Saturday, August 1, 2015

A New(ish) Adventure

I'm preparing for something similar to what I was preparing for 4 years ago around this very time of year. Let me back up...

I am currently a Liberty University student, and am scheduled to graduate next spring. Finishing up my degree (I'm pursuing my B.S. in Psychology/Crisis Counseling with a Minor in Christian Counseling) has been my biggest priority at this point in my life and I haven't thought much about what will happen in my life beyond that, besides the general idea of what I want to pursue for a job and ministry. I'm trusting God will guide me step-by-step. Because of being busy with classes, even being currently enrolled in a summer class that will wrap up soon, I wasn't thinking of doing anything else before I graduate.

As many of you know, I had the blessing of going through the Basic Training at Ellerslie Leadership Training in Colorado for 9 weeks in the fall of 2011. Here's a photo of the Fall 2011 Ellerslie Epsilon Class (I miss these people! There's me in the front center in a pink sweater):

Ever since that precious season growing in the Lord with other people who have become some of my dearest friends, I have felt that my time there wasn't complete. Ellerslie offers a 7-week Advanced Training for those who have completed Basic. Initially, I wanted to go back for Advanced a month after my Basic wrapped up, after the Christmas season. However, I unfortunately was diagnosed with Mononucleosis and it wasn't possible for me to go. It's all in God's timing. Side note: I highly suggest checking out what Ellerslie is all about! :-)

In May of this year, God was leading me through some personal things that I needed to deal with. I didn't immediately do what I knew He was asking me to do, which needed repenting of. At that point in my life, I honestly felt a lack of direction and was quite frustrated and discouraged.

It reminds me of a quote I read by Terri Foy: "God will not advance your instructions beyond your last act of disobedience."

I was not obeying God and my instructions were not being made clear beyond what I needed to do first. I had to choose to obey Him, no matter the cost, and I felt Him showing me that He would reveal to me the next step of my journey after I was obedient.

I wrote in my journal on May 14th: "One thing I prayed was that I would be willing to do whatever You asked of me, no matter what it is or how much it hurts. I knew You would even have to give me the desire to do it and then the grace and strength to go through with it."

In May, by God's grace and guidance, I did what He was asking me to do (for the sake of this blog post, it's not important for me to share what that was, but I can say that it was a pretty big deal for me spiritually). As soon as I did obey Him, I felt a deep sense of freedom and peace.

I also felt a stirring within me for something different. It's hard to explain, but I knew that a change was coming... some sort of new adventure with Jesus. :-) It's incredible for me to look back and see how in each step, even when I didn't see God's hand, that He was working behind the scenes.

On May 16th, I wrote in my journal: "I got this strong impression in my spirit that I should go to Ellerslie Advanced this fall."

I vividly remember what I was doing that day and how this long-buried dream of Ellerslie was brought to the forefront of my mind, as if it was planted there by God Himself. It came out of nowhere because as I said, it was not something I was considering since I am in college and I honestly didn't think it would be feasible, so there was no point in thinking about it in the first place.

Literally just a couple days after I obeyed what the Lord was asking me to do, I got marching orders for the next step in my journey, something that I was not expecting. But, as I said, I did feel that I would one day be going back to Ellerslie, but I didn't know when, why, or how exactly. So many things in my personal life were pointing to this being the next step for me.

It is actually quite amazing how it all works out so perfectly and how the Lord placed the idea in my mind and showed me that it could indeed work out. You see, it's somewhat complicated, but to try to explain, my school semesters are broken up into two 8-week segments, rather than being the full 16 weeks. So... because of this, I would be taking off the first 8 weeks of classes during the fall semester in order to go to Ellerslie (it would be way too busy for me to do both at once). Ellerslie Advanced will start up in August (literally the day I'd fly out would be the day my class ends) and wrap up in October (shortly before the second 8-week of the semester classes begin). I would be arriving home just two days before I am scheduled to fly out to Michigan for a couple days to speak at an event.

