What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

For the first few years of my childhood I had decided that I wanted to be a ballerina. Dancing was, and still is, my favorite activity. If I could dance for a living while looking beautiful in my tutu, that would be the day that I made it in life. It all started with The Nutcracker. My wonderful mother told me and my sisters that she would take us to the ballet for our 5th birthday. It was something that I looked forward to as the time neared for me to dress up and go observe the ballerinas dance so angelically. When the day came, I was not disappointed.

The grace and beauty and peacefulness of the ballerinas inspired me at a young age. How they were so careful with every step they took and how their choreography was meant just for the music that was played by the orchestra… It all was so beautifully done. My eyes were pried open when I sat in that theatre.

You have probably already assumed the obvious: I am not a ballerina. Because over the years I went from wanting to be a ballerina to a teacher, a doctor, a veterinarian, a singer, a “rockstar” (probably because I watched so much Hannah Montana), a writer, a composer, and a screenwriter. Somewhere in the mix, I think I wanted to be a pastor. I would have never admitted this because I was a pastor’s kid. Or as the pastors’ kids call it, a “PK”.

Growing up in the church was so good for me and God knew that when He was planning out my life. He knew that seeing my dad pastor to the young people in our church would grow inside me a desire to minister to young people. He knew that I needed to grow with people who would care enough to teach me the Bible and why people believe in it. He knew that I would be doing who-knows-what if I hadn’t been connected in my youth group every week and weekend. He knew that the church wass where I would grow best.

While I was growing up, specifically in middle school, I denied the possibility of being a pastor or being in ministry of any sort. At this time I wanted to be a musician and travel the world. College was the last thing on my mind. But as I stayed connected in the church, opportunities kept knocking at my door for me to serve and lead. I never said no because I loved serving in the church. Even though I wouldn’t admit to having a desire to minister to people, I loved ministering to people! It was at first through music, then Bible studies, then speaking in front of my peers. God gave me all of those opportunities in the church.

The reason I tell you all of this is because even though I don’t know all the things I will do with my life, I still know what I am doing today. Isn’t today  yesterday’s future? Can’t we live it now?

Yes, some of us may be young and in high school or college. We are still figuring out a major and a profession that fits us best. Those things are important, but to get there, we need to be in the here and now.

Like I said, I’m what you call a “PK”. My dad has been one of the greatest inspirations in my life. His wisdom has affected my life greatly. One of the things that he has told me for many years is that to figure out what you need to do in your future, you need to look at events from your past as puzzle pieces. Look back to the most significant events in your life that helped shape who you are today.

Maybe one of your pieces would be winning the Science Fair in fourth grade. Maybe you remember being a helping hand to someone who got hurt on the playground. You may even count one of your puzzle pieces as the time your parents got divorced or a really bad break up. One of your puzzle pieces could be giving a speech in class, scoring the winning point, or creating your best painting you’ve ever painted. What are those things that brought you here today?

What I’ve learned from my dad and many others is these puzzle pieces need to be put together. When they are put together, they can create a picture of a map. It can show you where you have been and a sneak peek of where you are going.

You have a calling and a purpose. I don’t know if anyone has ever told you that before. I believe that every single person has a purpose in this life. You aren’t just here to waste air and be someone that others can be compared to. You are unique and talented. Maybe not in obvious ways. Maybe your talents need to be unpacked and developed. That is okay. I am still figuring out what gifts God has given me in certain areas of my life. We are always learning. We can always grow. Look for the special gifts and abilities that you see in yourself and develop them.

I am 19 years old. I don’t expect you to think that I am some intelligent, put-together adult that can help you figure out life. But what I’ve learned from the amazing people God has put in my life, is that we may never be sure of where to go next. We may never be sure of our calling for tomorrow. It may be different than today’s.

I know that for me, I am resting on God’s plan for my life, not mine. Who knows what He will ask me to do tomorrow? I don’t! But day by day, I am saying yes to where the path on my map is pointing. The puzzle pieces in my life give me just a little picture of my life’s road map. I don’t have the full picture yet because I haven’t lived my whole life yet! But right now, this small picture can help me find the other pieces that I can add to the puzzle.

God has put significant puzzle pieces in your life. Even if there is hurt and pain in your life, God can use that pain and heal it. He didn’t want you to go through that, but can use it to create a puzzle piece of the bigger picture. He wants to use that because He doesn’t want to see that piece clogging up your life anymore with pain and regret. He wants more for you.

You don’t need to have life figured out. I am very blessed to have people in my life who repeatedly tell me that. Now I want to tell you. You don’t need to have life figured out. But if you want someone to guide you and help you figure out the best path for you life, I’ve known God to be a pretty great friend for adventures. He will go with you and He will never leave you.

This season of life is exciting for me because I am majoring in Christian Ministries and have no idea what that will mean for my future. I know that I’m supposed to minister to people but who knows where? Not me! That is why I am trusting in God to lead me to more open doors with more opportunities. He gave them to me before, so many years ago. He is and will continue to bring more opportunities for puzzle pieces.

