September Prayer Letter

It’s been a busy few weeks — we haven’t even had time to blog more!! Jeepers! We’ll get on that!

We just finished our first week on campus and are gearing up for a week of follow-ups, discipleship, and a more regular (hopefully) routine!

Thank you for praying for us, our team, and our students!

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August Prayer Letter

Thank you so much for praying with us!! As of this post we have only $200 in monthly support left to raise to reach our goal of being 100% fully-funded! The Lord has been very good and super faithful and affirming in our call to be on staff with Cru and to continue serving in the central Wisconsin area full-time.

This month we also wanted to share the joys and highlights of our bi-annual staff conference held in Fort Collins, CO on the Colorado State University campus. Not only is it the opportunity for staff all around the US and the world to come together and be reunited, it is also an opportunity to get a birds-eye view of what’s going on with Cru on a national scale.

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Leaders are learners

Leadership

I really love my job. Every day is different — it poses a new challenge, introduces me to a new person, and continually provides opportunities to learn new things. I love ideas, I love information, I love brainstorming. I love figuring out new ways to do things to maximize them, make them better, and reach more people. I’m continually stretched and pushed to new limits. I’m never content — though there are certainly days all I crave is comfort and security. I need the Lord’s strength to help me push past my natural, lazy tendencies.

I long to learn from those who have gone before me. Those who have been in my shoes and can relate to my day-in and day-out challenges. A few months ago, our boss asked Erick and I to pick a part a blog series written by a guy named Tim Casteel. If you’re a part of the Cru world — you’ve probably heard of him. Tim has been on staff for more than 15 years and is currently the director at the University of Arkansas. Tim keeps a blog to share leadership resources, college ministry strategy, and other articles/books/blogs that have challenged him. Soon after Naidl asked us to check out Tim’s blog series, I began following Tim on Twitter. I’ve been learning from Tim ever since. He is a man who has walked in my shoes and has gone before me in the world of campus ministry.

Take note of this — whenever you have access to great leaders, take advantage of it. Read their stuff, take copious notes and put their advice into practice — even if it’s only coming to you from the world of social media. I’ve learned a lot from Tim already and I’ve never met him.

Anyway — something that’s really captivated me that Tim put together was his blog post on the 8 Largest Cru Movements in the country. Tim spent time initiating with the directors over the phone/email gathering information about each of these campuses — statistics, outreach strategies, funding information, what the directors do, what the staff do, and what contributed to the growth of the movements.

Now, I recognize that most of this information is most helpful to my fellow Cru staff/campus ministers. If you’re reading this and you serve in a campus ministry — go read what Tim has to say. Seriously — it’s great stuff. I’m blogging about his blog because I don’t think enough people are reading it.

But if you’re not apart of this campus world, take this as a reminder to seek out the leaders in your field and learn from them. Ask them questions, read everything you can find written and recommended by them, and pay attention and learn from the leaders who mentor them.

Leaders are learners.

Check out Tim’s blog here: http://www.timcasteel.com

The battle for transparency

I hate in-between times. Those moments right before a job change, a move, or the next stage in life. Those moments of waiting for a shift in our world. The waiting. Oh, the waiting. The waiting kills me.

That may sound dramatic, but seriously — this is the phrase I’m battling in my brain. Hiding that fact isn’t going to get me anywhere. Because we’re friends, it feels only right that I tell you I’m feeling pretty tender and vulnerable these days. I’m seeking transparency today.

I find myself asking the “How long?” questions. How long will this season last? How long will I feel discontent, uncertain, frustrated, discouraged? How long until I have peace? My heart longs for redemption, restoration, and reconciliation. I want sickness to be eliminated, peace throughout the earth, and my world to be put in proper order.

You should know — if you haven’t guessed already — that these days, I’m in-between.

These days, I often feel disconnected. I sit down with journal and pen in hand. I begin to write. I write my thoughts, my fears, my frustrations, my prayers — some get answered, others go unanswered. After I write all this I let it all sit there for a minute, and everything written, whether right our wrong, is there staring back at me.

