{YOU}TH

So this morning I woke up, got ready for work, and headed to the job at 8:00 a.m. like it was a normal day…Until I realized my supervisor gave me a half day off on the internship because I worked Saturday. As I turned out of work to head back, I wanted to be angry at my forgetfulness as I thought about my wasted mileage and lost sleep…But I laughed, because I’m young and I had a crazy-busy weekend and things like this happen to screw up my schedule A LOT. That’s my life, and I still love it.

I love it because I’m alive and well, and God has given me a fresh start to a new week. (Another crazy week, might I add, because it’s my brother’s wedding week!!! YAY!)

So, I wanted to reflect on my life based on a little inspiration from a great friend:

     Hannah Bakies

This is Hannah! We met three years ago at Buckeye Girls State (American Legion Auxiliary Girls State is a nonpartisan program that teaches young women responsible citizenship and love for God and Country through a week-long program that teaches participants the functioning of their state’s government in preparation for their future). It was a fun week that created a life-long friendship (cliché but true!). 

Anyway, so we haven’t been able to get together since two summers ago, and we finally got to reunite this past weekend! She is so wise and has such a joyful spirit…She was truly my inspiration for writing this blog because of the wonderful conversation we had. Hannah just got back from studying abroad in Luxembourg this past spring semester, and since I am studying abroad this coming semester in France, she was able to give me some good insight.

After hearing about all the traveling she did, we were talking about how this sort of thing is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and how fun it is to be young and capable of doing this. This time that we are young provides us with a chance to completely focus on ourselves, in a completely unselfish way, and to really figure ourselves out before our lives change a little.

Adulthood will be fun too, but you’ll never get the time back to only have yourself to focus on. After all, they don’t call it your YOUth for nothing 😉

The conversation made me reflect on one of my favorite verses. Ecclesiastes 11:9 (NIV) says,

“You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.” 

This verse has always brought me so much joy, and I hope (especially if you are young!) that it brings you joy as well. It is time to search your heart, figure out what makes you happiest, and just have fun because this is YOU time.

Read what makes you happy, eat what makes you happy ( in moderation, of course 😉 ), spend time with people who truly make you happy! Sleep, exercise, craft, blog, play outside like you did when you were little, read more, have deep conversations with those older and wiser than you, spend more time with family, travel, go on spontaneous adventures, invest your time in those you see in your future, don’t let little things ruin your day… BUT, in all things remember to glorify Christ in your words and actions. He is the ultimate judge.

And with all of that, do it with a cheerful heart! As Ecclesiastes says perfectly, truly be happy in the days of your youth!

And to end my blog post perfectly, here’s to France, because only two more months until my dreams come true and I’m living in the French Riviera 🙂

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(picture via Instagram and edited via InstaSize

God’s Perfect Plan

Trust the process

(Picture via Pinterest)

As the end of the semester rolls around, anxiety for my future has been slowly creeping into the cracks of my mind.  I won’t be living at home for most of the summer because of my internship in Cleveland, then I will be studying abroad in France for the entire Fall Semester of my next school year.  I am beyond excited, but also beyond nervous.  Change is hard to accept sometimes, and this is one of those times.

I’ll admit my flaws and worries in hopes that other people can relate and find comfort in the wisdom I’ve seen God place into my heart when I seek Him above all else.  I’ve found myself worrying about my future in 3 different areas of my life: work, relationships, and God’s overall plan.


Work: The Internship

Just as I have a new internship this summer, many other college students are getting them as well, or at least some type of job.  My internship is with The City Mission, a non-profit organization which seeks to provide help and hope to all people through the transforming power of God’s love.  I will be working under the New Media Manager of the organization, and I will also be working among the poor and homeless. My initial worry was, “What if I’m not prepared enough?” or “What if I’m not best for this job?”

However, I’ve found God answering me in ways of telling me that I was chosen for this job for a reason, and He has an ultimate plan for my life.  We sometimes let doubt get the best of us, when all we really need to do is remember that God has given each and every one of us different spiritual gifts.  In fact, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NIV) says,

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”

Just as he determines. We must see that God has given each of us spiritual gifts, and we can work together to ultimately glorify Him with the opportunity He gives us.

