the crashing waves

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holdin out His hand
But the waves are callin out my name and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on tellin me
Time and time again, "Boy, You'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

Last year at WVR, one of my sweet girls who I love dearly said to me, "Listen to the lyrics of this song, it's amazing" and she played The Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns.... I was like "Yeah, that's great..." This is a girl who I watched grow and who I grew with all year, and those words rung so true to her time at the ranch, and how God was working in her life as she listened to the truth that God always revealed to her... At 13 years old, she was able to hear that song in a way that I didn't hear it until recently... Now I'm convinced they wrote it about me, except I'm a girl...

I'm reminded of the time I went to the Bahamas with Young Life... We were on this 52 foot sailboat for 7 days and nights, just floating around the caribbean... It was great, amazing, really.... until we drifted upon a tropical depression... not quite a hurricane, but that's what we liked to call it, Hurricane Cristobal.... anyways, one gusty night, after everyone was asleep except for me, my cousin (Emily), Hollis (then Matthew), the deckhand (Ryan) and Tall One (Zach Belcher), the wind and rain grew so strong that we weren't sure we would make it through the night... all we knew was that we had to save that boat, and it's crew, from certain destruction! the five of us, in the pitch black of that stormy night, through the wind and the rain, put the tarp up over the deck of the boat and saved it's life and our lives forever! Now, maybe it wasn't quite that dramatic, but I remember looking over the side of that rocking boat, and thinking "If one of us fell over, we would be gone in an instant in those waves!" It really was terrifying, but the Lord kept us safe, and both the boat and it's crew made it through the night!

Oh what I would do to have the kind of faith it would have taken to step out of that boat towards Jesus' open arms if He had been standing out there in those waves that night... Now, I'm not gonna lie... I've been struggling, and I'm pretty certain that if I were put in that scenario today, I would hold onto those sails for dear life!

Everyday I wake up and ask God for a "good day" and every day I leave school worn out answering the question "how was your day?" with "not so great..." I've been extremely succeptible to hearing and believing the lies that satan whispers in my ear every moment of my time at Eagle Ranch... "Please... you can't do that job.... you'll never make a difference in those kids lives... you're not a good communicator... you don't know how to teach... you're like a 13 year old, those kids see you as a peer, not someone to look up to and learn from... quit, give up, you're wasting your time...." those words have flooded my mind for weeks and have left me discouraged, upset, annoyed, FRUSTRATED... any negative feeling, that's how I've felt recently...

Those thoughts and feelings are so unlike me, really the opposite of who I am, how I live my life, and how I feel 99% of the time.... I am so typically an extremely positive and excited person.... That's why the people at the Honda dealership enjoy me so much, they're just not used to seeing somebody who smiles ALL THE TIME, especially selling cars all day... that seems crazy to them, but that's me, and I like that about myself... God's given me so much, why waste my time not rejoicing in Him always? So when I start feeling down and discouraged, and can't seem to pull myself up, it's really torturous to me! But that's where I've been the last few weeks... I've been hearing these things that are so far from true, and I know they're lies, I know I'm at the ranch because God has me there, and there's some reason, He will use me, and I can do ALL things through Him... but I've started to forget the truth and believe the lies, and I'm allowing satan this grip of fear and discouragement over me... Even at the very point that I thought I had control and was convinced of the truth, they started coming at me faster and harder, and I've wondered if they're lies at all, maybe they're true, maybe I should leave this place... wow, I don't recall a time in my life that I've felt so discouraged and confused about what the Lord's will for me is! Even through the ups and downs during my time at WVR last year, I knew the Lord had me there, and I knew I was in His will... Here's a quote from an e-mail I sent that December during those hard times: "Proverbs says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding..." so that's what i'll do....... i'm gonna walk blindly with Him, and trust Him..... He's given me such strength the last two weeks... more strength than i thought was possible for this weak body to ever encompass....but He makes me walk on water in raging storms.... all i have to do is keep my eyes focused on Him and not on the storms surrounding me.... pray that i have continued strength to do this..." Where is that faith and that trust today? I don't know... but that's life, we struggle and we overcome.... We overcame those storms together and we'll overcome this one too... so that's where we're at, me and Jesus.... this "overcome" stage...

