come @ me 2016

Cliché post.

2015 in a nutshell:

ACT. Basketball Championship (which we won). Avalanche Winter Retreat. First performance as a band at church. Babysitting every weekend. Anti Prom Parties. Three AP Tests in one week. First time on main stage. Trek for Trinidad. First Job Interview. Job as a camp counselor. Trinidad. Timber-lee. Last Band Camp. Last Link Crew. Segwaying for the first time. Senior Pictures. Marching Band for State. 96 days away from my sister. Re:Connect. Filming for Haramman. Christmas in St. Louis. Family time. 10 months without my phone.

It’s been a crazy year. I’ve been the most busy and the most stressed in the year of 2015 than any other year in my life. I’m not going to write a whole bunch of sappy stuff, but rather, I’ll give you a hackneyed list of resolutions.

  1. Spend time with Jesus. Including, but not limited to, journaling, reading scripture, walks, providing worship, student leadership.. etc. I want to do life WITH Him.
  2. Practice piano and flute on a regular basis.
  3. Run at least three times a week. It’s time to get in shape for basketball season and live healthier overall.
  4. Be organized. Organization ranging from areas such as my room, school work, calendar, schedule, bathroom.. etc.
  5. Spend less time on the internet and spend more time investing in people around me.

That’s all for now. Open those bottles of sparkling grape juice and let’s get crazy because 2016.

xo.

come @ me 2016

One Single Flame.

Nearly 500 people stand in the sanctuary. Post-message, awaiting the latter end of the service. A candle is lit on the stage, two more from the first candle. Each soul holds one, small, white, scentless candle in their hands, unlit. Slowly, the people in the front light their candles. Soft light fills the front of the room. Soft verses drift throughout the room. Soft smiles emerge on many faces. Slowly, the light multiplies. The middle of the room is now lit with a brilliant glow, reflecting voices which sing songs to the Savior. Finally, each candle is aflame. Each soul possesses a light which cannot be hidden, cannot be covered, cannot be blown out. If it were to be blown out, another nearby would light it again. Giving it fuel, energy to continue. They are united. Stronger than a strand of one, two, even three. In multitude they proclaim His goodness. They rejoice for their King’s birth. Voices blending together.

Soon, the service ends. Each light is blown out temporarily, but there is a stronger one, this light is found in the soul. Each family, couple, individual, drives away. Each returns to their own home. Homes containing brokenness, fear, loneliness, violence, anything not found in the light. Pain, disease, suffering.

An aerial, areal view. First, no light. Slowly, light. A burning passion. A desire. All compressed into one location. One pin point on a map. Slowly, the light dissipates. It gets spread out among a people. A people with a greater desire. A people with a common purpose, a strong desire. A desire to see the world changed. A desire to see God. A desire for more. Sometimes, lights are close together and become a refuge for those groping in darkness. Other times, separated lights become consumed by darkness.

What if every person carrying a light gives their flame to two around them? The flames multiply. Light overcomes the darkness. Soon more and more discover God’s provision. More and more desire His greatness. More and more people find light, find hope, find joy. More voices praising, more tongues proclaiming, more souls finding peace.

A fueled generation. A generation on fire for God. A generation which could change the mindset of the world. A generation which sparks revival. All this, all of it, resulting from one single flame.

One single flame.

One light.

One purpose.

One life.

One single flame. One single flame bringing hope to the hopeless. One single flame giving peace to the restless. One single flame bringing light into the darkness.

One single flame.

xo.

 

One Single Flame.

Broken People.

I don’t really have a set topic or idea or anything. We’re just writing here. It’s also going to skip from one topic to another with little to no transitions.

 

I spent the day today with my sister. We drove amid the pouring rain, made dog treats, and shopped against the crowds of busy people. I was blessed by the day’s outing. She understands. She understands when I don’t want to talk. She understands my passion for Christmas and Christian music. She is persistent in loving me, whether it be giving me unused items in her closet, buying me lemon eos and soap, or even just listening to my rants about other people, life, drama, bananas. Not once have I heard her complain I am a bother. Not once has she not made time for me in her schedule. Not once has she been hesitant to offer words of advice. There is no one I feel more close to, relationally and maybe even biologically. It’s such a beautiful thing when humans get each other, especially when it lasts for years upon years.

