Monday, February 27, 2012
Everyone has a nick name. Through high school I developed quite the interesting one. It had nothing to to with my actual name, but my actions. I was, and still am, called Mom. Don't worry, I'm far from having children of my own, but for now, I get to take care of my friends!
See that? I "get to". A lot of times my friends tell me I need to stop being a mom and start being a normal teenager(I'm almost a young adult-March 20th!!) But what they don't get is that being a mom is normal. Being a mom is just as normal to me as being a redhead is.
So what does this have to do with my faith? Well thanks for asking, let me tell you!
Going into college I could have sworn that I would be a Young Life leader by now. But I'm not. God sure does work in mysterious ways! It was a tough realization that I wouldn't be leading kids, taking them to camps, taking part in ridiculous skits, but I needed that realization because by doing so, I found where my ministry would be: my group of friends.
As I think I've mentioned before my group of friends back home are as different from one another as could be. I am so lucky to have a great mix of people that I get to take care of and be with whenever I am home! Now, how could I choose them to be my ministry? Another great question, let me tell you!
By definition, the word Ministry is said to be something that serves as an agency, instrument or means. That's just what my group does. It acts as an instrument for my faith. Just by being around them, taking care of them, having them know I am readily available to talk and always praying for them, my faith is growing. I see God working in all of them, whether they see it or not. Just as a mother sees there children grow, mature, in ways the kids can't see, I get to see my kids...I mean friends...grow! And that's why I love doing what I do!
Maybe one day I will have actual children to serve as my ministry!
So I ask you, what is your ministry? Everyone should have someone/something that acts as an agency for their faith, to help it grow and prosper. Something that you use to improve your outlook on God's creation.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
So I did some research before I started this blog today, and by research I mean I googled, "Why do Catholics give something up for Lent?" I figured I knew the answer, but I wanted some reassurance from catholics.org and yahoo answers I guess. Being in the South for school, I have come to the realization that Catholics here are far and few between, making a little difficult to stick to my roots. The upcoming Lenten season is giving me just the chance I need to remind me of why I'm Catholic and not any other religion.
A lot of people will look at me strange this Wednesday when I walk around campus with ashes on my forehead, because here it is still a strange concept. Now if I were to be in St. Louis, I would fit in with the majority of folks, who even if they didn't have ashes on their head, the would at least know why I did.
To a non-Catholic, especially a non-Christian, it can be a hard concept to understand why I give something up for 40 days. Their mindset is kind of how mine was growing up. I used to give up Jelly Beans every year because I knew I only ever ate them on Easter morning! I gave it up so I wouldn't have to "suffer" through those 40 days. It was easy, so I did it. Well, I'm not a kid anymore so I think about what to give up a lot more thoroughly. Last year I gave up Starbuck Coffee, like I had the last 2 years. Man that's tough. I did it because that was my 'everyday indulgence'. I drank it because of convenience (we have one on campus here and at home it was always on my way to school) I gave it up because of the fact that it was an indulgence. I didn't need to spend money(and a lot of it) on something I could make at home. You know the seven deadly sins? Well that was my gluttony.
This year, I'm giving up make-up. Unlike coffee which is an everyday thing(I like my morning cup of joe..which I now make at home) I don't always wear make-up. That's out of pure laziness, but when I don't wear it, I normally wish I were. As every girl can relate, make-up is often times the source of confidence. Covering up imperfections, dark circles, widening your eyes with mascara or eyeliner, gives you a little confidence boost, makes you feel more presentable. Well, that also leads to insecurity when you're not wearing it. But why? Shouldn't I be happy with the beauty God has given me? Why do I feel the need to cover up my freckles on my face, or mess with my big blue eyes? Yes, mascara and eye shadow can make my 'baby blues' look bigger, appear more blue, but when the mascara comes off my eyes are still just as big, just as blue.
