Long-Distance Relationship

Being away from someone you love is difficult. In fact, you might even be counting down the hours until you are together again. You might have a reminder on your phone and you might try to call them every so often to catch up. Sometimes the communication is bare and minimal but you still want to do anything possible to communicate even a short message to the one you love. When something and someone is important to you, your top priority is to show that something or someone they are a priority. The best things in life take work, like: getting a good job, accomplishing a lifetime goal, serving someone in need, and sustaining good relationships. If you are in a relationship and you love that person, you will do whatever it takes to move that relationship forward. Even when its a long-distance relationship, your actions make or break it with the one you love.

Long-distance relationships are not ideal. We always plan for them to be temporary because we long to be with the one that we love. Just talking on the phone once a week is not enough. Texting is not as personal as you’d wish to be with that special someone. They don’t show emotions or live reactions to big news. The presence of your loved one is what you look forward to during the eternity you might await for the long-distance relationship to finally be called a “relationship”.

Have you ever felt this way about someone?

When we consider how much we put aside and devote to a person we love, we also need to consider, as Christians, how much we put aside and devote to God. If you have accepted Jesus into your heart, you entered into relationship with Him. A relationship is so much more than a weekly church service or attending a camp or conference. A relationship is ongoing and takes a lot of work. It takes an effort from both parties even when one doesn’t feel like it. And yes, we sort of have a long-distance relationship with God.

We know that God is with us. As Jesus ascended into heaven after his death and resurrection, He blessed us with the presence of the Holy Spirit. God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He dwells in us today and continues to show up in our lives. But as we know, the Holy Spirit is invisible to us. We cannot see the Holy Spirit.

This might be frustrating for some people. Some might feel like they are praying meaningful words that are going out into the void. It may not feel like there is someone on the receiving end of the conversation. I want you to know that God hears you. This thing called faith is trusting in the unseen. We can’t see Jesus right now, but He is awaiting His return to earth while in heaven at this very moment. As Christians, we trust in the unseen and put our faith in Jesus Christ our Savior. The Holy Spirit is here today to help us draw closer to our God who we will soon be with in heaven. Our future is dependent on this relationship with God. Lets stop and think about where our future is going.

Like a long-distance relationship with a human we love, we must also put time and effort into our “long-distance relationship” with God. Like one conversation a week is not enough for a boyfriend and girlfriend to grow in their relationship, we can’t limit our time with God to a Sunday morning service every week. Some of us might even only go to meet God for holiday services or special occasions. How can we get to know Him best that way? Seeing your boyfriend or girlfriend a few times a year would not help you two grow closer. It might just pull you farther apart.We must always be in communication with our significant other. This is done with dates, phone conversations, texts, letters, or simply just sitting down and talking when you have the time to do so.

If you decided to call up your boyfriend or girlfriend or a friend to have coffee, would you sit down for an hour and talk the whole time? Would you not let the person sitting across from you talk? Of course not! You would listen to what they have to say about your conversation topic. Listening to them helps you understand who they are and how they function. They may also have insight for you and could teach you something important for your life. You don’t know unless you shut up and listen!

We often do a poor job of communicating with God. Maybe we decide to sit down and spend time with God every day and pray through our lits of needs and wants. But if this is all we do, we are having a one-sided conversation. It would be like sitting down with your role model and not giving them a chance to share their wisdom with you. Imagine if you had a chance to sit down with Albert Einstein and you didn’t let him talk the whole time you met with him. Or think about sitting down with the Queen of England and not giving her a chance to speak in her awesome British accent! We wouldn’t do that. We would listen and take to heart what she had to say.

It is necessary to listen to God in our conversations with Him. We cannot continue treating God like a vending machine and asking Him for our wants. Lets start asking Him what He wants for us. He wants good things for us, we just forget to ask what they are! I challenge you to start listening as I feel challenged to do the same in my prayer life.

In our relationships with God, we need to put some effort into this “long-distance relationship”. Until Jesus comes back, we can devote ourselves to learning God’s heart through the Bible, prayer, and staying connected with the Church. He has made us for community. To best be in community with our God, we as the Church of believers need to devote ourselves to better communicating with Him together. How are we speaking to Him and how are we listening to Him?

A relationship needs words to grow. God gave us His Word in physical form for us to learn more about who He is. His heart is displayed through the many stories of redemption, justice, and grace in the Bible. His grace has given us a chance to have relationship with Him now and one day be with Him in paradise. We must await the great day when we will be united with Jesus. We must long for His presence. We must do whatever it takes to keep our relationship with Him strong. We must allow our love to drive us to continually communicate with our good God who wants to spend time with us now and forever.

How are you contributing in your relationship with God? It’s Valentine’s Day. This isn’t my favorite holiday, but is a good reminder of how I’m loving those in my life. How can I better love my family, friends, and God who I only want to grow closer with? Today I reflect on His love for me and my love for Him. It is better than any relationship this earth could offer me because a relationship with God is eternal.

