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,