Category Archives: College ministry

Language Barriers, Life Lessons, Letting Go

Image by Shades of Blue, Roxanne Ready. Used by Creative Commons license.

Susie Dillon took a tray of cookies out of the oven and acknowledged that her husband was right. Jed was more than a little interested in Clarissa Dye.
And Paul was right about something else. The wariness in Clarissa’s eyes came about from something dark and troublesome.
“She’ s hurting, she doesn’t trust and she’s not sure about sticking around here. You can tell that,” she said.
“I imagine she’s a lot like the barn kittens. Scared to death to get close to anyone,” Paul agreed, his blue eyes sad and sure. Susie remembered those eyes back when they were bloodshot and unfocused morning after morning. When they were hiding truths. When they were bitter and angry, and she felt alone against the world with the gift of a baby boy and a ranch to take care of.
But she hadn’t been alone. God was always there.
“Don’t you think maybe God sent her to us so we can show her love?” Susie couldn’t help but wonder.
“I know God’s in our driver’s seat, Susie, but if it comes down to this girl or Jed and Mack, we can’t let her hurt them.” Letting Go by Mary Beth Lee, July 2012

God’s in our driver’s seat. Another way to say let go and let God. It’s a lesson it took me years to learn. When I stumbled upon my small group, I wasn’t letting God control much of anything. I wanted something to do and the class happened to meet across from the youth building where I’d dropped DD off. Before too long the small group was working through one bible study after another that challenged me to let go and let God. I resisted. Back then I was focused on work more than anything. I let the yearbook and newspaper run my life. My family came second, and they knew it. I fit God in–sometimes–when I could. Or when I needed Him. Lucky for me God’s there for us even when we’re not there for Him.
In 2008 I shattered my ankle in a clutzy accident. I ended up stuck in Rome a week before yearbook camp was supposed to start. I was stuck in an Italian public hospital room with five Italian women, none of whom spoke much English. My only Italian: ciao, limoncello and gelato. My prayers went something like this. “Dear God, please let me go home now. I need to get back for work. I don’t want to be stuck here. I’m scared of this hospital!”
God didn’t answer my prayers. He put two amazing people in place to help me, though. One, a grandfather of a student on the trip with me, happened to be a minister also. He stayed back with me because he said no way was I staying in Italy alone. The other, Teresa, worked for the tour company I was traveling with. She came to see me every day to translate and to talk to me. No one asked her to be there for me, but when she heard about the American teacher stuck in the hospital, she felt horrible for me and wanted me to have fond memories of her country.
Without those two, I’m not sure how I would’ve made it. Because not only did God not answer my prayers, He let me stew in that hospital bed for seven days in the midst of a horrible heat wave. The airlines wouldn’t let me travel because the break was so severe they were afraid I’d die. I didn’t care. I had a yearbook camp to get ready for, and I needed to get home. My idea of letting go and letting God was telling Him what I needed and expecting that to happen.
The Italians thought I was hilarious with my schedule book and highlighter and iPod Touch and the hours I spent on the phone coordinating camp.
Eight days and one surgery later, I made it back to the States. I said I understood let go and let God, but I was fooling myself.
Before school started my principal told me to take all the time I needed to get back into the swing of things. I had over 100 sick days. Still, though, I arranged my PT to take place before school and had DH wheel me to my room every day. I didn’t miss. I worked hard to get back to normal because I needed to be at deadlines after school. I graduated from wheel chair to walker to limping along the hallways. It didn’t take long for the job to come first again in my life.
The next year I got swine flu at the end of October and was sick until New Year’s. I missed six days of school instead of the two-three weeks I should’ve. Once again, the job controlled everything.
Somewhere in there though, something changed. I quit missing small group for work, DH and I got involved in the college ministry at church and I saw how shallow a life led by work could be. I saw the truth of how I hurt my family and myself. My small group stood by me as I lived through those changes. By the end of that school year, I was able to say the words “Let Go and Let God,” and mean them. Life’s a lot easier when you live by that principle.
I still find myself switching into the job first, family second, God third lifestyle every once in a while. I have to work to NOT go there. I’m not sure why because life is much better when I let God stay in the driver’s seat. He’s a much better driver than I am! ###
Find out more about my books on my Amazon author’s page.
Letting Go, available now for kindle and in print.

