Not Just About Pig Puppets

"Ha!  I remember when you used to r100_0618ead to us from The Azusa Street Papers in LifeCore!"-Amber

"I did that?"-Me

"Yea.  You loved the stories!"-Amber

This past Friday I got to spend some time with a really good friend of mine from college, Amber.  She came into DC for some work and contacted me.  We hadn't seen each other in almost seven years, since her graduation from North Central.

Amber and I met in the fall of 1999, when she moved onto my floor as a college freshman.  I was a leader on my floor and she was one of the girls in my LifeCore group.  We hung out on Tuesday nights from 9-10pm (or if you know me…some stayed until about 12:)  She's from Pennsylvania, so we'd bonded over that immediately, and she just became one of my girls very quickly. The next year I had the opportunity to be Amber's RA (Resident Advisor) for the second half of the year and she was a leader on my floor.  

We were reminiscing with several stories from college the other night, including that one Saturday morning, the second week of school when I physically threatened a guy from our Brother Floor (Yea 4 East-Carlson!) for making her uncomfortable.  As a 20-year-old girl, much shorter than 18-year-old him, I looked up with fire in my eyes and firmly said, "You need help, dude.  And I will hurt you if youWil the pig ever do anything like that to her ever again!"  He didn't.  Amber confirmed it the other night.  He never made her uncomfortable again.  Ha!  I guess having two older brothers to practice fighting with helped, huh?

Amber and I also remembered awesome floor gatherings-like the floor meetings that I'd have where my  leaders and I would wear certain articles of clothing over other articles of clothing, and I'd break out my microphone and we'd do karoake…along with choreographed dances.  And some of you thought that you knew me.  Ha!  If you've never seen me in pig pajamas, wearing pig slippers, pigtails in my hair with pig scrunchies, dancing around with a pig puppet, well…you don't really know me all that well, do you?  I have no desire to go back in time and be in college again, but I will always remember those dance parties my college days fondly.

The thinking pig Don't get me wrong though.  Bible college isn't just all about dancing around with your underwear on your head, rewriting popular songs to sing to your brother floor (like going from "I Wanna Grow Old with You" to "I Wanna be a Sister to You"), dedicating songs to your brother floor on Delilah, playing with pig puppets, playing Four on a Couch and singing your heart out with your curling iron.  (Boy, this list could GO ON!  And wouldn't you love some pictures to go with it?  Dang film cameras!  Will have to scan some pictures in someday.)

**Meet my pig puppet, Wil.  This is him as "The Thinking Pig".  I bought him on my first trip out to NCU, my senior year of high school.  Yes, I still have him.  My grandchildren will giggle at that face someday.  Before you lose all respect for me, know that this little piggie has gone to town and brought many smiles to many faces…including anyone that realized that it made it into our Neshaminy High School's, Year of '97 Senior Class picture.  (Thank you, John Terrence!)

A thoughtful moment from my evening with Amber has been stuck on my opening conversation.  The Azusa Street Papers is an odd-sized book that we had to get for a class at North Central.  It's a collection of 13 issues of a paper that documented testimonies of what God was doing in a revival that happened in the early 1900's.  This paper was printed and passed all around the country to spread the word that God, indeed, did still move in miraculous ways!  People 0032_azusa_street-paperswould flock to be a part of this revival that was happening in this small part of Los Angeles (yes, LA!), and then go home with joy and hope that God can do the same things through their lives!  The stories that some think are so crazy and unbelievable about the Bible….many of the same things were happening among the people in this move of God!  I was so captivated by reading testimony after testimony of healings that took place, and my heart was so moved by the stories of what God had done in the lives of thousands of people.  I loved that odd-sized book…and I guess I would just sit and read the stories to people, including my LifeCore girls.  Ha!  I don't remember it, but it makes sense.  I really  did love that book.

Here I am, about eleven years later, and I am still captivated by how God moves…except a lot more in "real time".  I can't even begin to describe what He is doing in my heart right now, simply on this blog.  Over New Years I got to join 5 of my good friends in going to Kansas City for I-HOP's OneThing conference.  (I-HOP the House of Prayer, not of Pancakes:)  I-HOP is leading one of many prayer movements throughout the world.  It's pretty awesome.  They have a 24/7 prayer room, that is currently streamed online for free through their site.  My life has been blessed and my heart has been stirred.  And guess what…people have been healed and filled with joy, and they're taking joy and hope back to their homes, and around the world!  Ironically, that same year that I became captivated by what had happened through the Azusa Street Revival…that's the same year that I-HOP was founded.

