Friday, April 3, 2009

Blessed Be Your Name

Along with my recent trip to Chicago, going to the Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman concert on Sunday made last weekend a great one for me. The words these men brought in their testimonies and songs that night were amazing. One song that really stood out to me was Blessed Be Your Name.

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name.

I have always loved this song, but when Steven Curtis Chapman opened the concert with it that night, it had new meaning to me. A friend and I were spending time together recently when this song came on the radio. She went on to tell me that she had a miscarriage about a year ago. As she and her husband were driving home from the hospital, this song came on the radio. The words really stood out to them. They knew that they still needed to praise God even though they had just lost their baby. Now she is pregnant again and due in August. On the way home from her last ultrasound, this song came on the radio again. Now with the gift of their coming son, they are still able to say, "Lord, blessed be Your name."

This song is also an emotional one for Steven Curtis Chapman. His five year old daughter was killed in a tragic accident in the family's driveway last May. This song has brought strength to their family in knowing that they should always bless His name. Because of their faith, they know that they will see little Marie Sue again one day.

I know that things have not always been easy in my own life. It is good to have songs like these to remind myself to praise God in the good times as well as the bad. Things will work out in the end. We just have to trust Him throughout the whole process. With His help, we can make it through.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Windy City

Sometimes with all the stress of school, it is just good to get away for a little bit. I love traveling and experiencing other places, so when the opportunity came for me to spend the weekend in Chicago with a group from church, I jumped at the chance. As the weekend got closer, I was unsure if I would still be able to go due to a big project that I had to finish. Luckily I got it done, and I'm so glad I did. This weekend was one of the best I have had here at Purdue, and I will always be able to look back and smile at the time that we had.

Our team was made up of eight students and leaders from our college group. While in Chicago, we got to minister to Chicagoland Community Church. It is a small church located in the Lakeview area on the north side of the city. I have only been to Chicago a few times, and I wasn't really sure what to expect when we got there. We were given a rough idea of things we would be doing, but that was it.

We arrived a little later than expected on Friday night due to construction on the way up. When we got there, the pastor was waiting for us and ready to explain his plans for the weekend. We would be meeting Tyler, one of the church's interns, and a couple other guys later that night just to get to know them a little bit. Then our real work would happen on Saturday.

We got up on Saturday morning, ate breakfast, and got ready to meet with Pastor Jon and Tyler. Originally they just had the plan for all of us to paint a bathroom, but we knew we could do more. Plus I don't think we would all fit in that bathroom. He decided to also give us the job of building a CD display. Then we decided that the church also needed some cleaning done. With a couple single guys living there, you can only imagine how the kitchen looked.

We spent a good amount of the day on these projects. It took longer than we thought it would. That was okay because our next job was outside, and it was cold and raining. We were to go out on the streets in pairs doing surveys in the Lakeview community and passing out maps of the "L." This was not as successful as we hoped. Because of the weather, it was hard to get people to stop and talk to us. My group only got to talk to one guy, but that one guy was better than none. The other groups were a little more successful but not much more.

That evening, the church was having Safe Haven which is a weekly outreach to the homeless in the community. They didn't need our help during the event, so we got to go downtown for some famous Chicago Pizza. We decided to go to Giordano's. I had been to a couple pizza places in Chicago before, but I would have to say that this one was pretty good and reasonably priced. It might seem like a lot for a pizza, but when you consider how big it is, it's not bad at all.

On the way back to the church, our van decided to die in the middle of the road. We couldn't figure out what was wrong. It started back up again, but then began to die shortly afterward. We pulled off on a side street to see if we could figure out what was wrong. None of us knew much about cars, so we didn't know how much good this would do. I was thinking that we would have to call AAA, and who knows how long that would take?

We popped the hood, and a couple guys got out to see what the problem was. It ended up that the air hose had disconnected, and they just needed to get it back on. This problem was fixed with only a dime, literally. We all got a good laugh out of that one!

Back at the church, Safe Haven was over, and there was more cleaning for us to do. We had to get the place ready for Sunday services. While we were cleaning up, one of the guys found some Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers DVDs. We asked Tyler about them, and he said that he was waiting for the right time to watch them. Well the time had come. That's right, we spent the rest of the evening watching them.

We were all sad when Sunday morning came, and we had to head back to campus. We had such a great time over the weekend and wished that it could have lasted longer. We got to be a blessing to the church, and they were also a blessing to us. I love being able to help out other churches, and I can't wait until we get to go on another trip like this one!