Monday, December 19, 2011

God is

God is…

The lights to a Christmas tree (He brings light to the darkest places)

The sunshine to a rainy day (He brings light to my most depressing days)

The light bulb to a lamp (He brings hope to a darkened place)

The gas to a car (He is the one who keeps me going everyday)

The thread that holds clothing together (He holds me together when I’m falling apart)

The liquid to a bottle (He replenishes me when I am thirsty)

The strings to a cello (He lets me worship through music)

The tea to a teapot (He brings me warmth when I am cold)

The foundation to a house (He has allowed me to build my foundation on the rock)

The money to a piggy bank (He fills my life with blessings)

The stakes to a tent (He keeps my feet firmly planted in the truth)

The ink to a pen (He allows me to write when I cannot speak)

The shampoo to a head of hair (He cleanses my head of lies)

The soap to a body (He cleanses my body of sin)

The sled to a snowy hill (He makes my life fun and interesting)

The glasses to impaired vision (He helps me see clearly. For real though)

The steering wheel to a car (He helps me steer in the right direction, to stay on the narrow path)

The words to a book (He reveals His character to me through the Bible)

The drain to a bathtub (He throws all my sins down the drain and says “forget about it”)

The toilet flusher to a toilet (He flushes my sins away and graciously gives me life)

The professor to a college class (He teaches me something new every day)

The bow to a gift (He completes me)

The staples to a stapler (I cannot function without Him)

This is what God is to me. What is He to you?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NOPE. Chuck Testa.

Sometimes, I wonder why I develop strange obsessions with certain youtube videos. I honestly can’t decide on how I feel about this in my life, but the one thing I know for sure is that God intentionally put some of these videos in my life because He wants me to write about them. So that’s what I’m going to do.

This particular video is a television commercial for Ojai Valley Taxidermy, located in California. Before you read any further, you have to watch the video, and for two reasons. One, it’s absolutely ridiculous and will either make you laugh or sit there in confusion, and two, if you don’t, you will have no idea what I’m talking about from this point on.

As a quick summary, the owner of this taxidermy company, Chuck Testa , tries to lure people in by declaring that, “[he] specialize[s] in the most lifelike dead animals anywhere. Period.” In other words, you won’t even know your animal is dead because it looks so lifelike! Example #1:

Girl: “Oh no there’s a bear in my bed!”
Chuck Testa: “Nope. Chuck Testa.”

And after a few strange clips of animals driving cars, sleeping in beds, and ordering drinks at a bar, we finally understand how lifelike his animals are, no matter how ridiculous the clips may be.

I think the most interesting part of this video is that since Chuck Testa’s taxidermized animals are so good, they appear to be lifelike when they actually aren’t. In other words, if we didn’t know they were dead, we would think they were alive, which is a lie.

Yes, that’s right. Chuck Testa is so crafty that he can get us to believe a lie.

Without fail, this made me think of all the lies we believe today that aren’t true at all, Lies about ourselves, other people, how valued we actually are. And the unsettling part about this is that Satan is the mastermind behind these lies. Chuck Testa is to craftiness as Satan is to craftiness: they’re both professionals at getting us to believe something that’s not true.

We believe these lies everyday, and they’re so convincing that sometimes we think we’ve made them up ourselves, so they must be true. To me, this is extremely frightening. I’m sure you’ve believed at least one thing about yourselves or others that’s just not true. Here are some examples of common lies:

-There’s nothing special about me
-I’m not good enough
-God can’t use me
-I’m fat/unattractive/not smart
-I’m not worth anyone’s time
-The Bible is full of contradictions
-I’m a failure
-I can’t be forgiven for that
-My life is not making a difference
-No one will ever love me for me
-God doesn’t love me like others

These are just a small sample of all the lies Satan can get us or has gotten us to believe. It’s so hard to have these lies penetrating our lives and suffocating our potential. In my life, these lies have been a huge problem. For example, I constantly think that if I try at something, I’m going to fail, so as a result, I never try and never get anything done. This particular lie is the reason why I haven’t posted on here in so long.

Another lie I struggle with is that “I’m not worth anyone’s time.” I have so many wonderful friends here, but I constantly believe that they don’t want to hang out with me because I’m too annoying- I’m just not worth their time. And this has resulted in unnecessary fear and stress in my life that holds me back from living the life God intended for me.

These lies hold me back because the thing is, I know they’re not true, but I still believe in my heart that they are true. And how do you get over that? The good news is that these lies won’t kill you, but the bigger question is, how do you kill these lies?

The most important thing to do is to acknowledge that Satan is a real and active force in your life. However scary this may sound, it’s actually not, because Satan can’t break us- Jesus has already won the battle. 1 John 4:4 proclaims that, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” Because of this, we can confidently declare that Satan will never be able to conquer us.

This is one of the most important things to do because simply ignoring Satan is even worse. It means that you’ve already lost the battle- if you decide to flee, you’ve already lost the fight, and by already losing the battle, you’ve given Satan power over your life.

But DON’T flee, because there’s no reason to be afraid! God is always right beside you, and he’s even given you ways to fight and defeat the enemy. In Ephesians 6:10-20, God gives us all the armor we need to go into battle. He gives us the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the shoes that give us readiness given by the gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit.

All of that right there shows us that God loves us, that he doesn’t want us to be conquered, and that we don’t have to be conquered. By giving us these tools, he’s saying, “I. Want. YOU. And I will pay any price, overcome any obstacle, to have a relationship with you. I’m fighting for you, I’m going to battle for you, and with Me, there is NO WAY you can lose.”

How awesomely encouraging is that?!

And not only must you reject the lie, but you must also defeat it by replacing it with biblical truth. For example, say you believe the lie that God doesn’t love you like others. The way to actively defeat this lie is to go STRAIGHT to the Bible and say, “That’s not true, because Ephesians 1:3-14 says that I have been chosen by Him to be holy and blameless and to represent him throughout this life I’ve been given.”

And by this, we realize it is clear that God WANTS us to win this battle- he’s given us the power and resources to do so. And even if we’ve given up on winning the battle, he will STILL fight for us.

I hope that this helped you in some way in your life. I hope this gives you the confidence and clarity to say, “NOPE. Just Satan.” You have the power to defeat these lies because God is with you. What do you have to fear anymore?

*A big thanks to Mike and Tammy Smith who spoke about this at H2O fall getaway in October. Without their outline, I wouldn’t have been able to organize my thoughts and write this!

Monday, October 10, 2011


Guilty. You’ve heard this word before, and you’ve felt this feeling before. And maybe you feel what I’ve been feeling. I’m betting you have.

This semester, I’ve seemed to not be able to give up my guilt. I’ve turned “living to serve” into “serving to live,” or in other words, trying to earn grace through works and through serving the Lord. On my account, I’ve spent at least two weekends this semester so far dwelling on what makes me guilty and condemning myself for it, which has often led me to tears.