What do I want to be when I grow up? I think that is a silly question. The better questions is where do I want to be when I grow up?

I want to be on the right path set out for me.

 

Proverbs 4:26

Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established.

Proverbs 3:6

In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.

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Trust Issues

I want to be authentic. I want to be real. I hope that is what we all try to be. And if we are honest, while we are trying so hard to be real and be the best person we can be, we fail. A lot. I fail a lot.

Something that I fail at is trust, but not in the way you think. You see, I tend to trust people too much. When I don’t know where else to go and when I feel all alone, I tend to find the nearest friend to confide in so they can help me get through the rough patch. I trust them to pick up my spirits and carry me through the pain.

My stuff is heavy. My burdens and troubles aren’t light. After expecting my friends and family to carry these things, I’ve seen how many backs I’ve broken with my stuff. It has been a long road and I expected too much of the people that walk alongside me in my journey. My trust weighed heavy on their shoulders and I thought they could help me out of the pit I had fallen into.

I struggle with trusting people too much.

Don’t get me wrong, I love people! I live for friendships and relationships with others. Over these past few months of being away at college, I’ve realized how much I do love people. But I have also realized that my trust in people has gotten in the way of my trust in God.

I have written before about being lonely in different seasons of my life. This is an important topic that I think we need to talk about. A LOT of people struggle with loneliness… more than you think. I often find myself feeling lonely because I was expectant of someone to come through for me and be the “perfect friend” in a single moment. I know that I need comfort so I expect someone to give me the comfort I need. But I rarely find that. And when I do find that, I have slowly figured out that it wasn’t them providing what I needed in that moment, it was God.

Learning to trust in God is a journey in itself. I have trusted God in a lot of areas in my life, yet I still don’t go to Him first when I am struggling with loneliness. The one that is known for being present and with us is the third or fourth one I run to in my times of trouble. I have preached about running to God first time and time again, thinking I had it right. But I want to be honest and say that I am still working on going to God first.

In the moments before I sat down to write this, I had a much needed moment with God. He made me realize how I viewed my circle of loved ones in my life. I trust them too much. I trust them to always make my day better when I’m down, I trust them to always pull through for me even if their schedule is crazy or different than mine, and I trust them to always know what to say when I trouble comes my way. I trust them too much.

The wonderful people in my life have always loved me and cared for me with the gifts and abilities given to them by God. I love them so much for that. But they can never be what God can be in times of trouble simply because, like me, they are human. They cannot fill His place as a Provider and Healer. He is the One that always pulls through, is always able to be with me (because we are always on His schedule), and always has the best words for me when trouble comes my way. I don’t trust Him enough.

People will fail. Yes, people get it right some of the time. But I need to stop expecting the people in my life to be perfect in my time of trouble. They are going to fail me sometimes. When I say that, I say it in the most lovingly way. There is no bitterness behind what I say. Because when I understand that people will fail me, I understand that I fail them! I have failed and will continue to fail people. I’m human and I don’t always get it right. This is an even bigger reminder that my Father in Heaven always does. He always gets it right.

I never want to be a person that holds grudges against people for not following through for me. It is not about me and I do not want it to be. I wrote this post because I want to be real with you. My life is not perfect, I struggle, and I am always learning. I am learning so much about how I’ve been leaning on people for so long that I sometimes forget to look to the Lord when I feel like I have no place to go.

He says this,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

I want to apologize to people that I have made feel like they let me down. I ask for forgiveness for asking you to take my stuff and carry it for me. That is not your job. The wonderful people in my life have always helped me carry the weight on my shoulders so the load is lighter without my asking. For that I say thank you for walking alongside me when the road gets tough. God really used you to help me along the way. I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t appreciate them in times of trouble. God made us for community and like I said before, I love people. Being around people will always cheer me up.

This post may seem random to you.. Maybe even a little sad. These posts that I write are me simply learning and growing as I process more of who I am and who God is. I encourage you, learn who you are and learn who God is. Those two things will get you far.

In whom or what do you put your trust? This is a question I want to ask myself and you, Curious Reader. I hope and pray that God is the answer.

Enlightened Announcements!

Check out what God is doing in West Michigan!

Enlightened

Let me start off by saying God is good. All the time. And what he is doing with so many of my friends and peers amazes me. We are all so blessed to be apart of this journey and this growing event happening in schools all over the place.

The first thing I want to talk about is Enlightened at Grandville High School this Sunday (January 25th). How God has provided over the last few weeks for the needs of this night blows my mind. Just like last time, at my school, we see that all we need to worry about is telling our friends and showing up to see what God wants to do. He has been so faithful and so generous to us as well as many people that He brought to us to help us out. All the expenses are paid for, we have our supplies, our…

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The Ten Commandments

Yes, so often we forget the 10 Commandments… Why? They are so important.

a whisper in the wind

The Ten Commandments were given to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai.  To this day they provide, not just a code of conduct for a religious group, but a foundation for ethical behavior that has stood for thousands of years.  Today, however, it is being removed not just from our public buildings but from many of our lives.  Today I hope to reinforce the foundation of our code of conduct, The Ten Commandments.

