Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I'm Back!!/A Lesson in Trust

I’m back!!! Sorry about the absence. As I’ve mentioned before, my absences are not merely absences from this blog, but absences from God Himself. The abundance of posts reflects a spiritual strength, while being away from this blog is me being away from God.

This time, this absence of mine was due to tennis and my lack of complete trust in God.

See, I played tennis with my school for the first time last year. This year, I wanted so very much to play again. But the coach decided there would be tryouts; ten people would be cut from the team. I love tennis, but I’m not good at it, not really, so I was worried about not making the team.

I prayed, but continued to worry. I put off blogging and reading my Bible in order to practice tennis.

Tryouts came and I was failing, gradually moving closer and closer to being booted off the team.

Desperate, I skipped tryouts one day (so I wouldn’t lose another tryout game) and went to a tennis court in a park so that I could practice my serve alone.

I prayed. Better, more honest, praying than before. I admitted that I could not play tennis well and, therefore, could not make the team without His help. I asked for His help, but I said that ultimately, even if I wasn’t to make the team, I would realize that’s His will for me. So I practiced my serve while praying this, and I failed, making only about three out of ten serves. I said, “God, I can’t make the team without being able to serve. It would be awesome if someone would help me.” There were plenty of people in the park and I figured one of them could be a tennis aficionado.

I served more and more. About half an hour later, I was ready to leave. But as I was picking up my tennis balls, one of the parents of a girl on the tennis team (it was already obvious she was going to make the tryouts) came to practice his serve. He saw me and asked if I wanted help.

I almost started crying. God had answered! He had sent this parent, who happens to excel at serving, to help me.

So he helped me with my serve and it got better.

And when I went to tryouts the next day, my serve was better. But I was still losing. So I went home- actually not yet. I started to drive home and You Are I Am by MercyMe came on and it was perfect. I started crying then and I realized that I had been making conditions (if I get on the tennis team, I will read the Bible three times a day instead of two, etc.) and hadn’t truly been trusting God to take care of it. So I settled that. I went to tryouts again and lost some more. But I went home one night and there was an email from the coach asking for uniform sizes. I was like, what in the world, are tryouts over? I emailed him and you know what he said? He had decided not to do tryouts anymore; EVERYONE WAS MAKING THE TEAM!

I felt like such an idiot! God had it under control the whole time. Yet I had worried my butt off. He took care of it – he took care of me – and all is well, better than well even. Because now I realize once again that when God said, “All things are possible,” He meant ALL THIINGS ARE POSSIBLE (Matthew 19:26). He meant, “I can do anything. So trust. Pray, trust, give ME all your worries and doubts.” Just trust that He is all powerful and all knowing. He not only knows what is best, but is best able to make the best happen! How amazing!

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” –Matthew 19:26
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. –Proverbs 3:5
Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. –Psalm 20:6-8

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? –Psalm 56:3-4

Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. –Psalm 32:10

He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe. –Proverbs 28:26

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Twenty-First Time

Why do we do this so often? 

(In case you're wondering, this song has nothing to do with Winter Jam.) I was listening to it and thinking about how we pretend not to see those in need. 

Why do we do this so often?

My youth group leader talks so much about sitting with those people who sit alone at lunch and I’ve always thought of one or two, but not done much. Today, with this song and a very moving story from a girl in my youth group, I realized that kids now don’t sit alone so much as they just tune out of the group they sit with. Kids all over the lunch room sit with headphones on, heads on tables. They are alone. True, maybe they like music a whole ton, but maybe (and I feel more likely) they very simply have no one who will really talk to them. In spirit, they are alone. 

Anyway, there are people at school - and at work and in the mall - who are alone. I see them. You see them.
Why do we not act like Jesus to them? Why do we walk on by for the twenty-first time?

(That’s not rhetorical! I want your opinion!)

P.S. It's been such a long time since I've heard this song (The Twenty-First Time by Monk and Neagle) on the radio!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Get Back Up

tobyMac sang this at Winter Jam and it’s another song that really touched me.

There are always scars when you fall that far.

