Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Ecclesiastes 4:6 says "Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls chasing after the wind"

Would you rather have one hand open full of blessings and gifts that you can share with others and continue to receive? Or would you fight to have two hands full of gifts for yourself? But these two handfuls you would hold tightly with clenched fists because others might want to steal your gifts. With two clenched fists full of gifts you could never give and you could never receive more. You 'would be just stuck with material wealth and you would never find tranquility.

One or two? I choose one.

I think this verse greatly illustrates the art of thankfulness and celebration. Ever since I saw the Rend Collective concert, I've began to realize that thanking others, thanking Christ, and being joyful amidst all circumstances is an art- it's not easy to do. It takes practice. It's a skill and we can get better by practicing.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.

This Thanksgiving God has amazed me with His love for me. I'm up in the Colorado mountains and it is beautiful. I have been sick most of break and it was very unpleasant. But God healed me enough to go snowboarding yesterday and to eat Thanksgiving food today. I am so thankful. Not only that, but I get to spend this break with my family- a family who loves me very much. As I look around at my friends' families, I see many family struggles, my family definitely has their own challenges as well. But my family loves the Lord and loves each other. That fact alone gives us a reason to celebrate and I am so thankful that I have them to love and spend this Thanksgiving with.

God has been so good to me this year. I attend an amazing school. I have friends who remind me to pray and look to Jesus. I have an amazing family. There are so many blessings and I'm just so in awe of my Savior.

Why I deleted my facebook account

I deleted my Facebook account for similar reasons why I stopped eating sugar for two weeks before thanksgiving- it's just not healthy for me.

One of my friends deleted her Facebook account about a year ago so I guess you could say she was part of my motivation. She deleted hers because she said she was addicted. When she told me, I was like well that's cool for you, but I didn't feel like Facebook was "that" distracting for me. I guess you could say I changed my mind.

I still wouldn't say I'm quote on quote "Addicted to Facebook. I really don't care that much. I go on a few times a day when I'm bored. Sometimes though I take cute pictures and post them there and I admit I like to see people's reactions and comments or how many people "like" my picture. Sometimes with friends I haven't seen in a while or a cute guy, I will facebook stock them. Ok don't judge me, you know you do it too ;) I don't "really" stock them I just look at their page for a few minutes and then say "ok they're cool" or "wow what a nice life they have". If I post something on Facebook that nobody likes I start to feel bad and wonder if I don't have any friends. If I post something that everyone is commenting on, I start to feel cool.

Now you may identify with some of the things I've written about Facebook but I have a few problems with it. I'm not encouraging everyone to delete Facebook and social media, I'm just encouraging you to question your motives and how much time you spend on there.

1. Time Waster
 I don't want to spend 15 minutes to forty-five minutes of my bored time each day on Facebook. When I don't know what to do I don't want to instinctively type in Facebook without thinking. It's a waste of time. Facebook rarely makes me feel better about myself and if it does it makes me feel prideful or cocky, not humble. I don't want to waste my time and I'd rather use "waiting time" or free time to study God's word, memorize Bible verses, exercise, or actually talk to a friend (like looking at their REAL face).

2. Fake Friendships
 I'm decieving myself into thinking I'm investing into relationships by checking up on my friends on facebook and seeing what everyone is doing. The truth is my friends don't learn how much I really care about them and I don't learn what's really going on in their lives.

* Nobody posts the sad, depressing, or hard things on Facebook. Only the prettiest, most photo shopped pictures with encouraging words are written. I look at my friends and say wow their life is going great, glad they don't need my help. It's SO FAKE. (I talked to my cousin the other day and told her I had a harder semester adjusting back to college. She was like "really? Your Facebook makes it look like you are having so much fun and have so many friends?") Since when does Facebook really tell us the truth about others?

3. I don't want Facebook to have the power to control my emotions.
If people like my pictures, who cares. If people write on my wall, that's great.
If people don't like my status, life goes on. I don't want to get happy or sad about it. I don't want to feel lonely when I go on Facebook and have no posts on my wall. I don't want to feel popular if I'm not when people like my pictures (people who aren't even my friends).