I.  Our Relationship to God:  Deuteronomy 5:6-15

‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

‘You shall have no other gods before Me.

‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow…

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Best Part of Enlightened.

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We had been there for almost 3 hours by the time my friend Kaley and I became desperate. Sitting in a restaurant with our empty soup bowls and nothing but Britney Spears’ song “Hit Me Baby One More Time” ringing in our ears, we felt defeated. We needed a name. A name for this event that was at the very edge of starting a fire. A name to start it all and to shape the very thing that God wanted to say on the night of this event.

My pen was tapping on our crowded table of scattered papers with drawings and random words that we were brainstorming about. We were silent. But the Britney Spears song was still blaring throughout the empty restaurant. Kaley looked at me and said “What are we gonna do?”

At that point, my brain was fried and my eyes had a hard time staying open. It was only 4 pm. But I had felt like I had been there for a lifetime. 3 hours of nothing. So I started joking around.

Give me a sign,” I sang along with Britney. “Hit me baby, one more time!”

And there we sat. And sat. And sat some more. Nothing.

“We need something before we talk to our principal. And we need flyers as soon as possible,” I said. My eyes were scanning the room, searching for a pinch of inspiration in something… Anything! We had already talked about the salt shakers at our table but couldn’t think of any cool titles with the word ‘salt’ in it. Thats when I saw my sign.

It was literally a sign. On each table was a sign about being “enlightened about food” or something like that. But I saw that word and I knew that this was it. Thats what we needed to talk about.

“Enlightened!” I said. It was amazing how fast me and Kaley had ideas for the night after that sign. We talked about Salt and Light and what that could look like in our schools. We talked about songs that dealt with light, people we thought of, verses we thought of… And we turned right to Matthew 5:13-16:

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Here we are on October 6th, a dark, rainy day in Michigan. It couldn’t feel any brighter after what happened last night. Last night being the most amazing night of my life.

I can’t even describe in words what happened in my public high school’s auditorium, but I can tell you that people walked out enlightened. Not because of the band or the speakers or the videos or the hosts. They walked out enlightened after experiencing God and connecting with our God that has a perfect plan and purpose for every single person.

Not everything went as planned last night. But it was perfect. It was perfect because it was what God wanted it to be.

Its still unbelievable that over 600 people gathered together in my school’s auditorium to worship Jesus. That was why they were there. Most of the people that walked in those doors had no idea what they were walking into but knew that there was an opportunity to worship. They had no idea about the lights and the songs and the lamps and the games and the messages. Seeing that turn out for worship was encouraging. But that wasn’t the best part.

Last night, His children were crying out to their Father. I heard it. I saw it. The wonderful privilege of leading worship is witnessing people’s hearts being displayed as they worship. It was a beautiful, beautiful experience. The way everyone sang, “I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned” was a moment I will never get out of my mind. The voices are still ringing in my ears. I can still see people raise a little candle to the sky as they devote everything to their Savior. But that wasn’t the best part.

I got to stand next to my best friend and lead worship with hundreds of my friends last night. Kaley saw this vision from the beginning and God used her to make Enlightened what it was. Her beautiful testimony was truly God speaking through her. But being able to stand next to her while we sang “The Stand” was such an honor and touching moment for me. God brought us together as friends during really lonely times of our lives and she has been there for me ever since. Always praying and encouraging. Even though that aspect of the night was incredible, that still wasn’t the best part.

We challenged everyone in the audience to action last night. There were candles on the sides of the stage (fake, battery-powered candles) for people to take and light if they wanted to make their own personal commitment to God. Before the service, I felt like God wanted this commitment to be what each person needed it to be. Whether it be giving their life to Christ, surrendering a relationship, committing to do what He is asking them to do, talking to someone about Christ… Whatever that is, everyone had something different. And hundreds of students stood up from their seats to grab a candle and hold it high. As I looked out into the crowd, I saw a lot of candles shining a warm glow of yellow. They all looked the same but none of them were the same. That wasn’t the best part either.

The best part is yet to come.

Its happening right now. The lights that flickered in that room are now walking through the hallways of 8 different schools, 17 different churches and several different communities. And thats what Enlightened was and is. Its not over. It will keep going. Because Enlightened is not mine. Its not Kaley’s. Its not anyone else’s that was on that stage. And because its not ours and belongs to the Ultimate Creator, it will go on.

Two years ago I was at a conference called The Follow Tour. This event had thousands of students gathered together in a hotel to worship and hear messages from inspiring men and women of God. That event changed my life. I couldn’t tell you why that weekend was so powerful for me. The worship was awesome, yes. And the speakers were awesome, yes. But God was calling me to something that I couldn’t figure out and I couldn’t shake it.