I realized that with timing and scheduling, it could work... but I felt hesitant about going if it would change my graduation date. How could that work? Well, because I took a couple of courses this summer, and because my mom told me about something she did when she was in college, I realized after looking into it that I could still graduate and participate in the Commencement Ceremony next May, as long as I had 6 or less credits left to complete at that time. I would have exactly 6 left (the 6 I would be taking this fall). I would need to finish those classes next summer before they'd mail me my diploma, which really isn't a problem.

But what about financial aid, I wondered? Well, the financial aid would distribute accordingly, half this fall, and the other half next summer instead. I know these are a lot of details, but I want to share them to show how God has been intimately involved, even in the smallest of details!

I believe God has shown me NOW is the time for me to go back to Ellerslie. He is so faithful to guide our lives! It also happens to be the last opportunity for me to go. They will be changing the program. This is literally the last time they'll be offering the 7-week program. The time length that it is currently is much more convenient for me at this point in my life (it used to last several months). Not only that, but after I graduate, I will most likely be working full-time, and wouldn't be able to take those weeks off anyways.

Over the weeks after I initially felt like I am supposed to go back, I prayed, journaled, and earnestly sought the Lord about it. I wanted to make sure it was His will for my life and not just something I dreamed up for myself.

During this time, I listened to a particular song by Sara Groves called "Hello Lord" on repeat. It expresses many things I was feeling. Here are the lyrics (you can listen to it below or by clicking here).

Hello Lord, it's me Your child
I have a few things on my mind
Right now I'm faced with big decisions
And I'm wondering if You have a minute, cuz
Right now I don't hear so well
And I was wondering if You could speak up

I know that You tore the veil 
So I could sit with You in person
And hear what You're saying but
Right now, I just can't hear You.

I don't doubt Your sovereignty
I doubt my own ability to
Hear what You're saying
And to do the right thing 
And I desperately want to do the right thing
But right now I don't hear so well
And I was wondering if You could speak up

I know that You tore the veil 
So I could sit with You in person
And hear what You're saying but
Right now, I just can't hear You.

And somewhere in the back of my mind
I think You are telling me to wait
And though patience has never been mine
Lord, I will wait to hear from You
Oh Lord, I'm waiting on You

Right now I don't hear so well
And I was wondering if You could speak up

I know that You tore the veil 
So I could sit with You in person
And hear what You're saying but
Right now, I think You're whispering

I read a post I wrote about how God led me to Ellerslie the first time and how He provided for me in such beautiful ways. I wrote in my journal on May 30th: "I felt led to read my post about my journey to Ellerslie. I am encouraged afresh and amazed at Your love and faithfulness and how You've led my life thus far. It's incredible how You can grow my faith now in reading about how You grew it 4 years ago."

I carefully weighed all the pros and cons of going (honestly some of the cons were reasons to go. ha!). I considered my motives for wanting to go. I prayed for peace and guidance and for all the details to be made clear. I didn't want to rush into a decision. I was able to talk with a couple friends about their experience at Ellerslie Advanced which really helped in my decision-making (thanks Karen and April!) :-)

Ultimately, I decided that everything is falling into place for me to go. And I feel that I would regret in the future if I hadn't gone, but I don't feel I would regret going. I am single and want to view this time in my life as a gift, fully soaking up all sorts of adventures!

In June, I felt confirmation that it was time to apply. I remember the first time I went to Ellerslie and how I just knew that I was meant to go and at that specific time. I wanted that same sort of confirmation this time around. I waited before the Lord and He showed me when it was time to apply. So, I applied and then waited a while longer, then went through the interview process, then got accepted. And now this week, the very week that the tuition payment is due in full, the money came through (further confirmation I'm supposed to go). And I found an amazing deal on a plane ticket!

In less than 3 weeks from now, Lord willing, I will be leaving for Colorado for 7 1/2 weeks. I am excited, I am expectant, I am certain this is what I'm meant to do. If my Shepherd leads me somewhere, I trust He will provide everything I need. I will be spending a few days with my dear friend, Bex, before things officially get underway on the little campus in Windsor. I really am looking forward to that as well. :-)

I'm not sure why the Lord is taking me back to Ellerslie now after all this time, but He is. Colorado, I'm coming for you and the new(ish) adventure the Lord has planned for me out west. Can't wait to be greeted by warm, friendly faces and those majestic Rocky Mountains. :-)

Ellerslie Lake


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