Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reason to Celebrate

It's been interesting to be at work the last couple days in the restaurant and hear the Christmas chatter. If I ask "What are you doing for Christmas?" I am liable to get so many different answers.... 

When you're a kid it's easy. It's that magical time that you hear stories of Jesus' birthday from your parents and your Sunday school teachers for a whole month while the days escalate with anticipation of that time you'll be able to finally know what all those enticing packages are under the tree! 

But then you grow up, and you realize that it's not just all lights and sparkles and surprises.... 

To some people it's seeing great uncles and second cousins that they hardly know and having to sit around making small talk for hours... 
To some people it's rushing to mall mad-houses and finding the perfect gift for everyone within range of closeness that might get them a gift back... 
To some people it's just a day. 
A hyped up, commercialized, traditionalized day that they would just a soon treat like any of the rest of the 364 days of the year. 

But during the past few days, I have been challenged with what I really mean when I refer to "the true meaning of Christmas." 

Christmas sets in motion 2,000 years ago the very thing that has completely changed my life today. 

AND my eternity.

What does Christmas mean to me? It means everything. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ONE THING (not a billion, just one)

Have you ever wished there was a "Go Back in Time and Fix Your Mistake" Button on life? That's where I'm at.

I started this semester with such promise and anticipation for a good school year.... But along the way I chose to let wrong attitudes creep in. And they came, ever so subtly, like a small bacteria eating away at my insides. I noticed the pricks slightly once in a while, but didn't truly turn it over to God. (It's one thing to say... it's a harder thing to DO.) Before I knew it, These wrong perspectives had control over my actions and clouded my vision from a fear of the Lord. Instead, I feared people. All it takes is a heart focus of selfishness and pride, and suddenly people are so big, and God is so small.
I could see that was the problem, even while I was right in the middle of it, but I was in a daze, ignoring the only cure I knew would work. There was a certain melancholy hanging over my head, and it is still one that I battle. It's so easy to just keep thinking "If only; If only..."

But I don't aim to get on here and write about the places of the semester where I royally messed up and am feeling guilty - Because, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. I'm not doomed to keep repeating the same sin, or to keep falling into the same wrong outlooks. If you are feeling that at all in your own life, I want to tell you that there IS hope! God has been using this Christmas break to reveal that to me.

It started with hanging out in a first grade classroom. During that day of elementary observations I was blessed with the chance to sit down with the teacher one on one and have the most enjoyable little heart-to-heart talk about teaching. Miss Edwards has been teaching for 34 years (give or take) and this prompted me to ask, "Do you use the same exact lesson plans year after year?" Thinking it might be a yes because this seemed like the easiest thing to do. Upon hearing that, she responded, "Oh no, Janell! I write up new lesson plans every single year. Because NO class of kids is the same. And I am not the same either. The Holy Spirit is always doing something in my life and teaching me something different. If it's not fresh for me, than it won't be fresh for the kids."
What a profound insight! Just like a quote I read from the book Teaching to Change Lives, "I would rather have my students drink from a running stream than a stagnant pool." The day a teacher stops growing is the day a teacher stops teaching. The Word of God does not change. But my understanding of it changes, because I am a developing individual.

During our talk, Miss Edwards also left me with a very encouraging thought, "You don't have to be perfect. You're human. But let your kids in your class see that. Let God use your strengths AND your weaknesses, because HE WILL. He has a plan for your weaknesses just as much as your strengths. And it makes sense doesn't it?... Because when He uses your weaknesses, that's when HE will get the glory for what's been done."

I hope I never forget that when I enter the world of teaching. :-)

So with all these thoughts swirling in my brain, of weakness, and growth, and growing from my weaknesses, God had more to bring up with me. During my devotions the very next day I was reading through Philippians. (but I must admit I didn't get past chapter three.) I ended up getting stuck on verses 12-14" actually. There it says:

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, (because I know I'm not!)
But I press on to make it my own (perfection) because Christ Jesus has made me His own. (this is my hope)
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: (One thing! Not a billion things with the hope that they will all add up to perfection. But just one thing. And what is that? To strive, press, move forward. Growing.)
Forgetting what lies behind (don't let the regrets hang over my head and the melancholy control me)
and straining forward to what lies ahead (eyes on the prize... looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith)
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

If I'm always looking backwards then I'm likely to trip over what's in front of me. So don't look behind. It's in the past. Satan would love to use my petty regrets from yesterday to completely cloud my vision still and make me ineffective for serving my Master tomorrow. He would love to set those regrets in motion and then just watch them take their toll. (It means that I'm practically doing his job FOR him! After all, he is the Great Accuser.... But Jesus Christ is my Advocate, my intercessor, my righteousness.
There's a beautiful picture of this in the books I've been reading over break. It's a series of books - "The Chronicles of Narnia" which I'm sure you have heard of because of the latest movie that's been made about The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Edmund had betrayed his brother and sisters and acted like a total traitor, so much so that they were worried sick about him, while at the same time scared to death at what vital information he had given to the enemy. Yet when Edmund is finally rescued from the Witch's grasp, he is able to talk privately with the great lion, Aslan. Amazingly, when they return to the children, Aslan says something to the effect of, "He has asked my forgiveness. There is no need to bring up what is past."
In a huge contrast, when the Witch comes stomping into camp to have a word with Aslan, the first thing she does is point a finger at Edmund and accuse him of the wrong he had done. But in love, Aslan forgave. And in love, he gave of himself in Edmund's place, not just saying He forgave, but Showing it.
I just think that is the coolest illustration for how Christ forgives me! He does not accuse, but gently His Holy Spirit pricks where I have done wrong. And then once I have realized and repented, it is no longer brought up again! How amazing is that!?

