Monday, September 29, 2008

thought for today

I Samuel 3:10
Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel!"
And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

Am I more concerned with what God has to say to me or about what I need to tell Him?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

back in time

Pictures are funny things. Just looking at a photo of something you did a few years ago can bring back a flood of memories of that day, what you were wearing, and what you were thinking as you smiled at the camera. I found these beauties this afternoon, reminding me of my first two trips to Ukraine which were only a couple years ago.

Team Borkiv, 2005. The people in this picture are all over the place. Some still in Ukraine, some married, some engaged, some moved other places, some in Beaufort.

Vanya and I. My host brother first year. This was taken the night Kristine and I were grounded and stayed home from going bowling. We were upset about that but had an amazing time playing hide and seek and catch with Vanya.

My first Ukraine roomie. Kristine made boring nights at home so much fun exploring our host family's house and playing with fire late at night. Can't believe this girl is getting married! I'm so excited for her!

The group that went out to dinner one night, ultimately resulting in Kristine and I getting grounded from going anywhere over the next several days. Funny to think that none of us live in Beaufort anymore...

My first-ever host family! We had a really hard time talking to Ivan and Natasha at meals, but with Vanya's limited English and Sergey's translation, we communicated decently.

2006 30-day Ukraine team. Most of us still look the same but we've all changed in so many ways. Just look at Hope and Sam! I really liked this group of people. 2006 was the biggest growth-year for me and much of that is because of these guys.

Katie, Kristine and I practicing. We sang "You Alone" for a youth service in Litin. I hadn't planned on it but they made me join in... Brandon videoed the whole thing and it's rather funny to hear.

I like this picture... this was just after a trip to "Fantaland" to buy Cokes. Those beautiful yellow shirts (we called ourselves "Bananas" that year)...

Inviting kids to camp - Arthur, Mr. Vince and me! I've always liked this picture and I'm not sure why. We walked a lot that day through a cornfield, through herds of cows, and all over to get kids for camp. Mr. Vince definitely looks different and look how short my hair was!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I'm Free!

Just some thoughts on a passage I read lately. It really stuck out and I had to share... this was copied from my journal. I really wanted to share some new pictures too but I'm on Molly's computer since mine's having some power cord issues right now. 

"It was for freedom that Christ set us free" Galatians 5:5

Everyone has motives. Good, bad, and rare is the person who has just ONE motive, and a good one at that, in mind. Not all are EVIL but by nature we're sinners... we're pretty much self-serving individuals and our minds are going to reflect that. 

Jesus is obviously THE best model of all time for how to live. His example is just so amazing and... wow. And He knows it. He wouldn't be GOD if HE didn't know that He was the best thing to hit the planet. 

The thing that strikes me is that Jesus wasn't self-seeking. He was totally here for other people. I think I forget that about 90% of of the time - that Jesus was here for others. I don't KNOW selfless people. There are people who are further than others but again, we have that sin nature. We CAN'T be perfect and selfless. I have no mental picture of what Jesus must have been like. Can you imagine?

And then this verse says "It was FOR FREEDOM that Christ set us free". When a prisoner is set free, it's not usually FOR FREEDOM. I say usually but of course mean this is NEVER done. He's set free because he met parole or because the charges were dropped. Nobody just hands a prisoner a key and says "See ya later, Pal". After they're released, they may be monitored, records kept on file... though physically they aren't in prison anymore, they are not truly FREE. The file is saved because it may one day be required again. The prisoner might return to the jail cell.

But in Christ, there is TRUE freedom. It can't be lost. We can't return to a jail cell one day... we can't be condemned to hell. Because we're free. We aren't watched or recorded or kept on file. This freedom is one of a kind and I haven't completely wrapped my little mind around it yet. FREE? NOTHING in our lives today is free (unless it's a trial version). 

But this freedom IS free. 
It cant be bought or we'd have an obligation to fulfill. 
It can't be earned because we have a sin nature and it would be like bribing God.
It can't be lost or there wouldn't be security, that true feeling of freedom. 
It can't have an ulterior motive because that, my friend, would not be pure freedom. 

