Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Canvas of God

You step into a room. It's your bedroom. Mentally note where your bed is, the dresser, maybe a desk, find the landmarks that make up this space. As you scan the room around you, you realize there's one thing out of place. It's not only large, but very bright as well and you wonder how you missed it to begin with. It's an easel, set up with a giant rectangular canvas. Someone has painted a beautiful picture of a vibrant blue sky, gentle white clouds are breaking up the summertime picture and across the center of this painting is one giant word. Painted in black, block letters it dominates your attention and draws you in. Not flashy by any means, but almost overbearing. The peaceful image of the sky offsets how demanding it is and seems to take your gaze from the sharp, abrupt edges of each letter. You take a couple steps closer, allowing yourself to enter your room now, being pulled towards this distinct image.

You stop in front of it and your heart starts to race with excitement. There's something here, you can feel it as the blood pounds through your body, reminding you of just how alive you are. Your breaths come a little bit faster and the slight pull you felt before becomes an overwhelming urge to simply bask in this appealing image, left here by... someone, for you to find.

The word is God and you are convinced you have found who you are in the shadow of the paintings image.

However, a small voice is whispering into your soul and while the painting is so distracting, and so appealing, you can't simply stand here. You follow the instructions of this gentle voice, and with a few hesitant steps, you walk around, and behind the easel.

Your closet door is open, and at first you're shocked to see all your clothes have been removed and there is nothing there. Only a dirty little square space, it's dark, and it's bare, and you realize why the painting was set up in the position it was, to hide this filthy little hole. No one would want to see that, it had to be covered by something. Something to grab your attention and keep your focus from what was hidden behind it.

The closet is you. The realization hits you like a freight train, and you stumble backwards, accidentally bumping the easel. Almost as if it's in slow motion, the easel and the precious painting it holds come crashing to the floor, revealing the inside of your closet to the world. Revealing who you really are. There's nothing you can do now, your cover has been ripped away, so you crawl, dejected and forlorn into your closet, and you sit on the floor. Knees clutched to your chest and head down. Shame. That is all you feel.

You've recognized the filth and shambles of this life you've been trying to lead and you cry out to this God you had so much hope in. Tears stream down your face as you realize you are broken and any sort of repair seems impossible.

Wait... wait, the still small voice is back. You lift your head and realize the light bulb hanging above you is glowing faintly and a peaceful calm settles over you. Jesus is here, sitting next to you, holding you in his arms. This place, this closet, with His presence it has changed. The light is growing stronger and shining from the cracks and open door. You no longer need this canvas to hide your heart. Jesus has changed who you are.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Life Update

First of all, I would like to say thank you to every one of you who reads these posts. I have been blown away by the response of love and support I've received from family and friends who have been reading this blog. All I can say is thank you and I feel very loved.

Campus in the Spring
As always, for all of us, life has been busy. Since the last update I posted here, I have finished my first semester and started the next. It was exciting to attend the graduation banquet and ceremony and try to imagine what thoughts will be running through my head when I'm the one standing in front of the crowd. With summer change, many of the students who are not taking classes through the summer have returned from whence they came, and campus life looks just a little bit different then what it was before. There are only about 30 students on campus so things have gotten a lot quieter. No more long lunch lines, or crowded halls. We're all on the same class and work schedule, so it seems easier to connect with each other.

It has been nice and it's taken me just a little bit longer to settle in, due to the fact that I went home for a weekend at the end of the first week of class. If you follow any of my social media accounts (Instagram anyone?) you're probably already aware that I did return to my home state for a brief visit. I went to be present at the birth of Noah Donovan. My best friends newest baby. She had scheduled an induction for that weekend, but due to some complications at the hospital, they weren't able to make it happen. Instead my friend and I spent three glorious days in the Oregon sunshine. It wasn't a completely wasted trip, as it was good to be able to spend time together, talking, laughing, and trying to understand what my (almost) three year old niece was saying.