Have a wonderful day of reflection. Sit down without your phone or a screen in front of your face. Take a moment to be in silence and listen to God. He wants to tell you He loves you!

 

1 Corinthians 13:13- And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

 

 

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Why Love Isn’t Working Out

Tonight, my mother, whom I love dearly, and I decided to watch a chick flick because… Why not? I’m not always a fan of these movies. The action movies, comedic movies and series always intrigue me more than movies about a boy driving around his girl in a pick up truck with his shirt off. Tonight, I was again reminded of why I’m not a huge fan of these movies. There is so much wrong with chick flicks. Yes, they can be fun movies to go see. Yes, sometimes they have good story lines. Yes, our favorite actor can play the main role and be a super cute Romeo… I understand that those are all perks but tonight, I saw why I always choose to pick a movie without a soppy love story.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good story about two great people falling in love. I draw the line when a movie manipulates a viewer to feel certain emotions and feelings about the picture-perfect love story. The film we had decided to watch tonight was about a married woman who met up with her high school sweetheart, whom she had not married. The story drew you in with their back story and made you love them being together. But when heartbreak came, which it always does in a classic love story, there grows a tug in your heart to hope that the couple gets back together. But like I said, this woman was married. In the movie, it wasn’t made to look so bad because they loved each other. But in real life, affairs are not taken lightly. There is a lot of pain and turmoil that comes from affairs. This movie did not even make an appeal to the fact that this affair was wrong because this woman had made a vow to her husband. There were so many elements to this movie that only showed me how ridiculous it can sometimes be to watch people passionately fall in love on the big screen.

There are many movies that I love where two people fall in love throughout a detailed, interesting plot of a movie. There are many movies that I hate that show a couple that is always “on-again-off-again”. There are ridiculous reasons for break ups and even more ridiculous reasons for two people to get back together when they obviously have problems they need to deal with by themselves…

Let me tell you why these movies bother me so much.

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http://www.mckinleyirvin.com/Family-Law-Blog/2012/October/32-Shocking-Divorce-Statistics.aspx

50% of marriages end in divorce. This makes me incredibly sad for people and for the love we desperately long for. It makes me sad because families are being split up, financial situations create conflict, friendships can end, hard family and job decisions have to be made, and each person getting a divorce has to deal with getting over a person they loved and cared for so long because new arrangements have to be made for their lives.

I’ve never been married or divorced. But I can tell you that I hate losing people in my life that have meant a lot to me, people whom I’ve loved. When I think of friends that I haven’t talked to in years, it hurts to remember our memories and past together. When I think of all the brokenness and pain that comes from divorcing your husband or wife, I can’t even imagine what I would do in that situation.

I can’t sit here and tell you why there are so many divorces today. Frankly, I think there are billions of reasons why divorce is so common in our culture. But when I look at these chick flicks, I think of all the young girls that watch those movies and fantasize about their perfect relationship or marriage someday with the perfect guy. They shape their expectations on these movies that don’t represent reality.

He will be handsome and strong and thoughtful and romantic and sexy and sensitive.. maybe even rich. He might be a childhood friend or a relationship that has been on and off for years because there is a lot of fighting, but your burning passion for him will make it work… Or maybe he will drive you around in his pick up truck and pick you flowers and row you in a boat across the lake by his house to tell you he’s always loved you…

You might have had movies in mind during that last paragraph. When we watch these movies and fall in love with these scenes that are incredibly romantic and picture-perfect, we need to remember that these movies are simply that, movies. They are staged, scripted moments that two people have to act out. Their on screen partners are most likely not their real husband or wives. They go back home to a real marriage as real people. These relationships that have been written and created are only being acted for an exciting story for the common viewer.

No one is going to say the perfect words perfectly, no one is going to know exactly what you want in life on your first or second date, and no one is going to look that perfect when they wake up in the morning! I’m sorry, but we know that is not reality. We’ve all seen ourselves in the mirrors when we wake up. It’s not even close to what those actors look like on the screen.

I don’t like chick flicks because they take us away from reality and paint us a distorted picture of the kind of love we should look for. The kind of love that we should look for is a love that is selfless. We should look for a love that keeps no record of wrongs and loves no matter what. We should look for a love that is not just about emotions or feelings, but a love that endures through sickness, fights, imperfections, and baggage. A love that will never give up, even when quitting looks like the easiest way out.

I don’t want a love like the “love” they talk about in the movies. It is staged and scripted and has a lot of make up on it. That is not how my life is. My life isn’t perfect and I don’t expect a guy in my life to be perfect either. But even when it’s not perfect, love will endure. That is the kind of love we need in this culture. We need a love that serves without recognition. A love that thinks of another’s needs before oneself. A love that will last forever.