...but the Voice of Truth tells me a different story
The Voice of Truth says "Do not be afraid"
The Voice of Truth says "This is for my glory"
Out of all the voices callin out to me
I will choose to listen and believe
The Voice of Truth

Thankfully I serve this amazingly wonderful God who loves me and sees me through these misunderstood times.... I cannot overcome these lies on my own.... Please, if it were me on my own, I would give up, shut down and quit.... I would hold onto those sails for dear life and never let go... That would be really easy for me to do... But the Lord, who always steers me in the right direction, combats all of those lies every day! And because of Him, I am encouraged! Because of Him, I can step out into the raging waters at Eagle Ranch every day that I'm given the opportunity to, and every day I will praise God for that! And because I know the Holy Spirit is constantly moving through that place, I don't have to ask for a "good day" or tell anyone ever that it wasn't such a good day, because everyday the Lord gives us there, whether one kid opens his heart to what Jesus can do in his life or 33 do, it will always be a GOOD day, simply because Jesus brought them to the ranch and they have the opportunity to learn about Him and to make life changes... and it will always be a good day for me, because Jesus put those great kids in my life and I get to hang out with them every day... And Jesus will always be standing in the midst of it all holding out His hand, waiting for me, all of those kids, and for all of us to listen to the Voice of Truth... Because of those things, I don't ask God for a "good day" anymore, but I thank Him for the GREAT day that He's set before me!

I am convinced now, through much discussion with my God, that I have a great purpose at Eagle Ranch, and I know that, no matter how incompetent I feel, as long as I make the consious decision not just every day, but every moment of every day to step out into the crashing waves, Jesus will be there... He has made me very aware of His constant presence and guidance, and of His sovereignty over my being at Eagle Ranch for another year, and I praise Him so much for that, because I have been very ready to say "goodbye" these past few weeks... But, thankfully, now is not the time! My life wouldn't be nearly as exciting or humorous, or filled with the wonders of Christ if these kids weren't in it, and I'm very pleased to be spending another year with them!

Please pray for me as I'm sure I'll continue to hear these lies every day, but maybe I just won't be quite so succeptible, and pray that I'll be constantly encouraged by the Lord's great work at the ranch and in my life! And also, this is moving week!! We're moving all week into our new beautiful school, so pray for us that all goes smoothly... This is the week we've been waiting for since, well just since August 5th for me and the students, but for years for the rest of the staff!! Y'all are wonderful and I love you very much! Thanks for being so faithful in your prayers for me and this ministry I've been given the opportunity to be a part of!

Anna Kathryn

"I thank my God everytime I remember you!
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy!"
Philippians 1:3&4

Signs that they're listening:

Man, the other day in class, Mr. Millwood was talking about what 'listening' looks like, and one of my 'gangsta' boys said, "I have James 1:12 written down here where Miss Buffington told it to me the beginning of the year, 'Dear brothers, everyone should be quick to listen slow to speak and slow to become angry.'"
WOW! That is huge to me!

I don't even remember this happening, but apparently I mentioned at some point that atomic fireballs are my favorite candy... well, last monday, one of my 7th grade boys came in and gave me what appeared to be a jar wrapped in a cracker barrel bag... I opened it and it was a jar full of atomic fireballs! I have never been more surprised! I was like "this is my favorite candy!!" and he said "I know, I saw them last Thursday and thought about you!" Hey, maybe if they hear the things that aren't so important, they hear the ones that are important too...

About a week after I told all my classes about Arissa, I was at the gym watching some of our kids play in these big basketball championship games against each other, and one of them walked by me and says "Blu Blu, Miss Buffington." I said "Blu blu tibed," and he got the biggest smile on his face!