Every experience we have ever had will leave some kind of mark on us. Whether that mark will be physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental has yet to be seen.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28

God is preparing us for futures greater than we can imagine. He is making us into people who will be able to persevere and people who will have the faith to weather any storm.

That’s why we have to get back up.

Because God is not finished yet.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Just got back from Winter Jam (a group of Christian bands that’s touring now)! This song really hit me. It was just the perfect timing for a song like this. Actually, the unofficial theme of the whole thing was forgiveness. Thanks, God. :)

Enjoy! (Have you heard this song before?)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Forgiveness = Losing?

On Wednesday, I asked my Bible Study leader to pray for me and a friend of mine. Our relationship has been headed south and I wanted guidance on what to do. I had been praying and praying for months without a clear answer. I asked her to pray because I didn’t know anything else to do. 

On Thursday, at a Bible Study at my school, one of my friends, Jason, taught a lesson. He started it by saying, “I’m going to teach on forgiveness today.” I immediately scanned through my life and decided that I didn’t have anything that I needed to forgive. I almost closed my ears to the lesson, but something, like a whisper through the walls of my soul, made me listen.

He used part of Tenth Avenue North’s song Losing and he spoke on forgiveness:

I can't believe what she said

I can't believe what he did
Oh, don't they know it's wrong, yeah?
Don't they know it's wrong, yeah?
Maybe there's something I missed
But how could they treat me like this?
It's wearing out my heart
The way they disregard

Well it's only the dead that can live
But still I wrestle with this
To lose the pain that's mine
Seventy times seven times
'Cause Lord it doesn't feel right
For me to turn a blind eye
Though I guess it's not that much
When I think of what You've done.

Before that, I knew what forgiveness was –receiving mercy, grace, and having your faults let go of and forgotten – but I realized that forgiveness didn’t wait for the “I’m sorry.” Forgiveness is given before the other person is ready to be sorry. They may never be sorry. Forgiveness means you don’t expect an apology.

I had been expecting an apology.

For months.

I discovered, as Jason was teaching on forgiveness, that I hadn’t forgiven this other friend for even the things he had apologized for. 

I had been holding on to the anger and the wrong he had done to me. And because he had continued to do wrong to me, my feelings were renewed and strengthened. I was angry. Angrier than I thought.

It didn’t feel right for me to turn a blind eye. I had been wondering how he would learn to say sorry and how he would learn what I didn’t like if I always forgave him without him asking. It didn’t feel right to lose the pain that was mine. 

Jason also used a Bible verse in his lesson:

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.Colossians 3:12-14, The Message

Be content with second place.  He kept saying that. Forgiveness is being in second place. Forgiveness is being happy with–and choosing–second place. Forgiveness is not winning, but losing. Losing, at least, according to the world’s definition. But to God, forgiving puts you at the front of the pack. The world’s last becomes God’s first.

Jason used the Super Bowl as an example of “losing.”

“Say the Ravens lose the Super Bowl. Think about if the Ravens go into their press conference praising the 49ers and how well they played, you know, “They played really well today and their teamwork was awesome. They’re a great team.” People will think they’re crazy. People will be like, ‘You lost.’  That’s like what forgiveness is.”

Forgiveness is crazy. It’s totally against our instincts. Our self-preservation tells us not to forgive, but to make the wrong-doers pay us back. But Jesus practiced forgiveness, even up until his death and then even after.

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 
–Matthew 26:28

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. –Colossians 3:12-14, NIV

Now, my plan of action with this friend of mine is to forgive. No matter how much more he hurts me, I will forgive him. I won’t care how many more times; I won’t care what it is exactly that he says; I will forgive and then I will forget.

7x70, baby. 

Do you think forgiveness is crazy? How do "normal" people view forgiveness?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

On Droughts and Blessings

“As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” This is Elijah the prophet speaking in 1 Kings 17:1. This story is one of my favorites in the Bible. It is so bold and telling of how we need to serve the Lord.

The story starts in 1 Kings 16:29: Ahab became king of Israel and he “did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.” Many of the kings before Ahab, like Omri and Jeroboam, had done evil, but Ahab “considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam.” So Ahab committed those sins in addition to other sins, including the worship of idols. Ahab set up places of worship, such as Asherah poles and altars for Baal, and led the Israelites away from the one true God.  