I thank God for the love He has shown me in my life. He has surrounded me with friends and family that always love me no matter what. His choice to love me always blows my mind and reminds me of the kind of love I want to give to others. It’s unconditional. To love like God does, one needs to have a servant’s heart. That is how I want to love. A servant may not look good for the screen, but the kind of service a servant gives to someone is worth more than a one night stand. It’s worth more than a relationship that holds someone back from being who they really are. It’s worth more than going from relationship to relationship to feel worth. It’s worth more than an affair that will destroy families. Serving someone without getting paid, because you love them, is priceless. That is how I’ve seen love through the best people in my life and through God.

That is what we need. Our generation can be different. We can look at the statistics, at these movies filled with emotions and tear-jerkers and kick them to the curb. Love is worth that fight. Love is what we need.

Girls, don’t look for some guy that will charm his way into your life. Don’t look for a guy that is just a good “looker” but a guy who has a heart to match his beautiful eyes. Be the woman you want to be not who he wants you to be. Wait for the right guy to be your last first kiss. Don’t give away too much to other guys or you may not have a whole lot to give to the man of your dreams.

Guys, find a girl that is beautiful because of who she is. Looks will fade. Wrinkles are promising in our futures. Build a future with someone who can laugh with you and support you through every season of life. Make a commitment and treat your girl like a queen all the days of your life.

Let’s be the generation to love unconditionally and faithfully. That is what our world needs.

One Year Bible

January 1, 2015 was the day I decided that I wanted to read the entire Bible in one year. It was a goal that I had been thinking about for a long time. The Bible is a big book and there is so much to uncover inside it. As someone who has heard endless sermons, devotions, and verses to recite in Sunday school, I had never read all the way through a book that was supposedly the foundation of my life. I based my faith, my philosophy behind the little portion I had read of this book. There came a point in my life where I realized that if I was to go around preaching the Word, I needed to know the Word.

My favorite books of the Bible were always in the New Testament. The Timothy’s have always been my points of reference when I don’t know what else to read. It’s clear and challenging to me of how I need to live my life in the Church. The letters of the New Testament were always more intriguing to me because I could understand what they were saying. Compared to the Old Testament, filled with names and rules, it was more relatable to me and I would walk away with a verse I could easily apply to my day-to-day life. But like I said before, I have never read all the way through the Bible. That being said, I had never read through the whole Old Testament.

The Old Testament often gets pushed aside if someone was asked which Testament is their favorite. I read through the Old Testament little by little in my One Year Bible. The One Year Bible broke up passages so that I read an Old Testament passage, a New Testament passage, a Psalm, and a Proverb everyday. I was always excited for the first story I would read in the Old Testament each day. It was so interesting to learn the full history of our faith through the trials and the people who came before us. There were Kings and Prophets and cities that have stories that contribute to the family tree of Jesus! The stories that are often pushed aside are so important to where we are today as Christians. If the Old Testament didn’t happen, the New Testament wouldn’t have a foundation to build upon. A passion grew inside me for learning the foundation and starting marks of the amazing moments we read about with Jesus and His disciples in the New Testament.

 

Growing up going to church every Sunday taught me a lot about the stories written down in the Bible. When I say every Sunday, I mean every Sunday. I’ve heard the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Samson, Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, and more stories of His miracles in the Gospels. I thought that I had heard them all! That was a lie that I had told myself for years. I kept telling myself that I knew enough about the Bible and that I was set for just learning more about the stories I’ve been told since birth. If this year has shown me anything, it has shown me that I know so little and there is so much left to uncover in God’s Word even after this year.

 

I would find myself sitting in my dorm room with my lamp on, reading my passages for the day, and thinking, “This is in the Bible?” There were stories that I had never read or talked about with anyone. There were verses that I wish I had seen last year when I was struggling with the very situation a prophet would be talking about. When people say live by His Word, I actually saw how applicable it really is.

 

This book was written thousands of years ago, yes. But it always blows my mind how God inspired these words in people in a different time and culture that still shows me the best way to live out a purpose-filled life today. It is so good. It was worth the read.

 

I finished reading through the Bible on January 1, 2016 (I had one extra day because I had a few days to catch up on… oops!) As I sat on my bed, reading the last few passages for December 31, I tried to recap what I had read over the past year. That was impossible… I read SO much truth in one year that I know I will need to go back and read again. But there was one thing that always stood out to me during my reading times. Yes, there were a lot of rules and regulations. Yes, people messed up a lot in Bible stories. Yes, there are stories filled with pain and regret and death. But these stories always had the same outcome. There was always a God who was present and waiting for His people, His children, to look to Him in those times. Because right besides stories of hurt, there was a following story that showed how God gave hope to His people amidst the trials and pain. He was always there. From the beginning, He was there with His people. Sin crept in and stole His people away, and He still wanted to provide a way back to Him. I saw a plan unraveling throughout the whole Old Testament of how God was planning to send His Son to redeem what had been lost on earth in the book of Genesis. He was to bring back life and salvation for God’s people. Every person from Noah to Moses, from David to Ezekiel were ones that God used to set the stage for the day Jesus would come and change the world forever. What a beautiful story!

