Saturday, September 19, 2015

Defeated & defeat: Our Ethos Fall Kick Off

After our big Fall young adult ministry kick off this week (ethos) a friend stated this in response to my husband and I’s social media: “I love Charles for his positivity and you for your sense of honesty.” Friends, it was so good but it did not go as planned, it was definitely a struggle and my IG post reflected that. Honesty about struggle tends to ooze out of me (to be real & in the hopes that others may know stuff isn't always easy despite how social media can seem). I know it can probably come off wrong but I think it's needed, too.

We’ve worked really hard for this kick off. This was the biggest effort that has been made to bring a presence to local college campus, to invite, to connect with and to create a meaningful space for young adults to engage with God and each other. We’re not “Half-Assers”, ya know? We both work hard and like things done well (this has it’s downsides). We planned, led our team and dreamed along the way. Then it was go time. And the battle was real.

During dinner at our last kick off (we have a tradition of catering with our favorite taco man) I had a dental emergency which took me out for most of the night. This was a huge bummer for me as I was really trying to be so present in my new season of ministry. So this week there was one of those less than awesome conflict/miscommunication discussion between my husband and I (fueled by some hard life things swirling around) that zapped our energy the night before our event. At the end of that I remembered my dental emergency and had the thought of “Crap, there’s going to be something, some tool of the enemy, that tries to get in the way tomorrow”. I don’t usually have these “I sense the enemy” moments but I could feel it this week and it was pretty heavy.

So, it is kick off night and all was going pretty well. Our team is THE BEST and was making the prep happen. I was doing some creative chalk art for the night. I realized we were getting closer to the start time and our taco guy haven’t arrived. They do things in a way that seems kind of haphazard to us but they always show up and do a great job. But it didn’t feel right. About 15 minutes and multiple phone calls later the details aren’t clear as to why but they clearly aren’t coming. And it is less than 1 hour until dinner time. I KNEW IT. This is it. This sucks. We we’re planning on 160+ people and now there is NO free dinner, which we promoted like crazy. And we all know young people like their free food.

In so many scenarios I have found myself to be the one who has to (or puts it on herself to) wear the “problem solver extraordinaire” hat. Part of this is my desire to accomplish/be needed and part of this is my desire for things to go well so people can have a good experience. So, it’s Phylicia is running around fully engaged in do-whatever-it-takes mode time. I am literally running to the restaurant across the street while calling all nearby Chipotle locations and freaking out. Chipotle is definitely a no go. I walk into this small restaurant desperate to see if they can provide ANY food for 160 people. I’m like, “Really, I’ll take anything, I know this is crazy”. This place has been so good to us as a church and the owner invites me back to where he is grilling. He asked me what we were providing and I told him what the taco man included. Long story short he say’s he is calling in help and he is going to make it happen, I just need to go grab a few things at the store. I wanted to hug they guy!

I ran back to the church and frantically told Charles what was happening and that it would be solved. I ran to my car and got on the jam packed freeway and freaked out, anxious about the lack of time we had. I ran into someone I knew at the store who graciously helped me count and bag limes. The ladies at check out were so encouraging once I told them why I was buying 60 limes and so many chips. I was pretty upset and stressed but trying to remember it was already coming together.

So.. it worked out. Dinner was 45+ minutes late. The line for food was way long and crazy. There were more people than expected. I spent 30 minutes pulling burning hot corn tortillas apart to make them go further. But you know what? Over 200 people ate. The night went on. Over 30 new people came from our local college campuses and through other invites. The space was full of meaningful connection and worship. People met new friends. After hugging my husband in the corner as he shed tears and thanked me in relief he gave a great message on meaningful friendship. Dancing, lawn games and photo booth fun continued throughout the night. Our team stepped up in incredible ways to sacrifice eating and hang time to make it all happen. And they spent time encouraging me in the stress and reminding me of God’s provision. And they loved making it come together. And we all celebrated.

So, the enemy sure did try. And it definitely took it out of me (and Charles).
You know what he tried to rob me of? My presence. The things I have been fighting hardest for. We have made some serious choices to allow me to be present in ministry and for us to be a team (quitting my full time job, restoring my leadership and creativity) and I can’t help but think that Satan does not like that. And it made me pretty mad because it definitely threw me. But his efforts were failed attempts. God had a lot of good in store for that space, for the hard work and planning that led up to it and for the people he wanted there. And he so gently guided me back to presence and seeing what He had in store. Yes, I definitely hated that it didn’t go as planned and caused a ton of stress. But people still had fun and I am sure we will hear stories about how the connection made on this night we’re significant for many people.

I straight up felt like a bus hit me the next morning. My phone tracked over 4 miles of me running all over. I was sore. I didn’t sleep from being so wound up. Charles and I went home feeling so grateful but also a little (or a lot) defeated. I am so thankful we both had the next day off of work considering how wiped and useless we were.

Another bit of God’s provision and love? Earlier that week I had schedule a coffee date with a wise and encouraging mentor. I showed up pretty sleepless, on the verge of crying and overwhelmed but 1.5 hours later I was so encouraged, energized, affirmed and comforted (in this scenario and more). This definitely changed the outcome of my day. Again, I don’t always notice the enemies’ attempts or even God’s had at work but I saw God’s grace and timing in this meaningful coffee date, in the amazing restaurant that saved the day, in the friend at the store and in our amazing team.

Oh, and in my sweet husband who was so grateful, encouraging, committed and affirming. We've wanted to be a team and it has taken some serious effort, struggle, hard conversations and learning. While the night was so stressful for us, we felt so good as a team (YAY) and in the way we got to support each other.

Thanks for letting me process this here. Maybe you have felt a tension like this in our recent life. Keep fighting. God has good in store.

Don't - give - up!

... And of course, a recap in photos:

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