It’s Not What I Thought

Thanks be to God for His glory is within me!

I was going to try to start this post all catchy and stuff but then I realized I don’t need a tag-line to talk about Jesus. Being a Christian isn’t anything like I ever anticipated. 

I found the Truth in high school and called myself a Christian. But honestly, I wasn’t saved. I truly came to Christ on my own terms in September. Here’s the reality I’ve come to face these past few months: being a Christian is the most painful thing you’ll experience. 

I have lost so many people in my life whom I thought were good friends until I saw what a true, Godly friendship was through a girl I met in Cru named Joanna. After meeting and bonding with her, I stepped back to look at everyone in my life and realized I wouldn’t settle for friends who came to me when they needed something or only when my friendship eased their burdens. I wanted friends who sought me out when I was drowning from fear and faithlessness. But also friends who joyfully celebrated the big milestones. I wanted to be unconditionally, genuinely, and faithfully loved. 

I hurt my family. My nasty tongue and painful actions tore my relationships apart. I didn’t talk to the majority of my family for months at one point. And if you know me, you know how important my family is to me. Seeing how Jesus loved all people made me want to love my family better and be a better sister/daughter/cousin/niece. 

I have also had to face the reality of who I was before coming to the foot of the Cross. I was a liar, I used manipulation to get everything I wanted in life, I partied, and worst of all I hated who I was. Everyday. I struggled to look in the mirror so I hid myself in desperate attempts to get attention from anyone anywhere. And that hurt. Oh my, it was the most painful process to work through. To look at every aspect of my life and let Jesus change me bit by bit was so incredibly tough. 

Thankfully, God’s grace isn’t based on me. 

The “Christian lifestyle” looked happy-go-lucky from the outside. I thought being a Christian meant I’d always be satisfied and life would just work itself out. That I wouldn’t face anything too terrible and everything would be easier. But that’s not the reality of following Jesus. The mountains and the valleys grow us every single day. Everything the Lord places in our path is intentional, and the pain we feel is never in vain. 

He took this angry, hateful girl and turned me into who I’m still growing into today. I begged for change from the inside out, and I got it. I’ve learned to surrender, but not quit. All I had to do was take my hand off the doorknob, allowing doors to close so He could open others. Even my “bad” days aren’t that bad, because I know I’m loved and things can still be good. 

These changes have brought about a lot of joy and faithfulness in every outlook of my mind. I face challenges with an optimistic perception and laugh in the face of fear. I’m growing into this shell of a loving heart and soul that I’ve always had and it feels good. I’m thriving, not merely surviving. 

I mean, Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son for a reason. No matter what we’ve done, we can still come home because we are wrapped in loving,

         boundless,

                        endless,

                                      grace.

Here’s the Thing About Tahoe

It’s much more than a summer vacation

My excitement to live in South Lake Tahoe is seriously indescribable. I’ve been counting down the days since I got accepted in early February.

Yes, it is one of the most beautiful places in the US (definitely my opinion), and yes, it is going to be so much fun. But the thing no one understands is that no, its not a vacation.

This summer is going to be one of the most trying but growth-filled summers I’ve ever had. Going to Tahoe is a leap of faith for me, especially because support raising hasn’t gone very well. Being asked to take risks is counter-cultural and sometimes, against all odds, against all logic, we still hope. I am going to have to trust the Lord to provide the large amount of money I need to be there this summer. I will also be pushed out of my very comfortable bubble to pursue others with hopes of sharing salvation with them. That’s scary to me.

But one big thing I know about faith is that the Holy Spirit doesn’t do comfort zones. Jesus doesn’t want me to just be a believer, He wants me to be a participant. He wants and has called me to do Kingdom work.

Tahoe is a vacation destination that  attracts so many different people and cultures from all over the world. These are people who can hear the Gospel from students at our project, and we get to learn to talk about Jesus to complete strangers. I get to spend the summer having spiritual conversations, and this is something I will be able to carry with me for the rest of my life.

Tahoe Summer Project isn’t designed to reach the people in that city. This summer is about building my walk with the Lord and my ministry skills to be a Kingdom worker and fighter back on my campus or place of work so I can make a difference for Jesus. By spending a summer developing my faith, I can reach college aged people globally and that’s the biggest mission of them all.