It was for freedom that CHRIST set us free.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Episcopal Experience

Before yesterday, I thought Episcopal and Presbyterian were similar denominations. Boy, was I ever wrong!
We went to an Episcopal church to just check it out, see what it was like. One nice thing about moving has been the church-searching. I get to visit places I wouldn't have thought of visiting. We've gone to four different churches, with plans to visit at least that many more in the coming weeks. I'm excited to see how different people worship and what the pastors say. But I digress... back to my story:

We went to St. John's Cathedral, a huge stone cathedral on South Hill. We parked the car and approached the huge, castle-like building in the cold rain. A couple of people greeted us at the entrance and we found seats in the middle of the building. We were early and so had plenty of time to look around. The inside was stone also, enormous inside and reminded me of Orthodox churches I've visited in Ukraine (minus the incense and huge portraits of saints). There were huge stained glass windows and priests talking to one another. People sat in their seats and didn't really talk before the service began. A few unfolded the kneelers and prayed. The service itself was quite different. The communion was interesting. We had to walk up to the front and kneel, and the priest brought over the little communion crackers and wine. Yep, real wine. He wasn't leaving until I took a sip, so I stuck my cracker into it.

There was a lot of standing up and sitting down, kneeling and singing and chanting things we couldn't understand. It felt like some kind of club we had entered where everyone else knew what to do. The nine of us that went were definitely on the outside. "Is this church?" I thought. The churches I've visited and am used to have happy people, upbeat music, and sermons that are applicable. I don't mean to offend the people at the cathedral but it just seemed very lifeless. That's not what church is supposed to be like, is it? I thought we embraced life in Christ and freedom in Him. This place seemed so ritualistic, almost so much that it was lost in that.

When people think of church, I hope they don't think of this kind of service. I hope they don't think of somber hymns and candles and kneeling and command. I don't believe that's what the church is supposed to be like. It's not a ritual, it's a place to come together to worship Christ together. While I liked that the Episcopal church showed a lot of reverence, they seemed too familiar with it. The Christian life isn't just about showing reverence, it's about living. If we are alive in Christ as God's word says, then we're always alive, not just on Sunday mornings! I prefer services where I can close my eyes, raise my hands, kneel, or do whatever I want to worship God the best. I don't have to do those things but sometimes I have in chapel or in the other churches I've visited. I didn't feel like I could truly worship my God in that church on Sunday. Jesus wasn't still on the cross as He would have been on the wall of an Orthodox church but it didn't seem like He was supposed to be alive in our hearts and making us alive and giving us joy.

If for some reason this has been your only experience of church, know that it's not that way. It is possible to feel like you're a part of the worship and that you're welcome and that God is real, not just talked about or someone whose picture is on the wall. Christianity may be a religion but it's not just that. For me, it's not the religion at all but embracing the free gift of God and living in honor of Him. I fail all the time, but I have freedom in Christ to worship, to mess up, to encourage others... there's more than it seems like there is on the service. I hope you know that.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

one month anniversary

It's been a month today since I've lived in Spokane. Feels much longer than that and now Spokane is home! (it was a month ago too, but now it feels like it. When I walk into my apartment

We had dinner at the boys' apartment with the four of them and one of our professors and his wife. I really enjoyed it. Nick made dinner tonight... Cuban Pork Roast, black beans and yellow rice. The Orrs bought sparkling cider, and we girls brought peanut butter fudge and cheesecake. We supplied our dining room table and chairs and some of our dishes to make enough room for all ten of us and the boys did a great job of making things look (and taste) so nice!

Dr. Orr shared all kinds of stories about his life and asked us about ours - where we lived and what kind of food best described where we were from... we had a good time and we were invited to his house for dinner in a few weeks. This is one thing I enjoy about Moody-Spokane. There's a lot of interaction with people. With around 300 students go figure that there will be more time to get to know people. That part has been neat.

