Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

I’m moving to Virginia!

Since I’ve known since January, I figure it’s time I announce this. :) That picture you see is in the choir room at a school tucked away in the mountains in Virginia. So….

I’m moving to Grundy, Virginia to work at Mountain Mission School!

For those of you familiar with MMS, you know that this is such a unique opportunity – one that still makes me ask God, “Are you totally sure you have the right person for this?!” I’ll be teaching choir and living with the high school girls. For those unfamiliar with the school, the staff is full time. Like, full time: The staff members are teachers, counselors, mentors, shoulders to cry on, cheerleaders, etc – and I think those are just the roles they play before 10 AM. :) Life is lived day in and day out with these kiddos. It’s a mission of the neatest kind. Kids from 18 months through 20 years old are living and being raised to know Jesus at Grundy. I’ll be moving on June 29.

Common questions I’ve been asked recently:

Are you excited?

Yes, I’m excited, albeit completely terrified. I’ll be excited once the stress of the move is over and I figure out what I’m doing (And no, I haven’t started packing, so if you have any boxes you need to get rid of, I’m your girl! …or if you want to sell me a flat screen TV at a decent price :) Doesn’t have to be flat screen, but they’re easier to mount :) ).

How in the world did this come up?

Long story short, I heard about the job not being filled and tried to avoid it like the plague. SOMEONE (read: Dave Sims) told them I had a music degree and a background working with juvenile delinquents & teens in general. The rest is pretty much history.

Are you near the beach? (Where’s Grundy?)

The exact opposite, actually. :) It’s in Appalachia right next to the Kentucky border – about 45 minutes from Pikeville, KY. I’ll be about 6-7 hours away from FoCo. In other words, not so far that y’all can’t saddle up the horses and come visit. :)

Is that the choir that comes to Sterling every now & then and sings?

Sure is! MMS’s choir is a traveling choir (so much like Chorale, for those of you fellow IWU Chorale clods). I will, of course, post all tour dates. If you can, come see the kiddos sing! You will not regret it! Friends from college & friends all over, I would love to see you again if we’re ever singing in your area, and I know you’d be blessed by their songs.

How can I be praying for you?

Short answer? Yes. That’s how you can pray for me. All of the things need prayed for. :)
Allow me to be transparent for a second. When I made the decision, there wasn’t an, “Ah ha!” moment with God where the sky split open, a dove descended, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is what I was meant to do. Quite frankly, I don’t much buy into this ever-present idea of seeking out a calling for one’s life day after day. I can tell you what your calling is: Go and make disciples of all nations (did I mention Grundy has over 60 countries represented there?). That’s what you’re called to do. You’re called to make disciples wherever you’re at. I believe God places calls on peoples’ lives, absolutely. Paul is a great example. But Paul was going about his business, doing what he thought he was supposed to be doing when God made his red carpet appearance (Granted, Paul was murdering Christians for their faith, but he was convicted that he was doing the right thing, and he pursued that. I’m not saying that makes it right. I’m saying he went about with his daily life and God stepped down into that to get him to go elsewhere. He didn’t spend night after night agonizing over whether or not he was “following God’s will for his life.”) All of that to say, I’m leaping in faith. I’m diving in head-first and not looking back. I’m doing it because I’m (at least somewhat) equipped to do it, and Grundy has a need. There’s the bare-bones answer. So I need prayer! Ways to be praying:

Pray for the kids. This whole thing is first of all about Jesus and second of all about them. They need your prayers to continue to grow and be shaped into the people God wants them to be. Pray that whatever it is God needs them to know, I get out of the way and teach it in such a way that it goes beyond choral music. Pray that this is never about the music, but that the music is just another avenue to glorify God. Pray for a smooth transition for them as they adjust to a new teacher!

Pray that I stay open to opportunities and surrender my abilities to God. I was recently asked to teach elementary music, and I have absolutely zero experience in that arena. I feel like the widow bringing two small coins. I have literally no experience, but I’m willing to try it. Pray that continues. I’m the kind of person that either shuts down completely when I don’t have immediate success, or I go all-out and fight to get to the top. Neither of those are healthy, obviously. Pray for balance and just a willing heart. That’s all God needs to work through people, if I remember correctly.

