Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On Grace

So I heard a sermon recently about grace.

Do you ever have one of those times where people tell you something over and over and you're like "yeah, okay" but it doesn't really affect you. Then one day someone says the exact same thing you've been hearing, but said in a way that all of a sudden it hits you and you're like "oh! WOW!"
Yeah, this sermon was like that.

I'm not going to lie, there have been things in my life recently that have been getting me down. Really down. Stupid things I've done, mistakes I've made. I just keep thinking that this is not a good thing. I'm a sinner. So I search the scriptures, trying to find a way to make it right with God. People kept telling me "Just give it up to God, let it go." But I wanted to make it right some how. I thought that there had to be something, somewhere that would tell me how to make it right. Then I heard the sermon.

It was like hitting a brick wall. The proverbial light bulb went off over my head. Because the preacher talked about how the law was never possible to follow perfectly and the law won't save us. There is a point where we have to just let it go and give it up to God. It's his grace that covers us, that saves us, that continually brings us back to him. My job is to ask for forgiveness, change my life and let God take care of the rest. If I pursue God whole-heartedly, he will bless me and cause growth in my life.

I'm sure there are some of you out there, who are like "Well, duh, Abigail. You're a little slow on that train." Maybe I am. But it's nice to have a reminder once in a while. Let me tell you what, after hearing that sermon, I could feel the things I'd been carrying around for weeks and months just slip away. It was like the feeling I had when I was first baptized and I came out of the water feeling clean and new. It was a good feeling.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The First Presentation

So last Sunday I did my fundraising presentation for my congregation I attend while at school. Let me just say that even though it's a tiny church, they are some of the most loving people you will ever meet in your life. Walking into that church feels like coming home.

They set aside Bible class time for me. 45 minutes. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to take the whole time, but it actually worked out well. The presentation itself took about half an hour which left time for questions. The questions took about 15 minutes so it was timed perfectly.

One thing I've discovered so far, the most difficult thing is talking to people you know. You would think it wouldn't be. I mean you know the people, the people know you. It should be a good thing, but for me it is extremely difficult to ask people you know for money. I've found this with my job at SPU's phone center as well. It's because you kind of know about people and what some of their means are and you feel really awkward. Plus you're invested in these people and you want their approval. It's a little scary to give a presentation to them because what if you mess up, or they judge you. I get worried about what people will think. But I digress.

The congregation was extremely enthusiastic. Which made me feel encouraged. I was also encouraged by the fact that they are going to put me on their prayer list and petition the Father on my behalf.

It's a really good feeling, to know that people are praying for you. Lately I've felt that I'm going to really need said prayers. I've been feeling inadequate. Like I'm not going to know enough to be able to effectively minister to the people of St. Petersburg. I can feel this turning into a separate blog post, so I'm just going to stop there.

My congregation had a little reception for me before services Sunday evening since I'm graduating and all. They also presented me with a Bible they had all signed which was awesome. In addition they told me that the collection they take up on May 15th is going to go to me and they would also like to support me monthly! Thank God for their warmth and generosity. Going to be talking with them about how much monthly support they'd like to give over the next couple of weeks.

I'm home for Easter this weekend and while I'm here, I'm going to be talking to my Sponsoring Congregation about when they would like me to do my presentation. Originally, I was going to go to Abilene, TX for a missions conference during the weekend of the 15th but apparently they cancelled it, which I was really disappointed about. In any case, it actually works out because I'm going to see if Alliance would like me to speak on that date. I'm also going to be talking to them about taking up a special collection to support my mission.

There is one other congregation I need to make arrangements with. They have connections to people at Alliance, and have been looking to support foreign missions. Apparently they heard about what I am planning on doing and definitely want me to come and speak. I'm actually going to be seeing some people from that congregation on Sunday and so plan on talking to them about when they would like me to come.

So I have three congregations lined up. I've already had a few gifts come in which is awesome. In addition, I won a language prize in Russian at SPU which came with money. I've committed that to the mission. So far, God has blessed me with several hundred dollars. I say it like that because honestly, the money I've received so far has come through no effort of my own. It just kind of appeared. Which is awesome! My mother thinks that God wants me to be there.

It's hard not to worry about the money. I need quite a bit to make it through the year. But I'm trying to keep in mind that God seems to have his hand in this trip from the beginning. From the time I called ACU and got the wrong department until now. He's made it happen and guided it and I pray that he continues to look on this with favor.