For those that were wondering, I don't feel like I got "cast off" because I was sent to Spokane and not Chicago. I did but I don't anymore. It's so obvious that this is where God has me now and I'm unbelievably content in that. Seriously hope that whatever the next stage of my life is will leave me this content and so at peace. Each day here, I like Spokane more. It's going to be sad to leave and not come back when school ends at the end of next May. I really like it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Benedict the Wazzle

WELL, it seemed like a normal Wednesday.
8:25 Health class (bleah.)
9:25 Intro to Ministry class (decent.)
10:45 Chapel (great!)
11:45 LUNCHTIME (a good reminder that I need to go grocery shopping...)
12:15 Acts (favorite class but stressful today - talked about maps we need to draw for a project)
Then a trip to the mall for birthday shopping (didn't buy anything)
A wait for the bus (a loooong wait)
Home again.

But then...

I checked my email. And what was there? Three emails. Two received the dreaded "Archive" button. And the third? Well, it was quite special. The subject line read: "Benedict the Wazzle" - it contained a story! A story. For ME. Wow. Am I lucky or what? My brother is THE greatest. Seriously. He wrote me a letter (it began "Scott, an apostle of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the saints who are at Spokane, greetings" - laughed my head off and read it to anyone who came near me), wrote me a note in code, talked to me on the phone for an HOUR, told me he was sending another letter... and now this story. He's the greatest. And he's so funny too! I don't know if he grew into that or not. Maybe he's always been that hilarious. Anyway, I miss him! My crazy little bigger-than-me brother. Here's a pic I took tonight that was the closest I could get to an actual picture with Scott (also note how shiny and clean my ring is - woohoo!).

What else happened today? I know you're dying to know. Everyone wants to know the fine details of my terribly exciting life.

I made plans with two girls for studying for those maps.
I got my ring cleaned at the mall (so pretty now!)
When we walked into the house it smelled... burnt. And it was kinda hazy. Maddie had cooked dinner. Apparently there was stuff on the burner.
We enjoyed the fresh air by opening all our doors and windows.
I got a phone call from someone looking for her niece. It was a wrong number.

And... since I'm sure my posting pictures is what you need to exist, here's some sustanence in collage form:

1. Fall Retreat this weekend... Northwest of Spokane, on a lake, in the woods... very nice, very fun, very relaxing. LOTS of boating - canoeing, paddleboats, rowboating... also swimming but the water was too cold for me. I was also introduced to the beauty of Oreos and peanut butter. And I played Capture the Flag in the woods at night - such a fun time.

2. We have this class that requires us to "get to know Spokane" as part of the assignment. We had to go to 15 different places in the city and take pictures to prove we went. I went with nine people on Monday and had a BLAST. These are only some of our many pictures around the city.

That's all I've got! I'd post that amazing story, but I don't have permission!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

nothing to say.

I'm feeling like posting but nothing brilliant is coming to mind. So I thought I'd post the lyrics to a song I've been listening to lately and liked.

You Are God Alone
You are not a god
Created by human hands
You are not a god
Dependent on any mortal man
You are not a god
In need of anything we can give
By Your plan, that’s just the way it is

You are God alone
From before time began
You were on Your throne
Your are God alone
And right now
In the good times and bad
You are on Your throne
You are God alone

You’re the only God
Whose power none can contend
You’re the only God
Whose name and praise will never end
You’re the only God
Who’s worthy of everything we can give
You are God
And that’s just the way it is

That’s what You are

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"this is history!"

I was in my room starting on schoolwork that Tuesday when Dad came into my room, hurriedly saying something about planes and telling me to go up to the bonus room to see it on TV. I didn't think it would be something exciting but I followed him up the stairs and sat on the couch anyway. It wasn't like an air show as I'd expected. Instead of planes doing flips or writing with in the air, smoke was pouring out of a building. Fire spewed out of it. Dad explained that one of the Twin Towers had been hit by a plane. "This is history!" I remember him saying.

I sat upstairs on the couch and watched with shock as I realized that people were dying in that building. I watched with millions of other television viewers as the second plane hit the other tower, then watched them both fall, sending people on the streets of New York running from the avalanche of ash and smoke.

It was indeed history. September 11, 2001. I was twelve but there are certain things that stick out about that day. It was the first time that death struck me in a really real way. It was only a few days after my great-grandfather's funeral so my mind was already thinking that way; I was also realizing the significance of death. I realized how real it was and how when it happens, it strikes something in people like almost nothing else. And watching so many people die, even though it was no one I'd ever met, really affected me. How could it not?