Relationships

Let’s be honest, any young, single person struggles in this aspect, especially at a Christian college like mine that is known for bringing couples together.  Along with being surrounded by that, I am in two weddings this summer and many of my friends are in serious relationships at college.  Granted, there are plenty of singles everywhere, but it is hard not to focus on when you’re constantly surrounded by the topic of love or finding the right one.

As I’m preparing to study abroad and be away from everyone for a semester, I have become worried that it will “ruin my chances” of finding someone sooner.  But as I turned to God I truly found peace and wisdom from Him showing me that it is not my turn yet… But eventually, if we patiently wait for Him, He will bring the right person into our lives in His good timing.  One verse that truly brought me peace was Song of Songs 3:5 (NIV) which reads,

“Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
    by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
    until it so desires.”

This command is again repeated in verse 8:4.  I realize that God has His perfect timing for plans in our life, and it is not our job to rush ahead of those plans.  All good things come from waiting on the Lord.

God’s overall plan 

One thing everyone wrestles with, especially as college students, is figuring out what God’s plan for our future is.  One thing that we should truly find rest in is knowing that God already has all of our steps numbered. Isaiah 48:17 (NIV) says,

“This is what the LORD says– your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.'”

If we are truly seeking Him, He will give us that which is good. The Bible promises us that God will direct our paths, so why should we worry about our future?  His way is good and perfect, and we need to run on the path of righteousness.

Worrying will add nothing to our life.  Rest in the peace that God wants only what is truly best for our life, no matter what paths He leads us down.  One last verse to leave you with comfort in His promises is one of my favorites, Matthew 6:34, which reads,

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Go confidently in the way of the Lord! 

{Solitude} and Spring Break Reflections

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“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.”  – William Feather

This past week I spent spring break in Tennessee with a group of my closest friends at college, and I can say I truly saw God every single day in different ways.  There is something about being surrounded by mountains that really helps you see how small you are in this giant world we call God’s handiwork.

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One benefit of spring break is having a break from a constantly busy schedule and just being able to wake up each morning and spend time with God alone for a while before starting your day.  One of my favorite parts was looking out to this view as I studied God’s word on the porch of our cabin.  There was no doubt that He was present on this trip.  I could most clearly hear His words from Psalm 46:10,

“Be still and know that I am God.”

One thing that became very clear to me was that I needed that solitude, that time of peace and quiet to just listen for God.  And as I already find myself falling back into my usual routine here at college, I am realizing that I need that time with God every day of my life.  God desires for us to set everything aside each day and just spend some time in prayer and in His word.  He desires to give us an internal peace.

Making time for this helps us face the “Who Am I?” question not alone, but with God.  While solitude intensifies vulnerable questions of identity, Christ does His work to make us new.

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One verse to reflect on when it comes to finding peace in God is Matthew 11:28-30 when Jesus calls His disciples (including us) to join Him in solitude and silence. Jesus said to his disciples and a crowd of people,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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As I climbed numerous mountains and got to experience amazing views, I began to realize how carefully and beautifully God made this Earth.  It is often something taken for granted, but when you see beauty all around you it is impossible to not also see our Lord.  I’m sure I felt just as Paul did in the book of Romans when he meditated on God in nature, most likely in solitude.  Romans 1:20 says,

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

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All in all, there is still beauty all around. It is hard coming back from a place of solitude and adventure on every corner, but I think it helps me appreciate the world and God’s creation that much more.  God asks for us to find solitude and peace from Him alone.  We just have to open our hearts.

One last thing that God taught me was to just be more thankful for the people He carefully places in our lives.  This spring break trip truly brought 12 friends even closer together, and I am grateful to have these people surrounding me and lifting me up in Christ daily.  Spring break may have ended, but the adventures will always continue.  Here’s to you guys, my Tennessee spring break crew. 

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“I desire to live how my Designer intended.” 

