This is What Life Looks Like

Sometimes it is messy. Sometimes it is busy. Sometimes you just need to sit down and do nothing and breathe.

Sometimes all you can really do at the end of the day is look ridiculous because you need to work out and the most fun way to do that is hula hooping on Wii Fit Plus without an actual hula hoop. (And sometimes your fiance will just laugh at you because you are sore from hula-hooping in the middle of a room without a hula hoop.)

But life is good. Life is now. Life doesn’t begin when I get married or when I graduate from college or when we start a family.

Susan, Queen of Narnia, forgot what she once was and left behind Narnia as a place of make believe in favor of growing up and maturing.

Oh, may I never fly through this phase of life, forgetting the treasures it holds!

This is what life looks like now:
It is full of planning a wedding.
It is full of quality time with international students, with middle school girls, and with sweet friends.
It is full of cleaning and organizing and throwing things away.
It is full of love and family and traveling.
It is full of celebrating and mourning.

There is a time for all of these things, and all of these things are worth the time.

May the Lord bless the time I have in this world for His glory. May recognizing joy now be worship to Christ.

The Birth That Ended Death

Death.

Darkness. Lack of life. Heartache.

Those are words that come to mind at the mention of death.

It troubles me to think of someone who was alive and well the last time I saw him, knowing that when I see him next, it will be in moments filled with mourning alongside others.

Once gone, the spirit, the soul, is no longer with the body. That body is no longer the person you loved. Their temporary home in the body is now vacant. There is no one there. They’ve left their cramped, broken-down apartment for something else.

My grandfather was a sweet man. He wanted to provide for his family. He loved his family. He had a great smile and a few funny jokes. I didn’t grow up around him much because I was moving around. But I have sweet memories of him. He pursued the Lord despite undesirable circumstances.

Now, I rejoice because he is in heaven! But it is bittersweet for those left on earth.

I would never wish that someone’s healing come through death. But oftentimes, the Lord chooses to heal that way, to remove the sufferer from the pain that comes with a fallen world, and those left here on earth feel the sting of loss.

But this sting… it isn’t the sting of death. It is just the temporary, momentary sting of loss. Death has been conquered! Because of Christ’s coming, because of Christmas, we have hope! This life, all of its pain, all of its troubles and sadness and darkness will soon be gone!

With all of my heart, I yearn to be in the presence of the Lord where things are perfect and He is most glorified. One day, I will stand… No… I will bow before the Lord of Lord and the King of Kings and there proclaim his praise alongside many others who have gone before me. I’ll stand beside those who I love and those with which I share a unified purpose: Glory to God on the Highest.

Christmas is about hope. And death does not extinguish that hope, for it does not diminish the glory or power of God. Christ came to earth as a baby 2,000 years ago so that death wasn’t the end. He came that we might be reconciled to Him.

Through Christ we have the Hope of the Glory of God.

And here, on earth, we spread the hope that Christ gave us through His coming! Here, we bring glory to the Lord, awaiting the day that “the perishable puts on the imperishable.

Jesus’ birth was the birth that ended Death.

We have no reason to fear or despair.

We have Hope.

Mountain Musings

There is something so incredibly chill-invoking about the mountains. I remember one year, driving through a valley in Tennessee with my family, looking up at the dark hills and seeing the lights of cabins on the sides of the mountain. It was beautiful – a little love note from the Lord. My favorite part of the mountains is looking up and seeing thousands of stars, bright and beautiful.The stars have always been my favorite part of nature.

Early in high school, I would lay out on the trampoline with my younger siblings and look at the stars. In Columbia, we couldn’t see very much, but it was a time of bonding and realizing how small we were compared to the dark expanse of sky. There was just something about looking up into the navy blue of the heavens and searching for familiar dots of light.

Finishing up my fall break in the mountains of North Carolina, I am blown away by the stars that I can see here. There are so many. The sky is so clear here that you can see the Milky Way. Wow. I am blown away by the beauty. There is something about the sky being so big that gives me a different perspective.

“[The Lord] heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.”
Psalm 147:3-5

God, who named each and every one of those billions of stars, knows my name. The Lord, who is so great and powerful, redeemed me. I feel so small among the stars, but I feel more loved than ever when I feel so small. I was important enough for the Lord to send His Son, despite my smallness.