And in the depth of my being I am anxious. I am uneasy. I want to flee. I want to share with you, but at the moment when I’m about to be transparent with you, fear stops me. I could easily write it all in this blog post, have it stare at me with a blinking curser, but then I’d delete it all. Fear and insecurity would win.

The truth is that I really don’t want you to know how I’m really doing. My story feels insignificant. I don’t want you to know my full story. If you did, what would you think of me?

And just like that, it all comes rushing back again. That internal struggle. That battle. This is my story.

These days, when I get to the end of  my day, sometimes my to do list is completed and I draw a sense of peace from that. Other days all I see is failure. Failure to do what needs to be done. Failure to be the woman, the friend, the wife, the servant I’m supposed to be. Mind you the temporary peace I experience through my accomplishments is false. It’s deceiving. It takes credit away from my creator.

Every bit of strength, in every ounce of my being, is battling lies. Battling the enemy. Fighting a war against an enemy who has already been defeated. Defeated but not gone. A cruel, smart, and conniving enemy.

You should know that I passionately believe in transparency. I believe in the power of story. When others have taken risks to pull back the curtain on the stage where they’re upfront and center, every flaw exposed, I am moved and changed. They stand in grace and let their raw and real selves be known. I’m always moved. Always amazed.

I believe in transparency but I’m seriously awful at it. This is my attempt to grow in this area of my life.

These days, I’m fighting a war with a defeated enemy while I sit in-between and wait for Him.

Honestly, the worst part about in-between isn’t the uncertainty, discouragement, or frustration. As much as I want to flee from these emotions, I think the worst part about in-between is that sometimes I think God likes when I’m here.

He wants me aware of this battle. He is after my heart. But I don’t want Him to have my heart, I want Him to give me what I want. I don’t want to wait anymore. That’s the transparent truth.

My fear and insecurity rob me of the freedom of transparency. I want to share my story. I want you to read the story God has given me the privilege to live so you can see Him, see His glory, see Himself in my life. But my own sin, my own unrighteous fear, leads me to question all that He made me to be and all He has lead me to experience. It leads me to question myself and my story. I’m so weak. I give in to the perfectionism. I don’t die to myself.

However, this in-between stage I’m living — this battle I’m fighting — is the point of my story.

The battle is always raging. The battle I’m experiencing is my story.

My story is a story of a recovering perfectionist.

This is a story of a girl who is learning to let go of the need for approval through my accomplishments, or lack thereof, and to stand in grace.

This is a story of how I’m surrendering my fear, and instead choosing peace.

This is a story of His power being made perfect in my weakness.

This is my story and it’s worth sharing.

Dating…it’s complicated.

Facebook relationships

At TCX — our annual Cru winter conference that takes place right after Christmas — we had the privilege of presenting a seminar. Specifically, we were asked to lead the session on Dating and Relationships.

To be perfectly honest with you, while we were super honored and excited to be asked to lead a session, we felt a little hesitant saying yes because we weren’t the biggest fans of Dating seminars. (yikes, totally just wrote that…)

Let me explain.

Seminars with themes around dating, relationships, marriage, etc. are always really popular at conferences. This is obviously why we have one at TCX each year — students have expressed a desire to learn about how to date well, and that’s a good thing. But so often, Erick and I have felt that people miss out on the breadth of information they could get from a session on Discipleship, Forgiveness, Evangelism, World Vision, insert whatever cooler spiritual topic you can think of here, because people choose to attend the ever-so-alluring relationship conversation. (This is a super jaded perspective to have, by the way.)

And to take it a step further, I (Courtney) have never personally attended a dating seminar and walked away with great vision on how to take-on the dating world well. I’d either leave seminars with a bitter heart toward whoever I was dating because I compared my current relationship to the presenter’s relationship — never a good thing to do — or, I’d leave feeling ashamed because I screwed up my relationships in the past and now had more questions than when I first came into the room. Neither of these are good outcomes. (but just to note here, these outcomes were my own fault.)

