Sunday, September 23, 2012

NSR- Take two.

NSR (New Student Retreat). It's a weekend retreat an hour away from JMU in the middle of nowhere in the mountains, it takes place about a month into your freshman year, and you go with your small groups that you really hardly know.

DOE bridge pose!

DOE piggybacks


Flashback to my freshman year. I went to the first IV Large Group with a friend who knew upperclassmen who were on exec. I signed up for a small group, and subsequently signed up for NSR a few weeks later. The girls in my small group seemed nice, but I had SO MANY guards built up, I had been hurt so much by so-called friends and past youth groups. I knew that I so desperately needed community, but I was so actively fighting it with all I had. I didn't want to share my story. I didn't want to let these girls in. I didn't want to be hurt again.

NSR was rough. I stayed glued to one girl's side, and everyone saw us as a clique and didn't really talk to us. I almost liked it, because it gave me a reason to feel entitled to keep my guards up. I loved worship, I loved CJ's talks, I loved being out at Highland Retreat Center. But I did not at all want to talk to these girls or share anything about myself with them. So I didn't. Our leaders (Anna and Vianne, you guys are awesome) tried so hard to get us all to talk and share, but it just was not happening. They had to call me out to get me to talk, and it just pissed me off even more. "If I wanted to talk, I would have talked," I kept thinking. I just kept on building up my walls even higher, keeping them out more and more.

Now flash forward to this year. I've grown SO MUCH in the past two years, I've shared my testimony and my life with the girls in my small group, and we've become a community, best friends, and family. I could never picture my life without those girls by my side through everything- God has moved mountains in my life through that support system and group. And now I'm leading my own group of freshman girls.

I was so anxious about this NSR weekend. I didn't want it to be like my experience was. I wanted to be excited about it, present in it, and open to what God had in store. Well, He blew me away. Not all of our girls could come, but we had an awesome group of 6 girls there with Stephie and I. We laughed, we were goofy, we sang a LOT of One Direction to practice for our freshman parody skit, we ate a lot, we had lots of inside jokes, and we got more real with each other.

The talks were awesome, as they always are. The worship was powerful. And our small group time was so much more than I ever expected. Getting to see the hearts of our girls and to start to deepen our relationships was so incredible. I never expected to be so overcome with emotions that I would cry...I'm really not a crier. I just was so in awe of what God was doing, of how present He was in the weekend, and of what He was reminding me of throughout it all.
our new bridge pose :)


Our inside joke pose ;)

God is so sovereign, so in control of everything I stress over and worry about. He has it, and He can do more with it than I could ever dream of. And He did. I'm so thankful for this weekend. I'm thankful for the girls I get to hang out with and get to know and lead. I'm thankful for a co-leader who is just awesome. I'm thankful that God loves me like He does, in such an overwhelming and unending way. I'm thankful that He equips me daily with everything I need, and that He covers me with grace that I can't understand.

Small groups rock. I'm so unbelievably blessed and in awe that I get to lead one. God is awesome. NSR is the best. The end.

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