The Center.

First word that pops into your head when I say “CENTER?”

           Is it a circle with a dot in the middle? Is it the the Duck, Duck, Goose game where all the little children are surrounding the one kid in the pot? Is it the nucleus of a living cell? Is it a heart? Is it Christ? What does the word, CENTER, mean to you?

   I believe that the word center entails something that you are so focused on that you center all of your time, effort, money, and relationships around it. Everything has to be approved by this “center,” and you won’t live your life without it because you feel like you would die without it. You regret your past without it, you yearn for it in your present, and you run towards making it part of your life in the future. It has a grip on you, and you really don’t mind. You want it to be in your life even when you don’t necessarily feel like it is there.

     As I have realized over the past year, there is NO way that we as “followers of Christ” can live our lives without him being the center of it. We say we love him, but do we really accept that we might have to sacrifice everything to keep him at the center of our lives? Do we really want to give up that addiction to porn to live a pure life with him? What about that hobby that isn’t necessarily bad, but it steals our precious time away from things that we could be working on to improve our lives and those around us? Do we really want to give up that friend who holding us back from from getting good grades in school? What about that boyfriend or girlfriend who is taking us farther than we ever wanted to go? Will we really break up with them in order to discover the overwhelming plans that Christ has in store for our lives?

    Reasoning with myself on this topic over the last couple of weeks, I began to have a very acute feeling of worthlessness. Sure, I could make Jesus the center of my life, but would it really change me? Why would I make this effort for him to be the center if I knew that I have always and would always mess up? I didn’t want to disgrace his name, therefore I considering not even advertising his name. But those were. all. lies.

    We don’t have to live with what is wrong with us, but live with what is right in Jesus.

He says that He has redeemed us from our past lives, that we will take our old heart of stone from us and create a new heart of flesh so that we may have all joy, all peace, and be perfect through him. He has been working in us, and he promises that he WILL complete it, if we keep him at the center of our hearts. In our human minds, we couldn’t possibly think that the spirit will speak to us about every aspect of life, but in reality (isn’t it funny that as really as humans are, the Holy Spirit is more real?). Christ says that we will hear a voice being telling us the right way, we need only follow him. Jesus needs to be the center of our lives.

   There is a song that has this line of lyrics in it: ” From my heart to the heavens, Jesus be the center of my life.”

     This is a prayer for Christ to take over our lives. From the intricate workings of the heart, the emotions, the worries, the fear. Outward to our relationships, our jobs, our studies, the activities that we are involved in, Jesus needs to be the center. But here is the pivotal recognition: 

Christ wants to be the center of your life. He wants to comfort you when you cry. He wants to be that best friend that you can come and rant to. He wants you to cast your cares on him, because you are the apple of his eye. He wants to cuddle with you and carry you when you can’t walk anymore. He wants to renew your strength, but you first have to call on him.

   This means that even when we don’t feel like it, Christ needs to be the center of our lives. We need to make the effort that he has already made. He is as close to us as he will ever be, He just wants us to draw closer to him. He is waiting for you.

 

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To LIVE

Unfortunately, most people merely exist throughout most of their lives instead of actually living them. We humans are programmed to look forward to the next big thing instead of being content and putting the most effort into living every day as if it was our last. I have never been so fully realized this point as I have this summer. While a lot of my friends are out of country on a mission trip or on a vacation at the beach, I am here in Shelbyville, IN working at Subway. No, this is not a complaint. It might have been this yesterday or this afternoon, but not now. This isn’t a bad thing because I have had to stretch my character is more ways than one- but one of the most prominent being perseverance.

Life is simply full of hills, valleys, mountaintops, beaches, and deep dark forests. Our main goal as children of God is to not just search for the mountaintops, forgetting that the journey went through a forest, but to notice every single twig and rock that lies on the ground in that forest as well. We are meant to be pushed to our limit in every area. We are meant to endure, to persevere, to grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We are meant to LIVE.  But by LIVING, we need to not only feel like we are living while we are being whipped by the wind on the mountain top, we need to live while we are in the valley as well. We need to persevere, and through that perseverance in the seemingly dull moments of life, the hard, whats-the-point-of-this moments, the moments where we want to scream our head off.  Because those are the moments where real, permanent life change occurs.  Those are the moments where we have the chance to make the existence of ourselves an actual life.

“Most people just tiptoe through life just to arrive safely at death. But dear children, don’t tiptoe. Run, hope, skip, dance, just don’t tiptoe.”

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Dear Kenya Team, It’s Been One Year.

Dear Kenya Team,

It’s been one year. One year since I stepped off the bus to a life changing adventure awaiting me. One year since I got creeped out by this girl named Julie King running up to me and stroking my hair upon meeting me for the first time. One year since I discovered a little girl with big, lion-like hair and a big heart to match. It’s been one year since I met this 15-year-old named Ben Brynildson who is such a leader spiritually that he seems older than the entire team when in fact he is the youngest.  It’s been one year since I heard that incredible laugh that sounds like a mix between a donkey and a bird-depending on how hard Becbek laughed. It’s been one year since I have been forever changed by the complete joy of Emily Herrin, the unwavering faith of Esther, Abby, and Tara. It’s been one year since I discovered that guys can be protective of girls and not be loud or obnoxious about it. It’s been one year since I figured out that I just want to play the violin and improvise with other instruments and voices in complete praise of God. That is what I want to do with my life because of Kenya.