It might be hard for me deleting my Facebook. I think there are a few things I will miss out on like not knowing all the things that happen to friends who are far away or my friends in Peru. But I do believe that God told us to invest in relationships, and most importantly relationships that are around us. I want to put more time into creating more real friendships with people I see every day and care about then trying to sustain relationships with friends I may never see again. I don't want to look at my Facebook notifications on my phone when I get up in the morning before I get on my knees and pray to God. I encourage you to be careful where you spend your time evaluate if Facebook is helping you or distracting you from your walk from God.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Beyond I'm Sorry

The hardest part of saying I'm sorry is forgiving yourself.

Have you ever done something awful? Something hurtful, unfair, unjust to someone you actually loved. When you know that you have hurt them in a big way, your heart just aches because of how much you care for them. Sometimes you didn't even mean to do that awful thing.

Both Satan and Jesus notice your weakness. They both see how bad you feel. The difference is in their reactions.

Christ says come to me. Let me hold you and cry with you over the pain you have caused. Afterwards let me take your sin and cast it into the sea. And let's forget about it. Remember when I sent my precious son to die on the cross for your sins? He covered that- he covered YOU. I free you from those feelings of guilt and shame and entrapment? Go be free my child and experience joy.

Satan says "It's your fault. You fell short of God's glory. You are an ugly sinful creature. You will never be free. You need to do more to fix it. You are unworthy."

Who will you believe? Who will you follow?

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Psalm 103:12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.

Now to those who have been hurt. We have all been. We are all wounded soldiers in a cruel and unjust battle. Yet because we have been forgiven such a debt by the King Himself, how dare we think to not forgive our brethren? 

Yes it's hard but yes it's possible. Christ says we can't forgive when we feel about it or when we are ready. But He says we will be forgiven as we forgive the people around us who hurt us. Yes our scars are deep, our pain is real, but until we forgive we cannot truly be healed.

Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

"Father release me from my shame and doubt. Help me to learn who you are that I might constantly imitate your character. Forgive me for the things I do that hurt the people around me. Truly, I am sorry Lord and I ask that you continue to mold me as you have promised to do until the day of Christ Jesus. I also pray that you help me to forgive those who have hurt me so that I do not need to be a victim. You have saved me and you have the power to make me whole again. I trust in your name and praise you for your love and grace. In your precious name alone I pray- amen"

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Remembering last thanksgiving

I spent last Thanksgiving in Peru with the people above: my fellow student missionaries who became my best friends and my family and three little kids who were in desperate need for love and care. It was a Thanksgiving quite different from all others. It began with great excitement, shock, and grief as we woke up to discover our prized turkey (the first and only one we were getting all year) was a bloody mess on our kitchen floor because our dog Max got hungry.

We were quite sad about not being able to see our own families and we were a little homesick too but nevertheless we decided we must cook our own fabulous Thanksgiving meal. We cut millions of apples to make apple pie, we had mashed potatos and sweet potatos, cooked green beans, and even salvaged that half-eaten turkey. It took us a few hours of cooking since everything in Peru had to be made from scratch but it was definitely worth it.

One of the amazing parts of our Thanksgiving was the fact that we got to spend it with Artimaeo and the two twins (above). I loved Artimaeo and he loved me too, so much that he called me mommy. His own mommy hadn't been taking good care of him and got in trouble with the state so Artimaeo came to live us with a week and we cooked for him, played with him, and took him as our own.. as well as his two little baby twin sisters whom my friends did an amazing job of taking care of.

We even went swimming on Thanksgiving in that hot Peruvian sun. I did anyways and I remember taking my baby Artimaeo with me and trying to teach him for the first time. He really loved the water.

In Peru there was so much to be thankful for. God was so good to us. He protected us, he provided for us, and he blessed us. He taught us how to love one another and get along despite our silly arguments, God unified our hearts in service toward Him.

