The Perfect Perspective

photoI have always known that perspective is an important thing to have, but recently I’ve been reminded of this lesson.

I’m not sure about your life, but I can tell you that there are things that happen in mine that feel like they will never end. Sometimes I feel like David after the dentist when he asks, “Is this gonna be forever?!” We have this feeling of desperation and helplessness when it comes to situations that we cannot change.

When it comes to these situations, these things in life that we just have to get through, I’ve learned that perspective is key. If I can remind myself that this situation, whatever it is, isn’t forever, it is much easier to get through.

If I said the phrase, “And it came to pass”, you would probably think about the Christmas story. I once heard a comedian use this phrase in the context of perspective. It came to pass. It didn’t come to stay! It WILL pass. It might take a long time, but it will pass.

Take a moment and think about your life in the context of eternity. ETERNITY. As in forever and ever. We can’t even wrap our human, finite minds around the idea of forever. The Bible says that our life is like the morning dew, there a moment and gone the next. If our entire life is just this tiny speck in the realm of eternity, how much does this one situation that feels like forever really matter?

I’m not saying that our situations won’t affect us. And I am certainly not saying that God doesn’t care about the things that happen to us. Quite the opposite of that actually. One of the most beautiful things about God is the fact that He does care about everything that happens to us. The fact that He cares about the little speck of eternity that is me is a huge deal; the fact that He is invested in the things that happen to me, that is life changing.

To find the perfect perspective, we have to look up. Looking behind us makes us regret the past, looking forward can make us worry about the future. Looking up reminds us of the One who holds our past, present, and future.

One of my favorite bands, Gungor, released a song that I just love. It’s called This Is Not The End. You can listen to it here. It talks about how this, this situation, this life, this semester of school, this illness, it isn’t the end. God has more for you, and He has it all under control.

No matter what you are going through, good, bad, ugly, or even worse, know that God has you in His arms. And know that this is not the end. Your life is a speck, but it’s a speck that God loved enough to send His Son to save. Take comfort in His love and care.

 

 

Memories

Have you ever had that moment when you are completely floored with a memory? Just the other day I was in the middle of a scriptwriting session with my boss when my mom knocked on the office door (my mom and I work at the same church in the same ministry, so this isn’t out of the ordinary). My mom then showed me a text she got from a very, very old friend of ours, Mr. Mark Shipley.

We have known Mr. Mark since I was three or four years old, and he has been there for some major moments in our family’s history. He and his wife, Kaye, were my best buddies when I was a little girl. Mrs. Kaye was my absolute favorite person alive. So much so that I called the two of them Markaye and Morkaye. Mr. Mark was just more of Mrs. Kaye to me.

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The older I got, the more I appreciated Mr. Mark and Mrs. Kaye for who they were, devout Christians. Mrs. Kaye would go on mission trips all over the world, and I was so inspired by her. We moved from Illinois to Florida in 2004, but my best friend Rebecca and her family lived near the Shipley’s, so eleven year old me knew they would be taken care of. 1

About four years ago, we got a phone call from Rebecca’s mom, telling us that Mrs. Kaye had passed very suddenly from a blot clot in her lungs. Just like that, Mrs. Kaye was in Heaven with Jesus. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I was in shock for a while. There just was no way that Mrs. Kaye wouldn’t be waiting in Peoria next time I went to visit.

We weren’t able to go up to the funeral, but we got a recording of it in the mail from Rebecca’s mom. It was mentioned in the service that I always called Mr. Mark Markaye, which of course made me cry. Mrs. Kaye impacted me more than I realized at the time.

So here we are, four years later, and my Mom gets a text from Mr. Mark. He had randomly remembered one day we ate at this little restaurant. It wasn’t a mind-blowing, big memory, but a quiet, simple one. It was one that brought smiles and tears to me and my mom. This is when I remembered that memories are so, so precious. 4I was young for the majority of the time we had with Mark and Kaye. I remember feeling very safe and loved when I was with them. They were like a third set of grandparents to me. But the time we spent with the Shipley’s is a time that I know we all cherish. Time is fleeting, and we don’t know how long we have to spend with people. This is why it is vital that we take advantage of the time we have been given.

Memories are funny things. They can make you laugh so hard you cry and cry so hard you laugh. They can make you feel happy and sad. But I believe that even the saddest memories are better than no memories at all.

Mrs. Kaye lived a full, Jesus loving, people caring, always smiling life.

Make memories. Take pictures. Be where you are. Don’t waste time on silly, little things that don’t really matter. Laugh with your friends. Cry with them too! Don’t let life just pass you by. Make your life count.

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The Power of Being

When someone asks me how I am doing, my response ninety-nine percent of the time is something to the equivalent of, “Good! Busy, but good!” Our society glorifies people who are busy. For some reason, we see busy as good, as something to strive towards. I can’t tell you how many times I have boasted on my multi-tasking abilities (like I have any). But where does it say that being so busy that you can’t see straight means you are doing something right?

