Monday, August 29, 2011

Biblical Community

Rachel, Me, Ashley, Marisa
A new year brings new roommates!

I am so incredibly blessed to be apart of Lightbearers Discipleship Program once again this year. Lightbearers enables students to live in biblical community for the school year, be apart of a discipleship class (Systematic Theology this semester) once a week, give rent money to fund mission in the 10/40 window, and go serve in one of those countries on a mission trip at the conclusion of the year.

Living in biblical community with like-minded believers is such a gift. I think I have come to appreciate it even more after realizing the extent of the darkness hovering over my college campus this past year. As I begin another year of shining light in the darkness through how I live my life, there is nothing like coming home to a safe place where I will be both challenged and encouraged by friends and sisters in Christ as we continue to spur one another on in our walks.

Rachel, Ash, Me and our PRECIOUS house leader Jill!
First is Rachel. After living together last year, I feel like I know her in and out. Yet there are those times when she still leaves me speechless. She has a crazy life—I don’t think I have ever met anyone with so much going on at once. But one way or another, she always finds a way. I love her boldness—and appreciate her wisdom, obtained over years and years of hearing the Gospel. She has grown so much this summer. Lately, she has challenged me to be in the Word without even talking about it—just by living her life. The other day I heard her talking about studying for discipleship class and I had yet to even realize there was anything to study in the first place—she is on top of it. Her hunger for God’s Word is refreshing to my soul. I know it is solely the Lord who placed us together once again—it excites me to walk out another year with this precious friend and sister in Christ.

Marisa and Ashley putting together one of four shelves!
 Then there's Marisa! She is a busy girl! I hope we will get to spend lots more time together this year. I always think I have her figured out…and then she leaves me realizing just how little I really know about her. But I think this is something that draws others to her. She has a passion for life—I pray that she will experience all that life is intended to be. Marisa just started her first year of beauty school…and guess who she gets to practice on?? What a blessing free facials, massages, hair-playing, eye-brow plucking, etc will be!! There is no way you could not be friends with this girl…she is a social butterfly and loves getting to know new people, a trait I often wish came naturally for me! She has walked through a lot in her life but none of it has been in vain…oh what a powerful testament to God’s faithfulness this girl is going to share in the future.

Seperated at birth...can't you tell??

This is Ashley. I don’t really know how to explain her, aside from the fact that we were separated at birth and reunited twenty years later. Another one of ME—a scary thought, I know! Ashley has a heart for people—all kinds of people—a unique ability of making anyone feel right at home. She is hungry for Jesus—and willing to give up anything in her life to obtain more of Him. Is this not where we all desire to be? She has walked through some tough stuff in her short life, yet the Lord has been faithful to draw her to Himself through it—that He may receive all the glory. After spending just over a week as roommates, we already have a list nearly a page long of everything that we have in common. We both fall asleep within the first ten minutes of movies—I have never met anyone else with this unique ability! One my favorites is that we have this language with our eyes—we can totally read each other without words—the best part is when we’re in a group and we just bust out laughing at something the other one “said” via eye contact…people probably think we’re crazy, but that’s okay. Simply by living her life, she challenges me to know Christ more—to study His Word and to be on my knees, to be a lover of people—especially when it is outside of my comfort zone. It is both a joy and blessing to live with this girl and do life together.

I don’t think I will ever realize what a privilege it is to live alongside these sisters in biblical community. Living together as four young women is no easy feat let me just tell you—but at the end of the day, come trial or joy these girls are in my life and by the grace of God we will all walk away from this season of life looking more like Jesus. These sweet sisters have already impacted my life—my walk with the Lord and I am blessed.

Praying this over our house this year…that the Lord would bring darkness to light, cleansing our hearts and minds in His Truth as we lift one another up in prayer and words of Life!

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” -1 John 1:7

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Check it Off the List

Week ONE of college…check.

Multiple To-Do Lists daily…check.

Two more things to add to the To-Do List for every one checked off…check.