That weekend I re-accepted Christ into my life because I wanted my life to take a stand for Him. When the preacher said “Stand if you want to make that decision” I stood because I knew that I was not living my life that way. I was not standing for Him. Especially in my school. So I stood and I told God that I would always stand for Him. And that when I got home, I would stand when He called me to.

On the last night of that conference when everyone was drying their tears from the last worship song and saying their goodbyes, my youth pastor, at the time, confronted me. He said,

“God was talking to me during worship tonight and He wants you to know that in a few years, you will be up on that stage”. He pointed to the big stage in the front of the massive room.

I said, “Wow, that would be cool!” And I laughed. What could I say to that? I had no idea what he was talking about.

“You’re going to be up on that stage, Olivia. And right now is the grooming process. You need to get ready for what God is going to do. You may be losing friends and school may be hard, but God can use that for preparing you and for you to draw closer to Him” he said.

For the past two years, I had always thought my pastor was talking about my future after high school. And I have been waiting to see what that meant for my life. What stage God was talking about.

Yesterday afternoon, as I was preparing my message to speak at Enlightened, God revealed to me what my pastor was talking about.

This, Enlightened, was the stage that God has been preparing me for. And it was my turn to challenge others to stand in their schools. That passion that He gave me in that moment when I stood at the Follow Tour was what I needed to share with my peers.

God is beautiful. He had this whole night planned for longer than I can imagine. And He has been preparing the words, the songs, the messages, and the theme of Enlightened for every single person that was in that room. He is so good. I cannot express how grateful I am to have had the honor of being apart of this beautiful story of how God is calling disciples to rise up.

It was all Him. The whole time. And He is the reason we need to keep going. The reason we need to keep shining that light. He has called us all to do so. Not just some of us. Not just the ones on stage or the ones that play sports or the ones that seem to have it all together.

He is calling all of us.

And last night, everyone in that room heard it.

Countdown to Winter.

I will be honest and say that I’ve been listening to Christmas music for the past few days. Maybe even as I write this…

Christmas time, snow, my birthday, hot chocolate, snow days, Christmas re-runs, gift giving, the music, cookies, scarfs and boots… All good things that happen during winter. It is my favorite time of year and as the Michigan air gets cooler and cooler, I get goosebumps thinking about winter time.

Winter fashion has to be one of the best parts. The scarfs get bigger, new styles of boots come out, new mittens are hanging on their racks, and hats. I absolutely love hats. But my favorite part of winter fashion has to be the death of crop tops for a quarter of the year. I’m really sick of finding a cute shirt in the store to only pull it off the rack and find out its a crop top! There is no way I could and would wear crop tops and I just don’t want to see all of your belly buttons, ladies. You can look so cute and classy without crop tops. Personally, girls that cover up more look so classy and put together.

Sweater weather is my favorite. Its cozy and comfortable. What more could you ask for?

We all have our favorite season. For some of us, it was summer. I hope it was wonderful for you and you did all your favorite things to do in the summertime! For those who love fall, enjoy it while it lasts! It seems to be one of those seasons that flies by because the leaves are always changing colors and the festivities come and go. I hope you get the perfect pumpkin and the perfect pumpkin spice latte during this beautiful, picture-perfect season! And for those who enjoy Spring, don’t worry. Even though winter seems like it will never end (like last year) I promise, no matter how much I don’t want it to, it will be over before you know it and you’ll see daisies popping up out of the ground!

Enjoy, make memories, and take lots of pictures!

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Making It Big.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

A lot of my writings come from powerful conversations I have with people in my life. Friends, mentors, my parents… There’s always something we end up ranting about for hours. 

Today I was talking to one of my best friends, who is also a musician, about people’s ideas of making it big in life. Most of us have this idea that in order to be something great in this life, we need to do something BIG. Something that effects many people and is seen by millions. That means my life is significant. Right?

 

Sadly, thats what our minds are fed since we’ve started watching television and picking our favorite movie stars or favorite athlete. We see them doing great things, winning awards, winning the championships, getting interviewed… and we think that means their life is significant and better than the drab lives we live everyday. But what makes a life significant? What does that mean? Let me ask you this.

Is fame the definition of significance? 

 

What I’m going to say is brief. I just want to say it.

 

We all know those people who want to make it big. And we may not just know one but a few. And how many Christians do we know that want to end up in Hollywood being a famous singer? I say this because I hear it so much I feel like theres this big club I’m missing out on. These people say all they want to do in the future is try to make it big and go into the music industry.

I will say “Good for you, good luck” assuming their intentions are to fulfill God’s calling in their life. But there are people who just want to be elevated and famous like most celebrities. Their self is their business. Some people just want to go into business with themselves. 

