Author Archives: chellorraine

Elias Ray: First Year Flown By

Just one year ago God blessed us with our second son, Elias Ray Patrick.  This strong-willed little bundle of emotions has certainly added spice to our family!  When Eli is happy, there are few babies as cute…his smile and laughter absolutely melt your heart.  But when Eli is not happy, there is no doubt about it!  Even as a baby, he likes to have things his way.  And he hates taking naps (which has stretched my patience to the limit at times).  But I wouldn’t trade my fiery little man with so much personality.

We celebrated his first birthday a couple of weekends ago with a mellow family day on his actual birthday, May 14, followed by his baby dedication at church and a birthday party with Nate’s family on May 15.   Then we were able to celebrate Eli with our Colorado family once we arrived in Greeley the weekend of the 20th.

Eli enjoying some yummy cake at Grandma and Grandpa Zack’s.

The best part was watching our “baby Eyi” take his first steps on his actual birthday, walking several steps back and forth from mommy and daddy as we clapped for him.  Of course Samuel wanted Eli to walk over to him too, and seeing Eli walk into his arms followed by a big brotherly hug was one of my favorite moments as a mom yet.  I love seeing my boys love each other.

The past year has flown by so fast!  It is so easy for me to get caught up in the busy-ness of motherhood and forget to be thankful for these little lives.  I am grateful for times like this when I am forced to step back and enjoy my boys for the gift they are.

Looking Back: Getting Engaged in the Magic Kingdom

Beautiful Valentine’s sunset…

I have decided to do a series of posts about our experience on the Disney College Program, and here’s the first one.

We’ll kick it off with a bang, showcasing probably the biggest and best experience of our time on the College Program…the night we got engaged 8 years ago this week!
It was Valentine’s Day.  We were both able to negotiate the day off with our managers (not an easy feat getting a holiday off, let alone both of us getting it off).  We started off the day attending a special “Cast Member Only” event on the history of the romance between Mickey and Minnie (we enjoyed attending these periodic sessions on Disney history when we could). It was neat to learn more about Walt’s vision of Mickey and Minnie.

Cinderella saying hi

In the afternoon we got all gussied up and headed to the Magic Kingdom to see the “We Share a Dream Come True” parade, which was my first time seeing that particular parade (Nate, on the other hand, had it practically memorized since he worked custodial in the Magic Kingdom).  Then we arrived at Cinderella’s Royal Table – the beautiful restaurant in the castle – for our dinner reservations.  Cinderella greeted us in the castle foyer, of course.  And we made our way to our table.

There’s the ring!

After a wonderful steak dinner, the waitress brought the dessert tray.  Only instead of dessert, there was a pillow holding a beautiful, intricate little golden coach.  Just then, Nate got down on one knee with the pillow, opened the golden coach to display the ring, and asked me to marry him.  I said yes, of course!

The people in the restaurant cheered as I said yes…

I felt like the true princess in the castle!
After dinner, Nate arranged for special VIP searing for the SpectroMagic parade (by far the best way to view a parade, by the way) followed by a private viewing of the fireworks from the top of the Skyway building in TomorrowLand (only certain managers have access to this area, and Nate’s custodial manager took us up there).  It was a beautiful evening filled with amazing memories that we will always treasure.
VIP Parade seating
Private fireworks viewing
Stay tuned for more snapshots of our Disney College Program experience in the coming weeks!

A Bittersweet Goodbye: Loving work, but loving God more

ACS Great West Leadership Team Meeting – January 2010

After six and a half years of bleeding purple and pouring myself into helping Relay For Life succeed in the Great West, I said goodbye to the American Cancer Society yesterday. 

