Emerging from the Pool After a Long Swim

It was like leaping into a pool that was just a little bit too deep. I couldn’t find the bottom of the pool to launch myself back up to the surface.

It was. Hard. To keep. My breath.

Arms flailing, I pull myself up through the water and back to the world of oxygen.

Gasp!

Air again.

That’s is the feeling of being done with this year and this semester, in particular. For four months, I took 18 college credit hours, taught Sunday school, and worked with the college newspaper. This semester has been full of challenges and stress. It has been a season where I have experienced the most anxiety and depression. I have never had so many rough days.

But the season is over. Well, it has been for a week.

As I wind down and catch my breath, I am catching a glimpse of all of the lessons that can be learned from this past semester.

A few of those lessons:

Joy. Prayer. Mornings. Scripture. Friends. Quiet.

God has taught me that it is important to count my blessings and the moments of joy in the midst of pain. In the little things, God is teaching and calling and loving me.

Prayer is a beautiful spiritual discipline, and processing with the Lord helps me respond with more grace. The Lord has shown me so much grace in my failings and my mistakes, and I will continually need more grace. I will also need to learn, every day, how to give more grace. Prayer is a place to do that.

This semester, I learned the wonder of mornings. Without 8 am classes, I could get up, enjoy the morning, and sit in the sweet morning sunshine on my couch.

Scripture speaks. All of it speaks, and it is the Word of God. This semester, there has been a great desire in my heart to read and know the Bible, reading through the entire thing in one year. The Lord has provided for me His Word so that I may know more about His glory and His character. (I’ve never made it through the whole thing in a period of a year, and I really want to!)

With such a busy schedule and a stressful year, I have recognized the importance of friends. I have done a pretty lame job of loving and encouraging my friends well. I want to and need to be more consistent and more in tune to the people around me. Friends rebuke and encourage. Friends defend. I have seen the gift of friendship, and I endeavor to be a better friend, to love better, to cherish the moments. These people are a gift from the Lord that I have often taken for granted. He has been so gracious to me. I don’t want to be too busy with academics and outside commitments that I miss out on fun times and quiet moments with my friends.

So here we are. The beginning of a new season, having learned new lessons. I know God will use this season to teach me so much more.

Here’s to a summer of floating on the surface of the pool before I get out and jump in again. I guess I will take the time to put on a little sunscreen before I go out in the sun for too long.

The Clock is Ticking

Time flies by so quickly.  Over the weekend, the Ramos family came to visit us.  My family and I have known the Ramos’ for ten years.  Looking at my life as one who had moved around and 16-years-old, ten years is long time to know someone.  Alex is my age and we can talk about memories, school, goals, career and college choices, etc. after two years of occasional texts and conversations.  Even though we had not seen each other for those two years, we still had things in common and memories to discuss, as well as school and career plans to talk about and movies to laugh at.  The Ramos family has been such a blessing to us through the years.  Although there’s no one Jason’s age (10), he gets along with Alex and enjoys having an “older brother” type person to hang out with.  With Katie being Bethany’s age (14) and Anna being Rachel’s age (8), everyone has someone to hang out with.  Sadly, the Ramos’ are moving to Italy this summer, and although plans are already developing for a visit to Europe, I really cherished the time God gave us with some good friends.

When I zoomed out to the big picture, I saw that God wants us to cherish the time we have with Him while we live on the earth.  Now is when the believer develops a faith unlike one he will need once he is in God’s presence.  Now is when we have the opportunity to store up treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:19-20).  Now is when we have an impact on people for their eternity; once someone dies, we cannot help them.  The time is now.

In my life…

…it is time to focus on building my knowledge so that I can best serve God in any situation.

…it is time to share the gospel, no matter the cost.

…it is time to use my money and resources wisely so that I may best use them for God’s glory.

I am sure it is time for other things as well, but these are some that have come to my immediate attention.

The time is now.  Cherish the time you have with family, with friends, and with God.  There will be a time where situations, circumstances, and relationships will be very different.  Cherish the trials that will strengthen your faith, even when it seems impossible to cherish such a thing.

Cherish the time God has given you, and use it for His glory.