But the funny thing is, I know that God loves me and forgives my sins. I know this all too well. I could tell you about it for hours upon hours, I could beat it into your head with a baseball bat. But this fact doesn’t change what I believe in my heart.

Because Satan has been telling me these lies so long, I believe them with my heart. And what I believe makes sense to me. I mean, who would forgive someone like me? Who has done so many things to turn away from God, some things that she hasn’t even told anybody in her life?

But the amazing thing about this is that God doesn’t make any sense at all. He loves us with a crazy love. He sent His one and only Son to die on the cross for us. His only son came to earth, experienced every temptation possible but never sinned, and then he died on the cross for all of mankind, for all sins in the past, present, and future. He spent 3 days completely separated from God. Yes, that’s right- He went to hell for 3 days and survived it- just for you. Just for us.

I mean seriously, this man’s either a lunatic, or He must love us.

And I’m pretty sure the latter is the only thing that makes sense, as far as something can be from sense and logic.

So, if I knew all of this, why did I spend countless hours beating myself up for things I did in my past? Why did I dwell on where I was failing and where I had failed? Why did I even think that God was disappointed in me?

This, my friends, is the power of Satan. He’s really a lot smarter than you all think. Just think about this: Satan was cast down from heaven with 1/3 of all of God’s angels, which makes him a fallen angel. This means that he was previously an angel, and he knew far more about God and His plans than we even know today. He was an insider, but now he’s an outsider. The only problem is that he still has insider information, and he’s going to use this insider information against us in any way he can.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s ridiculously scary.

And I guess that’s what’s been happening to me for the past 6 weeks. I’m not really sure what help this is to all of you, and I’m not sure it makes very much sense, but I hope that if the same thing has been happening to you, just know that you’re not alone. And know that what you’re believing is a lie.

For Jesus gave up his life for us- “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30

And if you happen to be thinking that you’re not worthy enough right now, please go talk to someone. Or if you have no one to talk to, send me a message. Respond on this blog. I would want nothing more than to help you. Please read John 3:16 & Ephesians 1:3-14 to remind yourself of how precious Jesus considers you. Please read Ephesians 6:10-20 to be reminded that God has given you the tools to fight these lies in your life.

Because if you’re thinking that God doesn’t love you and could never forgive you, you’ve been quite mistaken.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Vacation Time (What I Was Discovering During My Time In Michigan)

As I was sitting on the porch of the cabin we stay in during our vacations to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I began to think about things. I originally intended to sit down and read a book, but I ended up thinking instead (as I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to realize that this is what usually happens when I sit down and try to do something productive). Over the past few weeks, and probably months, or maybe even years, I’ve begun to worry much more about the death of my relatives. I figure that this worry must have started after my dad passed away two years ago. Ever since then, I’ve worried myself sick wondering if any of my relatives will die suddenly. How many will die within the next year? The next 2 years? The next 10 years? I begin to worry about this, then I think about how old they are and how long they have left, which causes me to think about how many funerals I’ll have to go to in the next twenty years, and then I shut down and can’t handle it anymore.

I guess I better first mention that all of my family members are unusually old compared to my age. You see, my mother gave birth to me at age 40 and had twins at age 42, so that means that all of our relatives are old. Katie, Marco and I have always been the youngest in both of our families. On my dad’s side of the family, my uncle is 72, my aunt is 70, my cousins are all around the age of 50, and my second cousin is 8. On my mom’s side, my uncles are in their late 50’s and early 60’s, my mom is about to turn 60, and my cousins have all already graduated from college. My families are so old compared to my siblings and I that I no longer have any living grandparents, nor do I have a dad.

I sometimes start to think about how much longer my relatives will live according to how old they are. For instance, my aunt and uncle on my dad’s side have already surpassed the age of 70. According to the span of the typical human life, they may have anywhere from 10 to 20 years left to live. When I think about this, I get frustrated. I love my aunt and uncle both dearly. I’ve been on some awesome road trips with my aunt, and sometimes I really don’t even think she’s 70. As for my uncle, he is one of the most generous people I know. Trust me, we never starve when we come up here for vacation.

So, this worries me. It worries me way too much. Many of you don’t have to deal with this because your mothers had you in their mid 20’s, but my situation is different because I was born 20 years later than most children are to their parents. Sometimes I actually believe that I’m supposed to be 6 or 7 years older than I currently am.

And no, I don’t blame my mom for this because it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. I’ve come to realize that God must have wanted it this way for a reason, so it has to be this way, and I have to deal with it. No, I don’t like it very much, but I know that God knows me best and that somehow, He knows this was best for me. Sometimes the things that are best for you are not the ones that make you happy.

Anyways, going through this whole thing with my dad being gone has been tough, and it’s been even tougher this summer for some reason. When I arrived in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula for vacation, the toughness just escalated because of where I had arrived- in my father’s hometown. Calumet and the Keweenaw Peninsula were such a big part of my dad and his character, which then became a huge part of my life as I began to grow up. Every summer, it was copper, thimbleberry jam, Lake Superior, and Italian polkas. I didn’t expect this particular visit to be this hard, but I guess the grief process works in different ways for different people.

Every day I’ve been up here so far, I’ve dwelled on how much I want my dad back here, and how it would be different if he was. Coming up this year, it just seemed like there was a hole in the family, a hole where my dad was supposed to be. I’ve cried a lot too, and probably felt sad every single day.

When I think of the hole my dad left in our family and the pain and grief I went through (and we all went through) after he died, I can’t bear to lose anyone else, seriously, for at least 10 years. I just don’t want that to happen again- I’m not ready for it. Because all of my family members are so old, I always worry and brace myself for them dropping dead any day. And this thinking process kills me inside. It leaves me with a headache and twisted insides. It makes me feel like I’m chained to the floor and will never be able to move on. That’s what the pain of loss does to you.

Usually, this is how my thought process goes- I begin to think about it. Then I think about how I’m not ready for it to happen and how I couldn’t handle it if it did. Then I think about God and how He wouldn’t let this happen to me if I wasn’t ready for it to happen. But then I think of the other side of the argument, that maybe through this, God knows this is best for me and He’s doing it for a reason I may not know about.

This usually leaves me in a jail cell of thought. Like I said, it’s a vicious cycle of thought that keeps me trapped and chained to a chair every day of my life. So I thought, if I feel like I’m trapped and jailed inside my mind, then God must be trying to tell me something, because I’m sure He doesn’t really intend for this to be happening.

As I was thinking this evening, I thought of trust. I’m not trusting God enough to know that He knows I’m not ready for another death to happen and He’s not going to let it happen. Sometimes I do think of this, but then again I think of the other side and justify my worries, saying that it’s logical for me to be worrying. I mean, it seems like it really is. You never know when someone you’re close to could be whisked off this earth, just like a feather in the wind- here today and gone tomorrow.