Especially this year, I find the story behind Christmas becoming less and less important. 93.9 plays Christmas music. “Christmas” music. Although many are catchy, the majority reference relationships and wantonness desires of souls. The night Jesus was born was a beautiful one as I imagine. Peaceful, idyllic scene, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful lights in the sky, separation from the chaos present, and solitary peace after Jesus has been born. There was probably a lot leading up to those tranquil events. Things like rejection from inns, the travel time on a donkey while pregnant [s/o to Mary bc I could never], the stench of manure and animals, the filthy hay and crud found throughout the stable, the cold air, sending chills down one’s back. But yet, none of it probably mattered to Mary after Jesus came present on this earth. It was all forgotten. Just like we’ve forgotten all the beautiful elements of Jesus’ birth and replaced it with a time of materialism, desire, business, and other distractions. I’ve definitely spent more time purchasing others’s gifts than I’ve spent listening and praying to God. Problem? I think yes.

Also, I hate to sound self-centered. I hate to put myself in the center. I hate to do this, but it made me excited for the future and stimulated feelings of appreciation. The video I talked about a few weeks ago – it turned out alright. The church ended up showing it this weekend across all eight campuses and later posting it on Facebook. I’ve gotten numerous emails, texts, and messages. It also got around 1,000 views on Facebook. Which initially scared me. I sat in a [green] room and talked about an important experience in my life. Actually even before doing so, I wrote about it back in July. I told a few people about things I saw in Trinidad. Then I told a trip leader about my blog, and everything went down from there. An email, a schedule, a plan, a prompt, a request for pictures – chaos. But it happened. And if prompted, I probably couldn’t come up with half the words I said. So it’s not me. It’s not what I did. It’s not the opportunity I had. It’s not the passion I have for writing. It’s not eloquent language. It’s God. And it’s only God. Only God can work through me to proclaim His greatness. Only God could plan everything in His perfect timing. Only God. It’s amazing how he uses broken, failed people in unthinkable ways.

I’m also rejoicing as school is temporarily over. My anxiety and stress levels are down to a controllable level. I don’t feel like I lack time to do things. I don’t feel overwhelmed. I feel lazy. It’s so weird to go from one end of the spectrum – chaos, stress, required effort – to a completely opposite time. One of relaxation, appreciation of family, gratitude for margin, spare time, DIY’s, family. I also feel useless. Like, I should be doing something. I should be studying chemistry. I actually should be reading a book for AP Literature, but I’m not in the mood, nor do I have the book. I’d rather read about Jesus.

[ PSA good Jesus books to read if you have nothing to do: With by Skye Jethani, Love Does, by Bob Goff, Jesus Is ___., by Judah Smith, and  Love, Skip, Jump by Shelene Bryan. ] [ I’ve probably already recommended these to everyone I know, but whatever. ]

I bought a CD today at Goodwill. An “Inspirational Piano” CD, with a list of 12 or so songs representing my childhood. For one dollar only. After getting home, I put it in my stereo thing, expectant, waiting for the notes to flood the room, the sound to bounce off the walls. For peace to fill the atmosphere, for joy to overwhelm me, for memories to fill my head. To my disappointment, it was scratched, scratched to the point where songs were unrecognizable. We as people can appear so beautiful, enticing, flawless, but upon further investigation, we are scratched, smashed, imperfect. And sometimes, it really hurts to discover someone’s scratches. Especially after you expected so much from them. Sometimes it only seems logical to throw the CD away. But love is patient and kind. Also, according to Pinterest, scratched CD’s can be fixed with banana peels. Imperfect humans can only be redeemed through accepting God’s abundant grace.

Isn’t it puzzling how we are always more able to find each other’s scratches easier than our own? Some of you may remember me mentioning a night of prayer at my church, and a relentless prompting to pray for a younger girl. I received an email from her a while ago, and followed up with her asking to tell me about herself, excited to see what God had in store. Would I mentor her? How would he use her in my life? Out of respect, I’m only mentioning she has some scratches. She is battling scratches against God’s will for her. These scratches make me want to run in the other direction. These scratches seem to define her. Stupid scratches, as they shouldn’t. Skilled scratches, as they overwhelm her in feelings of hopelessness, taking away her confidence, leaving her in sorrow. I love how she was able to lay them down in the beginning. I love how she was brave enough to do so. I hate how I want to run. I hate how these scratches potentially stand in the way of a relationship. God is teaching me patience and is giving me a small perspective of His relentless love.

Despite our scratches, He showers His love over us. Drowning us in hope, in encouragement, in love, in peace. And He is moving. He is prompting. He calls us. He chooses us. And too often we fail to respond.

xo.

