My Story || What Is Important To Share?

28 May 2014

Today was the first day for all of us summer interns here at Journey Church. Three of us started the day off by helping a couple in our church load up their things to move into their new house. Afterwards we all met up to grab lunch at Monical's and start discussing some things about the summer and how things would be working. We continued talking about summer plans at the office and talked some about how we go about reaching out to people in our community. 

Part of how we go about reaching out into our community is through intentional relationships. In order to build intentional relationships we have to plug ourselves into something or somewhere in the community. Sometimes this is by hanging out at a restaurant or coffee shop in the evenings for a couple hours and meeting someone there and starting up a conversation. Sometimes it is through going out and doing something like frisbee golf or volleyball. There are times when people just blow us off, but many times people don't. The whole point is for us to start building a relationship with them and eventually invite them to church and get them connected, hopefully to one day see them plugged in and developing a relationship with God. 

A big part of this process is talking with them and getting to know them and their story. Just like with every other relationship, we have to eventually share our story with them. I've shared my story with people before. I may have even posted a version on here at some point (if not I should probably change that soon). The thing is, at least from my perspective, it's hard to have one set "version" (if you will) of your story because you will more likely than not have to edit it or vary it for everyone you share with. Yet it is fairly easy to share a simple version with someone you're just getting to know.

Now my dilemma, is what version do I go with when sharing it with people who know me fairly well but haven't heard my whole story. I don't want to go super detailed, but I also don't want to do the outline version that just highlights key points. I also don't want to make it too uncomfortable for anyone or for myself. So at this point I'm wondering how to go about it.

How would you go about sharing your story with people who know you but don't know your whole story? How detailed would you get?nwhat points would you include?

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Currently I Am:

27 May 2014

Making: Cute little wrapped gifts for volunteers at church and new blog posts!
Cooking: just finished making Raspberry Fudge Zebra Brownies. Yummy!

Making the Zebra Brownies with Caitlyn!

Drinking: a nice big, caffeinated cup of Pepsi
Reading: Our Last Great Hope: Awakening The Great Commission by Ronnie Floyd
Wanting: to see one of my most favorite people ever, my bestfriend Mike whom I haven't seen in a year and a half :(
Looking: like a tired hot mess. But for real though.
Wasting: precious time I could be using to sleep or do something productive to make work tomorrow easier...
Wishing: that I had a car, Nebraska wasn't so far away and that I was already done with college.
Enjoying: getting to finish the first season of Arrow!!
Waiting: for some things to happen and for them to fall in place in the best way possible
Liking: having some other college students finally around for more than just Sunday mornings.
Wondering: Why my body seems to want to go to bed but every time I try to get ready i'm suddenly wide awake again? Why, oh why must this happen night after night?!
Loving: friends and church family who have opened their arms and welcomed me into their homes and their lives.
Hoping: that I will be able to "catch up" on sleep...although it is likely impossible
Smelling: like a man. Good ol' Old Spice deodorant.
Wearing: my absolutely favorite Steve & Barry's hoodie that says Unathletic Dept. across the front and has holes in the sleeves. Most comfortable thing I own!
Noticing: that even at 21, these late nights sure do start to take a toll...I'm getting old lol.
Knowing: that God has a plan for me and for the summer that will far exceed anything that I try to plan out
Thinking: that i'm gonna hit the hay soon. And it's only 11:05pm...What?!
Giggling: about memories from this past school year :)

 Feeling: like a mix of different, random emotions. Also, like a zombie.

So, What are you up to?

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This Weekend // Memorial Day

26 May 2014

It's been a good weekend, but it has definitely felt like an extremely long one even in the midst of a lot of good. There were a lot of things that happened, although only a few were actually related to my internship.
 I had the day off Saturday, so I went to the Kankakee Farmer's Market with Bev and enjoyed wandering around the market, eating some great homemade pastries, and listening to some live music. On our way home we stopped by a very large and extremely busy greenhouse to get some flowers. I then enjoyed some time just reading and watching a movie. Then we went out to dinner at Lone Star Steakhouse and then Bev and I went to the movies. We saw Mom's Night Out and it was awesome!! Such a great movie! The cast was wonderful and I absolutely enjoyed it.

We then had an early morning of set up for church, although we didn't get there until about 7am. We did set up and ended up having a bit of a bare bones service due to a number of people being gone. It was still a good morning of worship. That evening I helped with JourneyKids and it was quite an interesting end to the year. It always amazes me the variations of Bible stories that the children come up with!

