calendar-1022088_1280Happy New Year!   2016. Fresh. Clean. Unmarred like new fallen snow.  I open up our new calendar, flip through the months, enter the big events for the year – anniversaries, birthdays, Michael’s graduation April 30 – and then hang it up on the wall. Ahhhh. I feel hopeful looking at my new calendar.  All those empty boxes. Uncluttered – white – blank –  space. I can breathe. Sort of.

As comforting as the empty boxes are in my calendar, nagging questions lurk beneath the surface: What will this year bring? What lies ahead? What will occupy all those little boxes this month, this year? Will I be healthy? Will there be opportunities for growth? What happens after graduation? Many of the significant things in 2015 were not even on my radar a year ago. 2016 might be the same.

Last week I sat with Bible in hand ready for some quiet reflection. Drawn to the fat collection of papers tucked away in the back of my Bible, I couldn’t resist reading them. Those odd shaped scraps held important quotes and comments that were indeed noteworthy . . . well most of them. But one with a 1996 date on it stopped me in my tracks:

If God said to you, “You were made for such a time as this.” what would he be referring to?

Whoa! The words leaped off the page, latched onto my brain (and heart) and now won’t go let go. In trying to answer such a questions, I feel eager anticipation but, if I’m honest, also a bit of fear.

I am learning on my spiritual journey that nagging questions are to be pondered, not quickly answered. With enough pondering, wading through possibilities, reading through scripture, praying, digging, hopping down rabbit trails, listening, wrestling, etc., something will surface that feels right, solid, true. It seems that God’s plans often involve a gentle pull, a magnet that strangely draws us. What is tugging at my heart?

2016 invites exploration. And a lot of truth-seeking.  What questions have surfaced for you with the hanging of a new calendar? Is there something tugging at your heart even though it seems strange? I would love to hear what questions are surfacing for you, how you are processing them AND the beautiful truths you are telling yourself of the nature and heart of God – the one who cradles the answers we seek. So, if God said to you, “You were made for such a time as this.” what would he be referring to?

Com Lab 16 IMG_6637It was such a privilege to lead the Grief Seminar for Cru staff last month. To have so many staff sign up confirmed my intuition that this is a huge felt need of “what do I say? What do I do for those who are hurting?” I also had the honor of leading counselors at Anderson University through this material this week.

Here are some “aha” moments from attendees:

  • I need to be patient with those who are mourning and try to listen rather than speak.
  • It was a new perspective shift
  • Grief is not a linear process and there’s not necessarily an ending point. It is slow (convalescent) and tattered with grief bursts.
  • Listening well and not having answers – “deep questions are to be pondered not answered”- that was helpful to value and provide space to process and not have answers
  • Don’t be afraid to sit in silence with someone in grief.
  • Sitting with someone in grief. Also hearing that it is ok to acknowledge the person who has died and celebrate them.

Cru Mid-Year Stint Briefings   January is the halfway point of the year for college students and recent grads that have joined Cru for an international internship. Many are in difficult or closed countries where they have not been able to openly worship or where the only other believer they know is a teammate. Our Cru Indy office is sending staff to help lead worship, lead workshops, provide counseling, etc., for the briefings held in Spain, Columbia, Thailand, and Turkey. Pray for a sweet time of healing, intimate times with God in worship, and a renewed vision for all that lies ahead for these young, brave, committed students and staff.