When people say they want to be a singer or actor or whatever for God, I cringe. There are people that are really called to do that, but there are others that just want the fame. And if those Christians are saying I want to be more like Jesus, their goals in life are far from what Jesus’ were. 

Jesus, the Son of God came here to serve. He didn’t come for the fame or money or even the attention. He came to seek the lost and to serve His heavenly father and die for Him. I wonder how many things Jesus did for others that aren’t even mentioned in the Bible? He didn’t live for the fame. That wasn’t His goal; to become more famous so God’s name would be famous. He wanted people to experience His love and truth by healing and serving others. He wanted to make a way for others to have life and to be with God.

So when people say “I want to be more like Jesus” and they’re chasing fame and fortune, I’m sorry but they’re liars. If fame and fortune is where some people are called, God will bring them there. Chasing after it and revolving your life around fame shows your intentions lie in the fame alone. If your life is revolved around Jesus and you take the opportunities He gives you and achieve fame, that’s awesome. I think that is great. 

All these people that want to make it big and be famous are setting themselves up for a twisted road. They will either spend their whole life chasing something that can’t happen, or will crash and burn when they finally get there. Some achieve fame, but where is the award in fame? I think the award comes with what you decide to do with it.

Probably 90% of us can carry a tune. Most of us can sing. Let’s admit it. We can sing along to our favorite song and hit the notes, thats why people love worship music or going to concerts and singing along. Everyone can do it, whether they sound perfect is another thing. But most of us can carry a tune. But few have a certain presence on stage that is proof of a calling for a life of performing. 

I think a lot of pop artists today are only famous because of their looks and personality. Not because they had the best voice or a gift in music. Any producer or manager can make someone a person who can SELL. But few people just have to step out on stage and sing a song and win the hearts of thousands. We can envy those people, but we can also realize that we all have our own talents that make us who we are just like that person.   

Some people are really good at cooking or baking. Some people are really good at listening and being that person that anyone could talk to about anything. Others are good at teaching others how to play a sport, sing, dance, write, or how to run a business. And some are good at being an At-Home-Parent. We are all called to do different things and are all made for different things. Created by the most talented, we all have something we do that just feels like its where we’re meant to be.

The book and movie “The Fault In Our Stars” has a great message about life. Hazel and Augustus remind us that even though their life wasn’t the greatest and they didn’t effect millions, their lives had worth. I applaud the author of that story. He used the fame of this book to bring that simple yet profound message to millions. We don’t need to be that big person in life who achieves fame and fortune, however that looks, but we can effect those put in our life right now. We are all called to a different location. Some are called to be on the stage, some may be backstage, and some may be in the seats. 

Wherever you are, its significant. You need to know that. Because if you don’t, you won’t be able to fulfill you purpose here on this earth. We all have one and what we do personally effects everyone. And our purpose is not in the far off future, its in the here and now. 

Choose everyday to live out a purpose. Whether that is to share love, serve, be a friend to someone, or make another step towards a goal in life, choose everyday to start over and live out a purpose you have been called to achieve.

 

 

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

Proverbs 28:6 

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

 

Matthew 20:28

 ..just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

 

 

Don’t Wait To Fall In Love

(what I learned about relationships this summer).

 

This life that we are living right now is about falling in love. Not with another person. But our Heavenly Father.

 

 

“Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” ~Augustine of Hippo

 

 

We are in a love story right now with God. And He gave us the choice of life and we can choose to recieve that with no cost. It’s free. He set it out as a gift. He wants to love you and give YOU the choice of loving Him back. And even when some say no, He still loves. What an amazing gift.

But know as you are unwrapping this gift, the price lies in what you choose to do with it. If you want to live with and experience this powerful love, it won’t be easy. Like a bride and a groom both need to contribute to their marriage and the same goes for any relationship, we need to give our all in our relationship with God. Can you imagine the price He paid for us? Sending His only son to die… All for this free gift that everyone in the world has the chance to accept and so few unwrap.

True love is patient and kind. It is not boastful, proud, or rude. It does not demand its own way. It never gives up. God IS love. And He gives us this amazing opportunity.

It is an opportunity for true love.

God’s love is true because He has never hurt us, wronged us, forgotten us, or stopped loving us. He sent His son to die for us so we wouldn’t have to be apart from Him. Think about this: He would rather die than live without you.

Something else that blows my minds is this: Jesus knew your name when He hung on that cross. He knew my name. He knew all the people He was dying for. And in that moment, He knew He was dying for the love His father had for us. 

I believe we are all apart of this big, beautiful story where all of our stories collide to see who chooses love at the end of the day.

We may think choosing love with a significant other is the best kind of love there is. That they are the solution to all of our problems. But I say don’t wait to fall in love before you find that person in your life.

Don’t sit around and pray to God for a significant other when you are not at the moment seeking God’s love. The purpose of this life is not to find a person to marry and live the rest of your life with. Its about finding God and finding your purpose here on earth.

