One of the big highlights of this February was something called "Heart Conference" at Northland. It is a conference held every year to encourage pastors in the area. About 100-200 pastors & church leaders come & there are seminars & sessions with special speakers. This year's Heart Conference focused on prayer, but God worked on my in another area as well. He revealed that I had really been struggling in accepting God as my heavenly Father. I had begun to believe the lie that I had to perform & do all these things in order to gain His approval & love. When I messed up, I would feel ashamed to come to Him in prayer, but He taught me during this time that it's not about anything that I have ever done or could ever do, but it is all about what Christ did for me on the cross.
In January of this year, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake & my heart broke for them. I had been praying about going on another mission trip for over a year, but the Lord never opened a door. When I heard about the earthquake, I asked the Lord to give me an opportunity to go to Haiti. I prayed for several months & then received word of a possibility to go in August. I prayed some more & it really appeared that this was a step that the Lord wanted me to take, so I began to prepare to go to Haiti. Little did I know the adventures that God had in store for me!
I have to say that my favorite memory of May was the concert at the Heyde center. My former piano teacher & her husband have a concert there once a year & she has invited me to play several times. Obviously, I was also in college at this time, so it was a little hard to learn an extra song outside of my required exam pieces, but it was worth it! Both of my parents came, & my brother, Jeremiah, was also able to come. That made it extra special since I rarely get to see him anymore. We had so much fun, and it was also a great experience to play in front of that big of a crowd. Here's to hoping I get invited back again in 2011!! Haha =)
Ahhhh, summer =) God was so good to me this summer. I was able to spend about 8-10 hrs a day at the pool, about 5 of those in the water, 5-6 days a week. I taught swimming lessons & lifeguarded. Oh, I also finally learned how to do the butterfly stroke, which is now my favorite. Lol! But I was also able to head up a Bible study with two of my best friends: Stephanie & Krystle. This is a picture of me & one of the girls that came, her name is Destiny. God just taught me so much during the preparation for the lessons, discipling, & also just through fellowship with the middle school & high school girls. It was such a blessing to see the girl's desire to grow in their relationship with the Lord & to have the privilege of having a small part in their lives for a short time =)
More summer!! I love summer....can ya tell? Haha =) In July I was able to spend a lot of time with my family in between work & everything else. My sister Rebecca was 8 months pregnant & I was able to take some maternity photos. I discovered I love photography!! Well, I've known that for a while, but I've never had a great camera, or such beautiful subjects! I still don't have the camera, but I borrow whenever I can. Lol!
My niece, Aubrianna, also came for a visit over 4th of July, so I was able to do a quick picture session with her too. Only about 15 minutes though because she was grumpy. Haha! Still got some cute pics though =) I was also amazed to see how the Lord continued to make provision for me to go to Haiti, & how He was shaping my heart & preparing me for the blessing & challenges ahead.
The long awaited month of August finally came. I set off for Haiti not really knowing what to expect. I only knew 2 other people going on the trip & would not meet with them until I got to Florida. I had all of the vaccinations that were required & enough hand sanitizer to last a year in the States, but about a week in St. Raphael Haiti. Haha! This week I had a lot of firsts: first time eating goat & not having to shove the meat in my pockets (long story, ask me later ;). First time finding a tarantula in a pickle jar at the breakfast table (it was found crawling on the curtains the night before). First time hiking up a mountain with a witch doctor's nephew & apprentice. First time holding a 4 foot snake. First time hearing voo-doo drums outside while trying to fall asleep. First time being near to witch doctor prayers (he prayed for a wife, & chocolate....weird. Lol!) And first time ever fully realizing just how incredibly good God is to us & just how powerful He is over all things!!! But I'll save that for another blog post =)
The girl that is in the blue flower skirt is named Dolly. She spoke Creole, obviously, but also spoke some Spanish & English. We were able to talk quite a bit & became good friends. She was incredibly sweet, & I miss her a lot!
Me, Ashlee, & Jen!
Back to school!!! By the end of the summer, I was ready to get back into the busyness of school! I just didn't realize how insanely busy it would be!! I guess I was a little bit overly-ambitious because I took on some extra credits....and a job. Lol! But God was faithful in helping me accomplish everything, & not fail any classes =) This semester was a little bit different because 2 of my best friends didn't return this year. God had different plans for Emilee & Ashlee. But Ashlee was able to come for a visit, which I was very thankful for =)
Spirit week at school!! Our room was the "Nerd Herd." Lol....very fitting. I honestly don't remember a whole lot from October, except that it was extremely busy! For the first month and a half of school, I was literally in class, practicing, or doing homework from 7 am until midnight almost every day. So October was basically made up of piano practice, classes, piano practice, homework, work study, & did I mention piano practice? Haha! It was good though. I know I'm where God wants me & I am confident that I am in the right major, so it wasn't hard to put forth my best effort with the Lord's help.
Bri bri!! In November, I was blessed with visits! Lol. My sister Amber & my niece Aubrianna came for a visit one weekend. It was so much fun! We had some great talks, and ended up going out for dinner since Amber was even less fond of Northland food than I am. Haha! I also got to see an old friend that I hadn't seen in almost two years. The missionaries that we stayed with in Peru are in the States for a while this year & their oldest son came to Northland for a weekend b-ball tournament. So it was good to see him again after such a long time =) That was also around the time that it seemed like God started testing my dependence on Him. With the end of the school year approaching quickly, November was a very intense month. Projects, papers, & practice seemed never ending. I deal with stress in unhealthy ways sometimes, & so I ended up forgoing meals in favor of de-stressing with some P90X or time on the treadmill. But between Thanksgiving & Christmas cookies, I think it evened out. Lol!
The beginning of December was consumed with finals & music exams, and let me tell you....I wasn't handling it so well. I wish I could say that I was fully resting in the Lord's strength & finding my joy in Him, but that wasn't always the case. I was struggling with several trials that God had allowed to come into my life & trying to deal with the fact that He had removed one of my close friends & several of my most respected mentors from my life at the time. But God showed my that I don't have to "get" everything that He is doing. He can see the big picture, I just have to trust Him. And guess what? There was SO much peace when I finally just gave over all of my worries! I had joy during my last week at school because I was once again relying on God for my happiness, but I definitely welcomed break! I slept 12 hrs my first night home, which was more than 3 nights at school combined!! Lol =) I've been able to catch up with friends, & spend time with my family. I also got re-certified to Lifeguard & give CPR again. Yay! Tonight, I get to see my brother for the first time in almost 8 months, & tomorrow the rest of my family will be up to celebrate Christmas.
It has been an amazing year. God is truly incredible, & faithful in all of His works. Even when I can't see or understand.
Bring on 2011!!!!