Friday, July 26, 2013

A Letter to Twenty-One and Twenty-Two

I don't know about you, but I am feeling twenty-two. 

Thank you Taylor Swift for that song and thank you for reminding me that it's okay to dress up like hipsters; eat breakfast at midnight; be happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time; make fun of exes; spend time dreaming instead of sleeping; and ditch the whole scene. Oh yes, thank you.

Twenty-one, you were good to me. You taught me:

  1. Michigan summers really do steal your heart.
  2. Buying plane tickets and surprising best friends really is never a bad idea and that it should be done more often than not. 
  3. Cars are meant to be driven, so go places and drive all over the country to be with the people you love and to see the things you have always dreamed of.
  4. Coffee at Merritt's is in fact one of the most delightful things.
  5. Making a list of things you are grateful for will open your eyes to so many places the Lord is really working.
  6. Living life alongside high schoolers is challenging and hard some days, but it is absolutely worth every single second of it. 
  7. When it rains, it pours. Literally and metaphorically. 
  8. Flowers from best friends when things get rough do truly make things better... of which Sydney Jones is the best giver.
  9. Plane tickets to Denver with no other plans really do work out. Strangers at the air port do even offer you their mountain house in Breckenridge to stay at (of which you should politely decline the offer for safety reasons). 
  10. A little coffee and a whole lot of Jesus make any day wonderful.
  11. If there is cute party-ware at Target, a dinner party is just the thing that will bring it all together... and be sure to add best friends, cute dresses, a photographer, good wine, and even better food.
  12. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
  13. It's always best to tell the whole truth, say what you really mean, and take ownership of your feelings... for this is a lesson I am continually learning.
  14. Vulnerability is scary and sometimes ugly, but it is also beautiful and necessary. 
  15. Going fishing with the entire McMansion on a boat does not produce catching fish but it does produce laughter and joy that tickles the deepest part of your soul.
  16. Dressing up as Santa and his reindeer makes for an eventful Halloween of caroling and prancing.
  17. Asking for the Lord's grace each and every single day is necessary; just as is extending grace every chance you get.
  18. Love. Always, love. 
  19. Taylor Swift concerts are best with Anna Wong.
  20. It is always better to stay up late, make mistakes, cuddle in beds, drink out of mason jars, hunt down raccoons, twerk at dance parties, take pictures every chance you get, and have real talk with your house mates.
  21. Nothing is better than loving Jesus... absolutely nothing. 
But, twenty-two, I could not be more excited for you. I cannot wait for the lessons that you will teach me and all of the adventures that you will provide... I mean I am moving to freaking Colorado this year, bring on the adventure and good times. 

Twenty-two, you have already taught me that I do in fact have some of the best friends in the entire world. Friends that send the most fun gifts, call at just the right time, and encourage me to know the Lord more each and every single day. You remind me that mornings spent with the Lord are beautiful and necessary. You teach me that Yahweh is my shepherd and I lack no thing (Psalm 23).

And twenty-two, above all else I cannot wait to know the Lord more this year. I cannot wait to be seized by the power of His great affection each and every single of day of twenty-two. May I never lose sight of the One who has called me His own and has my name engraved on His hands. May twenty-two be a year to glorify the Creator.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lessons From the Casino

On Sunday I found myself in no place better than a casino in the Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, PA. A lot of words in that sentence don't really all align... me + Sunday + casino + Bethlehem = say whatttt?. Yes, a little out of the ordinary, but nonetheless it is where I was this past Sunday.

I had never really been to a casino before. For multiple reasons I would say: (1) We do not have casinos in North Carolina, except on the Indian reservations, and I have yet to really find myself there. (2) I most surely do not have a poker face. (3) I would never imagine myself overly flourishing in a casino.

But this past Sunday, the casino just happened to be where I was for about half an hour as I was exploring an old city in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with three of my best friends from high school.

the steel stacks in bethlehem & also the home of the casino

I did not know what to expect walking into a casino.

But what I saw saddened me, broke my heart, and then reminded me ever so perfectly of myself.

The casino was full of people with eyes glazed over staring hopelessly at slot machines and tables full of cards and chips. The slot machines were pretty, full of lights and fun pictures. The tables spoke of something serious, yet with the potential to win big and to walk out with heavy pockets.

The people were devoted to the slot machines and to the tables. They stared intensely, longing for something, anything.

Yet not a soul seemed to be happy. The life in their eyes seemed to be dried up and gone. Smiles seemed to be a thing of the past. Their hope was in the slots and in the cards, neither of which seemed to really be delivering.

And as I was observing my heart was overwhelmed with hurt, not because I thought that I was better than any of the people gambling, because I most assuredly am not, but because I am just as much one of them.

I may not be picking up gambling anytime soon (my poker face...bad...terrible), but I am continuously putting my hope in things that will never truly satisfy. I do not mean to, but it happens... and each time I am reminded that those things cannot deliver and they cannot save.