Like I said, I'm not one to wear make-up every day, but the fact that I have come to feel like I'm less attractive, or less presentable when I'm not wearing it isn't a healthy thought. That's why I'm giving it up for 40 days. There will definitely be times where I wish I had a little mascara or cover up to 'enhance' my appearance but hopefully I will find out that I can look just as presentable with out make-up as I do with it. I can remove the stigma that a make-up-less face isn't as beautiful as a face full of it. I hope to see what God has given me is more than enough to feel confident as His creation.
What are you giving up? Even if you aren't Catholic, I encourage you to give up something that will help you see what sin exists in your life. And by removing one thing, what great happenings can occur! If you don't give up anything this year, add something. Add 20 minutes a day of reading the Bible, take a walk around the block everyday and just look at God's creation. Heck, say a prayer before each meal, thanking Him for giving you another day. Whatever you do, know that it is for God, for His son, who gave up everything so you could exist!
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Pickens, South Carolina. What a wonderful place, where you can walk around a flea market from 8 am till noon and still not make it to every booth. My entire family can agree with me on this one, there is no better place to people watch then the Pickens flea market that takes place every Wednesday.
My favorite part? Watching my grandmother barter for a deal for fake flowers with a man who doesn't have a shirt on while she is wearing all her best jewelry, her make up done as she does every day and her hair perfect, as always. My dad's favorite part? The boiled peanuts. My mom's favorite part? The blue-grass/folk/anyone is welcome, band that plays out front of the bathrooms and "food court" area. We always sit for a little bit, taking a break from all the bargains to watch the band. There's always a singer and guitarist, normally a banjo player, and there's always seems to be a man in overalls who constructs an instrument out of a stick, a bucket, and a string connecting the two.
It was while we were taking a break here one year, who knows how long ago, that Grammie made a statement I will never forget. She said, "Is it amazing that with 2 eyes, 1 nose, 1 mouth, and 2 ears, that God created so much diversity in humans?" I still think about it today, how truly amazing it is. God has done some amazing things, but man did He do a good job making all of us unique!
I love though, that within a family he has held some things constant. He has the ability to give me my great grandmother's red hair and make me look undoubtably like a MacDonald. Whereas my sister looks unremarkably like my mother when she was her age. God has given us these similarities to each other as a reassurance I believe. To know we are part of something, part of a family. A reminder that we didn't just come from nowhere.
Sometimes I look around the group of people I'm with and I'm just in awe. Kind of how I was talking about a couple posts ago about fearing God's ability, this is a perfect example. I love looking around and seeing my friends are so incredibly different, how could I not believe in the power of God? Something has drawn me to these people, made me want to get to know them better. That's God's doing.
Anyway, the next time you are around a group of friends, take a look around, what drew you to them? What about them is unique to only them? And the next time you are with your family, what similarities has God given you? Don't take them for granted, He did it for a reason.
Friday, February 10, 2012
I love a lot of things, and people, and I guess I have a lot of love for scripture. I love when deciding to turn to a page in my Bible and just start reading, ends up providing me with a verse to live by. This happens to me quite often, I recommend all do this. More specifically, there was a day at camp this past summer that I will remember forever. God directed me to a passage in the Bible that reinforced my decision to share The Word and not be ashamed.
I was sitting with my good friend Bekah, 60 feet up in the air on the fourth and final tower of the ropes course(Don't worry mom and dad, I was clipped onto a wire that could hold me if something were to happen!) when I came across the end of Hebrews 10. I had read Hebrews 11(recommended to all) but decided I want to read the whole book, and I had finally made my way to the end. This was in between groups of campers so I was sitting and reading, Bekah was probably taking a cat nap, she liked to do that on the towers. I wasn't searching for anything in Hebrews, just casually reading, and I came across Hebrews 10: 32-35, "Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded."
And it hit me. That's what I was at camp for. I had found God's light and wanted to share that with these kids, who some didn't even believe in God yet. I had faced persecution, yet I had to(got to) be the example for these campers that even with persecution and conflict, God prevailed. It became the verse I read and reread the rest of time I was at camp. God really showed me the scripture I needed to reassure me I was at camp for the right reasons, not just because the ropes course was fun!