 

When I read through the Old Testament books that had all the rules and regulations for God’s people, I had a new perspective on the rules that we all can so easily decide to dislike. Going from the Old Testament passages to the New Testament passages each day showed me how God wanted to grow closer to His people in both times. Before Jesus came to earth, God wanted His people to know a better way to live in Old Testament times. He wanted more for them than the brokenness and darkness that they lived in. God wanted His people to live purpose-filled lives that were apart from sin. And like a good father would, He set boundaries and laws for His children to stay away from the trouble He could foresee down the road. When Jesus came, He wanted to save His people from the trouble He could foresee down the road: eternal death. He came to bring life. The Word (Jesus) was flesh. Jesus knew the laws and regulations but wanted to show His people the best way to live them out with a purpose-filled life. His life was an example for us as Christians and how we are to live out these laws that God made for our benefit thousands of years ago.

 

Let’s think about this as if you are a parent. Or maybe you’ve babysat kids before or have younger siblings. I am not a parents but have younger siblings and have grown up babysitting younger kids. Let’s imagine you’re responsible for a group of 4-year olds for one day. You are all by yourself in your home with 5 children that are hyper, loud, and messy. Say you are going to make macaroni and cheese for lunch. Now imagine if the stove was on and you turned your back for one second and one of the kids was fascinated by the blazing fire and reached out to touch it. You know the responsibility you have for these kids and don’t want to see them get hurt. And if we love someone as much as we love ourselves, an example set for us by Jesus, we would do everything we could to make sure that this child wouldn’t burn themselves on the stove. That is how I see God’s laws that He set for His people. He is the Creator, He knows the best way for us to live a purpose-filled life! Reading through these laws and then seeing the consequences of people going against these laws showed me how necessary God’s laws are to live a life of purpose without the darkness of the world to weigh us down.

 

I think it always comes back to one word: love. How is God’s love active today and how was it active back in Bible times? Reading through the Bible showed me story after story of how God was looking out for His children. He was often asking them to turn from their wicked ways because the things they were doing were full of destruction and pain. He was often asking them to take a path that they may have not wanted to take because He saw the blessings that awaited them at the end of the journey He had planned. God loves His people so much that He often stepped in the way to show them a better way. That is how loving our Father is.

 

I am not a reader. It was often difficult for me to sit down and take the time to focus on the long passages I had to read. But the thing is, each day in the One Year Bible is designed for the reader to take about 15 minutes for reading. That is not long at all! When I put in perspective about how much time I was really spending in the Word, it wasn’t even as long as an episode on Netflix. There is some perspective, people…

 

This year showed me the importance of knowing the Word. As Christians, we need to know what we are talking about. We need to know the truth that we claim to base our faith on. If someone were to ask you about your faith and he or she didn’t come from a faith background, would you have scripture to back up what you believe? We can’t simply speak from opinion about Christianity. We need to speak Truth. That is what Jesus did. He would speak scripture to people. His opinions never got in the way of the truth that God wanted to speak through Him.

 

I’ve realized how much more I need to be in the Word. Now that I’ve read through the whole Bible, I want to study it with a different perspective. Instead of focusing on the whole Bible, I want to focus on each book inside of the Bible. There is so much to learn from God’s Word. There is so much truth that gives me hope for the day because they come from God’s heart. He gave us this tool for us to know Him better and to know how to live better for Him. If we aren’t using this gift from God, how can we better know Him? These are HIS words. The best way to get to know someone is to know their heart and to know their story. You have a story written by God for His people in a tangible form. Don’t let your Bible be a decoration on your shelf. Pick it up and open it up everyday. Oh, the things that we could give up for a few minutes in our day to instead spend in the Word! Oh, how we waste so much of our time doing the same thing everyday: posting and liking and retweeting and staring at a screen. Think about it… That is our daily routine! We will always make time for that. And I believe what we give our time to shows where our heart lies.

 

I’ve realized how many lies the enemy throws at us when we are challenged to read the Word. When looking back at my year and remembering days that I skipped reading my Bible, those days started stacking up on top of each other. If I had an excuse one day to skip it, there would always be another excuse for another day. It wasn’t until I started making myself sit down to read through the daily passages that it became apart of my routine everyday. It wasn’t always the same time everyday, it was always during a time that I knew I could give up something else to read God’s story.

 

“I don’t want reading my Bible to just be a ‘check off my checklist’. I want it to be a desire for me to sit down and read it.”

 

This was the biggest lie I heard from the enemy and from other people. We don’t want reading the Bible to just be a routine for us. The reason I see this as a lie is because unless we’ve been reading the Bible everyday of our lives since we could read, I don’t think we automatically get a desire to sit down and read the Bible. There were days that the last thing I felt like doing was reading. I either wanted to lay down and watch Netflix or sleep. But making sure that I read the Bible before the end of my day was the most important thing I could do. Even I felt like I was checking it off my ‘checklist’, reading the Bible was way better than anything else I could’ve been doing during that time.

 

If we aren’t making sure we check off ‘reading my Bible’ on our daily checklists, when will reading our Bibles become apart of our daily routine? We need to make the effort to do so before the desire to read God’s Word comes in our life. It’s like training for a race. If you never start running, how will you ever reach your goal of 5, 10, 15 miles? Most of us don’t have a desire to run. I know some crazy people that do but that is beside the point… We have to start somewhere. At the end of the day, we know that running is good for us, but we have to build that desire to do so by simply starting. For you to have a desire to read the Word, you need to start reading the Word. And if at first it is something you have to ‘check off the list’, it is the best thing you can be doing with that time of your day! Every time I made myself sit down to read the Word when I first started the One Year Bible, I never regretted it when I was done. You won’t regret the time you set aside to read the Word. It will forever impact your life, friendships, families, attitude, and relationship with Christ.

 

It is a new year. We may all be posting about our new year’s resolutions and what our goal is for 2016. How about we don’t just commit to our resolutions for this year, but start something this year that will continue for a lifetime? What if this was the year you said, “I am going to be in the Word everyday starting today”? I believe, as Christians, that is the most important thing for us to do if we want to change this world and spread the Gospel with our lives. We need to know the Word!

 

Favorite Verses Of The Year:

 

Psalm 85:8– I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for He speaks peace to His faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways.

 

Colossians 2:7– Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

 

1 Thessalonians 1:11-12– Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely.

 

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20-After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.

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.

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.

Home

We all long to feel like we fit, like we belong. We search and search for that perfect place that we fit. Day and night we think, plan, and pray for that perfect place. A place where we can dwell and a place to call home.

Be we are not at home here. This is not our home.

Earth is like a pit-stop on our journey. Believe it or not, while the days and hours and minutes are long, they are literally nothing compared to the eternity waiting for us outside the walls of this “temporary home”. But no, this is not a home. For now, we will call it a “temporary home” but remember, we can’t get comfy. We can’t “make ourselves at home” here. Why?

1 John 2:17

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

His Will is that we come to know Him and be in relationship with Him. When we do that, we fall in love with a God that we want to faithfully follow all the days of our lives. We can follow Him home.

As Christ followers, we have the hope of a home waiting for us and being prepared for us in heaven. A Savior named Jesus Christ ascended into this dark, broken world only to rise in a Light that opens our eyes to this truth:

The best is yet to come!

I don’t know your thoughts and opinions on this trilogy called “The Hobbit”. Yes, I understand that it doesn’t follow the book perfectly and many could argue that the Lord of the Rings wins the favoritism vote between the two, but that is not what I’m talking about right now. I want to quote something the wonderful Bilbo Baggins said in “An Unexpected Journey”. He says this,

“You’re right, I often think of Bag End… See, thats where I belong. Thats home. That’s why I came back, because you don’t have one… a home. It was taken from you. But I will help you take it back if I can.”

This quote made me love this story. A lowly hobbit got out of his comfy chair, in his humble home in Bag End, to begin a journey that had no promises of a good ending. And his motive was not for himself. His motive was not so that he could say he had been to the Misty Mountains or Rivendell where the Elvish lived. His motive was not to brag about his heroic deeds. His motive was not to come out on top.

Bilbo Baggins wanted to:

  1. Escape his routine, boring life
  2. Help the Dwarves find their home

Isn’t that exactly what Christ followers need to do?

Don’t we need to get out of our comfy chairs and escape our routine, boring lives to embark on a journey that could forever change the lives of others? If we have a home with Christ, why don’t we invite others along for the journey and help them find their home in Christ? If we are all looking for that place to belong, a place to call home, then why do we fix our eyes on this “temporary home” and allow our friends to do the same? There’s is so much more than this world. We know that. But a lot of our friends don’t know that. They are out searching for their home. Let’s join their journey and help them find home.

God is calling us all home to be with Him. Let’s stop looking for home in things of this world. Like 1 John said, this world is fading away. Don’t let this scare you, but let it remind you of why we are here and the purpose of this life we live here on earth. Someday, we will be home with God. It will be perfect. We do not know perfect, but we can strive for it. We can seek a perfect God who picks us up as we stumble along the path of life. And one day, we will be made perfect and dwell in the House of the Lord forever. It will be good. It will be where we belong. It will be home.

The best is yet to come.

75 Tops, 25 Pants, 3 Skirts, 7 Dresses, 9 Jackets, 18 Pairs of Shoes.

Often when I pray for something God has laid on my heart, issues that I pray for in our world start to reveal to me my own issues. God shows me that I have some things that I may be trying to hide or bury as deep as I can so I don’t have to deal with those things I don’t dare identify as “issues”. One night, as I was praying for a dear friend and that she could feel her worth in Christ, I was convicted of where I found my worth. I was sitting on my bed and staring at my closet. It was full of colors and sweaters and layers and patterns, etc. That is when God hit me with a big issue in my life: I base so much of my worth on my clothing.

When it comes to spending money, I freely give it away for coffee or an on-sale-item at the mall. But it doesn’t just have to be the mall. If I find a good deal anywhere and I like the clothing item, I buy it because I think it will add so much more to my wardrobe and worth. In reality, that top that I just had to get will get old in a couple of weeks and it will go to the back of my closet to only be worn once or twice a year.

That was how it went with me and clothes.

As I continued to pray for my dear friend the other night, I kept looking directly at my closet. When I finally opened up my ears to what God had to say, I instantly thought to myself, without a doubt in my mind:

“I need to give up buying clothes for a year.”

In the moment that I knew this was something I needed to do, I was completely calm. I was actually excited for this challenge that God had given me. The next morning was when I started to panic. I looked through my closet and starting telling myself lies such as, “You don’t have enough tops to get you through a year!” and “All of these clothes are worn out and old, they will never last!”

I am thankful that God brings peace when we ask for it. In that moment, I sat down and just thanked God for the clothes that I had. In reality, I have MORE than enough. I think we are lost in some fantasy that we need the newest style and need to continue to fill up our closets with more and more options so we can constantly impress people with what we wear. But the reality is, in this country we are spoiled to not just have an outfit that can keep us warm or covered up, but to have a different outfit to wear every day of the week! I know that this is not the case for every person in this country because there is poverty and devastation everywhere you go. But think of how much you have right now compared to a family with six or seven kids and no income. They are focusing on paying for food, not a new pair of designer jeans. We really have more than enough.

I went through my closet today and counted the clothes that I packed away for college. This is what I decided to bring with me to college:

75 Tops

25 Pants

3 Skirts

7 Dresses

9 Jackets

18 Pairs of Shoes

When I look at those numbers, it seems like my closet is overwhelmingly full. But looking at my closet, it seemed so small and simple. I realized more than ever that looks can be deceiving. I knew I could actually wear a different outfit everyday for a few months but even then, I still thought that I needed more. I had to get out of this fantasy and come to the reality that I have more than I need.

I will not be buying a clothing item to fill my wardrobe until August 16, 2016. This is a challenge I felt God needed me to face because I can no longer focus so much on my appearance. Its time to focus more on my heart and my complete worth in Jesus Christ alone.

This is what God calls us to do. He calls us to radical lives where we are different. We are not meant to be like this world. We are not meant to obsess over the trends and the cutest shoes or how good our new jeans look on us. We are supposed to be completely in love with Jesus Christ and leave the things of the world behind. Simply liking the trends and fashion is a different story, but an obsession can lead to false idols in our lives. I saw that happening in my life.

I want to challenge everyone reading this blog right now. If you love shopping and buying new clothes, that’s okay! I don’t want you to feel bad about buying new clothes because you can spend your money where you want to. But if shopping and filling up your closet becomes an idol in your life (something you think about and do most of your time) think about your intentions and how often you really wear all of your clothes. Sometime today, I challenge you to go through your closet and count how many items of clothing you have of these things: tops, pants, skirts, dresses, jackets, and shoes. Comment your numbers below and post them somewhere else to be honest with yourself and others about how much you really have in your closet. Then think about those numbers and how you are using what God gave to you. He is the ultimate Provider who provides our resources and income. How are you using what has been given to you?

Thanks for reading. I would appreciate any prayer for me over this next year as I stay away from the shopping world. It is going to be a long but fantastic year. God is the ultimate Provider and I have more than enough. I am not just blessed, but spoiled with all of the clothes that I have. Having a choice to pick out a different outfit everyday is a privilege and I don’t want to take advantage of this privilege anymore.

Thank you to everyone who has already encouraged me and kept me accountable as I start this journey. I am looking forward to what I can learn from this “Fast From Shopping”!

1 Samuel 16:7- But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Genesis 1:27- So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

1 Peter 3:3-4- Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

Enlighten Your School 2015!

I don’t know how many of you know a lot of my story or about something I was apart of called ‘Enlightened’, but I felt led to share about it today for whoever needs to hear (or in this case read) it. Enlightened is a student led worship event that takes place in high schools. I felt God call me to start an event like this the summer before my senior year of high school. It was a big task that I saw ahead of me but I knew that God’s hand was over this dream and this calling as I saw Him work so clearly through the whole process of planning a student led event at my school.

Myself and a group of 11 other high school students decided to take on the challenge and flip our school upside down with an awesome event! We decided that the night be called Enlightened because of what Matthew 5:13-16 says. We wanted our school to know how we could be the salt and light in this generation.

For this event, I felt called to share my testimony of how God had called me to be different as a Christ follower in the past and how He is still always calling me to stand for my faith. I got to share my story at our first event and challenge my peers to listen to God’s calling and to physically respond that night by grabbing a candle in the front of the room to shine as a symbol of a commitment they made. In that room full of 600 students and adult leaders, we saw hundreds of candles break through the darkness as students made a wide variety of commitments to God at a school campus. We believed that our location was so significant because that is our mission field as students. We needed to invite God in this place because it is where so many people needed to see Him. We were and are called to bring a light to the darkness in our schools.

God started opening doors ever since our first event. He exceeded our expectations of how many would show up and the amount of response we got afterwards. While talking to a few students after our first Enlightened event, a few approached us and said that they wanted to see Enlightened happen at their school. Our small team of high school students that had planned this event had never thought about it going anywhere else. But as we heard more students say they wanted to see Enlightened happen again, we saw God bringing more opportunities to spread this message that He had laid on our hearts. We could challenge more of our peers with this message to be the salt and light in this generation!

Enlightened will always be one of my best memories. The first event we held in my high school was my favorite day because it was the start of something new in my life and in many other students’ lives. It was a night where God brought us all together to call us to a life lived for a bigger purpose. At following events, it still never got old. I loved hearing testimonies and singing some awesome worship songs and seeing the lights brighten the room where we gathered. It is always exciting because students are realizing this: God is calling us to do big things in our lives to ultimately make this world a better place. This world needs Him and God wants to use us, right now, to tell everyone about Him! And as students, we don’t believe we have to wait until we are adults to make a difference. We can start now with where God has placed us. We have heard this calling and want more students to hear it as well!

I am very excited for next year because of the doors that God continues to open for Enlightened. This summer, I traveled with NTS Camp to share with hundreds of students about what Enlightened is and how they can be apart of it. I thought since so much has happened with Enlightened even just this summer, I would fill you all in about what next year will look like!

Right now, we are inviting students to join this movement of worship and prayer in high schools and are challenging them to bring Enlightened to their schools. If a student feels called to lead this student led worship event at their school, they can now go to our website, enlightenyourschool.com, and click the ‘Sign Up’ tab to receive information about making ‘Enlightened’ happen at their school. For the past 5 months, me and a few people that were apart of Enlightened in the past, have been dedicating time and resources to making a booklet for students that want to lead an event at their school. These students that take on this challenge are called Student Event Organizers. After a Student Event Organizer signs up online, they receive this booklet that acts as a guide on how to plan a successful event at their school!

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This Enlightened booklet explains how to get together a team, provides layouts and timelines, and helps guide these student leaders as they take on this challenge during a busy school year. I am very excited for students to have this booklet in their hands this year because it has a lot of good information that we have used for our past events. This booklet serves as a guide but was also written to be encouraging to the students that decide to lead an event. I believe in this generation and in my peers and want them to know the impact and legacy they can leave with what they decide to do with their lives now. That is what I hope students get from reading these packets.

We hope for many schools next year, that have and haven’t been apart of Enlightened before, can see students rising up to the challenge to be the “salt and light in this generation” by inviting God into their schools. At an Enlightened event, the focus is to challenge and encourage our peers to be real with their faith at school but to also cry out to God on their school campus. This is a place where we need God most.

So as we venture into this new season of life and ministry, I invite you to pray. We are looking forward to the Enlightened events already lined up for next fall and want to see even more schools be apart of this movement. And if you are a high school student that wants to plan an Enlightened event at your school, I encourage you to go to enlightenyourschool.com and sign up! You will immediately be connected with one of our team members who has been apart of Enlightened before. They would love to walk you through the planning process and make sure that you can get one of our packets of information for a life-changing experience at your school.

I also want to throw something else out there at you. If you are someone that wants to invest into something like this, we would appreciate anyone that can help us print out more booklets for future Student Event Organizers to have! It takes a good amount of money to be able to make them and distribute them to students. If you are interested, go to our website and go to the ‘Contact’ tab and send us a message! This is something to pray about as we head into this next year, that God will continue to provide for those booklets. We know that He will!

Thank you to all you have encouraged me and supported Enlightened as a ministry. I am anticipating a great year and have been praying that God continues to do great things in high school students. As I now head off to college, I will hold dear the memories I made praying, planning, and worshipping with fellow believers in my school for these events. I know that God is going to continue to do great things in my old high school and many others. God is so good!!!

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See you next year at Enlightened 2015 events!!

Not Posting About It.

Yes, we all have our opinions. Yes, we all have our beliefs. Yes, we are entitled to believe what we want to believe. I agree.

Something that I really don’t agree with is all the posts that I am seeing on social media. Whenever a big issue arises there is usually two sides to an argument that has to be made as soon as people hear about it. We expect that to happen. Then we can always expect long paragraphs of personal or popular opinions on our friends’ social media profiles. We can almost predict the time that it will be posted too.

Today, I have something to say about all of these issues and debates that are happening right now. What I have to say is very different from everything you may be hearing right now. It is simply this:

We don’t need to post our page-long, controversial opinions on social media. It is not going to help your cause.

When you put something out there, people can usually see your motives and why you posted it. I’m not saying that we should be completely silent on our social media pages. Our social media pages can reflect who we are and what we believe in. But to always have to start an argument or controversy online is a hassle and takes up a lot of time and strife in a day. It can actually become a burden as you read comments of hate and brokenness fill up your social media feeds.

When an issue arises in the media and in our world, we all form an opinion and idea of what is happening and what should be happening. But here is my question: If your opinion is that strong about something, are you only going to go so far as to post a long sermon about it online rather than to live out what you believe? 

The reason I ask this is because I see so many people get courageous online. We’ve known about the cyber-bullying that goes on when people feel the power to write whatever they want online because its not a face to face conversation. I see the similarities between those situations and how we pose our opinions online with issues today. And it is not just students and young people, there are adults that post very freely online as well. We know that when we have a strong opinion and we post it out there, it will make people angry and upset. Like I said, your motives behind your posts are clear as day! But what I want to know, is if you really believe what you say enough to live it out.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I always try to be careful about what I post online because I know who I am representing. I want to represent Christ well because I believe in Him and what an awesome Savior He is. He loves me and died for me and so I live for Him. And as a believer, I believe that in the end, it won’t matter who I pleased on this earth or on my social media. It will all come down to how God saw me live my life. And as I post things online, that is what I try to keep in mind.

There is also power in what you don’t post online. Your opinions can only go so far without facts and proof. Are your opinions creating controvsery and anger amongst others? Because if what we are shouting from the rooftops is all about “love”, how is making others angry pointing to love? Is that what love is?

I’ve thought a lot about this over the past few days and all I have to say is that it all comes down to how you love. Life is short and the moments you waste on social media commenting hateful things on people’s statuses and tweets only suck up the time you have left each day. Today, why not just set your phone down and enjoy the people around you? Be thankful for the love you’ve received, never take advantage of it. Show this love to someone else. Then change can happen. Then people can come together. Debates never bring people together in situations like this. Love does.

If you are someone who reads the Bible, I bet you’ve heard this verse before:

James 1:19: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,”

I hope that even if you don’t read the Bible or don’t have a relationship with God, that those words are inspiring to you. We can all learn from these words. Listening is important for loving others. Because before we speak, we should know what we are talking about. Don’t let anger creep in so easily. I believe that anger often wastes our time because we get too upset over things that we may not know enough about. Listen to people. Get together with them and hear them out. Don’t base your judgment on a single social media post. Don’t let your anger pour out into your social media posts either. There is often more power in your silence than in the words you want to say. 

Thanks for reading this post about not posting. I know that it is a little ironic, but social media is a powerful tool to spread word of something. Let’s encourage each other to use this tool for good and not let is tear us apart. It is not the issues that tear us apart. Quite frankly, with all the issues going on in this world, they have a way of bringing people together when people rise to the occasion. But when we go rambling about issues that we think we know best about online with bad motives, we can add more issues on top of everything else going on.

Long story short: LOVE.

Enter In And Go OUT.

Worship is such a big word. It holds so much within it. Think about the many ways that we can worship. In song, in prayer, through serving, through obeying God… Worship is not just a song being sung by a worship leader. It is how we live our lives.

When we sing songs in church or at summer camp or a retreat, we love the songs and the feeling we get when we are worshiping with others. We are in a safe place. We are in a building protected by the four walls around us, dedicated to making a place for us to freely worship. So often those walls become real in our lives. So often we forget the freedom in worship and create a box for our worship. We limit our worship to those walls that we call church and to those places where God is the normal thing to talk about.

I want to see something different. I want to see worship walking around the streets of our cities and our communities. I want to see our hearts displayed for all to see. They are displayed in everything we do. And if Jesus is in our hearts,  we have an opportunity to show everyone just how great He is.

He deserves our worship. He deserves so much more than we could ever give. We know of what He has done yet there is so much more that He has done, is doing, and is going to do FOR us that we don’t even know about. Everything He does is FOR us. He never wants to harm us but is always looking out for us. He loves us with a love that we don’t fully understand. Because if we understood that love, we would never stray. If we were fully aware of how deep the Father’s love is for us, we wouldn’t go looking for it in other things.

Dig deep in His love. Worship Him for that love. Worship Him even when it doesn’t feel like there is anything to be thankful for. God is always doing good and has been doing good in your life since before time began. There are so many reasons to worship Him.

I want to encourage you to step out of the box with your worship. Don’t limit it to a song. But take that song and share it with others. Make this “song” catchy so that its stuck in people’s heads.

Worship is when you take what has happened in the church out the doors. If you are just lifting your hands and singing in there, you are putting your faith in a box. Yes, that can even happen to regular church-goers. It can become routine. It’s easy to save your worship just for a Sunday morning. Don’t. Take it with you when you walk out the church doors. Bring it everywhere you go. Let this fire you have in your worship be contagious. Spread His LOVE to the nations through the small and big ways you can worship God with your life.

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Worship. Even when it doesn’t feel like there is anything to praise Him for, we can ALWAYS worship Him for His unfailing love.