If you have thought that I am crazy for being engaged at the age of twenty, you wouldn't be the first. In fact, I would be the first one to admit to the nuttiness of mine and Jake's journey thus far.
This is something I've wanted to write about for awhile, but I was not sure if it had the proper place in the public web-world. However, the Lord has shown Jake and I that he has us on a journey that was not meant to be private, but to be shared so that Christ may receive glory.
God changes your plans... Lets put it this way. I came to Moody Bible Institute dead set that I would not become a typical "Moody" and get my MRS. certificate before I graduate. But here I am, preparing to do exactly what I set out not to do-- Wasn't my plan perfect, Lord?! Through much prayer on both ends, it was obvious that Christ was bringing Jake and I together through a passion to serve Him. As conversations deepened in the early stages of our friendship, God had clearly been doing a work in both of our hearts separately which ultimately brought us together. The Holy Spirit was confirming this relationship even if I intended to have my plan and my way.
But God is ultimately sovereign, and this is His life to be lived through me, a mere clay vessel. When I listen, he can shape, mold, and direct me on to paths that are far greater than my plan could have ever been. Praise HIM.
God takes us all on different journeys... If there was a detailed blue print map of how life should be lived in order to get to heaven perfectly to follow "God's will", let's just say I'm sure they would be out of print. All though this doesn't exist, for some reason it seems that everyone tries to force their own made-up blue print map on to every one else. Maturing in Jesus has taught me that the only map given includes only these things: to love Christ above all else, the commandments clearly marked out in scripture, and to listen to the Holy Spirit for the rest.
All this to say, there is not a formula for dating, courting, talking, casualling, friendshipping, brothering/sistering, or whatever other methodology our post-modern church has designed for Christians to supposedly make it to marriage successfully. Because if you don't follow the right one, you won't make it there properly (insert sarcasm). But, there is an act of loving Christ above all else and there is a complete surrender of every part of your love life to Him and there is a Holy Spirit full of wisdom and discernment that knows better than any self-help book. That's all on that subject.
Following God's commands is more pressing than following cultural norms... This may be one of the most vital things I have learned, and thus, I have to say it again, in different words maybe: following the commands of God should be the primary concern of Christ followers rather than following whatever social norm is insisted, commanded, expected, and twisted within the culture. What am I saying? I am saying that God's commands are clear in scripture. There is an intimacy within relationships (spiritually, emotionally, and physically-note all three) that was only intended to take place within marriage. God's commands to either remain celibate or pursue marriage are emphasized through Paul's writings. He's really not joking around in 1 Corinthians 7. What does this mean? Jake and I had to pray seriously about our "love life" and where God was leading us. We're not just playing house, and should not continue in such a way. We often face the question and reply: just because culture says you have to be out of college and making X amount of money before you can pursue marriage, is that what the Bible's standards are? We don't recall him talking about college... age... careers... but he does talk about living by faith and surrendering to Him. Don't succumb to society. Succumb to Christ.
I am sure to have many more thoughts to come, but for now, let's just say Jake and I doing our best daily to glorify Christ through our failures, insecurities, callings, mission, successes, craziness, and every step in-between. We are young and we are wildly and fearlessly loving the life that the Lord has given to us. Another rant about our relationship is sure to come, but for now, thank you for your love and support as Jake and I venture to fully devote our lives and service to Christ.
Blessings from yet another crazy twenty-year-old engaged Bible college chick.
Finishing assignments, running from one event to the next, meeting new people virtually everyday while trying to maintain those that truly matter, learning to take care of your mind, body, soul, and spirit...
The list goes on and on. And breathing, yeah, that's important.
Anyways, in between all those things, this morning I had a few moments to just sit and think, wherever my brain took me (now how often does that happen?!). I became increasingly aware of where I had been, where I have come from, where I am now, and trusting where the Lord is taking me. And then it dawned on me, this is life for every college student- you know, the "Um, I am kind of an adult with lots of responsibilities, but am I really trusted with them yet? Yeah...let's just go with it..." This time of life is i-n-s-a-n-e and it's already flashing by with each chaotic day of successes and failures.
But God reminded me something today while sitting in his presence: breath and be. Simple, eh? Breath and be. At first I was like, "Ok, Lord, I think I learned that in my first screeching moment of breath as an infant..." But no, the Lord gave me this overwhelming amount of peace to just relax, reminisce, dream, and love. He reminded me to enjoy these small moments in life. I get so caught up in my to-do list and deadlines that it's easy to forget to be overwhelmingly joyful and grateful for where the Lord has brought me.