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The Tennessee 12

Holy Lips

As David was in the Desert of Judah he cried out to God,

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.”

–Psalm 63:1-3

As I re-read the end of this, I realized that David was working on something we all struggle with, and that is glorifying God with our mouths in every single aspect of our lives.  We are called to have holy lips, not disgraceful tongues.  The ability to speak is one of the most important gifts God has given us, and it is our obligation to glorify Him through that gift. We must remember that the tongue that has the ability to bring healing is the same tongue that can crush one’s spirit. That’s good enough reason to be more careful in the way we speak.

It is such a simple thing that is easily forgotten, especially when caught up in a crowd that may be doing just the opposite of what God wishes to hear.  In gossip, in using the Lord’s name in vain, in saying harsh things about someone, a dishonorable conversation can easily take root. It’s hard to completely fix, and everyone knows that. But our hearts must begin to strive to fix that aspect of our lives, no matter how challenging it may be. If you don’t first try to fix a certain area in your life, then you will never see a change there.

There are so many verses in the Bible that speak on the subject of keeping your mouth holy, so I will list just a few. However, they are all important ones to really contemplate on.

“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

 –Proverbs 15:4

“A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”

–Proverbs 16:28

“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.”

–Proverbs 20:19

I think we forget that the words we speak are often reflective of our hearts.

The Bible indeed says that out of the overflow of our heart, the mouth speaks [Matthew 12:34].

We must first find the source of the negativity, gossip, perverse minds, foul mouth-whatever it may be-and we must pray for the desire to ask God to change our hearts and minds. Once He can get to the root of things, then we may begin to have holier mouths. And THEN, we can begin to spread God’s Word in even greater ways. It’s like a chain reaction.

                “See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

–Psalm 139:24

We are called to glorify God in all of our conversations, no matter how simple they may seem. We are all at fault, but it is our duty as Christians to also hold one another accountable in this area of our lives. David said it perfectly himself- God’s love is better than life, so our lips should glorify Him.

                “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil…”

–Psalm 141: 3-4

A Thank{FULL} Heart

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For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,  because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

-1 Timothy 4:4-5 

The hours of prepping are always the most tempting.

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But of course, the wait is always worth it.

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Then, of course, you have to connect with your brother and sister-in-law on the West coast!

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And surely there is pie…

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But don’t forget the mighty Pumpkin roll!

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Without a doubt, however, family time is the best time.

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Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life. 

-Robert Louis Stevenson

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An Eternal Vision

A relationship with Christ is like love in a marriage- it’s a continual choice (so I’ve been told).  It’s a daily, growing relationship that thrives off of what you put into it.  


Some days are harder than others, that is a given.  You want to throw in the towel, blow out the fire, quit the race.  But what would come of that? You’d never see the end result. Everyday I imagine what God has planned for my future, and I grow anxious when I don’t know where He is leading me.  But where would the fun be if we always knew the outcome? 

We are meant to have an eternal vision so that we have something to work for. That is always going to be the case-we will never know where our present choices are going to take us until the end.  During these present choices, however, is when we need to seek God the most.  Each day we must choose God’s way over the world’s. 

Do not grow tired, hardened, or weary. God made us an eternal promise that will not be broken.  Jesus comforts his disciples in John 14:1-3 by saying, 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

Even Jesus’ disciples in the ancient times had similar worries and problems as we do today. John 14:5-7 is proof of that, 

“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’  Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.  From now on, you do know him and have seen him.'” 

Jesus later tells his disciples that any of them who have faith in him will do not only what he is doing but greater things than these.  God knows what we are capable of if we just follow him and continually glorify his name.  

Each day we must grow in prayer, in action, and in the study of God’s Word.  We must remain Spirit-filled in every aspect of our lives.  1 Thessalonians 5:19 sums it up perfectly, 

“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” 

We may grow frustrated and angry when we cannot see where our life is headed, but each day God is teaching us patience and perseverance.  The end result of who we become and the ultimate prize is worth it all.  We must strive to have an eternal vision, not immediate gratification.