It still feels surreal…I think I’m somewhat in denial.  You see, I loved my job.  I loved working with amazing volunteers who are so passionate about fighting cancer.  I loved getting the opportunity to be creative and affect meaningful change within the Great West Division.  I loved training staff to do Relay well and writing Relay curriculum.  I loved leading our volunteer training program and being responsible for our amazing Regional Summits.  I loved working with talented colleagues and sharing fun memories with them.
But I love God more.  And what He has been teaching me is that when a good thing, like my job, becomes an ultimate thing in my life, it is no longer a good thing…in fact, it is what God calls “idolatry”.  That when I find myself defining my life and my identity through my job, that my priorities are out of place.  That I need to let go and follow Him, placing my identity solely in Christ. 
As God has been calling Nate and I into full-time ministry, He has been making my pride and my idolatry more and more obvious to me.  The amazing thing is that He has been so loving and gentle as He strips away the things that I have placed too much value in, slowly and surely drawing me to complete reliance on Him. 
I know He is equipping me for the work He has prepared for me in Florida.  And an important step in that process was leading me to let go of my job and follow Him.  Even when it seems scary, risky, or even foolish. 
God made it very clear to me that following Him meant giving this up first, and trusting Him to provide – not only financially, but trusting Him to provide my complete sense of worth and significance as well.
So thank you, American Cancer Society, for giving me many years of challenging, engaging and fulfilling work.  Thank you for introducing me to many truly amazing people.  And thank you for the opportunity to grow professionally and personally while working on some incredible projects.  I know the fight against cancer will continue strong in the hands of your capable staff and volunteers.
And thank you Lord, for loving me enough to help me change.  To learn how to face my pride and my idolatry and choose you instead.  To find my significance solely in you.
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. 
        – Colossians 3:1-4, NLT

House SOLD: A lesson in trust

Our Christmas Card photo from 2007, with our new house.

One of my biggest prayer requests throughout this journey into full-time ministry has been regarding our house.  Of course, like many others here in Phoenix, we bought our house at the peak of the housing boom and values have plummeted.  It felt impossible to consider selling it…it seemed like a huge barrier to joining Campus Crusade for Christ and following God’s calling to Florida.  But as God was changing our hearts and drawing us to Florida, we had to trust Him that He would provide a way and take care of the house details.  

We put our house on the market back in August and began the long process of negotiating with the bank.  God blessed the process by allowing the bank to work with us in the midst of Nate’s unemployment and bringing some solid buyers who were offering a good price for the home in this market.  We have seen example after example of friends and family who have tried to sell their Arizona homes only to have buyers back out or experience multiple bank denials.  We had to trust that because God is calling us to Florida, He would provide a way for the deal to move forward. 

Then, a couple weeks before Christmas, we learned that the deal would likely close around the first of the year.  This brought a whole new batch of anxieties for me!  The idea of packing up our house in two weeks before Christmas and finding a new place to rent before our trip to Colorado was overwhelming.  I found myself tied up in knots worrying about things I couldn’t control.  

It turns out that just like God promises, I really did not need to worry at all.  That He had all the details under control and was providing for us even beyond our imagination!

We had been searching for a rental and were about to put down a deposit when the new owners approached us saying they really wanted us to stay and rent the house from them.  We really didn’t think we would be able to afford the rent since we know what houses in our neighborhood are renting for, but the new owners were willing to discount the rent to meet our requirements in order to keep good renters who would take care of the house for them.  They were also willing to let us rent it on a month-to-month basis, giving us the freedom to leave for Florida as soon as God provides our full support.

So instead of having to find a new rental, sign a long lease, and move across town in the middle of the holiday season, we were able to stay in our home, take care of the place, and pay less rent in a situation that is good for everyone.  It worked out better than we even imagined it could.

It makes me wonder, why was I so worried?  God had everything planned perfectly.  He has provided for us over and over again through the years, and yet I feel like I am constantly learning this lesson.  I have to remind myself every day that He is ultimately trustworthy, especially as we continue in this process of raising our support and following His calling into full-time ministry.  

But it is a constant encouragement and reminder to trust in His faithfulness as I walk these hallways and vacuum these floors and put my little boys to sleep in their very own bedrooms each night.  God is good, and I can trust Him completely. 

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
      Matthew 6:31-34, NLT

Samuel wishes you a Happy New Year!

Well, we’re here in at the Denver Christmas Conference and it’s New Year’s Eve.  I decided to sneak away and borrow mommy and daddy’s laptop to post my review of 2010.  I hope you all enjoy my perspective on a year of changes for the Patrick family!

Me and Baby Eyi on Christmas Eve

It’s been another busy year for the Patricks.  One of the biggest changes for me has been the arrival of my little brother, baby Eyi (mommy and daddy call him Elias Ray, or Eli for short).  When mommy’s tummy was really round I didn’t understand what a baby was.  But then Eyi was botn on May 14th and now I know that a baby is a little person that makes a lot of noise and takes a lot of attention, but is also very cute and fun to help take care of.  I love my little brother Eyi and now I can hardly remember what life was like before he was a part of our family.  One of my favorite games is when daddy runs around holding Eyi and chasing me…it almost feels like Eyi and I are playing tag already.  I know we will have lots of fun as soon as he starts walking and running himself!

