Category Archives: Blessings

Sleepless

My old friend insomnia has been coming to call quite frequently in the last week or two. It’s been a long time. Here’s the thing, though, I remember hating these long, sleepless hours. I remember bemoaning the fact that I would be tired the next day and getting so angry about not being asleep that I couldn’t possibly fall asleep. Now, I almost relish it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m getting to be an old lady and these late nights are taking their toll. So yes, I might be a little more emotional and bit more prone to over-caffeination. That’s okay. Here’s why:

~Sitting in silence with my dog sleeping on my lap while I read

~The chill night air battling to seep through my hoodie (which I can only wear at night this time of year)

~The rustle of the last pages as I manage to finish books I’ve been working on for too long

~Trying to be oh, so quiet in the kitchen and catch the tea kettle before it whistles

~The gentle scraping of my pen in my journal

~The quick, quiet tapping of my keyboard as I finally find myself writing again (night provides far better scope for the imagination!)

~The quiet kind of inspiration that seems so real that the world seems to fade away and only comes from feeling completely alone in the silence

So while I may not have missed the feeling of fighting to keep my eyes open for the first two hours of my work day, I’ve decided I have missed my late nights immensely.

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“The Heavens Declare…”

Written the afternoon of Sunday, April 24, 2011

The plane starts shaking and I glance up from my book, it’s only the turbulence of flying through a cloud. But before I become thoroughly engrossed in my reading again, the plane clears the cloud and I catch my breath. Spread before me is one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen in my life.

The sky is a pure, brilliant blue. It spreads to the horizon, broken only by an occasional wispy cloud. Those high clouds are not white, but are colored a deep rosy pink by the sun as it begins to set. Below, instead of seeing the ground, is a vast expanse of fluffy, blue-white clouds broken only by the occasional brown mountain peak breaking through. Somehow, the brilliant blue, deep rose, pure white, and harsh brown mix in perfect harmony. The breathtakingly beautiful scene is almost otherworldly, yet somehow perfect at home in its setting. And I wonder how many other paintings like this are hidden away in nature, under the earth, above the clouds, beneath the oceans, where God has created something beautiful that humans may never see. How many pictures has God painted just because He can? How many majestic scenes are hidden away, glorifying God when humanity refuses to?

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Psalm 19:1


A Moment Looking Back…

So… it’s August twenty-second. The summer is over and next semester is staring me in the face. And, despite my firm resolution when school ended for the summer, I’ve not written much at all. This has been a crazy summer, and writing about everything that has happened and everything I have learned would probably take another three months, so instead, I think I will just share some of the highlights.

The summer began excitingly enough- with a trip half-way around the world. The mission trip to Cambodia was mind-blowing to say the least. I’m not going to take your time with the full story (it takes four hours to tell and even longer to write/read) I’ll share the main lesson I learned on that trip. It can really be summed up in one verse, John 11:35: Jesus wept.

God completely broke my heart for the beautiful people of Cambodia with their shattered culture, war-torn history, and spiritual darkness. But He also showed me that just as He stopped and wept with the heart-broken Mary even though He knew her brother would soon be returned to her, He is crying alongside the Khmer people even as their nation is slowly being rebuilt and, more importantly, as the Gospel is spreading and healing some of the deeper hurts.

I serve a God who truly weeps with those who weep. And if the Creator of the universe is not above crying with a hurt child or lonely woman, who am I to be so high and unfeeling? So I’ve spent much of this summer learning to put myself in the shoes of the people around me… learning to laugh with them… to hurt with them… to listen to them… to let my heart break for them. It’s been hard, but at the same time it’s been so eye-opening. I want so badly to look at a hungry crowd and feel nothing but compassion, just as my Lord did when He walked among the hurting people of the world.

Which sort of brings me to the next part of the summer. When I got back, I started the summer job I had lined up- serving in the conference center dining room. The Bible College I attend shares land with a conference center, so during the summer they hire students to work over break. My job was generally fun. Really fun. The work was fast-paced with lots of people interaction and I worked with a great group of people who always gave me something to laugh at.

It wasn’t always easy, though. It was extremely physically taxing, and not all of the people we took care of were easy to get along with. It was through that that God began to teach me that really, people are all the same in His eyes and that the loud, demanding conference center guests are just as much His children and are just as worthy of loving, selfless service as the Khmer orphans. I was going through the Gospels and was repeatedly struck by the story of the feeding of the five thousand. Even when Jesus was exhausted and had had a long day, He saw the crowd and was moved with compassion. And again I was faced with the same dilemma: If my Lord’s heart was stirred for these people, how can mine not be? So work was an area of breaking and learning as well, and with every retreat I once again had to beg God to give me a heart of love for the people He would bring here.