Noah Donovan
Noah arrived last Saturday, healthy, adorable, and four days after his Auntie had left the area. We'll be having words about this in his future. No really though, this is probably the most exciting tidbit of information I have to offer you. I can't even begin to express how stoked I am that when I return home for my summer break (in a month!!!) I'll be able to hold this wonderful, squishy, little bundle of perfection.

In the mean time, I'll be starting a summer internship with the church that I've been attending in St. Paul. Today I sat down and figured out what my schedule will look like between the hours spent with my church, class, homework, and being in the call center. While I'll be busy, it wasn't overwhelming, and I'm excited to learn and grow from those who will be teaching me through the next couple of months. If you'd like to hear more about the internship and more of the specifics on what I'll be doing, I'll be giving more detail in my summer newsletter.

Benham Falls, OR
I am still on the look-out for a new vehicle. Some loving families at my church have generously donated a portion of finances to go towards a new set of wheels so I've been keeping my eye out for a car in the area that will fit my needs. In the mean time, I've taken up penny boarding. My best friend bought me a penny board (because she loves me) and within the first day of teaching myself the basics, I was on crutches due to a sprained ankle. Not to worry, after some rest and intense prayer, I am able to walk on my own. My foot is now a pretty gnarly shade of purplish/blue, but I'm excited to try skating again.

Last, but not least, I was accepted onto a team for my 16 month overseas internship, starting the beginning of my junior year. Look for an announcement on where that will be in my summer newsletter. I'm planning on sending it out around mid-June.

Speaking of my newsletter, if you're looking for more details on my church internship, and what I've been learning while at Bethany Global University, you can subscribe to receive it right now. (yay!)

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That's all for now, thank you so much for not only reading, but taking an interest in where I'm at and what I'm doing with my life! 

With Love, 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Is This Faith or Am I Living in Denial?

I've decided if I were ever to write a memoir, it would probably share a title with this post.

Do you know those spiritual gift tests that you can take? You number on a scale of 1 to 5 how true or untrue the statement is for you, and then you tally everything up in the end and whichever one has the highest score is your spiritual gift. We've done those a lot in the office at work to discover our strengths. We do it mainly because my supervisor is amazing and realizes that while weaknesses do need to be worked on, you have the strengths you do for a reason and those can't be ignored. So, we score ourselves from 1 to 5, tally the numbers, and in the end I always find myself staring this spiritual gift of faith in the face.

At first I kind of laughed and shook my head. Sure, I have faith in my friends, I have faith that the pizza man will deliver a round pie of perfection after I make the right call, and I have faith in God. That's not what we're talking about though, a spiritual gift of faith. That's intense faith, serious business. No way. Not me.

God and I have a great relationship. He tells me something, I tell Him to tell me more about that, and then He does. Very slowly and subtly, sometimes I don't even realizing it's happening. In this case, He spoke to me through my past. He walked me through a timeline of my life and as I looked at that fun and adventurous road He simply asked, "at what point did you doubt Me?" 

I have doubted many things in my life, but God has never been one of them. I have built walls between us, and I even turned my back and tried to ignore Him for awhile, but I always knew He was there. I always knew that in the end, His hand was in my life and He was sovereign. I have never doubted that my God is real. I always had faith in God, but there was a time in my life I denied Him my heart. 

If you've ever spent any amount of time around my best friend and I, you may have heard us at some point use the phrase, "I'm fiiiiiine." We say it in a certain tone, drawing out the I, as if trying to convince ourselves that we will, indeed, be fine. We usually say it in situations when we will clearly not be fine. The main reason we picked this little habit up is due to the fact that we both like to push sticky situations to the side. As long as I don't have to deal with it, things will be fine. Right? Ignore irritating emotions and eventually I'll be fine. Right? We recognize that there really isn't much that can be done in some instances, so we decide to ignore the problem. It'll be fiiiiiine. So far, we've always been.... relatively fine. We're both still breathing, so we've got that going for us.

So, as I look down at this paper in front of me. This cute little Christian cliche of a spiritual gifts test, I realize that I will be fine. While I was saying those words in denial of a problem I didn't want to face, God pulled through in the end. While I deny the problem, I know that God is present. I have always known this.