God, thank you for your promise of forgiveness if I will only ask. All that I have worried about and mulled over, I lay down at your feet. It is no longer mine to obsess over. I pray that you would teach me of wisdom from above and renew my mind with a heavenly perspective! And I know I don't deserve it, but Lord, I miss the peace, joy, and assurance that comes with close fellowship with you. Restore unto me THE JOY.

It's interesting, at first I was really discouraged when I thought, "Oh man, being an assistant Resident Advisor has brought to my life a whole new set of problems!" But wouldn't ya know it - these are the same areas where I have always struggled!
This semester of mistakes has just spotlighted them.

But I'm grateful that's what God is using to help me grow.

And that's the most important thing about my life as a Christian is that

I AM growing!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas: 414 Style

Okay, I will just say, it's a writer's block night. 

I have been staring at this blank post box for, well, quite a while. And I wish I could bring myself to write. I even have a topic that I really want to share, but it's just not coming tonight and I really want to do it justice. 

So I think instead I will just do some picture posting and then tackle some more things on my to-do list before I head to bed. (Yes, I live my life by the lists... they never go away even when I am on a break from school! :-) 

Christmas in the Dorm of 414

Open dorm night - Melvin couldn't wait to have all his friends over!

You never know what you're going to get from these girls next! I just love it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


During this break, I've seriously been spoiled with so much extra time to think and reflect. And I am thankful for the wave of things God has been teaching me in the blessed time He has given. Here's the thing that hit me extra strongly today... 

Friendship is not based on how other people perceive me (or even how I think they perceive me). Because if it is either of these foundations than it is all about me, and it will crumble, if not sooner, than later. 
Count on it. 

My friendships now and in the future had better be based on a love for my Lord Jesus and an unshaken love for His people. It's the only way a friendship has the hope to stand in the hard times. 

"Friends are friends forever, if the Lord's the Lord of them." 

I always thought it was a cute phrase. A little simplistic really.... I never quite understood what profound truth lies in that song. 
Until now.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I miss you buddy. 

I really think mom is right when she says, you picked me. 

I miss you being there to greet me when I get back from school. 

We went to the pet store tonight and there were some pretty cute ones.... It really made me wish we still had YOU. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

You Know it's Christmas Break When....

You know it's Christmas break when: 

* The snow outside is swirling in the air and accumulating on the ground.
* I am up beyond midnight by delight rather than diligence :-) 
* It's been hardly 24 hours of being home and five of those hours have already been spent hanging out with Jeremy, thoroughly enjoying his company and conversation. 
* I spent another five hours of the day with my youngest brother Wesley (due to my mom being miserably sick and needing someone to entertain him). 
* I spend the entire day in sweat pants, just because I could.... 
* We can have Taco Bell for dinner because it's a 2 minute drive rather than 20 minutes. 
* I finally sat down and waded through all the loose papers that had been piling on my desk for the last month and organized them neatly into a 3 ring binder with my class notes from the semester. 
* I can actually BE on the internet at this time of night.
* I continually get that "little kid excitement" whenever it truly hits me that I have nearly a whole month to spend here at home with my family!
* I have the extra time to blog every day - which I plan to faithfully do.... 

That's the goal right now for every day of Christmas break! We shall see how that goes :-) 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Just Can't Get Over that Sound!

One of the reasons I've enjoyed being home for Thanksgiving break so much is late-night hang-out time with my bro! The other night he came into my room and I his guitar in hand, practicing to play a song of simple chords. (It's my dream to get better at the guitar, musically-challenged as I am.) Jeremy showed me how his recent project on the guitar was to take a song from August Rush and figure out how to play it for himself. I love that!
While we were having some fun goofing off with guitar stuff, I jumped on the internet and checked out youtube to see the actual movie scene where he and his dad play. That was when I ran across a video of Mark Kroos, and I was totally captivated.

This guy is insane on the guitar!

You just have to see it to believe it - how fast his fingers are moving, how coordinated one guitar neck is with the other. And while it looks a bit like a mutation of the "normal" acoustic guitar, I just can't get over how beautiful and flowing the sound is that comes out of Mark Kroos' guitar. It's a good reminder that the magic is not in the instrument itself.
The instrument is merely a tool. On the shelf, it's nothing special. Just a little odd looking. But in the hands of someone who has devoted so much practice time, it can produce mind-blowing music. (Plus, such great study music! :-)

Mark Kroos, Acoustic Guitarist: Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft (Double Neck)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Easier Said than Done

Obedience = Love. If I say I love, but I don't show with my actions I desire to please the one I love, then I'm a liar. If all of my actions line up with what's right, but I'm not obeying out of love, then it is worthless.
John 14, James 1:22-24, I John 1

I can't live in the past, or in the future. Wherever I am, be ALL there! (along the same lines, it is wrong to fear the future, or manipulate it. That's God's realm, not mine.)

Don't stress about what other people are thinking. Because I can't read their thoughts, therefore I am stressing about something I don't even know is true.

