- After one more semester, graduating from NCMC in May with an Associates of Science!
- God-willing, moving on to Finlandia University in August to pursue a Physical Therapist Assistant degree (which means road trips for the family! ;-)). It's a fast-paced one year program that I will be done with in May of 2012!
- Running... This is my major "new years resolution." Now that the knee no longer kills with every step, I have a 5K in sight!
- A new job as a Physical Therapist Aid at a local Sports Center in town. I am psyched!
- Growing deeper in my relationship with my family and my best friends, and making new friends as well!
- More than anything, I hope and pray that this is a year I can look back on and know that I grew as a woman of God. That I seek after Him first and foremost, and don't allow anything to get in the way of my relationship with Him. That He will look at me and call what He sees "beautiful." That others will look at me and see Him, and not me...
Thursday, December 30, 2010
The year of 2010 was incredible. I honestly cannot believe that it has already come to an end, it has flown! It has held so many lessons, so many laughs, and so many wonderful moments.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16, 17)
The largest chunk of my life this year went to college.. I practically lived there, or so it seemed some days with arriving at 8:30 and leaving around 6 or 7. Chemistry, English, Anatomy and Physiology, Trig, Psychology... So many subjects and so much to learn! At times it was overwhelming, trying to keep everything straight. I have to say, I am a nerd/geek/whatever you want to call it. I love science. I can live with the English, and Psych was interesting, but I actually get science. Especially Chemistry =). I am so thankful for all that I learned, not only pertaining to those subjects, but also about managing my time... Making sure that I stayed on top of my homework so that I could get to bed at a decent time, and in turn be able to get up early enough to get some time with God in before the craziness of a new day started was a major challenge for me. But I did my best to meet it head on.
Learning not only academically though, I was part of a Bible study with my church this fall that was amazing! We did a study on why the Bible is in fact, The Word of God, and through that learned how to defend it. When we started it up we were pretty excited when we had 5 people. By the end of the semester it grew to an average of 13 college students from the area! The times we had of prayer, and delving deeper into the Word of God together were priceless. There were few things that blessed me more than to hear someone ask a question, and see 4 or 5 people go straight to the Bible for the answer. I cannot wait to start a new study back up in a couple weeks!
FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10)
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
My friends are a huge part of this year. They were there for me when I was having a lousy day, they brought me Phish Food ice cream, gummy dinosaurs and Mike N' Ikes after my knee surgery, they made me laugh, they made me cry (from laughter), we went places such as the beach and the Big Ticket Festival, did things, made memories.. It was grand =). More importantly then that, is the time we spent together talking about God and how incredibly amazing He really, truly is. I love that God has blessed me with friends who love Him crazy much!
There is nothing like realizing this could possible be your last full year at home to make you want to spend as much time with your family as possible. I am so thankful that we are all as close as we are, and that we can laugh over some of the most ridiculous things! We humor ourselves in the oddest of ways, but we love each other. As we have all gotten older the times we have together have gotten fewer... But the times we spend together have also gotten sweeter. I thank God regularly that we are all still here to celebrate momentous occasions together, such as 22nd, 18th, 15th, and 11th birthdays!
(Yes, the only picture I am putting on here is my X-ray, partly due to stupid internet, and partly due to the fact that I think it is a neat picture!)
Yes, this was a large part of 2010. If you've known me for longer than a year, you know I spent a lot of time in pain due to my knee. But this year I finally had my knee fixed! The surgery itself wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be (though honestly, a broken tibia does really hurt. Especially when the nerve block wears off...) and after the first ten days or so I was off the Oxycodone and Vicodin. But the realization that I was completely dependent on those around me for the first 4 weeks or so after was huge for me. Crutches don't mesh with self-reliance very well, and I had to learn to let others help me... With everything. Not being able to drive for 2 months, I was stuck at home all the time! Having a brace from my hip to my ankle, I was stuck anywhere I sat down! I exhibited ultimate stubbornness when I went to the Big Ticket Festival for 3 days and walked an average of probably 3 miles a day in a locked brace, one month after surgery. Needless to say, my knee was the size of a cantaloupe. But I got to meet Fireflight and see Newsboys, so it was worth it! Through this all, I came to greatly appreciate my friends and family, and I have gotten much better at dropping my pride and letting them help me. Even when I don't want to (again, pride)... But I am happy (more like thrilled) to say that the surgery was a success =D.
What does this next year hold?! Lots! I am so excited to see what God does next in my life, as well as those around me... Things such as:
'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.
'Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
'And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I wish I knew how to import YouTube videos... That is definitely on the docket to learn how to do. Eventually...
For now though, I'll give you the link. And encourage you to go listen to this song - especially if you're a girl/woman/female/aunt/sister. This song is powerful.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Christmas is over.
Why are we always so thankful when it's over? Why does it bring relief? Why do we almost get happy about putting away the decorations, folding up the stockings, and taking the tree outside for the birds (or, if you do the "fake" thing, putting it back in its box!)?
