Studied Group Counseling/Intensive #3

For the first week of the summer courses I was enrolled in another intensive. I was kept very busy with precourse work, watching a dvd and answering questions in a workbook about “Group Counseling.” Despite the repetitiveness of the workbook questions, I realized that this is an area of counseling that I am more familiar with/have more experience in. I have TOOONS of experience in the idea of group dynamics.  I have written, and helped to plan countless Bible studies, and led many small group weekend and year long endeavors. I am creative with developing activities or exercises to bond the group together, and to illustrate teaching points.

No more extension cords!

I was stoked!

However, no one told me that, while this class was about learning by participating in group, we were REALLY going to be participating in group. (Yes  I cried working thru some of my personal baggage, but I’m definitely better for it). Personally, I thought I had dealt with some stuff in my life, but I had really rationalized and self counseled through it (basically intellectualizing through it). I had never really allowed myself to feel that pain, hurt, and bitterness to accept through it. I am so grateful to my group members as we journeyed together, who really gave me permission to feel through that pain I’d been running from. It didn’t matter that there are others who have had worse in their lives, they were okay just to let me “sit in it” for a moment, and just feel. I didn’t have to metaphoricalize my feelings, I didn’t have to dress them up or make them pretty. I could feel bitter, angry, sad, wishful to change things, and mourn this absence of this particular aspect in my past. It was just so freeing! And now, I feel that I am better able to empathize with others, instead of advice giving or trying to fix their problems, but instead just “listening and hearing” them. I’m hoping to be a better friend in the future.

My group, Group #2.

Now, I’m just processing whether I need to dig deeper into this, personally, or if by experiencing that with God, that is all that I needed to do.

Lunch at ChikFila
Lunch at Panera, on our final class day!

We were the test guinea pigs for this brand new facility. The chairs had never been sat in, they were still getting other chairs and tables for the lobby throughout the week, you could see the crisp streaks of paint on the wall. They were truly amazing teaching spaces. I just worry about future courses, as many of the students were parking in retail spaces for the stores located next door :-/ Hopefully that will be worked out!

Attended an Air show!

I’m a military brat, so chances are, I’m pretty sure that I’ve attended an air show…but I can’t remember it, especially seeing the Blue Angels. They’ve been in town this weekend. I remember seeing the signs up at least a month ago, I was not impressed. I just knew it was going to be crazy, and that I’d probably have to camp out in my apartment away from the congested traffic.

However, I have been in class 8:30-4:30 Monday through Friday this week…and I started hearing them flying around getting their bearings on Thursday. I had heard them in class, but that was nothing compared to seeing them doing their awesome dives combined with the neato sonic booms. I was staring up from the parking lot, hoping to catch a picture. I visited my supervisor, and I was ecstatic like a little kid! I was jabbering away and making swooshing gestures. I then looked up the info…and found out that no weapons were permitted of any kind (because to get to where the viewing areas were, you had to go through TSA screening checkpoints). I was very disappointed because my husband and I regularly carry 9mm, pocket knives, and pepper spray. (Hey! A girl has got to protect herself when her hubster works night shift!) Sooo we try not to financially support places who restrict access to such things. I was pretty bummed, especially after wikipedia-ing, googling, and youtubing the Blue Angels.

Then Friday, I stopped by work, we’d only had a half day of class. I figured I’d catch up on some stuff, and I mostly just missed my co-workers. It worked out that the director of the program had scored a pass to watch the practice show at the southern airport of the show. They were getting ready to go…and then the question came that I’d been hoping for, “How do you guys feel about taking a field trip?!” Lol! I love being in the right place at the right time!

The show was SOOO cool! The internal shaking of the sonic booms was neat to experience. My favorite parts of the show was how the jets would just disappear into the skies, then suddenly appear right above you. It was sort of a nervous feeling, so much so that I’d be scanning the skies and confused as to whether I saw a jet or a bird. I quickly learned that if it glinted silver in the distance than it was the jets coming back in.

There were tons of spaces in between the awesome stunts and feats, which allowed one to become unexcited. I just couldn’t believe the talent it takes to do these stunts. They can be as close as 18 inches apart! They’ve also been flying since 1946, crazy! And, they’ve also flown tours over Canada, Asia, Europe, Korea, South America, and more…I had no idea! And I have to admit, I’m pretty much proud of the Navy’s show of skill and representin’ America.

I was so excited about this neat and free opportunity, I was overexcited to a Husband who was currently imagining the use of anti-aircraft missiles. (He was sleeping during the day before his night shift). So…new goal…to fly with the Blue Angels…heh…I have a feeling I’d puke, or pass out because of the G forces. I want to know what it’s like to fly like that though!

P.S. All of these pictures were taken with my Nikon Coolpix s6000. Many of the pictures I had not had enough focus time to center on the airplanes, nor a high enough zoom. However, because of the high megapixels, I was able to crop and enhance the images. (The first time that I’ve played around with stuff like that and I must admit that I feel pretty proud of myself!)

Getting hearing protecting on!
Getting his camera ready

Traveled to Italy

We are the best!

However, sixty days from today, Xtreme Impact mission trips will begin and I will be leaving for Venice, Italy within the next few days! I can’t believe that it is almost here; it is a very surreal feeling! I have always wanted to visit the “City of Water”, and I’ll have this amazing opportunity to help lead high school students with an awesome leadership team that I have become friends with over the past year.