I'm so thankful for Peru. I'm so thankful for the people that I spent time in Peru with- they all sculpted the way I think and changed my life in so many ways. They make me laugh and smile just thinking about them. I want to thank them because they are my best friends and greatest heroes. I miss them so much.

It's almost thanksgiving 2014- almost exactly a year from that special day we spent together thanking God in Peru. Life is so different now. Our Peruvian familia is split apart in different sides of North America, the weather is cold and snowy here instead of intensely hot, the people around me speak English and have known me most of my life, there are no mosquitos threatening to eat our Thanksgiving dinner, no dog to destroy our turkey... but despite these differences God is still good. I still have things to be thankful for. I do miss Peru more than I can describe. I do miss my Peruvian familia more than you can imagine. But I do love God more and more as He provides for me and I am thankful that His ways are higher than my ways =)

A blog post from last thanksgiving "Wow today is a Thanksgiving like no other and I'm just so thankful for it- exactly the way it is. Sure, if I could have my family with me here- well that would just make this unbearably joyful- but even the way it is- it's crazy chaos with max and the kittens devouring our turkey, and crazy joy with the babies and three year old to kiss and hug. At 5 o clock our feast will start complete with mashed potatos, caramelized sweet potatos, turkey stuffing, and a nice apple pie. Plus we have each other, a unique but amazing family that I love and will miss so very much. 

Today I'm wearing my little skirt I made out of fabric I got at a fabric store here. It's flowery and bright. I'm also hanging out a lot with Artemias who has had a good day licking my peanut butter forks and going swimming. (His favorite food is peanut butter and every time I share it with him I let him lick the fork. He just loves it and devours it like no other =)

I haven't seen any rats today- yay thank you God- since yesterday one went into my suitcase. I haven't seen any leeches either since yesterday Katy Kat and I cleaned the showers and restrooms (Leeches= for real gross) This morning though the boys delivered a special Thanksgiving surprise raw turkey claw right to my room and later to my bathroom while I was trying to change for swimming. What a shocker ;)

Tomorrow on Black Friday as people call it in the states, I will be getting to go Christmas shopping for the orphans for the first time! We have collected at least $1000 and just today we obtained the list with all of the orphan girls and boys.

Happy Thanksgiving. To all my family and friends back home I think about you all the time and love you more than I express. I am so thankful to God for your support and love =)"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

God doesn't need you to save the world

You want to save the world? Wow what a sweet person you are; I'm sure you will have great success.
Just go over there and visit them for a while.. you can teach all of them your ways.
Or send a million bucks over to a country- wow you genius- you did it- saving lives.
Funny how nobody else has ever tried to be a hero or solve global issues like you before.
Well sleep in your comfy bed with a great conscience- you are a hero.

It amazes me that America has spent 2.3 trillion dollars on trying to annihilate poverty and help solve global issues yet children are still dying everyday from hunger.

I didn't know that the number one Millennial Development Goal in 2015 that political leaders around the world set is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. I didn't realize so many people, teens, political leaders, and even celebrities want the same thing. It seems like with so many grand schemes, great plans, nonprofits.. we'd be there by now or at least doing better.

Why then with all of these great intentions.. aren't we doing much of anything? Maybe it correlates with our faulty beliefs that we can do anything and that our way is probably the best for everyone. Have we ever asked God what His solution is for world poverty?

We grow up being read stories about the little train who could because he believed in himself. We are taught that you can be whatever you want when you grow up.. as long as you work hard.
I'm pretty sure children in Ethiopia- would be told different stories before they go to sleep.
What do you think those would be about?

We think that we can do it all- that we can save the world?
Why then would we need a Savior?
Don't put away your pocket books though, God doesn't write the signs of the times out as an excuse to why you shouldn't do anything while your brothers and sisters in Christ starve on the other side of the world.

