Thursday, June 30, 2011

HeartSong Green Team

For the past couple of weeks I have been working on being intentional about getting to know each member of my team. Summer tour has begun to open my eyes to how each person is different, everyone’s crazy quirks and what they care about most. All 8 of us are so different, and there are definitely times when we butt heads, but at the end of the day we all know that we can lean on each other because we have the most important thing in common.

Tommy is my older brother. Since the beginning he has made it a point to reach out and get to know me and figure out what makes me tick. He sees the needs of each of the team members and is able to adjust his leadership style depending on which team member he is serving. When he talks to me, he isn’t afraid to tell me what I need to hear, and when I need something from him he never hesitates to do what is best for me.

Will is like a brother, too, but more of the annoying type at times. :) He is so outgoing and always full of joy, and he cares so much about the people in his life. He loves teasing me and sometimes does things to intentionally annoy me, but I am beginning to understand he does it because he loves me. A couple of times now I have teased him back or teamed-up with him to play a joke on someone else, and I believe that in this way he knows that I love him, too.

Dane is finally at home in his camp environment. Once we hit Lake Ann soil, out came Dane’s dart gun and soccer ball and camp-counselor personality. At the Fresh Start Skit Night, we performed a Facebook skit and he went jumping around the campfire shouting “BE MY FRIEND! BE MY FRIEND!” and ever since, counselors have asked him to do that every week. Whenever I’m feeling unsure or uncomfortable, I know I can go hang out with Dane and take my cue from him and his crazy camp personality.

Grant has taken the longest for me to get to know, but I think I’m starting to see his goofy side. He, Dane, Jo and I were eating pizza by Lake Michigan and he committed to eating an entire pizza. Once he was done, it was his idea to try to stand on his head, and ONLY his head, for a split second while I tried to take a picture of it. After about 5 tries, we gave up and he tried about a dozen other jumping/leaping/diving shots (I discovered I’m a bad action photographer). I am so glad that Grant is becoming such a wonderful worship leader and friend to me.

Dexter is so committed to these kids and to his time with God. Any time we try to get people together before or after the service, he’s usually the one missing because he is talking to a camper or group of campers. He will wait and eat lunch an hour later than the rest of us if it means he can eat with a camper that he met earlier that day in chapel. Other times I will see him with his Bible open or his 3x5 cards with Psalm 103 written on them, memorizing and meditating on Scripture. He has inspired me in my walk with God and my relationship with the campers I meet.

Joellyn and I are the ones who butt heads. We are SO similar in personality, but have different interests, and when both of our OCD natures have different ideas of perfect, we meet at a wall. But we have had a chance to talk it out, and I am discovering that a huge part of working as a team is compromise and sacrifice. A silly example is hand motions for one of the junior songs; we took a couple of motions from each of our childhoods and put them together for a new set of motions that we teach the campers together every week. Joellyn has also become my accountability partner on this team. She sees things about me that I don’t see and is not afraid to call me out when she sees something I’m doing wrong. It has taken some time, but I am so thankful to be friends with Joellyn and to have a chance to travel with her this summer.

Rachel is so easy to connect with. From the beginning, she has reached out to every person on our team, seeking to connect on an emotional level. She’s not afraid of being rejected if that means she tried, but thankfully the two of us both sought to connect with each other. We have talked so much all year and this summer, and for some reason our two very different personalities have connected and we have become wonderful friends. I am just as thankful for her as I am of Joellyn, and I know that God did not make a mistake when He put the three of us girls on this team together.

I have been reminding myself since the beginning of the summer that God has me here for a reason. While struggling to find my place and sometimes wishing I could be a counselor again, I have kept asking God to show me why I’m here. But you know, I would not trade this for anything else in the world. I have known from the beginning that I am supposed to be on HeartSong, and even if there’s no defining moment like there was on Fall Break Tour, I am so content to be in the middle of God’s will this summer. I know that I am supposed to be here, member number 8 on HeartSong Green Team.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Worship as Sacrifice

I wonder how many worship leaders or band members have thought about this.  When we lead worship, we are not entitled to our own personal moments of intimacy with God.  As leaders, it is our responsibility to draw our congregation into worship.  We are guiding these people into worship, and if we are so caught up in our own personal worship while we're leading, we can leave others behind and they can lose that intimacy.  Leading worship is a sacrifice; sometimes we need to give up our own intense worship of our Creator in order to draw others into that same intimacy that we seek.