Walking into Church the morning after Christmas, I was surprised at how many of the adults asked me "so, what'd you get?!" Not "Merry Christmas!" or "what did you do with your family?" but, "What did you get?!" It struck me as being sad... Had I been 6 or 7, I'm sure that I would've had plenty to share. And while I did get some pretty amazing and thoughtful gifts this Christmas season, I honestly wanted to get sarcastic with them. I didn't, I promise! I was respectful, and I answered!
In 2007 Mom and Dad made a declaration. We were going to have a "homemade" Christmas. Everything, and I do mean everything that we gave had to be made. Needless to say, this did not go over so swell with a 19 year old, 15 year old, 12 year old, and 8 year old... At least in the beginning. And then we started to get into it. There was woodworking, crocheting, drawing, knotting, sewing, painting, screwing, and metal-smashing. Then on Christmas morning, there was some honest surprise and shock over what everyone managed to pull together. It was a meaningful Christmas. And while none of us got the newest iPod, or gaming system, or computer, or digital camera, we were forced to be thoughtful. And the emphasis wasn't on the gifts.
2008, same deal. Only this time, stocking stuffers could be store bought.
2009, we switched it up a bit more. Gifts could be bought, but there was a price limit. I think honestly, we were almost disappointed that we could buy them! And there were still homemade gifts that made it under the tree.
This year, we gave what we now call "store bought" gifts for the first time in 3 years. It was weird, honestly, to have to go shopping. But I tried to make each gift as meaningful as I could. And after Christmas morning, I can safely say that everyone else did as well.
When Mom and Dad decided to first do the homemade Christmas, I wasn't thrilled. But honestly, I have never been more thankful for it. Not only did I get to spend hours crocheting (literally.), but I learned what it really meant to give. To be thoughtful. To show my Love through what I was doing. And now, I can see it all building in what we did this year, and for that I am thankful.
For my family, Christmas is not about "stuff." I'm not saying that we don't enjoy getting and giving gifts, because really, who doesn't? And I'm not saying that it is like that for everyone, but it saddens me to see how people tend to revolve around it, even in the Church! Even on Christmas afternoon, Facebook was exploding with people saying "I got ______" or "Santa brought me _____" What I am saying is that I think we get in the habit of waking up, reading Luke 2, and then *WHAM!* let the attack of the tree begin! We say we keep Jesus the center, but we don't.
So.. Think about it. What can you do next Christmas to maybe rearrange your thinking process a bit? What can you give away, rather than take in? What ultimately, can you do so that others can see what it really is about?
Friday, December 24, 2010
The only main characters I have left in the Christmas story are the Magi, or the "Wise Men." They followed a star to Baby Jesus, finding Him when He was a Child living in a house with Mary and Joseph. Yes, in a house. Not at the manger... Sorry if that blows apart your manger scene. To quote Michael Card "If your Magi are right there with the shepherds in your Nativity Scene, move them to the other side of the living room!" =).
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem saying, "Where is He who
has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east,
and have come to worship Him." And when Herod the king heard it,
he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him.
And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people,
he began to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born.
And they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea,
for so it has been written by the prophet 'And you,
Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah,
for out of you shall come forth a Ruler, Who will shepherd my people Israel.'
Then Herod secretly called the magi, and ascertained from them the
time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said,
"Go and make careful search for the Child; and when you have found Him,
report to me, that I too may come and worship Him." And having heard the
king, they went their way; and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east,
went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was.
And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
And they came into the house and saw the child with Mary His mother;
and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures
they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.
And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their own country by another way.
(Matthew 1: 1-12).
The most impacting part of these magi to me, is that they kept this up for so long. And upon finding Jesus - they "fell down and worshiped Him." They knew there was something special about this little boy. I can only imagine traveling for so long, following a star that moved (that alone is odd enough.. Stars don't move. At least not well enough to point to a specific house). And suddenly, they come to a little house in Bethlehem. After they knock on the door, Mary, who is still quite young, comes to see who is there. She was probably more than a little bewildered at the sight before her. These men standing before her saw her Son, and fell down and worshiped Him. They knew. I would love to know exactly how they knew. Maybe it was something in His eyes. Maybe the Lord spoke to their hearts. But either way, they knew that this Child they found after so much time spent searching, was King. And somehow, I'm fairly sure they knew He was worth the search..
I'm curious to whether or not the magi kept track of Him in the next 30ish years, and saw what happened to Him.. Or rather, saw what He did for them... Which really is what Christmas is all about. If there were no Cross, why celebrate Christmas? It would mean nothing. But thankfully, it means something, and more than just something. It means that through Him, we have life in Him. The best gift ever! Thinking of what He did for us, I have been challenged this year to think of specific things that I can give back to Him.. He has already given us so much more than we deserve.
(I heard this song for the first time tonight at our Candlelight service... It is good! Listening to it sent chills down my spine. In a good way.)