But I KNOW that my worrying isn’t justified, because I know it’s a sin. Sounds weird, right? But a sin is classified as anything that makes you turn away from God, and by worrying, I’m not trusting in God, which means I’m turning away from Him. It kind of reminds me of the American trust in all Islamic people after 9/11. After that terrible day, Americans just seemed to have the inability to trust anyone who was Islamic or wore a turban. It’s understandable, but of course it’s not right.

So I begin to wonder, how can we put our trust in someone who might not be trustworthy or has broken our trust in the past (say Casey Anthony. She lied to the judges. How can we even try to trust her even though she was convicted not guilty?), but we can’t trust God, the creator of the universe? I’m sure someone has broken your trust before, probably multiple times, but you’ve tried to trust that person again. Am I right? It’s probably a vicious cycle of breaking trust and trying to regain it, and we know that whoever that person is, we just simply can’t trust them again even though we try to.

So my question is, how can we not trust God if He’s never broken our trust before? Take the story of Noah’s Ark for instance. God makes a decision to strike down all human beings on the Earth because all of the humans had created such evil. Everything was a mess, so God decided to clean it up, however He knew that He couldn’t wipe everyone out because if He did, humans wouldn’t exist anymore, so He chose Noah to build an ark for his family and two types of every creature on earth, in order that life could still continue after the flood. After the flood had subsided, God made a covenant with Noah and all humans, declaring that:

“I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me an you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” – Genesis 9:11-13

So, God made the rainbow His covenant to us, and don’t we still see it all the time? Occasionally, after it rains, a rainbow will appear. I feel like this is God saying, “Woah! Don’t worry; I won’t let it rain enough to flood the earth. Check out this covenant!” He stops the rain before it can ever wipe anyone out.

That gives us a pretty good reason to trust God, and this is what I’ve been learning. I have to trust that God won’t let any of my relatives die if I’m not ready. My only choice is to trust Him, because if I don’t, I know that I may be stuck in this dark jail cell of thoughts for a long while.

And as I look out onto the waters of Portage Lake from the cabin porch, I think, how could I not trust Him? Upper Michigan is a place for big thoughts. If you’ve ever been out to Lake Superior, you would know. Even looking out onto this lake makes me think big. I can’t even fathom how wide or long the lake really is because I can’t see that far, nor can I fathom how deep the lake is because I can’t swim that deep, but I know that God knows and understands.

And then I think about the enormity of Lake Superior. It’s the largest fresh water lake in the United States and the largest freshwater lake in the World by surface area. Because it’s so large, it has undercurrents like an ocean. It’s beautiful, powerful, graceful, and dangerous all at the same time. Its depths are unfathomable, probably thousands of feet deep, and its width is the same way. If God created and knows all about the great widths and depths of Lake Superior, then He should be able to know absolutely everything about us.

And if He knows all about us, then there’s no reason why we shouldn’t trust Him with our lives. And this trust is truly what will set us free.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Santa Claus and his Elves

Today, I was reading Hebrews and trying to understand it, when I came across an interesting discovery.

Since Hebrews was becoming very confusing to me, I decided to look up the background of this New Testament book online. The book of Hebrews was written to a group of Jewish Christians who were becoming very discouraged and were in contemplation of leaving their newfound faith due to all of the persecution they had to endure because of the choice they had made to leave the Jewish faith and follow Christ.

This suddenly made sense with what I had read so far, and resounded with the first chapter of Hebrews, which I had originally found very interesting.

In this first chapter of Hebrews, the author (whoever he is, generally thought to be the apostle Paul) talks about the difference between angels and the Son of God/ His people on Earth. The author goes through a list of comparisons he makes between what God says about angels and what he says about the Son of God.

At the end, the author comes to the conclusion that Angels are all “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). In other words, angels are a completely different breed from humans and the Son of God.

This is clearly shown through the comparisons the author makes. About the Son of God, he explains that God considers Jesus to be His Son and appoints him to the throne at His right hand. About the angels, God says that they are to worship the Son of God and are to be winds to God’s ministers on earth, who are considered flames of fire.

So, the author’s conclusion is pretty accurate according to what he explained in the first chapter of Hebrews. But, do you realize what this means? Humans will not become angels when they enter Heaven upon their deaths because the two, let’s call them species, are completely different. It’s like a bear and a monkey, or a spider and a cat, or whatever you can think of.

I thought that this was very similar to the legend of Santa Claus and his elves. Santa Claus would represent God, and his elves would represent God’s angels. Just as the elves help Santa Claus make toys for all the little children on Earth, the angels help God spread His word across the Earth to all of His children.

Now think about the difference between Santa’s elves and humans. Elves are really short people who typically have strangely shaped noses and wear green uniforms with caps. On the other hand, humans are much taller and have what we consider normal noses and wear what we consider normal clothes. A human can’t just up and turn into an elf, or vice versa. In the same way, humans can’t just turn into angels upon their entry to Heaven.

This also means that maybe our deceased friends and family members cannot visit us after death, even though we think they do, and can claim that they have. Strange compared to what we have been taught, but it might be true. If those spirits of family members and friends are not angels, then they could be anything. I cannot say, because I do not know, but that’s just interesting to think about.

So in conclusion, angels are here to protect us and minister to us. They are sent by God to Earth, and they help Him bring people to believe in Him. They spread the flames of the ministers (God’s appointed people) here on Earth, and create a forest fire of good news that cannot be stopped.

So, I really just thought this was interesting. No big sermon or whatnot, just a pretty cool discovery, and a small breakthrough to the honest truth that God has in store for us. I’d love to hear your opinion on this!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

To Tell You The Truth...

Jane’s mother had died from Alzheimer’s 5 years ago. It was one of the hardest times of Jane’s life. She took care of her mother every day until she died, and as each day passed, her mother’s forgetfulness became progressively worse. First, it was forgetting to pay the bills or forgetting where she put this or that. Then, she began to forget the name of her dog. And slowly after that, she began to forget the names of her grandchildren, one by one. Eventually, she couldn’t even remember that she had a dog or any grandchildren. Every day she saw them they were foreign to her, as if she had just met them.

Then, what Jane feared came to be. Her mother forgot her name. Her own mother did not ever remember that her first and only daughter’s name was Jane. Every day, it kept getting worse, and every day, Jane became more and more heartbroken. After her mother died, Jane decided that if she ever personally had Alzheimer’s, she wouldn’t want to live anymore because she couldn’t bear to hurt the people around her like her mother had unwillingly done.

A few months ago, Jane began to notice that she was becoming increasingly forgetful. Of course Alzheimer’s had crossed her mind since it was hereditary, but she didn’t consider it as a possibility because she was so young. I mean really, she was only 55, a slim chance for Alzheimer’s.

As the months continued to pass by, Jane’s forgetfulness became even worse. However, Jane just blamed it on the fact that she was getting old since she had already blocked the possibility of Alzheimer’s out of her mind. There was truthfully a great possibility that it was just an old age thing, and Jane chose to believe such.