So for every other overwhelmed college student that is scraping by your assignments and to-do lists, just a few words from what I am learning: Take time to do what you enjoy today. Go do something crazy and create those memories. Try something new and don't be afraid of failure. Reminisce and be thankful for the joys and pains that brought you to where you are now. And dream, dream big. Do something that will make a difference in other's lives. Go after those hopes for the future and walk down a path that only you could carve out. These moments are precious. Don't let the world steal them away from you, but instead live fully in them and claim them as your own. This life is too short to let the pressures of the world weigh us down. Reclaim the life God gave us and thank Him for it. Don't let this life fly by, but, instead soar in this life that was given to you.
When I started writing this post, I was headed in a very different direction with the topic but the Spirit began to work out something else through my fingers. If this post isn't just for my own heart to contemplate, then I pray it will reach your heart too.
While sitting in a new class this past week, a highly esteemed professor of mine challenged her students. She said that in order to become effective communicators and story tellers, a person must step back, become totally engaged in the moment, and force yourself to go beyond any temptation to dull your senses. The constant urge in our culture is to become totally enwrapped in our own mind and thoughts, placing our agenda ahead of your physical present circumstance. People begin to miss out on living life in the here and now because they are so consumed with their invidual preoccupations, needless to say the addictive virtual relationships happening through technology. The temptation to constantly be somewhere else mentally rather than where you are physically is almost never denied. No wonder why the creative people are so applauded. They simply notice things and seek to express them in the best way they know how, a rare aspiration in our world today it seems.
Now, I am in no way above this critique on our culture. However, I do believe the Spirit is convicting my behavior and is pealing back a layer of blindness that I did not even know existed (sanctification often hurts).
After realizing my fault, I have to put into practice a verse I memorized a long time ago, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Colossians 3:1, 2 NIV).
As believers, there is a higher standard that Christ has called us to. Not only by disconnecting myself from the physical world with my iPhone, email, texting, planning, ect. But I am closing off the space to allow God to use my actual physical capacity due to my mental capacity being fixated upon my own agenda. Since I am raised with Christ, my heart and mind should not be on my agenda, my agenda was put to grave on the cross.
I have wrestled a lot with the practical execution of this verse while being a student in a communications program. Everything is about communicating in this world. In fact, there is one relationship that without communication can change your eternal destiny. Therefore, if my agenda is gone, I must constantly be in communication with Christ and His agenda; meaning that whatever space I have in this life isn't mine to claim anyways, it was his all along.
So, what does your mind dwell on? What is your mental state? Is it on your agenda, your plans, distracted in lala land, or is it on the things of The Lord? I am convinced that if you too have been raised with Christ that these are questions that should swarm your heart and mind, as they are doing so in mine.
Praise Christ for his grace.
Trains, planes, and automobiles.
The first of those three is my ride today, which means I am city bound once again. I remembered my habit a few years back. While I was on mission trips, we would take buses everywhere to do ministry and that would be the moments that I would consistently blog to let people know what's going on. If God has taught me anything, it is that each day is a new mission trip, wherever He leads me. So here I am today, blogging once again from my phone. Time to reflect.
Second semester of my sophomore year is on the horizon, the dawn is breaking on yet a new adventure. It amazes me how much The Lord has done in simply three semesters.
•I have learned how to live in the city of Chcago
•Grown immensely in knowledge and experience at Moody Bible Institute and Moody Publishers
•Faced stressors and mistakes that The Lord has used to sharpen my faith furthermore with his faithfulness
•Grown in many new relationships and deepened those that were already close
•Faced with more opportunity to serve God than ever before with each new day
•I am now preparing for the future with the love of m my life
•I have learned that each day is a new day, His mercies are new and being made new in me within each breath he allows
Socrates said, "As for me, all I know is that I know nothing". I am no where near having this thing called life figured out, but I have learned my duty while on this earth. Until this life has passed, I am to glorify The Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind and love those around me as Christ does.
As life is whisking by quickly, my commitment is to hold nothing back from The Lord. That's always been easy to say, but God is now giving me chances to practically live that out. I have Him alone to thank for this life He's blessed me with, especially for a family that is not without flaws, but loves Christ and the life He's given.
All in all, what the Father is pressing on my heart today: As Christ followers, we are not here to save the world, but to show the world who is the one that has saved the world and gives hope to each person, no matter their circumstance. Praise Him.
It's been a while, and therefore, I must be honest.