I go to a young adult service at a local church on Fridays. One night the pastor spoke on the Sabbath day. He talked about how we are to keep it holy, and why we should take a Sabbath. As someone who has grown up in church, I’ve heard this message a couple times. But, as always, I learned something new.

The Bible tells us in Mark that Jesus left everyone, early in the morning, to be alone with God. Obviously spending time with His Father was a big deal for Him. If Jesus, the One who can do anything, felt like He needed to take a breather, than who am I to think I can do anything less?

You see the Sabbath at the beginning of the whole world. On the seventh day, God Himself rested. Why do we feel like we can constantly be going, when even God rested? Let me say this, I can’t do more than God can. If God needed a break after six days of creating, than you know I need a break after six days of living!

One of my favorite stories, one that convicts me the most, is the story of Mary and Martha with Jesus. Luke tells this story. Jesus and His disciples came to stay at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Martha was the busy one, always moving. I’m pretty sure her love language was acts of service, because she spent the entire time working to make sure that dinner was on time, that the silverware (or whatever it is that they had) was clean, and that the house was spick and span for her special guest. Mary, on the other hand, probably had the love language of quality time. She decided to sit at the feet of Jesus and gain wisdom from His words. Martha gets all upset with Mary and goes to Jesus to say something to Him about it. His response is one that always gets me, every single time:

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed- or indeed only one. Mary has chosen better, and it will not be taken from her.'”

Yikes. Here is the thing. I am a doer. If I have the option, I will do something instead of sitting still. I’m sure many of you are the same way. If Jesus came to my house, I can easily see myself as Martha, stressed out about the fact that my cake over baked and that my chicken is dry.

My point in all of this is as follows: sometimes, doing is overrated. I’m starting to learn that there is a power to just being. Mary was with Jesus. She was just there, soaking up His every word. Jesus left everyone to recharge by hearing from His Father. And here are me and Martha, cleaning up the house, doing the homework, serving at church, and not thinking about stopping to be with Jesus at all.

There is a song I heard for the first time that night at my young adult group. It’s called “I Will Be Still”. I’ll put a link right here if you want to listen to it. It is a beautiful song. Can you imagine just being still? I think that is exactly what God wants for us. It’s why He made the Sabbath. He wants us to be still, to be rested and restored by Him.

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Why Marriage Isn’t The End

I was recently able to spend some time catching up with a dear friend of mine. In our time together, sipping frappes from McDonald’s, we talked about how many of our friends are in serious relationships/getting engaged and married. My friend and I, who are so very similar, decided that while marriage is something to look forward to, it should not be seen as the end goal. There is so much more to do than get married and have kids. For the past month, I have spent more and more time thinking about that conversation. Here are a few things that have been running rampant in my brain about why marriage shouldn’t be seen as the end.

    1.   Marriage will not end your insecurities.

I think many people, myself included at times, believe that marriage will solve the problems they have. That cannot be true. What is a relationship if not messy? Marriage is the joining together of two imperfect people. I believe that my insecurities are only magnified in relationships. I don’t think that we can expect anything less in a marriage.

    2.   If marriage is seen as the end, you will be disappointed.

Will marriage be wonderful? I’m sure it will. Will it be an exciting adventure? Absolutely! But if I look at marriage as the thing that will make my life what I think it should be, I will end up disappointed. Too many girls are brought up on books and movies that end with a wedding. Life does not end when you get married. A beautiful adventure begins, one full of joy and heartache. If marriage is the sole thing we strive towards, aren’t we just asking for disappointment when it isn’t all that the romantic comedies say it is?

    3.   Marriage is not my reason for living.

Women who see their only purpose on Earth to get married and have children sell themselves short. I’m not saying that I don’t want to get married and have children one day, I do. I eagerly anticipate those days, but I don’t sit around and long for them to come. The reason that we are alive is to give glory to God and point people to Jesus. That is our purpose. When I get married, my marriage will give glory to God and point people to Jesus. When I have kids, the way I parent will do the same. But until then, I plan on making sure that everything else I do, whether at school, at work, in the car, or at the grocery store, gives glory to God and points people to Jesus. I want my life to count.

Marriage is not the end all. Jesus is.

I don’t want anyone to walk away from this post and see it as some sort of bitter rant against marriage. I promise it isn’t. One day I plan to get married and have children. But in the meantime, my life is going to give glory to God and point people to Jesus. My relationship with Jesus is more important than any relationship I will ever have. It isn’t that I hate marriage, I just love Jesus more.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

Preeminent Video

Preeminent Video

Sometimes I forget how big God is. Then I see a video like this and remember. God is truly Awesome. If you have never spent time on Relevant Magazine’s website, I highly recommend it. Most times I read an article and wonder how they got into my brain and made sense of all the thoughts jumbled inside. So solid. Enjoy this video and be encouraged by the God who loves you.