Color-coded planner with tests, meetings, and events for semester…check.

Non-stop days and late nights (yes…past 10pm!)…check.

Moving furniture and decorating room...check.

Multiple Walmart trips a daily…check.

Saturday farmer’s market…check.

Chemistry homework up to wazoo…check.

In LOVE with dietetics classes…check.

Catching up with old friends and making many new ones…check.

Spending precious time with roomies…check.

Trying out new ministries and a new church…check.

Anticipation of Razorback football in the air…check.

Getting that miserable stuffy-nose, sore throat sickness…check.

Keeping up with blog-world and uploading pictures………..working on it!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Check it Out!


Today I got to be a guest blogger over here at Check it out!

These activists are doing some incredible work to encourage awareness and a call to action for the broken and hurting across the globe. They offer some great reasources as well! What an encouragement these ladies are to me!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Best of Summer

Top 10 Favorites of Summer 2011...and Then Some!

  1. Frozen yogurt—this has to be the first thing on my list because it was by far the most consistent thing in my life the past three months.
  2. Glowing tan—love soaking up the sun by the pool, on the lake, or out and about. Summer just wouldn’t be the same without the deep brown glow.
  3. Nannying for the Boys—I was so blessed to be able to come home and work for a precious family with two crazy boys who I adore. We had lots of fun times this summer and I could not ask for a better job.
  4. Relaxing nights with the Luster’s—I often joke that my best friends are all married women and it is partially true. Some of my sweetest memories of this summer are the nights spent relaxing and eating dinner while watching House and being both encouraged and challenged by this precious couple who have so graciously poured into my life and continue to walk beside me.
  5. Road Trip with my Nieces—this little vacay with three of my nieces to AR was such a significant trip for me. It was an incredible gift to get to spend time with these girls and really understand a bit of their lives. Our midnight waffle house runs, photo shoot, games, eating out and shopping made it even more fun! I am so blessed to call these girls family.
  6. Consultation Sessions with Julie—up to til this past year, this dear friend of mine never ate fruits and veggies!! After several
  7. informative sit-downs together over the summer, we discussed the importance of nutrition and what changes should be made in her diet. The best part was that we always went out for pizza or ice cream (or BOTH) while chatting!
  8. Wednesday Nights with Shelly—I got to spend a night with this wise wife and mom most weeks over the summer. What an encouraging evening of catching up, watching the Duggars and even getting a little crafty! I am so blessed by her friendship and her wisdom.
  9. Conversations with Les—it has been the first summer without my bestest friend at home which has been so weird, but it has been such a blessing to have her home the past couple weeks. Laying in her bed eating oapameal squares and talking about our crazy, always changing, full of battles, imperfect lives while we remain on this earth! What an encouragement she is to me. I miss face to face time with this sweet sister of mine—the ones who regularly finish your sentences—you know those are the keepers!
  10. Tent City—what a pure joy it has been for me to be able to serve a few women in the homeless camp in downtown St. Louis. I have seen brokenness and the consequences of sin in such a tangible way—I have also seen His redemption and His love for the least of these in a way I never had prior. God used my weekly trips downtown to humble me—to show me that I must find joy in plenty and in want. He also confirmed the calling He has placed upon my life to minister to underprivileged women.
  11. Coming in Last—in our Triathlon. Can’t say we didn’t try—it is funny to look back now and see just how unprepared Ash and I really were! It was fun to “train” together beforehand and have lots of good conversations. The actual race may have been insanely hard—but I swam in a lake and we crossed that finish line together—we finished the race and kept the faith.
A Few More Important Ones...
  1. Roadtrip Across Country
  2. Weddings!!! Cassie and John, Heather and Drew
  3. Worshiping the Lord in my car
  4. Time with my family
  5. Watching my brother Rye being a dad
  6. Blogging--lots and lots!
  7. Starting my own business--and getting it all opened!
  8. Sleepovers with Ash
  9. Cooking--for others and learning new things!
  10. Earning money and saving it.
  11. Learning to coupon.
  12. Watching movies.
  13. Eating good food--a lot.
  14. Cool days--a breath of air in this sauna!
  15. Soda Tab Bracelets

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

21 Reasons I Am Thankful for You

Well, today is a special day. My bestest friend is turning twenty-one years old!!! Crazy how time flies--and how faithful He is through it all. Just thought I would share twenty-one reasons I am ever so thankful for this precious sister in Christ.