Actually, that makes me think of all the changes baby Eyi has been going through. He just started crawling this month!  And he’s been doing lots of new things lately, like eating solid foods and sitting up too.  And the best part for mommy and daddy is that he has started sleeping through the night and napping better, which also makes Eyi a happy baby.  Baby Eyi has a really cute smile and a great laugh.  I love to laugh and play with him, and he tries to crawl and follow me everywhere I go and play with all my toys.  I’m just learning to share with him and mommy says I do a pretty good job.  I’m sure it will take lots of practice.
Santa brought me new cars for my collection

My favorite things right now are cars and choo choo trains.  I especially love my growing collection of Hot Wheels and Disney/Pixar Cars.  I also really like playing with balls and riding my bike.  And I love dancing and singing to songs on the radio, especially the Christmas music daddy and mommy have been playing lately.

Daddy and mommy have been talking about another big change for our family too.  During daddy’s recent unemployment, daddy and mommy have been feeling an increasing desire and calling to serve God full-time. They tell me that they spent a lot of time praying and asking God what He wanted for our family.  Sensing God’s calling, daddy and mommy have joined as full-time staff members of Campus Crusade for Christ, which is very exciting to me.
I didn’t know this before, but Campus Crusade is a worldwide organization that is committed to making an eternal difference in people’s lives by giving every person in the world the opportunity to say “yes” to Jesus.  Daddy and mommy will be focusing on reaching the 8,000 student interns from 52 different countries that participate in the Walt Disney World College Program.  Daddy and mommy actually participated in this program in 2003 and they say they saw the need for ministry to these students first-hand.  God has been arranging circumstances in really neat ways to send our family to Florida to minister to these students, and daddy and mommy are really excited to see God’s calling so clearly in their lives.  They say that the opportunity to reach student leaders from 52 different countries all in one place, at one time, speaking one language was just too enticing to ignore.
Here at the Denver Christmas Conference I’ve gotten to meet some of the students who have been impacted by the ministry at Walt Disney World through the 2010 Summer Project, including a student from China!  I’m not really sure where that is, but mommy and daddy say it is really far away and that it is a big deal to have a chinese student from Walt Disney World all the way here in Denver for the Campus Crusade student conference, which is kind of like a spiritual growth retreat for over 1,000 college students.  Mommy and daddy say that being at this conference has only confirmed their sense of being called by God to reach the students on the Disney College Program in Florida.

Before our family can actually move to Florida to begin our ministry, daddy and mommy have to raise our support.  They tell me that like many other missions organizations, Campus Crusade staff members have the responsibility to develop a team of financial partners who provide the necessary finances for their outreach, including their salary and ministry-related expenses.

So I’ve been seeing many friends and meeting a lot of new people as daddy and mommy have been sharing their calling to reach the student interns in Florida over the past couple months.  I hope I’ll get the chance to meet many more people like you this spring as daddy and mommy continue to share with more people until we are ready to follow God to Florida. 
God has really blessed our family in 2010.  I hope you enjoyed hearing a little bit from me about how God is leading our family.  We would love to hear how God has been moving in your family too.  We are trusting God for another great year in 2011, and we wish you a blessed New Year!
With love on New Year’s Eve,
Samuel Thomas Patrick
(mommy, daddy and Eli too)

In the Holiday Spirit

Holidays are a special time for most people, but for Disney interns, holidays typically mean working hard while everyone else enjoys their vacation.  Most Disney interns work long hours on the holiday shifts when the full-time cast members don’t want to work.  So getting an opportunity to celebrate holidays is special for a Disney intern.
 
Our ministry team members in Florida have begun hosting holiday outreach activities at times when the interns can attend to provide opportunities for Disney interns to get to celebrate holidays together while hearing the gospel.

For many American interns who are away from family and friends, this is the only time they will get to celebrate holidays.  For many international interns, this is one of their only experiences of American culture and may be the only time they are invited into an American home.