Stopping what you’re doing and waiting around for that special person is a waste of time. Falling in love with Jesus takes time and you’re using it on someone that could never fufill you like Jesus can.

One of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, said this,

“Believing in God is as much like falling in love as it is making a decision. Love is both something that happens to you and something you decide upon.”

When you decide to follow Jesus, you give your heart to Him. And then you are taken on this wonderful journey with Him. Its not easy. But is love and relationships ever easy? I took AP Spanish, so I’ll answer this question in Spanish: “No”.

But Jesus is perfect and Jesus is worth it and Jesus loves you more than anyone else can.

So stop waiting for this special person to sweep you off your feet and change your life. They will change your life. But they could change it by helping you grow closer to your Heavenly Father. That person could be your plus one on this journey we call life and they could help make the ride more enjoyable. But they shouldn’t take the place of your relationship with God. They should help you grow closer to Him.  If you’re falling in love with Him and devoting your life to Him, someday He’ll bring that special persons into your life to walk this journey with you. That’s what He can do. But when you get to know God better, you understand that He has a perfect plan and sometimes it doesn’t match with the plan we had mapped out in our heads.

 

When I wrote about the metaphorical “stoplight”, I really meant what I said.

 

At the moment, I’m really focusing on falling in love with Jesus. After I read one of Donald Miller’s books, he said he started reading the Gospels and fell in love with Jesus when he learned so much about Him in these four books, and I wanted that. So I started reading the Gospels. And let me tell you, reading Matthew for the hundreth time was hard at first. I felt like I knew all the stories too well. But that was the thing. I knew the stories. Like the Christmas story, when Jesus fed 5,000, and when Peter walked on water… But now I was really paying attention to Jesus. How He acted, what He said. I learned so much more than just skimming through the stories.

 

Jesus was and is a fascinating and awesome person. He hung out with the outcasts and always spoke truth. I don’t know about you, but someone like that would be refreshing. There’s so much talk and so many lies and so much gossip. But He was perfect and stuck to God’s word. And He was a servant. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about that. Like… We don’t really put that into perspective. Because if we say we want to be like Jesus and we act so high up and too good for getting on our knees and serving, we’re nothing like Him at all. We’re actually the opposite of what He desired to be on this earth. He served and He was the Son of God.

 

Just imagine if someone like Beyonce or Jay-Z, the most popular couple right now in Hollywood, were seen cleaning toilets at a church or someone’s house. Or if the most popular kid in your school sat by the weirdest kids in your school and risked their reputation to talk to them. 

The difference is Jesus was so contriversial and not everyone believed that He was who He said He was. But He knew who He was and still got on His knees to wash His disciples’ feet. 

 

How amazing is that. 

 

I’m going to be honest and say it would be really easy for me to get up off my knees and wait for someone else to wash my feet. But that’s what makes Jesus different. He wasn’t just a man, He was the Son of God. And I love Him.

 

I hope that before you fall in love with anyone, you see Jesus as your first in your life. I hope that you love Him so much that you only want to honor Him in any relationship you enter. And I hope that you won’t wait to fall in love with Jesus. If you wait for a relationship or marriage to fall in love, you’re going to be really dissapointed. 

 

 

1 John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”  

Two Masters.

($ and Posessions and Media)

Jesus talks more about money and posessions than anything else in the Gospels. Throughout His life He taught many people with numerous stories to represent the Kingdom of God and what it looks like in this world. He always reminded the disciples and bystanders that you cannot serve two masters. Whether that be money vs. God, relationships vs. God, yourself vs. God or whatever it may be for you, He warned us that it is not possible and is also dangerous to get close to that dividing line.

Having so much could mean so little in this world to the next. Material things are shiny and colorful and pleasing to the eye for a reason: money. Everyone wants money. Everyones wants comfort. Everyones wants the perfect future they’ve pictured in their heads their whole life. Why?

These material things are made to look like fufillment. They are advertised to look like fufillment. To taste like it. To feel like it. But you know what? The people that are tying to sell you the houses, cars, clothes, jewelry, and credit cards are also reaching for this false sense of fufillment themselves. They want you to pay them a whole lot of money so they can do the same thing and spend it until their hearts are content.

It is a circle.

You also see people with lots of money and posessions giving to charities, orphans, the ill, etc. We all see it. Thats my point.

In Matthew 6 it says,

“Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others…”

Many times we are caught doing that. Its easy to do this when you’re very involved in a church or you’re trying to display a certain image or both. For me, it was getting involved in church a lot. When I started getting involved with church all the time and church people were my friends, I wanted to prove something to them by how much I serve or give or do. Sooner than later I saw a path behind me of service and good deeds that didn’t produce “fruit”. The seeds I thought had planted were not planted right. Those seeds were for approval from man. Not God. Its always important to check our hearts when we take a close look at why we do what we do. Why do we give? Why do we serve?