And of course as always, the summer was filled with couples. Why is it that everybody decides to get together at the same time anyway? It was really hard sometimes to see what seemed like everybody and their mom finding somebody who was just perfect and who felt the same way about them, and I must confess I found myself spending more late nights than I’d like to admit to up late bemoaning my own singleness and asking God what was wrong with me and when it would be my turn to be loved like that.

But, like He always does, my Daddy gently reminded me of His own beautiful love for me… and that He loves me too much to let me have anything like that too early or too late. When the time is perfect, and considering that He knows everything He’s a better judge of when that is than I am, He’ll bring the right man along. Until then, He has other plans for me. As anxious as I am to have my own home with a husband and a family to care for, I know it’s not time yet. And if I’m really honest with myself, I know I’m not at all ready. And as hard as it’s been with all of the couples around me, it’s been very encouraging to see other, older girls who have faithfully waited and trusted God seeing that hope fulfilled. It’s good to be reminded once in a while that God really does know what He’s doing and I can trust Him in everything. And, as came up in Bible study a little while ago, hope in God never disappoints.

A lot about what I’ll be doing in the future is up in the air. Right now, I have no idea what next semester will be like. I know it’s going to be very different from the last two, but what that actually means I have no clue on. And out past this next semester, I’m completely in the dark. Past December tenth, I don’t know what I’m doing at all. But somehow, I’m not the least bit worried about it. I’ve stopped stressing out about that all too common question of what I’m going to do next after “wasting” two years of my life getting a degree from an unaccredited Bible college. The answer is that I don’t know, and that’s okay because it’s not my problem. That’s the nice thing about trusting in authority… it takes away a lot of burdens. And, it just so happens that the Authority I’m trusting in knows the whole big picture of history, so I figure He’s a pretty good one to know what I should be doing next, and He’s been teaching me a lot this summer about how He leads us.

In June, I was going through the book of Proverbs. I found over and over verses about how people can make their plans, but in the end, God is the one who decides what happens. Proverbs 16:1 says, “The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” We can make our plans, but God gets the final say. Verse nine of the same chapter says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” A few chapters later, Proverbs 19:21 reads, “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel- that will stand.”

God’s been teaching me about how He leads in the most natural days. As much as I might want to hear it sometimes, God very rarely gives us instructions by rolling back the sky and speaking from heaven. Instead, He guides us so naturally in everyday life that often we don’t even see His hand until we’re looking back on what happened. This sort of work of God is displayed beautifully in the story of Ruth.

When Ruth went out to glean in hopes of providing for herself and Naomi, she didn’t go expecting to find a husband. Gleaning was the lowest occupation and was essentially the same as begging. She had made her plans, and gleaning was the best she could do. And there was nothing wrong with that. She did her best to be faithful with what she had. But while she was planning her way, God was directing her steps. She did not intentionally begin to work in Boaz’s field in hopes of being redeemed. She did not even know that such a man, or perhaps even that the laws of kinsman redeemers, existed. In her faithfulness, God guided her without her knowledge to the place where He would begin the process of her redemption.

So often God seems to work like that. I may have no idea what He’s doing, I may not even be able to see His hand at all, but He is always there, orchestrating everything perfectly. It’s so comforting knowing that as I look forward at my future and see nothing but foggy dreams, and even as I look at the next semester not knowing what to expect, God has I all figured out. I don’t have to understand ahead of time, or in the middle of things, or even looking back on them, it’s enough to know that He does understand. And that’s all I have time for, so I guess I’ll stop rambling and just move forward. Year two of college is waiting.


The Gift of a Thunderstorm

The last few days, and weeks, have been hard. Very hard. There are some situations in my life, situations for the most part that I do not have the right or the desire to share here, that have been extremely hurtful. People I care deeply about have been struggling and so have I, yet despite all of it, God has proved Himself to be so good, so faithful, and so eager to bless again and again.

Earlier today I was really depressed about some of the things that have been going on. Me and a friend were just sitting in her room, not even really talking. She was listening to music and I was texting my younger sister. Then she randomly stopped her music, leaned over to where I was sitting, and prayed for me. She told God that she didn’t know how to make me feel better, but that she knew He could, and asked Him to please do it. A few minutes after that we thought we heard thunder and went outside to see what was happening, and a few minutes after that it started raining. It was sort of a crazy storm for summertime in this peaceful little corner of Southern California… we got lightning and thunder and pouring rain and wind strong enough to be respected even in Western Nebraska.

I stood outside for a few minutes with my eyes closed and my face toward the sky, just feeling the huge drops hitting me one after another. The falling water was cold, but the puddles around my bare feet were warm from sitting on the pavement that had been absorbing the unbearable heat of the pounding sun less than an hour earlier. I could hear my friends laughing as they ran outside into the downpour and I tipped my head back farther and laughed myself, reveling in the feeling of the wind in my hair and the rain on my face. And I realized God had answered my friend’s prayer. He had given me exactly what I needed to be joyful again and to be reminded that He does love me and everyone involved in every situation… that He has it all under control and it’s all going to be okay… that no matter what happens, He will always be right beside me holding my hand. The God who created the universe and has the power to give rain calls me His precious daughter… what right could I possibly have to be worried or afraid? What right could I even have to feel useless or worthless when He calls me His treasure and is willing to open up the sky and pour rain all over the city for my sake?