This morning Andy and I spent time doing some work in town and then came back home with everyone for a Memorial Day cookout/lunch. We had a great lunch of grilled salmon and grilled pork, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, croissants, and fruit salad. Then a really good apple tart dessert. It was a good day just hanging out and relaxing. This afternoon I took the time to make the dessert for small group tomorrow night and used some of Caitlyn's help.

I made Raspberry Fudge Zebra Brownies, although the topping recipe I followed wasn't the greatest, but we made it work. Caitlyn was pleased with herself for cracking an egg without getting any shell in the bowl! 

The brownies turned out pretty good! It was fun to be able to do a little baking and to have Caitlyn's help. It definitely made things go a little faster. We were listening to and singing along with the Disney station on Pandora and the boys were complaining that it distracted them from watching baseball two rooms away! :) Silly boys! 

A quick and easy dinner was in order after such a long day and then a movie and some more relaxing. It was a good weekend and a nice day to kind of get a little bit of rest before the week starts and the rest of the interns officially start. It was a good kick off to the summer!

Happy Memorial Day! 
Thank you to all of the service men and women in all the 
different branches of the Armed Forces. I am truly grateful for 
all that you do to allow us to have the liberties that we do!

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A Father To The Fatherless

22 May 2014

Image courtesy of

 Normally it doesn't matter what my past looks like with the exception of times when people who want to or need to talk about something and I can share a relevant experience to help. I don't make it a habit to share it on a regular basis, but I accept that it is a part of who I am and how I go about life. The things in my past have helped to bring me to where I am and turn me into the person that I am. I have been lucky to come out on the better side of things. However, it still isn't always easy to talk about it.

Out of nowhere I was asked about my father on two different days this week, back to back. Two slightly different questions both of which ended up receiving the same answer. Both of which meant that I had to talk about the fact that I have not had any contact with my father in almost three years. Not that is a surprise at all to me with his history. He never was really interested in being involved in my life and the older I got the less interested he was. Throw in financial issues, long-term medical conditions, a divorce, lawyers, judges, and a whole slew of family history and it was one hot mess. 

He stopped being interested when I was in mid to upper elementary school. I learned quickly that I was better off to avoid interacting with him the majority of the time. His anger issues didn't make talking to him easy, helpful or beneficial. Often I just talked to my mom and asked for her permission for things. By the time I hit middle school I knew when to avoid him and how to go about doing so. I spent many days and evenings away from home in an attempt to not have to interact with him. By the time high school rolled around I spent so little time at home that my lack of time there caused him to get angry with me. After my mom's diagnosis with a rare nerve disorder and then their divorce, I barely interacted with him except for a rare occasion on one of his weekends or Tuesday nights. By the time I was just about two months away from leaving for college he told me that he could care less if I showed up for visitation or even made contact with him. So for my sanity I didn't. I walked away and have kept my distance out of safety for myself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I tried contact once and it was never returned. The one time he attempted contact it was merely in an attempt to get revenge on my mom. I decided then that it was better for me at this point in time to not have contact.

This has made things hard for me with regards to my faith. I listened to so many people refer to God as Father. They talked about all of the qualities He had of a father figure. All these good things that fathers supposedly had. However, I didn't grow up experiencing those things so I found it hard to believe that God could possibly be all of those things. That He could possible be the perfect Father. I kept making excuses for why I couldn't accept that fact, none of which involved the whole experience with my earthly father. I didn't want to admit that the reason I struggled accepting it was because I hadn't experienced anything good with my father. I struggled with it for a long time. One of the times that really made me rethink it all and process it in a new light was the message that Reggie Dabbs gave at NYC 2011. I was reminded that God is so much bigger and so much better than any earthly father, even the good ones. He didn't want me to experience what I did because of my earthly father, He didn't want me to be hurt by him. But it happened and He has come to bring me through it and to show me what the Father is truly like. 

It has been a heck of a ride and it hasn't been an easy one. Do I still have days where I struggle accepting God as being the Father? Yeah, I do. Do I still have a hard time referring to Him as Father? Absolutely. Do I always remember and fully believe all of the aspects that make Him the most perfect Father? No. I am not always good at remembering the reasons why He would think that I am worthy to be His daughter. I still struggle every now and then to accept that He truly is the perfect Father, especially on bad days. There are many days where it is still hard for me to refer to Him as Father, because that word conjures up so many not so great memories. It is a struggle often and in many forms, but I am constantly trying. I am constantly asking Him to help me to come to fully acknowledge and accept that He is the perfect, never failing Father. That He is the Father that will never leave, never forsake and never extort. He forgives me when I fall short of His will for me. He blesses me a thousand times more than I could ever ask. He gives me grace that I have not earned nor do I deserve. His love for me still amazes me on a daily basis. I may not have been blessed with a good earthly father, but I have a Heavenly Father who far surpasses him in every way.

