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Friday, March 8, 2013

Self Encouragement

To all you high school seniors out there, I salute you. You probably woke up one day last spring, mid drone through your AP psychology textbook, and thought, “Oh my God, I have to prepare for college.” Reeling from that blow, I’m sure your first SAT scores were a little disappointing.


Maybe in the summer you suffered from some doubt. Okay, that’s the understatement of the year. A more apt representation of your feelings most likely included a chorus of sneering voices in your head chanting, “you’ll never make it!” in unison.


Then October came and I bet you laughed at how people say junior year is the hardest. That seemed like years ago, rather than just a few months. Meanwhile, you were drowning in a pile of applications that wanted to know your mother’s home address twenty-six years ago, your childhood stuffed animal’s name, and how you would use that information to broaden your global perspective and cultural diversity (P.S. How has your favorite food prepared you for a leadership role?).


November might’ve looked something like this: Fill out forms. Fill out forms. College loses the forms. Fill out more forms.


Then you waited two months. Aha! Your first acceptance letter. Everyone was proud. Your parents told everyone they know. The congratulations came thick and fast and all you could do was stutter something like, “Um, uh, foreign language, I think.” when they asked what you're going to study.


You waited another month and then repeated the process.


And again.


Finally you’re right here in the present. It’s March and you’ve got a wicked case of senioritis. Also, you can’t afford any of the schools you want to go to. You might be feeling just a tad bit completely and totally overwhelmed. You might be thinking that if life would just pause and you could get a decent night’s sleep, that you’d wake up and be able to accomplish a few of the tasks on the To Do lists floating around your room. Maybe every day you startle awake at 6 AM and think, “Where am I supposed to be right now?”


May 1st, National College Enrollment Deposit Day, is a looming deadline in my- I mean your- perpetual game of hurry up and wait. Have all your prayers started sounding like desperate pleas yet? Are the college visits getting more intimidating? Good! You’re on the right track. From here on out, it’s all in God’s hands.


First off, all of this will be over soon. A decision will be reached, so just hang in there. Even better news, God planned for your college education even if you forgot about it. It’s going to work out. God is going to make a way. He created streams in the desert, he helped a teenager defeat a giant, and he sent salvation for the entire world in the form of a human baby. I think he can handle college tuition.


So be encouraged, even though you’re afraid. Act confident even when you get overwhelmed to the point of hiding in your room and compulsively eating your secret stash of jellybeans. Find within yourself the things that God is calling into being. Believe that he only wants the very best for you even when he seems to ask too much. Know that he is God and you are called to be his child. Remember that though his plan for you is great, right now he is only asking you to take a single step of faith. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Love Covers All

A couple of weeks ago at church I prayed that God would turn our church and all believers into a “blanket of love to cover the world.” The apostle Paul had much the same idea: I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. (Colossians 2:2 MSG)

What is there to be known of God? He is not a feeling or a daydream of love. He IS love. He created and is the embodiment of, love.

What is the feeling we get during praise and worship? I figured it out today. We enter into the presence of God, the presence of love. So what else can it be? As we praise, we invite God in and its His love that surrounds us.

That electric feeling when we praise, the chills that are simultaneously warm, the weight that is not a burden, its love. Pure love, surrounding us as we come together in worship. How does it feel to you? Is it the same as I have described or is it completely different?

Love weaves us together. It makes us into something that can take away the chill of the bleak existence of unbelievers. Coming together in worship, but having our own unique revelation of God, it can change the world.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Heavenly Humor

How you ever noticed that God has a sense of humor? Not a mean, antagonistic sense by any means. Neither is it strictly funny. He has his own sense of humor and I dare say He, at least, finds it hilarious.

A few months ago, I was reading Proverbs 31 and asking to God to show me what kind of young woman He desires me to be. This verse is one the really stood out on the page.

Proverbs 31:25 NLT
She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.


I've never really been one to laugh at the things ahead of me. I'm usually more likely to hide from them until my family kindly but firmly forces me to act. So the idea of me laughing without fear of the future almost sounds absurd.

I prayed the verse over my life anyway and waited to see where God would lead. He knows how I am striving to trust my life into His exceedingly capable hands.

Lately, God is doing things in my life that I didn't ask for or expect, but they are undoubtedly good for me. I find myself talking to Him during the day and saying things like "Of course, you would want me to do that." and "Look here, I don't really find your sense of humor all that funny."

Our Heavenly Father's sense of humor often involves us doing things we wouldn't be particularly inclined to do on our own. I feel the words of His own dear son accurately describe how I generally feel towards what God asks me to do.

Matthew 26:41
The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.


I can just imagine how He grins as I jiggle the door handle on a door I wish would open. How He must laugh as He throws open a door I didn't expect! Indeed, He unbars doors so fast, I almost fall into the room beyond.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy Not-So-New Year.