Proverbs 16:15 says, “In the light of the king’s face is life, and his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.” The King I serve is such a rich Blesser. He has poured out His unmerited favor on me in so many ways that I could never begin to understand them all. He has given me such precious sisters and brothers who I know I can always go to for prayer and encouragement when I need it… He has given me life and breath and strength and the honor of using them to serve His people… He has given me countless everyday blessings, the color of flowers, the smell of fresh coffee, the majesty of a sunset, to remind me of Him… and most of all He has given me such a deep, beautiful relationship with Himself… He has made me who was His enemy His daughter.

God is so good you guys… honestly… life is hard and it hurts sometimes, but He said in Isaiah 41:13, “For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” No matter where He may take us, He will always be right beside us providing for us… and when my God provides He doesn’t just give the bare minimum, He blesses above and beyond what we would ever have dreamed of asking for. Sometimes He gives us something as big as a thunderstorm.


Perfect Afternoon…

The warm sun is shining down on my back, warm enough to be comfortable, but not at all hot. The warm breeze gently keeps my hair out of my face. The afternoon is silent, with most of the students away at different weekend events. All I hear is the occasional bird song and the familiar tapping of my fingers on the keys. It’s a perfect afternoon. I silently thank God for the beauty as I dutifully keep at my homework. And then it’s like I hear a whisper in the breeze… “This is for you, My precious daughter,” God whispers to my heart. “This is because I love you.”


Little Moments

A few days ago, I had dinner with my brother, my sister, my best friend, and her brother. While growing up, the five of us spent hours together every day. We were all like siblings. Almost two years ago, my best friend and I both got jobs. Only a few months later, my brother got a job. That was the end of our carefree days of playing tag for hours on end, playing music together as a “band,” or any of the other things we’d done together. Well, as time went on, the number of hours we were working went up, school got more difficult, church activities became more time consuming, people got involved with plays and volunteer work, a million things came up to keep us from spending time together.

Anyhow, my best friend and I had decided to go out to dinner, mostly because we hadn’t for a little while. Well, my sister said she wanted to come, then my brother, then her brother. Okay, so that wasn’t exactly what we’d originally had in mind, but whatever, we can change our plans. We ended up going to Arby’s, somewhere we could afford to feed everyone with the money we had handy. Of course, Arby’s isn’t exactly the most exciting place to eat. Since the weather’s been warming up a bit, we decided to take our food to the park. Well, the boys said the picnic tables were boring, so we went to sit on the merry-go-round. We just sat there spinning kinda slowly, eating dinner, and talking. It felt so much like life five years ago. It was nice not be stressing about work and deadlines, to just be a kid for the evening.

So that’s something I’ve been thinking about, is it okay to just be a kid sometimes? I’m a senior in highschool, I work full time, I do tons of stuff at church, I’ve got a lot of responsibilities. So to say the least, my life if fairly high-stress. I’m thinking about graduation plans, about colleges, about life goals, about careers, and about callings. I’ve done some things I regret, and not done some things I wish I had. There are things I hope to do, and things that I worry I might. But there’s one thing that’s important to realize. In the middle of all our planning and fretting, all we really have is the present. Of course it’s important to plan ahead, to be good stewards, to be prepared to follow God’s will for our lives. But it’s also important not to totally burn ourselves out getting ready for “real life.” The time we have right now is just as much a part of life as the time we’ll have after we’re in college, started on careers, or married. Yes, it’s important to do things that will really matter, but God also wants us to enjoy life. By studying the Old Testament holidays, we can see that many of the observances commanded by God involved spending time worshiping and feasting with family and friends.

This is really a lesson I’m still learning. I want to succeed. I want to be ready for life. I want to do the best I can at everything. But at the same time, I’m realizing more and more that those precious moments spent with those we love are important, too. There’s no point in going through life succeeding at everything if you’re going to be miserable despite it all. Sometimes, it’s important to take the time to play with your siblings, to talk to your friends, to walk in the rain. Most importantly, remember to take time to worship, to pray, to read your Bible, and to continue to get to know God better. It’s all too easy to let anything without a deadline attached fall by the wayside.

I guess all I can really say is, it seems like all too often, when I get overwhelmed with everything, when I’m depressed, scared, or worried, it all comes down to the little things. Most of the time, if I think to stop and take the time to talk with a good friend, to read a few psalms, to take a walk and pray, I’ll feel better. Of course it won’t fix everything, but it certainly makes it easier to cope. Right now is really all the time we have, that could be your last chance to kiss your mother, hug your friend, or remind your brother that you love him. Don’t let those little moments escape while you’re busy meeting deadlines.