Cover art by Mary Beth Lee.

 

 

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Back to the Basics

Tough.
Last night in small group God smacked me upside the head. Not sure that was the intent, but it happened. We’re doing the John Ortberg study: God is Closer Than You Think.
I’m having this tough year, not just at school but outside the classroom as well. Spiritually, physically, emotionally. It’s like I’m in battle. Nothing like when I broke my ankle where there was so much evidence of the issue. Nothing like when I had that newspaper year where the only person who wanted to work was the editor. It’s more a constant pinging. A constant Really? You’ve got to be kidding me! No freaking way kind of year.
Anyway, we’re sitting there watching and reading and it’s like God is yelling: Look at David. Look at Solomon. Look at Habakkuk. Look at Job. Look at Mary. Look at Paul.
You just THINK you’ve got it tough. They know tough. And what did they do? They turned to Me.They said I will praise your name on high. I will lift my voice to You. I will turn to YOU even when I feel alone, when I don’t feel Your presence. I will faithfully believe You hold me in Your hands because YOU are God and I am human and I can’t do this alone, but You’ve got this.
I started this year determined to embrace those words. And then all this stuff happened. Stuff that had me all confused and researching and asking questions and listening to sermons, not for their messages but for what I might or might not hear. I totally forgot the whole point of the Word.
At first I prayed. Then I prayed for me. Then I quit praying.
And in the last six weeks as I grew more and more frustrated, I didn’t turn to God, I turned to myself. BAD IDEA!
Last night, though, as we shared the verses found in the second chapter of the Ortberg study, I realized what I’d done. When we got in the car to leave I told Brian it was like God spoke in those moments. He said HAVE FAITH. I realized then that giving everything to Him is just that. EVERYTHING. I’ve got to give it to Him and trust Him and obey Him and believe He’s got this. It’s not a 50-50 split. It’s an all or nothing.
So here I am. Giving it ALL to God. My job, my writing, my health, the spiritual battle I’ve been dealing with, the ministry I’m involved with. ALL.
God help me to remember You’ve got this. You are in control. And even when it feels like I’m alone, I’m not. You are worthy. You are mighty. You are God.

Love Wins

I was afraid when I went to church today that the service would be a huge 9-11 memorial.

Instead it was a service on balance and how we need balance in our finances to have balance in life, which was something I needed to refocus on.

At the end, though, our music minister did an amazing job with a one song reflection on the anniversary of the tragedy of 9-11. Or at least, that’s what I thought it was going to be.

It wasn’t.

It was a  beautiful anthem about how we’re resilient and how we won’t bow to hate and how LOVE WINS.

I’m embracing that message and, hopefully, doing my part to share it. Because in the end, when you get to the core of the hurt and pain and anger and hate that’s out there in the world, LOVE does win, if you let it.

 

Living on a Prayer

We’re studying the Crave lesson for tomorrow and talking about how often we limit God. Try to make Him fit in the box of who we are and what we want.

The lesson talks about how simple a concept faith is: Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

On paper faith is easy. It simply is. I believe absolutely that Jesus is my savior, that he is God, that he is of God.

But then I go and try to make God fit what I want. I’ve always said some people confuse God with Santa. Our study says we confuse God with a genie. It’s true. At least it’s true for me.

I struggle with “letting go and letting God.” I want to put my will first instead of God’s.

I want a new house and I want it in a certain neighborhood, so God should want that for me. I want a new car, and God should want that for me. I want a publishing contract, I want, I want, I want….

Yeah. That’s not what faith is about.