  1. She always says it like it is--there's no getting around it!
  2. She won't change what she believes no matter how much she stands out.
  3. She knows God's word in and out, yet never tires of soaking up more.
  4. She thrives off of quality time--we are a perfect match!
  5. She is not afraid of confrontation--help me learn from her!
  6. She is not content in America, yet continues to walk in obedience while she is here.
  7. She is a lover of the poor, the broken, the least of these.
  8. She understands the joy of solitude.
  9. She is not perfect--and will be the first to tell you so.
  10. She would hand you the shirt off her back without thinking twice.
  11. She has perspective on life--that I often lack.
  12. She is a teacher, but first a student.
  13. She is a prayer warrior.
  14. She uses her platform as a student to love on international students--to love them to Christ.
  15. She is going to be an incredible mom--whether her own or some one else's.  
  16. She is a dreamer--when one thing doesn't happen God's already given her ten new ones!
  17. She loves her family more then they will ever understand--her mom and dad, her sisters, her brothers, her nieces and nephew, her grandparents, her aunts and uncles and cousins.
  18. She is a writer--so often her words sum up the deepest cries of my heart.
  19. She is learning to play the guitar all to worship her King.
  20. She makes you feel at home--like you have known her forever, even the first time you meet.
  21. She hates her birthday--but she loves words of affirmation.
Happy 21st Birthday beloved sister in Christ and friend of mine...may you be reminded of just how loved you are--by all of us who are so blessed to share this life with you, and most importantly by the One who gave it you. I love you Lesley Rebecca.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Here I Am, Send Me

My heart aches to go. Perhaps it is the ticking of the clock--over 365 days of seconds lost. Maybe it is the scent of Africa I've been inhailing upon my best friend's return. It could be my dread of returning to school to get a degree I dont care about all to fill the mold America set for me the day I was born on this soil. Maybe it is the scent of fall in the air--a new season, a new start--a breathe of fresh perspective.

It could be the emails that continue to pour in dangling oppurtunities before me, eyes racing across the screen. Maybe it is my exhaustion of trying to be this perfect little American Christian--you know the one. Or maybe it is my frustration with the society I live in where little kids are being paraded around on a leash while children are starving on the other side of the world. Oh land of the free--can you not see the irony?

It could be that the hours I spend lately, dreaming and hoping and praying about serving overseas, are so intertwined with the rest of my hours that it's all I think about until suddenly the faces that appered in my dreams the night before become the little girl walking down the street or the man begging on the corner in the daylight.

Oh Lord, hear my desperate plea. The oppurtunities are overwhelming. The timing is open-ended. The funds are non-existant. The four year plan is history. But here I am--send me.

Isaiah 6
 1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
   “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
   the whole earth is full of his glory.”

 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
   And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What is Faith Anyway?

Well, it seems that I have pretty much abandoned blog world this week…sorry for the silence. Life has been busy and going, going, going. What a blessing it is to be surrounded by so many precious friends and family as my summer spent back home comes to an end—all too soon, I might add.

I am not going to lie—this week has been challenging. I am tired and weary. You know, I just don’t think I will ever fully embrace change in my life. Yes, I know the Lord is in control…I know His plans ALWAYS end up being sweeter then anything I could work up on my own…I know His timing is perfect. As I was relaxing by the pool with my best friend today, I realized that while I know such truth—I would even go as far as to say I genuinely believe such Truth—there is a point where knowing and believing end; this is where faith begins.

