Active and rest don’t end up in the same sentence very often. They’re actually complete opposites of each other. So, it just makes sense that it’s incredibly difficult to get a person (cough cough… me) who never stops moving to stop, rest, and reflect. Frankly, I could come up with a million and one excuses as to why I can’t and don’t do just that. It’s hard for restless people and restful people alike to stop and look behind you on the good and not so good of the season, semester, or year behind you. But, as the semester was coming to a close, it was obvious that I needed to slow down my bounding steps to reflect.
Getting to the point, this semester looked and felt extremely different from the outside before even entering it. I decided to not play lacrosse at school this year. No longer would my exercise, meal schedule, or weekends be planned around the sport and the team. To put it briefly, to not go into the school year with the sport that had been a constant in my life since the seventh grade felt uncomfortable. And it was exactly that and a little more…
I applied for a job at New Moon café in the fall, which was a decision solely based on the first few weeks of classes where free time was a thing (also I had been overhearing conversations about the horrors of paying off student loans later in life. I put two and two together and the answer was ‘get a job’). During the first couple weeks of being employed I was being trained to make food, clean the restaurant, and learn how to smile and respond with, “doin’ well, thanks” what felt like 300 times a day. My co-workers, especially the ones who were training me, displayed incredible amounts of grace and patience as I would screw up orders, ask obvious questions over and over, and take an hour plus to do things that should only take 30 minutes. I learned what truly nourishing your body throughout the day means and how to manage my time. I learned that asking for help is just downright crucial and that there is no better way of learning how to keep up during the lunch rush than to be directly thrown into the chaos; all hands on deck can do miraculous things.
I have heard a little bit about 150 Cherry Street’s (the address of New Moon) story since working there. The mission behind the café started with a small group of believers who wanted to serve the city, particularly the homeless community. It has since evolved into much, much more. Now, the place also serves ministries all over the city by being a resource and space to collaborate, pray (in a prayer room in the basement), and serve in a plethora of different ways.
It blows me away that by working behind the line at the café I am able to be a piece of the story. Amongst other things, it’s God’s way of telling me that there are more believers in Burlington than my puny mind had once been convinced of and that His will is being done.
Younglife in the Chittendon County area has gotten its feet off the ground exponentially. The Loescher home has been a place of serious value when it comes to serving us leaders & staff to 1. Break bread together 2. Get in the Word 3. Pray. Also a lot of laughter came out of watching little Johnny run in and out of the living room during our training with Glenn. In September we attended leadership weekend at Saranac Village, NY and saw what the YL ministry looks like in the greater Northeast region and heard about obstacles we have to look forward to. We’ve been able to divide and conquer as a team, equipped with very different but special gifts. Since we all belong to various churches in the area, opportunities have presented themselves to inform many people about the heart of Younglife, extending the invitation to participate with us in entering lives of teenagers at Burlington High. We are planning to step foot in the high school for the first time in January to start contact work. We have a space reserved at Saranac Village the week of July 5th-11th for kids to go to camp.
The community of RUF at UVM has been a lifeline in helping to soften the blow of weird transitions all over the place. John and Megan have hosted weekly bible studies both in the comfort of their home and on UVM’s campus, thrown holiday parties that include sweet pumpkin carving and gingerbread house making competitions, and have served delicious food to serve students and neighbors at student dinners. They’ve taken students on hikes and bike rides along Lake Champlain. The ministry is growing in numbers and it’s been humbling to take part in the fun and see the fruits of their labor.
The groups above have labels attached to them. But woven within these “groups” of varying communities are friends who have taught me so much about myself and the world that we are living in. I have a friend who asks me the hard questions that whisper, “what do you want, Ali? Really…”, yet listens to my own thoughts. She rejoices with me when rejoicing is necessary. We talk about the future and goals we both have while going on runs all over the city.
And friends who have demonstrated the sweetness of freedom at our fingertips. A freedom that invites us in to dance, sing, and laugh; at the same time showing us that all of life’s roads are paved in this manner. And that everyone is deserving of such joy that comes from being set free. Everyone meaning e-v-r-y-o-n-e. I’m grateful for these friends who understand that life is meant to be laughed at sometimes. Because let’s face it, we all have our panties in a bunch. (& these wonderful humans I’ve met are mostly the artist-type; singers, painters, musicians. Which is just way cool & I believe worth mentioning).
And friends who actually understand the meaning of rest and encourage me to dabble in such a thought. I’m seriously grateful for the friends who have seen me wearing myself way too thin beyond manageable measures. People have popped up in the most unstructured ways to point me back to the only One who will feed my hunger; the Bread of Life. One of the more important things that we need to hear often is that Jesus takes care of those who the Father gives him. He secures us. I hear this anthem when someone gives me a little wink or nudge that signals, “you’re OK, Ali”. Tim Keller says it best preaching, “we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope — at the very same time.” I am grateful for those brave souls who I see live this out and tell me to rest in just that.
My cup runneth over for the happenings of this past semester. The unfamiliarity of new faces and places excites me and leaves me with nothing else to do but to sing loud praises. & man, it has been hard. Very hard. But praise God for the community that surrounds me in such unfamiliarity & lifts me out of the doubt and fear that so quickly grips my heart. With these things and so much more to rejoice about, far better things lie ahead of us; more hustle, laughter, unexpectedness, grace, and learning. And that’s freakin exciting.
3 semesters down, 5 more to go folks. At least that’s the plan…..
Lake Champlain sunset November 10, 2014
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” James 1:17