Bigger faith isn’t going to make that happen. Changing my prayers won’t make those things happen.

There’s nothing wrong with hoping for those things. There’s nothing wrong with working toward those things. But with faith, I need to pray NOT MY WILL GOD, but yours.

Faith doesn’t mean life won’t be hard. It doesn’t mean utopia. It doesn’t mean people won’t die, crimes won’t be committed, terrorists won’t strike.

Faith is a belief in the promises of God. In His grace. In Jesus. Faith is the cross.

Louie Giglio’s Hope is one of the best sermons I’ve heard about this subject. If you’re struggling or hurting or angry, if you’re facing tough times, if you can’t quite make yourself let go and let God, you should watch. (Actually everyone should watch.) The link takes you to part one. From there watch the other parts. It’s worth the time.

I’m going to work on trusting God. On believing He’s in control, on stepping out of the driver’s seat.

Crave meets at 10 a.m. in the college annex at the back of the Colonial Church building in Wichita Falls behind the mall. Coffee, hot chocolate, the best scones ever, fruit and fun conversation can be found. If you’re between the age of 18-26, we’d love to see you! Our current study is Faith, Hope and Luck by Andy Stanley.

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Honor and Lies and Prodigal by Elizabeth Lee (that’s me) are available on Amazon Kindle and smashwords.com or wherever ebooks are sold. Like paper instead? Honor and Lies is available on Amazon in paperback. If you have questions about getting involved in college age ministry or just want to talk about faith or faith struggles, feel free to comment here on the blog or you can email me at marybeth   aT    marybethlee   DoT   com.

 

Hope

College ministry kicked off today with a lesson in faith and how important it is to keep your eyes on Christ. How if your faith is a result of what’s happening, it can’t stand strong. It reminded me of the lessons we’ve done in small group. This is part one of that lesson. If you’re looking for something or someone to help you through the tough times, this is a story for you:

Service

Almost two years ago our minister challenged us to “get out of the stands” at church. DH and I had already decided we were going to pay it forward, volunteer to help out with the college ministry at our church after DD made strong bonds with a mentor family in Huntsville where she was attending school.
When we started helping with college ministry, we never dreamed what it would come to mean to us. It’s truly changed out lives.
Tonight’s at our small group, we talked about service and how important it is to a strong walk with God. It’s funny because a handful of weeks ago, the topic was front and center in the Crave ministry.
When I was a young 20-something, I volunteered to help out with 3-yr-old children’s choir. Not because I felt led by God to do so, not because I had any special talent for working with toddlers, but because I knew service was important to being part of the church.
Two weeks in and the 3-yr-old kids and I were miserable. I dreaded Wednesday nights. I hated the box sitting in my living room filled with torture instruments also known as sticks (some sadistic person thought it was a good idea to have pairs of colored sticks for kids to knock together to make “music”), tapes of hymns and coloring pages.
Still, I pasted a smile on my face showed up for nine months of Wednesdays, sat in the floor with the heathen children and served my church and God.
At the end of that duty, when they asked me if I wanted to come back the next year, I couldn’t get rid of that box fast enough.
I have the utmost respect for people who work with little kids, but I have no business in the same room with more than three of them. They smell my fear, and they turn into little monsters.
There are lots of ways to practice service in the church, but the first thing you should do is figure out what your gifts are and serve there.
The service we talked about today crossed over into another service that should be easier, but often isn’t.
Those times when you have the opportunity to help people around you. Often, it’s easier to just ignore those needs.
DH is totally gifted in this area. On the spiritual gift inventory, I score a 0 here. To show Christ to the unchurched this service is absolutely essential. It’s outside of my comfort zone, but I need to work on practicing service toward others. I know in the long run doing so will help me grow as a Christian and hopefully share God’s love.

Sunday DH and I are leading Crave (Colonial College-Aged Ministry). The lesson is on conflict and how to solve it biblically. I think I’ll be learning a lot!