But Jane’s children became increasingly worried about their mother’s forgetfulness, so they took her to the doctor. All of the doctor’s tests revealed that Jane did in fact have Alzheimer’s. This was devastating news to her children, but they didn’t want to tell their mother that she had this crippling disease because of what she had said years before after grandma had passed away- she wouldn’t want to live if she ended up with the same disease.

So the children decided to hide this from their mother. After all, they didn’t want to make her depressed for the remainder of her life. They loved her, and wanted her to be happy.

Just two months later during the annual family Fourth of July gathering, all three of Jane’s children became involved in a heated argument in which the news slipped out that their mother had Alzheimer’s. Jane was absolutely devastated (and seriously, way to ruin a fun celebration). She couldn’t believe that they had decided to keep this from her. She was so upset that her children had chosen to lie to her like this.

Wouldn’t you be devastated if this happened to you?
Think about this. Really, think about this. Take a few minutes and think about this. How would you feel if you found out that you were living a lie? That you were suffering from a disease that you couldn’t cure and that you didn’t know about until it was too late? Wouldn’t you want to know the truth, even though it would be incredibly hard to swallow? Even if you might be mad about it for a little while?

Well, to tell you the truth, that’s what’s happening to you right now.

Someone is lying to you about everything. Absolutely everything. You’re living a life where you’re believing lies.

That person is Satan.

Yes, he is alive and real. And yes, I know we don’t like to think about him. He’s a scary monster full of evil. If we don’t think about him or talk about him, then he won’t seem as real and scary, right? And then we can go on believing that we’re safe and that everything’s going to be alright- Full of ponies and pots of gold with rainbows!

True. But not believing in something doesn’t make it any less real. Let’s say that we’re going on a hike in the mountains, and I tell you that there’s a bear right behind you. I tell you that I’m pretty sure it wants the food you have in your backpack. However, you choose not to believe me because you don’t like to think that there’s a big scary bear behind you, about to eat your backpack along with your body if you don’t give it your food. In anguish, I keep telling you that this is absolutely true, but you continue to ignore me because you don’t want to believe me.  In the end, the bear eats you and your food.

You see, Satan is that bear. He’s behind you, waiting for the right moment to attack you and make you feel terrible about your life. As a matter of fact, he wants to attack you and he wants to see you feeling miserable, and the way he can do this is to make you believe that all of these lies are true.

Satan is just as real as the couch you’re sitting on, and the lies he’s telling you are as real as he is. My friend once mentioned something to me about this chart she has in her Bible about Satan’s deceiving plan for our lives, and it’s such an eye opening guide to the lies in our lives. The four D’s of Satan’s plan include:

1.     Doubt- part of Satan’s plan is to make us question God’s word and His goodness. He makes us believe that God is the one who’s responsible for all of our suffering and bad luck, which isn’t true. Satan makes it look like God is to blame.
2.     Discouragement/ Defeat- another part of Satan’s clever plan is to discourage us and to make us feel like we can’t do anything right. This results in us looking at our problems and believing that we are failures, when the truth is that God has confidence in us and He plans to use us for great things according to His glory. Satan knows that we have great potential, but he makes us believe that we don’t, resulting in a feeling of defeat and worthlesness. This makes it hard for God to use us for great things when we can’t even believe in ourselves.
3.     Diversion- this is also a part of Satan’s plan. With diversion, Satan makes us think that what’s wrong is actually right. This makes us constantly stray from God’s plan for us and impedes on the work that God is doing.
4.     Delay- the last part of Satan’s plan is to delay us from doing the work that God has planned for us to do. This is otherwise known as the ever-popular procrastination method. When we waste our time, we then have less time to do God’s work, which again impedes on the work that God is doing.

I’m sure you’ve seen this master plan of defeat carried out in your lives before. As a matter of fact, you’ve probably seen this destructive plan carried out every day. I remember many times in my life where these lies have existed for very long periods of time. For me, I can remember struggling with discouragement and defeat a lot. Just this past winter, I was going over a Baptism guide with my friend Lauren. I told her that I had tried to go through it the night before, but had just quit and come to the conclusion that I didn’t feel worthy of being baptized. I felt like there had to be something in the Bible that said, “you must be baptized,” or else I wasn’t going to do it. I ended up mentioning a few other ways in which I felt worthless and defeated, which included feeling like I was annoying and unwanted. After this, she proceeded to show me Ephesians 1:3-14, which says:

             3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
             11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

After reading this, I literally felt like God was speaking directly to me. The cool part about it was that Lauren wasn’t trying to make me feel better about myself or anything, she was instead presenting the truth to me in an effort to make me realize all of the lies I’d been believing, and it totally worked. This passage is still one of my favorite passages because I really feel that through this, God is directly speaking to everyone on earth. He is saying, “Listen to me. You’ve been believing a bunch of lies that have been hurting you for so long, and I want you to know that all of those lies are fake. It’s true- I do actually love you, more than you will ever know, and I have confidence that you can do absolutely anything. You have great potential, and I already delight in who you are in me. You are not worthless, you’re my child, and I think you are wonderful.”

Does this make sense? I really hope it does, because I know it’s true. I want all of you to realize that Satan hates you and that he is very active in your life, but that God loves you more than anything and that he happens to be 10,000,000,000,000 times more powerful than Satan.

And that is the reality. The scary, eye opening, and true reality. Satan is attacking you, and he has power, but always know that God's truth has ten million times more power than Satan ever could. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

With a Side of Salad

Let’s imagine ourselves at The Precinct- a high class, Cincinnati-based restaurant located in Columbia-Tusculum on the east side of Cincinnati. For those of you who don’t know, The Precinct is known for their ridiculously delicious steaks. For us middle class folk, dining at The Precinct comes maybe once or twice in a lifetime, or maybe it never comes at all because the restaurant is so outrageously expensive.

Let’s say that, for instance, you acquired the opportunity to dine here for your mother’s 60th birthday. It’s the first time (and last time) you’ll ever be here, so you want to make the most of it. Personally, you’re super excited to have their steak, because steak is your favorite meat.

You are seated at a table with your family, and are promptly greeted by your waiter who takes your drink order. A few minutes later, the waiter is back with your drinks, ready to take your order. You decide to order the Prime New York Strip Steak, which also comes with a side salad.

The waiter takes your orders and comes back with a basket of bread, the typical procedure at a restaurant, and the typical progression of the course of a meal. Yay Bread! You get ridiculously excited because you also love bread, and it serves as a way to pass the time until your $37.00 delicious piece of meat is placed in front of you at the table.

So, you commence in the wonderful adventure of eating bread, in which you end up eating about five rolls. Next, your salad is delivered, which you also happily inhale because it is your favorite type of salad and has delicious almonds in it. And of course, not to mention the fact that it is also covered in ranch dressing, the best type of dressing!

Finally, the $37.00 piece of steak that you ordered is delivered to your table by the very kind waitress, but then you realize that you’re so full that you’re not sure if you will be able to finish that delicious steak. And then you realize what has been your downfall, what has halted you from being able to eat that delicious and nutritious meat that you have so longed for.