I know, kind of a deep way to start a blog post.  But that has been on my mind for the past week, and it's something I've had a chance to talk to Rachel and Joellyn about.  Last week was Lake Ann's first week of campers, and HeartSong began our 6-chapels-a-day routine, leading morning and evening worship for three different age groups.  After a couple of days, we felt worn down spiritually, and we talked about how strange it is to lead worship when we feel so tired.  We don't want to be fake and raise our hands if we aren't moved to, but at the same time if we don't look engaged in worship, we can't draw others into worship either.  But it is possible to give glory to God even if we don't necessarily mean what we sing with all of our hearts in that moment.  If we are guiding these campers into intimate worship, we are still bringing glory to God.

On a personal level, I have found that when I play the piano with HeartSong or any church band, I can't worship in the same way I do when I'm in the congregation.  Either I am thinking too hard about the music to think about the words, or I'm thinking too hard about the words and completely botch the music.  Helping to lead worship by playing piano is always a sacrifice for me; my heart is never fully engaged in the way I'd like it to be.  But this is what it means to be a servant, isn't it?  I am giving up something I want for the sake of someone else getting what they need.  By sacrificing my personal worship through music, I am able to give these campers and counselors a chance for personal, intimate worship.  At Camp Carl I learned about having a servant's heart by washing dishes instead of having fun at the Rodeo, giving up something I wanted so someone else (the kitchen crew) could get something they needed.  I am discovering that I can fully apply what I learned there here at Lake Ann, but instead of a fun Rodeo, I'm giving up personal worship so that all these spiritually hungry campers and counselors can be filled to overflowing through their awe and worship of the Savior.

Some might be shocked after reading this.  "What??  Does this mean Deanna isn't worshipping God any more??"  Of course this isn't true.  But I am worshipping Him in a different way, a way I have always wanted to worship Him but have never developed a habit to: through daily time with God in his word.  I have never been consistently intentional about opening my Bible and soaking in His word on a daily basis.  In giving up my personal worship through song, I need to be filled by God in another way, through personal worship in His word.  As I've been reading through the Gospels in the mornings, I have begun to find spiritual strength to carry me through the day.  When I am filled up by Him, He is able to use me to pour out His love on others.

Being a member of HeartSong is difficult.  I am having to give up a lot of what I am used to, a lot of what makes me comfortable.  I was reminded the other day of my post from last September called "Stretching," and as much as I've grown in the past year, I am still not done being stretched and molded by Him.  I am praying that I can face this new phase of stretching with joy, knowing that God will use it to form me into the person He wants me to be. Step 1: offering my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, because this is my spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1).

Monday, June 13, 2011

A New Role in a New Place

Today at Camp Carl, 4 cabins of day campers arrived early in the morning for their first day of camp, and the counselors were getting ready for their first week of campers for the summer.  Today at Lake Ann Camp, the same thing was happening for 4th-12th graders and many of the counselors, who were all so excited for the first day of campers.  This morning, instead of being excited, I was so stressed about everything that needed to get done before our first chapel in the evening that I lost sight of that excitement.  Gradually I was fueled by my new counselor friends' excitement, and Dane's excitement as well, and soon I was relaxing into an incredibly content and joyful attitude toward my role here at Lake Ann Camp as a member of HeartSong.

For the last week, we have been to two churches on the weekends and spent the middle of the week with the Lake Ann staff during their training.  Our first host home of the summer was a darling older couple who had refurbished their house to include a guest apartment, as well as a rrrrrrreally tall bed that came up to my belly button!  At that church we played for the graduation Sunday service, and afterwards I called my sis, who was graduating, and we all screamed "CONGRATULATIONS!" to her over the phone.  Fast forward to this past weekend, where our host home was a young Coast Guard family with two adorable kids, 5 and 3 years old.  We had a delicious, healthy dinner and then went to town for pie for dessert.  Sunday morning we played a full program, probably our best performance yet!  I am so excited that we are gelling better and better musically.

But the place where God has moved in my life this week wasn't in the churches, but at Lake Ann during staff training.  We arrived right in the middle of their 2 weeks of training and sat in on some of the sessions, but we felt a little excluded at times because a lot of the training didn't apply to us. We had a few chances to rehearse, but we were all staying in different cabins mixed in with the rest of the counselors and after a few days I felt like I hadn't been with my team in a long time.  I was really enjoying getting to know some of the counselors: Becca, who was born without a left hand, Aubrey, who had just got back from a trip to India, and Bethany, the program director for the junior camp, among many, many others.  I jumped right in to all the camp counselor craziness really fast, but it was so strange that a lot of what director Ken was telling them didn't apply to me, even though I really wanted it to.  I was stuck in a weird place between camp counselor and band member and struggled a ton with figuring out my role. Should I dive into the counselor thing and leave my HS team in the dust? Should I distance myself from the Lake Ann staff and cling to my team? Obviously I can't do either.  But I didn't know where I fell in between the two. Dane and I talked for awhile about this because we were both feeling the same way.