Knowing and believing are easy—you know something is true because you have experienced it in the past—simple, it just is. Out of that knowledge comes belief—it just is, so you believe. No further analysis needed. But faith—well faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. As another translation says, it is the conviction of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1)

When we cannot see past the hurt, the insecurity, the fear, the doubt, the chaos and confusion, the changes…when we cannot see what will actually happen if we do that or when we go there, have we still faith that He who promised is indeed the faithful one? Scripture says that not only is faith being sure of the unseen, but that faith GIVES us such assurance of the things not seem.

Knowing and believing may graciously satisfy our black and white, over-analyzing, always doubting, wondering minds—for there is proof that sets us at ease. While we may not have the ability to FIND such proof in regaurds to faith, I must argue that perhaps faith is even easier—we don’t need to find proof for faith, when faith GIVES us more then proof—assurance and conviction.

I can prove to you that when I mix blue and red, I will get purple. I can prove to you that dogs bark and cows moo. I can prove to you that 2 + 2 = 4. I don’t understand these concepts necessarily. I couldn’t tell you why such things happen as they do—I just know they do. Simple as that.

I don’t know why I am moving back to Fayetteville next week—but I am sure that God has a divine purpose for me to be there. I cannot prove that an intentional courtship without years of dating is the way to go—but God has given me this conviction for my life. I never saw Jesus heal anyone…I never saw Him die on that cross…I never saw Him rise again—but I have assurance and conviction that He did and that through those actions, my life has been made new. I don’t need to know that these things happened—I simply rest in the assurance of things I have not seen. I simply have faith.

Truthfully, it is not that simple for me. But it should be—I don’t even need to bother finding the proof for faith like all the other things in my life, for I am assured of the unseen. In fact, it would only make sense for me to be more sure of the things I have yet to see and yet to understand then the things I have seen, the ones I can prove. Faith sounds so effortless—so restful. Lord, help me to rest in the assurance and conviction of things not seen as everything I see now begins to morph into the unseen in the upcoming days, weeks, months, and years. Oh what a faithful Master you are.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Little Vacation

Last week I got to roadtrip it Fayettville for a few days of fun and much needed relaxation with three of my nieces. It was such sweet time spent with them--what incredible women they are becoming! It is hard to believe how quickly they are growing so soon! I wish I got to spend more time with them throughout the year--it was so special for me to be able to really get to know details of thier lives and struggles and joys. And of course our midnight waffle house run, frozen yogurt for lunch, soccer game with college boys, photo shoot by the lake, craft projects, homeade meals, and late nights filled with real conversations were such fun. Here are a few pictures of our trip.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dads, where are you??

We are a generation of young women crying out for our dads. The more time I spend with young girls, the angrier I become. Their stories of loneliness and insecurity, of abuse and neglect, of feeling void inside, of never learning how to do certain things, of never having discipline, of the fears they have as they approach adulthood and marriage. As these girls passionately preach to me about their desire for wealth, self-sufficiency, and a noteworthy career my heart breaks inside. Such things will not last! Will the generational curse ever stop?

They want to challenge this picture of a biblical marriage…of the roles a man and woman should play. They have grown up in a society that tells them they can be anything they want; they can have it all—they can be just as smart, powerful, respected, and renown as any man. They don’t have to sit at home with the kids all day, wash the dishes, or have dinner on the table when their husband walks through the door. They refuse to be his slave. Oh no, they can be so much more then THAT. Such tasks are so belittling. 

These young women think that submission to a man in marriage is from the olden days—no one does that anymore. Several of these girls think ‘I won’t have to submit if I am just as good as he is.’ They reason that there are two people in a marriage, so why should they have to be the ones to always sacrifice their dreams and desires for their husband? No one should have more power—we must be equal. They explain to me how they could never stay home all day with the kids—why couldn’t their husband do that? “What if I wanted to be the one to come home to dinner on the table after a hard days work,” they ponder aloud. The opportunities are endless.