For a time, I became very reluctant towards the art of cyber publishing, especially that of my personal life. While realizing my insignificance in the history of humanity, it became silly for me to spend hours writing to possibly, well, no one. Let's be honest. There are so many great classics, brilliant pieces of literature, and most of all, the Bible to be spending my time reading rather than sharing my insignificant insights to whoever may come across them.
But then again, I remembered. Writing, for me, is not an attempt at being compared to the great insights to have gone before. When I allow it, writing for me is a way to give glory to God for the sometimes small and sometimes great things in day to day life. Writing is a way to sift through the mundane moments and see God's endless beauty woven together thread by thread. My duty is not to do the weaving, but to look at the story being intricately told through each strand and give Him glory by sharing it. I intend to do just that.
Before I can continue to proceed in anything, I need to give God glory for a few significant life changes:
1. November 12 marked the day of my 20th birthday and engagement to the man of not only
dreams, but the man of my prayers. Jake and I are so excited at the journey the Lord has marked out before
us. "We are simply two ordinary people seeking to give God a platform to be extraordinary." (picture below)
2. A month later, December 14, marked the day that my older brother's life would change when he asked the
love of his life to become his wife. She said yes! I can officially say I have a sister-in-law and may the
wedding bliss begin! (We did not intend to overwhelm our parents)
3. My younger brother continues to have football offers come in. I couldn't be more proud as I watch my
little "chico" handle all the recruitment process like he is already a pro. We can't wait to continue cheering
him on from whichever college is the lucky winner of a great player.
4. My family has faced many challenges this year that the Lord has unexpectedly brought us. All though the
road ahead may be unsure concerning a few areas in our family's life, it is a blessing to say we have never
been more sure of the Lord's steadfast faithfulness. Trusting the Lord with every part of our lives may not
be easy, even during the fog, but His sovereignty is the most secure comfort in all of life.
My mother always told me:
"There are only two things certain in life: Change and Jesus. If you have the second you'll be able to stand through anything that the first may bring." As time continues to pass, this saying only proves is validity. When I may become uncertain about the change, clinging to this Word from God reminds me that this story has and will always be about Him, to bring Him glory. No need to worry. Just hang tight, trust, love and live freely in this life the Lord has given. "The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." Proverbs 16:9
1. He really did ask me to be his wife!
As I grew up reading stories about Christians falling in love, and fantasizing my own love story, I have to say that the real thing is so much better than any Christian-fall-in-love-book. Surely more stories of this life change are inevitable. It all started with a man with great faith and a girl with this one answer, "of course!"
It's those things that matter, the little things.
There's nothing more and nothing less that God asks of us, just the obedience in the details.
I wish I knew how to live this well. I long to know what it means to lead a life of integrity in the smallest of things.
But truth be told, I get way too caught up in the big things and forget it's moment by moment actions that ultimately paint the big picture.
I wish I could just relax. This culture is constantly on the go and easily sucks you into a non-stop nascar race around the circle. I'm afraid that eventually I'll forget to stop for my fine tune fix-ups or I'll blow out faster than an overheated engine.
It's the fine tune things that matter. How much sleep I get. What priorities I uphold. The motivation behind doing a good deed. My continuous prayer life. The intentionality of menial tasks. If I am self absorbed or selflessly living.
The small things, interlaced and intertwined in a story, that gives glimpse of His coming glory.
I think it hit me when I returned home late December for Christ break. I was hit with what felt like a ton of bricks realizing how much first semester felt like a roller coaster. I have a feeling that if I kept blogging throughout the semester they may have begun to contradict themselves due to the immense amount of growth that took place throughout challenges. Looking back I feel as though I just escaped a grey whirlwind. But through that mess of chaos, there are many bright lights that was shown upon my dark grey life that Christ revealed to me.
Whenever people as me what it was like all I can simply say is,
"I've learned that I truly know nothing. And for that, I am grateful for the blessing of grace that has allowed me to come to this realization."
The challenges of growing intellectually in theological matters stretches your spiritual being beyond belief. This then seeps into your emotional being, which has been molded by your experiences, therein affecting your present relationships, view points, goals, and desires. I have learned so much about myself in the past four months. There was numerous times when I just fell on my face in shame at the foot of the cross. There were times when I was depressed at realizing how insignificant my life is. Spiritual warfare ran rapid in my life. But Praise be to God who is always faithful and victorious. I am truly left speechless at the majesty of my creator. My depraved being, His ultimate sovereignty, and his complete saving and justifying grace; it's truly a mysterious miracle to the human mind!
