Encounter Columbus: Week Five

Janell asks us all the time, “What color are you today?”

This is not a question that has an easy, immediate answer for me. Our lives are so uncategorizable sometimes. I never know the answer to how I’m feeling, because my emotions and experiences and interests are all over the place. All the time.

I battle a lot with overthinking, and therefore indecisiveness. When I go to a restaurant, I find myself pondering until the waiter finally gets to me and I am forced to make a choice. I feel fear that if I make a decision, I’ll regret it later.

I’m also a perfectionist. When someone gives me criticism, I find myself thinking about my fault over and over in the later hours, wondering if I’ll ever overcome it. I want to be the best reflection of God that I can be, so my pride is disguised by good intention. I have this burning desire deep down to please people, to get affirmation, to be the best. I have pushed myself until I’m run dry my entire life — it’s a difficult habit to break.

So when Janell asks me this question, my immediate answer is that I can’t answer. I think, “Well, yesterday I was yellow, this morning was orange, this afternoon was green, and now I’m feeling a little bit burgundy. But there’s also so many more colors.”

Isn’t acceptance of not knowing the answers part of being human?

We are naturally bent towards doubt and self righteousness and control. We have release through Jesus. BUT, we live in the already but not yet. We are not perfect and we won’t be until Jesus returns.

I suppose that God has been teaching me that for now, I just need to stop thinking and give him control. The reality is, trying to be perfect is trying to be God. I need to learn to accept my imperfections, and bring glory to Him by not giving them power over me.

So, today, I’ve decided that my color is a soft orange. I am feeling warmly content, but not overbearing. It’s a beautiful way to feel.

It’s even more beautiful that I barely even overthought that decision.

Talking about restoration //

So, Jesus came to save the world. He died on the cross and he washed away our sins. Yet,  the world is STILL broken.

And we STILL have hope.

A hope that doesn’t end in Jesus.

Honestly, the entire biblical story is about the union of heaven & Earth. I think that a lot of people get a bit stressed out reading the book of Revelation because it’s a lot to process. And the thing is, we don’t necessarily know whether to take it literally or figuratively. But God was trying to give us some sort of glimpse into what is to come through our imagination. I know that what I think is not entirely accurate — only God knows — however, God gave us creative minds for a reason. I love wondering.

This week we talked about what we think the New Jerusalem will look like. Basically, what heaven will look like when it comes down to Earth.

That’s right, when heaven comes DOWN.

When I was little I had this vision of heaven as all of us floating up into the sky when we die, and laying on clouds singing Amazing Grace for all of eternity. And guys, that would be SO boring.

Why would God tell Adam and Eve, “Fill the Earth, be fruitful, multiply, cultivate,” if he was just going to wipe EVERYTHING away?

So this is it. I truly believe that what we do here matters. There’s this amazing book called Garden City (READ IT) that dives into the fact that we were put on this Earth for a reason, to do something that will impact eternity. I believe what we create now will survive when the world is restored —  if it reflects God’s goodness, truth & beauty.

If you think about it, you wouldn’t drop a dresser off at a restoration shop to come back expecting a brand new, different dresser. You would hope that the person working on it would preserve the dresser and make it new. Or in other words, RESTORE it.

I imagine that when the world is restored, it will be like this. We will finally be able to see beauty in fullness. To have true intimacy with people. And everything we have done here will STILL BE HERE, just in perfect form, a form that we cannot even imagine.

Our acts do more than just decorate the moment.

Patriotism at its finest //

This past Tuesday was the Fourth of July, and we took advantage of everything we could!

On July 3, we went downtown for Red White & BOOM Columbus — the fireworks over the Scioto River. We got there at 7, so we packed little picnics to eat, painted our faces, and played cards while we waited for them to start. Combining a beautiful skyline & fireworks creates a mesmerizing night.

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On July 4, we decided to stay at the house and chill. Meagan & Janell grilled burgers for us, and they were DELICIOUS. In the process, they burnt their hands — they ended up being okay, but Meagan had her hand in ice water all of dinner.

Lauren made a really cute American flag dessert for us out of blueberries & strawberries.

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After dinner, we did sparklers! It was Destiny’s FIRST SPARKLER EVER. Sometimes I wish I could re-experience things like this for the first time.

With all of the festivities of the Fourth of July, we tend to overlook its purpose. People give their lives in war for our country’s values, just as Jesus gave his life for us on the cross. That is the ultimate sacrifice.

Jesus said it himself; no greater love is that of he who lays his life down for another. I am so thankful to live in this country, and more importantly, to live for the Lord.