Do the right thing, even if it's the HARD thing.

God wants my life to look more like His character. But He knows the fragile stuff I'm made of... He does not expect perfection from my own strength. He calls me to Holiness (completely separated for His loving purpose). That is my motivation that determines the direction of my life.

It's so easy to say - much harder to do.
But He promises to help me through.

And that's what keeps me going.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blissful Afternoon

Did I really not blog last weekend? Oops. I'm not very good at this apparently :-) 

Saturdays always fly. Seriously. I look at the clock and do a double-take. Where did the time go!? Maybe I'll blog tomorrow about some of the day's events.... Tonight, I'm really set on putting some pictures up here. I was glancing through my blog realizing that considering I count myself as a photograph lover, I do not put very many pictures up here. I think I might have to be more conscious of that. 

About a week and a half ago I took a walk around campus with my camera, which is one of my favorite past-times. A little quality time with my camera always makes the rest of the world fade for a short period, and it's just "me behind the lens" enjoying the challenge of getting a good shot. I walked away from that afternoon quite happy with the shots I got.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Night Reflections

Hi little blog. 

It's me. I'm sitting outside Starbucks, enjoying the last of the Midwestern fall nights where it's warm enough to wear a t-shirt. I love these nights. Fridays. And beautiful. And sporadic. I have purposely been slow to make plans for my Friday night. But my roommate from last year just called me up and invited me over, and I was ever so eager to accept. I don't see enough of that girl anymore! 
I only saw her once today, and that was just in passing on the way to class. She pointed out that she could hear me singing to myself while she was still all the way down the sidewalk, which amused the both of us. 
I have to admit I have a slight headache that won't seem to be shaken. I'm blaming it on the fact that I didn't get a nap this afternoon. I know my body would have really appreciated that, but my grade was demanding the higher priority. For my Teaching Science class we have to teach a science lesson. Go figure. :-) 
Sarah and I will be the first ones to be teaching a lesson, and the written plans were due today. My "experiment" is to dissect a seed. It felt really choppy as I writing it - for some reason I just couldn't get inspired on that topic. But now that I've chosen this one, I'm sticking with it! Hopefully it will go smoothly when it all comes together next week. 
Overall, this has been a good day. We watched the movie "The Babysitters Club" at work today with the kids, which was fun for a major flashback.... And now, it's been good sitting at Starbucks just chilling out and unwinding with Sarah and Michelle. 

Questions of the future have been wandering into my head throughout the day. Just curiosities, for where I will be after college. What I will be doing. Who I will be doing it with. That seems to be the question of the hour with college kids. But also while I think of it, this is the time of life that people look back on with fond memories. God places these opportunities before me as a gift and a responsibility. He is teaching me to enjoy where I am at right now at this present time. 
Last night was really awesome! A few of us girls had a Bible study at the state university. We're studying the book of James - six of us in all. This was our beginning week so we discussed James 1. As we keyed in on how to respond to trials (and just, life in general) I realized that joy - true, unwavering, fully trusting sort of joy - has been scarce in my life lately. You know how when someone starts talking about a topic, you automatically put it in it's respective category? Like, "oh I don't struggle with that." 
But life is not stagnant. Things change. Struggles change. I guess it just reminded me to be on my toes and take the time to evaluate my walk and my life and ask, "Is this something I always write off as easy?" Maybe it is something that I used to be strong in, but that doesn't mean I will never find myself lacking in it. 

Anyway, I'm kind of trailing off now... Definitely looking forward to spending time with AnaLee! Before I go to do that, I'll leave you with this picture. Hopefully it will brighten your night (lol, if you really think about that phrase, it doesn't make sense!)

Oh and Erin wanted me to tell you that I am sitting across the table from HER.
There you go, Erin! You get to have your 15 minutes of fame in my blog (and btw, can't wait to go to the Mall of America with you tomorrow, Darlin'!)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Little ol' ME? A saint??

Okay, I know it's been forever since I've written! 

And I've got a friend or two that question whether they will see another post anytime in the near future.
I am really excited because I have this little game plan now... You see, while I was in Wyoming, even when the entire week was devoted to other things, I found time on most every weekend to blog. And I figure now, why not go back to that? I am certain I can find time most weekends (if not all) to post a little glimpse of my life and thoughts. Ect. I realize now that it isn't a weekend. lol So what business do I have being on here?? :-P 

Well, I am reading a book for my class on Romans. I came across a part that was very encouraging to me, and I just thought I would share it for tonight. (Just cuz I am missing my time spent on this blog!)

If we believe what Paul teaches here, there would be more saintly lives among the saints. A Christian whose life is not what it ought to be often gives this excuse: "I don't pretend to be a saint!" It doesn't matter what you pretend to be - if you are a Christian, you are a saint! It is not an evidence of humility to refuse to be called a saint. It is not humility to refuse to take that name that God has given us but unbelief, masquerading in the role of humility. 
Does the world expect anything of a sinner? Not a thing. Does the world expect anything of a saint? It certainly does. If a man that has taken this position falls, every man will jeer at him, saying, "There is your saint!" To accept the position of saint demands living in conformity with the position. Those who do not want to take that position know that they do not intend to live in accordance with that position, and therefore they refuse to take it. 
God never goes to a sinner and tells him to try to attain sainthood. He picks us out of the mud, and He says, "You are a saint." We are not making believe. We are holy and must live in accordance with our position. This is never attained by striving, but by taking possession of sainthood, remembering our position, and living in accordance with it.