He calls us to care. He calls us to love. He doesn't equip us to be superheros, but He does tell us that love is an action not a feeling. We can't do anything but we can do something. We can't solve world poverty but we can make one child's belly full. We can be unselfish and love the people around us and make our teachers' lives a little easier. We can pray for our friends who don't know Jesus that He would save their life. We can obey Christ and when He tells us to serve- we can obey- if He tells us to follow Him- we can go- and when He tells us to wait- we can wait on Him.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Jehovah Shalom- peace through hard decisions

Isaiah 26:12 LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

When we need to make a tough decision and we aren't for sure what route to take, we can use God's peace as a way of direction and judgement.  One of the ways the Holy Spirit is manifested is through peace and one of the ways the Holy Spirit reveals sin to us is by giving us a sense of insecurity, danger, or worry about a situation.

Not always does God speak to us in an audible voice like thunder or light up fires to show us signs of His will, but I believe that if we ask Him, He will always give us guidance when we need it. Sometimes that guidance will come in whispers, small voices, and heart feelings. The amazing thing is that when we have a relationship with God and seek His will for our life, He will bless us with this amazing gift of perfect peace. This peace is beautiful and pure- until you have experienced it- you may never understand the feeling of joy and relief brought by the peace of Christ.

This past week I needed to make a very important college decision. I got accepted into the nursing program for next semester but because of my school's change in programming if I accepted the offer to join the program, I would be forced to attend school in the summer and take Fall off. I was very troubled by this choice because on one side I felt the urgency and pressure to get into my major's program as quickly as possible and become a nurse soon so that I can go out and serve the world or get a higher Masters degree even sooner and on the other side, I felt really called to do summer camp ministry and spend time with my family this summer. Many of my nursing friends that applied with me were expecting me to accept with them so that we could do nursing school together. They couldn't understand why I would wait. Upon first instinct, I was super excited about getting in the program and I wanted to just say yes and accept. But then I realized that I should pray about the situation and that I really wanted to do God's will and not my own (after all even nursing as a career is God's will- definitely not a "me" thing.

I didn't receive a clear yes or no answer from God but I feel like he directed my heart and my parents to give me advice to wait until next Fall to enter the program. I was still really nervous about the decision and a bit unsure as I walked to see my nursing adviser whom I would have to inform about my decision. I prayed "Dear God, maybe I'm not listening to you and I'm making the wrong decision. If so just give my adviser wisdom. If she tells me to enter the program I will listen." I prayed that God would confirm my decision I was trying to make with her.

As I explained to her with hesitation why I was considering waiting to enter the nursing program, she kindly listened. Afterwards she looked into my eyes and told me that God would never fail me and that as long as I was following His leading, He would take care of all my classes and help everything to work out for my benefit. She then asked if she could pray with me and affirmed the power of summer camp ministries and prayed that God would bless my life. After talking to her, my heart was filled with so much peace about waiting to enter the nursing program.

To be honest, it's funny because the more I follow God the less what I do makes sense to the world. But the more I follow God, the more peace I have in my heart.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Under the veil

A veil
of red
across my face

Covers the love
Covers the hate
Makes me seem exactly like you
Or at the least in the way you want me too

It's safe it seems
It's more secure
Covered from hurting and closed doors

No need to be afraid of me
I won't question your dignity
When you ask me how I am
I'll tell you I'm just fine

Yet kiss your cheek
And wash your feet
I'll politely decline

Because I don't know you.
I see you every day
but you've never taken the time to stay
When you asked me how I am you never stopped to listen...

I wore this veil for many days
Until I journeyed far away
Into a country much different
With things and people I never knew

I met a woman there
Who showed me how much she cared
She took her veil off around me
I decided to take mine off too

Unveiled I felt free to breathe
I could run and truly seize
Life and opportunity
Friends that felt like family

With the people I met
And the places I went
I kissed their cheeks
I caressed their hair
And I cried over them

And they hugged me
And laughed with me
And dried my tears when I was sad
And we prayed together
And we washed each other's feet
Because we loved each other

Then I had to leave my journey
To return back to my place
Which had the name of home
Yet the feeling of disgrace

And I had to say goodbye
To the people who I knew
The people who I loved
The people who were true
And the people who unveiled me

Do something small

Tonight I had this great talk with my room mate about complacency, and America, and how we really wanted to live our lives out for something more- a higher purpose- each and every day. We talked about how so often we were living for the weekends and how we didn't want to do that. About how life is short, and we don't want to take it for granted. We want every day and every hour to count for God's glory.