We saw a star and followed it from the east
We've come so far to get here
We held one hope that we might find a King
But how could we know that He would be
God with us
Immanuel, come to us
The King of Israel abides with us
In this little boy, who could know we'd find
The eternal One born into time
This baby child is God with us
We brought Him gold and frankincense and myrrh
When riches untold He left behind
We brought our best to celebrate a King
Who'd left his throne so He could be
God with us
Immanuel, come to us
The King of Israel abides with us
In this little boy, who could know we'd find
Mortal and mystery somehow intertwined
This baby child is God with us
In all our wisdom, we came to seek a king
But how do you prepare to meet the Lord
In all my wildest hopes, I never even dreamed
Who the star was truly pointing toward
What the star was truly shining for
Star of wonder, star of might
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light
God with us
Immanuel, come to us
The King of Israel abides with us
In this little boy, who could know we'd find
The Creator born Redeemer of mankind
And the hand of God is reaching out for mine
This baby child is God with us
Mary's baby child is God with us
(God With Us, Todd Agnew)
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
As suggested by many friends, I have been reading Frank Peretti's "Piercing the Darkness" since Christmas Break started.. It is amazing. Everyone needs to read it! In the book, it describes the angels that we have guarding us, and I have to say it made me think twice a couple times today. Peretti describes them as being 7 feet or taller, powerful, and of all ethnicities. I'll leave the rest for you to discover when you read the book for yourself ;-). Needless to say, Peretti did a wonderful job of painting a vivid word picture that is forever stuck in my head.
Reading the story of the shepherds in the fields again today, it struck me just how stunning it must have been to be standing there with your buddies, watching the sheep, and all of a sudden have this angel of the Lord show up in front of you. I think I would've passed out. Or screamed... But most likely passed out. And the angel, knowing this, says "Do not be afraid." Smart move, considering the poor shepherds probably thought they were about to die.
And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields,
and keeping watch over their flock by night.
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them;
and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them,
"Do not be afraid; for behold,
I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people;
for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord, And this will be a sign for you:
you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a
multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven,
that the shepherds began saying to one another,
"Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened
which the Lord has made known to us."
And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph,
and the baby as He lay in the manger.
And when they had seen this, they made known the statement
which had been told them about this Child.
And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God
for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
As I was reading this again, I was picturing the angels. I know we can only guess and speculate as to the details of what they really look like, but I am pretty sure they were probably fairly intimidating! Yet, this angel shows up, gives the shepherds his message and tells them exactly what to go looking for. If that isn't enough, a multitude of heavenly host shows up and starts praising God! In case you're curious (because I was) "multitude" is linked with other Scriptures that describe the number of angels to be "myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands" and again, "thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him." I'd say that it probably wasn't a 12 member choir that came and sang. It was probably the most spectacular, breath-taking sight the shepherds had ever seen. Angels as far as the eye can see, singing Glory to God... Amazing.
Once the angels leave the shepherds take off for Bethlehem, leaving their sheep and lambs behind. Obviously, they knew what was going on was important. Important enough to leave what was essentially their livelihood. Off to Bethlehem they go, and when they arrive they find everything exactly as the angel said it would be. There, they made known what the angel had said about baby Jesus. They spread the word, causing those who heard it to wonder at everything they said. They didn't stop either, as they went back to their sheep they glorified and praised God for all that He had done.
I'm still stuck on the image I have in my head of the shepherds cowering before the angel. Just one. And then when he is done speaking, thousands more appear. God made known that night just how important this little Baby was. And He didn't show Herod, or any of the rulers of the land. He went to the shepherds, who lived in the deserts watching sheep. He was showing His love for ALL people, even before Jesus' ministry started. He set up a heavenly concert before Jesus spoke His first earthly words. He was showing that He is for ALL people... Even before Jesus was 24 hrs old.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
My last post was about Mary, and I have had this post rolling around in my head for the last week. But also rolling around in my head was all the information I needed to know for my Finals. So, it had to wait. But Christmas Break is HERE! And I finally have time to sit and write =).
I'm reading through the story of Christ's birth lately. Last week I was reading the passage where it talks about Joseph, and his part in the Christmas Story. I had wondered while reading it what it must have been like for Joseph, to hear that the woman he loved was pregnant.. He and Mary weren't "dating," they were betrothed. This wasn't just a "before the wedding" relationship, it was considered as serious as marriage. Breaking it essentially required divorce. When he found that Mary was pregnant, it had to rock everything he had planned for the two of them.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows.
When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph,
before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man,
and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly.
But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream,
saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife;
for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus,
for it is He who will save His people from their sins."
Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord
through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying,
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son,
and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, God with us."
And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him,
and took her as his wife,
and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son;
And he called His name Jesus.
All Joseph knew when he found that Mary was pregnant was that he was not the father. I'm sure she probably tried to explain what the angel had said to her, and I'm sure that there were many people who thought she had lost it. Joseph was stuck with the uncomfortable situation of trying to decide what to do with her... Customs demanded that he divorce her, and he had two options of how to do it. He could either do it publicly and expose her to be disgraced, or privately present her with a certificate of divorce in the presence of two witnesses. His love and care for Mary is shown in his decision to "put her away secretly." This would cause her as little pain and disgrace as could possibly come from the situation.
It says that Joseph "considered" this. I'm sure it wasn't an easy consideration, and even though it doesn't say that he prayed, it does say that he was a righteous man, so I am sure that he spent much time praying. And then, the angel came and confirmed everything that Mary had told him. The Child was of the Holy Spirit, Mary had not broken the betrothal, and the Child was to be called Immanuel. This is what struck me the most. The angel didn't give Joseph every single detail, such as why he and Mary were the ones chosen for this, or how Joseph was supposed to get through what lay ahead. The angel told him just enough that Joseph would have the strength and trust to get through the next 9 months. Joseph was told not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife as he had planned, and that the Child was of the Holy Spirit and should be called Immanuel.
