Sorority Girl

August 2007, I pulled onto the campus of Ohio University with two cars bursting at the brim from over-packing moderately full of the freshman's dorm room essentials. It was an interesting season in my life as my parents were going through a divorce and I was beginning a whole new chapter moving away from home. One decision I made within the first week of college was to join a sorority. For all the wrong reasons initially -- easy access to the party scene, a sense of belonging and identity, and the hopes that I'd be able to get a fake ID.

After the long process of recruitment, I pledged Chi Omega and was thrilled about it. As we rushed from our student center to the front lawn of the sorority house, I was greeted by nearly 100 women all seemingly ecstatic to meet me and the other new gals. I partied it up that first year in Athens, not to the surprise of anyone who knows anything about Athens, Ohio. I dove into the scene head first and just wanted to be accepted. Chalk it up to an early-life crisis.

Moving in to the sorority house my sophomore year I was genuinely nervous. That summer I made a lot of personal changes through surrendering my life to Jesus, which included not being a part of the scene that formerly defined my reputation.

What are these women going to think of me now? Maybe I shouldn't be back to OU? were questions that went through my head. But I stuck with it and decided I would have nothing to do with the lifestyle I lived before. While it was definitely the decision I had to make for myself at the time, I've been reflecting lately on how I could have handled things differently.

During my senior year, I had the privilege to share my story of how God had worked in my life at our weekly gathering for Cru. I invited a bunch of my sorority sisters out and they came, even though our friendships looked much different now three years later. It touched me greatly that they were there to hear me--they came to a scene unfamiliar to them because they wanted to support me.

I am so thankful for my story and how God has worked in me, but the way I chose to phrase certain aspects about what sorority life had been like for me was likely pretty hurtful to the row full of women I called my sisters. It was indeed a lonely time in my life living in the sorority house, but I wish I would have taken the chance to encourage them, to tell them that there is nothing they've done that Jesus's death on cross doesn't cover, that I didn't judge them for the decisions they were making because I had just been there. I wish I had told them how much I cared for them, believed in them and how very much God has in store for their lives--that they are precious to Jesus and he loves them unconditionally; that they deserve men who value them and treat them in a respectful, loving, Godly way. 

So to any of my Chi O sisters, or fellow sorority girls out there, I am sorry. I'm sorry for distancing myself from you, not knowing how to be your friend, and ever coming across as having it all together. I didn't then and I certainly don't now. You are amazingly beautiful, talented and gifted women that I am honored to have spent four years of my life with. Thank you for those that were there that night, it meant more to me than you know. I think of and pray for many of you often, and hope somewhere down the road our paths cross again. 

Greek life turned out to be one of the best decisions God has redeemed in my life. What I joined for poor reasons, God used for His glory. I was able to be a part of the Greek Bible study and later go on to lead it. The women I've met through this from many other sororities on campus have become some of my greatest friends, who inspire me to do more for Jesus. Thank you all for the impact you've made on my life today.

Worth It.

One month. That's (approximately) the time until I board a flight to Slovenia with 10 other recent graduates (my hubs included) to move to Slovenia for the upcoming year. Here we will be working with Cru to build a campus ministry on the university in Ljubljana (the capital). People often ask how I feel about leaving, so here it is in summation.

Yes. I will miss… my family and friends. the convenience of hopping in a car to run to the store instead of waiting for public transportation. English being the native language. US electrical outlets. PF Changs. my kitchen supplies and other "comfort" items. being home for the holidays. chocolate chips.

But I'd give up those things forever if it meant... a whole country of people being exposed to Jesus for the very first time. meeting students who are hopeless, at the end of their rope, bringing them the hope of a Savior. sharing my story with someone going through similar things. being obedient to God rather than disobedient. putting the Lord's will above my own. changing, growing, not staying the same.

And it does. So I will go. Happily. Joyfully. And yes, even though it's hard. Because God doesn't call us to an easy, mediocre, "American dream" life. He calls us to a radical, unfathomable, world-changing journey.