The Rolls.

Yes, the rolls. Not the rolls again! This happens every time! Regardless, you make a strenuous attempt to finish your meat, leaving your stomach ready to burst.

Does this sound familiar?

I thought so.

For me personally, every time I eat at a restaurant, I always accidentally let myself fill up on rolls, and then I’m just not very hungry for the main dish. And after the meal is over, I tell myself I will never do that again. But what happens? You guessed it, it happens again. Let’s face it, this happens to the best of us. And let’s be real, no one ever fills up on the salad.

In a perfect world, the rolls and the salad are not intended to fill you up. The intent is for the customer to have between one and two rolls and a small side salad, preoccupying them enough so they won’t complain to the manager and filling them up just enough so that they’re still hungry for the main dish. The main dish is intended to be the main part of the meal, filling you up the most. After all, it does have the most nutrients.

And if you really think about it, filling up on things other than the main dish typically leaves you full, but only for a short period of time. Shortly after, you are hungry again. It’s like snacking all day. And if you think about it, what is bread anyways? It’s basically all Carbohydrates, which gives you energy, but if not burned, these Carbs turn into fat, proving useless. Nothing in bread will typically sustain you for long periods of time, because you always have to restore on the energy it gives you.

And this, of course, makes me think of God.  Just as the course of a meal intends for the main dish to be the focal point of a meal, God intends to be the focal point of your life. If you think about it, it makes complete sense. Nowhere in the Bible does God say, “yeah, so if you go to church every Sunday and sometimes read the Bible, then Ima be cool with that!”

No. Instead, he says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”- Mark 12:30. Jesus describes this as the greatest commandment in the gospel of Mark- The most important commandment out of any commandment that has ever been declared.

Notice that this verse says with ALL your heart, soul, mind, and strength.


This is an important word. According to, the definition of the word all is “the whole quantity or amount. The whole number. Everything.”

Actually, Jesus doesn’t even give us the grounds to assume that we can give part of our time to him. Jesus declares this a yes or no situation. You are, or you aren’t. Jesus explains this in Revelation 3 where he is addressing the Church in Laodicea, explaining that, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16

According to Jesus’ figures of speech he uses here, he intends to expel anyone who is lukewarm, or anyone who is not fully living their life for Christ.

And, it only makes sense. In Genesis 1:27, God created man in his own image. He made us to live for him. It’s just like how the inventor of the automobile (Karl Benz, the one who is generally accredited for the invention) created the car. To make the car move, Benz created a tank especially for gasoline. It was not created for milk, sparkly unicorn potion, cranberry juice, or beer. It wasn’t created for anything else but gasoline, and was only created to run on gasoline. If anything else is put into the gas tank of an automobile, it’s obviously going to screw it up. It might explode, or implode, or catch on fire. Maybe nothing as serious as those, but the car certainly won’t work anymore.

Just as a car is made to run on gasoline, we are made specifically to run on God. Putting him at the center of our lives makes us run smoothly, and also makes lots of things make sense, but if we’re not running on what we were made to run on, then we obviously won’t be working correctly.

And, like I said before, we can’t run on half of God and half of whatever else we choose to run on, just like an automobile can’t run on half gasoline and half lighter fluid. We all know that wouldn’t be good.

Take for example the solar system. Everything in our Milky Way galaxy orbits around the sun. Somehow, all of the planets are in place to perfectly orbit the sun and to not hit each other. The Earth is also in the perfect spot to support human life. Everything is absolutely in the right place in our solar system and couldn’t work if it wasn’t. What would happen if the orbits of everything shifted slightly or the sun moved? The results would not be good. Everything would be absolute anarchy in our galaxy. As a matter of fact, we might all be dead.

In our universe, everything is completely in place or everything is completely out of place. If everything is running smoothly, then we are all living, but if just one little glitch happens, we might all end up dead. In the same way, we have to also take on this lifestyle of giving all or nothing. Because, just like in our galaxy, if we are not 100% in place, everything will be out of place in our lives.

And if you make God 100% the center of your life and you live for Him, you will notice that you feel like you’ve suddenly found the right answer. It will just feel right. God will be the missing puzzle piece to your puzzle, the battery to your flashlight, the charger to your phone, the shoe to your foot, the ring to your finger, the water to your cup, the marshmallows to your lucky charms, the money to your wallet, even the grandmother to your rocking chair.

My point is that He will fulfill you. He will complete you. He will just make sense in your life. He will fit in your life, because you were made with a hole in your heart that belongs to God.
After all, He deserves you. He created you and He died for you. Francis Chan describes this with great ease in his bestselling book “Crazy Love,” explaining that, “The core problem isn’t the fact that we’re lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant, Christians. The crux of it all is why we are this way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God. We see Him as a benevolent Being who is satisfied when people manage to fit Him into their lives in some small way. We forget that God never had an identity crisis. He knows that He’s great and deserves to be the center of our lives. Jesus came humbly as a servant, but He never begs us to give Him some small part of ourselves. He commands everything from His followers.”

Let go and let God complete your life. Let Him fill the hole in your heart.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Hello! I'm sorry I haven't posted in over 2 Weeks. Writer's block definitely got the best of me. In the future, I hope to post at least every week. Here goes:

I once knew a girl who always tried to be perfect. Every day, she would try to read more, write more, and be more productive. She would try her best not to waste her day. But still, every day, she would get on facebook and waste some of her time. She would also try her best to get to work on time, which rarely ever happened. She was always at least five minutes late. Every day, she would get so mad at herself because she did better, but she never did good enough. She never wrote enough, read enough, and she was never always perfectly on time to work.

She also found herself wishing things were perfect. She loved history and reading the news stories that popped up on her home page, Yahoo! But they always made her sad, because she always came across nothing but bad news. She studied the Vietnam War and read a book about it, but only ended up finding out how terrible the war really was. She would find herself wishing that it would have been better, that the veterans of that war would have had a chance to really live instead of living with their burdens.

She also learned about World War II, Things that can cause cancer (aka everything), bedbugs, Senate Bill 5, the recession, Ohio’s funding system for education, pollution, global warming, oil spills, death, not ever having enough money because everything was so expensive, how great times were in the sixties, 9/11, Agent Orange, The Pentagon Papers, all of the secrets the government keeps, Democrats and Republicans, Selfish Politicians, melting glaciers, the short time we have on earth, tendonitis, arthritis, and many other things that made her sad.

And then that girl realized that she was beginning to wish that everything could just be perfect. That it could be better than it was. Why did the United States Army think it was a good idea to dump poisonous chemicals on all the trees and people in Vietnam? Why do we have to worry about blood sucking creatures that live in our beds? Why couldn’t the governor actually change the funding system for education in Ohio after it had been ruled unconstitutional 3 separate times?

But the question she was really asking was, why couldn’t everything just be better? Why couldn’t she be a better person? Why was it impossible to achieve this?

