Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Freeze Out!!

Yes, yes, it's been a few days since the weekend.  School tends to take priority over my blog.  But here I am now, ready to share about the best HeartSong weekend yet: FREEZE OUT at Lake Ann Baptist Camp!!!

Last weekend was the second of Lake Ann's Freeze Out retreats, and at each of these weekends a HeartSong team goes out to provide the music.  Several youth groups in the Traverse City, MI area come out for a weekend of snow tubing, skiing, devotion and hang-out time, and growing closer to God.  But before the weekend started, I had almost no idea what to expect, let alone what God would teach me.

I spent the better part of last week fighting a horrible cold that might have been mistaken for the flu.  I missed some classes, which hurt me because I had to miss those same classes on Friday, our travel day.  I got behind in practicing and schoolwork, but thankfully many of my professors were merciful and ordered me to get some sleep.  But who could sleep with so much work to make up and rehearsal to go to?  Thursday night my voice was almost completely gone as I learned and rehearsed a skit for the weekend with Will, Tommy, and Brandon, HS Generation's director, and later rehearsed music and packed up the trailer for the weekend.  By the time I got back to the dorm and finished packing, I only had about 5 hours left to sleep before we had to leave early Friday morning.

Friday did not seem to go well for me from the beginning.  Ten hours in a van isn't very helpful to a sick person, although I did get plenty of time to sleep. But I kept thinking about the schoolwork that was due Monday that I hadn't finished yet, some of which I had brought along, so I never really relaxed the whole drive.  When we got there, my head was stuffy, my hair was a mess, and we found out that there was not much time to do anything but set up, eat a fast dinner, and do a quick sound check before the first session started. When we got to the chapel building, though, I got excited for a minute as I took everything in; it was a huge room with a tall cathedral ceiling and windows for walls so we could see all the beautiful snow on the trees outside, and sitting in a corner on the left side of the stage was a full-size Baldwin grand piano (which was in tune!).  I imagined what it would be like to spend a summer here, playing the piano with green trees everywhere around me and the sun shining in, and I became really excited for the ministry we would have there all summer!  But the excitement wore off a little bit when our first session didn't go as well as we would have liked and I got more tired and weary from thoughts of school.  That night when I got back to the cabin, I decided that I would spend all day Saturday not thinking about anything school-related, focusing completely on my ministry and waiting until Sunday to think about it all again.

Saturday morning before the first session we ate breakfast, had about an hour to rehearse, and then mingled with the kids as they came in.  Looking around, I saw a girl sitting by herself.  She seemed really shy, but as I walked up to her a huge grin spread across her face.  I asked her about her life, what year she was in school, what her interests were, and if she would go on the tubing hill with me later (because I was "too nervous to go without someone else").  I asked her to save me a seat for when I was done playing and sat by her for the entire rest of the session.

After a hectic lunch, we divided the kids into two teams for a big group game, and somehow God worked it out that this same girl was at the front of the line of my group!  We laughed at each other as we tried to climb a huge snow drift and play Steal the Bacon.  During Red Rover/Rock-Paper-Scissors, Dane and I snapped into camp counselor mode as we led our team to victory! You know, some people become great camp counselors over time, and others have it in their blood; Dane has camp counselor in his blood, for sure.  The two of us talked about how excited we were for summer.  Anyway, after the game I went back to this girl's cabin so she could change into some warmer socks.  Suddenly, she became the most popular girl in her youth group as all the girls surrounded us and asked me questions about HeartSong (because apparently being in the band or knowing someone in the band makes you awesome).  I convinced all of them to come tubing with us, insisting that this girl would be my partner.  We huffed and puffed up the hill together and got stuck on the way down, but we had a fun time anyway.  On my way back to the cabin to take a shower, I asked if I could have dinner with her and her youth group and made her promise to save me a seat.  The huge grin came back as she walked away to her cabin.

At dinner, this girl's entire youth group went crazy because a member of HeartSong was eating with them.  They were all so excited to tell me stories about their youth group and jokes that they had, and I got in on the laughter and made my own jokes which were consistently followed by explosions of laughter from everyone (even though most of them were like my dad's jokes and not really that funny).  Later a bunch of them asked for pictures and autographs, which I gave with a huge smile and a Bible verse.  After dinner was the HeartSong concert, which went incredibly well.  The skit was awesome, even though I was so nervous I forgot to turn on my microphone! And all the songs went really well; the kids were very receptive, and several of them accepted Christ.