That's one day that I probably won't forget any time soon. It was seven years ago. Wow. Can't believe it's been so long.

I can't end this post without one more personal note: In many ways, that day also impacted my spiritual growth. Because of that I went to Frontlines for the first time (they had a special memorial thing that Friday night for all junior high kids and I just kept going after that...), I went to New York for my first mission trip (yep, at the ripe ol' age of 12)... who know what wouldn't have happened in me personally if September 11th hadn't happened? To me this is an example of how God works things out for good. I know good things happened because of that day. People were brought to the Lord, the country began to "Stand United", even if only for a time. And even though I'm just a small little pixel on the whole picture of this country's population, the repercussions of that morning influenced much of my future. God's so good, y'all. So good.

Dad was right, it was history. September 11th became personal for lots of people, including myself. It's a part of my history. And I think it's best that we don't forget.

[picture is from that funeral the weekend before 9-11]

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

peach pies and college campuses

Here's my school! It's kinda ugly, and it's really a church... but this is it! Moody Bible Institute - Spokane!

We went to Fourth Memorial for Church on Sunday - the service was really good and afterward there was FREE FOOD! Hamburgers and hot dogs to kick off the start of the Fall. We college students greatly enjoyed that - and they had cotton candy too! Molly and I were ecstatic!

Fresh peach pie - from those peaches we picked on Saturday. After this, we baked chocolate cupcakes for Nick and Skyler's birthdays. We found glitter writer icing and had fun decorating them... no pictures because I didn't put them on the computer yet ;)

By the way, the pie was amazing. We had vanilla ice cream to go with it... mmm!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

exercise and other matters.

Maybe it's because I'm car-less, but I've been walking a LOT lately. Walking to the bus stop, from the stop to school... today Molly and I even put on the running shorts and tennis shoes to go to Wal*Mart! I remarked today that I'm glad that we don't have cars because even though it would be more convenient, now we HAVE to walk when we want to get places. We'd waste money because we could get to the store more often, and we'd buy more and we'd become insanely huge in no time (Me? I am NOT as conscious of what I eat as I ought to be...). So anyway, I noticed this morning that the recent walking and running have paid off because things just fit better. It was a nice realization.

Hm, I thought, not trying to relate this to something spiritual but having trouble NOT. We talk about walking by faith and walking by the Spirit and walking in the Word and all these things... but how often are we out there exercising them? Not too often, I'm afraid. Wonder what kind of results we'd get if we got out there and used those things just a little more frequently (because, trust me, I don't have time and am not in shape to run even 2 miles each day!). I imagine my relationships with God and with other people would be just so much more amazing. I wouldn't be so "out of breath" and unfamiliar with how to relate in God's word if I were just in it more.

Exercise takes discipline, not just in the physical realm but also spiritually. I need to take the things I've learned and relate them to my spiritual "walk".


We've made some friends! There's a girl named Becky in four of my classes who has taken me home after class a couple times and we're planning on hanging out with all our roomies soon. She lives in the apartment complex right across the street. Yay!

Today we also spent some time with Erica and Maila at Green Bluff, basically a little agricultural community on top of the mountain. They were fun to talk to and they only live down the road. They may come over tonight for a movie and popcorn too!

[me, amanda, maila, erica, molly and madeline at green bluff]


Exploration: When we decided to stop relying on others for the use of their vehicles and start using our bus passes, Molly and I became adventurous! We took the bus downtown on Wednesday to explore that area. It's really neat! I put some pictures on Facebook and more on Picasa for those who are interested. We went to the mall, the library (HUGE compared to ours in Beaufort), Spokane Falls, Riverfront Park (contains the clock tower you'll see pictures of if you Google "Photos of Spokane clock tower") and this really crazy iron goat that sucks up trash (video on Facebook) that I found to be the most amazing thing ever. It was a fun day and we're glad we decided to take the bus.
[the roommate and i at spokane falls]


School: I'm liking it for the most part. It's really really nice to not be self sufficient when it comes to doing work. Glad to not feel like I was still homeschooling while in college :) My favorite class right now is Acts. Dr. McMath is great. He reminds me of my pastor because in our three hour class on Wednesday, he progressed through only the first eight verses of the book. Wow.

