When we first heard that our co-worker with InterVarsity was going to be on sabbatical this semester, and that Hans was going to be working with both the undergraduate (American) chapter and with the international group, we knew that this semester was going to be a little crazy. (Especially with a baby due in the middle of the semester!) Adding in normal family and church activities, plus trying our best to get our two unfinished bedrooms finished before baby comes, has made life rather chaotic.
But in spite of the crazy and somewhat chaotic pace of life these days, it feels like we have more of a routine than I can remember since we started with InterVarsity almost three years ago. I’m not sure if I’ve simply adjusted (finally) to the random and non-traditional schedule that we lead working with a campus ministry, or if we’ve figured out how to make that schedule work for our family. In reality, it’s probably a little of both.
I do know that I’ve enjoyed having more of an active campus staff role with leading the apprenticeship (discipleship) group each Saturday morning. It’s been encouraging to see students really engaging in the material and growing as a result. It’s been a bit more to juggle than just cooking for the group, but we’ve had help from people at church who have cooked the large amounts of food needed to feed 25 hungry college students for breakfast some weeks. That has been a huge help, especially as I’m getting more tired in the last weeks of pregnancy, and has definitely kept life a little calmer while I am leading! (Next week is my last week leading my group, and then they merge with Hans’ group and he’ll take over – just in time before baby comes!)
As the days are getting longer and sunnier (though not much warmer…), we’re starting to think of summer. Thinking ahead makes me think that life is going to be crazy and chaotic then, too, just in different ways. We want to have a garden again this summer and the thought of balancing that with a new baby, ministry, and just enjoying summer seems crazy, too. I guess we’ll see what happens, and continue to enjoy the path God has set us on. He’s definitely working around us and in us this semester and keeping us going in spite of the craziness of the semester. Somehow, it doesn’t really seem crazy!
This weekend was the first “normal” weekend we’ve had since school started this semester. On the first weekend we had barely arrived home from all of our travels, and only had some of the usual activities with students. Last weekend, we were up north in the Keweenaw at the chapter’s winter retreat, so none of those usual activities happened either. But this weekend we had the full schedule. And full is how it felt!
On Saturday mornings, we have been hosting a group of (American) students for breakfast and discipleship training. With the group from last semester we looked at the Five Thresholds of Conversion – a fancy way of looking at the stages of how people generally come to know and follow Jesus. This semester, we started another group of students and they are also going through the same material. But the tricky part comes with the fact that the first group hadn’t quite finished up yet… so we decided to run two simultaneous groups!
How does that work? Hans is continuing with the first group, which happens to be smaller – a mere seven students – and they get the privilege of eating breakfast and meeting upstairs in Caleb’s bedroom. (Why Caleb’s bedroom?… the spare bedroom has absolutely no furniture in it currently… maybe we should finish that room!) The new group, which has 16 students, gets to meet in our livingroom with me. I’m excited to lead the group through the material and see them grow in their faith. (I’m also more than a little nervous to be leading something like this!) The goal is to work through all of the material by spring break, which also happens to be near our baby’s due date, and then we will combine both groups and Hans will continue with them.
On Sunday nights this semester we will be hosting two leadership meetings over dinner, with additional students joining for dessert. This group was a little smaller – only eight students made it for dinner this week, though I’ve been told that number was a little lower than usual. But seven more joined for dessert, so we still had a good crowd.
I have been thankful for the size and location of our house many times in the past two years, but this weekend made me thankful again. It was wonderful to see our house full of students, and to see so many students excited to grow in their faith, lead the chapter, and encourage others to grow as well. We dreamed of having a house full of people when we bought it, and it is great to see God filling it up!
During last night’s leadership meeting, Caleb and I ate our dinner in the Bible Study leader’s prep meeting, since attendance was low this week and there was room at the table. The group is in the middle of the Gospel of Mark, and a miracle of Jesus healing a blind man was mentioned. We were all surprised when Caleb immediately began to tell us how Jesus spat on the ground, made mud, put it on the blind man’s eyes and told him to go wash his face in water and be healed! (This particular miracle happens to be recorded in the Gospel of John, but that’s a minor detail!) I don’t even remember when Caleb first heard this story of Jesus, but he had all of the details correct. I am starting to see that having students come to our house for trainings, Bible studies, and other events is not only teaching students, but also teaching Caleb!
