Community Living

Something I’ve been thinking about.  Living in community.  It’s something that people talk about a lot, they praise it, they say how great it is, but no one really knows what it is, apparently.

When I was in college, my senior year I lived in a quad that showed me the closest thing to living in community that I have experienced.  We had “quad time” every other week, and it was amazing.  We would play games, watch movies, go to dinner, worship, or just talk about our lives.  We got to know each other.  We prayed for each other.  We listened, and we knew each other.  If something was going on, we worked together to fix it.  We heard each other out.  We worried about each other and we cared about each other.  But we also had our space.
I remember when my grandmother died I went to the house of a guy I was dating, and one of my quad-mates kept texting me to make sure I was okay, and to make sure I was coming home.  She was there for me.

When I graduated from college, I was planning on moving to Portland.  A friend of mine hooked me up with a pastor friend of his who has a communal home and had an opening in August, when I was planning on moving up.  We spoke on the phone and he explained that they lived in community.  They weren’t okay with people just living in the house, they had to be a part of the house.  Food was shared unless specifically stated otherwise.  They ate meals together.
This scared me, having strangers be part of my life.  And it ended up falling through anyway, I didn’t even move to Portland.  But that was living in community.

I am aware of another living situation right now, that people keep saying is living in community.  However, some of the people who keep tossing that word around don’t even live in the house.  There are people in the house that are forgotten, who are not included, and who have no voice.  They  need their space, but it is never given.  They ask for silence, and it just gets louder.  They want to be left alone for a while, but are instead intruded upon.  And whenever they do speak up, they are beaten down and overruled.
How is that living in community?

A community is defined as people who live in the same area, with the same interests, working toward a common goal.
So this house’s goal must be to force people out.
Well, they’ve gotten their way.

Welcome home.

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Performance

Performing.  It’s something we all do.  It’s something we hate.  It’s something we love.  It’s something that comes subconsciously, naturally, into everything.  But why?  Most of us don’t even realize it or acknowledge it.

I read a blog by a friend, if I can even call him that, that talks about this performance culture that so many of us are surrounded by.  Here’s a link, he’s better than I am anyway: https://adamamanse.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/seeking-originality-and-finding-yourself/.  See, performance.

We compare ourselves to everyone, in one way or the other.  I’m short.  I’m not thin.  I don’t look like the girls who all the guys talk about.  I’m a writer.  I write poetry and music, but I share more poetry than music, because that’s something I thought I was the best at.  I couldn’t handle when I found out I knew spoken word artists that might be more talented than I am.  I rarely played music for people I didn’t know because my voice isn’t amazing, I don’t sound like the musicians that people want to listen to.  I didn’t try out for plays or play sports anymore when I got to college.  Why?  Because I was embarrassed.  I didn’t want people to laugh at me if I wasn’t good enough.  I didn’t want people talking about me.  Performance.

I had a new friend say that I hide myself.  She asked me why.  People in Mammoth don’t realize that I’m a musician.  They don’t all know that I write a blog.  They don’t care.  I never really thought anyone cared.  People are surprised when they find out that I started leading worship when I was fourteen.  They’re surprised that it’s something that I’ve done before.  People are surprised when I do spoken word anywhere.  I get embarrassed when someone calls me out about it, so they assume I don’t like it, that I’m afraid, but that’s not true at all.
I am in love with performing spoken word.  I am not in love with performing to prove something.  I don’t have to be better.  Maybe I am better.  Literally, no one cares, do they?  Not in the real world.  Performance.

I wonder if this is maybe one of the reasons the I ended up back in Mammoth.  I don’t have to perform here.  I can be whoever I want for a while.  If someone hears that I play guitar or piano or write music, they’re not expecting me to be amazing, or not amazing, or anything.  They’re just interested that I do anything at all.  A guy I used to work with for some reason believes I’m the best.  But I know that he didn’t go to college where there were so many musicians, and I never felt good enough.
Maybe I came home so I can believe that I’m good again.  When I inspired other people in college to start writing poetry and doing spoken word, they got offended when a friend of mine said I was the best poet he knew.  But that was my whole life then.  It’s what I thought I would end up doing.  And maybe it still is.  Being a poet in that kind of culture made me feel like I was always in competition.
But life is not a competition!  No one cares!  Stop performing!  Get it together, people!
I am good at what I do.  And other people are good at what they do.  If you want to write, then just write.  If you want to perform, then just perform.  Stop focusing on everyone else.
Maybe I came home so that I can get away from performing for a while.  The culture here is still a performance culture, I just don’t do any of the things that people are competing against each other for.  I’m not a great snowboarder, and I know that, and that’s not my life.  I don’t go to bars to find guys.  I don’t feel like I have to be the best.  I don’t have to perform.

