Brazil

Got back from Brazil this week. Our church does a short term mission trip there every year. It was my first year to go and it was incredible. I’m still trying to process everything.

It was so cool to see how God answered prayers while we were there. We even got to see some of the fruits of our work while we were there. There were some rough times for me personally but overall it was just wonderful and I can’t wait to go back next year.

I might write something more detailed about the trip at some point in the future. I’ll have to plan it out.

School Has Started

Seminary school started two weeks ago. I’ve been busy. So many events to go to, so many new people to meet, so many new things to read! Plus I volunteer at church, and I have to work. And take care of my mental health. It’s a lot! How does God fit into the picture?

A common problem with studying theology is that it tends to focus too much on the knowledge and not nearly enough on the spiritual learning. I’m beginning to see how that’s entirely possible. At the same time, I’m encouraged by my professors. I’m taking two classes on campus, and both classes begin with prayer to focus ourselves on why we’re there in the first place. For my online courses, the professors are always bringing in the spiritual piece to the conversation. Back on campus, we have chapel, where we have a speaker give a talk on spiritual matters. It’s encouraging to be at a place like this.

This week I have started to get scared. I have a lot of work to do over the weekend. But I also have other commitments. I’m worried about how I’ll get everything done. I had a bit of a breakdown at work this morning and had to go home. Then I slept for literally half the day.  This only adds to my worries. But I’m going to be strong and confident. I’ll get through this. I’ll work diligently at doing what I can, chip away, and study at every moment I have.

What I’m learning most is that God is good. School’s tough. It’s busy. It’s stressful. But I’m hopeful. I’m learning so much. And I’m encouraged by everything I read and hear. A thing here or there strike me differently and get me thinking but it’s a good sign. I’m excited for all that this semester will bring!

 

Normal Anxieties

Remember how I was excited about getting back to my goals? Well, I ended up catching a cold. Coughing, sneezy, runny nose, body aches. So much for watching my diet and exercising. Haven’t eaten much. Haven’t moved much. Pretty much sucks. This kind of sick just has to run its course. It better hurry up, because I’ve got stuff to do!

One week until I start seminary school. Later this week is orientation. I’m super excited to get started already! I’m ready to learn! I’m also getting nervous. What if it’s too hard? What if I can’t keep up? What if I fail? These are normal anxieties. A lot of people feel this way when they step up to something big. But that’s why they’re big dreams. Not everyone has the courage, will, and determination to do it. So here I am, making my attempt, answering the call. And I will be successful. It’s a path that I’m ready to take on. Each step will lead me to bigger and bright things in the future.

 

“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.”
(Psalm 67:1–2)

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
(Isaiah 60:1)

Isaiah 43:2

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.”

Isaiah 43:2 ESV

 

Camping in the Ouchitas

This story begins with an idea that started with a thought. The idea was that we go on this backpacking trip. We get all our gear together. We gotta plan the routes. Find out our water cache locations. And then hit the trail. Shouldn’t have been a big problem. And in the end it wasn’t a big problem at all. We arrived Thursday night at 1 or 2 AM and slept in the car. In the morning we looked for the water cache locations but it was taking a long time. We decided to give up on trying to find the water cache locations an instead get some campsites for the rest of the length of our stay. We arranged that quite easily. Two of us went on a short 3 mile hike,. While I stayed at camp and rested after the relative chaos of the past few weeks. Saturday we hiked 8 miles. 2.5 to the Potato Hill Vista. Then we continued on to our 4 mile marker. We ate our lunch and then head back just in the nick of time before it got completely dark. It was a great hike, getting us right back to our campsite. So much fun! Sunday we did a shorter hike. Three miles around the lake. Leisurely. But we were still tired. And glad that we only did 3, anymore it would have been excessive. From there we drove out to Panorama Vista to see the sunset. It was beautiful and worth it.

IMG_0337

We talked about our journeys through life. We made sarcastic jokes. We got along well. We talked about Jesus. It was a good time to connect and learn about our group. It wasn’t the trip that I had planned. But it was the trip that we needed to do. And I still want to go backpacking with these girls sometime in the future. God always knows his plan, and God is always putting his plan into action. We just have to go along with it. The next trip will be different, but it’s going to be wonderful.

I Am So Selfish

I am so selfish. I am very self centered. And I’m very possessive. I know this about myself. I’m always trying to find what’s best for me in any situation. I want to know how I can be benefitted by doing different tasks for activities. Going out with friends will benefit me because I get out of the house, and perhaps learn a few more things about my friends because I like to collect information about people. What’s in it for me? Acquiring knowledge just to have, to make myself feel smarter and impress those people later with the trivia I remembered. I have things that are mine and mine alone. Anyone else using my things must use them with caution and must put it back exactly where they got it from. You can use my pen, but you must recap it properly, it must not have leaked, and you must put it back in the same pencil case from where I got it out from. I’m particular with my things. Food is mine too. You can’t have my food, because it’s mine. I saved that piece. This is my road. Why are you driving on it? You are allowed to drive on this road if you drive the same speed as me. Otherwise get off my road. Man, I could go on.

I’m a very selfish person. Everything has to be about me. Conversations with my parents are always about me. Conversations with my brother are always about me. Conversations inevitably turn into something about me. And generally I accept it and go on because I have a listener. I enjoy telling people about myself. But I don’t like this about me.

I’m trying to get better. I’m doing my best to turn my attention to the person I’m talking to and ask them questions about themselves. And only give brief anecdotes about myself, keeping the focus on them. People feel comfortable speaking about themselves. Gaining insight about who they are helps me to pray to God on their behalf.

I’m starting to come around to letting people share some of my stuff. I can’t think of an example right now, but I’m sure there was something. I’m trying to make sure my relationships revolve around who God is and what He’s doing in their lives so that we can praise Him and not ourselves.

All these changes have happened because of the grace that Jesus has given me. It’s repentance. I’m beginning to turn away from my old ways to turn to Jesus’s way. His way is loving, generous, good, kind, humble, beautiful & without selfish ambition. Since this is way, I must conform to it. And what a wonderful set of qualities to conform to. These are things that bring us true joy and delight in God and His grace. What else do you need to ask for? God is good.

Jesus

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. He died. He was God’s only son. The one and only. God sent him to live a life of suffering. He suffered so much. All of those things you’ve been through, Jesus has gone through as well. He was rejected. He was bullied. He was ostracized. He was laughed at. He was called a drunkard. People said he was a lunatic. People did not believe him. He was betrayed. He was tested in the wilderness by all the things that frequently lead us astray, but he endured it. He endured it all until the very end. His death was prolonged agony, the epitome of suffering. It was horrific. But he endured it. Until is life gave out, he cried out “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:48 ESV). Fully man, separated from God the Father. This was God’s sacrifice of his only son for one purpose. The purpose of Jesus on the cross was while Jesus was perfect, he took on the sins of the people of the world as his own sin. And he put them to death. In the most terrifying way possible. So sin is put to death. Woo hoo! Then Christ is miraculously retuned. He came back . He stripped off all our sins. So that we can live a life forgiven and free. We are no longer slaves to our sins. We no longer have to be ashamed. Jesus took our shame for us. We no longer have to feel abandoned. We are God’s children. We are no longer hopeless. Jesus IS our hope, “For in this hope we were saved” (Romans 8:24 ESV).