We were challenged by the thought that in this life we only have 3 things to give away: our time, our money, or our prayers. Thus we questioned each other.. How can we truly live each day- not selfishly- but for a higher purpose? What can we do to help the world, help the less fortunate, help others? And I was reminded that it starts with one and it starts small.

What does living unselfishly mean when you are in college and taking classes about your career, looking for a potential partner for your entire life, and making decisions that will forever change your future?

It's funny that we had just talked about that because tonight at contra dancing, a mom and her daughter came up to me and begged me to help them. They told me this long story asking for money for a bus ride to get back home and get their daughters' insulin. Honestly, I didn't know what to do. They seemed genuine enough but I didn't know for sure and wasn't for sure if I should just give them $40 and let them walk away. I found one of my friends- this girl who I knew had a walk with Christ and had been a missionary as well, slighly older than me- and asked her to come to talk to them. Immediately, my friend became the face of Jesus as she shook hands with the mom and daughter and decided to find a way to meet their needs. She told them she had a car and would drive them wherever they needed to go and get them food for their hungry daughter with type one diabetes. With no hesitation, she left the dance floor (grabbing a guy for safety) and served. She did it so naturally- I was so inspired and blown out of proportion by her genuine love for them. I believe this is the love that is so contagious and truly sets souls on fire for Jesus.

I believe that God does want us to make a difference (even while we are in college) but He wants to remind us that we can make a difference in small ways (we don't have to give thousands of dollars that we don't have and we don't have to fly across the country in order to serve).

You know those people that get taken advantage of because they are ALWAYS willing to help you? Or that guy that always asks about you and just listens? Those people are making a difference? Or what about pledging to not drink anything but water for a month and putting the drink money towards your favorite charity? Or working one extra hour a week and using that money to sponsor a child? Sometimes society makes it seem like we have to have it all together in order to help others- but I believe that's Satan's lie.

Sometimes it's hard to think of ways you can help others. I know I'm going to begin praying that God would use me more right where I am, but while I am waiting here are a few ideas of things I'm considering that I could do to serve.

1. 30 hour famine. If you can't raise $100 to formally participate, support someone who is with the money it would cost you to eat 4 meals. By doing the famine, think about Christ and children around the world when you are hungry.

2. Fill a shoe box for Operation Shoe box kids. (These are due in one week).

3. Support your friends going on a mission trip. Even if you don't have $100, they will still appreciate your $20 donation and prayer, or offer to help them organize a bake sale.

4. Pray for your friends and enemies, people fighting in war, missionaries, the president, and your country.

5. Go on community service and get involved. Try different projects or take initiative to visit your favorite places (the jails, orphanages, hospitals, foster homes, or animal shelter).

6. Show your friends and family you care by writing them letters.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Nursing- oh my

Today I walked into my drugs and society class and my teacher told me congratulations. I looked at him with this sly smile and I was like "Congratulations for what?" And he's just like you know.. on getting accepted into the nursing program. I was just thinking How did he know? And now he's telling me congratulations when I haven't even told my friends and some of my family that I'm switching to nursing.... oh boy...

So I'm switching to nursing!! Now most people are like what? This girl is crazy... she HATED nurses and doctors, shots, the medical field, and the idea of wiping people's butts as a career (stereotype ;)... and she always said how she would NEVER want to do that. And some people are like.. are you just giving up on physical therapy because it's hard?

But my answer is: Nursing is a God thing. When I was in Peru, I overcame many of my fears about the medical field. I learned to give shots and give stitches and take care of people. I learned that I love first aid and taking care of someone while their suffering or in pain. I learned that nursing is super practical in the mission field and in so many areas of life and I love how much I like helping little kids who are hospitalized and making them feel better or smile.