Baal is the focus of the story in 1 Kings. This is one of those places that it’s important (MUY IMPORTANTE) to know some of the cultural and historical background that the Bible doesn’t cover. Here you need to know that Baal was the god of weather.

When Ahab wanted it to rain, he would pray to Baal. When the Israelites wanted it to rain, they asked Baal to send the rain. 

Image from http://nowiknow.com
God, through Elijah, told Ahab, “There will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
God withdrew the blessing of rain because the Israelites were worshipping Baal. “Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.” There was a drought.
Israelites would cry to the “god of weather” and no rain would fall. The priests of Baal would cut themselves and no rain would arrive. None. God withdrew that blessing, because He will not bless his main competition. 

I realized this again today. I realized that God will not bless me in the things I put before Him.

I had been hearing a lot lately that whatever you think about most is what/who you worship. I had been thinking about this boy a lot. I had been steering conversations in order to talk about him; I had been texting him quite a bit; I had been stalking his facebook. I had been putting this boy before God.

I had forgotten what God has taught me. Freshman year and part of sophomore year, I was obsessed with a boy and nothing ever came of it. After that, I didn’t seriously like any boy for about 8 months or so. My focus was finally on God. My prayer life was prosperous (my prayers were being answered) and I felt so close to God. In that time (about 4 months), I got asked out twice and a half times.

When I wasn’t focusing on boys, I was getting boys. Why? Well, I wasn’t putting boys above God, so I believe God was allowing my “romantic” life to flourish.

Today, I realized that my focus was on this boy. Of course, I only realized this after a drought of three weeks. Three weeks of not seeing him, not talking to him. It was implied recently that he is (and has been) avoiding me.

I had been sent a drought.

The Israelites had rain taken away because they were worshipping rain, basically. I had the attention of this boy taken away because I was seeking his attention more than I was seeking God.

God will not bless his primary competition. He is a jealous God. (Exodus 34:14). In Deuteronomy 32:21, God said, “They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols.”

God deserves our attention and He wants it; therefore, He will not bless everything that you focus on more than Him. Whether your main focus is work, school, grades, image, money, boys, it does not matter. You will not be blessed in that area as long as it is number one on your priority list.

The Israelites realize this in 1 Kings 18. In verse 39, after an amazing display of God’s power and the resulting humiliation of Baal, the supposed god of weather, the Israelites cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”

Then Elijah said, “There is the sound of a heavy rain.” Soon after, in verse 45, “the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on...”

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Awesomesauce Words Continued!

In case you're wondering, Erin and Cassie... Let's just say I'm praying for them a lot. I ask that you keep them in your prayers too. 

This post has nothing to do with that. Originally, I had written a different post, but it (and the rewrite and the rewrite for the rewrite) came off horribly, so for now, you're going to have to enjoy some words stuffed with awesomesauce (I feel like that should be a recipe). Bon appetite!

“One superlatively important effect of wide reading is the enlargement of vocabulary which always accompanies it. The average student is gravely impeded by the narrow range of words from which he must choose, and he soon discovers that in long compositions he cannot avoid monotony. In reading, the novice should note the varied mode of expression practiced by good authors, and should keep in his mind for future use the many appropriate synonymes he encounters. Never should an unfamiliar word be passed over without elucidation; for with a little conscientious research we may each day add to our conquests in the realm of philology, and become more and more ready for graceful independent expression.

"But in enlarging the vocabulary, we must beware lest we misuse our new possessions. We must remember that there are fine distinctions betwixt apparently similar words, and that language must ever be selected with intelligent care. As the learned Dr. Blair points out in his Lectures, ‘Hardly in any language are there two words that convey precisely the same idea; a person thoroughly conversant in the propriety of language will always be able to observe something that distinguishes them,’” H.P. Lovecraft, known for writing “weird horror,” said.

I like vocabulary. A lot. Because of this, I’m continuing the Awesomesauce Words series that I started a while ago.