Our small lives didn’t keep God from sending His Son to die the most excruciating death for the sake of bringing us back into His presence. Our small impact does not keep the Lord from using us in our areas of influence. He uses us where we are once we allow Him that power in our lives.

Look at the stars. They are each small to our eyes. But when they work together, they light up the entire sky. Their areas of influence touch, lighting up much more together than they could alone.

There is beauty in feeling small. There are lessons to be learned from creation. There is a Lord who teaches us through the small things (or through feeling small because of the big things).

Learn from the stars. God put them there for a reason.

From a High School Graduate

Hello, world!

I am now a high school graduate. I graduated on June 1st, and it’s so crazy to be done with high school!

This summer is going to be filled with so much fun. Already, my life is changing and I am beginning to get a taste of the world beyond high school. I have a lot planned for the summer from volunteer blogging for a company to teaching some English, from traveling to Washington DC and Maryland to flying back down to Nicaragua in July. Plus, college orientation is less than two weeks away. What?! High school flew by. I’m just trying to enjoy every moment now.

I am very excited to start school in the Fall at Columbia International University! There, I will double major in Applied English (emphasis on Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and Bible, with a minor in Intercultural Studies. At least, that is the plan for now. And it is a very exciting plan!

I will be rooming with a good friend who I have had the most magnificent pleasure of knowing for a little over two and a half years. If she reads this, she will not know what to do because she is one of the most humble people I know. Her Christlike humility is inspiring and challenging to me. She is musically talented both vocally and instrumentally. She can draw, write poetry, make people laugh, and encourage them to pursue the Lord. I’m pretty sure I get the better end of this rooming together deal!

Like I mentioned, I go back to Nicaragua in July. This will be my third trip down there, and I am so excited for what we will do as a team! The skits, the manual labor, the evangelism – all of those things are incredible to be a part of. Plus, I look forward to growing closer to the people on my team, even though I leave the youth ministry in the Fall (at least for a little while).

Well, I don’t want to bore you with my life, but I did want to share a little bit about what is going on. God bless! And I will be writing again soon.

How Then

This month has been full of blessings and it has been a constant reminder of the goodness of God.  Four days ago, I celebrated the resurrection of my Savior!  He is not dead; He is alive!  Even after Easter leftovers are eaten, and the candy from the “Easter Bunny” is long gone, I am still going to celebrate the I serve a God who is alive!

Easter is the very foundation of the Gospel.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

This is the Gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only payment for man’s sins.

Christ came to earth to pay the price of my sins; He came to give me salvation, and bring me into a personal relationship with Him.  He did that for you, too.  He died for the sins of the WORLD!  My desire to share this message with the world stems from the LIFE God has given me.  God’s love, peace, forgiveness, and hope are all things I want everyone to experience.  The passion I have for missions is a result of Christ’s sovereignty in my life.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Romans 10:13-15

That verse has been such an encouragement to me as I get ready to go to Nicaragua in July!  A lot of the time, when I find a verse that really means a lot to me at that certain time, I’ll write in on my wrist.  Romans 10:13-15 has been on my wrist for the past several days, and in my mind for even more. 

I am so excited to use my life to bring glory to my Lord in Nicaragua this summer!  I want to thank you so supporting me with prayers and financial support.  God continues to show me His provision when I begin to wonder how I am going to raise all the support I need for my trip.  God’s provision stuns me.  My jaw drops at His answers to prayer.  I have seen this Scripture breathed to life:

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

Thank you for partnering with me in the Gospel.  I am praying for y’all. 

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:3-11

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.

Overwhelming

Have you ever been overwhelmed? Maybe, like me, you were working on a research paper and you were overwhelmed by all the information and articles related to the topic of your paper. I know that’s what I’m feeling right now!
That’s kind of the “bad” overwhelmed, the overwhelmed that almost makes you feel stressed.
But the overwhelming love that God displays for us is, by no means, a “bad” overwhelmed feeling. It is opposite that! God loves us so much and I get so caught up in school and everything and I forget that overwhelming sense of love and peace that the Lord gives. But that love is amazing! When you realize all that God has done for you, and will continue to do for you, doesn’t it make you stop and think for a minute? I know I get “holy goosebumps” when I think about how He loves me.
So even though I am overwhelmed by the project that I have to work on, I am choosing to be overwhelmed by the goodness of His love and peace in my life!