In my first post on this blog, I was fourteen, convinced I wouldn't make it through high school if the work got any more burdensome, and awed by my brother's freedom to go and do. I couldn't drive, I'd never even been payed to babysit, and I'm so glad I didn't know in advance what all God had in store for me. I would've ran and hid, no doubt about it.

I sit here now, closer to sixteen than my parents would care to admit, and reflect on the past year or so. I've learned a lot of necessary lessons I wouldn't care to repeat. I've done a lot of things I was certain I could not do. I've missed my brother terribly and indeed I miss him already, even though we only dropped him back off at college a few days ago.

I can drive now. My mother chews gum to relieve stress when I drive, but I can drive.

I've applied for a job. What a long, interesting story that turned out to be. Nevertheless, I go in for a second interview next week.

Now I desire to sit quietly and let issues of my heart remain between my Heavenly Father and I. I want to learn His statutes because He is always faithful.

"The things we feel most deeply we ought to learn to be silent about, at least until we have talked them over thoroughly with God."
-Elizabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity

Friday, December 17, 2010

I'm Looking

I want so much to go on a mission trip next summer. I've always wanted to, but this past summer taught me the reality. It's tough to go and do and forget about yourself in a selfless endeavor to help others. But I also learned something else. If God tells you to do something you're certain you can't do, then you definitely can. You just need God's help to do it.

So, I'm looking. Honestly, there are way too many options when it comes to mission trips. I don't where to start. I want so much to have it settled that I'm going to a foreign country to spread the love of Christ. I want to have to rely on God for the funds necessary for a trip once again.

I kind of feel like I'm a about to run a race, but I can't find the starting line. Obviously, prayer is the right place to start in all situations; and I have been praying, but I don't think it wise to just sit around waiting for something to happen. I have to take a step at some point. God will provide a way. I just have to be willing to go forward.

So where do I go from here? I have absolutely no idea. . . at the moment. I'd love to hear of any mission trip opportunities you may know of.

Isaiah 6:8
Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

O.C.C.

One day I'm going to relearn how to sleep. For now though, I'm just going to write blog posts at 1:07 AM.

I've had two opportunities to volunteer at Operation Christmas Child this week. I'll skip the rundown on what it is. You can just click here and learn all about it.

I love it there. In fact, I've wanted to work there since I was about five. Last year, due to a series of unfortunate events in years past, was my first year to finally get to volunteer there.

Being at O.C.C. is like a breath of clean air. Joyful, hardworking people serving God creates an atmosphere of excitement and hope. If it were up to me, I would simply stay. I wouldn't leave when my shift was up. I would just stay in that place where I feel like I belong.

It's such a wonderful way to change a life. I can't travel all the places where these boxes go. I can't personally hand out boxes and share the gospel with people who have never heard it (though believe me, I would if I could). But, I can give up a few hours of my time to sort through some shoeboxes that will be a part of the life-changing process.

Plus, they make it easy. For the people who simply do not have time to pack a shoebox or volunteer, there is the Build-A-Box option. How cool is that? Just design a box online and they'll put it together for you.

One last thing. Working there has made me realize how very blessed I am. In my life, a shoebox is something that comes with a pair of stylish, new boots. In the lives of the recipients, a shoebox is hope, life, and an open door to salvation.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Story Time

I've been reading some of my favorite bible stories over the past few days. I'd like to share my thoughts on a few of my favorite passages.

I've always loved the story of Esther. As an orphan raised by her cousin, she became the wife of a pagan king and queen of a foreign land. In a shocking turn of events, she revealed herself as a servant of the one true God and saved her people from the hand of an evil adversary. What a wonderful miracle. And yet, she was human. she feared for her own life as well as for the lives of her people.

Esther 4:-17 ESV

And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, "Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"


I love Mordecai's honesty. This man, the man who raised and cared for Esther, did not hesitate to tell her the absolute truth. Serve God or perish. I also admire his faith. He knew deliverance was coming, no matter where it came from.

- - - - -

Ruth could've gone back to her family like her sister-in-law, Orpah. She could've lived in her homeland and remarried from among her own people. She could've worshiped her own gods and lived her own life, but she didn't.

Ruth 1:15-18 NIV

“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.


Ruth was different. She chose to forsake her own people and follow after a woman who had nothing to give her. It cannot be denied that she truly loved her Mother-in-law. Something about the God of her husband and his family must have made a deep impact
upon her heart.

- - - - -

Daniel 3:16-18 NIV

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”


Faced with a terrible death, they did not back down. It strikes me that I, a child saved by the grace of God, am often hesitant to speak up about my love for my Savior. While these men, to whom Christ's salvation had not yet come, were willing to die for their God, no questions asked. Oh that I would learn to love my God as they did; with reckless abandon.