Disney Interns at Halloween Outreach

Recently, the team hosted a Halloween Party Outreach where interns were invited to dress up, carve pumpkins, go “trunk-or-treating” and have a discussion about ghosts, God and the Bible.  More than 30 interns came and here is what one student from Morocco had to say about the experience:

 “I do not have words to express how I felt last night.  As soon as I walked into your apartment I knew I was glad I was there.  I really liked the trick-or-treating and the questions you asked in the group discussion.  It was one of the best moments of my life.”  – A Disney intern from Morocco

Thanksgiving Feast

And just two weeks ago the team hosted a Thanksgiving Feast Outreach where more than 50 interns representing 15 different countries on 5 continents attended.  They cooked four turkeys and all the trimmings, shared the story of Thanksgiving, and had an intern named Jenne Lee from South Africa share her testimony.  It was the first time she had ever shared in front of a group.  There were also some amazing responses from the interns at that event:

“From the moment I walked into the door I felt loved.”  – A Disney intern from Mexico

“I’ve been in the US 9 months and this is the first time I’ve been in an American home.  I wasn’t sure I would ever been in an American home while I was here, until tonight.”   – A Disney intern from Morocco

Interns from Mexico

“My friends asked me, ‘Don’t you think that this is weird that they are hosting an event like this for all the interns?’ and I answered, ‘Well, don’t you think it’s a little weird that people stand in front of our housing at night and hand out free alcoholic drink coupons to get on a Party Bus?  But at least the people hosting the Thanksgiving Feast are trying to do something good and loving.'”   – A Disney intern from Mexico

A girl who Jenne Lee invited from Uganda had said that she had been hurt by Christians before and now refers to herself as a Muslim.  Despite these hurts, she decided to come to Thanksgiving and had a great night.

With such a large response to the Halloween and Thanksgiving outreach activities, the team is searching for a larger venue for their Christmas outreach.  Please pray that God would lead them to the perfect location to serve the interns and host a wonderful outreach event to celebrate Christ in Christmas.  It is obvious to see that God is moving at Walt Disney World, and we feel so blessed to be a part of it!

When I am weak…

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

      James 1:2-4
God is teaching me patience and perseverance.  And he’s using my 5-month-old to do it.   
My first son, Samuel, began sleeping through the night at a very young age, so I wasn’t prepared for the many months of sleep-deprivation I’ve faced with Elias.  He consistently wakes up every two or three hours throughout the night.  I swear I feel like a mommy-zombie!  Only parents who have experienced their own long-term sleepless babies and hours of brain-splitting screaming can truly understand how exhausting and demoralizing it is to have a baby who refuses to sleep.
I think it’s partially his temperament and partially my coping techniques, but together we’ve set up some pretty bad sleep habits that are proving to be very difficult to break.  Every time I think we are making progress, it’s like taking two steps forward and one step back.
This weekend was particularly frustrating.  With family activities scheduled Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, we were very busy.  And Eli became very over-stimulated by the noise and craziness of his cousin’s birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese on Saturday, causing him to have two of the worst days and nights of sleeping that he has had in months.  I feel like I am starting over at square one all over again.
I feel discouraged.  I feel weary.  I feel weak.  But maybe feeling weak is part of God’s plan for me right now.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
      2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I confess.  I am so easily tempted to rely on my own strength, my own thoughts, my own abilities and talents as I go through life.  For one of the first times in my life I feel completely and totally incapable.  For someone who thrives on accomplishing things, feeling incapable is not a fun place to be.   
I know that God cares more about my character than my circumstances.  He is teaching me through this challenge to rely more and more on Him.  As Nate and I prepare for full-time ministry to the students on the Disney College Program, I know I will need to rely fully on God and not my own abilities.  And even though it is not fun, I’m sure that’s why I’m having to learn this lesson now.
I just pray that I can learn quickly.  And I am clinging to the promise that Jesus made that He will give rest.  
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
      Matthew 11:28-30 
Lord Jesus, I come to you broken and exhausted and incapable of doing anything to change my situation.  I confess that I have tried everything in my power to change my circumstances and have not truly relied on your power.  Fill my heart, Holy Spirit, and lead me.  And please Lord, grant me the rest and peace that you promise in your word.  In your name, AMEN.