Dear Kenya team, it’s been one year since we have witnessed a miracle. Not just the physical miracles in Kenya, but the miracle of bringing 17 people from Washington state, to southeast Florida, to Canada and everywhere in between and having us be unified in one spirit. Not only that, but traveling to Kenya and meeting people like Curt, Lucy, and Pastor Steve and becoming a family.

It has been one year since I realized that it is indeed possible to use the bathroom without an actual toilet; that porridge is a daily bit of awfulness for many people in the world; that long skirts and legging are actually comfortable to wear; that you can in fact wake up every day to people laughing (rebecca prather and emily herrin!!). It has been one year since I discovered TOMS.

Dear Kenya team, it has been one year since we have seen angels in a mud hut in Africa. It has been one year since we have poured out our hurts and hopes to each other. It has been one year since we have trusted each other so much that we would tell each other our deepest and darkest secrets.

Dear Kenya team, I believe that the real reason that we met each other was not only to go on an amazing adventure to Africa and experience all of this together. The real reason is that God saw these 17 people, all completely different from each other with different backgrounds. He opened all the books to our lives and saw that each one of us would be in a very low time in our life. He knew that on June 16th, 2010, he would start to tear out our hearts and rebuild them while inserting HIS heart into us. He saw the effects after the trip on our lives. He sees the effects that it still having on every one of us, and he sees how this one month would not only change all of our lives, but change the course of our lives and what we will do with them because of this trip. God created a miracle when he created this team.

It’s been one year and we are starting to go our separate ways. Some of us are already on other mission trips or planning for them right now. Others will be heading off to college in a couple of months in pursuit of a career in America. Still others will be plugging along in highschool again next year. I honestly don’t think that all 17 of us will be together in one room ever again. But God saw that puzzle put together one year ago, and all 17 pieces are still the same shape. We have all played a pivotal role in each others lives.

We cannot ever fully separate our lives from Kenya, because we are part of each other. I love you Kenya team. It’s been one year.

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Take a ride.

I remember being in 7th grade, musing about how “long” I had until I graduated highschool. I had so many plans for those upcoming 6 years of my life. I would conquer the world, become a princess, meet this really cute guy and start dating, get an almost perfect score on the SAT, maybe get a full scholarship to college with music, and of course have complete and full confidence in myself.

It’s really amazing- God’s sense of humor that is 🙂

Here I am, with high school behind me, and a completely different life in front of me than I had originally planned.  I haven’t conquered the world but I have seen God work in amazing ways. I have seen miracles; I have seen lives completely flipped upside down and set upright on the right path.  I’m not a princess by the worlds standards, but I have found that Jesus loves me like a princess…and according to Him, I am one.  I haven’t ever officially dated a really cute guy, but that is because I’ve fallen in love with this other guy. He is more attractive than any other guy that I would ever meet, and he understands everything that I’ve gone through these last few years. He is so strong that He has actually taken my heart and opened it up wide enough to see a glimpse of what He is really like. And He has showed me that I have so much more to learn about Him. Do you know this guy that I have fallen for?? Have you heard of Him?

I have NOT gotten an almost perfect score on the SAT. But the score is practically perfect for what God had planned for me.  I haven’t gotten a scholarship into college with music. God actually took music away from me over the past year, only to show me that I needed to focus on him; he showed me that I need to be a lilly in the field.  I might have not gotten a full ride with music, but God has showed me the more exciting and wonderful side of music, the side that we see when we use it to praise him.

Lastly, I have no confidence in myself whatsoever. Especially in the last 2 years. The more that I try to achieve things by my own strength, I always fail miserably. Isn’t it funny how once you let go of things how everything seems to fall into place??

Throughout my highschool years, if I have concluded anything, it is this: He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got the mothers holding their babies, he’s got the daddy’s who are off to war, he’s got those children who are left alone. He’s got the messed up families, the teens who are considering suicide, the attacked, shamed, and beaten women. He’s got the young people who are scared of life, and the old people who are afraid to die. He’s got the whole world in His hands.

And if He’s got us in His hands, why aren’t we willing to jump, because we do know that He WILL catch us. If His hands reach across the universe, why won’t we let him hold us like He ought to?

The Holy Spirit is bigger than ANYTHING. I’d say that it would be pretty smart to take a ride with Him.

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Dear Nice Guys,

Dear Nice Guys,

This letter is for you. I really don’t think that you get enough credit for the things that you do/don’t do in this life. We girls tend to only see the guys who are super attractive and flirty.  We don’t see that quiet guy with the caring personality who would die for us if the circumstance called for it.

Thank you, Nice Guys, for being a friend to us. Thank you for always knowing exactly what to say when we tend to rant. Thank you for not being scared about calling us out when we rant overmuch. “Average guys” would just agree with us in the gossip, but you Nice Guys will actually stand up for what is right.