  "The Gospel of God's Grace" 
   by Alva Mcclain

This challenges me to raise the bar. To be careful what jokes I laugh at, and to listen to the music that holds God in high and holy reverence. My life should look different than that of a non-Christian. And this high standard for living should not flow out of a desire to please people around me, or to make myself look good.  It's as if God took my life and transformed me from a peasant girl to a princess, and I only want to reflect sheer gratefulness to Him for that. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Friendly Reminder

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."
                                                                       I John 5:21

On the fourth day since being home, I have realized how vitally important it is to keep my focus, even in the down time. After an entire summer of walking farther and closer with my God, I am still not immune to the distractions I face at home. Even on the days when I am stretched to the thinnest point, camp really does manage to have me on my best behavior. The spiritual struggle is heightened, and therefore so is my awareness of it. But it's just as important this week while I'm at home, though not so prominent.

It takes an alertness to cultivate a relationship - and that applies to ANYone I know. If I want to treat my family with the love and care they deserve before I go back to school, it's gonna take a conscious effort on my part. Just because I've known them "for forever" doesn't mean I can coast through the relationship for the rest of my days. They need to know EVERY day that I love them, and as we are changing and growing, there is always something new that I can discover in their lives while God has given me this wonderful opportunity to do so.

I ask you, my dear camp friends, how are YOU doing since you've been home? Is your relationship with our Lord still as vibrant and revered in your life as it was when you under pressure of camp? What's been clouding your vision lately?
It's so easy to slip into living for yourself once again and not even realize it. Don't forget Philippians 2:1-9 Let Him use you as a Christ-minded servant wherever you are.
Whether I'm at home or at camp or at school, there will forever be opportunity to discover new truths about God. The Christian life will not happen by accident. It's a choice. One that God readily rewards when I break down my idols and exalt Him above all.

Draw me nearer, Father.

Friday, August 6, 2010

In the Groove

Every cabin has a different flavor to it. Each girl adds her own distinct personality to the atmosphere as the group learns to work together. By Friday, we have found our groove and each cabin of girls has a preferred way of doing things, and a unique style of relating to each other. Each week I love to see all the pieces fall into place.
Here is my whole summer in one post - although these pictures evoke a multitude of more great memories and stories of how God had His way in hearts! Countless times, He shewed Himself strong on my behalf as He stepped in and touched lives in the way that I could only dream of doing. I look back with gratefulness that I was able to meet each girl and have the pleasure of sharing in her life for a week. God used each one of them to mold me and teach me. He is still working to make me more like Himself, and I pray He will keep doing the same for each of these precious girls I met this summer.


This group:
*** was the first cabin I ever had! They were great.
*** would randomly turn to one another and beg dramatically, "Honey if you love me, won't you please, please smile?" It always brought a boatload of giggles.
*** asked me to tell them a bedtime story on Friday night... So I told them about "the Wonderful Wizard of Wyoming." :-)


I made a sweet little friend!


This group:
*** nicknamed me Blue Monkey.
*** Loved to cheer their team on during the game time... Go red!
*** They didn't so much love to take long hikes in the wilderness ;-)


This group:
*** were the masters at bribing the cabin cleanup checkers every day! (This particular day they dressed up "Bobby George" the pole in the middle of our cabin! It was hilariously creative...)
*** all wore their hair in pigtails for Wacky Wednesday.
*** would stop at nothing to win at game time! A very competitive, fun-loving, um, accident-prone group ;-)


This group:
*** went fishing on the muddiest day EVER!! (and one even lost her shoe in the water. Thankfully, we found it.)
*** loved to sing! In their world, everything called for a song :-) They taught me a new song called, Jesus is Changing Me (actions included); they put their heads together to create a new song in honor of Wacky Wednesday; and they fell asleep every night listening to me sing, Jesus My Lord, My God, My All.


This group:
*** made a little couch out of the extra mattress in our cabin. Used it every night to gather around for devotion time.
*** racked up an unbelievably impressive amount of Hero Status throughout the week with all of their thoughtful words and actions.
*** picked more "surprise flowers" than I can count! They loved to give :-)

"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth; to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him." II Chronicles 16:9a

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Lodge: 8:43 PM

Everybody bustles around me as I sit in the now familiar camp lodge. 

Some people help in the kitchen, as Mrs. Loftus prepares sandwich lunches for our hike up the mountain tomorrow. 

The SALT (junior) counselors unload their suitcases from the van, having just arrived from ministering at church this weekend. 

Dave (our resident world traveler) has arrived, at the same weekend that his parents came up to visit, and they are wondering the campground somewhere.... 

Six year old Toby sits at the table finishing his taco dinner under his father's command. :-) 

Spencer is down in the chapel pavillion setting up "The Emporer's New Groove" so we can watch it tonight (complete with popcorn!). 

And I sit. 
Not very helpful I know, but just thinking about the wonderful blessing of church at Emmanuel Baptist this morning. 
And how much I'm going to miss this state. 
These people. 
I better jump in and find a place I can help, because the buzz is still going on. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Short and Sweet

Oh no! Sad day... I don't have time to blog this weekend! 

