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

Prayer... Jesus Style

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."
(vs. 17)

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."
(vs. 11)

"I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world,
but to keep them from the evil one."
(vs. 15)

"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.
(vs. 24)

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

"Swift Love"

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

Stand up (Stand up, Stand up!)

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

Lousy Days/Weeks

"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

Keep Your Tongue!

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

The Voice of the Lord

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,
(Psalms 29:3-9)

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.