And then she asked herself, why do I want everything to be better? Why do I want to better myself? There was nothing she noticed in her life that made her feel like she needed to better herself- that feeling was just there. But it couldn’t have been there without a cause behind it, without a reason. She knew she had wanted it because she had somehow experienced it before.

And she finally realized that she had this feeling because it had been better before. It had actually been perfect. She was trying to regain something that had been lost at the very beginning of time.

So She flipped to the very beginning of the Bible and began to read. In just a short amount of time, she had found what she had before within the first 3 chapters of the Bible (Genesis 1-3)

It was life in the Garden of Eden with God, life where everything was actually good. God made everything, and it was good (Genesis 1:31).  Adam and Eve were made for each other, so that they would never be alone. In this world, there was no such thing as work, death, selfishness, lack of money (actually there probably wasn’t even money to begin with), Sadness, feeling alone, hunger, poverty, cruelty, abuse, limited time, Sickness, Terminal Illness, Pain, unrest or anything you can think of that sucks.

Now,  in the Garden of Eden there was happiness, interaction, health, satisfaction, rest, life, safety, no sense of time, selflessness, peace, and everything else you can think of that you want.

It was all there. And we wanted it because we lost it.  It was Adam and Eve who lost it, but their mistake became the characterization of all humans. The feeling that something was wrong or missing carried through the entire human race, all the way up to this minute. And don’t tell me you’ve never felt like this, I know you have. It’s something you absolutely cannot deny.

Then the girl began to think about how this was true in her own life. This feeling of loss was just like when she lost her dad during back in the spring of 2009. She always wished she could have him back, and she still does today. There are times she wished she had appreciated more, like the time he took her to that Sarah Palin rally and tried to make conversation with a Secret Service agent, or the time he ran out of gas when she was driving to get hours in for her license, or the times he played WOBO 88.7 and listened to German polka music on Sundays.

And there are times that she regrets not spending more time with her dad. Because all that exists now are memories. But she will still continue to want him back.

And this is just like she will always want back the perfection that existed in the Garden of Eden. She will always strive for it, because she realized that that’s what she was made for. And that’s what we were all made for.

That’s why life sucks, and that’s why it’s obvious that God is real, because we keep chasing after the perfection we once had with Him. It seems to be built into us. It’s in our nature.

And that girl? That girl was Me.

And she is you.

She is everyone.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Braided Hair!

This might not actually apply to the men as much as it applies to the women, but today, I’m going to explore the idea of a French braid. Some women know how to French braid, but most men don’t, nor do they ever wear French braids in their hair. And even if a woman knows how to French braid, it still takes practice for her to get it right.

A French braid is not like any ordinary braid. The special thing about it is that, as you braid, you add more strands until all of your hair is enveloped in this sweet braid thing that runs down the length of your head. You begin with three strands of hair at the top of your head, and begin to braid as normal, but each time you add some more hair to each strand.

French braids are generally an awesome and clever idea for a hairstyle. It’s a way of putting up hair that keeps your hair out of your face and looks cool at the same time. Additionally, French braids are neither strictly casual nor fancy, and can be worn to virtually any occasion or celebration.

However, there are also cons to French braids. These negatives are primarily a result of the way some humans actually French braid hair. If the hair is not French braided tightly enough, then strands will fall out and the braid will become partially ineffective, leaving strands of hair in your face. If this happens, there is really no easy fix, and you must completely redo the braid to ensure that it is braided tightly enough.

And of course, if you do it right, you get this really cool braid. To me, it’s a beautiful intertwinement of hair that reminds me of princesses and castles. It’s probably my favorite hairstyle ever. Plus, there are different types of French braids and there are tons of different ways to braid French hair. Take a look at these sweet examples:

But one day, I was French braiding my own hair when I realized that French braiding is a lot like the church described in 1 Corinthians 12. Usually, I wouldn’t post the whole passage for the sake of avoiding long passages that disinterest people, but this is totally necessary to fully post, and is also totally interesting:

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

So, In accordance with the fact that the body is one but has many parts, the French braid is also one but has many parts. There are many pieces of hair that make up the French braid, but they are all combined into one, tight knit formation. A French braid obviously can’t just be made up of one part. That would be called a ponytail.

And what makes a French braid if there aren’t different parts? Imagine each different strand involved in the construction of a French braid as a different part of the body and of the church. Each different strand can represent an eye, a nose, a mouth, a leg, an arm, a torso, etc. Without these parts, there would be just one solid part, like for instance a whole arm or a whole torso. What use is that for?

Also, each strand can represent a different member of the church. One can be a healer, another a prophet, another a teacher, and so on. If the whole church were one teacher, then what kind of church would that be? There would be no prayer, no worship music, and no behind the scenes people.

And the coolest aspect of this is the fact that, if one part of the church suffers, all suffer, and if one part rejoices, all rejoice. In the same way, if one part of a French braid is falling out of the hairstyle, then the whole thing fails and has to be recreated. But if one part is holding on strong, it can keep the whole braid together strongly.

One very important thing to remember about the members of the church is that al should work together as one, and no one should try to be exalted or prideful. No one should try to do things alone so that they may receive the glory for themselves. In the same way, all strands and parts of a French braid look the same and should be about equal (well, it really depends, but you know what I mean). There is usually not a French braid with one outrageously large strand and the rest all small and puny. Similarly, one strand of hair will not look better than another. There won’t be a strand of hair that is just randomly purple and sparkly. Hair doesn’t just do that randomly, unless you’re a Unicorn. Maybe.

I think the most important message in this illustration is the true picture of the church and how it should act. There should be many differently blessed people that are part of the church, and they should all support each other. If one person is suffering, then all will mourn, and if one person is rejoicing, then all will rejoice. The body functions as one, but requires the help and input of many people. All should work together equally, and none should be exalted like sparkly purple unicorn hair.

Of course, don’t mistake the equalness of service in the church as the indifference of the people. Everyone will be awesomely different, but all will serve in different ways, avoiding self-glory.

And here’s a sweet website that attempts to follow this example of the church:

Also, It’s really cool to understand the way the church works by actually watching somebody French braid and thinking about the illustration that I just explained. So here’s a video of how to French braid if you would like to do that:


Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I've decided that i'm going to start dedicating my blog posts to certain people that have made this blog possible in my life, but I won't dedicate every post to someone. I just feel that one large post thanking everyone who has made a difference in my life would just not be fun for everyone else to read.

This particular post is dedicated to my former high school english teacher, Mr. Tim Clutter. For the year and a half that he was my teacher, he never gave up on helping me improve my writing, and I finally listened. Thank you for never giving up on me, helping me become a better writer, and teaching me how to "make connections!" I will never be able to thank you enough.

I think most of what we know about salmon is that they are a delicious type of fish that most people enjoy eating on occasion, usually at a fancy restaurant or during a special event or celebration.