Where we will be staying

My team will be partnering with a bible college located near Venice. The focus of the ministry uses dramas and street evangelism. Many of you may be thinking “why go to Europe, they are all Catholic, why not go to someplace in Asia or Africa where there is more of a physical or spiritual need?” I know a lot of our students have had this question asked of them this year. The truth is that Europe may be Catholic, but that is often only culturally or in name only. We are interested in them having the opportunity to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Italy is technically within the 10/40 window, and Italy has a lower response/interest rate to the Gospel compared to many closed countries. Also, there is a high attrition rate of missionaries in Italy, this means that often when they go on furlough, those missionaries will not return to Europe. Thus, the need is great.

Prayer Requests
*For the Leadership our spiritual growth, being good role models for our students.
*For our students– spiritual growth, fundraising

We can see the Swiss Alps from our base

*For the Missionary Contacts– for the planning, that we’d be useful in their mission
*For the Team Leaders/ Directors– health- (our main leader tore his ACL in Costa Rica this year and is leading two trips to Italy this summer before his surgery in early Fall), planning (as there are several other trips that will be taking place as well to: Uganda, Costa Rica, Italy, Bahamas, Brazil, Thailand, and India)
*For those in Italy– that their hearts would be opened to receive the message that we are sharing.

Pizza, that I am told I will get sick of. I don’t see that happening

One of my personal preparation goals for this Italy trip is to try to learn Italian. I studied Spanish for five years in high school, then visited Brazil and found myself able to function as a basic translator. (My friend and I joked that we had to learn Portuguese, because can you imagine us not talking with the people?). An amazing free website that I have found for language learning is www.livemocha.com. It has tons of different language and quite a bit of free resources. You even have the option of having written or recorded oral exercises graded by native speakers (who can actually comment on your accent).

Another goal is to reflect on my prior missions trips, and what I’ve learned from each of them. (I thought this would also be a fun opportunity to share those experiences and pictures with you all throughout this summer :0) ) So, look forward to that!

Been at Guest at Broadway Beauty and the Beast

This past week I had the opportunity to attend another musical production, this time it was part of a National Broadway tour…and one of my favorite stories of all time “Beauty and the Beast”! I planned this earlier in the year when I saw the advertisement…then when I saw that the only showing near me was also on my husband’s birthday I actually had the audacity to ask if we could see it…and like he said we could dance to “Tale as Old as Time” at the wedding (suffering his family calling him “the Beast” due to his beard), he actually said yes!

He let me drag him to this performance amidst the six and seven year old little girls in their yellow Belle ball gowns on his 24th birthday…have I mentioned that my husband is ridiculously patient, wonderful, and understanding?

I really wanted this shirt…but its $30!!

The performance was amazing! The day began stressful, trying to make it to the theatre on time (we were running late  since we were driving to another city), and we were threatened with being barred from the first ten minutes! However, we managed to get to our seats in time. I loved watching the familiar scenes and songs unfold. I actually paid more attention to the supporting actors, Lafou and Madame de la  Grande Bouche (the dresser) were particularly good. Lafou’s character was literally beat up or tripping at every turn, and Madame was once an Opera singer before she was enchanted. She actually had drawers in the sides of her giant costume. There were also some other songs not in the Disney version including: “If I can’t Love Her” sung by the Beast. My favorite scene was that of the classic “Be Our Guest” it was entertaining to see how they did the costuming. The husband said he looked over me at this point and saw my mouth agape staring in happy wonder…not sure if thats what really happened, however, I was very entertained by the salt and pepper shakers dancing in a Russian manner! Other creative interpretations included the stage hands being dressed up as Gargoyles as them turned the sets around (in the castle) and Beast was not portrayed as mean, as he much lacking in any education about women and dating (It was pretty comical).

Don’t feel too sorry for the tortured husband of this post… he did get two different firearms for this birthday this year…he was quite happy! We celebrated his birthday when we got home with cake, ice cream, his family, and our neighbors. He says he’s too old for a birthday party… but we disagree!

P.S. Speaking about Beauty and the Beast, my best friend and I have finally launched our book reviewing website (named in honor of our inspiration) at www.belleslibrary.net. You should definitely check it out!

Visited the Billy Graham Library

My husbands parents have been visiting since Easter, and they expressed a desire to travel to the Billy Graham Library which is located in Charlotte, NC. I am always game for a road trip adventure and I had Easter Monday off.

I was skeptical at first, due to my university I’m used to “big name Christians.” I was very much surprised and impressed. The Library was less of a museum about Billy, and instead about the message that he was called to share. It was filled with momentos from the various presidents and country leaders that he befriended. My only complaint about the Library (entrance is free by the way), is that each exhibit features a film clip…which gets old after awhile…though they are well done.

My favorite exhibit was that of Ruth Bell Graham. There was a video clip of Ruth saying, “I have never considered divorce, I have contemplated murder on various occasions.” I loved seeing her wedding dress and other things from her life. She collected drawings, quotes, and stories for use in Billy’s sermons (being the original pack rat), and she was raised as a missionary in China. I would love to know more about her as a woman, wife, and mother.

The exhibit that shocked me the most was that of Billy’s influence during WWII. The room was designed after the Berlin wall, complete with the lighted tower, and the gestapo. It was an eerie feeling. However, the remarkable thing was that due to Billy’s legacy, God softened the hearts of those in power in Russia, and Billy Graham was permitted to preach to large crowds. This occurred in communistic countries that outlawed religion.

At the end of the “Journey of Faith” there is a bookstore called “Ruth’s Attic.” I love the design of it…it features bookshelves towering high in the walls. We even found a new wall decoration soon to be added with pictures from husband and my mission trips.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone!