Many days, such as today, I wish I were more spontaneous. I admire people who chuck their agenda out the window and say “forget it! I’m doing something different today!” (Without having a nervous breakdown, I might add.) This action seems so freeing.
I wonder if I leave enough room in the margins of my planner for the unplanned. My guess is not so much. What would I find myself doing , if each day I intentionally set aside time to do anything that just so happened to come my way? Would I do anything different?
I get so wrapped up in the future and what I need to get from Point A to Point B, that I forget about everything in-between. It’s easy–for me at least.
I started your typical four-year college plan my senior year in high school-as most students do. The biggest difference probably is that I chose the Running Start route. Mainly because I had no idea my senior year what I wanted to do with my life or where I wanted to go to school or how I was going to pay for it. What I didn’t plan for was taking classes two summers in a row.
Not ideal if you ask me. But hey, these were and are necessary steps to fulfill my goals and plans, however, I still question if it’s the best plan.
The problem with being a transfer student working to earn my AA, is that I constantly need to be thinking about the future. One wrong move could set me back. This makes living in the moment hard.
I know I’m prone as much as anybody to society’s pressure on education as anybody else, but I still think it’s stupid. However, according to my life plan, I don’t have the guts to ditch my current itinerary for a completely new one.
College is a tough place to be. The said “time of your life” is also one of the most stressful. How is that supposed to work?
I was invited on two missions trips this summer and declined both. I cringed as I explained I had to take summer quarter. Something about that response just sounds particularly lame.
The problem with having gone previously on two global mission’s trips is it’s easy to feel as though any volunteer opportunities aside from global missions are trivial and purposeless.(Well, maybe it’s not a problem, simply a grand new perspective that changes everything.) I’ll be honest, it’s not easy to view my school as a mission field after spending ten days in the wrecked country of Haiti. The truth is, everyone needs Jesus. And “everyone” is right here wherever I am. Of course it’s also easier to talk about sharing and living the gospel than to do just that.
Scripture to ponder:
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worth of the gospel of Christ. The, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel…”
I won’t lie, some days, I just don’t feel like reading the Bible.
Occasionally, I’ll use the excuse that I shouldn’t read it when apathetic. But I’ve realized that’s pretty pathetic–as most excuses are. That’s like saying I’m only going to read the New Testament because it’s more “relevant” or “understandable.” If I based my habits around this then I’d pick and choose passages and never allow myself be challenged by God’s Word.
My problem is that before I even open up to a book I expect words to just come flying off at the page at me.
I’m sure I’m not the only one with these sentiments.
In an earlier post, I mentioned how I am fasting from Facebook for Lent. What I’ve discovered is that it’s much easier to fast from something than to fast and make an intentional effort to grow spiritually during that time.
That being said, I’ve decided to try something new that will hopefully help re-ignite my passion for God’s word. I’m going to write out the book of Ephesians.
I’m not sure what I’ll learn, or if I’ll learn anything at all from studying the scripture in this way.
But Paul is cool and I like writing letters so there’s that too.
I was kinda sorta inspired by Lucas Chadwick who, in 2012 set out on a journey to write out the entire Bible. It’s a crazy cool project and you should definitely check out his Facebook page.
I’d love to hear any stories about how you grew closer to God through his word. Join me on this challenge?
I hate how our society prioritizes higher education. Like, if you can’t divide polynomials you’re a failure. More than anything, I hate how I prioritize it. I hate how I worry about it. I hate how I base my identity on something so short-lived as school.
“The devil loves it when we say we believe, then prioritize everything in our lives ahead of God.”
The devil loves to use to use our priorities and our worries and expectations to drive us away from God.
I read an article recently talking about how we think approximately 70,000 thoughts in our lifetimes. Only 70,00o? And then I started wondering how many thoughts I’ve wasted. This isn’t meant to be a downer of a blog post, and if it is, I apologize.
However, this issue of worry (at least in my life) is something that someone recently pointed out to me. At first I was offended. In my mind I got all “who are you to think that I worry to much?”
It took me about three months to realize that I was trying to justify my worry. And then I felt stupid because what he was trying to tell me- in a loving way- is that God doesn’t want us to worry and that worry is a sin. Even now, I still struggle with this. Big time. Happiness isn’t found in living up to the expectations of others.
The difference is that I recognize it as the devil trying to tear me apart. And I can choose to succumb and listen or walk away.
Here’s what scripture says about worry:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
You are awesome. Don’t let anyone tell you anything differently. Regardless of what anyone else says. If you can’t divide polynomials, welcome to the club, I still think you’re cool. (I’m sure a lot of other people could care less too). There are bigger dreams out there worth chasing.