Broken People.

Pain is Temporary, GPA is Forever.

That, my friends, is my motto for this week. To think that I will be forever done with AP Comparative Government and Politics tomorrow brings me overwhelming joy. Too bad AP US Government and Politics starts January.

This week is getting the best of me. I currently have a C in AP Chemistry. Not bad you may say, but I had a solid B all semester, until about two days ago, when I crashed and burned while taking a test. It brought my grade down around, oh, give or take seven percent. In order to get it up to a B, I had to get a 95 on the final. And I didn’t.

As I tried to study for AP Government and other classes, my eyes wandered around my room. They wandered to the pictures on my desk, to Trinidad, Tucson, Timber-lee, all with beautiful people. They wandered to all the Christmas presents I have yet to wrap and distribute. They wandered to the pile of clothing in my closet I have yet to sort and wash. They wandered to the stack of shrinky-dinks on my desk. Odd, I know. Thanks.

All of them have been given to me or I have made them to remember a moment, place, or person. One of them in particular stood out to me. It had Styrofoam plate stuck to the outside of it, and it said “shabat” on the front. Shabbat means a day of rest set aside. It was from some wacko I met in Wisconsin. Some theater major who liked chanting. Weird enough. I flipped it over. And in neat printing, blue sharpie filled the back. The first line read “you are not a number.” And though it’s hard to accept, you’re not your grades. You’re not your finals. You’re more than that. You are a beautiful soul. You have potential. You have talent. And sometimes, we fail to realize that because of society. And that really stinks.

Like finals.

Just remember, pain is temporary, and your GPA is forever. No pressure intended.

xo.

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Whale, look at that.

I’ve always wanted to go whale watching. I feel like it would be intriguing. I imagine the cool breeze, the sparkling water, the blue sky. And then, foam rising, and a whale appearing. Maybe even jumping or turning or something cool like that. I could go watch a documentary on whales. I could go talk to a whale expert. I could learn from the boat driver. I could read a book. While doing that, I’d probably want to learn more and more. I’d want to stay around those people, to get some of the wisdom they have. But to go whale watching and see a whale for myself would be completely different than just hearing about it. It would be so much more exciting to see it first hand. To actually feel the mist of the water.

I feel like Jesus is kinda the same way. This may be a stretch, but bear with me. Every week, I go to church. I read about God in the Bible. I hear messages. I seek advice from role models. By now, I’ve learned a lot about God. I’ve learned about His love. I’ve heard all sorts of cool stories about His goodness and how He’s prevailed. I know so much about God.

I want to know God. I want to actually go whale watching. I want to see God first hand. Feel His presence, His goodness, His peace. You’re probably thinking girl. what. you totally know God. I know a whole lot about God. I’ve witnessed Him speak through me, speak through others to me, and speak to other people. But I want to experience it first handed. I want Him to speak to me, in a way where there’s no doubt it’s Him.

I would say if only it was as easy as buying a ticket to go whale watching. In fact, it’s easier from what I’ve heard.

Another thing, I found a quote from THE Bob Goff that I really like.

“Bright lights don’t need spotlights.”

Think about that for a while. And maybe take some time to let God reveal Himself to you.

xo.

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Inadequacy.

Last night, I told myself I was going to bed early. I shut down the computer around 10:00, and went upstairs, focused. As I laid down, I immediately started thinking. Thinking about nothing, thinking about everything, all at once. Thinking about relationships, goals, dreams, jokes, conversations, people in my life. All sorts of stuff. Before I knew it, it was 12:00. And I was still awake. Shortly after, I must have fallen asleep. At exactly 2:32 AM, I woke up, heart pounding.

Before I explain further, I usually pray for no dreams. I strongly dislike dreams. Many of mine have intertwined fear, loss, and death. I tend to pray for no dreams. I don’t remember praying last night. Well, it comes 2:30 AM. And I’m having a nightmare. It’s terrifying how real, how vivid, they are. How they arouse panic, uneasiness, fear, loneliness. And then you wake up. Heart pounding. Shaking. Looking around, as if they were to come true. Disgust of the human race. Fear of the unknown. So there I sat. Alone. In the dark. Thinking. Praying. Writing. Wishing I was young again. Wishing I could walk down the hall, knock on my parent’s door, tell them everything which had happened, let them reassure me it was just a dream, embrace me, and hold me until I fall asleep again. In the moment, I longed for someone. I longed for someone who could comfort me. I longed for someone who would hold me. I longed for someone who could say “it’ll be alright.” I longed for peace. More than anything, I wanted to forget. I wanted to forget it all. I refuse to type it. I refuse to write it. I want it out. I want it gone. I want it never to come up again.

