Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 In Review

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!

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.
(Proverbs 27:17)

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:
  • 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...
'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.
(Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beautiful for Me

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.

Every girl young and old has to face her own reflection
Twirl around, stare it down
What’s the mirror gonna say
With some luck, you’ll measure up
But you might not hold a candle to the rest
“Is that your best?” says the mirror to the mess

But there’s a whisper in the noise
Can you hear a little voice
and he says

Has anybody told you you’re beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
‘Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful for me

If it’s true beauty lies in the eye of the beholder
Want my life and what’s inside to give him something to behold
I want a heart that’s captivating
I wanna hear my Father say

Has anybody told you you’re beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
‘Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful for me

Close your eyes
Look inside
Let me see the you that you’ve been trying to hide
Long ago, I made you so very beautiful
So I ought to know you’re beautiful

Has anybody told you you’re beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
‘Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful
You’re so beautiful
Beautiful for me
So beautiful for me
Has anybody told you?

This is one of those songs that I could've written, had I had the song-writer ability. But I don't, and thankfully someone else wrote it for me! I don't know one girl who doesn't want to be told that they are beautiful by someone who is important to them. There's nothing like that feeling. And to know that God thinks we are beautiful, and that He specifically created us beautifully for Him, is a feeling like none other.

We unfortunately live in a world where beauty seems to be measured by how much skin you show. The more, the better. Or so the world says. And they are brutal! I have seen many tears be shed over the cruel standards the world follows, and shed some myself as well. We girls are way too hard on ourselves when it comes to this, always comparing ourselves to those around us..

This song is a reminder that we are made in God's image, beautifully for Him. He sees not only the outside, but the inside as well. I am so thankful that what the world follows is not what counts. It is not the size of your jeans, the straightness of your hair, or how low/tight/high your clothing is. Rather, I say that I "Want my life and what’s inside to give him something to behold, I want a heart that’s captivating." Because that is what truly matters.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the Lord,

she shall be praised.

(Proverbs 31:30)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Past


Christmas is over.

Wait, what?!

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

*insert sheep noise here*

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.
(Luke 2:8-20)

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.
(Matthew 1:18-25)

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 wonder.

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.