the peas, you ^*%%&! I mean, it's excessive and unnecessary, especially in a workplace. I know that I don't work in an office, but some semblance of professionalism would be greatly appreciated.

My coworkers do try to watch their mouths around me, which I really do appreciate. Usually they'll say something bad and then say they're sorry and then restate themselves using toned-down darns and freakins. I do appreciate the effort and all I can do is laugh because at least they are trying. I know that it isn't okay for the language to be so bad in a work situation, but I don't really have anyone to complain to.. I feel like I am one of only a handful who would even consider this a problem, and therefore would be looked upon as a real weirdo or perhaps a kindergartener...any suggestions?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My first blog

Well..where to start? I am nearing thirty and I feel as if my life isn't at the point that it should be. I fell into the restaurant business when I was 17, and besides my stint in daycare, have been there ever since. The trouble with waitressing is that it is good, easy money, however, you don't truly have room for advancement unless you plan to go into management (no, thanks, I'd like my nights and weekends off!). I grapple with the idea of going back to school...I am also single, which wasn't where I thought I would be at this age. It isn't a bad thing, as I am waiting on the one that God has for me now instead of wasting time with the wrong man as I have done in the past. Doing things God's way is such a continual growing and learning process..I feel as if I know so much more than I used to about him, and on the other hand, I have so much more to learn!

I have been living in Richmond since September of 2005. When I decided to follow God, I realized that I needed to move away from everyone I knew in order to be successful in my decision. I was able to transfer my job, and God showed himself throughout the process, making it easier for me to go, since I knew it was HIS idea! I had one strong Christian friend here, and I lived with her and her husband for a couple months until I decided that I was here to stay and I went ahead and got my own apartment. I quit smoking, which took awhile, quit talking to my ex( that took awhile too), and God has helped me shed many other lovely traits I'd picked up along the way (i.e. really big potty mouth). I tried a few different churches before I found the one I currently attend, which is called The Richmond Outreach Center. It is very different than any church I've ever been to..people from every background imaginable who are out in the community reaching people for Jesus. It has a bus ministry which picks up inner city kids and their parents, we bus in the homeless for church, and we have over a hundred different ministries.

My two best friends here in Richmond are Julie and Catherine. They are both married and they don't work, which MUST BE NICE. We have girls' lunch every Friday, although Julie is a royal pain in the butt cause she is just so darn picky, even worse now that she's PREGNANT which is weird because I swear she was just telling me how much she detested children.. Catherine, on the other hand, had been trying to get pregnant the past two and a half years with no success, and Julie didn't want to have a baby before Catherine because she knew Catherine would be upset. She would have been happy for Julie, of course, but very sad that it wasn't her that was pregnant. Julie as just recently made peace with the fact that she can't live a fabulous, martini-filled life (the Christian version, of course)forever, and maybe she shouldn't wait too much longer to have kids, but she just asked God to allow Catherine to go first. Julie wasn't actively trying to get pregnant, but she wasn't preventing it, either.So, finally Catherine gave us the good news..She was four weeks pregnant! We cried, we went was great! Catherine has wanted a baby so badly, and her dream is finally coming true! The bigger surprise, as we found out a few weeks later, is that Julie is due 3 weeks later! So, I am a single waitress and both of my friends are about to become parents! Yay!