And as I sat there, I realized I had something greater. I had someone who was there the whole time. I opened my journal and started writing. I wrote down my fears. My thoughts, my intentions, my desires. I poured it all out. And then, I found His word. I found His word to be comforting, to be enough, to be all I needed. Matthew 10:28:

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Sounds a little scary at first. Especially the last part. But slowly I realized this: He is the only one who is greater. He is greater than all my fears. He is greater than any bad dream we could ever have. He is greater than any evil. And because I trust in Him, it doesn’t matter if I die. I know if I believe Jesus took what I deserved by dying on the cross for my sin and believing in him is THE ONLY way to Heaven, I will be saved. But what if I wasn’t? In the moment, I had peace, knowing there was hope. But, I also felt an aspect of revival. What if those around me are searching for more? Would I be able to live with myself knowing I could have done better? Would I be at peace, realizing I did nothing to influence those around me?

Where I fail, where I am not enough, where I mess up, He covers. He covers me with grace. He covers me with love. He covers me with mercy, holding me, telling me “it’s okay, I still love you.” And in my darkest places, He is still there. He is always there. When I have joy, He is there, walking with me, smiling, probably laughing along. When I am filled with sorrow, He is there, holding me, mourning with me. He is greater. He is greater than my fears. He is greater than my expectations. He is greater than anything I could ever imagine. I am endlessly thankful. I deserve nothing. The very least I can do is devote myself into loving servanthood. To honor Him and bring Him glory.

Some of you know I recently filmed a video talking about my friend Haramman, from Trinidad. You can read about Haramman in Gratitude. Haramman changed my life. He changed my perspective. He taught me faith like a child. Haramman was something both me and God knew about, and I didn’t need to publicly proclaim my experience. This video is set to be shown to the church in a few weeks, and I am nervous. I’m nervous I will be affirmed. I’m nervous people’s focus will be off. They showed it to a few of the worship leaders, and I’ve already had two come to me, telling me they were in tears, awed by my words and experience. I’m honored, don’t get me wrong. It’s just, lately, I’ve been trying to do things alone with God. I can’t take credit for what He’s doing. Throughout the filming, I earnestly asked God what He wanted to say. And I can’t take credit for any of it. I can’t take credit for going on the trip, because it was generously funded by my friends and family. I can’t take credit for going to the hospital, because it was Dave’s idea. I can’t take credit for going to see Haramman, because it was Mauricio’s idea. I was in Trinidad because of God. I was at the hospital because of God. I got to see Haramman because of God’s perfect timing. So thank you, but no thank you. I’m perfectly happy remaining in the background, where no one knows who I am, where I am at peace, because I have no one to impress.

Tonight, there was a worship night with my church. God was definitely present. Towards the beginning, I felt called to pray for a girl standing a few feet away from me. As I moved over, I casually touched her shoulder and was like “hey okay, so this is weird and uncomfortable, and I don’t know you, but yay for Jesus, I need to pray for you.” After a few seconds of talking, she told me one of her friends had committed suicide a while ago, and it was still paining her. I embraced her, initially fearful I would stutter or say the wrong thing. Again, God prevailed. I don’t remember half of what I said, but by the end, we were both in tears. She said she hadn’t cried that much, that hard, since she had found out about the loss. She kept on saying “bless you” “thank you so much” “I’ve never met anyone like you” and so on. I kept on smiling and shaking my head, because it wasn’t me. I listened, but God spoke. He spoke through me what she needed to hear. I held her for ten minutes, and during those ten minutes, God opened my eyes, He intervened, and He prevailed.

The point here is God is good. The point is He is faithful. The point is we are not enough. The point is we will fall short, we will mess up, we will fail. Quite often. So when you are alone, when you have reached a pit, when you are afraid to step out of your comfort zone, He is faithful. He will prevail. He is greater than anything you think you need. And oh, how we need Him. Every hour. Without Him, we’d fall apart. Lord, we need you.

Ask Him to reveal Himself to you, knowing that you will have to seek Him too. Ask Him to show you His power. And go in peace, knowing the God of Angel Armies is always by your side.

xo.

Inadequacy.