But I'd say the two horse rides and the long phone talk I had with my bro were totally worth it. 

Two camp weeks left. If you ask me, I say that's not nearly long enough. :-) 

But it's plenty of time for God to work in amazing ways! 

Blessings to you this week,

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wondrous Works

I just have to say that this past week was the most wonderful, fun, and stretching time that I've had this whole summer! I absolutely enjoyed the privelidge to build relationships with the girls in my cabin. (All TEN of them :-) Each one was a special blessing to me in a particular way. 

I don't have a ton of time to write today, because I have to start making tracks up to camp to get in gear for Red Cliff Teen Week 2! But I'll leave you with this one incredible story of how the Lord answers prayer.... 

Ya see, I have never had the chance to actually BE there when someone prays to ask God to save them. So all summer long I've been praying for the opportunity to lead someone to the Lord in salvation. And He finally answered, in a way that I hadn't expected... 
On Wednesday afternoon of camp, I started chatting with the girls one on one to see where they were at in their spiritual lives. 
     I hadn't planned on a talk with Sierra, but she begged to be next, so we went out to the picnic table near the cabin. We didn't get into anything too deep, just enjoyed the sunshine while we talked about where she is from and what her family and friends are like. 

Then later that night, while Pastor Huffman was preaching on Joseph, she handed me a note that said, "Can I talk with you after the service? Bring your Bible. -Sierra." I wrote back and said, "Sure, that sounds great. I'll catch you afterwards." Having no idea what it could be about, and assuming so far that she had already been saved before. 
But the instant the invitation song was played she was out of her chair and coming back to find me. "I've been putting this off for too long," she told me. She knew that her friend Anna wanted her to get saved, and she had been trying to prolong it til she could talk with her pastor's wife. But that night, God spoke to her in a special way, and her conscience could rest no longer. She HAD to do it that night! 

And God in His goodness, allowed me to be the one to lead her through some verses and have the pleasure of listening to her call out to her Creator for salvation. It was such a sweet moment that I am grateful to have been a part of. 

I would greatly appreciate if you would pray for Sierra as she goes back home and tells her family what she has done, as well as that she would keep growing in the Lord! He works mightily in hearts an lives, and I am soo pumped to see how He's going to do it THIS week as I work with His precious junior high girls once again. 

".... Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." Joshua 3:5 


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Freedom Overlooked

I watched fireworks an hour after the rest of my family saw them. 

That's because I watched them on a mountaintop 15 hours away from home. 

And I have to say, the booms and pops and lights of the fireworks are so much brilliantly better out here. :-) As we crammed into the back of Anna's family minivan to watch the display from a nearby parking lot, my eyes were completely glued to the sky until all was said and done. The big city can't pull off fireworks any better than that! 

*ahem* Speaking of family, I got to talk to each of them today. Oh the things I miss while I'm not at home.... Mom was baking up a cookie storm to serve to the small mob of people that would be at our house later this evening; Jeremy just bought himself a new sweet blue motorcycle this last week!; Wesley was looking forward to "da firewoks" that they were going to walk down the street and watch; and Dad was pulling the transmission out of a car. 

So I suppose while I'm missing all of that, it's nice to know I'm not missing any changes. 
Boy I do love my family!

There are alot of thoughts that have run through my mind today in alot of areas, but the one the Fourth of July thought that I've been pondering is this: 
Freedom is something that I as an American take so much for granted. I think it's something that really can't be appreciated to the fullest until it's not there anymore. Kind of like when we clean the up Red Cliff Camp buildings on the weekends. It's not something that demands much notice or appreciation, but only if we didn't do any cleaning would people realize it had been done before. 
I don't mean to trivialize the vital subject of freedom. I am just thinking that if we didn't have it, that's when we would realize what we had been blessed with before. 
Having one or two friends on missions trips to countries that are persecuted for their beliefs and convictions if they are not approved by the "head honcho" of things has really brought it close to home for me. 
These brothers and sisters of the church need our prayers. A while back I wrote a poem that expresses just how much God can do to use faithful prayers offered up on behalf of his persecuted people.

The Pastor stands before the mob, 
Steel weapon glints its rays of sun,
I ask as blows fall one by one,
Where is my God, the Holy One?

Have you seen your people,
Dying in the street?
Do you spare an extra grace,
On the sores of one who’s beat?

Far off in distant country,
He died for your name’s sake,
Only one among the hundreds,
Did you even know his name?

Oh Lord how can this last?
How can you stay your hand?
Why does chaos so prevail;
And evil scar the land?

I’m taking in the carnage,
And waiting for the answer,
And swiftly as I asked, it comes,
“Yes, my child, I heard.”

“These are my true soldiers,
My Shepherds of the flock,
She my warrior princess
And he my solid rock.”

“Do not neglect to bring them,
Before me in your prayers,
For I await to strengthen them,
Protect, and keep from snares.”

Dear Lord, you’ve seen their families starving
Holed up in a little shack
You’ve seen women stand their ground for you,
With nothing holding back.

You know every drop of blood,
Every tear that has been shed,
Every pris’nor in his cell,
Every man that’s ever bled. 

They live for something greater,
For a cause that’s not their own,
And one day it will be worth it,
When they stand before your throne.

You know every boy who’s true,
Every man that has been slain,
And what was once their loss,
Now will be their gain. 