Trying to portray a certain image is a lot of work. Its all about making sure you’re wearing the right thing and saying the right things and talking to the right people. I don’t know when identity started falling into the hands of man, but its something that has happened to many of us in our lives. We worry about what people are thinking and saying about us.

Sometimes we want our identities to latch on to someone else’s. Sometimes its someone rich and famous. They look like they have it all. They have security, they are loved by millions and love themselves. When we see that, we may think we want that.

I see a lot of people loving a celebrity so much that they start to identify with them. They tweet them, they follow them, they talk about them, and they think about them a lot. This perfect person is displayed on a screen where you can hit replay on their videos on Youtube all day long.

Sometimes its a cute guy or a girl that is a perfect candidate for someone if they were on their own season of “Bachelorette” or “Bachelor” (if you know what I’m saying). Sometimes its an athlete that just seems too cool for anyone. Sometimes its a person who is really talented at what they do so we want people to know that we follow them.

Its crazy that people can associate themselves with what celebrity they like the most. How the fans will instantly cling to only their celebrity’s entourage. Some fans even become enemies against other fan groups… The power of one famous person is efficacious. Am I saying its a good or bad thing? I’m just saying its crazy to me.

Celebrities, entrepeneurs, and millionares are heroes in the world’s eyes for doing what they do best. It could be starting a worldwide company, making a movie, singing, dancing, or creating an App on the iPhone. That person and their managers/partners are always seeking opportunities to get their names known in the media. Its about spreading word of their name or company. Most of their lives are lived for making their name known whether that name be a company, and app, or their actual name.

We do that too. Social media is the easiest way to get known. The easiest way to get attention as well. We hastag and follow and post just the right picture to spread word of our names.

With this power we have to spread word throughout media, you’d think it’d be so much easier for Christians to spread word of God’s name. With the accessability to do so, it seems to be easier to spread word of our names. Yes, there are many faith-based accounts dedicated to God, but there are also MANY more Christians that use their accounts for very different reasons. Those reasons could include lifting themselves up. I don’t know you but you do. When you post a picture, you know your intentions when you click share. Media is powerful and effective. A lot of the time we use this resource to make ourselves look fun and happy and hot and likeable. We want our names to be known and remembered. But why create your legacy online with pictures or posts? Why not create a legacy with things you do?

 

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” -Bono.

 

Music is one of the most powerful and influential pieces of media. Pop artists have that influence in the sweaty palms of their hands. They give their talent back to the world with what they create, sell, and perform. But what I see is and hear is not giving. I see artists lifting themselves up along with sex, money, drugs, and the list goes on. The lyrics are about the artist in some way, shape or form.

To me, most of the time, these pop songs don’t look like giving. We look up to these people so much and all they are doing is taking. Taking our money and time for lifting themselves up more.

Not all celebrities are like that but a lot are. You can tell by the messages of their songs. I don’t get celebrities that go on and on and on about how deep their music is and the meanings behind it when the lyrics describe a party where everyone is wasted and doing whatever the heck they want.

I realize some people that read this may get defensive because they have a certain celebrity in their mind that they love and don’t want anyone bashing on. You might be trying to defend them in your mind. If thats you, hear me out.

The only reason I am talking about celebrities is because of their influence on this country and in this world. We all have our favorites that we follow and ocassionaly tweet @ them… But if we’re trying to defend our favorite celebrity by saying, “ALL of their songs/shows/movies aren’t great but he/she is such a genuinly good person” we’ve allowed that power and influence to stear our minds into accepting things the world says is okay. And when we think these things are okay, then we start loving these people even more and turn them into idols.

Obsessing over people, material things, or money leaves an empty hole where we fought so hard for fufillment. Lifting ourselves or material posessions up will only bring ourselves down to a level where we rely solely on temporary things. Its a bottomless pit that desires to be filled up when in fact, its impossible for that to ever happen.

What we feed ourselves effects what comes out of us. I’m not talking about food even though its still true for food (gross). I’m talking about the media we take in and the ideas of looking good and having a lot of money. Wanting to look good while doing good things is worthless and empty. Give because its a good thing and we serve a good God. Don’t hold on to money and identity so tightly that it weighs you down, pulling you farther away from all the things you can do for the Kingdom of God.

Giving is so important according to Jesus. And if we do good things for approval from others or for an identity, the bad intentions behind a good thing decreases the value behind that good thing. Why give if all we’re wanting to do is recieve in the process? That’s called taking and we learned about that in Pre-School. We should know the difference by now.

Matthew 6:1-4

Fasting My Voice In NY

“If we are going to worship in Spirit, we must develop a spirit of worship.”
-Michael Catt

I am now at NTS camp in South Carolina but I want to reflect on my fast in New York. I’m so glad I waited to start writing this until today because this week God is doing awesome things during the worship sessions.