Pray that I would stay out of the way. If I’m going to do this and do this well, it will be purely because of the grace of God. Done any other way, it’s destined to fail. We have a huge opportunity coming up at the end of October and the only way it’s going to be considered at all “successful” (albeit in worldly, human terms) is through our hard work, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and God’s sweet & sovereign grace!

Building relationships with the students. This will have to have careful attention, especially this first year, as these kids neither know nor trust me.

Adjusting to Grundy life. It’s a total 180 from life as I’ve known it for 25 years!

While I’m very sad to be leaving Fountain County, I’m pretty excited (read: still terrified) for what’s ahead, especially considering some prayers I began praying and questions I began asking God around October of 2014.

Many people have also asked how all of this is going to work out now that I’m now dating someone who lives in South Carolina. I’ll tell y’all the same thing I’ve said since Grundy became an option in December when I wasn’t dating anyone: I’m not at Grundy for one year. I’m not at Grundy for 25 years. I’m at Grundy for however long the good Lord wants me there. If that’s one year, fine. If that’s the rest of my life, fine. If that’s 7 years, 8 months, 2 weeks and 3 days, then fine.
God has continually reassured me since making the decision (in January) in the gentlest yet most obvious ways that this is exactly what I need to be doing at this time. As I said before, there was never some moment of the sky being split open and I was given a 100% definitive answer, but since making the decision there has been continual reassurance that I’m walking/tripping/stumbling/skipping/falling flat on my face on the path I should be walking down/tripping all over/stumbling here and there down/skipping down joyfully/falling flat on my face on. :) I watched a video about adoption a few weeks ago and the mom’s words really struck a chord (ha! get it? Chord.. Cord.. I’m teaching choir….) with me: “Pursue it until God closes the door. If the door doesn’t close and you’re continuing to ask him to guide you, keep going.”

Truth be told, I tried multiple times to get the door to close. It didn’t, and it wouldn’t. I’ll be at Grundy until God grants me his blessing to go elsewhere or until he calls me elsewhere. I’ll pursue him where I’m planted, regardless of where that is, and I’ll continue to contribute to making disciples where I’m at, wherever that is. As for tomorrow, I’m not going to worry about it. Jesus can take care of it. I have enough on my plate today. And as for June 29, the day is quickly approaching, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t tear up even thinking about it. I’m leaving a lot of wonderful people and the place that has been home to me.

So there it is in a nutshell! I covet all of your prayers and cardboard boxes. :)
Pray. Seek. Do.

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Stop using prayer as a cop-out.

I’ve noticed an interesting dichotomy between the people of the Bible and the people of today (other than the addition of iPhones, lack of 12-year-olds herding sheep, etc). Read about David, Joseph, Noah, Rahab, Abraham, Caleb, Esther, Joshua, Peter, Paul etc and you’ll find a common denominator:

They did something.

No, really. They did something. They didn’t just pray about it, or pray about it for two months before doing something (at least not that I’m aware of).
They didn’t pray about it and then go ask their accountability partner, D group leader, youth pastor, or friends to pray about it.
They didn’t pray about it and then decide they needed to sit down and study Scripture (or, well, the Dead Sea Scrolls..) for a few hours.
They didn’t pray about it and wait for God to write a sign in the sky.
They didn’t pray about it and talk themselves out of doing something hard.
Not all of them even took the time to pray about what we know them for: They just did what they knew they needed to do.

Stay with me. If the hair on the back of your neck is standing up, just stay with me. Far cry from most of our modern-day Christian culture. Far cry from my life, to be honest. I have a habit of asking God why things are the way they are. Sometimes a little out of spite, and other times I’m legitimately asking why something is going down the way it is because I’m searching for clear understanding. I think God really gets a kick out of it when I ask “Why?!” and then pray for understanding or patience. I think he shakes his head and chuckles every time. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few months, it’s that when you pray for a character trait, or even a fruit of the Spirit, God doesn’t give it to you. Ever. But he gives you situations where you can choose whether or not you’ll practice those traits, learn, and grow. Our relationship with God isn’t 50/50. If that’s how we view it, we miss out on a lot. Our relationship with him is 100/100. We give 100% because he has already given, and continues to give 100%. And that means a willingness to just do what he tells us to, when he tells us, which would be the exact same for every God-follower:

Go and make disciples.