According to Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Salmon are found in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, with a wider variety of species being found in the Pacific. Salmon are typically born into bodies of fresh water. After birth, they migrate out to whatever ocean is closest to them, and then spend about 1 to 5 years, depending on their species, becoming sexually mature before returning to their place of birth to spawn.

What’s particularly fascinating about salmon is that they swim upstream to return to their place of birth in order to spawn. According to Wikipedia, “Salmon can make amazing journeys, sometimes moving hundreds of miles upstream against strong currents and rapids to reproduce. Chinook and sockeye salmon from central Idaho, for example, travel over 900 miles (1,400 km) and climb nearly 7,000 feet (2,100 m) from the Pacific Ocean as they return to spawn.”

That’s ridiculous. All I can say from this bit of information is that Salmon are amazing creatures that make the impossible, well, completely possible. That’s a pretty badass sea creature right there.

The journey of a salmon upstream to lay its eggs in the place that it was born has got to be a journey of insanity, struggle, hardships, surprises, blessings, and downfalls. Although I am personally not a salmon, I could predict that it’s probably a very tiring and tough journey. Salmon have to fight to swim upstream for such long distances. Let’s face it, they are simply not going with the flow of things. I bet if fish could talk, they would look at all salmon and make fun of them for trying to do this. They would probably wonder why they were doing this. I mean, why waste your time trying to go against the flow when you can just go with the flow and life could be so much easier?

Another special thing about salmon is that they don’t give up. They don’t just decide to lay their eggs in a different place because it’s just too hard to swim upstream. Some salmon may end up dying on their journey, but that doesn’t mean they ever give up. To salmon, the goal they are trying to reach is much too important to simply give up on. It’s really strange that they do that, but it’s pretty much in their instinct to do this, just like dogs somehow naturally know how to swim. Salmon naturally know that they need to swim upstream, no matter what the cost is.

And thinking about salmon makes me think about the typical life of a Christian man or woman.  The life of a Christian is so similar to the life of a salmon. First of all, the life of a Christian is going to be tough. It brings insanity, struggle, hardships, surprises, blessings, and downfalls, just like that of a salmon. Following Christ is definitely not an easy task at all, and I know that many of you reading this can testify to this just as I am able to also.

In the same way, Christians don’t go with the flow of anything. They make the conscious decision to go against the normal tide of things. Let’s be honest, the lifestyle of a Christian is very strange and different from the lives of most people, and they are often persecuted for it. Swimming with the tide of the river symbolizes the way of the world and swimming against the tide symbolizes the ways of God and his kingdom.

And in a place where the world is the norm, going with the ways of the kingdom is tough. It’s obviously not normal, and it doesn’t appear normal either. And like I said before, it’s definitely not easy. And the people who are truly committed to the mission of Christ never give up and never will give up, even though sometimes they may want to give up. 

And do you know why they will keep holding on? Why they won’t abandon this cause? Because they truly believe it is worth it, just like the salmon believe that their mission is worth it. They believe that the mission of Christ is absolutely real and is absolutely worth it, and they won’t stop following Him just because life gets hard. They know there will be peace eternally.

For me, suffering presently for an eternal peace is completely worth it, but what’s even more worth it is spreading the love of God to all of the places I possibly can. Because truthfully, life sucks without knowledge and acceptance of God’s love. I mean really, think about it. Why the heck are we here? Do we just live here, do what we feel like, and then die?

We think about these questions because we were created to have a purpose. We were built with a compartment inside of us that is specifically for our purpose, but we always have trouble finding it.

And with God's love we are able to find our purpose, because that's what we were made for. Even though it may be tough, it is absolutely 100% worth it in the end. And I’m not just saying this because I’m crazy. People all over the world are saying the exact same thing. People in your town, in your state, and in your country are saying the exact same thing. People everywhere are following the exact same thing. And they’re not giving up.

People everywhere are deciding to take on the difficult lifestyle of a salmon, because they know it will be worth it. They know it is the purpose that they have been made for.

And if you ever feel like giving up, read this passage from 1 Corinthians:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wealth, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”- 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

So, just keep swimming, like all of those salmon do for distances up to 900 miles. Don’t give up, because you know that living for Jesus and running for the prize at the end is worth it. After all, “They never promised it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stereotypical Reflection Time

1. This might be a bit out of line from my usual blog format but I felt the need to do it
2. This is also unusually long, so beware!

I finished my first year of college. YEAH!

But I honestly look back on this and ask myself, how? How did I actually finish my first year of college? How did that go by so fast?

But most importantly, how did I have an awesome first year of college?

Let’s go back to fall of my senior year. I was searching for colleges, or was I? Yeah, not really. Honestly, I didn’t really feel like searching for places to go to college. I could have done a much better job. And I could have done a much better job at looking for scholarships too. I look back on it and realize that fall of my senior year was sucking really badly because I was still dealing with the death of my father, so I partially don’t blame myself, but really, I should have been working a lot harder on my college search.

I visited a good number of colleges, and only really liked Ohio University. The only other school I visited that I also applied to was Bowling Green State University. The other two were Northern Michigan University and the University of Cincinnati. Ohio was my top choice, NMU I really just applied to for nostalgic reasons, and Cincinnati was my backup school. Then there was BGSU. My mother made me visit and apply there. Let me tell you, definitely not my choice. I had been there twice before for a summer music program and had vowed that I would NEVER go to college there. EVER.

Well, I was lazy and didn’t apply for scholarships, plus my ACT was only a 24 and my SAT, well, let’s not talk about that. My score was garbage. However, in my defense, I am generally not a good test taker, as shown by other tests I have taken (I got a 2 on my AP English test). So, I was smart, but I was lazy and I was a mediocre test taker.

So, what ended up happening was that Ohio gave me no money, which was my top choice school. Cincinnati also gave me no money, which I actually didn’t really care about. NMU gave me a pretty good scholarship but they were out of state and my mother was not going to let me take expensive plane rides to go to school in the land  that I love (Surprise, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula), and Bowling Green handed me $7,000 in scholarships.

So, since we didn’t have a lot of money, which school would I choose?

Surprise! Bowling Green. I still had some hope for OU, but my mother told me that we couldn’t take the chance with trying to get a loan to go there. So I ended up going to Bowling Green. When I sent in the letter saying that I was going there, I was sort of excited. And then, that summer, I was just dreading college because I hated BG so much. It was UGLY. It had a severe lack of trees (and still does), the campus was ugly, and it felt strange.
I moved in on August 20th. That sucked. It was hot and miserable. I had no friends. Then the first few weeks, they continued to suck. I still had no friends.

But, just after about a month of school, I decided to go through sorority recruitment, hoping to make some friends. I was excited for it.

But that sucked too.