Joseph didn't lie around and think about this. He didn't spend time debating over whether or not this dream was caused by whatever he ate the night before. It says that he "arose from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him." He showed immediate obedience. And even though he risked his reputation, he did as was commanded of him and took Mary as his wife, keeping her a virgin until the birth of her Son. The Son that he named Jesus, legally taking Him as His own Son, an heir of David.
Mary and Joseph both showed an incredibly maturity. Mary was probably very young, and yet she submitted herself to the Lord, to do what He asked of her. Joseph was described as a righteous man. He was a man who cared for and loved his wife and desired to protect her, doing what was best for her. The two of them together were given the task of a lifetime, to raise the Child that Joseph would name "Jesus." The Savior they and their people had been waiting for.. And that, to me, is incredible.
Monday, December 6, 2010
I have spent a lot of time the past two days thinking about Mary. During the Christmas season, we talk about baby Jesus, the Wisemen, the Shepherds, Kind Herod, and even the donkey. But sometimes I think we lose track of Mary a bit.
I've been wondering what it would have been like to be Mary. And I say wonder, because I mean I have literally stayed awake at night, thinking about it. To be betrothed to Joseph, waiting to marry him. To be young and excited and in love. And then all of a sudden, she finds out that she is pregnant. And not just randomly pregnant(not that it ever is random.. But that's the best word I could come up with), she is pregnant with the Savior of the whole world. The doubt she experienced had to have been overwhelming at first... In herself, and her ability to mother Jesus, in what Gabriel told her.
I can't imagine what it was like for Mary...
To feel Him kick for the first time.
To sing to Him while she carried Him.
To hold Him in the stable, keeping Him close so He would stay warm.
To rock Him, quieting His cries.
To feed Him.
To bathe Him.
To wipe His chubby baby cheeks after He ate.
To hold His hands as He learned to walk.
To hear His first words.
To tickle Him.
To tuck Him into bed, kissing His forehead.
To make His favorite meals as a starving teenager.
To watch Him go off, preaching to those who hated Him.
To see Him nailed to the cross, watching as He died.
To have Him speak to her, moments before He died. The same voice she had heard for the last thirty-some years.
Mary had a relationship with Jesus I don't think any of us can quite understand. She was not only one of the people He had come to save, she was His Mom.
I wonder if she joked with Him. I wonder if she ever crept into His room while He slept and sat by His side, wondering exactly what was in store for Him. I wonder if she ever prayed for Him to be spared. I wonder if she ever got mad at Him. I wonder if she would tell people "that's my son." I wonder if He ever comforted her when she was doubting or fearful.
She was chosen for an incredible task. She probably doubted. She probably wondered why she was the chosen one. But she depended upon God for the strength to carry out the task that was given her, and raise the one who would become her Savior. She was fully committed to the task that God have given her, a task that would take most of her life.
Shouldn't it be the same way with us? Shouldn't we be committed to Him for our LIFE? Asking Him for help when we are afraid, or doubting that we are able to accomplish what we have been given? To trust, even when we have no clue what is going on? To ask Him to hold us together, when it seems as all is falling apart around us?
I think like Mary did, we should.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Have you ever gotten to know someone, spent a lot of time with them, and thought that you knew them? And then the day where you see them in a different setting comes, and you realize you don't know the same person that everyone else does?
With some of my friends, I have been able to see them in other scenarios besides school and I know that the person I know is the real deal. And with some, I see the way they are when they are with me and desperately wish I could get to know them better. And with others, it is a combination of both loving who I know and also wanting to know more.
If you want to know who someone really is, go to their home and watch them interact with their family. You will see their goofy, their annoyed, their happy, and their sad. You will learn what makes them tick. You will see the way they treat their parents, you will see them in their "comfort zone," you will see them joke and laugh, and you might even see them cry. There are some things that you can't know about a person until you see them in their home, with their family. It's a unique and intimate setting that can't be imitated anywhere else.
I tend to slip into the role of the observer when I'm with my friends and peers... People have told me I am quiet and reserved (believe me, it's only until I know you!) but really, I'm watching people. I'm watching them and comparing what I see with what I know, and wondering what I don't know. This wonder is what pushes me to get to know them better, to see who they really are... Even on the bad days.
Some of us seem so content to hide underneath our masks... Yet it drives. me. crazy. When someone I know acts like two different people. Sometimes, it's even three or four. Talk about Multiple Personality Disorder! Sometimes though, I don't think that we even realize that we do this. We put on a different mask for each situation that we're in, so we can blend in easily.
Especially within the Christian family, God gave us each other to support one another. Hiding underneath this mask that we have grown so comfortable in will only end up hindering us. God has given us the encouragement that we need, if only we will reach out and accept it rather than living in a lie. Partial or not.