I look at that verse today and realize that it's not meant solely for camp. I face persecution as a Christian, and conflict as a human being, every day. In college especially, I have been challenged to hold strong to my faith. There are many sins and temptations throwing themselves at me, and it would be so easy to give up confidence in my faith and 'enjoy' those earthly pleasures. But as God commands me here in this passage, I will not throw away my confidence, I will not give in just because it's hard to be a Christian, and I will be "richly rewarded" for holding out.
If I can show just one person who has not seen God, that yes, it is hard to have a strong faith, but the persecution and conflict go away in the end, leaving just the joy of God and His love, I believe I have done my job. So I will stand by those who have been persecuted for their faith because I know how it feels. I would much rather stand by the persecuted than the persecutors. What do they get in the end?
*My beautiful Aunt Alice suggested that I end my blog posts with a question for those of you reading, which I think is a great idea. I will try to have a question at the end of each from now on but I can't make any promises!
Question: Who can you think of that needs a reminder that being persecuted for a strong faith is worth the reward in the end? Talk to them, encourage them. If it's yourself, talk to me! I would love to stand by you!
Monday, February 6, 2012
Alright, I'll admit it. Arkansas isn't the most...open minded...state. It's an adjustment even for me, to get used to all the overwhelming religious bumper stickers, billboards, advertisements, etc. down here. Don't get me wrong, I love a good Bible verse, a good religious message, but sometimes I feel like Christians get a bad rap from over the top, extremists, who condemn everyone around them, not unlike the practices of Westboro Baptist Church, but I won't get into that.
The first time I went to Kanakuk in middle school, my counselor gave me a cup with a Bible verse to remember my experience by. I loved that cup. It was orange with silver writing on it with the verse Proverbs 31:30 on it. That passage states, "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." As a 12 or 13 year old I didn't really understand it. I was supposed to fear God?
After that summer I continued to research the verse and this whole idea of 'fearing' God. I thought He was an all loving God. As I continued into high school, and last year while taking part in a Bible study, I grew to really understand it. It is saying fear in the sense of being in awe. God's work is beyond our knowledge and all we can do is be in awe of His great deeds.
Every once in a while here in Arkansas, or anywhere I guess, I am driving with a few girls in the car and we see bumper stickers that say "Fear God." Neither of the girls are practicing Christians, and view this phrase as an extreme thought, which I could agree with to an extent. Who knows if that driver means it in the way of Westboro Baptist Church does, thinking that most people are doomed to Hell, or if that driver is in agreement with Proverbs 31:30? Psalm 139:13-14 speaks of being "fearfully and wonderfully made." Anytime I think about the blessing a child is to their mother and father, you can't help but think of God's work, how does He do it? That's the fear God is looking for, being so in awe, so shocked by His ability. I just hope I can explain that to people who are against using the term "Fear God" or haven't ever heard it other than when the WBC uses it.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Ok, I have to admit something. I don't have a cup of coffee next to me, not yet anyway...I have a feeling I won't finish this entry in one sitting, so I promise to have a cup next to me at some point. Pheww, glad I got that off my chest.
On to the good stuff..
The other day I got the opportunity to travel to Mizzou for the weekend, and I almost took it. I got off work, I rearranged my schedule for classes so I could go, the only thing between me and visiting friends at Mizzou was a couple days. So the other night, I was at work-where I do my best thinking-and I was thinking about this trip to Mizzou...something didn't feel right. Other than the fact that I vowed never to step foot on Mizzou's campus, being a KU fan and all, I just didn't have a good feeling about it. I reached out to a couple friends, wondering if they thought I was crazy for feeling it and the more I talked with them, the more this gut feeling felt like God's voice, telling me to stay in Fayetteville. I didn't know why, and honestly, I still don't, but I knew that He was telling me to stay back.