I want to spend my life living missionally, but I know I have a lot of work and growing to do before I am well equipped to tackle language and cultural barriers to share the love of Jesus Christ within the unreached communities in the 1040 window. Joining Lake Tahoe Summer Mission is my first step to gaining the knowledge and skills to effectively meet people where they are at so I can share the life changing story of Jesus with any person I meet.

College students currently make up about 1% of the population, but we are the future leaders of the world. This is a time in our lives as young adults where we decide what our values are and where we stand spiritually and I want to be equipped to bring others closer to Jesus. I want to go to Tahoe to do all of these things (sorry Mr. Archer) and more that I haven’t even realized yet.

God often calls us to things and places that seem impossible to show us that they are indeed possible, we just need to trust Him in order to fulfill them. So, that’s where I am. I am trusting the Lord will provide through hearts willing to radically, sacrificially, and faithfully give towards my step into my calling as a missionary.  But also for people to be faithfully praying for my heart and willingness to serve the Lord by following His calling on my life.

I am going to Tahoe to to be changed and ultimately to change the world. And I really hope you’ll join me on this new adventure.

“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
Here’s the link if you’d faithfully like to join my team in this new adventure! 

https://give.cru.org/0917967

If You Give A Girl Some Brothers

Life without them would be so boring…

My family started small- just my mom, dad, older brother, and myself. A tiny family of four doing the best we could with what we had. 

A few years later, out popped not one, but two tiny toe headed little boys. Instantly our family grew, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

When you give a girl an older brother, you give her a best friend for life. A-1-From-Day-1 (or something like that). We played together and had some intense rounds of barbies vs bionicles. Countless hours of getting in trouble together and playing hackie sack when we were grounded to our rooms filled our childhood. We even had to share our first cell phone, which drove me crazy. But one thing I will hold onto is that even on the days you wanted to strangle me, you were the only one allowed to. You guarded us when our family fell apart and made the bad days a little more bearable. You are protective and loving (even though to this day you suck at showing affection) and aren’t afraid to honestly share what’s on your mind. You taught me how to be tough and to take on challenge, and you gave me someone to gossip with at family functions. You have been my worst enemy yet always my biggest ally.

When you give a girl some younger brothers, you give her a new way of life. I’m pretty sure I wanted to return my brothers at first (BUT I didn’t) because they cried a lot and I definitely hit Kayden’s head on a chair when I held him for the first time. “House” was no longer a make-believe game when there were two literal babies in front of me. I used to scare you both so you wouldn’t come into the basement to mess up my room, and tricked you into drinking vinegar because you thought it was water. I fought for you guys in school when you weren’t being treated right and the parents wrote it off as atypical school drama. I missed your first homecoming dance because I was away at college and literally cried for an hour that night. Having little brothers gave me a role, and has taught me what motherly instincts are. I never had someone looking up to me until I had them, and I’ve become very overprotective of my little brothers even though I know they’re strong enough to take care of themselves.

As a girl who has spent most of her life with her brothers, I am so thankful they have taught me to laugh at the most inappropriate times and to just have fun no matter what’s happening in life. The jokes and goofing off never ends when we’re all together and I love that about my family.

But as time has gone on, I’ve come to notice some things that make my heart so very sad. My little brothers are bigger than me now and don’t need my help anymore. They don’t need me to show them how to use the buses or make a meal. They don’t need me to show them how to work the washing machine or change their sheets because they’re turning into little men. My older brother has his own life. He doesn’t need me to pester him to to take a shower or do the dishes because he’s already succeeding on his own. He’s even about to start his own family anyday when his son is born. Regardless, we’re definitely growing up, but never growing apart. 

God blessed this girl with three amazing brothers who mean everything me. I love all of them more than the stars in the sky and I am so thankful for all the times they’ve been my therapists, saving grace, or my goofballs to laugh with. I really cannot fathom anything greater than having a brother — or in my case, three.

Seattle, I am really going to miss you.