My friend Phil wrote an awesome blog post about what God expects of us as Christians, particularly Christian students. It’s a must read, if you’re a student of any kind.
I’ve always loved this concept. The church is not a building, rather, it’s a community of Christ followers. However, I came to the realization yesterday that the only place I’ve ever heard this concept discussed, is at church. The building. The sanctuary. In the pew. The irony of that fact hit me hard.
I was at college.
I attend a public community college. I wasn’t in chapel or in a theology class.
God moves everywhere. The bible study at my school, Ignite Fellowship, meets multiple times during the week. I haven’t been able to attend often because of a wacky schedule.
By God’s grace I was able to attend yesterday. It was beautiful. We met in a study room. Put our bibles on the conference tables in front of us.We sang a few worship songs and after that, we shared communion. We borrowed a small table and set it up in front of the small room and covered it with a table-cloth. A plate and goblet were set out.
In that moment, I had a revelation. When Jesus communed with his disciples as they were partaking in the Last Supper, they weren’t in a church building. No ordained pastor officiated it. I doubt anyone was dressed in their church clothes.
The last supper wasn’t pretty. I imagine the filthy dirt floors and Jesus and his devoted followers sitting around. I’m sure they were weary from going everywhere on foot. A steak dinner surely would have been accepted without a word. Nonetheless all that sat before them was a loaf of bread and some cheap wine. These twelve men had been everywhere with Jesus. And yet their going away party was anything from glamorous. In fact, right off the bat, Jesus puts forth a disclaimer: “one of you is going to betray me.” (John 13:21).
Their meeting was somber. Tears were shed. I’m sure some felt a sense of abandonment and definitely confusion.
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Why do we create limitations? The church was a body of believers long before it was a building. Jesus is the head of the church, not a building. If we forget the people part,we forget Jesus’s heart. He loved people.
I find it hard to see how the true gospel will effectively be shared if we (if I) don’t live the gospel.
If we try harder to envision Jesus’s last supper, maybe then we will fully understand how important it is.
This year I decided to participate in the Catholic holiday that is Lent. I’ve always admired people who have fasted from something (or even multiple things) for such a long period of time. For me, forty days could easily feel similar to forty years.
I’m not catholic nor do I have anything against catholic and in the big picture none of this has anything to do with Catholicism anyways.
I adore creating excuses. So much that I create excuses for creating excuses. (This is a skill). That being said, making the decision to commit to fasting for 40 days was a big deal. If anything, this experience will hopefully teach me to be honest with myself.
I took a look at a list of the 25 most popular things people give up for Lent. It’s quite interesting. Many aren’t very unusual. Chocolate, sweets, that sort of thing.
I chose Facebook.
I could come up with a million reasons why, but I’ll try to whittle down the list. Here are two things I struggle with that are made worse by social media (specifically Facebook):
These two often go hand-in-hand and often end in an attitude of doom and gloom.
Sometimes, starting your day off by skimming through engagement pictures and watching your friends one by one change their relationship status from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’ isn’t healthy. It just isn’t. Not because marriages are bad or relationships are bad, but because maybe it’s not what’s best for me right here in this moment.
When ‘everyone’ A.K.A those two or three people filling up your news feed seems to be doing something you aren’t it’s waay to easy to second guess my own actions. Starting off the day criticizing myself is probably not the best way to bring about a good ending.
If we’re friends on Facebook (and if we’re not), it should be clear that I’m not the type to limit my status updates to only grand spectacular events occurring in my life. Let’s be real. Everyday isn’t perfect, so why pretend that it is?
I’m not the perfect student. I’m a hard-working student, but not necessarily the one ringing in all 4.0’s. When the end of a quarter comes around, I tend to beat myself up over the fact that I, unlike ‘everyone’ else didn’t get as many 4.0’s as I should have.
As I said before, these are only two focuses. And the big picture isn’t Facebook. Or relationships. Or good grades. If you’ve been reading my posts, hopefully you’ll have noticed that their topics may vary, but I always attempt to pick out the life application. I don’t want you to read this a post, see that whatever is written is only applicable to me, and go on with your day. I desire more out of my writing than that.
Ultimately, by the end of these full forty days, I want to choose joy over jealousy and comparison. I want to rejoice in others when they are happy, not plaster on a fake smile. I do not believe the myth that if my friends Facebook timelines are perfect, so are their lives. For me, it’s an easy lie to believe.
Lent should be about giving something up to invite God in and fill what was before an empty space, temporarily gratified. Leave room for God.
Question to ponder: If God is the absolute best, why don’t we choose Him above all else every time?
To get there is a question of will, not of debate nor of reasoning, but a surrender of will, an absolute and irrevocable surrender on that point. My Utmost for His Highest. I am determined to be absolutely for Him and for Him alone.