"A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save." 
-Psalm 33:17

The ultimate Creator, the one true Triune God, is the only source of life and the only source of real hope. He is the only one who can deliver and who can save.

Yet, we put our hope in other idols everyday. We bow down to things that we expect will satisfy, yet we are continuously disappointed when they do not seem to pay off. Things or people become idols when they begin to push God out of His high place in our life where He belongs. In the end, idols profit us nothing (Isaiah 44:10), they bring us no life and no lasting satisfaction.

I was reminded that afternoon in the casino that my soul should be lifted to no other than God alone. My soul should not be lifted to relationships, social media, material possessions, or anything else that I hope will bring satisfaction. May my soul alone be lifted up to the One who came to save me and the One who calls me His own.

Rather than sulking with frustration towards myself for the idols in my life, I am reminded that we are forgiven as we repent of our sins. Before I even fully recognize the idols in my life, the Lord has already forgiven me and made me clean. "The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)

"Remember these things, O Jacob, 
for you are my servant, O Israel.
I have made you, you are my servant;
O Israel, I will not forget you.
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
you sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you."
Isaiah 44:21-22 

May the idols in our lives be laid down, and our cross picked up as we follow Jesus. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

From Going to Being

Since I graduated high school I feel like my life has been lived on the fast-track. College does that to you. Chapel Hill does that to you. It says do as much as you can in as little time as possible. Do it all efficiently and just GO, GO, GO.

I spent my semesters in college leading Young Life, nannying, working, and being a student. It was wonderful, really wonderful in fact, but it was a lot of going. It was a lot of early mornings and late nights, coupled with so many places to be in between.

I spent my summers interning at one of my favorite places in the entire world, Timber Wolf Lake. Those summers are some of my favorite times and memories from the past four years, but they were also full of going... Going in all the best ways, but still, a lot of going. 

I kind of like the "going" lifestyle. I thrive off of being around people and I have spent the past four years pretty much surrounded by people. I like to get things accomplished and checking things off of to-do lists. I enjoy having an organized calendar that maps out all that the day holds. I find peace in bits of exhaustion that exclaim things got done. 

My days have been full of goings. 

But since Michindoh, the days have not been full of a lot goings. The days have been full of being.

For once, in a really long time, I do not have many responsibilities. I am in the in-between. I am in the wait time of the transition. At the end of August I am moving to Colorado for a year, but in the mean time I am being

I am living at home with my family in Greensboro. I have not done this since the month after summer staff after my freshman year of college. And I am getting to be. With no expectations and no where to be.

This is new for me and it is humbling to me. There is no place I am direly needed and no place that I should really be. I just am.

I am learning to be. To be calm and to be still and to rest.

And in all of that I am doing things that I love and I am doing things that are challenging to me.

I am spending time alone and I am spending time with my family. I am making new friends in an old city dear to my heart. I am sleeping with no alarm and I am sipping hot coffee first thing. I am staying in my bed for as long as I want reading and spending time with the Lord. I am crafting and making lots of fun art projects. I am re-reading all of the Harry Potter books (of which I finished the first two in two days) because I can and I have the time. I am visiting Chapel Hill and reuniting with friends there. I am road tripping to Pennsylvania with two of my best friends from high school. I am going to the lake, soaking in the sun and learning to fish. I am running the hills of Greensboro and I am exploring the parks. I am leaving my phone at home when it's not needed. I am writing letters. I am breathing the days in slowly, seeking all that the Lord has in store for them.

I am doing the things that all of the going never left time for... but being, it allows for this. It lets the days be soaked in and enjoyed and lived.

It lets my soul breath a little bit and it allows me to fall in love with the Lord all over again as I get lost in His creation and the days that He has so perfectly made. I get to learn about Him as I learn to rest and to simply be. And I get to learn about Him as I spend time with my family and I prepare my heart for Colorado.

While I know that this time is unique and that it is a special blessing to have no responsibilities for a month and a half, I pray that I never stop enjoying just being. That I never stop seizing the days for all that the Lord has made them to be and letting them soak in slowly and sweetly.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Next Stage: Crooked Creek Ranch

It's finally settling in that I am officially a graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. I have completed four years at a university that stole my heart when I was just a little girl and I absolutely fell in love with the town of Chapel Hill. I learned a ton, both in academics and in life. I met some of the best friends that I could ever imagine. I was challenged beyond belief. And I am leaving with some of the best memories I could have ever asked for.

But college has come to an end and the next stage of life has arrived. And it is a stage of life that I am extremely excited about. This stage is one that will land me in Fraser, CO for the next year working as a year-long intern at Young Life's Crooked Creek Ranch.

I wrote a post on "Going West" when I first accepted the position, but I want to now explain a little more of what my year will look like and to invite you in on the journey with me.