Yeah, I know. I’m surprised too.

[Bear with me, this is kind of long. But this has been my reality for the last two months]

Anyone who has known me for any period of time understands that I look upon my life as an adventure in every way possible. My “innocent” prayer on the last day of 2016 has now brought about my newest adventure.

I thought when I asked God to reveal what He had planned for me, that I would just have a clear sense of direction on where to go and what to study after graduating from UW. I had no idea that He was going to take my hand and teach me how to walk on water.

I always joke about how Jesus must hate me because He loves to test my faith. This time wasn’t so funny. It was actually really, really messy. It involved ugly crying for days while I so desperately clung to my dream school in Seattle and this perfect little life I was building. But that’s the thing- I was building it. Sure Jesus was there with me, but my focus was on success and a future career. I didn’t ever check in to see if this was where He wanted me to be, and it turns out I’ve been doing this whole life thing all wrong.

My devotional has been diving into the concept of free will, and how He will be there regardless of our decisions. However, when we aren’t focused on Him, He just sits back and waits for us to relinquish control so He can take us into so, so much better.

My New Year’s Resolution was to stop being so scared of life, to start saying yes, and just pursuing the Lord with all I am. This lead to leap after leap of faith, knowing and trusting that I had the safety of His arms waiting to catch me.

I am starting to love the sound of my feet walking away from the things not meant for me. It’s still a daily struggle, but I am getting there. I have been called for more and I am going wherever He leads.

Which brings me here:

On January 5th, 2017 I submitted my application to transfer to Corban University in Salem, Oregon.

February 2nd, 2017 I got accepted into both this amazing university and my 9-week summer missions trip (within two hours!!).

Between applying and getting accepted were so many sleepless nights and tear filled days as I realized this reality of my life was shifting and I didn’t know what was happening. As a person who has every day of her week planned before Monday even begins, this was (and still is) a hard concept for me to grasp. But this life isn’t my own, and I know He is leading me into so much better!

As I sit here on the Corban campus, I am so in love with it. The people are so kind and welcoming, the campus is incredibly beautiful, and the one class I attended was actually super fun. This campus is the embodiment of Jesus’s love and support for His creation and it’s astonishing.

I am really going to miss Seattle and my amazing community- like I almost started crying as I wrote this. But I am even more excited to get to Corban and begin this new chapter. This next adventure is His, and I’m pumped (and somewhat impatient) to be spending the next couple of years here!

 

God, Can I Ask You a Question?

Bethel Music wasn’t kidding- You have called me out beyond the shore into the waves, and You make me brave. 

A month ago I took a step of faith and went to conference with Cru. During this time, You broke down my walls of self-righteousness and insecurity. I laid so much pain and heartache and suffering at the foot of Your Cross. And unlike in the past, I actually left it there. I experienced genuine healing and comfort when I didn’t know I could in such damaged parts of my life. I became new in You.

That week in Portland led to what seemed like a small, innocent prayer- to use me for Your will. To be transformed into Your image, as well as guidance and strength to follow Your true path for me. Little did I know You were about to turn my life upside-down. 

The theme of the conference was an Upside-Down Kingdom and You’ve definitely shown me what that means in my life. I have since taken leap after leap of faith, pursing You in bold surrender for the past month. You took my hand and pulled me out onto deep waters and showed me that with You, I can do all things. 

But at the end of the day, I still sit here and wonder:

Why me? Why now? 

I’m honestly not surprised that the very thing You have called me to do scares me the most. 

But, I seem to be battling with feeling unworthy in this new adventure You have called me to. But, I seem to be coming out on top more often when I put my trust in Your hands. I still don’t understand why You chose to rock the boat, but I’m starting to find rest in Your timing. 

No matter how hard this gets, I refuse to let the uncertainty of not knowing how this will end stop me from starting, and I won’t let the voice of my desires overshadow Yours. 

So for now, I’m going to find rest in this beautiful thing You’ve created called imperfect progress– slow steps of faith wrapped in grace. 

Let’s Go Back a Few Years…

When I saw wounded, He saw mended.

Story time!