I dare you (and myself) - Take off your mask this week. Let someone see who you really are. Not who you think they want you to be. Not who you want to be. Don't hide behind the laughs. The jokes. The sarcasm. The studying. The toughness... If you're happy, smile and laugh. If you're sad, go ahead and cry. If you're hurting, show it. If you're lonely, reach out. If you're content, share that with someone. If you're stressed, take a break.
Just. Be. You.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I was up oddly early this morning for a day I didn't have to be to school until 10. I was "up" with a surprising amount of "up-ness" considering I had been up until 12:30. And I discovered that doing your devotions when you're actually awake is a lot more rewarding. Imagine that, if you stay awake while doing it, you actually retain something!
So what did I retain? I'm in the process of going over all the times in the N.T. that Jesus prayed. I don't really know where the idea came from, but I was/am curious to see how/when/what He prayed for. So far, I'm only in to the third one. There is of course, The Lord's Prayer, which almost everyone knows. Besides that though, there are different ones here and there that I honestly had never really looked at in any depth before. Looking at the way that Jesus prayed, how He prayed, what He prayed for, and the overall purpose of His prayers is really, really interesting!
This morning I was reading John 17, which is "The High Priestly Prayer." Jesus prayed this prayer right before Judas betrayed Him. I don't have a lot of intellectual meaning to give, I haven't been looking at sermons or studying it in depth (yet), but I do want to share what was pressed upon my heart this morning. There are three major things.
1. Jesus' purpose in all He did was to glorify His Father. In the first eight verses, Jesus is all about giving God the credit for everything He has done so far. He says that "they have come to know that everything Thou hast given Me is from Thee." Everything Jesus said and did was of His Father. I knew this already, but to see/hear how Jesus desired to glorify His Father was further inspiration to try and do the same.
2. We are sanctified (set apart for sacred use, made holy, purified) in truth, and God's word is truth. All the more reason to reverence His word and spend as much time in it as we can.
"Sanctify them in the truth; They word is truth."
3. Jesus prayed for US. The whole rest of the chapter, Jesus is praying for us. My favorite snippets...
"Holy Father, keep them in Thy name,
the name which Thou hast given Me,
that they may be one, even as We are."
"I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world,
but to keep them from the evil one."
"Father, I desire that they also,
whom Thou hast given Me,
be with Me where I am,
in order that they may behold My glory,
which Thou hast given Me;
for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world.
It blows my mind that Jesus knew that He was about to be betrayed, tortured, and crucified... And yet He loved us and cared for us so much that He spent that night praying for us. Praying that we would be unified in Christ, that God would protect us from the evil one, and that we would be with Him and see His glory.
The idea that He cares that much about me is mind-blowing. I really can't begin to sum up how this makes me feel.. I am His daughter and He loves me. He cares about me. He wants me to know Him and His Father. He wants me to be safe. He wants me to be with Him. And for that, I am thankful.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Ok, I admit... I like two or three of Taylor Swifts songs. They're catchy, and a couple of them are just sweet love songs. Her newest one, "Mine," gets stuck in my head more often than not. The fact that I heard it 4 times in the 6 hours I worked today might have something to do with that... (I also heard "Love Story" twice and "You Belong With Me" three times. Oh, how I wish we had better music options at work!) "Mine" is the story of a college guy and girl who fall in love... One of the lines in her song struck me today and gave me something to think about.
I was a flat risk afraid of fallin',
Wondering why we bother with love if it never lasts.
Is that really what it's come to? Are we really afraid to fall in love because we don't think it has any chance of lasting? The evidence is sadly there, with the divorce rate in America being over 50%. If you look at high school and even college relationships, you see the "date 'em and dump 'em" mentality becoming increasingly popular. If this were the way I operated, I could see why people think this way.
Swift's song goes on to have a somewhat decent ending. She and the boyfriend have a fight and she runs out onto the street, convinced he is about to dump her because "that's all she's ever known." He apparently has some smarts, because he follows her out into the street and tells her he will never leave her alone.
I'm fairly sure that this is the first song I've heard lately where the couple actually stays together.
I'm realizing the more that I think about love, the more I realize that I have a rather special perspective of it.
Because of my parents. I'm blaming them ;-).
Twenty-six years of marriage, and I'm pretty sure they are more in love than they were when they first said "I do." My parents have given me an incredible example of what it means to be in love. What it means to love. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, they have loved each other endlessly. They have survived 4 kids, job changes, and cancer...
When Mom was sick, I watched Dad serve her selflessly. He never complained when she needed to go to the ED suddenly after a chemo treatment, he never got frustrated with the long nights of sickness, he thought she was beautiful bald, he slept long nights in the hospital. I watched as he loved her in a way he hadn't before. It was subtle in a way, but there was a definite change. To see how caring, protective, and affectionate he was towards her while she was so sick was amazing. Especially when that kind of experience tears so many people apart.
There is something about stepping back and watching them, that makes me smile... Their date nights, their dances in the kitchen, their jokes, Dad hiding while he plays the banjo, hearing them talk late into the night, their kisses (in aisle 13!), their tears, their prayers, and their obvious affection 26 years later.
Watching the way my parents love each other has given me some high standards of what Love truly is. Unlike Taylor Swift, I know love DOES last. Sacrificial Love, the kind my parents have shown to each other, can last a lifetime.
