Friday, December 14, 2007


In decorating my apartment for Christmas this year, I realized that I have a very small supply of Christmas decorations. This is okay, because I have a small apartment, and so what decorations I do have can adequately fill up the space. Plus we got a sweet live tree, and even though it is sparsely decorated, it is lovely. :)
However, there is one Christmas decoration that I greatly desire to have: a Nativity set. And not just any nativity set, but this one:
Willow Tree Nativity Collection
The Willow Tree Nativity set, designed by Susan Lordi. I have given other Willow Tree figurines to my mom for various holidays, and I really really like them. This Nativity is just BEAUTIFUL, and I love it. The only problem is that the combined price for the entire set is about $290.00!!!!! Honestly.... That's ridiculous, I know. But I love it. Fortunately, you can buy it in pieces. The plan is to buy one section at a time and eventually get the whole set. (Even better would be to get other people to buy it for me!) I'm anticipating that it will take me 5 or 6 years.

Until then, though, I still really feel like I need a Nativity set for my home (wherever that may be in the next 5 or 6 years). So as an alternative to the complete Willow Tree set, last night I purchased this Nativity Set, much more affordable at $19.99:

Isn't it cute??? AND, if you push the star, Junior the Asparagus sings "O Little Town of Bethlehem." SO CUTE!!!

Well... That's all really. I just wanted to share my excitement with you all. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Wherever you are, be all there

Youth and college ministry is such a roller coaster ride! I struggle with knowing what to do, knowing if I'm having an impact, feeling unappreciated, being frustrated with a lack of involvement, being annoyed at the immaturity of the students, perplexity at the students' desire to just stay where they are instead of growing/changing, and so many other things. I feel like I don't do my job well enough, and that if I were only more dedicated and more disciplined, I would be seeing so many more results. I know these feelings are not limited to people in ministry, but I think that in such an objective field without easily measurable standards, we have to create the standards ourselves and we always set the bar too high.
I've recently come to the realization that youth/college ministry is not where I am "called." I love working in the church, I love the idea of connecting people to God in new and exciting ways, teaching them, and sharing with them the wonderful things that have happened in my life. But there are too many frustrations that I face working with students. I compare myself with my coworkers and see so many places that I fall short. I like the church, but I don't think this is what I'm best at. It would be easy to get caught up in thinking that I only have a year and a half left with the CCO, and excited about my future possibilities.
But I've come to another realization recently. In being unsatisfied with where I am and looking to the future, I am not honoring God where I am. I talk a lot with my students about the future. One of the main concerns with Christian college students is knowing where they are "called" -- the neverending search for that place that God will bless them. We all experience that at some point in our lives. The Christian lingo tells us that we have to find that perfect place that God is calling us to; we have to listen for His voice to tell us where he is leading us. Unfortunately it's rarely that easy. And I think that if finding God's call for our lives is the main driving force of our beings... we are never going to find it. We will always wonder if this is "it," if this job or this place is the best that God has planned for us. We will always be looking for the next best thing even while we try to rely on God's providence.
To truly find that call, though, I think that we need to stop looking for the best perfect thing. God will bless us and use us wherever we are. I am feeling discouraged and unappreciated with my job NOT because this is not where God has called me. I am feeling discouraged and unappreciated because I am not doing MY best to honor him. If we are living to the best of our ability, honoring God in all that we do wherever we are, he will bless us wherever we are. Cheesy and cliche that it is, that old phrase was right -- Wherever you are, be all there.
For now, I am here, in Pittsburgh doing youth and college ministry, and from this point forward I will BE here with my whole heart. No more trying to figure out what I'm "really" called to do. God wants to bless this ministry through me NOW. He's not the kind of God who holds promises of the good life over our heads like a carrot in front of a rabbit. If we bless him, wherever we are, he will bless us as well.