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing." -Psalm 68: 5-6a

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Book Review: The White Umbrella by Mary Frances Bowley

21 May 2014

From the Back Cover:

White, an adjective meaning "Free from spot or blemish": as (1): free from moral impurity : INNOCENT (2): marked by the wearing of white by the woman as a symbol of purity.
Umbrella, a noun meaning: 1. A device for protection from the weather consisting of a collapsible, usually circular canopy mounted on a central rod, or  2. Something that covers or protects.
Every year over 100,000 girls in the United States are forced to do someone's sexual bidding. Most of them are between the ages of 9 and 19.
This is not some faraway, foreign problem. This is in our own neighborhoods, our own towns and cities.
Throughout these pages read the stories of these girls and the people who have come alongside them to hold the white umbrella of protection and purity over them on the road to restoration. See the need for these protecting, caring partners. Learn what it means to love and care for these survivors in action, prayer, and support.
This book is quite the eye opener. It is written by one of the founders of Wellspring Living, an organization that helps bring girls out of sex trafficking by helping them restore their lives and start new. This book is about a group of people who are being active in their attempt to stop sex trafficking and who are making a difference. Their compassion to these girls is truly inspiring. This book really reminds you of all of the issues that go with sex trafficking, as well as the reminder that it happens right here, right in our back yards. Mary Bowley has such a heart for these girls and you can feel it in the way that she shares about her story, the background of the organization and the stories of the girls that have been a part of this ministry. We so often see stories and pictures, but so few times do we hear of tangible ways in which we can help the situation. Wellspring Living is one organization that is doing an amazing job of helping the situation in a tangible way both nationally and internationally. The stories will break your heart but the victories will have you rejoicing! 

If you have the chance, grab a copy of this book and read it. Pray for this organization as they reach out and minister to these girls!

Mike || 6 Years & Couting

17 May 2014

This evening I am dedicating my post to a very special person in my life. Someone who has been a big part of my life for several years now and one of the few constants in my life the last several years.

This person is my bestfriend Mike. Mike and I have known each other for six years this summers. I don't remember with great clarity the first time we met but he seems to have a decent memory of it and my awkwardness was definitely in fully play! Go figure! While that day is a little blurry for me, his overall presence in my life doesn't feel like it started on a specific day but rather like he has been there all along. That is definitely not the case but he has played such a key part in my life for so long that it seems that way. After the first time we met we just kind of hit it off and have been bestfriends ever since. 
Unlike most bestfriends we didn't live next door, down the street or across town from each other. We met at a district church event. I lived in Hastings and he lived in Omaha, thus putting us two and a half hours away from each other. At the time neither of us had phones nor a way to be on Facebook consistently or at the same time very often. The monthly district youth events were something we looked forward to. They were the one time (sometimes two) that we knew we would get to see each other, even if only overnight during a lock-in. Making a friendship last long distance, even if it was only two and a half hours, is not easy when you may have to go a month or more without communication. Yet we made it for three years with things like this. Sometimes we were lucky to catch each other on Facebook, but we relied on events. 

Despite the distance he quickly came to be the person that I could talk to about everything and a rock in some crazy storms. He's been there through personal issues, my mom's disorder, my parent's divorce, and much more. Looking back i'm not sure entirely how we managed to make it and become closer despite the distance and the lack of communication at times. Never would have guessed it could have lasted but I am so very, very glad it has. He is such a big blessing in my life. I thank God for him all the time. It isn't easy to put how much he means to me in words and I don't think I ever will be able to fully do so.

I have only come to realize how important he is in my life and how much of blessing in the last three years. The first three we were just a short two and a half hours apart. The last three years however have been across a bit larger distance. I left for school just south of Chicago back in August 2011. This meant that Mike and I were now eight hours apart. Talk about making things quite a bit harder than before. Luckily at this point we both had gotten phones and it became easier to talk online. The benefit of having technology while being far apart is huge, but it still doesn't replace seeing each other face to face. Sadly, it's been roughly a year and a half between every time we have seen each other. Quite the opposite of once a month. This distance has not been easy and many times is more of a struggle with technology, yet I am so thankful for it. We don't often get to have full conversations, but even a few words exchanged can make my day. 