I talk with older teens in the youth group quite a bit about the concept of God’s will because most of them start freaking out about “God’s will” during second semester of their senior year when the eleventh hour is upon them. Natural and understandable for a Christian kiddo. But I tell them all the same thing: God’s will is huge. It’s not confined to one pathway. God doesn’t lack creativity to the point of only being able to work out one path for every person. God’s will is huge, and he gives us a lot of choices (because love is a choice). He’s already told all of us what his will is: Go and make disciples. Go and make disciples working as a barista in a coffee shop, in a manufacturing facility as a laborer, as a dentist cleaning teeth, as a pediatrician working with kids, as a teacher shaping young minds, as a computer geek who shows neverending patience when a clueless person such as myself calls & asks for IT help.

God’s made it pretty clear what he wants us to do. I’m not sure why we need to spend extravagant time praying about what we already know we should be doing.

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Going to church vs. Being the church

For starters, you have to read this for the rest of this to make total sense. I love what I’ve read from this guy. Those who read my blog (you’re apparently bored, for starters) will probably agree with me when I say that we may have been cut from the same stone.

So now that you’ve read it (are you getting that it’s important?), what do you think? Should you go to church? Given that a (likely) vast majority of churches in America have this sort of ‘feeling’ to them, should you still go? Is it a waste of time? Is it too organized? Is it too predictable? Does the Holy Spirit show up in routine and planning? Are we wasting our time for an hour or so on Sunday mornings only to turn away and not be changed?

Man, this is tricky. Every point he made is an excellent point. I want to provide some respectful push back, and I’ll try to keep it succinct, because I want to hit the point in my title of going vs. being. (But let’s be real. I don’t do succinct, so gut it out with me)

While I am not for putting time restraints on the Holy Spirit, let’s back up and take a look at time. This has always been a personal belief of mine, so this is in no way sound theology. I consider myself to know little to nothing of whatever “theology” means today, and more importantly, I certainly didn’t live in the culture of the day, nor have I studied Greek and the Jewish/Gentile culture that Jesus was living in (all of that is far more important than anything that CS Lewis or Charles Wesley has to say with their Western perspectives and interpretations). God created day & night. He created time. When he did this, was he already pointing to the cross, just in creating day from night? We read in Revelation that there is no night. There’s really no concept of time. Time, while beautifully redeemed, is still necessary because of sin. Because of the fall. Because of the weeds that man must now pull and break his back for. We would need no time if we lived in perfect harmony. We would pay it no heed. Could night and day still exist and us live outside constraints of time? I don’t think so. The turning of the day, the changing of the hours, position of the sun and moon, etc. – all of it places us under a schedule and our bodies were designed to react – all because God saw the mess coming…and chose to make it anyway because of his immense love. And further, he chose to design us in a way that would react healthfully to these changes, and even need these changes to live. Yes, Adam and Eve lived without sin – for a time. I think the cross began to redeem what we’d made of time. It tore the curtain in the temple and gave us 24/7 access to Yahweh without the need to go through the High Priest. It gave our souls an ability to no longer rely on days of sacrifice, because the ultimate sacrifice had just uttered with dying breath, “It is finished.” So here we are. Living crazy schedules, wishing we had more time. Here we are scheduling our church services, needing to be mindful of time. I don’t agree with rushing through services with the same ho-hummed schedule week after week after week, but I do believe that since we serve a God of order and not of chaos that, to a degree, we have to recognize some sort of schedule because we’re human – and in our imperfection, we’re constrained by it, so our worship services are at the mercy of our own flaws in a way.

