Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One year ago today...

My stomach was in knots.

After months of prayer and preparation, I was actually in Windsor, CO, on the Ellerslie campus. The strangest thing about this memory is that it feels like it was several years ago. In some ways, it almost comes to my mind like a dream...I don't recall all the details. It's like this hazy memory filled with the most precious moments of meeting the beautiful faces of sisters in Christ (many of whom I had gotten to know over the internet in the previous months). I was overwhelmed with nerves and pure joy! Then, there was the Ellerslie staff. They were bursting with love and I hardly knew how to receive it! I didn't even feel like unpacking my stuff that day. I was just in awe of the beauty of the campus and the wonderful staff members.
I remember the banquet that they prepared for students....oh my, it was lovely! There are no words to describe that night. The men escorted each lady to the tables (my first experience of the kind of daily ettiquette and decorum that the men were taught to practice, very beautiful!), and we were all served the most wonderful food as the staff begin their presentations, which was greatly moving. It lasted past 11pm, I think. I was exhausted, yet filled with excitement to get to know each of the young women and men that would be my new family for the following 11 weeks. They made me laugh and they made me cry (in good ways!), and they encouraged, convicted, comforted, and blessed me, probably in more ways than many of them even know.
Ellerslie is a place set apart for souls longing to seek un-distracted communion with Christ. It's a place accompanied by souls whose only goal and every effort is to direct your heart towards Christ. And that is what I remember the most about my time there. The way that I was prodded on to grow in Christ and to taste the fullness of what Christ purchased for me on the cross.
I always say that it was very much like a 'honeymoon' with Jesus while I was at Ellerslie. And I'm ever so thankful for all the support from my family and friends, which got me there . The LORD worked in me there in ways that I did not expect and I learned more about the fullness of the Gospel, which became (and still becomes) increasingly more precious to me. It was the first time that I was genuinely able to experience freedom from many struggles and also to boldly proclaim with all my heart, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from You!" (Psalm 16:2).

Oh how I miss...

Sunsets at Ellerslie.
And the beautiful chapel.

The view outside my dorm window every morning....

My dear sisters in Christ who inspired me so much...these are just a few, but there are so many more!

Long drives to Estes Park...worshiping Christ in the car along with my sisters.

The days of worshiping before our God, whether it be in the chapel or outside....

Relaxing on the campus, meditating on the Word near the quiet of the lake, conversing with friends, laughing at all the hilarious happenings, watching the bunnies venture out from under the porches, watching the students go about their daily duties, waking up at 5:30 or 6am to pray in the stillness of the morning, the unpredictable weather at Colorado, the wall of thick fog that came rolling through in the mornings of June and July...
I also miss the close fellowship I experienced there. I miss 'family group' nights on Friday. I miss watching people pray. I miss the way our Ellerslie brothers would drop everything to pray over the group of girls, knowing that there was heavy things that a lot of us ladies were wrestling with. I miss the sweetness and joy of 'kiddo night' and pouring into the lives of the children from the church. I miss the morning devotions with staff. I miss the daily worship time.
Yes, there is so much to be missed. But so much to thank my God for!
Life has been quite different post-Ellerslie. But having those 11 weeks to be challenged and refined by His Spirit and Word, and to grow in the love of Christ, provided a solid foundation for the trials and struggles that came upon my return home. Thank you, Jesus, for those 11 weeks.

This hymn was our "anthem". I can't tell how many times we all gathered to sing this one last summer.

"Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken"
by Henry Francis Lyte, 1793-1847

1. Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my All shalt be.
Perish every fond ambition,
All I've sought or hoped or known;
Yet how rich is my condition!
God and heaven are still my own.

2. Let the world despise and leave me,
They have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Thou art not, like them, untrue.
And while Thou shalt smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate and friends may shun me;
Show Thy face, and all is bright.

3. Go, then, earthly fame and treasure!
Come, disaster, scorn, and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure;
With Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee Abba, Father!
I have stayed my heart on Thee.
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather,
All must work for good to me.

4. Man may trouble and distress me,
'Twill but drive me to Thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me,
Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, 'tis not in grief to harm me
While Thy love is left to me;
Oh, 'twere not in joy to charm me
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

5. Take, my soul, thy full salvation;
Rise o'er sin and fear and care;
Joy to find in every station,
Something still to do or bear.
Think what Spirit dwells within thee,
What a Father's smile is thine,
What a Savior died to win thee;
Child of heaven, shouldst thou repine?

6. Haste, then, on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith and winged by prayer;
Heaven's eternal day's before thee,
God's own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close the earthly mission,
Swift shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope soon change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.


MsMills said...

Im enjoying hearing people from our class reminisce. :) This was beautiful, Erika!
"Jesus, I my cross have taken" is still my anthem... I bet it is for a lot of our class. :)

Erika said...

Aw, thanks for the comment, Chelsea. :-) Glad you enjoyed reading over my post. It makes my heart a bit heavy in thinking about last summer because I so wish there could be an Ellerslie-reunion! But I know I'm right where He purposes me to be.

allyavozani said...

Hey!!! i don't know how i came across your blog but i will be going to ellerslie next summer! for 2012. It would be great if you could reach me!!! i would love to talk with you!!

Julie Nicole Waldvogel said...

I have a longing desire to go to ellerslie. sounds like you had so much fun! I am in the process of saving ever penny so I can may be in Summer 2012..