Though heaven may be silent,
Its ears are fully well,
And it’s keeping close account,
So hold on a little while.

This night will turn to day, 
For now, our call is watch and pray,
Lord God, be with these precious saints.
My heart goes out to them today.

My sisters and my brothers,
The very Body of Christ with me,
Please hear their cry as they surrender,
Their own body broke for thee.

I don't always realize how much I have to be thankful for.

We have our first teen week of camp coming up. I ask for your prayers if I may on these levels....
-a sound Biblical wisdom as I counsel the girls God has placed in my cabin 
-that I would not let any distraction cloud my view of serving my Saviour
-to keep up my health and my strength
-to make an impact through a positive attitude of "counting it all joy" :-)
-that I might have the privelidge to lead someone to the Lord in salvation

Thanks a ton!
Serving Him with this Amazing Summer,

Monday, June 28, 2010

Take My Yoke

Morning showers of necessary bug spray.
Intense games of Octagon ball and Nuke 'em.
Stimulating chalk talk drawings of the life of Joseph.
And perpetual, continuous giggling (This was my week....)

This week I thoroughly enjoyed my cabin of four junior age girls. Each one of them blessed my heart in her own unique way as she grew in God and deepened her knowledge of Him just throughout the week. None of them made an concrete decision, but I know God was at work in them. It was evident just through the good conversations we had, and the good questions they asked. I love to see the "lightbulb moment." The once confused look on their face is suddenly replaced with an "Oh, I get it!" realization in their eyes. It's like nothing else in the world. :-) 

I barely know where to begin in sharing every little minute detail of how God grew me in my walk of faith this week, but since the night is waxing old already and I have a bit of drive back to camp in the morning, I'll just share something from my time in the Word that really got me thinking ever since I read it... 

Matthew 11:28-30 says, 
"Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, 
and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me,
for I am meek and lowly in heart: 
And ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." 

I don't exactly know why, but I've always thought of the yoke Christ refers to, as similar to a cross - like "taking up my cross" to follow him. 
      But a yoke is totally different. Jesus wasn't being vague or thoughtless when He used this particular word here. He really did mean a yoke. And what does a yoke do? 
      It puts two beings side by side to work as one. Jesus calls me to a "side by side" sort of relationship with Him. (I can always get closer, and I can never be too close.) Like the verse says, when I take the yoke I will learn from Him. When I am constantly walking with Christ He will teach me as we go along life's road - if I am constantly communing with Christ how could I NOT learn from Him!? 
      Also, He promises that He is meek and lowly. Gentle in heart. What a thing for the God of the universe to say about Himself! While He is also God, He wants to be approachable to me. Wow. 

     I have just stood in grateful awe of these verses ever since I read them. And I've prayed that I too would be an approachable person, just as my Master displayed in His own character. 

     Earnestly Desiring your Prayers that I would know best how to Serve During Next Week's Family Camp, 
Jel :-)

Monday, June 21, 2010

For His Glory and My Good

Dear Friends,  

     This week I was privelidged to hear the history of the camp I am working at for the summer, as well as the history of the church we attend in town. All this new info has just amazed me how sovereign are the thoughts and ways of God!  He has a guiding hand on this wonderful church in Wyoming, ever since the very first day of its development. He is also controlling the camp ministry of Red Cliff high up in the mountains, and He is keeping a watchful eye on the kids attending VBS at my church back home... 

     And He does it all without ever sleeping or ever sacrificing one set of plans for the good of the other. He knows who to bring together at exactly what point in both of their lives. He can use one person from the church in Wyoming to affect a person in Alaska to come down to work at the camp. He can use connections with a good old friend to lead me to come all the way out here to counsel at camp. 

It reminds me of when I am standing on top of the highest red cliff, overlooking everything below. From up there I can see every winding river and road, and how they intertwine and connect. God has that sort of view all the time in my life. He always knows what's around the next bend. 

Bottom line: Everything God does is to bring glory to Himself (because He is completely worthy of it.)
And somehow, everything He does also is in my very best interest (because He loves me so much. Romans 8:28) Think about that. Only a Being so great and so sovereign as God could weave all these plans together so perfectly.... 
And for that I praise Him this morning. 

Looking forward to meeting my first God-ordained cabin of Red Cliff girls, 
Jel :-) 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Eyes on the Stars

I'm off to camp tonight so I won't have my computer for most of the rest of the summer. But before I am mac-deprived I'd like to plant this important thought in your mind.... One thing I will be keeping at the forefront of my prayers is wisdom for Jeremy. He recently graduated high school and now he's trying to decide the next step in his life. I am so incredibly proud of this brother I have! Please keep him in your prayers as he seeks what direction God wants him to take.... I know wherever he goes, he is gonna be used greatly. So many possibilities! 

Monday, June 7, 2010


I took a walk today
Down an old dirt road. 
The snowcapped mountains rose regally in the distance,
While all around me, the hills shifted and dipped 
As if they were castles in a little boy's sandbox. 
The only thing larger than the flat land stretching out before me, 
Was the blue sky with the clouds billowing above me. 
A black spotted dog 
Abandoned his duty 
Overseeing the work of a tractor
To come say hi to me. 
I was flattered, 
But told him he should go back to where he came from. 