Thank you, Nice Guys, for telling us girls frequently that we are pretty without being weird about it. If you haven’t noticed, girls have this constant longing to feel beautiful, but when average guys know that, they tend to take advantage of us and our feelings by entering into physical relationships that will ultimately dash our hearts more than heal them. Thank you for treating us like we are sisters who are very precious to you- precious enough to respect us and our feelings. Thank you for not throwing around the words, “Love and Respect” flippantly.

Thank you, Nice Guys, for standing up for what is right instead of going with the average crowd of conformists. You, Nice Guys, really do want to change the world, and you make this evident in all of your daily actions from the little signs of respect that you show your friends, parents, and colleagues. We girls might not understand the “guy sign” that you all do with each other, but I can tell you that we are jealous about it because that “sign” has more meaning than all the girly hugs that we give out.

Dear Nice Guys, this letter is for you. Because you aren’t that super flirty guy at the college who will eventually get into some hot water with all his promiscuity, girls might not take notice of you at first. But believe me, every girl wants to be friends with and marry a man like you. We might say that we only date the “bad boys,” but what we are really looking for are the good men who will run after God and their dreams not matter what while still upholding their integrity. I guess that is what you really are. You aren’t just a “Nice Guy” (which would be enough to earn applause), you are Good Men.

Thank you, Nice Guys, for being Good Men.

~All the girls in the world.

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Broken.

Have you ever broken a bone? I hear that once a broken bone is properly healed, that particular bone is stronger than ever before. It has more mass; it has more substance. This bone has been beaten up a lot more than the other bones in its body and is therefore hardier than the all the other bones.

But what about when you strain a bone so much and do so many stupid things that you get it crushed? Will this bone ever be completely healed? It might, but it will take a massive amount of time, and it will never be as strong as it once was. In frequent cases, this bone is completely damaged beyond compare.

It’s the same with Jesus. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are bound to be broken at some point in your life. If you are growing in your faith, numerous times in your life. You won’t want to be broken. You won’t want to fall on the rock that is Jesus. It will hurt. It will break your heart into thousands of pieces. But the rock has these magical powers. It puts those thousands of pieces back together. And instead of just a blank color of glass like it was before, Jesus creates a masterpiece, more indescribable and incredible than any earthly being could imagine. For every time that we are broken, Jesus picks up the tiny pieces and assembles them into something more extraordinary than the previous masterpiece.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are the ones who will be completely shattered by the rock. There will come a time in eternity that Jesus will come not as a lamb, but as a lion. For those people, they will be shattered, never to be healed. It will not be a pretty picture.

Maybe you feel like you have already been shattered. Maybe you feel like there is no returning from the mistakes that you have made. Hey guess what? That why Jesus died on the cross. I don’t think that he would have died for us if we could fix ourselves. He wants to take all of our worries, all of our mistakes, all of our grievances, all the horrible things that have happened in our lives and create something beautiful out of what seems impossible.

Jesus wants for you to come to him broken so that he won’t only “fix” you, he will create a breathtaking masterpiece.

And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whoever it falls, it will grind him to powder.-Matthew 21:44

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True Justice.

The most recent news that has wracked the world this weekend is that the long sought-after terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, was shot by U.S. troops at his mansion in Pakistan. Last night, I had at least 6 or 7 people come to me rejoicing about this news. There were posts overtaking Facebook about how the world is a much safer place without this man, and even christians were rejoicing in his death.

I wonder if you all see what I’m leading up to? Rejoicing in Osama Bin Laden’s death is just as much of a crime as rejoicing in someone who was completely innocent and brutally murdered. After all, it could have been us. Osama Bin Laden might be a well known terrorist of the world. Yes, he initiated the 9/11 plan. Yes, he killed thousands of innocent civilians in the middle east. But since the bible says that all sins are of equal value, don’t you think that our sins of lust are just as bad as Laden’s? Obama announced to America last night that, “Justice has been done.”

But if true justice would have been done, wouldn’t all of us be shot down in our homes right now?Wouldn’t all of us technically be classified as terrorists? The only difference is that his sins were more frowned upon in the world. All of us deserve true justice, but we aren’t getting it because of the beautiful grace of Jesus Christ.

Osama Bin Laden was a man too. When Jesus said that He would die for ALL of us on the cross, he meant all of us. He died for you, for me, for the rapist in jail right now, for that kid in 3rd grade that stole your lunch sandwich, and for Osama Bin Laden. Rather than rejoicing in Laden’s death, I believe that our initial attitude should be one of mourning because one more soul has rejected the beautiful gift of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I have been convicted of never even praying for Bin Laden.

The point of this blog? Believe it or not, its not to make you feel like a horrid being. It’s to call out to everyone to never give up the faith. Don’t ever give up hope in someone. If we don’t believe in terrorists coming to Jesus, we might as well rip out over half of the New Testament, because it was written by one. Everyone who surrounds you every day is going somewhere. I don’t care how “bad” they seem, they still need Jesus. Period.

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