My First Week on Staff

It’s been eight days since I arrived in Arlington, TX, to join staff at The Prayer Room Missions Base. Since then, I’ve done a lot of moving in (I bought a desk, dresser, bookcase, and nightstand for $200 using the Offer Up app!) and have been getting settled into my new role at The Prayer Room.

I’m the Internship Coordinator for our Immerse internship, and that role will expand to cover our other internships and schools as the Forerunner Equipping Center (the school branch of The Prayer Room) grows. Immerse is a part-time 14-week internship for young adults (we have interns age 17 through mid 30s) designed to help them grow in a life of prayer, go deep in study of the Word, and get connected in like-minded community. I serve by keeping track of attendance, assignments, tuition, teaching schedules, etc, and I’m the point person for any questions or situations that arise. I’m also teaching several class sessions – TPR Base Distinctives, Night & Day Prayer as a Vocation, Cultivating a Life of Prayer, and Intro to the Book of Revelation.

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Immerse day 1!

Immerse day one on January 9!

My weeks are pretty full, mostly with the prayer room. I have 30 hours a week in the prayer room divided into 2 hour sets; 5 of those sets (10 hours) are spent leading devotional worship sets on keys. Many of those sets are also spent ushering and/or section leading – welcoming visitors and making sure all the worship transitions happen smoothly, etc. I’m at The Prayer Room six days a week; I have Mondays off.

I also have 15 hours a week devoted to my admin responsibilities and serving around the base in various ways. Those hours are pretty flexible. This week, my service hours have consisted of serving the internship both in classes and in admin, leading extra worship sets, ushering extra sets, and meetings.

I’m also attending Forerunner Fellowship, a local church where many people from The Prayer Room attend and serve. Last week our Sunday service became a 50 minute prayer meeting for God to pour out His Spirit on our congregation. It’s an honour to be running with such hungry compatriots!

It’s so wonderful to be back with friends that I’ve grown to love so much over the past year and a half! Last night my house hosted a cereal themed game night in honour of my moving in; everyone brought their favourite cereal to share, then I killed everyone at Pit (which NEVER happens!) and my fellow new full-time missionary Chris killed the rest of us at Farkle, by approximately a bajillion points (except for Josh, who was right on his tail). The night before I took the interns out for milkshakes, then met up with a whole crew of TPR ladies at Cheesecake Factory to celebrate the one and only Mykah’s birthday. I know most of you don’t know any of these people, but I want you to know that I know them, and love them dearly, and we have a lot of fun together.

So many exciting things are happening and about to happen at The Prayer Room. It finally feels like a season of mostly good news, which is quite a change around here! Good stories are coming; stay tuned!

TPR Staff Retreat 2016

Guess what – I spent last week in Texas! I flew out to be part of The Prayer Room’s annual staff retreat, and it was a very welcome time of refreshing and reenvisioning.

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On Tuesday, I spent most of the day in the prayer room helping with fill-ins. I love that I always end up worship leading whenever I visit.

On Friday we drove out to a huge retreat house on a farm. We spent the weekend playing games (Farkle, Pit, and Silent Football are always huge hits!), eating food, and generally enjoying each other’s company as a family. We also did some teambuilding games (which may or may not have drawn out the spirit of competition moreso than cooperation!), toasted marshmallows around a bonfire while retelling funny stories from the early days of the ministry that have become community classics, and met in the living room every morning and evening for prayer, discussion, vision casting, and individual encouragement.

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Teambuilding. We were connected in a long line with our ankles tied together.

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Twinning with my dear friend and fellow IHOPU grad Rhoda!

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The dice game Farkle was a favourite pastime. I’m in the plaid on the right behind Brad. In my first game I didn’t get ANY points, and in my second game I got over 8000.

The cavalry is here!

While we were gone, IHOPU sent one of its best student worship teams to run our prayer room and our Saturday night service. God bless these guys for keeping the fire on the altar and serving with such joy and faithfulness!

I am so, so blessed to be a part of this family. I love that God has allowed me to visit five times since I finished my externship there last year. Next time I’m back in January, it will be to STAY!! God has entrusted The Prayer Room with a powerful mandate to build night and day prayer and worship until His return, and I’m so excited and honoured that He has invited me to join them.

This is a crew of people who passionately and sacrificially follow the call of God and pour out everything for His glory. They honour Him and each other so well, even in the midst of deep struggles that would tear many other ministries apart. The humility and zeal for truth I’ve seen in this community provokes me frquently to step up my game and lean on Jesus more and let Him transform me into His likeness. I’m eternally grateful that in calling me to leave all I have known in California, my Father has given me these people as family.

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My beloved TPR staff family!

The Power of Coffee and Awkward Conversations

coffee and awkward

I really didn’t want to talk to her about this.

I had already made small efforts to smooth things over, but I still hadn’t just sat down, looked her in the eye, and said what I needed to say.

We used to be quite close, but enough had changed that I didn’t know what to expect. The truth is, I was afraid. I was afraid of awkwardness, of saying it wrong, of not hearing the response I wanted to hear… of being hurt again.

It took strong prompting from people whose wisdom I trust to get me to ask her to coffee. We went to a local cafe, I bought her a latte, we made very friendly small talk that felt like old times… then I took a deep breath and carefully broached the subject.

Over the next hour, we talked, listened, shared our hearts, laughed, affirmed and encouraged each other, and hugged. By the time I walked out of that coffee shop, my heart felt a thousand times lighter. I drove away enthusiastically gushing to God, “Yes!! This is what it’s supposed to be like! Thank You for unity, humility, and RECONCILIATION in Your people!”