Still I kept walking
Down that old dirt road. 
The pebbles crunched beneath my feet. 
From there I could see the interstate.
A long way off. 
I could see the cars driving
Somewhere they needed to go,
To do something they needed to do. 
There was nothing I needed to do today. 
I wasn't worried for any cars;
I walked in the middle of the dirt road
Because I could.

I followed the curve
Of that old dirt road. 
Faces errupted in my mind
One at a time:
Old faces of family that I love
And left behind to come here.
New faces of friends that I met 
In the last several days. 
Unfamiliar faces that will have a name and a story
By the end of the summer. 
I kept walking. 
I did not give much worry for where I was going. 
But it didn't matter. 
All I knew is I was still on the same road I had started on, 
And that was the same way I would return.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Everything that Should Happen

Before I crawl into my nice, warm, inviting bed, 

let me just take a moment to tell you just how AMAZING it is camping in the great state of Wyoming!!! 

That's where I've been for the last 3 days. I went up into the mountains with Sarah (whom I'm staying with before I begin my summer ministry at camp), and also her dad (who is as cowboy as they come :-), and her little 8 year old nephew Bud, and our friend Jen. 

And her two dogs.
And their four horses. 

For the first two and a half days, the horses wondered why they had even come, because the rain didn't let up for more than a half hour at a time. My heart sank a little bit at this, because the highlight of my trip was going to be getting to ride, and the rain prevented us from that for the majority of the time. 
Actually it seemed everything was working to prevent us from riding, because as soon as the rain let up and we went to prepare the horses for our mountain ride, we experienced one obstacle after another! This was just not a good day for riding horses. 
The usually calm and reserved horses (or so I'm told anyway ;-) were antsy and unmannered today. 
But I don't want to give a bad report on the horses. I know they're good most of the time. I guess they're a bit like people. They have their good days, and their.... not so good days. Either way, they're still beautiful animals! I am filled with wonder every time I grip that lead rope and hear the thumping of hooves in the grass behind me. Within these creatures lies a majestic power far greater than any physical force that I myself would be able to exert. All that power, plodding submissively toward the riverbank. And all the while, I'm thinking, "This big guy NEEDS me. He needs me to help him get a drink!" as I am bursting with pride. I am convinced there is not a feeling like leading a horse. 

I especially love watching Bud and his horse interact. Buddy is eight years old, with his very own horse. It is the most charming thing in the world to see this little blond boy with his plaid green shirt and cowboy boots on, standing not even to the horse's flank, as he lovingly shows her who's boss by firmly steering her in the right direction. Bud's ears perk up and his striking blue eyes sparkle anytime his horse is brought up in conversation. How he treats Dusty leaves no doubt in my mind that he loves her very much. And I think she likes him pretty well too!

Even though the horses turned out to be a smaller part of our trip than we had originally planned, I really loved every bit of it. Cooking was a major operation usually, either carried out over the propane stoves in the cook tent, or just over the blazing campfire in the middle of our campground. I am particularly proud of the french toast that we made this morning after Sarah's dad couldn't be there with us to supervise the cooking process. I don't think we did half bad! 

It was everything that should happen on a camping trip (at least a little bit of everything....) Roasting marshmellows for delicious Smores - decidedly my new favorite dessert!
Singing praise songs with Jen's guitar around the campfire.
A visit to the lake a few miles away.
A deathly cold wade in the lake that had our jeans sopping wet for the rest of the day (!!) Afternoon naps curled up in a warm sleeping bag.
A short-lived attempt of a horse ride that was great fun while it lasted. 
Rock contests that have us combing the ground for the coolest rock long after the official winner is announced. 
Whistling for the dogs as they came tearing back after their romp across the mountainside. Staying warm and dry while we played hours of card games on end as the rain pattered outside the tent. 

And all this for me to come to the conclusion of the cool thing about being the West... It really IS a different mentality. I had always heard that in the West strangers waved to each other, and shared what little they had, and didn't care as much about the stuff they had as the people they were with. And I always thought it was a cool idea, but it couldn't really be true. But it is. Those card games in the tent today proved it. A little time spent in the great outdoors will drive you back to what's really important. The God who created it, and His people you are spending time with. Maybe I was wrong when all that time I was thinking the horse riding in the mountains would be the highlight of my trip... because after spending those few days up there, I came away filled to the brim with thoughts of thanks for the laughs and the good times and the great character of our little camping group.  

 I hope this is the first of many camping experiences here in Wyoming with the friends God has so graciously brought into my life. 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

No More of This Sideline Stuff

Okay, so there's been this battle going on in me. Basically, what lies at the heart of it is fear. I can't help but see all the people in my life that are "better than me." I have been lifting them up on a pedistal of sorts and wishing to live in their shadow and let them do all the work. Because after all, they're better at living for God. If I get in the game, I'll just mess it up. 
But there is this part of me that knows that's wrong. 

Honestly? I am sick of sitting on the sidelines. 
I want to be in the game; to get a little bit sweaty, to get my heart pumping a little bit. 
Why can't it be ME that is speaking Christ's name unashamedly at my work? 
Who's to say I can't initiate a Bible study with a willing fellow Christian? 
What is it that's stopping me from being utterly consumed with Love? 

"When did love become


When did love become


Forgetting what the world has told me

Father of love, you can have me.