Walk peacefully with Me through this day. You are wondering how you will cope with all that is expected of you. You must traverse this day like any other: one step at a time. Instead of mentally rehearsing how you will do this or that, keep your mind on my presence and on taking the next step. The more demanding your day, the more help you can expect from Me. This is a training opportunity, since I designed you for dependence on your Shepherd-King. Challenging times wake you up and amplify your awareness of needing my help.
When you don’t know what to do, wait while I open the way before you. Trust that I know what I’m doing, and be ready to follow My lead. I will give strength to you, and I will bless you with peace.
Embrace the unexpected journeys. Keep in mind the spectacular view from the mountaintop. Your journey is not the same as others. Cross out the words “always” “everybody” “perfect” and “failure” from your vocabulary lists. Remind yourself that if you continue to make attempts at living up to another’s expectation for what should be God’s plan for your life, you will never be happy. Worrying displays a lack of faith in God. He desires to do whatever it takes to “wake you up.” You are only human. Nobody is perfect the first time around. Or the second time. And even the third time. Rejoice in new mercies each morning.
Meet Kay. Kay turned 86 in May. For over twenty years, Kay has been serving the homeless men and women of Downtown Seattle. Mission: serve the soul, not just the stomach.
Kay’s ministry is titled The Lord’s Table. The location is at 6th and Columbia, directly underneath the freeway. On the second Thursday of every month, my church: Northshore Baptist Church in Kirkland serves with Kay. Our branch of the ministry is called Isaiah 58. Sixth and Columbia is home to many big hearts of the people who flock from the Union Gospel Mission, Pioneer Square, and all (literal) corners of Seattle for a warm meal of hearty Spanish rice.
In sixth grade, my friend and I were both looking for a ministry to become involved in. We stumbled upon Isaiah 58 after asking our youth pastor’s where we could serve locally. We’ve missed a few months here and there, but we both agree that it seems just yesterday, Kay was 80. I suppose it’s because her stamina and passion hasn’t wavered from year to year.
Kay thrives off of this verse:
Isaiah 58: 6-7
Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.
A cup of coffee is capable of going a long way. Or tea. Or water. Or Kool Aid. Jesus constantly reminds us that the issue isn’t a matter of liquids. It’s a matter of the heart. The Lord of the universe can dwell in your heart if you allow Him to. He is the only free gift on earth that you don’t need to work towards. There is no checklist to acceptance.
Seattle wants Jesus. They crave Him. They flock to 6th and Columbia because Jesus is evident in Kay. She treats them like her equal. She doesn’t turn anyone away. She knows many patrons by name. More importantly, she bleeds the gospel.
Over the years I’ve encountered many fun characters. Seattle is a colorful place. I remember the man who could pop both eyes out of his sockets, the woman who asked me if I could give her pet mouse, Phoebe, a chocolate cookie. The regular who walked through our line and always asked for “Bill’s Famous Tea.” I remember gazing up through a space in the freeway where the two lanes came apart and feeling as if I were in the movie The Dark Night. I remember when in junior high, Brianna and I collected donations from the youth group to buy Christmas gifts. I remember the British security guard with an Australian accent. Did I mention he dressed in a way that made him look as if he were the captain of a fine vessel? We’ve seen some interesting characters walk through those food lines.
I tease Brianna endlessly for passing out too many desserts. To say Kay is frugal would be an understatement. “Just ONE cookie Brianna” and “Oh those will last until Monday,” is common phraseology around her. Her influence (among others) has made me think twice about waste. I’ve poured perfectly filtered drinking water down the drain with my only pretense being that it had been sitting out too long. Thrown away food because I’m too full. Ditched socks because of one hole in one toe. Once monthly, for almost seven years I’ve served with Brianna. Last month I served with her ONE. LAST. TIME. (Indefinitely).
New volunteers have made their appearances! Over the years as the youth has been a part of this great opportunity and we’ve begun spreading the word through social media, a large variety of people show up each month. It’s always exciting to see volunteers come and go. But to see those who stay? Ahhhh, now that is quite a joy to see.
While Kay may never be replaced, the organization is looking for a new leader to take over all responsibility. The vocation has become an immense responsibility for just one person. We trust in God’s provision. Always.
I’ve written a lot. I adore writing. I’ve written about practically anything and everything. However, I dislike I talking about myself. It is the one topic I avoid at all costs. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve filled journal on top of journal filled with life. But wait, sharing this knowledge? That’s a totally different story. God has been convicting me of something lately (as He always is); God turns our messy lives into messages. I can make Him famous by sharing my story. We all have stories. They started the day we took our very first breath. Our lives are a book written by God. Each day is a page. Every decade a chapter. We were created to be read. We were written to put God on the Bestseller list!
