Reflecting on Community: Northern Ireland Part 1

Aside

Just over four years ago, I studied abroad in Northern Ireland. It was there that I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I still remember those months as being some of the hardest, most joyful, most eye-opening days of my life. God used that time to not only give me abundant life, but also to give me amazing gifts. I have had the opportunity to return to Northern Ireland twice since leaving in 2009 and each time I return, I learn something more about myself, my friends abroad, and the Lord. Most recently, I was in Northern Ireland visiting friends, two of whom were getting married. I was asked to be apart of their ceremony as their Scripture reader, and I couldn’t decline such a beautiful invitation.

Arriving

There is always this haunting calmness that comes over me when I go back to Ireland. I’m a rather anxious person, so when don’t feel stressed, I know that it is something special. One of my friends, Ruth, picked me up from the airport in Belfast, Ireland. I saw her and skipped over to give her the biggest hug someone could give after not seeing such a close friend in over three years. We didn’t have too much time to gush over the fact that I was back in her presence because we had to surprise my friend Leanna (the bride). You see, I told Leanna I was coming in on June 6th. That’s what she believed the whole time, the best kept transcontinental secret ever. When Leanna saw me standing next to the car when picking her up, she was speechless. It was really one of those “fist pumping” moments to hear her say over and over again, “I can’t believe you’re here.”

After a weekend in Dublin with loads of banter, a week in Belfast doing life and a wedding to boot, I was overwhelmed by the amount of love and selflessness that my friends showed me. It was over three years since I had seen them, but the moment I stepped off the plane, it’s like the piece of my heart that had been missing since 2009 was returned.

The Importance of Community

My friends in Northern Ireland made me realize the importance of intentionality with my community, both near and far. Without the time and effort they invested into an overseas relationship with me, everything we had come to create in our friendship would have fallen by the wayside. If we hadn’t been texting, skyping, facebooking and emailing, I would have been so concentrated on getting to know everyone all over again, that I wouldn’t have been able to cherish “doing life” with them.

I hope to take this lesson and apply them to my community in Minneapolis. I want to be more intentional about investing in my small group, my friends from college and my colleagues at work. I want to be able to cherish every moment with them as people who I care deeply about, rather than letting relationships die off. My community is too important to me to let that happen and by God’s grace alone, I won’t let that happen.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10: 24-25

We are called to be intentional with one another. We are called to live with one another through our joys and our sorrows. We are called to hold one another accountability. I feel honored and blessed to have people that I’m able to be intentional with, and by God’s grace, I won’t take that for granted.

day 35: roommates.

these women.

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They are one of a kind.

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I love their hearts and how deeply they long for a solid relationship with Christ.

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They’re pretty sweet too. They have some stellar dance moves.

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These women know how to celebrate, and they celebrate well.

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They like to drink coffee like me. They like to find cool new places to hang out like me.

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They are all really pretty.

photo 3 We like to laugh. We like to talk. We like to sit on the couch and watch movies together.

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These women define encouragement. They know my love languages and know how to use them well.

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They are each super unique in their own way. God has created them each distinctly and I love how each of their personalities light up a room.

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Plus, they are just really fun to live with.

photo (8)I am so thankful for roommates who know me and love me so deeply. I am blessed by their  constant love for Christ and their never-ending encouragement toward each other. I like that I’ve gotten to spend a lotta time with them over the last few days. My prayer for this coming year is that our time together continues to grow in quantity and quality. God did a mighty fine job creating these women and bringing us all together on Johnson Street.

days 32, 33, and 34: my feet are joyfully numb.

my feet hurt, actually their numb from the shoes i chose to wear yesterday. it was tough getting out of bed. my eyes literally felt like they were bleeding this morning. And my legs feel like jello. I take all these things as a sign that my last three days have been some of the most joyful days I’ve ever had.

I got to witness two of the greatest friends get married.

I was blessed to walk alongside them up to this point. I was blessed to be apart of their day. I am blessed to continue to walk and fight and love them to the end of time.

It’s just a really cool thing to see God’s work in both Paul and Marta’s life. While I believe this day had been predestined before time, God was still in that room presently working. And it’s been amazing to see how our Holy, Sovereign God has been working in both of their lives to prepare each of them for marriage. Yea, it’s just really great.

So while my feet are still numb from yesterday’s shoe selection, they are oh so joyfully numb. I’m so grateful for yesterday’s wedding events and I’m so grateful for Paul and Marta and either everlasting, Christ-like love for one another.

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Adventures with Miss Karsjens’ Kindergartners

Today, I made my way to Brooklyn Center to help my dear friend, Laura, get her classroom disassembled before she leaves for Uganda in less than 2 weeks. I was excited for this adventure because of all the funny stories that she has told me about her kindergarten class.

For those of you wondering-Yes, her kids are as cute/funny/a little crazy as she says they are. And yes, Laura is probably the most fabulous teacher ever.

I had some fun conversations and interactions with some students myself while I was there helping.

#1: Little Girl: Wow, your necklace looks like candy.

#2: Little Boy: (while I was labeling water bottles) Are we going on a field trip?
Me: Yes, I believe you are going on one next week.
Little Boy: *fist pump*

#3: Little Boy: (hands me a picture of himself that he was suppose to take home to his family) Here you go, you can keep it forever and ever.

And my most favorite interaction of the day….a little girl comes up to me, hands me a drawing, and says “here, this is for you.”

Isn’t it beautiful?

Seriously, little girl, you made my heart melt in less than .2 seconds.

Thanks for letting me come in to meet your kiddos and help disassemble your classroom, Laura. It was so much fun that I think I’ll be back on Wednesday!