…And finally, here’s where the story gets awesome. I decided to drop out of sorority recruitment before the third round because I didn’t get my top choice sorority back. I was pretty confident that I didn’t want to continue, and was sure I would be fine. But of course, I cried that morning. Since I was up so early, I decided to go to a church on campus called H2O. I went to church and was really upset the whole time. After church, I sat in the union, really upset and about to cry. And then one of the church pastors walked past me and asked if I was okay. Of course I said yes, but then I asked if he knew anything about the well, which is a six-week program for freshmen and new students that teaches about how to live life as a disciple of Christ. So, he sent me over to this table where the two people who are in charge of the well were meeting. I asked about the well, and I decided to do it. Then I cried in front of them (It was going to happen sometime).

I threw myself into the well that night, and suffered many traumatizing injuries. It took rescue workers 5 hours to get me out of the well, because it was really deep, and I spent five days in the hospital.


I threw myself into the well that night, and it was awesome. I met some awesome people, and afterwards, we were forced to go to the student union for fellowship (really to meet new people), and there I spotted a sign for Young Life First Year Fellowship.

And there we go. God turned everything around in one day. He saved me from getting involved in something that he knew would have ruined my faith. And by saying this I am not trying to disown sororities, it was just not what was right for me. I have plenty of friends who are in sororities, and they love it. It was just not what God had in his plan for me.

After that point, God just provided so many awesome things. Through the well, I had the opportunity to be mentored, which I had previously never had a very solid chance to take part in with anyone who was older than me, and it worked out awesomely. As college continued, I met a lot more people through the well, H2O, and Young Life First Year Fellowship. God has given me such a solid fellowship through all of these, even though I decided to stick with H2O. Then, I became really good friends with a girl who lived down the hall from me, and we were able to basically be in constant fellowship and accountability the whole year, not to mention the Alpacah jokes. I then found an opportunity to try out for the H2O worship band, which I have always wanted to do. I ended up making it in the band, and God provided me with a place to serve in the church. Later in the year, I decided to apply to be a Resident Advisor. Despite the fact that I was thirty minutes late to my case study, I still got the job. Second semester proved to be incredibly distracting because of all of the friends God had blessed me with. We had some fun Alpacah times at dairy queen and some memorably stressful times where we thought death was upon us.

And now, here I am, done with my first year of college. I have literally been reflecting on this for the past 2 weeks, partially because the anniversary of my father’s death was on April 29th. I truthfully can’t believe I’ve come this far from where I was 2 years ago. That was a terrible time, a time where I thought God was angry with me. From that time, fall of senior year was not good, but then it got better. I decided to attend BG, which I wasn’t looking forward to. The summer before college, God did awesome things of course. And then, I went to college. And I finished my first year, millions of times more blessed than I thought I was going to be.

I truthfully believe that God provided everything for me. There is no way that this could have happened without Him because I hated BG so much. And so I can only sit here and think of the song “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin ( LISTEN TO IT!). I couldn’t have done this by myself, and it’s still hard to believe that God would love me so much as to bless me like that, because I am a terrible person. Most of the time, I suck. But God still loves me.

And of course, I have to thank my mother for putting up with my lazy college search ethics. I have to say, thank you for putting up with me when I did not feel like searching for scholarships or applying to schools. And thank you for making me go to BG because we simply couldn’t afford college without the scholarships. And I mean, who can? College is unnecessarily expensive, and financial aid gives us the lowest amount of money they can. So don’t feel bad. You have done me a favor without even knowing it. Thanks so much Mom! I love you! You’re the best!

And so I find myself sitting in my room at 2:30 on a Sunday morning reflecting on all of this. I have an awesome church fellowship in BG, I’m part of the worship band, I have a Resident Advisor job for next year with my room and board all paid for. I still have the scholarship money that I had before, I have a job here at home, and I have an awesome family.

I have an awesome God. We have an awesome God. If he has blessed me, one of His children, like this, then of course he will bless the rest of His children in the same way.  It might take some patience, but,

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”- Hebrews 10:23

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

First Recorded Analogy Ever: Gourds

This is the first analogy I ever recorded in any of my journals. Sadly, I didn’t record the exact dates because for some reason I didn’t ever constantly do that way back when, but it was sometime during the fall of my junior year of high school, because I was making gourds for my sculpture class. It was definitely fun times. Many a time I wish I could go back to those times when I was in an art class, because I miss it a lot.

But anyways, I was just chillen in the back of the art room, working on my gourds and thinking about Jesus when suddenly a thought hit me. It was super exciting, one of my first complex analogies. Basically, how I had to make the gourds was that I had to take a decently sized lump of clay, form it into the gourd shape I wanted, let it get leather hard (hard enough to carve but not hard enough that it will break), cut it in half, carve out the insides, and then put it back together. Sounds pretty complex, right? It actually wasn’t that confusing, it was rather fun.

But anyways, I was sitting there carving out one of my gourds, and a thought suddenly hit me. The process of the creation of my gourds was just like the process of being reborn in Jesus Christ. Like I said before, I would form the gourd to the shape I wanted, let it get leather hard, cut it in half, carve out the insides, and then put it back together.

In the same way, God took us and formed us out of the dust. Then there was probably a period of time before we came to know him, which was the time in which we became leather hard, or the time in which we were being prepared to meet Jesus. For me, that time period was 15 years. And then, when we were ready, when the time was right, Jesus came into our lives and changed us forever, from the inside out. We opened up ourselves to him so that he could remove all the bad stuff from our bodies spiritually through forgiveness, and then he put us back together so that we could a live a life that glorified him.

And then there was this one gourd that I was making. It was supposed to be an acorn gourd or something weird like that. When I was making it, I had screwed up and carved the walls too thin. So, I got angry and threw it into the reclaiming bin (the bin where messed up or dried out clay is thrown and can be reclaimed by adding water), thinking that it was trash.

But, for some reason, I paused and looked back into the bin. I looked at my gourd for a few seconds, and then took it out and examined it for a time. It was then that I realized that I could totally still use it. As a matter of fact, it looked freaking sweet and it is my favorite out of the three gourds I made that fall.

This is similar to how Jesus can redeem absolutely anything. In the same way, even when we thought we weren’t redeemable, Jesus knew we were. We were so messed up, but Jesus took us up out of the dust and mud and redeemed us. And he can do the same for anyone, even the most messed up person you can think of. There is nothing Jesus can’t do. He turns the wretched story of a messed up person into an absolutely beautiful narrative of a person living for the glory of Jesus. I have heard a few of these stories, and they are often the most striking (not to say that all other testimonies are stupid—all testimonies are special and interesting).

So, I made, carved out, and put back together a gourd. Jesus made us, carved out the bad stuff, and put us back together to live a life that glorifies him. I made a really screwed up gourd that I thought was trash, but I reclaimed it and made it beautiful. God made us, and we screwed up majorly, but he reclaimed us and made us beautiful again. 

Our God is such an awesome God. He can redeem absolutely anything and everything, and He will redeem absolutely anything and everything. I know that God has beautifully redeemed my life, in ways that I cannot imagine. I am so thankful that He did, and I don’t know where I would be without Him. How has God beautifully redeemed your life?