Psychology and Lifetime Fitness aren't the best. LF because we have to record fun things like BMI and current weight and how long it takes you to run a mile. And just joyful things like that. And psychology because it's way over my head at this point. It's basically anatomy of the brain for now and it's completely not something I understand. I take notes but don't get it. And I think we have a quiz next Friday for it... won't that be fun?

One really neat thing is that every prof opens with prayer and even if we're talking about College Writing or Lifetime Fitness, we talk about those things as they relate back to our future ministries (which is what this school is all about). I like that part of it because it doesn't seem like I'm "wasting my time" with these required classes. They become applicational. I like application very much.


I'm still not homesick but I DEFINITELY miss people. Here's one of the ones I miss the most, most of the time:

[saying goodbye to my favorite person in the airport]

And that's what I have for you today. Goodbye! It's been nice "talking" to you!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

my house :)

Well, now it's time for a house tour.
First off we have the sign outside the apartment complex: Cedar Springs IV. It's really nice and feels quite safe. In the apartment above us is a group of Moody guys. We've done bowling, movie nights up there, and I even got a ride to school this morning. It's nice having other Moodies nearby since we don't have the dorm thing out here in Spokane.

Our living room! Yep, it's pretty boring and doesn't contain much furniture, but this is it! Our little futon and disk chair and plenty of floorspace if we decide to watch movies on our DVD player (we don't have cable).

Our dining room. Isn't that the most beautiful card table ever? Just kidding. We like that too. We have so much cabinet space in this house - there are some pillows, sheets and an air mattress in those cabinets. We also have a mini fridge - we use it for bottled water and juice :) The flowers are from Molly's brother.

Molly and I had fun picking out all that brightly colored bedding. Our room is full of color - it will be great when it gets really cold and ugly outside. The cubes are my nighttable/bookshelf/desk. The other side of the room has Molly's desk. We each have our own closet - very nice!

Our bathroom/the guest bathroom. It matches our bedroom - yay! It's pretty nice too. The door closes so one person can shower while another gets ready by the sink. Across from the sink is a sliding door that opens to reveal our washer and dryer - another great thing about this apartment!

Our kitchen. It looks really ugly from this picture, but it's not that bad. I'm quite fond of it. Several experimental recipes have already been created in here (courtesy of Molly and I).

Our fridge and freezer. We buy most of our food separately and distinguish who has what with colored dots. I'm yellow. The top half of the freezer is divided in half (the pizza is the divider)... Molly and I have pre-made meals on the left side (we spent all last Monday cooking) and Maddie and Amanda's food is on the right.

The cake we made for Dustin's birthday. Molly and I had too much fun making this cake and placing each sprinkle in the shape of the number 18. The boys thought we'd put something in it to poison them when we brought it upstairs. We didn't. And they enjoyed it.

Frosting the cake... you can see more of the kitchen and some of the dining room/living room in the background.

The banana bread we made. It looks NOTHING like banana bread but surprisingly does taste like it. We made our own recipe because we didn't have all the ingredients for either of the recipes we had on hand. It tastes really good with peanut butter. We were proud of it.

You may have noticed that our living room was totally boring when you looked at the picture of it. We decided that it was depressing late one night so the four of us piled in the car and drove about two minutes away (everything's super close) to Michael's to find something for the wall. This poster was colorful and a good motivator for the two that were freaking out about the amount of homework. We bought it, very excited about our find.

And there it is on our wall by the back door/Maddie and Amanda's room. We moved the couch back to take pictures with it... we were crazy that night. Our living room is no longer (as) boring.

Molly and I had a movie night on Friday: West Side Story, which I've had for awhile but haven't ever watched. We put pajamas on, popped popcorn using her Whirly Pop (I'd never seen one - they're so fun!) and brought our stuffed animals into the living room with us (thanks Dad or Scott or whoever randomly put the monkey in my suitcase - it made me laugh when I saw it). So far I really haven't gone out at all to explore... if we're not studying at night, we're sleeping or watching movies.