2013: A Year In Review

2013. I didn’t know that one year could be so full of life and change. As I look back on all that happened this past year, I find myself surprised. This year has been so life changing. Here are 13 things that happened in my life in 2013:

1. My family went on our best vacation yet. Only four more years until the next family cruise.

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2. I decided to change my major. Education majors are overrated, right?

3. I quit my full-time job to go to school full-time instead of part-time. Finally!

4. I was able to baptize 3 students from my church. Seriously, such an honor!

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5. My good friend got married! Bridesmaid swag.

6. My brother-in-law came home from Afghanistan. Reunions are beautiful.

7. I decided to start a blog! It has been so rewarding.

8. I turned 21. Old maid status.

9. My work was published in a book! Probably the most exciting thing that happened this year.

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10. I ran my first 5k with my family. Blood, sweat, tears, and horrible running times. We all got better though!

11. I watched the most precious little boy for 3 months full of dirty diapers, spilled baking powder, and so much joy.

12. I spent hours and hours laughing until I cried with my two best friends. They bless my heart and challenge me so.

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00313. I learned that God has a way of doing things that is much better than my own.

This year has been surprising in so many ways. At the beginning of the year, I had no idea I would be where I am now. This year I learned that I can make as many plans as I want to, but God’s will prevail. And not only will His plans actually come to be, but His are so much better than mine.

As I’m sure everyone can say, there have been some good times, and there have been some not-so-good times. But through it all, I know that God was present and working through it all.

I wonder though, what does next year hold? This year has been full of transitions and changes, will next year settle everything, or will I be as uncertain as I am now? As far as uncertainty goes, I think its a good thing for me. Being uncertain keeps me searching, it keeps me from getting into a rut, and it keeps me dependent on God to show me what is next.

Everyone always says that life is an adventure, after 2013 I think I believe them. As for 2014, I can only wait and see. I do know a few things about 2014 though. I know that no matter what happens, God is already there and is able to do far more with it than I can do myself.

I have a feeling though, that 2014 will be my best year yet.

So here is to the new beginnings that come with a new year. May we take advantage of the time we have and do all the things we wish we had done last year. May we live our lives without fear of what is to come because we know the One who holds all.

Happy New Year, friends.

image (1)As I have probably mentioned before, Pride and Prejudice is my all time favorite book. I read it for the first time when I was probably nine or ten, and fell in love with the story. As I grew up, I learned to appreciate the writing style of Jane Austen, the history behind her life, the sarcasm in her words, and what the story says about Austen’s opinion of love and being human.

The first line of Pride and Prejudice is as follows: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”  I mean do you feel the sarcasm? Oh, I love it. The idea of a truth universally acknowledged got me thinking, what are some things that can be something we all see as truth?

Is there any truth that can be referred to as universally acknowledged? In this day and age, everyone has their own opinions on what is true or false, right or wrong. How do we find a truth that is truer than any other?

Being a college student, my classes are full of young people with opinions. College seems to be the place where all of those opinions are not only tolerated, but appreciated and encouraged. It can be hard at times to believe in what you know to be true when the opinions of others can make more sense. There are many college students who lose their faith because of the opinions of others. When their faith is questioned with logical thinking, it can be hard to defend what they think is true. So how do we find this truth?

The only place we can go to find the absolute truth is the Bible. In it are the very Words of God, and God cannot lie. We can know then, that everything in the Bible has to be true. It may not all make sense, but it is the only source of pure truth.

In my college experience, I have learned that everything that is said needs to be placed through a truth filter. If I can put what others say is truth through the filter of the Bible, I can be confident in my decision to believe it or not. There have been many times that something has been said in a college lecture that I didn’t agree with. I had to put those statements through my truth filter and see what the Bible had to say about them.

One thing I have learned about using the Bible as a truth filter is that you can’t use it as one unless you know it. Memorizing scripture is the best way to learn what the Bible says about certain situations in life. The more you know about what God has to say, the easier it is to be confident in your faith.

I know that the Bible is not a universally acknowledged source of truth, but one day it will be. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Romans 14:11). One day, the Bible will be a truth universally acknowledged. I can only hope that Jane Austen stands in Heaven that day and whispers,”That phrase? My idea.”

Love Never Fails

As I conclude my little journey through 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, I find myself thoughtful. I have realized a lot about myself and how I respond to others in my life by really thinking about what this passage means. I am also starting to understand that I will never know everything there is to know about the Bible. And I sort of prefer it that way. If there was ending to the knowledge and understanding of the Word of God, that would mean there would be a point in time when someone knew it all. And no human can fully comprehend somethig as big as the Bible. All we can do is prayerfully enjoy its promises and obey its commands. We will finish off this journey with one of the most comforting phrases in the Bible.