I've been thrown into the furnace and got burned up last semester. He's in the process of refining and defining his purpose in my life. Through much prayer I have switched my major to Historical Theology- I've never felt so sure that this is what I was created for. What does that mean? What will I be doing for the rest of my life? Well isn't that a great question that I poss myself almost daily. And each time the Lord continually answers me with Micah 6:8 which says, "To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." I don't know exactly what He's calling me to do. But I do know that he's placing this crazy passion in my heart for his people and the lost. I find it most evident when studying and sharing the truth of where the church has come from looking at what that means for us today, and where He's calling us to go. Everything is orchestrated by YHWH. Politics, government, social justice and issues... God's in control. Therein He's calling his believers to diligently follow him and share his glory on this earth. How are we suppose to do that if we don't even know what it means to truly give our lives as a living sacrifice? What that's meant for believers past? Why we do things the way we do today?
The Lord made it clear to me the other day what my mission in pursuing education is to be. I long for every person to articulate their beliefs about life more clearly than they can articulate anything else. Our world today knows more about electronics and formulas and jobs and pop stars than they do about their own eternal destiny. And that, is a tragedy. No one can withstand our natural destiny of eventual death. Do people really get that? Do I really get that? By having the Lord pose this simple question upon my life I long for each person to be posed with the same question, what do you really believe? Why? Do you know what's going to happen after death? If so, what are you actually doing about it? What am I actually doing about it?
So many things have begun to swarm my mind and spirit over the past months. But one thing I know is sure, the Lord is just beginning the journey with me. I am so excited to go back next semester with already having one foot in the water and now, I am ready to dive in. Disciplines. Priorities. Conversations. Diligence. I'm ready Lord, this is all yours. Do with it as You will!
First off, it's a new adventure each day. If only there was a camera or automatic life recorder that had the capabilities of documenting the daily revelations and challenges. That could be both frightening and convicting- but nonetheless enriching!
From learning how to time manage and what a normal sleeping pattern is, to the anthropomorphic and theological truths, my brain seems to constantly be on overload. However, by His grace, that tank is continually expanding being able to hold more. It's only through the mercy of Jesus Christ that he has brought me to this place. We talked in class today about the talents the Lord gives us and the daily cross we are to bare. It's the adventure of a life time to sow back every blessing that He gives us and to bare the daily cross that we're called to. <-This understanding is just the beginning. All the things I've grown up learning about my Savior is starting to really take root and I pray earnestly for a fruitful harvest.
Some friends and I found ourselves caught up in quite the thought provoking conversation on the train ride back to school from our favorite coffee shop. What was the gist of the conversation? Turning in our baby food for meat. Sounds funny even typing it! However, this is exactly what we're here to do and this has become our longing and encouragement. So easily our Christian culture administers the watered down-cheap understandings of who The Lord is. People are always reading second and third hand concepts of who the savior is. It was a very frightening thought when we realized that we for so long did the same thing. We were spiritually depleted from the mal-nutrition of our relationship and connection to our savior- and didn't even know it. There's so many books. So many sermons. An abundance of "experiential worship methods". None of which are wrong- but when these things take priority over a hunger a revelating relationship with Christ, our spiritual bodies are being depleted; not truly receiving what it was made for. Therefore, we are taking a stance. We are exchanging the baby food for some meat and veggies- metaphorically. We're no longer taking the second hand truth of our savior from what other people are discovering, we will seek to discover it ourselves. Our God is so beyond our understandings yet He sent his own son to to die that we may seek Him and draw near to Him as He reveals himself to us. Running hard after all of who He is. Taking big bites of real truth. Allowing Him to reveal himself to me, not a second hand understanding.
It's going to be alot to chew. Exhausting, surely, and at moments I may go into nutritional shock from the extreme change. However, I will pursue Christ because He pursues me. His word is true and will not return void. From now on, living in such a way that there is no-esteem and only He is esteemed. Moody is just bringing these things about. Spiritually, relationally, emotionally, and intellectually- I'm ready. Ready to be radically wrecked by the completeness and all encompassing glory of YHWH!