I first went to Crooked Creek with my high school's Young Life area when I was fifteen years old. It was truly one of the best weeks of my life. It was a week where I encountered the love of Christ and made some of the best memories from high school. I had no idea when I was fifteen that I would ever return to Crooked Creek and surely not that I would return to work and live there for a year. God began writing Crooked Creek into my story six years ago, knowing all along that it would be an even bigger part of my story in the future. I am continually amazed by his faithfulness and expert story-writing skills.

gore cabin gettin' ready for the o-course

best friend & hiking

If you are not familiar with Young Life, it is a relational ministry that is geared towards middle and high school students that's mission is to introduce them to the love of Christ and what it looks like to have a relationship with Him. I was involved with Young Life all throughout high school and the relationships that I formed then have continued to have an impact on my life.

When coming to Chapel Hill, I was blessed with the opportunity to become a Young Life leader in one of the local high schools, East Chapel Hill High School. Being a Young Life leader has changed my life in more ways than one. I got to live life alongside some of the most wonderful high school girls and build relationships with them that I will forever cherish. It is difficult to even begin to explain what it means to be a Young Life leader, but my friend Johnson wrote a wonderful post on my blog that begins to shed a light on the beauty and challenge of what it really means. One of the reasons that it is so difficult to imagine leaving Chapel Hill is because it means I am leaving behind some of the most precious girls at East who I have loved getting to know, hanging out with, and spending countless hours talking about the Lord with.

our awesome group of leaders at leader weekend
windy gap fall weekend 2010
girls crafternoon 
saranac volleyball tourney 2011
ice cream olympics 2011
rockbridge fall weekend 2011
rockbridge fall weekend 2012
the sweetest
Not only have I been blessed to be a leader, but I have also been blessed to work at a Young Life camp each summer of college. I fell in love with Young Life camping at a camp in northern Michigan, Timber Wolf Lake. I served on Summer Staff there the summer after my freshman year, and worked there for the following two summers.

da femterns #twl2k11
all time favorite picture... ever.
timber wolf lake interns 2012
Young Life camp is a place where Young Life leaders bring their middle school and high school friends to experience life to the full as they experience the craziness of clubs with 400+ people, the ropes course, volleyball tournaments, rodeos, and also the love of Christ through the people serving and the speaker who presents the Gospel throughout the week. It is a place for kids to come and really be themselves and to begin to let their walls fall down. It is a place where life is found and kids begin relationships with the God of the universe.

And that is where I get to work for the next year: at a Young Life camp in the mountains of Colorado; at a place where the love of Christ will be shared; and at a place where guests can come and encounter the Gospel.

I will be serving alongside nine other year-long interns from all over the country. We will all live together and work together as we make it our mission to truly set the stage for all the guests of Crooked Creek to know Christ. I am beyond excited to see all of the ways that the Lord is going to bond us together and all of the ways that we will be challenged through our jobs and through our community.

I cannot go into this year alone though. I am excited to invite you, my friends and family, into this stage of my life with me as well. I will need your support, spiritually and financially. First, please support me and the ministry at Crooked Creek through prayer... prayer for our group of interns, for each of the guests that come to Crooked Creek, and for the ministry that will happen there. Secondly, we have the opportunity to fundraise a portion of our salary and I would love your support there as well. Any contribution you could make, whether it be a monthly donation or a one-time gift would be a huge help in my goal of raising $583.33/month or $7,000 for the year. All donations are tax-deductible. If you would be interested in being a part of my support team and donating, there is more information at the end.

I cannot begin to express how excited I am for this next chapter that God is writing in my life. I am excited for the relationships that will be built and the lessons that I will learn. I am excited to be able to share those on here as I continue to blog throughout the year. I anticipate that the Lord will move in mighty ways and that He will move mountains in my heart and in the hearts of guests at Crooked Creek Ranch. Please be a part of this adventure and journey with me... it's about to get real crazy, in a really good kinda way.


2 Options to Help Support Me Financially:

1- Mail a check to Crooked Creek Ranch: All checks should be made out to "Young Life" and mailed to Crooked Creek Ranch P.O. Box 250 Fraser, CO 80442-0250. With your check please be sure to include your name, address, email, and phone number. Also, be sure to note that the check is intended to go towards Jordan Abourjilie Year-Long.

2- Online donation: You can set up online donations to be monthly or a one-time gift. Monthly donations are a huge help for budgeting purposes. In order to donate online go to and click the "Online Giving" button on the left side of the page. You will have to create a Giving Account. Select "Give a Gift" once your account is set up and under Gift Designation select "Young Life Area Ministry." You will search by area number 5400 and select Crooked Creek. Once Crooked Creek--5400 Camp Properties is selected, insert "Jordan Abourjilie" into the sponsoring space.

Please e-mail me at if you have any questions about how to donate or just to let me know that you have donated so that I can make sure that it all goes through the Crooked Creek Ranch system properly.

And again, THANK YOU for considering to donate and being a part of my support team. It means the world to me and is a huge blessing.