If someone asked me what my biggest passion is, I would say worship. I lead worship wherever I can and at my church and my favorite sound in the whole wide world is when instruments stop, I step away from the mic, and I hear God’s children crying out to God with voices. The voices I hear are not always the best voices, I admit. But I always want to step down from the stage and tell those people to sing louder. They are crying out to their Heavenly Father with praise with all they’ve got. If someone was trying out for American Idol and could not sing anything on pitch, I couldn’t listen. I’m just being honest.

When I hear people singing during worship with all they’ve got, losing their voices in the process, I see a passion that cannot be explained. It is a feeling where everyone in the room is one as we worship a present Creator. I love that.

Last week on the first night of worship, I started thinking about the privelage I have to sing. Singing is my favorite thing to do and I probably sing more than anything else besides breathe. Seriously. When am I not humming a tune?

I’m also the one to comments on everything with a song. For example, someone would say:

“Hey, you need to let it go so I can-”

I would interupt and sing:

“Let it go! Let it go! Can’t hold it back anymooooore!”

That was a bad example because don’t we all have that song forever stuck in our heads?

While the band was playing during a night session at camp, the hands were lifted high and I wanted to show God that I want to worship Him with more than just my voice. I wanted to fast singing. We don’t always fast bad things. We fast food and we need food! So I saw my love for singing along with the words and joining in the chorus and gave that all to God.

Giving up singing along with everyone made my feet drag everytime I entered in the worship space. I even resisted humming along to remain completely silent and reflective. The way I wanted to practice worshiping was with my body and heart. This fast made a way for me to check my heart and priorities, pray for others, and to hear from God. Amazingly, when you stop talking (or in this case singing), God will speak. How about that?

God reminded me repeatedly about mutes. How different, crazy, and difficult that would be for me. What if I lost my voice for some reason? What if a Christian went to church every Sunday and could not sing along to their favorite worship song? Or any song in general? I couldn’t imagine. Like I said, I sing A LOT.

But if I didn’t have my voice, how would I still give God my all? How would that look during a musical worship time? I want to continue leading worship throughout my life and I couldn’t imagine do anything else.

This week in South Carolina, I sat in the very back of the auditorium during the first night of worship. Something caught my eye that must catch everyone’s eye when they see this guy. There is a student, in high school, who doesn’t have arms. He has hands almost connected to his shoulders. I don’t know why that is or his story, but I saw him worship. It almost brought tears to my eyes. He was moving and raising his hands to the Heavens as much as he could. His body agreed with the music as he sang and worshiped without arms. I see everyone around him raising their hands in worship, surrendering and singing as loud as they can. The band talks a lot about raising their hands and what that means: surrender. This guy is worshiping with what he has. And as I saw him being taken on a journey with God in that moment, I remembered my experience with worshiping without a voice.

If I didn’t have my arms, how could I still give God my all? How would that look during a musical worship time?

I saw what it looked like. It was just another brother in Christ worshiping our Heavenly father but it was also so much more. The heart behind those words sung hit my ears harder than the screaming voices in the crowd. The heart is what matters during worship. Not the instruments, lights, perfect voices, how you lift your hands or look during worhsip, but the heart that pours from the inside out.

Your heart will paint a picture for the world to see. You are the canvas. Whatever is in your heart will come out. Whether the picture will be a masterpiece or something that is thrown in the trash is decided by what you allow to enter into your heart.

Learning this helped me discover where my heart truly was in worship. Was my heart in check? Was my heart, soul, and mind fully committed to Him during that time?

I also learned not to worship a worship song. Sometimes we get caught up in the singing along with our favorite songs that we’re doing just that. I realized we sometimes might worship a song a while we’re worshiping our Father. That time needs to be ALL for Him. We need to leave our obsessions outside the doors of our worship space. That includes our obsession for a certain worship song that we want to be played that night. We should have a heart for worship from the moment we walk in, for every song, until we walk out to live it out.

When the band started playing “Oceans” by Hillsong, a wonderful song, my whole body was compelling me to sing along. I felt the voice creep up in my throat to join my friends in singing. But it was because I loved the song. Not because I wanted to worship.

While it may sound wierd and stupid to you, this really changed my whole perspective on why I worship. Why do I lead worship? Why do we gather together to sing these words that we see on a screen? What’s the purpose?

Whether we know the song or not, a worship time should not be comfortable. Being with other Christ followers and being in a safe place to express yourself is comfortable and inviting… But worship isn’t a time to only sing songs we know and wait to engage when the band plays a song we are familiar with. Worship is a time to invite God in, a time to thank Him, a time to hear from Him. He does many things during worship. So stretch yourself in worship. Do new songs that speak so much truth and may bless someone with a word that has been layed on their heart. Don’t worry about the people around you and worship God with your body, mind, and soul.

Take what happened during worship time and let your voice continue praising Him with every word you say afterwards. Let worship be an everlasting song on your lips wherever you may be or whatever you may be doing. Not just in church or at camp or wherever it may be.

Worship with all that you have. God deserves it.