Because He not only wants to use to reach the world, but He wants to wreck our idea of happy in the best way possible, showing off His far superior plan, reminding us that our citizenship is in Heaven, and we don't belong here forever.

You won't find a verse in the Bible that tells you to cling to what you love and hold tightly to it. In fact, you'll find the exact opposite.

"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it again." [Matthew 16:24-25]

Two years ago, I decided to stop attempting to "put all my ducks in a row". I was done planning. Done trying to have control. Done with my 10-year plan. And I have never looked back a day since. Because while the life I had planned for myself wasn't bad, God gave me way greater.

I'd far prefer to be where I am now, then where I thought I wanted to be right now.

I say this now with confidence, but don't get me wrong, it's still a struggle and sacrifice for me. There's moments of anxiety with the uncertainty ahead. But…

it's worth it. He's worth it. He always will be. And you will never, ever regret choosing His way over yours.

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Niki

Twenty-something follower of Jesus, wife to my best friend, aspiring kitchenista, and lover of handwritten type, all things coffee, traveling and baked goods. Currently in the United States until my husband and I move back to Ljubljana, Slovenia, where we are missionaries with Cru.

A Step Forward

Well today’s the day.

The day I take a step out of my comfort zone, a step of faith, to be obedient to what the Lord has asked me to do. Tonight my hubs and I are giving the main talk at our weekly gathering for Cru at Ohio University

As I’ve said before, I struggle with feeling the need to perform. It comes through in my feeling inadequate, constantly comparing myself to others and at times times not taking opportunities because I fear what people will think of me.

But I’m so tired of living my life that way. Insecure. Fearful. Doubting that God could use me in a special way. So when the chance came for me to speak alongside my husband, I knew it was the time to drive a stake in the ground, making this a turning point in my life; of resting in who I am because of Jesus, not the opinions of my peers and coworkers.

It’s not so much the public speaking that makes me anxious, but the wondering of what people will think of how I did that gives me butterflies. That, and the anticipation of just wanting to get up there and do it already!

So I as I go through this afternoon, I ask for your prayers--that I’d remain at peace, staying focused on my reason for doing this (Jesus), clinging to to Galatians 1:10 [that I wouldn’t try to please man, but God], and excited about talking to students about being sent. My hubs is a natural at this but pray for him as well--that every word that comes out of our mouths would be from the Holy Spirit, not our own strength.

If you’re in Athens, come out to Morton 201 tonight at 9pm to hear us. I’ll post a link to the talk once it’s up for any of you that would like to hear it. Thank you again for your prayers and encouragement. What a blessing your feedback from this blog has been to me!

When the Buzz Wears Off

January 1st marks a new beginning. And with it often comes the feelings of a fresh start, a clean slate. To be better this year, to hit the gym, kick the habit, or finally start that project. Such great intentions and enthusiasm we start off with. Yet, if you’ve been to a fitness center in January and then gone again two months later, you’ve likely noticed a few more open treadmills. NYE rolls around again and with it we promise that the coming year will bring change.

As I was in Indianapolis ringing in the New Year with over 2,000 college students at Cru’s annual Christmas Conference, the passion and excitement in the room was overwhelming. 11:59 hit and we soon started the 10-second countdown to 2012, when we’d worship and pray together to thank God for all He did in 2011 and all we’re believing for in 2012.

While the New Year’s buzz wears off quickly, there’s good news for all who seek that “fresh start” throughout the year. On our own, we undoubtedly fail to live up to these expectations and standards that either we have set or let the world set for us. But there’s a way to have your slate wiped clean, your shortcomings cleared… whenever you want it.

We have all messed up, all failed (often times miserably) to reach perfection. But there’s Someone who loves you. Who gave all He had for YOU… so that you could experience a fulfillment and satisfaction you otherwise never could have.

You don’t have to wait until January 1st. God promises that His “mercies are new every morning.” Make this your first resolution: to stop trying to do it on your own and respond to the invitation from The One who longs to wipe away your shame, guilt and pain. Jesus wants you to come to him.

Are you ready for a new beginning?