Mom, Dad... I love you both! I am so thankful for parents that I can go to, parents who know me, parents who have taught me what it means to Love the way that Christ Loves, even when it's difficult and the world says "quit." Thank you for your example of sacrificial Love, for setting my expectations high, and for allowing me to watch as you both learned to Love through different situations!! I know now that true Love is not instant, but a constant journey that only gets sweeter as the days go on.
P.S. Mom, I'm minutes short of Wednesday ;-)
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I went this past weekend to a retreat with my youth group. This is my third year attending, and every year it gets bigger, and bigger... This year they had 1,000 kids, and around 200 adults... Crazy big for Northern Michigan!
The theme this year; STAND.
I have more than one post to make about what they taught this weekend, but the overall theme that you came away with was a challenge to stand. To stand not only for your beliefs and the Bible, but to stand and be strong for those around you that are too weak or discouraged to stand on their own.
Sometimes being willing to take a stand is terrifying. But really, do we have any excuse? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (or if you watch Veggie Tales, Obednaboo!) stood for their beliefs and got themselves chucked into a burning furnace. A furnace, mind you, that was burning SEVEN times hotter than normal. The men who threw them into the furnace died because it was so hot. And yet, what happened? God met them there. When King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace he saw didn't see three piles of ash, he saw four beings, standing and moving about.
These three guys had a habit of standing for their beliefs and convictions. Earlier on when they were with Daniel, they showed a considerable amount of courage by approaching the commander who had been placed over them by the king and asking for vegetables and water. Forget the meat, forget the rich foods... We want veggies. What happened? It says that "God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself." They were granted their veggies and water, and ended up being placed in the king's personal service. Wow.
Fast-forward a ways... Nebuchadnezzar creates this huge, obscene golden image and says that everyone has to worship it whenever the horn blows. Here we have Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nago (Daniel isn't in this story, sorry!), who refuse to bow and because of it are brought before the king. The king questions them, and they respond by saying they don't need to answer him as to why they won't bow down, because their God will save them not only from the furnace but from the king's hand. And even if He doesn't, they won't bow down anyways.
Catch this (I never noticed this before), it says "Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nago." I'm picturing a little kid with his face all wound up, about ready to let go of one of those screams... You know how they suck in their breath for what seems like forever and you go grab the earplugs because you know what is about to come out of their mouth is going to be LOUD? Yeah, that kind of face. He was about to throw an adult-sized temper tantrum for not getting what he wanted.
And he does. He cranks the heat up on the furnace, ties up the guys, and throws them in. The guys who throw our famous three in die because it's so hot.
And there, in the midst of the fire, God meets them.
The rewards for this? Huge. Nebuchadnezzar blesses God and makes a decree that says that nasty things (think limb-ripping) will happen to anyone who doesn't worship the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nago... And in the next chapter, "The King Acknowledges God." WOOT!!
I'm not saying you should stand up for something simply because there might be a reward at the end. Sometimes there isn't an immediate reward.. But God has shown how He stands with, and rewards those who earnestly seek Him. And how amazing would it be to take a stand, big or small, and as a result of it, be able to say that "_____ Acknowledges God!" I think that that would be pretty much incredible.
Friday, November 12, 2010
"This is just not my week."
Sound familiar? If you were around me at all this week then you probably heard me say it. It wasn't my week; every day I had at least one thing go wrong. From the major-heart-crushing-news to the minor-locking-my-keys-in-my-car days, I had at least one thing every day that made me just want to bash my head against the table(something I did only once). On top of that it was a test week, so I was trying to stay focused on school.... HA!
On one of my not-so-great mornings Mom looked at me and went "Hannie, it is your day. This is the day God has given you." And then I ran out the door so I wouldn't be late to class (But Mom, I did listen to you!).
My epiphany; this might not have been my week but it was God's week. Why? Because I was pushed to depend solely on Him through the week. There was absolutely no way I would have made it through the week without Him. Granted, my parents and friends were also instrumental in it, but there is a peace and strength you can get only from God. He wants me to depend on Him, and sometimes I am in positions where I have to. I am weak, He is strong. And when I ask Him too, He leads me through the lousy days and I fall even deeper in Love with Him.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
If you haven't gathered it by now, you will soon.. I absolutely LOVE kids. Babysitting is not a drudgery for me. Teaching KidZone is not a "have to."
Besides the fact that they're adorable, because they're so blunt!
Quotes from today in KidZone:
"Uno, dos, tres, quatro... That's Dora's language."
"We have two cats. One's name is Angel, but we call her Paingel because she's a pain."
"Singing Jesus songs is the best-est."
"She babysitted me and my brother back when I was 4 (because that was.. Um... 2 months ago =))"
"I don't want to do this anymore, I just want to sit here and be bored."
"I'm going to sit with you because you're pretty."
"I'm the last kid here. My parents didn't forget me though, they're just busy talking."
I love how blunt they are! Granted, there is a fine line between being blunt and being rude, but for the most part they speak what they think.
I wish more people my age would do that... You rarely know if you're offending someone, if you did something that was 'too much,' if you honestly hurt their feelings, or even if you have something stuck in your teeth! We're so focused on being "proper," that we forget it's okay to be truthful, as long as we lace it with love.