I want to be a nurse because I want to be the hands and feet of Christ to little kids who are in pain and suffering from terrible diseases. I want to show them that they can still have hope of a better life with Jesus. I want to be a nurse in the mission field in places where they cannot afford medical help.

I didn't just stumble upon the idea of nursing.. in fact God's perfect timing really just showed me His will in my career. I went to my physical therapy adviser and they suggested that I do nursing based on what I told them I wanted to do with missions.,, then a nurse came to talk to us about being a nurse in a totally unrelated class.. and then one of my best friends told me I would be an amazing nurse because of how I took care of her when she was sick... Alot of things happened at once and about one month ago, the day God finally gave me an impression that I should consider nursing was the last day to apply to get into nursing this semester. I went to see an adviser and took the nursing test without studying- I did everything super fast- and I prayed that God would do His will. And I'm super surprised- I got in.

I might go further than just nursing and get a Masters degree in Global Health or become a nurse practitioner.. but I don't know about that yet. All I know is I just got in the nursing program and I'm just praising God for doing His will in my life and not mine.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rock Climbing- readjusting to culture shock one step at a time

Rock climbing - it sounded like fun to me. I had only been a few times and it was exhilarating and adventurous. I love sports and almost everything outside. What could go wrong with this class?

America- it was my old home and I couldn't wait to get back and see my family. I mean I had heard it could be challenging but I was pretty good at rocking the American life before Peru.. so how bad could it be? Hot showers and clean clothes? Returning from my student missionary would be fine..

It's funny how the two really meshed. I've been rock climbing and readjusting this whole first college semester and to be honest it's been SO MUCH harder than I thought. But I feel like I've learned a few really important things about change and culture shock- hopefully some of these will help friends that are just coming back.

1. Attitude is the difference between perspective and an adventure.
Both rock climbing and transitioning to a new style of life will be an adventure (something you are not used too, different ways of talking, different ways of thinking, different friends, different environment). Stay positive about it.

2. One step at a time then take breaks.
Try not to worry about the future or past- but be in the place where God has called you right now. You are exactly where He wants you and He promises to sustain your needs for this day.
Make sure that you are taking time out from a busy lifestyle to just chill and do the things you love- whether that be running outside, swimming, or chilling with friends. Not too much in life is worth being miserable over.

3. Breathe.
Just like in rock climbing ,breathing by reading God's word and living by the Holy Spirit is essential so that we don't burn out or give up. It's a day by day thing. Without God- you will be broken. You absolutely need His power in your life through rock climbing and especially through changing life into a completely different world.

4. Mentoring/ Counseling/ Instructor wisdom
Don't be embarrassed to seek Godly counsel for all parts of life and make sure you are seeking it from the right places. Try not to unload everything on your best friend or one person because you don't want them to be weighed down by your burdens. Find a Christian counselor, pastor, or spiritual peer who is caring and full of the Holy Spirit. With them, pour out your heart and struggles and they will often help you see another side of the situation.

5. Find your own dance/ flow.
Just like in rock climbing where you need to be comfortable and want a nice rhythm, try to find things that you love about being back home (maybe getting back into your favorite sports or ministries). Try to find ways of expressing yourself and creatively glorifying God.

6. Don't play victim.
If you can climb down from the rock do it yourself don't make another person save you just so you can enjoy being saved. Realize that while you are struggling, it is not everyone around you's burdens and everyone is struggling in different ways. Let God save you each and every day and let Christ give you the daily strength you need.

Readjusting back to America after life in the states was really hard for me. I feel like I'm still not 100% adjusted but I have definitely learned alot and came a long way. Never forget that everyone adjusts at their own pace- so it's ok if you are still missing your country of service while other people seem to be totally thriving in America. Try to give thanks in all circumstances and have faith in God's plan for your life even when it doesn't make sense to you =)