I saved the best for last: TEA! Dad, Beck and Scott sent two boxes of "house stuff" to me on Friday. I finally opened the tea that I bought in Ukraine (this one is mint - so good that it doesn't even need sugar!) and am using the travel mug from Jasmyn to bring hot tea to school. I've been sick with a cold for a few days so the tea is very nice to have around - perfect timing.
I'm still in love with the fact that my tea kettle whistles and that it's bright blue :) It's nice to have our own kitchen to create in.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Road Ahead

{this is the view from right across the street from my apartment}

The very word, "college" always makes me think of the future. Perhaps because that's the purpose of it. To prepare us for life after college: the future. Funny, because I really don't know much about what the future is going to hold.

I'm thinking about Abraham. This man was amazing. After living all his life in a really nice place, God "randomly" (quotations because God's never random) told him to move. He didn't say where to go, just to pack up and move out. And he did. Abraham was 90 and childless when God told him that he would have a ton of descendants. His wife thought it was funny. But Abraham believed in the nigh impossible. Ten years later that came true. Twenty-ish years after that, God had Him give up his only son, to literally sacrifice him on an altar. Over one hundred years old at the time, Abraham must have wondered what God was doing since his only living descendant was about to die. Yet he believed what God had said and put the knife to Isaac's throat. He believed God and had faith in His plan no matter what the cost.

I've always admired Abraham for his faith in God. Being willing to hitchhike over rugged terrain for an unspecified amount of time sounds rather scary, doesn't it? Good for him but that's certainly not something I will ever do, is it?

What if it is? What if next year, instead of moving to Chicago, I go somewhere else? This is my mother's worst fear, that I will pop in randomly one morning and announce that I am moving to another country for the next ten years. Don't worry, Mom, this isn't an announcement or anything. I'm simply saying "what if?". Would I even be open to see it? I certainly hope I would. But am I so set on the idea of finally going to Moody in Chicago, the place I've wanted to go (because of God) since I was in middle school, that I make that my goal and don't even put myself in the position to be available to God?

How horrid that would be?! I would lose everything. To gain only what I want and lose God's plan... it's just not worth it. Not only would I be out of God's will, I might encourage others to get out of it too, by example. What if Abraham just hadn't gone when God said to go? He could easily have brushed it aside, rationalizing it as a midlife crisis. He wouldn't have been an example and testimony of the greatness of God. He wouldn't have been known for his faith and may not even have been the father of the nation of Israel.

If I quit trusting God, that's it.

I've been thinking about this whole thing quite a bit lately. I haven't been placed in that situation before, where I've had what I wanted, had everything planned out, and then God completely changed my course of life by taking whatever that was away. I thought He did that before but I was wrong. He just waited and chose to let me come to Moody this Fall instead of last. But what if He tells me next year, as I'm preparing to move to the Windy City, that I need to go to the sticks instead? What WILL I do?

I want to have my will on that altar, ready to cut its throat with a knife. I want to be that willing for God. Faith can't be tested, endurance can't be had, joy in the trials can't be had if there isn't something lost.

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself , and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? [Matthew 16:24-26]

Those aren't the words of a dictating, demanding God. He's not Hitler, folks. We don't have to trust God, but it is our best choice. Choice. To follow God, giving Him preference and honor and glory or to do whatever we want to do, giving ourselves whatever we wish and placing Him behind us. He chose to do that for us, by taking us out of what we did deserve (punishment for our sin = death/eternal separation from God) and giving us what we didn't deserve = forgiveness in the form of a perfect sacrifice... Jesus, God's only Son. No, really.

Think about that, dwell on that. That's WHY we do what we do as Christians... because of His sacrifice. If you think about it, everything we do is a reciprocation for what God has done for us. It isn't because we can even try to make things up to Him but it's because He has given us so much and we want to give Him the glory, give Him ourselves and magnify Him in that way.

That's why if I end up in... somewhere very far away and not all that pleasant... it's really not that bad. Because I'm in His will and He has promised to keep me there. Not because woo-hoo I can make great sacrifices but because God is so great and I trust Him. I trust Him.

I'm no Abraham but wherever He wants me to go, I intend to go.
Related Posts with Thumbnails Follow Me on Pinterest