The Lord has been bringing a lot back to the table today. He's been reminding me of the intentionality that is needed with each encounter that occurs throughout the day. Furthermore, the I'm reminded of the intentionality I need to have in my every moment He so graciously gives me. It's really been impressed upon my heart to truly live by the convictions He gave me last summer while I was in Central America. However true they were to me then, they ring even clearer through my soul this summer. I've even had a few added as I've been praying through these convictions. I long for Him to be truly glorified through this season and whatever the future may bring, so these are just the convictions He's given me to live by as I seek the fullness of His glory:
1. To start and end each day by spending intentional time with the Lord.
2. To read the Word as if my life depended upon it.
3. To pray selflessly, authentically, seeking His will believing He hears and answers.
4. To always count the blessings and recognize suffering.
5. To be a servant of all.
Am I going to be able to live by this perfectly? Not at all. But I believe that Romans is true when it says that the power which raised Christ from the dead actually lives in me and each professing believer. I will fail, but the Lord of victory will continue to have His way in my life the more I yeild to him. The song by All Sons and Daughters has been only replay because of this line, "tomorrow's freedom is today's surrender." What would life look like if we actually lived this truth?! We can find freedom from these chains of bondage if we surrender to Christ and the power of the cross today. Wow... so convicting.
As I go to school in less than a month I want to be alert to the spirit's leading. It's been put on my heart so heavily to really open my eyes and serve the city of Chicago. We are missionaries no matter where we are. I pray our class wouldn't just be "christians" wanting a bible education to do "good" things. I pray we will come together on a mission to share Christ's love in our time spent learning and serving in the suffering city. There is so much love that Christ wants to ravish in the war that's waging all around. If only we'd let Him love through us the way He loved us.
I'd like to say I've been on the pursuit of God my entire life, however, that's not the truth.
Reflecting upon my childhood I could easily draw this assumption. I have grown up in the Christian influence being taught about the God of ages and the son He sent to die for me. I prayed the "sinners prayer" as a little girl and had a raw child-like faith. During times of turmoil I didn't know what else to do but pray to Jesus, my best friend and my only comforter. I found letters I would write to my daddy in heaven longing to see Him change this world. Mission trips, camps, retreats, and bible studies were always the highlights of each year. There are scrolls of paper of my heart wrenching for Jesus to be real in my family and in my heart-- I longed to love my savior with all my heart soul and mind.
I used to look back upon these things saying, "well, of course, what else would've I done?" I could look at the way I lived my life and assume that I was pursuing God; however, this past summer my Savior has broken my down in deeper ways than I've experienced in my few short years on earth. Could I really think that it was my strength and my desire for God? I can honestly say to myself, how naiive? A great elder and mentor at my church has spoken this word to me over the years and it's now starting to resonate and wreck me of unknown selfish pride:
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
God has given me the grace to recieve grace. Now that's something to really wrap your mind around. It's through CHRIST that I have been saved, through the blood of the cross. I don't have any strength in me to pursue the God of the universe... I am an enemy of Him. It's only through Him that my spiritual eyes may continue to be opened. Lately the battle that Paul highlights in Romans 7 has become so prevelant to me and how I have longed to go back to the faith of my childhood. This flesh is constantly waging against His spirit inside of me. Yes, I have been given grace to recieve grace, my "ticket to heaven." But there is still yet a daily taking up of the cross that must to be done. I have to surrender this flesh to Him daily and seek his cross because I don't have the strength or the power to do it on my own- that's only through Christ.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
The purpose is His purpose. The good is His good. The calling is for His glory. It's all pointing to Yah-Weh. This right here deserves an AMEN.
There is so much going on in the world that we can see at the click of a button. Different religions, beliefs, and opinions can be accessed anywhere at any time. There is an upsurging evil that is wripping it's way through this world and through the hearts of God's people, myself included. We have found ourselves in the middle of a battle between the fight of good and evil. It doesn't take a professer to explain that there is immense pain and suffering throughout this world. There are so many things that I don't understand. It's easy for me to look at things and want to ask, "why God?" Why are christians known for their intolerance instead of love? Why have we not been victorious in this financial struggle? Why are terrorist continuing to take lives of innocent people in the Middle East? Why is our blessed country falling deeper into irreversible debt? Why do drugs and alcohol rage within all levels of society? Why can't I do something greater to help stop these things? Why, Jesus, must you tarry any longer?
I ask all these questions then hear Him gently say, "it's My purpose, My good, for My glory." Who am I to ask? Who am I to know? I am a wretched sinner in need of a savior. An incapable human being unable to understand the mystory of the King. But He gives me grace to recieve grace, and for that I am forever thankful.
Today my perspective is yet again changing.
My story thus far is not about me pursuing God, but about the way He has pursued me- the way He works all things for HIS good inpursuit of redeeming man-kind. I am in awe. My prayer today has come out of Romans. A prayer for the revelation within my own spirit and within all of God's people. May we seek His face as He pursues us with an incomprehensible love. May our souls be awakened to take part in the story that has been unfolding since the beginning of time.... The mystery is His, and the marvel is mine to take part in...
Romans 16:25-27 (NIV)
25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith — 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
I like to talk.