Amazing Backstory: Chilean Miner T-shirts

Last week the world held its breath as 33 men emerged from their underground entrapment.  Against all odds, the Chilean government, along with help from many countries, mounted a creative and successful rescue of the trapped miners and we all celebrated together. One headline read: “The Entire World is Joyful”.  Joy.  I think that one word captures the essence of the experience for much of the world.

In our joy and celebration, many noticed the matching t-shirts worn by the miners over their coveralls as they emerged from the mine.  But not many know the story behind the t-shirts.  That they represent the true Joy found in our savior Jesus Christ.

On the front, the shirts read “Gracias Senor – Thank you Lord”.  On the back was Psalm 95:4 in Spanish, translated as “In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him.”  See pictures of the shirts in the CNN coverage of this amazing t-shirt story here.

So how did the miners get these matching t-shirts, displaying the true joy of the world?  

“The T-shirts were a gift from Campus Crusade for Christ Chile,” said Berry Fiess, director of field information services for The Jesus Film Project.  Christian Maureira, Country Director for Campus Crusade for Christ in Chile, explains the process they went through to help the miners spiritually during their time underground.

As Campus Crusade, God guided us to think about how we could help these men and this was how we took the initiative to contact some churches in the north, leaders and authorities about sending the JESUS audio into the mine. It wasn’t easy in the beginning because a lack of a sense of urgency, together with the restrictive control of the rescue team but, God in His sovereignty provided that we were able to gain contact with the daughter and the brother of one of the Christians that were trapped there. 

During several weeks, I was in contact with them and I explored the possibility of sending them audio material. Finally, I traveled to the mine with 33 MP3’s containing the JESUS audio version and an ample portion of the Bible. I was there for 2 days and we sent the MP3’s through each of the family members that were there.

Jose Samuel, my contact in the mine, is an extraordinary man who has really surprised me. The psychologists that are giving help from the surface have recognized that he has been a tremendous emotional and spiritual support for the rest of his co-workers.

In return, miner #24, Jose Samuel Henriquez, wrote a letter to Maureira including these quotes:
  • “I want to express my appreciation for this great blessing for me and my co-workers, it will be very good for our edification” (He is talking about the MP3’s)
  • “I am well because Christ lives in me”
  • “We have prayer services at 12 a.m. and 6 p.m.”
  • “I ask all of you for pray not only for us here, but for all the lost people in the world”
  • At the end of the letter he signed off with Psalm 95:4, “In his hand are the depths of the earth, and mountain peaks belong to him.”

A few days later, Jose Henriquez contacted Maureira again and asked that the special t-shirts be created for the miners to wear as they came out of the mine, and the whole world got to see the shirts as the miners were rescued one by one. 
After the rescue Maureira recaps the experience with this thought, “Chile is a grateful country that has reminded the world to set its eyes on the things of God, who sustains the universe.”  Truly Joy to the World.

Missed Opportunities and Open Doors

While at Campus Crusade New Staff Training for a week in September, we met a sweet girl named Lauren who had actually spent time working with students in East Asia a couple years ago as a Campus Crusade Intern.  As we talked about our new ministry to the students on the Walt Disney World College Program, her face lit up with recognition.  She told us that she actually knew seven students from her campus in East Asia that left their country to participate in the Walt Disney World internship program and work in EPCOT representing their country as cultural ambassadors. 

“I was excited for them and thought that surely there are Americans there who love Jesus who will reach out to them,” she shared. “I was so disappointed when they returned and said that they really didn’t get to interact with many Americans and that they were mostly surrounded by other international students.”
How sad that there have been so many missed opportunities in the past to reach international students on the program like the ones Lauren knew from East Asia.  But how exciting that God has now opened this new opportunity for there to be people intentionally reaching out to these international students with the truth of God’s love!
This story opened a new dimension in our minds with the possibilities for this ministry as we considered the idea of connecting and communicating with Crusade staff at campuses around the world as they send students to Walt Disney World and as we send students back to their home countries so that they can connect to a community of believers.  We hope to pursue this idea further once we join the ministry team in Florida.
Meeting Lauren and hearing her story just reaffirmed to Nate and I the need for ministry to these students, and increased our desire to work diligently to get to Florida as quickly as possible.  Please be praying that God would continue to open doors and lead us in the way we should go, and that we would keep trusting in His perfect timing for our family as we prepare our hearts to go, hopefully in the next year.

If you would like to join our team of partners and help us get to these students in Florida as soon as possible, you can see our giving page here.