On Sunday night, we had the undergraduate leadership team over for dinner and their weekly leadership meeting. (We’ll be hosting them this semester, while Aaron is on sabbatical and Hans is working with the undergraduate InterVarsity chapter.) During dinner, Hans asked everyone to describe their winter break with one word. He started with the word, “exhausting”. When my turn came, I answered with the word, “refreshing”, to which everyone laughed… apparently they liked the contrast between our answers.
The truth is, exhausting is a valid word to describe the last four weeks. We spent the week before the break by working hard to get year-end ministry things done while also spending more time with international students than normal, since they were more available during the exam week. Then we jumped into the car and zoomed to Minnesota, to spend most of a week with my (Lindsay’s) family. My brother, who works a crazy night-shift schedule, was able to be there the whole time we were, and we spent the week playing games, enjoying food together, and of course, celebrating Christmas with all of the Williams family traditions.
The day after Christmas, we jumped into the car and made our way east across Wisconsin and the UP, to Hans’ parents’ house. Both of his sisters and their husbands were there for the weekend, and we enjoyed the time with them. Between playing games, installing solar lights on the woodshed (one of Dale and Mary’s Christmas presents), watching his sister’s bunny run around, and opening gifts, the one full day we were all together passed way too fast. After his sisters left, we had the rest of the week to enjoy being with Hans’ parents.
And then, on January 2nd, Hans and I left Caleb with Grandma and Grandpa and went home. Our time at home was short – just over 24 hours (in which we worked on finishing drywall) – and then we hopped on a plane and went to Texas. The purpose of the trip was to attend an International Student Ministry (ISM) conference near San Antonio, and we took advantage of the time to take a few days before the conference for ourselves.
Even though it was a big reason the break was exhausting, the conference was also what made it so refreshing. We had four days to spend with other like-minded staff, worshipping God, studying the Bible together, and sharing our ISM experiences. Hans and I asked questions, learned a ton, and were re-awakened to the passion that God has given us to serve international students. I went to the conference feeling like ISM was a job, and I left the conference being reminded of it as our calling.
Because our last flight was cancelled, we had to scramble to get home (and as a result had a fantastic visit with friends in Chicago). But that meant we arrived (via an overnight bus) just nine hours before we hosted the leadership meeting I mentioned above. Even with all of that, and though it was hard to leave Caleb for so long, I am incredibly thankful that we had the chance to go to the conference. Here’s to 2015 and what God has in store!
One of the perks of working as a full-time staff with InterVarsity (and being married to one) is that a few times a year, InterVarsity Press sends a free shipment of new books that have recently been published. My (Lindsay) goal is to read one book each time we get a shipment (which is usually two or three books), and so far, I’ve been doing pretty good: I’ve read three books from the last four shipments, and am working on the latest one now.
My current choice is Work, Play, Love by Mark R. Shaw, and while I’m only two chapters in, it’s been challenging my ideas about life. Specifically, it’s been challenging what Shaw has been focusing on in these two chapters: the work-life balance. It’s one thing I’ve struggled with in the past few years – especially because Hans works from home and works non-traditional hours, all of which tends to blend with family life in a unique way.
After a discussion about the way Lady Wisdom worked and played with God during the creation of the world, focusing on Proverbs 8, chapter two focused on the idea of play. While sharing with Hans about the book, I told him about fiero (an Italian word that Shaw equates with the idea of an “epic win” in a competition). Shaw’s encouragement in the chapter is (among other things) to structure our workday so that we can seek to accomplish an epic win.
And so, I decided to attempt an epic win yesterday. It looked something like this:
- Spend time focused on Caleb, playing with him as he desired, especially in the morning.
- Clean up the kitchen before dinner prep started.
- Make Caleb’s Christmas present. (I was guessing it would take an hour of sewing)
- Roast a turkey with all the fixings. (We were a few days late for our Thanksgiving meal at home.)
Coming up with my list in the morning gave me something to focus on and a reason to multi-task more efficiently than normal. (I ran from my sewing machine to the kitchen a few times.) But it also gave me a feeling of satisfaction to see everything done at the end of the day. I thought I was crazy for attempting a few “big” things in one day, but it was fun to juggle them and work hard.
Of course, today I didn’t come up with as structured of a list for my epic win, and I haven’t focused on the other ways to structure my day much, either, so I have some working to do. But after my experiment I’m ready to try again.
Now on to reading the rest of the book!
Note: I was not asked to write a review of the book – I simply wanted to share my thoughts about and experience with the book.