Where are you dads?

I don’t know what the Lord is trying to show me; I don’t understand His timing. But every single conversation I have had with teenage girls lately consistently comes back to this underlying cry for a father, whether they realize it or not. It is so, the cry of my heart as well.

I feel as if I am beating up against brick wall, over and over. This generation of young women has made up its mind; submitting to one’s husband, sacrificing a career for a family, dying to self to love another human being like Christ, signing a covenant before the Lord that divorce is not an option—these are not priorities for them…period.

Dads where are you?

Lord, I thank you that you are the PERFECT FATHER. As I am coming to a deeper understanding of imperfections and let-downs in life, I TRUST that even when my earthly dad fails me, even when my spiritual dads let me down…that you REMAIN—the Perfect Father who will never leave or forsake me. Praise to you that I know where you are—and that you protect me like a big, strong daddy should.

Oh Lord, I praise you for the convictions you have so engrained into my heart. Thank you for strengthening me to remain steadfast in those convictions—even when opposition surrounds. I pray that you will teach me to soften my words that I may be a sweet aroma to those around me, those who may not share the same ideas about dating, marriage and motherhood—Lord use my past, use the work you are doing in my heart…may my voice be firm and steadfast, yet gentle and wise. Lord, I will not settle—I will remain faithful to the hope to which you have called me in Christ Jesus. Thank you for surrounding me with women (and their husbands) who share similar convictions and are living them out—thank you for placing women in my life to teach me and challenge me. You are ever faithful to complete the good work you began. (Phil. 1:6)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Testimony Tuesday: The Alcohol Debate

Lately, it continues to come up. In random my thoughts…in my time on my knees. Perhaps it is my upcoming birthday into adulthood or maybe it’s just time to tackle it. Either way, it is frustrating beyond belief—and not something I ever thought would become such a burden.

Growing up, there was always alcohol around me. Both of my parents have battled alcoholism much of my life—and it is very much still a battle today. When I think about what alcohol has represented to me, nothing good ever comes to mind. In fact, some of the most painful memories of my childhood stem from consequences of this ugly addiction.

Anger. Fighting. Abuse. Neglect. Drunkenness. Partying. Sleeping around. Pornography. Fear. Forgetfulness. Numbness. Risk. Depression. Addiction. Pain. So much pain. These are what alcohol has always (and partially continues to) represent to me. I have seen the misery in both of my parents eyes—the wild eyes, the blank stare, the hopeless gaze. It is all too real, even today. I refuse to be enslaved to it—my children will not suffer the consequences of such an addiction in my life—ever.

I see this two ways. Coming from generations of alcoholics on both sides of my family, it would only make sense that it could easily consume my life as well. I know how sin works. I am surrendered to Christ—I know alcoholism is not the life I am pursuing—for that reason, is it airing on the side of legalism for me to abstain from alcohol all together? Would it cause non-believers to stumble if I stood firm in my pledge thus far to not drink at all?

There is another part of me that fears if I started, I couldn’t (or wouldn’t want) to stop. There is this thought in my head that like so many other addictions I have struggled with, my ‘all or nothing’ mindset could hinder the fruit of self-control in my life when it comes to alcohol. While this is legitimate, I don’t want to live enslaved to fear—or enslaved to the generational curse of alcoholism or the consequences of it which have already and may continue to rear their ugly head in my life, as a result of others’ decisions.  

I do not ever want my life to represent any of those words I associate with alcohol. But does that mean the curse is broken through Christ in me by abstaining from it all together or does that mean the curse is broken by the display of self-control while drinking? Do I take a firm stance in drinking nothing at all—or do I drink while refusing to go all the way to drunkenness? Am I being legalistic—or just straight up foolish? Is one worse then the other--or can I avoid both all together?

The battle wars on in my heart and mind, as I approach the day where the pain of my childhood clashes with the decisions of adulthood—oh, glorious day.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
-1 Corinthians 10:31