The tongue is our greatest asset and our greatest downfall. We use it to praise, and curse. To love, and hurt. To build, and break. In James 3 it talks about how the "tongue is a fire." (Side note - I knew there were a lot of verses in the Bible about speech/tongue but I really had no idea there were as many as there are... It's definitely worth looking at.) The tongue, as it says, is a small part of the body, but the most powerful. It's like the rudder on a ship or the bit in a horses mouth, and no one can tame it.
The easiest way to "tame" it is to censor it. If you wouldn't say it with God (or your parents, for that matter..) sitting in front of you, keep your mouth shut. If it is meant to hurt, degrade, put-down, or insult someone, shut your mouth! Bite your tongue if you have to... It will save you some pain in the long run.
Be blunt, speak the truth, but speak it in love. Strive to build others up, encourage them, and be honest! You won't regret it, and they will thank you for it... (eventually).
Friday, November 5, 2010
I'm getting backlogged in posts - I have so many that I start typing that never seem to make it to the "finished" stage. Maybe I'll be able to finish them over Christmas break....
But, in light of all the lovely weather we've been having lately, I wanted to share this.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
The God of glory thunders,
The Lord is over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful,
The voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
Yes the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
And he makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
And Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord hews out flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
The Lord shakes the wilderness;
The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kafesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve,
And strips the forests bare,
And in His temple everything says,
The morning I read this was the morning of our HUGE windstorm. Our yard was a mess, the power was out, the waves on the bay were incredible, it was cold and rainy, and a great day to stay inside! I however, did not stay inside and went down to the breakwall on the bay that day to see some of the waves... InCREDible! It was almost impossible to stand up the wind was blowing so hard, but getting a glimpse of His majesty in the waves was totally worth it =). This is not a case of the "still small voice," but the "blustering loud voice!"
I love though, how this passage is all about God's Glory. He is the power behind the wind, rain, and "flames of fire" (is that an awesome name for lightning, or what? I'm never calling it lightning again!). He controls everything - everything submits to Him - and everything in His temple says "Glory!"
The wind whistles "Glory!"
The waves pound "Glory!"
The trees crack "Glory!"
His power and might make me feel so insignificant and yet so loved. To know that the One Who controls everything loves ME and has chosen me to be His daughter, is an amazing thought. It gives me a purpose beyond going from one day of school to the next... A purpose to seek His voice in the Storm.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
This is going to be a little bit random, so bear with me... But I wanted to write this down so that I would remember it. Being the college student that I am, it's faster to type it than write it out on paper ;-).
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him,
and I am helped;
therefore my heart exalts.
and with my song I shall thank Him.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong, and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
I came across both of these in my devotions the last couple days. I'm at a point right now where I am waiting to see what God's plan is for me after this coming May. I'm moving ahead, but also kind of standing still at the same time... I might be leaving home for a year, but I also know there's a possibility I might be staying here. The idea of leaving is exciting and also absolutely terrifying, especially when I realize next fall really isn't that far away... But then again, neither is the spring after that!
But that's not the point ;-). While I was reading these verses I was reminded that I am to wait on the Lord's plan, and His timing. If I trust in Him with all my heart, He will help me. He will show me His plans and where He wants me to go. I can have courage right now knowing that He will lead me, He will show me where He wants me, and what He has in mind for me, is in fact, going to be amazing. Better than anything I could ever dream up... And that makes me smile =).
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I'm sure many of you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I didn't know that it was until October of 2007... Five months after Mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. There's nothing like someone in your own family getting cancer to make you more aware of it.
I watched cancer attack my Mom's body.. I saw the tears, the pain, the medicines after and during treatment, the exhaustion, the frustration, the nights of no sleep because of pain, and the days of being stuck in bed because the chemo and radiation would make her so sick. But even more than all of that, I saw a woman who clung to her Rock and Redeemer through the whole thing.
It's true; cancer weakens you. Emotionally, physically, and mentally. I saw that. But overall, I saw it strengthen Mom spiritually. She had days where she had no choice but to cling to Jesus, because that was the only way she would get through the day, or even the hour. She took something that can kill people not only literally, but spiritually, and let it strengthen her.
I pray no one else I know ever has to go through what Mom did. But should you, or should someone you know - the best thing you can do is to love them. Don't just tell them you are praying for them and you "hope they get better." Pray with them. Show them you are there, fighting along with them. Be their support team. Love them. Love their family. Be a shoulder to cry on. A smiling face. You can even bring cookies (or meals... A lifesaver for whoever takes on the cooking!!), take the kids, be the hands and feet of Jesus to them and their family.
But most important out of all of those is prayer. It is powerful. It is encouraging. It is comforting. It offers peace. I can't count the number of times we prayed as a family, with friends in the waiting room, in church, around Mom's bed... It helped us as a family to grow stronger in Him. For me, the most encouraging thing people could do for me was to take the time to stop and pray with me... For me, for my siblings, for my Dad, and for Mom. I knew that with prayer warriors surrounding my family and I that God's will would be done. And He is faithful!
Scrabble during Chemo treatments.
(I won't say who won, but I will say Mom had to play while on Benadryl!)