Freeze Out changed the lives of many of these kids, but it changed my point of view as well, later that night.  When we got back, Rachel found a note in her luggage that her fiance Taylor had left for her.  She told me a little bit of what it said; it was adorable and romantic.  And suddenly I realized that through the entire day, I hadn't once thought about anyone from back home the way I'm sure Rachel was thinking about Taylor the whole day.  I spent the entire day focused only on ministry; not on demands at school, not on social demands to get a boyfriend, not on any part of the mess of emotions I had left behind.  I decided that it was better for me to be single, because if I were in a serious relationship it wouldn't be right for me to stop thinking about him to do ministry; we ought to be doing ministry together.  Unless somehow God intervenes, I think that as long as I'm on HeartSong, I will be single and focus on His ministry for me to high school girls, showing them that it is God who should write their love story and we don't need to listen to pressures from the world.

Utopia ended on Sunday at noon when we finished packing up the trailer and hit the road again.  I finished almost all my school stuff on the way home, which was a blessing, but it was not fun to pull back in to Cedarville to our roll-in song, "The Final Countdown," and go back to my messy room with little time to unpack and sleep before my 8:00 class the next day.  I began to feel like Will's character in our skit, who barricaded himself in a cabin refusing to leave Lake Ann, wanting it to never end.  But I held on to all the memories as HeartSong fans friended me on Facebook and I told my roommate about the weekend.  I am so excited for summer to come, to spend time at that Baldwin grand for morning devotions, to focus all my thoughts and energy on ministry.

From the beginning of this semester, my prayer has been that God would show me His calling for my life for when I'm done with school.  Over the weekend, He did call me, but not to think about the future. He showed me His calling for my life right now: to be single and to minister in HeartSong and love on the people I meet.  I know I'm in the right major; after a few lessons teaching my new student, I know that I can teach piano and that I love it, and I could start teaching right out of college if that's what God calls me to.  But right now, God has called me to be in HeartSong and to glorify His name with my gifts.  And I LOVE this!  This is God's divine plan for me, and I'm so blessed and so thankful to know it and be able to live it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Like the Breath Before the Dive

Let me share with you an inspiring video.  Don't worry about watching the whole thing unless you want to; it's almost 20 minutes long.  Just fast-forward to 13:05 and listen to the song he plays.

Ah, isn't it so beautiful.  Soon after watching this video for the first time I developed a crush on this song, which is Chopin's Prelude in E minor.  I received the music just today to find that it is only a page long and technically simple, so I decided to learn it all in one day.  Of course, there are many things I still need to do with this song musically.  But every time I play it, I know when I'm playing it wrong, because it's not beautiful the way I want it to be.  With this song, it's not about technique; it's about beauty. And when I play it right, like earlier today when I played the last three chords and the last chord came out just right, I knew that I wasn't playing music; I was making music, making beauty.  It was the most wonderful I've felt in a long time.  I felt so close to my Creator, so self-aware that this is what He has in mind for me.  I brought glory to His Name, even with no one in the room but the two of us.  It was a good way to re-focus.

Today was the first day of classes for the semester.  Or, for me, the first day of class.  Tomorrow is when most of my classes start, so I took today to get organized and begin playing piano again, on a GRAND piano!  And right now, it's about time for me to go to bed before the craziness of five classes hits me tomorrow.  For some reason a line from a Falling Up song ended up in my head when I thought about today: "It's like the breath before the dive..."  But of course, with a band like Falling Up, you never can tell what the song is actually about, so I did what you should never do with the Bible but I believe is perfectly acceptable with a Falling Up song: took the line out of context. Today was like the breath before the dive: preparing for what you know will be intense, something you're nervous for, but you know it must be done, and you're excited for the opportunity to do it, and when it's over that intensity and nervousness won't matter anymore, because you've made it through, and God was with you the whole way.  I prepared my room and my study space, my fingers, my mind, and my heart for what this new semester has for me, however intense, and I know that God will be with me every step.

In Psalm 16:11, David praises God in saying: "You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand."  God has an amazing path laid out for me, and when I am focused on Him, it will all fall into place better than I could have placed it myself.  I am prepared for what tomorrow brings, but not because of how I prepared, but because of God's power in my life to bring me through and glorify His name through it all.  I am so excited to see where God takes me this semester and how He will continue to use me to glorify Him!  I hope that you will stay tuned so that you can worship God for what He is doing right along with me!