Sunday, August 9, 2009

(in) couraged

I think I might have mentioned before that I’m a crier. I’ll go into the ugly cry faster than a guest on Oprah and I’m pretty sure waterproof mascara was invented for the likes of me. I have cried a lot this weekend, but none of it with sadness; I have been mightily encouraged on several fronts.

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Jason and I were thrilled to lead groups at a youth retreat called Discovery at our church this weekend. The truth is that we work with our youth group so that it will hopefully still be popular when our children are the age to attend {is that too selfish to admit?}. While we realize we aren’t THAT cool, we are in the age in between the youth {grades 6-12} and their parents, so I think they still see us as old, but not TOO terribly old {kind of like iffy pizza leftovers- kinda chewy, but still tolerable}. And I hope that some 30-somethings take this torch when our kids are in middle school so we don’t have to give this talk anymore {Part 1 and Part 2 of THE talk}. One thing that overwhelmingly encouraged me this weekend was the huge attendance by high school leaders AND seniors who have graduated. These kids graciously gave of their time and energy and spent 2 nights at the church on air mattresses or sofas of questionable origins. Tears well up in my eyes to think of that former senior group all together for one last time. They encourage me that there is hope in our youth and that our kids will one day have those friends who love God enough to tell middle school-ers who don’t bathe all weekend about Jesus.

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Tonight I got the chance to see Travis Cottrell in concert here in Huntsville. If you don’t recognize his name, you might know that he is the praise and worship leader for all Beth Moore Live events. Oh, yes- now you know him. I went expecting to attend an awesome concert, but I realized that Travis was there to lead us in worship. I’d never put my finger on the difference in those two before tonight. And what an amazing time of worship it was.

A quick little back story for some reference: I was raised Catholic and we did not clap in church. I know there are many new contemporary Catholic services now, but we went to a 10 o’clock, slip-required, NO-jumbotron-or-smoke {except for the occasional incense}, traditional Catholic service. It has taken me many years to adjust to a contemporary Methodist service where we stand and clap for a majority of the singing time and there is a full drum set with a plastic cage around it on stage {I would say altar, but it’s really a stage}. We have stadium seating and movie theater seats in the service we attend and I will admit that my knees are very thankful for the lack of pews with kneelers. With all that said, I’ve always leaned more on the side of the conservative, sometimes off-beat clapper- most likely because of my conservative upbringing.

I used to be embarrassed when people would raise their hands in praise while singing in church. It made my stomach lurch with uneasiness for the people around them and made me wonder why they would go and do that right there in public. As I’ve grown in my faith, what I formerly thought of as a sign of indignity has come to be such a sign of encouragement to me. I realize that people are being moved by the Spirit and the time of worship to give the praise/ their worry/ their offering to God.

Tonight, in worship, I saw God move through people on their feet, many lifted hands and sincere praise. PRAISE. It was an Awesome experience. Travis shared tonight about having his kids come up to him and say, “I love you, Daddy” for no reason. As great as that makes us feel, imagine how it turns the heart of God when we do the same thing. It encouraged me to be reminded that God is living and active- in our lives and forms of worship- and deserving of any form of praise we offer.

Travis Cottrell.1

Debbi, Travis, Me and Patty
{I know. I didn't have a cool blue Compassion shirt. I'm working on it...}
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I was at this event tonight working with Compassion International. Travis shared about his experience with Compassion as a sponsor and a recent trip to Haiti and offered the opportunity to others to sponsor children. This is where 3 of us walked up and down the aisles and handed out packets to anyone who was interested. I gave out all my packets and had to run to the table to get more! We were absolutely swamped after the event and stayed for another hour helping people fill out their sponsorship forms. To see people reach out to give to the poorest of children is encouraging, to say the least.

After this weekend, I think my face might be permanently altered into the ugly cry position. I’m going to wash what’s left of my makeup, but please go over to visit my friends at (in)courage to read more stories of encouragement today. They are launching their site today as a virtual beach house, where you can retreat with friends, put your sandy feet on the table and enjoy coffee over stories of hope and encouragement. I’m so excited about it!

I might even go into the ugly cry again.


The Writer Chic said...

I'm so glad we're friends. That's all. xooxoxoox

Ms. Can't Be Wrong said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. It's beautiful!

Emily said...

sounds like a wonderful service... this was encouraging to me, hill. i hope you have a wonderful day!

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

Wow - that's a lot of good stuff in one weekend! I'm so glad it went well!! And look at you, Miss I-Meet-Famous-People! Love the pic with Travis. :)

Also. I saw you cry at She Speaks. And it was not ugly.

Debbi said...

Hey Miss Ugly Cry! Check it out...I am reading your blog!!!! It is amazing what happens when kids go back to school! I am also stealing from it! I copied our picture so I can throw it up on facebook and get my brag on!

So glad you were with me last night. Your passion was precious. Tony asked if you enjoyed yourself, I laughed! Your P.R. background still is at the core of your personality and I love watching you at the top of your game! You are a sheer joy!

Love You,

Becky said...

pretty mad that i didn't know trav was in town. pretty mad. did you know that trav and i are on first syllable basis? cause we totally are. if he knew i existed. and knew that i listened to the bigboo cast he joined in with sophie and melanie and i laughed my tail off b/c it was totally reminiscent of a 7th grade 3 way call. awesome. i'm straying...i need sleep.

Janera said...

Why, Girl, aren't you the cutest little thing?

I just found your blog today for the first time, and I can see just a little of my younger self in you.

Except you're kind of cuter.
And funnier.
And stuff like that.

GinaT said...

Hey Hill.,
The "ugly cry" award could be granted to either of us! As I said over the weekend,"I am just a tear waiting to fall". Anyway, I hate that I missed Travis he is sooo fabulous! Keep up the good stories. You have an amazing gift:)

deb said...

this was so beautiful to read, honest and full of joy.
thanks for sharing, just linking here from Velveteen Mind, I'm incredibly excited about heading out into the rain to watch yet another soccer game, yet oddly find myself doing this:)

Lori said...

Hey! I grew up in the Catholic church too! I totally hear you on the music. I can't even imagine how people would have reacted to clapping or raised hands... wonder if it's any different now?


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