“Love never fails.”

Most of you can hear this verse and think about the last wedding you went to. You can recall the mother of the bride wiping her eyes as her daughter walks up the aisle, you can remember the joy of the day. Maybe you remember thinking something along the lines of, They are so young! or, They don’t know how hard married life can be.  I know that the last time I heard this passage at a wedding my response was something along the lines of, Love never fails? I guess I won’t be getting married! What I have to remember though, is that I am not love. I can, at times, be all the different things that love is, but I cannot on this earth be love. Only Jesus can. With this understanding can come a sense of relief. I don’t have to be all things at all times. I can’t be all things at all times. And thats okay. All I can do is try my best to be more like Jesus, the one you never fails.

I don’t know about you but I’m feeling twenty-two!, but I am more than glad that Jesus never fails me. I know I have failed Him so many times, and will fail Him again. But even then, He loves me. The Bible says that even when we were sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Even when we were enemies, Jesus loved us. The Scriptures also say that when we are faithless, He remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). My relationship with God is in no way dependent on what I do today. Even when I mess up, God never fails me. While this doesn’t give me an excuse to sin  (Romans 3:4), it does give me a reason to believe that I can go on after I do.

Knowing that love never fails fills me with such satisfaction. Jesus loves me! He will never fail me. He is always there for me, comforting and challenging me. As this little journey ends, I hope that you’ve learned a little something about yourself, but mostly I hope that you are reminded of how much Jesus is for us. He is love, and loves us in spite of us. Live in the freedom that comes with His love.

Always

I know that this journey has taken quite some time to get through, but I honestly think that slower is better in this instance. I have breezed through this passage hundreds of times in my Christian life, it was time to really sit and reflect on it. Let’s talk about this verse here:

“It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:7

Always.

Human nature is not about always. We are constantly changing our minds. We are not very good at consistency. Because of this I can say with certainty that we will not be always protecting, trusting, hoping, and persevering. We are only human. We fight, doubt, wonder, and give up.

My mom told me all growing up to not use the words, “always” and “never”. Because chances are, they aren’t true. We will not always protect, trust, hope, and persevere. But that doesn’t mean we never will. I don’t want us to be discouraged with all that love is. Love is a lot of things, all the time. I know that I have failed the love test, and will fail it again. The good news is that Jesus, the Perfect One, is all of these things, all the time. 

God is love. He is love always. This should be the most encouraging thing to us. In looking at this passage, I can see how much I am not when it comes to love. I have to remember that God is all of these things, and He is all of them for me.

Have you failed the love test? If so, don’t be disheartened. God loves you always.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered

For those of you who don’t know, I have been writing about my experience studying 1 Corinthians 13, “The Love Chapter” of the Bible. So far this has been a very heart opening experience and has taught me things I need to change in my own life. Hopefully it has encouraged you too!

Verse 5 of 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is not rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. As it has been with my past posts, I can read these quickly and think I understand, and I do to a certain degree. But there is so much more if we care to look.

To say that love is not rude is not some life-altering, I never thought about it that way, idea. We all have heard our parents tell us not to be rude. It is not a new concept. But similarly to the idea of being kind even when we aren’t treated kindly, you could almost say that love is not rude back to someone who is rude. At one point in time in our lives we have either been treated rudely or treated some in a rude manner. Why? Because we are human. It happens. Love is not rude in the first place, and love certainly is not rude back.

You know how easy it is to just glide past a word that you don’t see often in our modern language? That is how I have dealt with self-seeking in the past. No one refers to others as self seeking in this day and age. The King James Version of this portion says that love “seeketh not her own”. I know that I look at this and think to myself, well no, I don’t seek my own. I’m pretty selfless. This is not always true. How many times do I ask someone else what they would like to eat, watch, listen to, or wear? We all think of ourselves first by default. But love does not.

Love is not easily angered. I feel like I have no authority to speak on this subject at all. I can get angry so easily. I just let things people say or do set me off. In my defense, I have become much, much better in this area than I have been in the past, but I am nowhere near Jesus in this area.

My father said something during dinner last night that I thought applied so well to this study. God wants to do two simple things in us. He wants us to accept Jesus in our heart, and He wants us to become more like Jesus every single day after that. I know that I can read all that love is and get discouraged at how much I need to change. God wants us to be more like Jesus, but it won’t happen all at once. It is a process.

Philippians 1:6 says this: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.

All of these changes in our lives won’t happen all at once. Becoming like Jesus is a journey and the destination is Heaven. So don’t be discouraged by what needs to change in your heart, because none of us are perfect. We are all on a journey to be more like Jesus. And what an exciting journey it is.