These are merely two moves of God…He moves in miraculous ways all the time, in big and small ways…but these are two that have impacted my life. 

I guess I just found it humorous that so much has been happening in my heart, to the overflow of joy and hope, and that it's been quite an awakening in my spirit…and then that Amber reminded me of this crazy obsession that I had with something similar back in college.  I don't think the obsession ever went away, but I do think it has been dormant for some time, peeking up but not truly coming to the surface until now.

One of my prayers for today…Acts 2.42-47

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

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“Live for God”, play-by-play

The Live for God Bible Study started today.  It's actually going on right now, and they're in my classroom.  Their key verse today is Philippians 2.14, with the title-"God wants us to be minty fresh!"  And my boy, Malcolm, is reading Proverbs 4 right now. 

I'm so proud of our girls, Crystal, Danielle and Victoria, who are leading.  They're so stinkin' awesome!  I love this!  And I'm listening to one of them trying to convict the kids of gossiping…"Don't lie, I know you've gossiped!"  Wow, this is great…I mean, they've got a long way to go in leading a Bible study, but this is their first one:)  (It is kind of hard not to step in though.)

Now they're instructing the kids about the 30 Second Kneeldown, where they kneel at their lockers for 30 seconds in the morning to pray.  "If they ask you what you're doing, tell them you're praying for them!  And do it!"

Memory verse time-pick a verse to write on your card and memorize the Scripture this week, but first you have to figure out what it means.

"Who's going to work on this?  Be honest!  Be honest with your parents!  Be honest with us!" 

Oh….I could go on, but I won't.  I'm pumped for this group of kids.  I truly hope that the fire that I see in the leaders catches flame in the rest of the group, and I pray that it grows.  They're so cool.  =)

SYATP

It was a slightly chilly day in September, back in 1993, when I stood at the flag pole of Neshaminy Junior High school with my friend, Andrew, to pray for our school.  It was my first See You at the Pole day, and there were so many emotions flying high in me.  My dad and I picked Andrew up early enough for us to go pray for some time, and still have be able to get to class on time.  I recall a teacher coming out to join us, but I never had her and never really got to know her.  A few people stopped to ask us what we were doing.  "We're praying for you," we responded.  Throughout the day several people questioned us about our stance by the pole that morning…it was a day to stand up for your faith or die of embarrassment.  I remember that year for so many reasons…Biology class when I had to stand up for what I believed, Jason Coleman committing suicide, and Social Studies class-in which we learned about all the major religions, and because I wanted to know more about how to reach other people, I got something like a 115% on the final test because I'd memorized all that info.  It was definitely an interesting year, to say the least.

My next three years at Neshaminy High School held many more moments of sharing my faith with teachers and peers…it always started with See You at the Pole.  See You at the Pole is always on a Wednesday-the third one in September-on which students all over the country (world?) stand around their school flagpoles and pray.  The standard time is about 7am, but if your school starts earlier, you can do it any time.  It's a day when teenagers all over are endeavoring to make a statement and to simply pray together.  At NHS it always started our Wednesday morning prayer group and our Bible study (every Tuesday after school).  We had a prayer group, that was about 30 people when I graduated, that prayed in our cafeteria during breakfast every Wednesday morning.  We would pray for each other, our classmates, our teachers, our administrators, our country.  No one really led it…we just knew we had to do it.  People would randomly join us every now and then, just because we'd become somewhat of a team:) 

Fast forward to today.  It was See You at the Pole day, and I joined one of our 7th graders and my friend, Andrea, on the grass in front of our school to pray for my co-workers, my students, my administration, and my community (of Hamtramck).  At one point, I heard one of my students get out of her car and yell "Ms. Burton!!!!"  I chose not to answer, out of reverence for what was happening in that moment.  I didn't notice that she came over, and that Andrea asked her if she wanted to join us.  I'd started to pray a prayer that was from deep within my heart…and I had no idea that she was standing there.  Huh.  God is so funny…He didn't let on that she was standing there.

I felt a bit different this morning…like I was bolder when I was 14.  How did I become tainted?

This past summer when God clearly showed me a vision of a Bible study happening in my classroom this school year.  Hmmm.  I knew that I couldn't start one.  That would literally be illegal.  I knew who in my class would be interested, but I wasn't really sure how this would happen exactly.  God even gave me a verse!  These past couple of months I've been handing this to the Lord and asking Him to guide this into existence. 