I tried and tried to figure out where I stood in this new place of Lake Ann, but as is typical, the harder I tried to figure out my life for myself the more things fell apart.  I sing about and hear about the brokenness of humanity and know that I am a sinner, but I am beginning to understand how to live in that brokenness.  When I was in high school, my small group leader Monica took a small, beautiful statue of a flower girl, broke it into pieces, and glued it back together.  The broken and cracked porcelain  doll was very ugly compared to the beautiful whole doll that it had once been, and I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to be the broken doll.  But Monica set up the doll on a large flashlight, and because the doll was hollow, a beautiful glow shone out in all the cracks, and the broken doll was more glorious than the whole doll could have been.  This past week this object lesson has been resonating with me.  I am a broken spirit, a sinner who has been restored, and God's power is made perfect in my weaknesses; through my cracks God's glory shines through.

I am in a place right now that is so different from anything I did last summer and also so different from anything I did with HeartSong during the school year.  I still can't figure out what I'm supposed to do or what line of thinking I should cultivate.  That is my weakness, and I need God to step in the crack and shine through my brokenness.  This has been my prayer for the past few days or so; that I can serve wholeheartedly every person I meet, HS member or counselor or support staff person, and that God's awesome, beautiful glory will shine brightly through in my weaknesses all summer long.

SOLI DEO GLORIA!!  Let me have none of the glory for myself.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Something Old, Something New

No, I'm not getting married!!  But this was the best way I think I can describe the past few days.  Wednesday was our first day back to CU after a month off (or for me 5 days off after May term), and we have spent almost every minute since then either rehearsing or sleeping!  I am exhausted, but wanted to get some thoughts down before I drift off to sleep.

I've been on HeartSong for about 9 months now, but I still feel so new to this. I still haven't experienced the best part about being on a team: touring for an entire summer.  I have been looking forward to this since about a month into joining HeartSong.  I remember every Sunday being so sad that tour was over and having to wait another 3 weeks or so before we would tour again as a team.  And now it's finally here!  It's finally time to spend 10 weeks with my team: no school, no other obligations, nothing but this community and this ministry.  I am SO EXCITED!

The past few days we've set up our equipment and torn it down, played a ton of familiar songs, packed up the trailer, and ridden in the van together as a team.  All familiar things.  But, we have also learned how to set up trussing for our projectors and screen, learned and created several new songs, and found out more about each other by sharing our life maps.  All different things.  Something old, something new.

As Rachel would say, I feel like I'm standing on the edge of the earth.  I'm looking out to a horizon of completely new and unknown things, and even though I am so excited, I am also incredibly nervous.  I remember this same feeling when I started my job at Camp Carl three years ago; even though I had been at camp for 9 years before that, I didn't know what working there was like, and I was so nervous and uneasy with the unknown.  In the same way, even though I've been touring for 9 months, I don't know what summer tour is like, what this new camp is going to be like, and I'm nervous.

Isaiah 6:8 says, "I heard the voice of the Lord say, 'Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?'  And I said, "Here am I!  Send me!"  That is part 1 of my prayer for the summer.  I want to say to God daily, "Here am I!  Send me!" No matter how nervous I am, I want to be sent and used by Him this summer. Jesus was so nervous, even in agony, when He made the ultimate sacrifice for me.  How could I ever let nervousness hold me back??  I want God to send me and use me in crazy ways this summer so that His name will be glorified!

Part 2 of my prayer for the summer comes from Galatians 5:13, which says, "You, my brothers, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love."  I want to serve my teammates, the counselors at Lake Ann, the campers there, the host families we stay with, and the churches we play in... I want to serve them all in love.  Like everyone, I have a habit of indulging the sinful nature, a habit that manifests itself in different ways in everyone.  My prayer is that I will avoid falling into that habit and that I will actively serve the people around me in love.  In love; not in selfishness or obligation or in hopes to get something out of it, but in love.

Something old, familiar, comforting: God's grace in my life.  Something new, unfamiliar, daunting: traveling all summer.  God's grace I know will continue to pull me through, and I will have the honor of loving others, just a little bit like He loves me, in a new place, maybe in a different way.  I am nervous, but even more excited about what He will do and what I will discover about Him in the next 10 weeks.

Until the next post: Soli Deo Gloria!!