I think the next step might be learning to love what I can do.  I don’t need to be so concerned with what everyone else thinks.  Because although they care, they really don’t care.  And maybe I needed that for a while.  Performance.

About Hope

I tend to remember everything.  More specifically, I remember almost every conversation, especially minor ones, that I have with people.  As of late I have learned not to bring up old conversations, because the speaker usually doesn’t remember saying the things that I remember.  But I digress.  

I once had a conversation with a good friend of mine, Aaron.  I was 2.5 years ago, and my mind was still pretty messed up.  I wasn’t sure how long I would be metaphorically “sticking around” then, but I had a little bit of a grasp of what I would do if I got through my ish.  I had an answer for everything, even in my brokenness.  I was pushing people away in a successful manner.  Throughout our conversation Aaron noticed something.  He then asked me where my hope was.  I had no answer.  I had no answer, because I had no hope.  Even though I was in Bible college, doing my best to follow a God who I felt was betraying me, I had no hope.  My hope was not in God, even though I desperately wanted it to be.  

Fast forward a few years to where I am right now.  For church on Sunday we made s’mores and had community time.  We separated into groups around the four separate campfires and we told God stories.  I had on my heart a need to share where I had been and how I got to where I am now.  I talked about how I had always had a plan, and now that I have no plan I am more content than I have been in a while.  My sharing sparked an ongoing conversation, and some prayer and some vulnerability.  One of my roommates, Gus, went on to point something out to me.  He said that it seemed that for a long time I have had no hope in my life.  When I had a plan, I had no hope.  But now, he said, I have an evident hope.  Even though I have no idea what my life holds, I have hope.  

So maybe when I have plans, I put my hope in them.  If I have learned anything in my life though, it’s that if I don’t get my hopes up, they can’t be let down.  Now that I have no plan, I cannot be let down.  My hope is in God’s plan, and not knowing what it is makes life a little bit more of an adventure.  And I want to be in love with adventure.

People Care (Why Not Have An Intervention?)

A couple of things, but first: I have another blog.  It’s only temporary, and it’s for a class, but if you’re interested, you can find it here.  It’s about the tv show Mad Men and the culture of the society within the show and how that applies to ministry.  It’s for my ministry and culture class.  I can’t promise that it’s good, but if you’re interested, it’s there.

But that is not what this blog is about.  I want to talk about people who care.  Why this sudden prompting?  Well, the beloved Dean of Students at my school, JJ Peterson had his last day on Friday, because he is moving on to do some other things in his career and ministry.  This makes me sad.  JJ is my friend.  He is also one of the reasons I love my school and have survived the last couple of years.  JJ was one of the staff that showed me that my school cares for its students.

My sophomore year here, at Life Pacific College, was not a good year.  I was hit with crippling depression.  I was having a mental break down.  I wanted to die.  And JJ noticed this.  He reached out to me.  He talked to me and let me know that he understood.  People don’t always understand.  And so it was a sad farewell.  As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that all of the staff that were there for me, that showed me they cared, and that gave me friendship… well they’re all gone now.  All but one.  And soon I’ll be gone too.

Thinking about this brings me to another thought.  Are interventions Biblical?  If someone is making harmful decisions for their life, I know that it is American to let them make their decisions and let their lives fall apart.  But what if these decisions are not only hurting them?  Should we stand here and watch their life slowly unravel.  I know that JJ and the rest didn’t do that in my situation, so should I be doing it for someone else?
I wonder why we sit around and talk about someone, because we know that what we say won’t change anything.  I wonder why we’ve stopped trying.  What if we had an intervention?  I thought friends were family.

 

It sucks when songs suddenly mean something else.