On January 21st, 2012, I was at winter camp with my youth group as a high schooler. I had been wrestling with my identity and struggling with my will to live for months before this weekend event. I found myself crying at the foot of the alter during worship Saturday night and that’s when I met with Jesus for the first time. He said that I was beautiful and He was going to make me new.

I believe that in order to have a genuinely healed and faithful heart, we must first allow it to truly break before the Lord.

Looking back, in the moment, all I could see was pain and the wounds from all of the times I had fallen. You know what He saw in me? He saw purpose, and the priceless stories my scars would tell the world. Jesus saw my potential and I pray that I never lose the ambition to pursue Him wholeheartedly.

That was almost five years ago! There’s no way it’s been half a decade

 

If it were possible to go back with the knowledge I have today, I can fairly positively say I wouldn’t change anything. (I can’t be 100% because I am quite impulsive sometimes). My experiences were and continue to be stepping stones to a better life, and they’re all coming together into this beautiful creation. Jesus made a miracle of me- this broken girl who didn’t even know which way was up. He loved me at my darkest, more in that moment than anyone could in this lifetime. Jesus did His best work when my heart was shattered, which allowed Him to fill my emptiness with passion and adventure.

“After your season of suffering, God in all His grace will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10

Thinking back to that night and everything I did to get myself to where I am now leaves me in awe.[WRONG]

Every decision was guided by His divine hand, and He is taking me into a future I can’t even fathom. My strength, my identity, my love and compassion come directly from the One who created my heart. This life is purely His, and I leave everything in His hands which has allowed me to see His hand in everything.

I can clearly see all of the doors God opened (but also closed) for my good in the end. Seeing the coordination of His timing is astounding, and inspires me to leave my life at the Cross and let Jesus take control. Instead of saying “Lord, I don’t know how I am going to get through this” I have begun to look at life and say “Lord, I can’t wait to see how you do this.”

If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this: you, my friend, are not that powerful. You are where the Lord wants you to be at this very moment; every experience is part of His divine workmanship. Don’t ever be afraid to trust your unknown future to our known God.

Be intentional about remembering that the work God does within us while we wait is just as important as whatever He’s preparing.

His timing, not ours.

11 Common Thoughts While Living On Campus

I think I am losing my mind.


1. Do quiet hours really exist?

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The RA’s don’t always monitor for quiet hours… like once, there were 3 freshman riding up and down my hall yelling “would you like to buy from the trolley” in a shopping cart at 1 am.

2. I think I’m getting sick again….

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When you live in such close quarters for 9 months of the year, you begin to accept the inevitable doom of catching whatever bug is going around.

3. Why are we willingly living in a room the size of a walk in closet?

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When inviting friends over, it’s like playing human tetris with the space not already occupied by furniture.

4. Cleaning your room is nearly impossible.

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I’m generally a clean person and not being able to tidy up (because only half the room is acceptable to touch) drives me up the wall.

5. What’s sleep????

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I didn’t believe I could sleep less in college than I did in high school, but oh boy have I proven myself wrong. BUT HEY! My grades are pretty spiffy and I adore my friends so it’s worth it.

6. I didn’t realize how badly I wanted to take a bath until I couldn’t anymore.

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Bath tubs don’t exist in college. If you want a bathtub, your only option is to just set up an inflatable pool in your room and hope for the best.

7. The dining hall is just a hot mess.

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It’s too far away (seriously, who wants to walk across the street for food?), serves food I’ve never even heard of, and it’s honestly questionable to eat sometimes.

8. Inspections are coming- better clean the easy half of the bathroom. 

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If you’re like me and have roommates, you make sure to check when inspections are and race to see who gets to the mirror and sink first- no one likes cleaning the shower or toilet.

9. Aren’t the lounges supposed to be shared?? 

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There’s always this guy. Or people who spend 12 hours in the same lounge, staring at their phones until you want to use the TV so they’re all of a sudden “watching a movie”.

10. I’ll just do my laundry next week. 

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I honestly believe that laundry is the worst part of the week. Not to mention, there’s always those people who take 50 washers so no one else can do laundry.

11. If I stay here much longer, I’m going to lose it

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College has been… interesting.