Is This Faith, or Am I Living in Denial; a memoir. Look for it at your local bookstore... just give me a couple decades to live the kind of life I want to write about.

With Love,

Saturday, April 16, 2016

To the Lady who Inspires Me

Last night I finished my work in the call center and picked up my phone. I scrolled through my contacts until I found the one I was looking for and made a call. She answered after a few rings, and within moments we were lost in deep conversation, as we are prone to do. We talked for two and a half hours, and by the time I was forced to say goodbye due to my phones battery life, we had cried together and laughed together.

Right before I moved to Minnesota, this friend and I got together for a "one last," before we both went our separate ways. She was actually moving to another state a couple of days before I would be, and we were both excited. We were ready to follow our dreams and start this new phase in life. There was fire in our hearts and hope in our eyes and we were ready to take on the world. Until last night, this was the last time that I had a true conversation with her. We've sent a couple of texts, commented back and fourth on Facebook, the usual for long distance friends, but hadn't yet picked up the phone to really talk. I value and cherish this woman incredibly, and she continually inspires me to keep pressing forward through the hardship and trials. She's amazing.

The fun part is, we used to hate each other. When she first started at the job where we met, for some reason, I honestly have no idea why, we just couldn't stand each other. For the first couple months I would groan every time I realized I would have to work a shift with her. We really just couldn't stand each other. That all changed when a mutual friend of ours and I decided to go out for the night and she randomly invited this friend. I told myself to get over it and enjoy myself anyway and I did. Now I consider her to be one of my best friends.

Where am I going with this post? I honestly have no idea, which is probably one of the worst mistakes I can make as a writer, to start a project and not know what the end game is. Let me stop and evaluate my thoughts here, let me try and figure out what it is I want to share with you other then the fact that my friend is important to me.

Okay, here we go. I guess, the reason I wanted to write to you, what's been on my heart since last night when I said goodbye, would be the value of true friendship. I have people in my life that I know will always be there for me and God has sent into my life to help me walk through hardships and struggles. He has given me the kind of friends that I don't really talk to for months, but when I finally do connect with them, we are able to talk for hours.

Be genuine with the people in your life. Almost everyone in this day and age has trust issues, but lay your heart on the line every now and then. Take a step back and stop thinking about yourself, give the other person a chance. Get over yourself for just a second and be upfront and real. Show them who you really are. There's a small chance, just a small one, they'll become a lifelong friend who bless you in more ways then you are able to count. 

With Love,

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Goodbye to Arthur

Here I am again, returned from Spring Break awhile ago, and into the full swing of life here at BGU. This last weekend we had our Campus Preview Weekend. We have a great host of prospective students come and stay with us so they can get a feel for what life on campus is all about. It's fun and exciting because you get to meet so many new people who have the same calling to missions as yourself. However, for introverts such as myself, it can also be exhausting. After two days of life back to usual, I'm just now starting to feel like myself again.

If you received my newsletter, you may have read about what happened with my car over Spring Break. If you did not receive my newsletter and would like to, you can add yourself to the mailing list  right here, right now.

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If you did not hear about what happened to my car, let me sum it up for you rather quickly. There was an unfortunate accident, and, well, you can see for yourself. My poor baby didn't fare so well. 

After several calls and discussions with insurance, they announced that it was a total loss. I cried. I cried a lot. I don't cry very often, but when I heard they couldn't fix my car I really, really cried. I loved my car. It wasn't just a set of wheels and a gas tank, his name was Arthur, and he was my partner in crime. We had some great adventures. 

I cried even more when I found out I would not be seeing any of the insurance money. While it was fully covered, I still owed money on the vehicle. This now meant I would no longer have my Ol' Faithful, but I would be completely without a car. 

If you are somewhat familiar with me, and who I am, in general, as a person, you may have noticed that I have a fairly strong independent streak that runs right through the center of my heart. I'm what some people might call a free-spirit, an adventurer, and I don't really need you to do my exploring. In fact, I really like doing it on my own. It's not that I don't like you, but going on adventures by myself is how I destress. It's a huge part of how I refocus my brain and keep myself moving in the right direction. 