One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment. –Hart Crane

Obviously Disney’s Pinocchio.
Straight from the movie. :)

Mendacious-adjective-telling lies especially habitually; dishonest; lying; untruthful

Turpitude-noun-shameful wickedness; vile, shameful, or base character; a depraved act

In addition, moral turpitude is a legal concept that refers to conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.

I walked up to my teacher and said, “The fire department had to come to our house last night. Everything was really frantic. Nothing burned down, but I wasn’t able to complete my homework.”
She stared at me for a minute. Since I knew she was trying to read my face, I kept it as emotionless as humanly possible. Another minute passed as she stared. I was sure I had her fooled now. I smiled, and in that smile she must have seen just a bit of turpitude, for she said, “Bria! Stop your mendacious behavior or else I will whip you with my displeasure!”

Ha. I like this story because this is what my english teacher really would say. Don’t worry, she wouldn’t literally whip me, but she would literally quote every piece of literature to her advantage. The whipping phrase comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance.” The full quote says, “For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure.”

What other literary quotes would you use to discipline me? How would you all use these words? (PLEASE use turpitude. I love how it sounds so much, but I have (thankfully) had very little opportunity to use it. Original ways to use it (so I can use it more!!)  would be GREATLY appreciated!)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I Mentioned I Was Afraid

So my friends’ dad died a bit over a week ago. His daughters came back to school on Tuesday. I don’t know how they’re handling it. We’ve talked only a little. Everything has just returned to a very melancholy normal. We are all sadder. And sometimes I am afraid. It’s the selfish kind of afraid. The best way I can describe it is by posting a RECENT Letter to God (most Letters to God that I post are older):

January 15, 2013

Cassie and Erin’s* dad died last night.

Lord. God.


Be with them.

I can’t believe it. Geez. He was just okay. Lord. Be there for them. Please. Be there for us too. Please. Geez.


Jesus wept.
-John 11:35

Shortest verse in the Bible. (And while writing this I thought of this post from one of my friends)

Zelda kept trying to cheer me up. But, for the most part, I wouldn’t be cheered. I know that their dad is up in heaven now, but I’m so sad for them. I know they’re hurting and I’m hurting because they are. My mood has always reflected and absorbed the moods of others. This is no exception, and it’s so much more extreme. I know Cassie and Erin well and I know how they will be when they come to school, and it hurts me.

Sometimes my mood rebounds; sometimes my mood sucks up other moods but still has enough joy to remain fairly upbeat. But this is so different. I know Cassie and Erin. I also know knew their dad. I loved their dad. And it’s not going to be right to go to their house and not see him. God, I already feel his absence.

Death is moving closer. It scares me, Lord. I know that You conquered death and that we have eternal life in and with You, but Lord, I don’t want to lose those I love. This train of thought is so selfish, but, oh, Lord. I want them with me.

Death is moving closer to me personally. First, the Smith’s dad died. I didn’t really know them, other than name. Then Susie’s dad died. I know her enough to be an acquaintance. Then Grace’s dad died. I know her. Last year, I saw her every day, I talked to her every day. We had creative writing together, so I saw her deal with her relationship with You and her overwhelming, poorly disguised sadness. Then Cassie and Erin’s dad. I know them so well and I knew him too. Death has been creeping closer and I’m worried. There’s nothing I can do, but I’m worried.

And the same has been happening at church. Amelia’s dad died and I saw the impact. I saw her astonishing faith in You and how she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that her daddy is with You in heaven. Then Matt, our worship pastor. We saw him every week and then he’s gone. And, I just pray that no one else dies. Lord, I want Death to move no closer. I want You to blow it away, blind it and demolish it. There has been so much death lately and it makes me so gloomy, so sad. And all of those deaths were sudden. None of them were expected. Worry, worry, worry. I know You’ve got it all under control, so Lord, let me not worry.

Please take the worry, the fear, the sorrow (so it doesn’t overwhelm me or Cassie or Erin or their mom or Clementine or Susie or the Smiths or Grace or any of the church who have been touched by death). Take it and give us love and a peace that comes only from You. Give us also a passion to live, because we don’t know when we will leave this world too.

