I’m excited to announce that I have SURPASSED my individual minimum fundraising goal of $4000 and have about $5,500 now. This is thanks to YOU ALL. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support.
If you haven’t made a gift yet and were wanting to, by all means, don’t let this hold you back! I can never really fundraise too much. You can still support my year of service monetarily if you would like to. It takes about $25,000 to house a YAV for a year, so the more I can make to offset the costs, the more sustainable the program can be for years to come.
ON ANOTHER NOTE
Preparing for my YAV year has been emotionally up and down. You can read some about that in my last post. I had been growing very anxious about the upcoming year… moving away from friends and family with so many unknowns. Well, good news! In the past three weeks, I’ve started to gain a sense of peace about it all. How did this happen??
To begin with, I took a much-needed break from social media. I had grown frustrated with myself for spending so much time on my phone, mindlessly scrolling, playing the comparison game, and not being truly present. The final straw was seeing something upsetting on my instagram feed. Right then, I knew I needed a break. I unfollowed people and pages that wouldn’t be good for my heart, and then I just shut it all off- deleted instagram, snapchat, Facebook. At first, I had FOMO (fear of missing out). What I found was that I had been missing out on what was right in front of my face, which is so much bigger than not seeing an update on social media. People, it is so nice to not be on social media. I went cool places and simply enjoyed being there. I didn’t worry about sending snapchats to keep up my streaks, or taking just the right picture for instagram. I texted friends to ask how they are doing– more personal and real than finding out through social media. I didn’t read political commentary, didn’t compare myself to unrealistic images, didn’t feel jealous about how many likes others were getting on their pictures (–or what have you. I could go on and on about how we only put our front-stage behavior or edited pictures on social media and how damaging not being real with one another can be). It was so refreshing. I stopped checking my phone so much. I didn’t need to ‘keep up’ with anything. I highly recommend it! In the past few days, I’ve gotten back on social media a few times and it’s just kind of lost its appeal to me. I’ll keep my accounts, but I don’t think I’ll ever be on them with the same fervor as before. I like feeling more present in my life and with the people I’m around. I think taking a social media break opened the door for more meaningful contact with people and helped me make the most out of the last few weeks…
‘Twas through this open door that I entered an intensive summer class to get my Orff Level 1 certification (It’s a pedagogy of teaching general music) which was a class from 8-4pm every day with 28 other people I didn’t know when I started the class. I was really anxious about it, knowing it would probably be very draining for me as an introvert and just worried about the amount of work it would be and being surrounded by so many people I didn’t know. What happened was we all ended up being fast friends. All of us were different ages- ranging from 21 to about 70 all from different backgrounds with different personalities. It was a diverse group of people who I felt like I had a connection with each one. After only two weeks, it was so hard to say goodbye! This experience taught me that I can make a community wherever I go, and it’s not so hard. It will happen for me in Denver. I won’t be without support.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NRSV)
11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
I’ve also spent a couple of weeks in Montreat in the last month. First for the Music and Worship Conference and then for the Youth Conference with the high school youth group I lead. For those of you that don’t know, Montreat is like the Presbyterian capital. People from all over the US make the ‘pilgrimage’ to Montreat for conferences every year. It’s a beautiful little town outside of Black Mountain, NC which we are lucky to live so close to. Many consider Montreat to be a ‘thin place’. This past week at the youth conference was somewhat challenging (any time you get a group of 11 high schoolers together… issues are bound to arise) but it was also just what my soul needed. Once again, I was shown that community can be formed in no time (shout out to small group #11!!) The theme of the conference this year was fitting: “A Missing Peace”. At the beginning of our week, we talked about what our ‘false peaces’ might be. I decided one of mine might be proximity… as in, being physically near family and friends. Other false peaces for me are material items and friends on social media. In my YAV year, I’ll have to face not having these false peaces.
Peace is not the absence of pain and sadness. (In the same vein, an absence of peace should not be interpreted as an absence of God). Peace is when you look at the raw, uncomfortable, hard truths and can still have a sense of well-being despite it all. Peace is rooted in our conviction that God’s love never fails and conquers all. Finally, Peace is contagious.
Yes, I’m sad to leave my family and friends and I’m nervous about the challenges that lay ahead. These past few weeks with many ‘see you laters’ and lasts have been very bittersweet, but there’s something inside me that knows it will be ok.
My beloved church family 💜 I was commissioned to my YAV year today. I’d like to leave you all with some words from Saint Francis of Assisi, a benediction that all YAVs will hear when they are commissioned:
May God bless us with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that we may live from deep within our hearts.
May God bless us with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of God’s creations
So that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless us with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless us with just enough foolishness
To believe that we can make a difference in the world,
So that we can do what others claim cannot be done:
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and all our neighbors who are poor.