So after six years of long distance friendship we sit here in two different states and realize just how blessed I am. There are times when we have to put in more effort to stay connected, but it is worth it. Sometimes it is hard to deal with the distance when I have to miss important days. Last weekend happened to be one of those important days. Last weekend Mike finished off his high school career. He walked across the stage and graduated. After four long years it was all done with. I am so very, very proud of him and his accomplishment! I couldn't be more happy for him and more proud of anyone. I just wish I had been there to celebrate his accomplishments with him that day. Saying congratulations via Facebook and phone just doesn't cut it. But we take what we can get. 

Mike after graduation (picture courtesy of his dad)
Mike, after six years of friendship, I just want to say how very proud of you I am! You have overcome so much and the way you have handled it all is inspiring. When someone or something tried to knock you down you got right back up and showed them you were stronger. You are such a huge blessing to me, as well as others! I am so proud of you and so very happy for you as you are making the preparations to head to college in the fall. There are so many wonderful things ahead for you! I have no doubt that God has incredible plans for you and your life. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for you and how He uses you to make a difference. I look forward to being able to share it with you as your bestfriend!  You are such an incredible blessing in my life and I am so thankful for you and who you are!! Six years down, may many more come. Here's to seven! I love you, Mike! :)

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Blog Update & HTML Win

Hey y'all! It's been a couple weeks since I have posted. I had planned on posting each week after the sermons on Sunday mornings, but finals week got a hold of me along with moving and a quick jump into the summer schedule. Things just didn't happen like I had hoped. Oh well! Tonight (this morning...?) I did a little revamp of my blog!

It definitely isn't anything fancy or complicated, which is okay. I think clean cut and simple is a good thing right now. So I redid the template and it is so much nicer! It is all consistent and it loads much better than what I had before. I also finally took the time to fill out my About Me page. Several months after I said it would be done... I can't entirely blame it on school since part of it was just procrastination! However, that is all typed up and even has pictures. I will probably do a little revamping here and there on that page, but overall I think it looks good. I also updated all of my social media icons that are located on the main page as well as my About Me page. They are not fancy or anything, but I managed to do all the HTML with pretty much no extra help! Score! I love when I have little wins like that!! :)

That is my little update for tonight. I am hoping to post again this weekend or sometime this week. It will all depend on how things go schedule wise, but there will definitely be something posted.

I'm going to attempt to get some sleep that won't leave me even more exhausted in the morning! :)

Goodnight/Good Morning!!

Shelbi :)

Chains: What Are They?

01 May 2014

This past Sunday we started a new series at my church entitled "Chains". This series is all about discovering what our chains are and how we can break free of them. This week we discussed what our chains are.

So often when we speak of chains that are keeping us trapped and stuck we think of things such as your average addictions like alcohol or drugs. Yes, these are chains and they do keep us trapped, locked up and confined. They are terrible and they cause so much heartache. They keep us from living our true lives and fulfilling our purpose. Yet there are so many other chains in our lives. They come in a variety of forms, such as self-image, worry, fear, doubt and so on. They keep us locked in a place that we cannot get out of on our own. Chains such as these are often unrealized by us because we are so wrapped up in them.

Personally I have many, although some are bigger than others. One of the big ones is worrying about what people think of me or will think of me if I do something. This was a big one the end of last spring semester. I was looking at interning with my church and really felt like that was where I was supposed to be. I talked with my mom about it and she really fought me because she said I needed a real job. Working as a missions intern at my church without a guaranteed amount of pay due to raising funds on my own was not what she wanted me to do and she fought me and opposed me like none other. Yet I really felt like I needed to do it. I started off the summer without a guaranteed job and was not sure what God had planned but trusted that if He really wanted me here interning it would work out. I did not want my mom to be mad at me or think I was doing it just to spite her and do my own thing but I knew I needed to do it. So I got it all taken care of and I started out as a summer missions intern with no guaranteed pay. I put my faith in Him and trusted that He would provide the funds if I was supposed to be here. At the end of the summer He provided much more than what I hoped for and I no longer cared what my mom thought. I just knew that God had put me where I was supposed to be.
Another big one is my fear of being hurt again. I put up walls to keep myself safe and often it keeps me from pursuing the things that He puts in front of me. I am getting better about doing things much more openly and being vulnerable but it isn't easy. When I am vulnerable He always proves that it was far better for me than pushing it away and that I can trust Him not to put me in situations that will hurt me. 

There are so many other chains that I have in my life and I am working to give them to God and break free of them. It is a never ending process but I hope to continue to break chains as I get closer and closer to Him. There is so much freedom found in Him when we give Him the things that are chaining us and holding us captive. It is such a wonderful feeling to break free of them!

What are some chains in your life? How is. God helping you to break those chains? 

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