God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive–a living soul!
Genesis 2: 7
If that’s not crazy, astonishing and thrilling, I don’t know what is.
Apparently, I am really good at putting on a poker face. I don’t try to look like I have it all together. In fact, oftentimes I feel like screaming “I’m not strong, but He is! Every waking minute Jesus is holding me!” It is because of His strength that I am capable of being strong in my weaknesses.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the LIFE of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
2 Corinthians 4: 7-10
Before I begin sharing my story, I want to exhort you to share yours. Your story may not sound exciting to you, but you never know whose life you can touch without sharing it! If it means anything, your story matters to me. If God, the one who created us to be full of purpose, shouldn’t we have faith that He is using it for something epic?
I’m going to share with you mine . I would start with day one, but I’m 6,791 days old.
Eleven years ago, at the age of seven. I had my first epileptic seizure. I conked out on the floor of the Olive Garden Restaurant on 196th St. in Lynnwood, WA. Here’s the catch: I was perfectly healthy, and nobody knew it was a seizure. We didn’t even call an ambulance. I took a sip of water and finished eating dinner with my family. I felt fine after gracefully smashing my head on their then-brick floor. (OK, I make that sound much more exciting than it actually was). Nothing showed up on my post-fall MRI. Not even a minor concussion! Clearly, angels do exist.
My mom scheduled an emergency appointment of course. She figured the whole thing was just a fluke. It wasn’t. You may be thinking “wow, that is unfortunate.” Well, you are wrong. That day changed my life forever. OK, now you’re thinking “well duh.” It was a good life changing experience. I’m still not sure exactly how it has changed my life for the better, but everything takes some figuring out. Can I get an amen?
In the beginning I saw three different doctors. These three doctors proposed three different diagnoses:
– Most likely Vasodepressor Syncope
-Colloid on 3rd ventricle
-Small chance the episode was a seizure
I went through so many tests it’s CRAZY. EEG’s, MRI’s, blood tests, the tilt-table test, cat scans. The whole bit. I even wore a heart monitor for about one month. God was there. Holding my hand. He was upside down with me when I was strapped on that table.
My mom, being the awesome woman that as she is, finally pull out her handy dandy Taber’s Medical Dictionary from the bookshelf, performed her own research and she basically said, “Let’s take the focus off the heart and look at what is going on in her brain.”
Since my diagnosis of absence seizures has been confirmed, life has been a whirlwind. I’ve been tossed hither and thither. Since that time I’ve tried two alternative treatments to medication: 1) The Modified Atkins Diet and 2) a Vegas Nerve Stimulator. Concerning the MAD, let me just say this. After six months of eating fifteen and 10 carbohydrates per day, I obtained a whole new appreciation for bread and an extreme dislike for milk and peanuts which I practically thrived off of.
The Vegas Nerve Stimulator brings me to where I am today! Contrary to popular belief, the Vegas Nerve Stimulator is NOT brain surgery. Think of it more as a pacemaker for the brain. Well, I remember the day of my implant. I was supposed to have a history exam that day and all I could remember was that April 9th. The date of my surgery was ironically a date in history I needed to memorize. What a strange coincidence! Fast forward to today, 9/13/ 2013. Today I am recovering from the surgery I underwent yesterday to have the device removed. Why, you ask? I was given two choices: 1) replace the battery or 2) remove the battery. As of today I am fifty-one days seizure free! It’s these little victories we must embrace.
A few days ago I received my OUTPATIENT NOTE in the mail. One sentence written by my physician stuck out to me: “She has been approximately 40 days seizure free. It is not clear to us the reason for the increased efficacy…” To doctors, these instances are just medical mysteries. I read this and thought to myself, Clearly, Jesus is at work in my life right now. I realize that while he is always at work in my life, I tend to only recognize this truth when I am having either a really bad day or an extraordinarily good day. Something about that needs to change. Whether or not I’m having a particular high or low day, I need to start off each day saying these words:
This is the day which the Lord has made;Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118: 24 (NASB)
God is consistent. That being said, I shouldn’t “shelve” God. I ALWAYS need Him. I should never take Him down when I think I need Him and marginalize Him when I am under the impression that I can do things myself. So how is your storybook going to look? On the cover of my current journal, I wrote “The story of how Jesus wrecked my life and put me back together again.” He knows exactly what is wrong in our lives and puts us back together the way he sees fit! So why do we worry? We’re still human. God recognizes that. We are extremely blessed because He looks at us the way He looks at His Son. Incredible!
Your story matters. How will you use it to change the world?