One nation, under God. Indivisible. With liberty & justice for all.

Community & Learning //

We start camp up again next Monday, so this week was prep week! We took time each day this week to plan our bible studies. We are praying that this camp will be newly improved from the last, as we are much more organized and prepared. I am so excited to mentor & learn from these kids in these coming weeks.

On Wednesday, a group called Door #2 Ministries came down to visit the house. They are a Christian group partnered with a church in Akron that strives to promote the arts through Jesus. They did a few crafts with us and introduced their ministry’s purpose to us, as well as did a short talk with us on what true worship looks like.

The next day, we took a road trip & drove up to visit THEIR studio.

Our main project was to begin our own altered book. The purpose of these is to tell your testimony to your faith visually. I will most likely be working on mine for a while; I got the cover and three pages done. I am nowhere near done, but I have lots of ideas!

We also got to do a visual bible study while we were there on a parable of the Bible. Overall, it was an amazing experience, and these wonderful people are so invested in this ministry! We are thankful that they welcomed us into their studio.

Also, it’s important to add that they have an art studio dog. His name is Boomer and I fell in love with him.

On Friday night, we decided to go to Coffee Underground for Board Game Night! We played board games, card games, and drank some really good coffee.

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Randy (one of our leaders) had been on vacation for the past week, and he was coming back on Saturday. We had a key to his apartment, so we decided to wreak a little havoc for him when he came back.

Here’s a few of the pranks we pulled:

We taped a balloon on the back of his bedroom door and a nail on the wall so it would pop when he came in.

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We glued googley eyes on EVERY item in his fridge. Including the individual salad dressings and slices of cheese. We called it the “fridge army”.

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We put cups of water on his bed so that he’d have to very carefully remove them.

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A few notable mentions that didn’t get pictures:

  • strategically placed a fake turtle in the shadows so it looked real
  • taped a cup of water to the inside of his medicine cabinet so when he opened it it would fall out onto the sink
  • put balloons in all of his dresser drawers
  • wrapped saran wrap around his toilet (and it looked SO CLEAR)
  • very subtly switched items around (picture frames, pillows, chairs) so that he’ll be discovering new switched items every day for the next couple of weeks
  • rigged the faucet so that when he turns it on it shoots out water at him (this was genius)

But honestly, the googley eyes were my favorite. We laughed at ourselves for so long. We even took a selfie with the fridge after our two hours of mischief, and then celebrated with Taco Bell.

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Randy thought it was hilarious, and we got him on almost all of the pranks!

Also throughout this week, I have been blessed with sweet friends that came to visit me at the house! I got to see Maria earlier in the week — she is working at a Christian camp this summer and was home for the week, so she met me for coffee and I took her for an official golf cart tour of the house.

Over the weekend, my best friend Hannah from home drove the hour and a half to come visit me! She came with us to watch Shakespeare in the Park — we saw “Pride and Prejudice” and it was fantastic. She stayed the night to go to church and coffee on Sunday before she had to go back home.

Honestly, God is showing me through friends like these the most incredible love of Jesus. I now know that even when you are far from people you’re used to being close to, if it is a true friendship, distance doesn’t matter. I am so lucky to have these kind of friends. They so clearly love me selflessly.

I sang for the second to last time with Hillcrest Baptist Church’s worship team today. I can’t believe I only have one more week with this amazing church family I’ve been blessed to know these past 5 weeks. Today’s worship was intimate and amazing and beautiful.

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Here’s a little wrap up.

Sparklers are one of my favorite parts of Independence Day. Lauren got us some, and the majority of them didn’t really work. They were honestly the worst sparklers I’ve ever used.

Some took at least three matches to light just one.

And then the sparks were small.

And THEN they would sizzle out a quarter of the way in.

But every once in a while, we’d get this one that would start off tiny and it would just EXPLODE into this beautiful, prospering spark. And there was this sense of tranquility that came over me when I waved around my one lucky sparkler. I looked at it and thought, “Wow, all of those other trials were worth it for just this one.”

It was the Fourth of July. I wanted some good sparklers. But God isn’t always going to give me what I want.

A lot of the time, this world does not satisfy our expectations. Some of our desires won’t even catch fire. Sometimes if they do, they won’t produce as much happiness or delight as we hoped they would. And some end before we want them to.

That’s why the one blazing, exploding, prospering moment is so worth it. It’s something that happens that is so clearly from God that it knocks you back into awe, and all you can do is sit back and admire what He’s done.

It’s always about the One.

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