A couple years ago I volunteered to tag along with my church's youth group for summer camp. The week was filled with great teaching, outdoor activities like mountain biking, horseback riding, and white water rafting, and quality time with the students. But one of my favorite parts of the whole week was talking to Kate on the 5 hour bus ride down to North Carolina.
Anyone who has spent more than 5 seconds with Kate Durrett will agree with me; she is the epitome of the word 'sweet'. I can't remember a time when Kate wasn't assisting children with disabilities and volunteering her time in our church.
She's currently a student at JMU and I was blessed to spend time with her over a coffee date while she was in on winter break. I can't say that I was surprised when I heard about all of the discipleship programs and causes that she's become involved with; Kate has always sought out ways to serve. Her heart is golden, and I know you'll be encouraged after spending a couple minutes with her this morning. Friends, meet Kate!
What's in your coffee cup this morning?
Dominican coffee that I saved from yesterday :) Last spring break when I traveled there with a team from JMU, I bought a couple bags in town on our last day. This particular kind of coffee, Monté Real, has cocoa powder in the grounds and they made it for us every day on base. So no matter how long it takes me to drink it, I savor every sip.
What is the first thing you did this morning?
This morning, I had an early class so when I got myself out of bed after two alarms (I always set three…I have trouble waking up!), I went downstairs and heated up my coffee and packed my lunch. I gathered books and papers for my class and meetings throughout the day. I struggle to carve out time to spend with Jesus in the mornings, but I stopped my hurrying about 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave today and sat on my living room floor to talk with Him, be still, and read the Word. Quiet time away with him is definitely a place for improvement.
What is something you struggle with and what are you learning as a result?
I struggle often to trust God enough to walk into the unknown and unchartered. Lately, there have been so many chances for me to do just that, in schoolwork and leadership opportunities and even on the mission trip I just took to NYC over spring break. God is good, and He is constant. By seeking Him in places where I am very aware of my lack of control, I get to see His sovereignty and strength more clearly. It has taken me a while to realize that, but God has been faithful to keep teaching me. What a patient, understanding Father we have.
Life can get stressful. What are some things you do to simplify?
I wish I could say I always know how to simplify and slow down, but that wouldn’t be true. This week, because of some health concerns, I have had to slow the pace of my life and schedule a ton. I think I often really need God to stop me in my tracks and remind to take a few minutes to listen to my favorite song or sit with Him in silence or count the moments I have instead of how many I don’t. To simplify, I really just have to stop and breathe. :)
And lastly, what is something you've been loving lately?
I have been loving all the men’s college basketball games! I grew up watching Duke University with my family, and I’ve carried on the tradition in college. March Madness started yesterday and Duke plays its first-round game today!! NCAA.com streams all the games live online so I’m loving the chance to watch them like crazy for the next couple weeks.
Something both tough and beautiful in my life lately has been how God is re-breaking my heart for the injustice of human trafficking. I first learned about it when I was a freshman at JMU and hearing about it changed me for good, kind of like the William Wilberforce quote: “You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.”
I serve as the Fundraising Coordinator for a student organization called Shenandoah Valley Justice Initiative at JMU, which God led to be involved in after I first saw the documentary Sex + Money: A National Search for Human Worth. One thing I will be forever thankful for is that we were given the opportunity to take what we had seen and learned straight to Jesus in worship right after the screening. Because of that first experience, I learned that my response to being exposed to injustice has to be asking Jesus to carry it because I am unable to do that by myself and He doesn’t call us to.
Over winter break, I was worried that I had become numb to the heartbreaking reality, so I prayed God would soften my heart once again to make me empathetic and newly sensitive. And He answered by doing just that. With International Justice Mission (IJM) estimating that there are currently 29 million slaves in the world today (both in labor slavery and sex trafficking), the injustice continues to be present and on my mind. All of us have a unique role to play in fighting injustice based on the gifts and talents God has given us, and we have to continually seek Him to understand what role that is. I do believe we all do have one, and I love having the opportunity to help people understand theirs through SVJI-JMU and my personal sphere of influence.
Here are some resources if you want to learn more and/or join the fight for freedom:
http://slaveryfootprint.org/ (Slavery Footprint - how many slaves work for you through the purchases you make and the lifestyle you live? …know, learn, pray)
http://exoduscry.com/ (Exodus Cry- a prayer movement for freedom…learn, pray, give, work for legislative change)
http://www.ijm.org/ (International Justice Mission-one of the leading organizations fighting on the front lines and in society…advocate, fundraise, pray, sign petitions, educate yourself and others)
http://svjijmu.wix.com/svji-jmu (SVJI-JMU- the student organization I’m involved in that strives to educate and empower JMU and Harrisonburg to join the modern abolitionist movement)