Some Scattered Blogging

I have a couple of thoughts in my head for this weekend blog.  The first is a funny thing that happened, and the next is much deeper than that.

I went to camp last week.  I was a leader for the youth (oh jeez).  I will expand on that experience later, but first let me tell you about my engagement.  If you know anything about me (as a person, not as a writer) you’ll know that I like to make weird faces.  One of my most popular faces is the squench.

Flare your nostrils and smile
Flare your nostrils and smile

The story of how I discovered this face can be saved for a different time, but basically I ask new people regularly if they can squench, and then I teach them how.  Now, my friend Zach was up at camp playing piano for the worship team.  Our first full day there, we were standing outside of the place where the services are held (the Family Center) and having a delightful conversation.  Whilst conversing I asked him if he could squench.  When he showed me his squench face, I laughed, and right at that moment someone snapped a photo.  

Needless to say, she decided it looked like Zach just asked to marry me.  We took the joke and ran with it.  Our facebooks have blown up with congratulations on our fake engagement.  Zach and I do not love each other, but this joke is both hilarious, unlikely, and fun. The other things that happened at camp was a little more impacting to my life.  I did spoken word for one of the break outs and for the camp talent show.  That was fun to do in itself, but something else happened with it.  Leaders from different youth groups were asking me about my poetry.  They wanted to know if I wrote it myself and how long I’d been doing it.  Someone asked me if I was touring.  Someone else asked me to come to her youth group.  I’m speaking in Hollister, CA next week.  I’m starting work on an EP in the next few months.  I might actually tour.  And it’s exciting. While at camp I got to hang out with a lot of teenage girls.  When I was fifteen, God called me to Life Pacific College to be a youth pastor.  When I got to LPC, I realized I didn’t want to be a youth pastor.  I thought my calling had changed.  After I started writing again and realizing that that’s what I want to spend the rest of my life doing, I knew for a fact I wouldn’t be working in a church.  But yet, I still feel so drawn to speak at camps and schools and churches.  It seems so right that I would speak into the lives of young people.  My heart goes out to teenagers, especially girls, who have been broken like I was broken.
Last week I got to speak into the lives of more girls than I knew.  I prayed with them.  I befriended them.  It made me remember why I wanted to do youth ministry in the first place.  I got my calling back.
I’m not sure that I am going to be a “youth pastor,” because working in the church doesn’t seem right, but I know that I am going to pastor youth.  I have always said that alongside my spoken word I want to help people to tell their own stories.  Well I want to help youth to tell their stories, and to change their lives. 

Africa!

So, I have an opportunity to trust God with something big.  I have no money but am signed up to go to Africa in May!  Woo!  Okay, so there’s a story here, maybe I should start with that.

When I was fifteen, a lot of things happened that were God related.  One of which was my salvation and call to attend Life Pacific College (the school I go to right now).  It’s weird to think that my life is someone else’s plan.  Any way, one day I was sitting in church (not my own but one I was visiting with a friend) and someone was showing a missions video for India.  I thought it was cool, but missions etc. wasn’t my thing, I was only 15 anyway.  But then I heard a voice and it said, “Sara, go to Africa.”  No one else heard it, and I didn’t know what to think, but ever since then, Africa has been on my heart.  Sort of.  I told my parents I wanted to go to Africa and they were basically like, “No way,” but I thought that if it was what God wanted, then He would present an opportunity.
A few months later, after I had turned 16, the youth group I attended was given the information that they could fill out an application and go on a missions trip to… drum role please… Panama…  They were going with another church from Southern California and in my head I was talking to God about how I wasn’t going because it wasn’t Africa.  But He told me to go and another friend confirmed it.  So, plans were made.
When my dad picked me up that night, I told him I was going to Panama because God wanted me to.  He told me I wasn’t, but both my parents prayed about it, and I filled out the application and turned it in.  I was the only one to do so.  My youth group didn’t go, but I did.  I went to a strange country with a group of people I didn’t know when I was sixteen.
Long story short, that trip was great, but it wasn’t Africa.

Within a year or so, I started to feel as if all that I had given up in order to go to Africa (a story for another time) had possibly been for nothing, and that I had just heard God and He had told me to go to Panama and I had gone so everything was fine and dandy.  Maybe I thought that, since things happen immediately when I plan them that God should work that way too.  He doesn’t.