Touched by death: This reminds me of how some Indians would, rather than kill their enemy, touch him and/or take his spear or something. It showed that they were stronger, smarter, better than their enemy, and also made their enemy fear them more for they realized that they had the capability to kill them at any time. And that makes me feel like Satan is using this pattern of sudden deaths to freak us out. Rather than that, Lord give us peace, strength, and courage. Let us not be afraid of death, whether we feel when we will go or not.

Thank You.


I wrote all that on the bus. When I got off the bus, my dad opened the door and hugged me. It was like a minute-long hug. I’ve never had a longer hug. That’s one of the only hugs I remember actually getting from him. I’ve also almost never seen my dad cry. But there, his voice was all wobbly, and I could feel his jaw clenching and unclenching during the hug; he was trying not to cry. His eyes were red. My eyes are red.

Lord, there’s too much death.  

*As usual, all names have been changed.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Seeing the World as It Is

Our world is an old quilt, tattering at the edges, ripping in the middle;
all of us affected by the moth-eaten mess and brokenness of our world.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Prayer Request

I found out earlier during school that the dad of one of my really good friends (the dad of two of my really good friends, actually, since they’re twins) died last night. I knew him well, so this is like a double whammy for me: I’m hurting not only because they’re hurting, but because I knew him and I am, therefore, hurting for my own loss too.

So I just ask for prayer because that’s about all there is do right now. He was a Christian and the family is a strong Christian family, but I know that a death, and especially a sudden death like this, has the potential to rock your faith in God and His power and love.

Please pray for peace, for comfort, and for continued strong faith in God as they grapple with the why’s and the how’s of his death.

Please pray that I will not be afraid (more on that later) and that I will have the strength to help them however they may need help.

Thank you! And if you have any prayer requests, comment them below!

Jesus wept. 
-John 11:35

Friday, January 11, 2013


Without God,
everything is meaningless.

With God,
everything is meaningful.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

How Writing Reaffirms My Belief in God

I don't understand how writers (anyone really, but especially writers) can be atheists. Writers are the god of their worlds. We create the worlds and the characters down to their every trait and physical feature. 

Depending on how good we write, there should be no obvious proof that we did indeed write and create the characters’ world. The reader’s telltale sign is the fact that they’re holding a book. But to the characters, there shall be little to no evidence that a being outside their little world created their world. 

Yet we did create their worlds. 

Perhaps for some of our characters merely the fact that their world exists would be enough proof for our existence. 

After all, science teaches us that something can't be created from nothing. Right? It's not like specks appeared on the paper without me and then somehow magically created letters and then somehow created words all by themselves without any prior wordmaking or spelling ever before. Oh, and somehow those words got together and BANG! created a whole world with all the characters. 

Not only that, but we all have a basic concept of good. We all cheer for the same good guy; there is no confusion over who should be the good guy, because we all know what good is. How? Because good comes from its source: GOD. Evil, likewise, comes from its source: Satan.

We can know that both God and Satan exist because both good and evil exist. Evil could not stem from God, just as darkness could not come from the sun; only the lack of the sun and the lack of God create darkness and evil. 

God is THE goodness in the world.

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.” 
-Luke 18:19

Basically, since we all have the same basic understanding of what good is, we can know that the definer of good was not and is not ourselves; Someone above and beyond us established good and all that falls under it. That Someone was and is the origin of good (because who else would be capable - and have the right to - define good for all of us?). This means there must be a Being who created us, who fixed the definition of good within us. This means there is God.

And yet, atheists argue that God is not real because He would not let all the bad things happen in this world of His creation. Well, writers let bad things happen in their worlds too. 
We let bad things occur for basically the same reason I believe God does: to strengthen our characters.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. -Romans 5:3-5

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. -James 1:2-4

Pain makes us stronger. 

It prepares us for future events, events that would be even worse if not for our experience, and it makes us strong. Makes us strong enough so that at the climax, we do not fall, but stand our ground, and after we have done everything to stand, to stand. Stand firm. (part of Ephesians 6:13-14)

Without the experience of hurt, the pain training, our house of cards would crumble at the first gust of wind. But as it is, our house of cards is given the chance to be fortified with cement.

God is God, and He is real. He is not another figment of our imagination. As writers, and creators of our own worlds, I feel that we should be the first to realize that: God is real!