Easter... with hair!!! 2008.
Breakwall jumping, August 2008
(She thought she was going to die!!!)
Graduation. My Mom is amazing.
Homeschooling can be challenging enough when you aren't fighting for your life...
She did it while she was, and succeeded.
(I think ;-))
Just us =)
(We got to see the Detroit Tigers cream the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park!!)
Trip to 'da U.P' to scope out Finlandia University
Mom, I love you more! I know you say it isn't humanly possible, but "I'll love you for always, I'll like you forever, and as long as I'm living, my Mommy you'll be."
Thank you for everything you've done. From caring for me as a little 'butterball' to dealing with my early teenage years, to encouraging and supporting me now. I cannot describe how thankful I am for you and all you have done. You have set an amazing example of what it means to be a wife and a mother, and I know that someday I will be even more thankful for those examples than I am now.
You mean the world to me! I love you crazy much and I cannot wait to see how God continues to use your story to encourage those around you.
And I will always be your Hannie Girl =).
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I am a dreamer... I love to sit and just get lost in my thoughts. Whether it's while I'm first waking up, falling asleep, or sitting in class... I love to dream. It just seems like there are so many things to think about, so many different things that could happen! It really is exciting!
If you look at a little girl, they're usually playing dress up of some kind or another. I was one of those! I remember all the weddings I acted out, all the times I played "house." I loved house!! It was the best game ever, because anything could happen! Even at a young age, I loved dreaming. It seems to me life is too exciting to not get excited about.
Dreaming is fun and usually harmless, but we/I have to remember that God does tell us what kinds of things we should be thinking/dreaming about.
Finally, brothers (sisters),
whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
There are so many things I could say.. But I really think that passage speaks for itself. It's important that when we dream, we're being careful what we let into our heads. It doesn't necessarily have to be BAD... But is it beneficial to you, or is it just filling you with discontent? Is it helping you to pursue your dreams, or depressing you because you think they'll never really happen? Is it an honorable dream for the time being, something that you should be dreaming about now? Is it worthy of praise, would God be supportive of your dream?
Dreams can be a great thing. The dreams I have about my future life help keep me going on the lousy days. They also help keep things in perspective.
Dream - Let your dreams inspire you and push you on to bigger and better things. Let God write your dreams, follow His lead, and your dreams just may become reality!
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Are you ready for this? This is me, being totally honest.
I have days that I just don't feel loved.
Before this makes you think I'm a sad and depressed person, I know there are two major problems with that. One, I am loved, by my family and my friends. And I know that, because they make it obvious to me! Secondly, it's not always about the feeling... But the reality of what's really going on.
Also, I'm not talking about the love that most people are probably thinking I am. I'm talking about the "deep-down-in-your-heart-I-know-I-am-Loved" kind of Love. Call me crazy, but it's different.
So I was having one of those days this week. It wasn't horrible, but I was just having an off day. When I got home from school that night and was praying and doing my devotions (which might have had something to do with the off day.. Not doing them in the morning), I poured my heart out to my Heavenly Daddy. And I do mean poured. I went to Him with all my hurts and insecurities, and also complained about not feeling loved by Him.
Just when I'm getting into the middle of my pity party (because really, that's kind of what it was), my phone went off LOUDLY. Scared me to death! Normally, I don't check my phone while I'm doing my devotions, but it was a text from my "Grandpa," Doc. Every day or so, he sends me a text with a verse, or some form of encouragement. This one was no exception..
"Read John 15:9. Rest in God's affection. His constant care keeps your heart safely secured. Our Salvation is secure because God's Word is sure. PTL."
So I flip to John 15:9.
Just as the Father has loved me, so also have I loved you;
Abide in My Love.
Wow. I was so overwhelmed that I almost started crying. Why? Because, I realized - His Love really is all I need. His Love is the ONLY way I will ever feel Loved enough. There is a spot deep in my heart that only He can fill, no matter where else I look for that Love. There I was, crying out to Him to show me I was doing the right thing. That looking to Him for Love was the only way. And He did.
Usually I don't have instant revelations like this. I have to think about it, write about it, pray about it, read about it, Cross-reference it, talk about it. But this was different. It was an instant assurance that my heart rests in Jesus' hands, which is right where it belongs.
The next morning, I get in my car to head to school and turn my iPhone on shuffle.. The first song that comes on:
So, you think love is only for the good enough
And one thing you're never gonna be worthy of
But there's a song being sung over you
By the One who breathes life into you
You are being loved, you are being loved
Right now at this very moment
You are being loved, you are being loved
Right now, you are being loved, loved, loved
You are being loved, loved, you are
You ought to see the smile
You're bringing to your Father's face
You ought to hear Him sing
His version of Amazing Grace
'Cause that's the song being sung over you
By the God who breathes life into you
With every breath that you're taking
And every beat of your heart
Even while this song is playing
Whatever you do, wherever you are
There's a song being sung over you
You are being loved, you are being loved
Right now at this very moment
You are being loved, you are being loved
Right now, you are being loved, loved, loved
You are being loved, loved, you are
(Steven Curtis Chapman)
It's not always about the feeling. But I know I am Loved.
He LOVES me.
How awesome is that?!