This will probably shock people who grew up with me, but I can honestly say that at this point in my life, I am a huge fan of awkward conversations. Preferably over coffee.*

I think this is because I hate division. I really, really, really hate division. I hate when people who ought to be showing the love of Christ to each other can’t bring themselves to just lay the awkwardness on the table and deal with it. I hate it when someone I really do like and respect can’t bring him- or herself to make things right with me. Some things are better left unsaid, but many times, unspoken words fester like a wound that won’t heal.

I’ve actually been on the receiving end of these “awkward conversations” toward reconciliation more often than I have initiated them, and I can tell you, I’ve always walked away with more respect for the other person and feeling like a wall had been broken down. Every time, when the conversation is approached with love, tenderness, honesty, and humility, I know God is rejoicing with us.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God… So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Matthew 5:9, 23-24

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.”
Colossians 3:12-15

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Romans 12:18

We’re a family. We’re one body in Christ. We have no right to let unspoken words build up walls between us. Love and unity is our mandate, and I’m determined to fight for it – Every. Single. Time.

So if you need to initiate an “awkward conversation” with someone, here’s my advice:

  1. PRAY. Get God’s heart for the situation. Ask Him for love to abound (Philippians 1:9).
  2. If you can without breaking anyone’s confidence, talk to someone you know will give you wise counsel and pray with you before the conversation takes place.
  3. If at all possible, ask if you can take them out for coffee (or tea, or fro-yo, or whatever). Avoid the “business meeting” feeling. Let them know that you value spending time with them.
  4. Don’t launch right in. Chat, ask questions, show interest in their life and heart outside of this one issue. This is part of loving and honouring them well.
  5. Share your feelings as simply, honestly, and tenderly as possible. Ask forgiveness in any area you can think of.
  6. Embrace the awkwardness. Laugh about it! They’re probably as uncomfortable as you are. Acknowledging it robs it of its power.
  7. Ask questions and listen. Let them say whatever they want. The goal is mutual understanding for the sake of unity.
  8. Encourage the other person! Tell them what you love about them. Affirm what you see God doing in their life.
  9. Don’t be paranoid about saying everything exactly right. The point is to expose what’s been hiding. It’s okay if it’s a messy process.
  10. GO LOW. Humility is your best friend. Humility will win the war when every other weapon fails.

It’s amazing how much healing can come from a cup of coffee and open communication soaked in love, humility, and honour.

So go forth and be boldly awkward for the sake of unity, my friends!

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*I love the cultural phenomenon that is “going out for coffee” together with someone, but I’m actually not a huge coffee person, so if you ask me out for coffee, I’m probably going to just drink tea.

Farewell Camp, Hello Summer!

My mountains as seen from my hometown

My mountains as seen from my hometown

Hellllloooooo, Rancho Cucamonga! I got home from camp just over a week ago on Friday, June 7. Since then, I have:

  • Watched almost a full season of Heroes on Netflix.
  • Deep cleaned my room and given away bag after bag of clothes and fabric. (I LOVE simplifying my life!! Occasionally I would go on rants about materialism, and then start throwing things out of my closet. It was magnificently freeing.)
  • Crafted more handmade vintage-y greeting cards which will very soon be selling on my new etsy store! (Official announcement pending)
  • Babysat twice and have set up dates for more.
  • Officially made Refuge House of Prayer my home church!

I did not get the “ideal” summer job I had been hoping for. I was a little bummed, but I have concluded that God was protecting me from an overcrowded schedule. My first priority this summer needs to be my online IHOPU classes. As it is, I have arrangements for babysitting over the summer for a number of families. I will be very busy the next two months, that’s for sure.

As excited as I am to be home for a few months, it’s also rather difficult to leave my camp. Summer camp 2010 was my first full-time job. I’ve spent large portions of the past three years there, totaling about 16 months. I’ve learned and grown so much. From general leadership skills like initiative to flexibility to guest service skills like saying “yes” (whenever feasible) to outdoor science school skills. I am now the master of dozens of different ways to get and keep attention, teach about the environment, survive (theoretically) in the wilderness, keep kids busy kids with a game, etc. Throw me on the trail with 20-30 5th graders, and I will be completely in my element.

And even beyond all those handy professional skills, I grew a lot relationally. Since I never lived on campus during college, camp was my first real communal living experience. I’m a solid introvert with a tendency toward isolationism, so being “forced” to “do life” with so many people was just what I needed. The teamwork, fun, and fellowship has been simply wonderful. I love these people so much and will always treasure the memories I’ve built with them.

I’ve also learned how to intentionally carve out time for God. I had to do it at APU, but it got harder at camp. That’s why the camp prayer chapel and a couple of other lookout locations have become so precious to me. I’ve met with God there, because I’ve determined to set aside time and treat them like appointments that must be kept. The key is intentionality and priority. It’s planning ahead and putting my Bible in my backpack (even if it means I end up hiking the mountain with it for half a day). It’s taking advantage of small – or large – blocks of time. If I want to spend time with God, then I’ve got to fight to make sure that happens when no one else will do it for me.

The mountains have bewitched me, body and soul. I see God in them every time I look around. I see him when I marvel at the rugged, delicate, colourful, brilliant beauty of this world. Golden, flaming sunsets. Leaves rustling in the breeze. The rich petrichor smell of the forest in the rain. Colours, shadows, textures, shades of life. So much depth and creativity… they all reveal the heart of the Artist.

Those three years were one of the best gifts my Father has ever given me.

Now, Rancho. Family. Home. And classes… SEEP starts tomorrow. I’m going to be throwing myself into studying the Bible at a level I never have before. I’ve sat through classes at OTI, but there was no homework. I’ve done Bible classes at APU, but that was APU, not IHOPU.

This is going to be a summer to remember.