Father, take away this fear from my life. Better yet, I ask that your Spirit in me would overcome this fear. Help me not to stand back and concede the game to those who I think can play better. It's only by your strength that I will be able to get over this preoccupation about not measuring up and instead fear only living half-heartedly for you. 
It's like tonight, when the group was over here and Jer was teaching us how to do flips on the trampoline. (I was so scared I was shaking!) I wanted to do it, but whenever my jumps would reach the right height and I would start into the flip, I would hesitate to pull in all the way. 
But I can't do the flip if I'm not absolutely COMMITTED. 
It's gotta be All-Out. 
And while I'm in midair it's a really scary, unnatural feeling with an uncertain end. 
But those are the ones that turn out the best in the end! 

For our God is a consuming fire.    Hebrews 12:29
Consume me Father. Especially while I'm working at camp. 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Swimming Upstream

       If life is a river, then pursuing Christ requires swimming upstream. When we stop swimming, or actively following Him, we automatically begin to be swept downstream. While we are not specifically swimming downstream, we are slowly floating away from Christ. It isn't a conscious choice, but it is nonetheless happening if little in our lives propel us toward Christ. 

"Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."       
                                                                                           James 2:17

Twenty-five cents!!?

We break for 25c blizzards!

Meet me where the summer's just around the bend/
Meet me at the DQ, where the feeling never ends.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bursting with Pride

Spring is upon us here at Faith. That means beautiful blossoms outside of the walkway to Gray, the baby beginnings of plans for a fresh new year next semester, AND the Faith talent show/movie night!!!

Maybe I hold people on too high of a pedistol.
Maybe I am just a simpleton in these matters.

I just could not be more grateful for the people of this college. My spirit beamed as I watched my classmates and friends and leaders of the student body star in their homemade films and showcase their astounding creativity.
It just totally cracks me up what people come up with!

And as much fun as I had sitting in my seat watching them make (somewhat) fools of themselves. I couldn't help thinking how much more fun it must have been to be right in the middle of it. It makes me so happy to think of the personalities God has blessed us with here on campus. He brought us all here together to prepare further for work in His ministry, and it thrills me to think of how God will use every unique person on this campus to glorify his name in the far corners of the world.

And I will be able to say "I saw HIM break a guy's collarbone in a movie they made when we were in college!"...

Oh the memories.
Did I mention I love FBBC? :-)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Alternatives :-)

So, while I was looking for pictures relating to "kindness" to compliment my previous post, I came across some pretty good ones. Not so somber and inspiring as the one I finally chose (I couldn't get away from wanting to pick that one!) but the others are definitely worth a look, as they are undoubtedly "touching" images... In more ways than one!

                             What are a few germs given in the name of kindness?

                                                   Oh is THAT what it is??....

                             Pay it Forward. Easily explained by a child on a 
                            chalkboard. What a practical and revolutionary idea.

                                     Off to a good start on his kindness practice....

                                       Doesn't this one just make your heart melt!? 
                                         (See, you can show love even to someone 
                                             who's a little different from you! :-) 

One Small Act

At work today, I was part of a scene that touched me in a really special way. 
The table I was serving called me over and asked, "Could we have her check?" indicating a tiny, elderly lady who comes in regularly. I was completely thrown off kilter for a moment, but then I realized they were wanting to pay her bill....

With my mind soaring at the privelidge to be let in on the conspiring, I searched out my coworker who had been serving the unknowing recipient of this good deed. I explained the situation and with a shrug he handed over what I needed. Receipt in hand, I stealthily delivered it to my table and watched as they quietly and humbly carried through with their intentions at the register. Mission accomplished. 

Then, about 20 minutes later, I watched as her waiter informed her that she would not have to be paying for today's bill because somebody had already taken care of it. There were tears in her tender eyes as she whispered a heartfelt thank you to the faceless benefactor. Who knows how much she needed it? If it had been the timely answer to her prayers, only God would know that. 

That one small act of kindness completely showered light into someone's heart. It doesn't take much. Just a little thought. Just a little observation of the people around you and what needs they might have. How can I meet the need in someone's life? Sometimes it makes all the more impact if they don't even know where it came from. I might never know the difference of that one small act this side of heaven! 

How long has it been since I gave something without any motive of receiving in return? Those people today did not even have the pleasure of seeing news of their kindness delivered. That was mine to enjoy.

And mine to learn from. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Captivating Thoughts

There are some jobs and some duties in life that demand your thinking. You must reign it in and commit it to a certain task for so many hours of the day. 
If you're in school, you HAVE to think about the lecture. If you're serving tables in a restaurant, you HAVE to think about the food. If you're a heart surgeon, then for those hours during surgery at least, your mind must be restricted to thinking about only certain things. (preferably for the patient's sake anyway!)

But a week's break from school shows me what truly occupies my thoughts. What do I think about while I drive? Right before I go to sleep? Where does my mind travel when I am free to think about whatever I desire? Do my thoughts rest on Christ? Do they automatically go to Him? 

For me, it has been music and teaching. These things pull my mind in their direction, like a magnet to its partner. But now I'm thinking, 
"How many of these thoughts have been WASTED?" 
As a Christian I am responsible to channel my thoughts even during the break-times. Taking them captive. Setting them as an offering before the throne of my King. What would HE have me think about? 
Would He want critical, judgmental thoughts? Worried thoughts? Discontented thoughts?

Are my thoughts pure and lovely before Him? 

I decide what I think about. 
What I think about decides who I am.