Here's the thing though, when I decided to follow God and come to Minnesota, I gave Him one condition. "As long as I have a car. As long as I'll be able to keep my freedom." He didn't really have much to say in return, but I was able to get my car and happily headed off to the freezing tundra. 

God saw things I wasn't willing to recognize though. He saw a wall I'd placed around my heart, and He saw pride. Pride in a hunk of metal and four tires. He saw a girl who was willing to give it all... except for her "freedom." He saw this, and He knew that she would never be able to live the life He'd called her too if it wasn't addressed. Sometimes God speaks in a gentle whisper, reminding you of who He is, and what He would like to see from you. Sometimes, a car comes from nowhere and smacks your pride and joy, leaving it useless and forcing you take a step back and reexamine yourself.

I realized I needed to stop holding the idea of who I am in my car. My freedom and independence, my free-spirit, my solitary expeditious ways, that wasn't what mattered. What mattered was that I was holding all of that one level above the call I have in my life. I had conditions that needed to be filled in order for me to obey.

So, now I'm trusting Him to provide transportation. It has been a struggle for me, to ask other people for a ride, when I'm the one who is generally able to offer the rides. It's been a struggle to not be able to grab my keys and just go. It's been a struggle when I feel trapped in one spot. I'm struggling guys, but at the same time, I'm learning that my identity isn't within what car I drive, or where that car can take me. It's in what Jesus Christ did for me on calvary and how far this story of true love can take me. 

With Love, 

Friday, March 11, 2016


Tonight I will be on Oregon ground, once again. Praise the Lord for Spring Break.

Anyway, I wanted to show you these videos. I've just finished my two week elective Montessori class. It has only confirmed how I've felt about education since I was old enough to have an opinion about it. Give your children the chance to flourish. Put them at the center of their education, not the teacher or the system, telling them they aren't at the right level.

Let your children follow their passions. They'll go so much further then you ever imagined.

With Love,

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Hardest Part

When I was preparing to leave for Minnesota, I had several people tell me to prepare for struggles. I was thankful for their warnings and advice, but see, here's the thing, they warned me against the wrong kind of struggles. They told me "it will be hard when you're sad because your friends won't be there to support you." They said, "your battle with depression will become more intense because you won't be around people you're comfortable with." They said, "when life doesn't go as planned, you won't be able to call the people you depend on to bail you out." 

I knew I would face struggles, and yes, I have, but not those ones. My friends have been there when I'm sad. Maybe not in person, but a cell phone is a wonderful thing and I know my support team is only a text or a call away. If one doesn't pick up, I can always call the next one. To be honest, my depression has almost vanished. It's amazing what seeking the Lord can do in your life. When once I felt lost and hopeless, now I feel fulfilled and more joyful then I have in years. I've had rough days, but nowhere near what I used to go through. As far as life not going as planned, I've made new friends. They will never take the places of those back home, but I'm sure they are just as capable of picking up an exhausted, emotional girl from the side of the road. When I find out for sure, I'll let you know, but I'm really not worried about it.

What nobody actually said before I left was "you'll want to cry when you can't be there for them." 

When I get a text telling me things have gone wrong, loved ones are in pain, doctors are involved, jobs may be lost. I want to cry. I want to cry because while I may not actually be able to do anything if I were there, I would at least be there, not 1,800 miles away just working on homework.

People told me it would be great, to have a fresh start. They acted like I would be set free, no longer having to worry about my near and dears. They were blind. When you love someone, you want to be close to them. You want to stand by their side and make sure they're getting the best care possible. You want to be able to hold them when they cry out in pain because if they have to be in pain, at least you've got them. They were blind to what love is. 

At this point, all I can say is, the Lord is teaching me the power of prayer. I may not be able to stand present in times of need, but God is always present and He hears my cries of protection over those I love and miss. 

With Love,