This past week, a couple of girls at our school, that go to Real Church, asked to start a Bible study.  They asked if they could have it in my classroom on Mondays, after school.  Then today they went around to all the classes to tell the school about it.  "Live for God" was the title of the flyer they handed out to our kids.  About 10 kids in my class signed up, saying that they were interested (including 2 Muslim kids that I'm pretty sure didn't know what they were signing up for :).  Most of the other kids I expected to sign up, and 2 of the boys with extreme anger issues also signed up.

Honestly, do you know what happens when you see a vision happening right before your eyes?  Do you have any idea what it was like to hold back tears today? 

If you happen to think of me on a Monday, ask God to speak in our Bible study, please.  There just might be a revival in my school, yet, this year;)

 

Searching for What?

I can honestly say that I’m in a searching mode.  This journey that I’m on has me searching on a few
different things…and I think I’m finally okay with that.  Phil and Emily, a couple of great friends of mine, have started a LifeGroup through my church, and we’re going through the book, Searching for God Knows What, by Donald Miller. 

First of all, this guy’s an absolute riot.  Here, check out the first chapter of this book.  I just did, and I’m in love with his style.  This is how I want to write!  (Although I probably won’t be attending any of those writing seminars like he mentioned in the chapter…go ahead and read it…you know you want to!)

Anywho, from what I gather, the general basis of the book is that knowing God is not formulaic, and he’s about to prove it to me-or rather just give me more solid reasons as to why I already think Book2that’s true.  Either way, I genuinely look forward to feasting on this guy’s words…and trying to pick up a few writing nuances along the way. 

Here’s a paragraph that captured me:

I know there are people who have actually gone from misery to happiness, but
they didn’t do it by walking through three steps; they did it because they had a certain set
of parents and heard a certain song and knew somebody who had a certain experience
and saw some movie then read some book then had something happen to them like a car
wreck or a trip to Seattle, and then they called on God and a week later read something in
a magazine or met a girl in Wichita, and when all this had happened they had an
epiphany, and somebody may have helped them fulfill what this epiphany made them
feel, and several years later they rationalized this mystic experience with three steps, then
they told the three steps to us in a book. And I’m not saying they weren’t trying to be
helpful; I bring this up only because life is complex, and the idea you can break it down,
or fix it in a few steps is rather silly. The truth is there are a million steps, and we don’t
even know what the steps are and, worse, at any given moment we may not be willing or
even able to take them and still worse they are different for you and me and they are
always changing. I have come to believe the sooner we find this truth beautiful, the
sooner we will fall in love with God on His terms, who keeps shaking things up, keeps
changing the path, keeps rocking the boat to test our faith in Him, teaching us not to rely
on easy answers, bullet points, magic mantras or genies in lamps, but rather in His
guidance, His existence, His mercy and His love.

A Small Taste

I am literally craving an opportunity to really write, but I need to go to bed soon.  If only I didn’t have to sleep:)

This past weekend I had an awesome opportunity to go to the Ancient Future Community Conference at Willow Creek in Chicago.  There’s so much that God is doing in my heart right now, as far as the church and community goes…I feel as if I’m about to bust at the seams.  As the saying now goes, "my cognitive desk space is full".  What’s so great though, is that my heart is also full and that definitely helps a little with the processing.  And as my prayer life grows, that will really help:)  Small groups and community have been around for quite some time and this whole new era of the "emergent church" is nothing new.  Looking at what it was meant to be has been so rich in developing my understanding of how my life is meant to be lived out.

I’d love to go through and blog about some of the different things I learned about-especially the things that impacted my life the most.  There were certain things that I felt a strong tug about and some that didn’t really do much for me.  An excitement was built in me, about what I see God doing in our church-under the surface.  He helped me to see some of the feet that will be put to the vision that he’d given to me for discipleship at CotK, and I’m simply geeked about it! 

I can’t really say that the American church as we know it is 100% God’s plan for what the church should look like, but that will not scare me away from it.  I’m pumped to be apart of the changes that are already taking place and the ones that will take place, simply because of my own obedience to Him.  God is always faithful to accomplish what He’s started out to do, and I am happy to join him in whatever that may look like.

That’s a small taste of what God’s doing in my heart, as it regards to ministry.

It’s a Tear-jerker

I just watched the best movie I’ve seen in a long time.  Forget Hairspray (which was a great movie too).  Check this one out here, from National Community Church, in Washington DC.

I’d also like to add a couple more personal pictures from Cotk a few weeks ago.
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This is Sabrina and Nichole, withPastor Brad.  They both got baptized a couple weeks ago, and it was so fantastic!  One of my all-time favorite things about spending time in discipleship at our church is walking with people through baptism.  It is honoring…and tear-jerking.  God is so good.  He is so faithful.  He is so full of grace.

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