I'm getting ready to send out info packets to individuals and some other local congregations. Please continue to pray as I work toward raising the support I need.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I finally finished my fundraising presentation. It was a load off my mind. Nice to have it done and now I can finally start giving it. Which by the way, my first presentation is tomorrow, at the congregation here where I go to school. They told me they would be my Guinea Pigs. XD

I've been feeling more like a missionary lately. Does that even make sense? Maybe it's a sense that "yes, this is what I'm going to be doing the next year of my life." Or maybe it's just that I can think about it more now that school is winding down for the last time. In any case, I've been thinking a lot about fundraising, suitcase packing, insurance and various other odds and ends. Going to have to explore these feelings more.

In any case, my presentation is, of course, all about my trip, goals, and of course a plea for money. It's funny how life skills can help you though. I've worked like two years at SPU's phone center calling Alumni and raising funds for them. Giving a fundraising presentation is basically the same thing, only the money goes to directly support my work.

One question that people have been asking me already is if I'm using PowerPoint for this presentation. The answer is "no." Having spent the last three years listening to professors "teach" using PowerPoint, I've decided that I am on a personal crusade to take down the software. Okay, not really. I've just decided that I'm tired of it. Last semester I found out about this great presentation software called Prezi. It's better than PowerPoint because it does away with the tediousness of slides. In addition it has a nice flow. If you are interested to see how I've utilized this software for fundraising, you can view the presentation below.

I'm slightly nervous about giving this presentation tomorrow. I think mostly because it's the first time I've done it. The more times I do it, the easier it will get. I remember how after a time or two giving presentations to English classes the last time I was in Russia, it kind of worked itself out and was no big deal. Hopefully this will be the same way.

Friday, April 08, 2011

My Identity Through Song

For my music class, I had to write an essay about a song that defines my life. The following essay is what resulted.

When I found out the topic for this essay, I had no trouble thinking of a song to fit my life. Throughout my years, there have been many songs that have been many things to me, but there has only been one that quintessentially sums up my life and that is “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson. This song was a single from her 2004 album of the same name. About the time this song came out, I was in high school making some big decisions in my life and “Breakaway” became my favorite because it so perfectly described my life; where I'd come from and where I was going.

I grew up on my family's farm in rural Ohio. My family was large and ever present and I never lacked for love or attention, but there was a part of me that was searching for something else. Clarkson's lyrics follow the same pattern. The first verse of the song talks about growing up in a small town and wondering what it would be like to get out and see the world. “Dreamin' of what could be and if I'd end up happy, I would pray,” Even as a kid I never wanted to follow the paths that everyone else did. I always wanted to get out and do something different with my life.

The second half of the first verse also describes my life. I never quite felt like I completely fit in during my high school years. While many students focused on clothes, parties and a social life, I preferred reading. I guess you could say I was rather nerdy which wasn't the cool thing to be in high school. I had a small group of friends which helped, but there were times when I felt completely isolated from my peers. Much like the song, there were times that I tried to “reach out, but when I tried to speak out, felt like no one could hear me.” So I accepted the fact that I was the way I was and did my best to get through high school.

An opportunity for change presented itself to me during my senior year of high school. It was what I had been waiting for, a chance to, “spread my wings and learn how to fly,” I applied for and was accepted into Rotary Youth Exchange. After high school graduation, I would be taking a year to go to Russia as an exchange student. Not only that, but I was going to be living in Siberia which seemed like even more of an adventure. I was extremely excited about this opportunity. It would allow me to get out of my small town and see the world. Maybe I wouldn't be lying on beaches like Clarkson in her second verse, (Siberian winters are extremely cold after all), but I was putting myself out there and trying to risk it all to do something different with my life just like the song's chorus “make a wish, take a chance, make a change and breakaway.”

“I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly, though it's not easy to tell you goodbye,” Clarkson sings in the final repetition of the chorus. It wasn't easy to tell my family and friends goodbye, but going to Russia was one of the best decisions I've ever made. That year long journey taught me a lot about who I was and what I was capable of. It also strengthened my relationship with God and made me realize just how much I need him in my life.

It has been almost a full three years since I've been back in the States. I'm getting ready to graduate and though I'm going to be heading back to Russia to do mission work for a year, I no longer put “Breakaway” on repeat and listen to it over and over. That stage of my life has passed. Now it doesn't matter whether I fit in or not. What matters is that I have gained confidence in the knowledge of who I am and what I can do.