But what about the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost? He came and the people responded appropriately, did they not? They didn’t shush the Spirit and say, “Not now! We’re getting ready to move from our three songs and into the sermon! Come back later!” This is where I agree wholeheartedly with Chris. He makes a good point: sometimes we just get too expectant of the same thing over, and over, and over. But what’s interesting is the Day of Pentecost didn’t happen at the temple. It happened at someone’s house. The believers had gathered, perhaps for what we consider a small group time, and that’s when the Spirit moved. Honest question: Do we expect the wrong thing from our church services? I’m honestly wondering if maybe God saves the ‘big stuff’ for the ‘small groups’ first of all, because it produces less chaos, which is just like his nature. Do something big in a small group of people. Have you ever tried to accomplish something huge with a huge number of people? It’s a hard thing to do. It works so much better when you can work in a small group and get one-on-one, or three-on-one, or whatever. And second of all, when we enter church with an attitude that’s anything other than bringing thanks and offering before Jesus Christ in a communal aspect, we’ve missed the mark. Church ain’t about what we’re wanting Jesus to do to us, or what feeling we want him to bring to us. It’s about praising him for what he’s done in the past, what he’s doing now, and what he will do in the future. Can he move within that and do something huge if he wants to? Absolutely. He’s God. He can do whatever the heck he wants. My point is, it doesn’t seem like that’s when he chooses to wreck us to the greatest degree. And I think it’s like that for good reasons. Anything can become routine, but I think he knows that church, more than many communal gatherings, is prone to getting stuck in that rut. It’s hard to move among a large group when they all have no expectation that he’ll move in different ways, or they have different expectations about how he should be moving, or how he will move or can move (differing theologies are so much fun, aren’t they?!). I think he still loves the church, though. And I think that may be a backstage reason as to why he encouraged consistency in meeting in small groups: he had the Twelve, and from those he had the Inner Three. It’s easier for us as humans to be reached, to be vulnerable, to be real, and to be ferocious with our faith when we have two or three beside us doing the same thing. It’s difficult to move a couple million through the desert, as Moses found out. It took 40 years to get to their destination while it took the Twelve’s ministry considerably less time to fan into flame the Holy Spirit inside them to reach the far ends of their world – literally.

The following conclusion can be drawn from everything I just explained: We go to church to worship and praise corporately, not necessarily to be fed in huge ways, as that is our own spiritual responsibility. Church is a time to plug in with those around us, but our personal/small communal times outside church are perhaps best for our growth and understanding. That’s not to say those who preach are off the hook – don’t misunderstand me. Should we continue in our same church ruts? No. And frankly, I believe it’s the church’s head leadership that should be taking responsibility for the ruts. It won’t be the congregation that decides to make the change – it will come from the leadership. That being said, I don’t think we should leave our Sunday morning services because we’re frustrated or we can’t concentrate. Following Jesus and loving his church requires sacrifice. If he loved the church as a whole enough to redeem her, perhaps we should return that love by humbling ourselves, accepting the brokenness of the system while still voicing our concerns, disciplining our minds to stay focused, and continuing to praise and worship corporately.

With all that being said, keep reading in Acts and church doesn’t look anything like what we’ve made church into today. Church actually looked a whole lot like the small groups I talked about. And maybe that’s why we feel this groaning in our souls that something needs to change. House churches seem to be a lot more on-target with what was happening in Acts. Somehow, some way, along the way we got caught up in larger crowds, reaching more and more and more, etc. and those are great things – don’t get me wrong. But we lost sight of the importance of the small things and how to carry on the Great Commission in ways other than just bringing people to church. After all, Jesus came as a baby born to two individuals. He didn’t show up on the scene as a ruler of an entire country and govern 20,000 people at one time. He knew what we needed. He knew our hearts needed the small to understand the large.

However, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and overhauling the entire system in one day seems a bit conquest-driven, so we go to church. And we be the church. We live out what we read the New Testament church to be in Acts, as well as the ministry that Jesus lived out. All too often we get confused and forget that church is a lifestyle. It’s hard to think like that, isn’t it? “Church is a lifestyle.” Nuh uh, it’s a place! That’s what our mind automatically computes, because we’ve grown so used to going to church instead of being the church. It doesn’t help that our minds are pairing a word with a visual representation (the actual building) that solidifies it even more so in our brains that church isn’t in me, but in front of me. It seems that our minds need further discipline than just paying attention.

With all of that said, that’s Hannahology. I’m probably totally wrong, but there it is nonetheless. Kudos to Chris Martin for bringing something this important up and being willing to be honest about where he’s at (follow his blog, by the way. You won’t be disappointed). I’m right there with you, brother. It gives us opportunities to speak up and not turn away from the Bride of Christ, but help her become more of what he seems to have meant her to be. Now, if we could just figure out how to go about getting it done… :)

Pray. Seek. Do.

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Victoria Donner

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