Last semester I started to feel Africa on my heart again.  At this point I thought maybe I would go after I graduated  and maybe have some great ministry there.  I wasn’t sure.  It was in the distant future and God would give me the details as I got closer to it.  Over Christmas break I felt the call get a lot stronger.  I was feeling guilty about owning/buying material items that I didn’t need, I don’t want excess clothes and I’m thinking about selling everything.  When I returned to San Dimas I told one of my close friends that I was thinking about looking for a trip in May, but that was only a half-hearted statement.
On my first Wednesday back, I walked into Dan Stewart’s class and he talked about the team he was leading to Kenya, Africa, Israel, and Istanbul, Turkey.  Then he invited us to come.  He wasn’t fully serious with his invitation, because the rest of the team had been signed up for a couple months and were already supposed to working on fundraising.  However, I asked him if I could sign up and he said, “Yes,” and I signed up and that’s that. I’m not done with my application yet, but I do have support letters written and ready to be mailed out as soon as I get stamps and envelopes, which by the time this is posted will probably have already happened.  I’m looking for other ways to raise funds as well.

I am confident that if this is really what God wants me to do that He will supply the funds, but I am asking for support.  Prayer support for myself and the team and the people we will be reaching is especially needed.  Also, if you feel led to donate, you can do so at www.lifepacific.edu/online-giving-for-global-life.  Donate to the Israel trip (not study abroad) and put Sara Froiland as the student name.  There will should also be a working link on my page.
Thank you in advance for your prayers and any other support you feel led to give.

A Spoken Word Artist Came to My School Today

Something happened today in chapel.  A spoken word artist was the speaker.  Her name is Hosanna Wong.  I haven’t been so shaken up, so impacted by a chapel in a long time.  Granted, I don’t get to go to full chapels often anymore, because I work a lot, but that beside the point.

My life was changed, or rather my direction.  I have to do what I’m passionate about, even if it’s not as popular as maybe music or photography.  I am a writer, not just a song writer.  And I’m not a novelist, I’m a poet.  I have been since I was a little girl.  I used to make up poems and little rhymes all the time when I was young.  But I stopped as I got older.  Looking back, I realize I never actually stopped.  My journaled conversations with God as I was getting saved and as a new believer were all poetry.  I wrote psalms like entries that were only for me and only my eyes will ever get to read.  But I did it.  That’s who I am.

My senior year of high school we did a poetry unit in my AP English class.  That was the first major spoken word spark for me.  My English teacher was amazed at what I could write and what I could convey with my voice.  But he didn’t really encourage me to keep going, and I didn’t think it was something I could do for my life.  I was passionate, but afraid.   And slowly the flame dwindled to a small ember.

I kept writing and my summer when I did Impact at Old Oak Ranch, one of the other interns did poetry slams and she made me want to keep writing.  But still the flame was barely growing.

Fast forward to a year ago, in my speech class at Life Pacific College with Carol Shelton.  I started writing spoken word as my speeches, because I was good at it.  I loved it, but I still didn’t see how it was something I could share.

Jenny and I went to PIHOP (Pasadena International House of Prayer) toward the end of last semester.  They prophesied over me about my writing.  That was when I knew I wanted to be a writer.  They said that I was made for things like spoken word because of my voice and the way I say things.  I just saw myself as a writer and loved what they said.  I didn’t remember until today that spoken word was something they had said specifically.

And so, this is what I’m going to pursue.  I don’t know what it will look like yet, but I want to make it part of my ministry, whatever it is.  One thing Hosanna said to me while we  were hanging out (yeah, we hung out afterward in the pastor’s suite that she’s staying in) was that God gave me a gift; to not share my gift is selfish.  If I’m not sharing my poetry because of fear, that’s just me being selfish.  And that goes for everyone, not just me.

I’ve decided, I’m going to stop putting extra time into my music.  I’m not going to stop playing completely, but I want to really pursue writing.  And my blog can’t be about me and my depression and my rants and complaining.  God can’t heal me if I hold on to it.  It’s time to let go of my past.  My blog will be for small parts of my life, and all of my writing.  It’s time I stepped into the life God has called me to, even if I don’t know what it looks like yet.