As Erick and I continued to talk about saying “yes” to lead the seminar, and begin to process why we felt the way we did about these sessions, we realized that our opinion on dating seminars were formed because of the sin we had in our own life and the unrealistic expectations we created. We were so totally jaded toward dating seminars and we needed to change our attitude. Praise the Lord for the creative ways He works to mold and develop our character.

The Lord changed our minds. Dating seminars are healthy, necessary, and fun. Dating needs to be discussed in safe environments by people who love the Lord and desire for others to see Him in everything — especially dating life. The world paints such a false picture on what dating is supposed to look like. If we don’t talk about it in Christian environments, someone is going to do the talking for us. Talking candidly about how the Lord desires dating and relationships to be is a really big deal.

I have to say that this was a really really hard seminar to prepare (we really didn’t want to screw up in front of 500 students), and it was a great challenge for us. We finished writing the content of our session 30 minutes before we presented it. It was honest, it was a joy to share, and we left the room feeling the presence of the Lord and thanked Him for the privilege of being a voice for Him.

We gave two sessions of our seminar to the students at TCX, with approximately 250 students at each one.

Here is our group in session 1:

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And here is my cooler panorama shot of our group in session 2:

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Thank you to the students who attended the session — you guys were a true joy and you made us feel loved and cared for through your gracious thanks and appreciation told to us in person and over Twitter :).

Also, thank you to the groups of students who waited patiently to ask your follow-up questions at the end of each session. Know that we’ve been praying for you and your relationships/future relationships.

Your desire to learn more about who God is, and the plan He has for you, help motivate us to do what we do each day. The Lord continually reminds us of His grace in our life through the privilege it is to spend time with, and learn from, you.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend our seminar — you can listen to it here:

Five Fold Survey

Last month, I (Erick) went through something called the “Five Fold Survey” with my disciples. Essentially it is an 80-question survey that helps you assess where your strength and focus is in the 5 ministry giftings of being an Apostle, Evangelist, Pastor, Prophet and Teacher.

http://fivefoldsurvey.com

The survey is based off of Ephesians 4:11-12 which says:

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”

At the end of the survey it answers the question: “why do we care about the results and what do they mean for our lives?” Essentially it says that each of us are created to live out of one of these 5 base ministry gifts. Of course, as it is with all giftings, there is one that comes more naturally to us and is the one we do best. It brings us the most life and the most joy. However, God is always trying to grow us in the areas we don’t excel at naturally. He give us a season to learn a gift that isnʼt natural to us, but is important for us to learn. This survey is a great reminder that there are going to be things in our lives that we’ll have to learn that we wonʼt ever be great at it, but we can learn to be truly competent in it.

This survey helped me gain insight into how I lack in the gifting in Apostleship (which is essentially the gifting of being a pioneer and/or visionary) and how that isn’t something I should just ignore and say, “well, I’m just not very good at that thing so I won’t try to develop it.” Instead it has spurred me on to think of how I can place myself in small situations where I have to exert the traits of an apostle and grow and develop in that area of who I am. It might not be perfect, it might not even be good, but it will help me to be truly competent in being an apostle instead of fearing my lack of ability and experience in the area and not doing it.

For my disciples, it really helped them understand the man God has made them to be. For one of them it helped reinforce who he already believed himself to be. It helped him see the “immature” traits of his natural gifting of being a Prophet and how he can grow and develop in that. For another it helped him see that his doubts in his natural gifting to be a Teacher were misguided and that he is indeed gifted in that area.

I highly encourage you to take a moment and take this quick survey. It will not only help you discover more about the person God created you to be, but it will give you insight on how to improve your ability to serve God’s people and round yourself out in the areas you feel challenged in.

Christmas Card 2012

We were totally on our game this year. One of our students — Lexi — took this picture for us a few weeks ago, giving us time to order our Christmas cards and get them in the mail before Christmas. We had a blast playing around in Schmeeckle Reserve close to campus.  Thanks again, Lexi — we love our picture. 🙂

So here you go world. Merry Christmas from the Horrmann’s.

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