It's funny because there have been times where I felt like I was pouring out my soul to God, begging for Him to speak to me, to send me some sort of message confirming what I was doing was right. But it was just so strange that when it all seemed to fit, I had a place to stay, a ride there and home, friends to see, God was telling me, "don't do it." I know I would have fun this weekend if I were to go, but the more I thought about it, the more I want to listen to what He had to tell me. The next day, I come to find that Margaret, my good friend here who was going to go to Mizzou as well, had that same gut feeling. I don't know if she thought it was God, because to be honest, I don't know if she believes in Him the same way I do, but it was just the confirmation that I was doing the right thing.
I think it's a great lesson that God is in complete control of my life. He knows what is best for me, even when I don't see why what I could be doing is wrong. Like I said, I know I would have fun if I had gone this weekend, but He has something else in mind. I have to take the opportunity to listen to Him in simple situations like this, where it is obvious that He is saying something, so when it isn't so obvious, I can have faith He is there.
(Well, the weekend went by and I didn't get to finish this post. Now that I have coffee in hand I can tell you that it was a great weekend for me to stay in Fayetteville! Not only did KU lose to Mizzou...good thing I wasn't on Mizzou's campus for that one...but I had an incredible weekend bonding with people here. I got a lot closer to my good friends here, and celebrated with my sister being finished with the hardest test of her life! I also played ultimate frisbee on one of the colder days we've had this winter and really learned a lot about how to be a better player!)
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
So if you've ever met me, you know I love my sleep. "Late" to me on a weekday, is about 11:30, when a normal college kid would just start their homework(partying?) I'm getting ready for bed!
"Late" one night last week, I got a text from a friend. This is a girl I have known my whole life, and every once in a while we text each other a random question. This time her question was, "What are your thoughts on the rapture?" This woke me up. First, since it was 12:15 I had to gather my thoughts...I had already been asleep for an hour probably, and my mind was completely blank. For the life of me I couldn't think of what "rapture" meant. So I googled it on my phone and then it all came back to me. 'Of course! The second coming of Christ!' My next step was to answer her question, which was pretty difficult. Growing up the second coming was never taught in PSR or spoken about in Young Life talks, so I never really developed an opinion/dedicated much time to the topic. So I did some research, exchanged ideas with her, and am now am fascinated with this idea.
I know this sounds like I'm going on a tangent, but bare with me, it will all make sense. I love my new job. I am the card swiper here at Arkansas' fitness center so I get to see a ton of people, hopefully brighten up their day a little bit. I also love my job for the fact that I have a lot of time to read during down times. Last week, I brought my Bible with me and conducted my research on the topic there. (See, there was a reason for the tangent!) Anyway, I came across the book of Matthew. Specifically, Matthew 24. As I was reading this passage a couple parts of it stuck out. The first, verse 27, "For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." Love it. Earlier in the passage it speaks of people that will try and fool believers into thinking Christ has already come, or that they themselves are Christ. Matt 24:27 reassures believers like me that it will be evident when He returns. Just as we can see lightning with our eyes, we will know in our hearts that Christ has come, we won't have to rely on others to tell us.
Another part of Matt. 24 that I really love is Matthew 24:43, "But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into." Such a simple message. If we were to know when Christ was going to return we would tidy up our souls, look to fix any of our mistakes, simply: try and save our asses. Which is why the Lord doesn't tell us. We should be living Christ-like no matter what. If He were to come tonight, would my soul be ready? Would I be in a place proud to be found in? Just a thought...
The rapture...kinda scary sounding for such a wonderful thought! Think, for our souls to live endlessly with Christ. Isn't that what we Christians aim for anyway when we die? It shouldn't be this terrifying word, thought, or lesson. The second coming of Christ should be celebrated in anticipation for its occurrence. We should be ready at any moment to depart from our worldly behaviors and forever with those who believe in Him.
Those are most of my thoughts on the topic for now, maybe I'll have some more after I work tonight!