Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Finals

I am in the midst of finals week for fall semester.
Life is whirling all around me.

I am relearning that life can only be taken one baby step at a time.
Looking at my "to do" list is way too overwhelming.

I am constantly saying to myself, "The joy of the Lord is my strength."
This truth continues to sustain me.

I am in anticipation to be finished and home.
Hugs and quality time with loved ones is always reviving.

I am going to make it and will still be filled with joy at the end.
This can only come from God. Thank you, Father.

...that's all...until next time...

Friday, November 21, 2008

a taste of grace

I am embarrassed to share this story, even though I know many people have been in my situation. On the way home from fall break, I was pulled over by the police for the first time. It was right before customs and the speed limit drops from 55 mph to 15 mph. I was gradually slowing down, but not enough. The policeman was standing on the side of the road and waved me over to a near by parking lot. Apparently I was going 40 mph in a 15 mph zone. Ouch. I held myself together as he asked me questions, looked in my eyes to see if I was wearing my contacts, gave me the ticket, and proceeded to tell me that it would be 6 points on my license. As soon as I pulled up the window and he left, I cried...something I vowed I would never do. We girls cry at everything! *rolling my eyes* Anyway-the rest of the trip was hazard-free, with the exception of slightly getting lost in Canada.

I did not know what to do with the ticket I had received. I got the courage to call my dad and then later, my mom. My roommate's dad, who is a lawyer, advised me to hire a lawyer and see what happens from there. I still shake my head at the fact that I, Esther Joy, hired a lawyer. After a month of filling out papers and feeling anxious, this is the email I got from my lawyer:

Esther,

The charge against you was dismissed, for failure to prosecute, because the trooper did not appear at Court.

Thank you for allowing me to handle this for you.

What a taste of grace. This will be an experience that I will never forget.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Joel Peter

The last of my mini series...Joel is the middle child and 5 years older than me. He was the one who always seemed to be there for me when Eric went to college and then stayed living in PA. Like me, Joel often got in trouble for talking in class, due to his outgoing and friendly nature. He's handsome, funny, sensitive to others, and ridiculously smart. He has his Masters in Public Health and he was just published as first author for a research project in a neurology journal. Now, he is in his second year of med school, which is demanding all his focus right now. In the years to come, he will be an exceptional doctor!
Favorite memories of Joel:
-Writing songs and performing them in the living room with microphones, a keyboard, and sometimes costumes, to enhance the performance level of the song.

-Waking up in the morning to the sound of Joel practicing his violin before school.

-Watching him cuddle and do homework with Faithful, our beloved black lab.

-Getting ready for school together and hip-checking each other out of the way so that we could spit out the toothpaste.

-Going on dates to spend some quality time together. He even got paid early once so that we could go out! It was on one of those dates when he gave me an index card with "5 lessons I learned in college." It has helped me experience well-rounded college years.

-Educating me on current topics and challenging me to think about what I believe and why. Joel doesn't base things on emotion but rather rationalizes issues with logic and reason. We don't always agree on topics; I think that that's ok.

-Seeing Joel standing in my dorm room doorway and being so surprised that he came to pick me up at college. I will confess that I screamed just a little!

I'm so thankful for Joel, my brother and my friend!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Best Friend

Continuing in my series...
My mom is truly a Proverbs 31 woman. She has toiled and worked, prayed and interceded, provided and nourished, taught and nurtured for my family. She is the glue that holds the members of our family together and a pillar that holds us up. In the midst of sorrow or celebration, she is there to comfort or rejoice. There is nothing like being held in her arms, knowing that she was the first to hold me when I took my first breath and knowing that she prayed for me before I was born. The love of my mother is something that I will not understand the depth of until I become one myself.

My mom is my best friend. We often laugh until we're crying, read until we're asleep, shop until I've spent too much of her money, and shop at Wegmans until the cart is full and I've gotten my fill the grocery store that will always have my heart. More importantly, she knows me better than anyone. If I'm having a bad attitude, she is the one who will call me out on my actions and straighten me out. Though there have been times when I've hated that she keeps me accountable on everything, I've come to really appreciate her honesty and love that she has for me.

My mom is a great cook, excellent baker, and an avid tea drinker. There is always a cup of tea in the microwave that is either being heated up or has been forgotten and will just be rewarmed again. She is a hard worker, organizer, to-do list maker, and definitely not a procrastinator. For the past 15 years, she has taught Bible at a small Christian school. Her teaching style demands students to think beyond surface, ask the hard questions, illustrate themes, and hide God's Word in their hearts. She is someone who often underestimates the amount of influence she has had on numerous students and the impact that her wisdom has on other people's lives, including mine.

Even though for the past four years we've been over 500 miles apart, phone calls and emails have kept us together. Here are some memories that make me smile when I miss her:

-Reading aloud to Eric, Joel, and me as we played linclon logs and legos or rode along in the car while on vacation. She even lost her voice a couple times.

-Eating McDonalds at Vitale Park, overlooking the lake.

-Praying before going shopping so that we would find exactly what we needed.

-Watching Hogan's Heroes and adding Klink and Schlultz into our "good-looking men" category, along with Barney Fife. We just have this thing for geeky guys!

-Going to Williamsburg while the boys went to professional soccer games in Richmond.

-Having quality talks about life, choices, and the future.

My mom is quite a lady and I am proud to be her daughter. Thanks, Mom, for being exactly who God created you to be! I love you!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Eric David

Three members of my family have had birthdays in the past three months and I want to honor them, one by one. Think of this as a mini blogging series!

Eric is the oldest of the children in my family. He is 7 1/2 years older than I am, which when I was younger, seemed like a huge gap. I was in fourth grade when he went to college, so he's really watched me grow up from a distance. In the past several years, especially after Joel got engaged and married, Eric and I have gotten a lot closer. When you first meet him, he's pretty quiet but he's got quite a sense of humor and has a lot of wisdom to share. He is such a hard worker and is a hands-on kind of guy. Being a Physicians Assistant is a perfect fit for him! He is also a good cook!

6 fond memories I have:
-Playing my first successful prank on him when I was really young. I put kleenex in the front of one of his shoes. I watched him as he put it on and realized that it was a little tight. We both laughed for a while on that one.

-Wrestling all over the house until I can no longer breathe because he had pinned me down. I am getting a little better at reading his movements!

-Teaching me how to wrap an ankle in under 2 minutes. He set me up on the counter one day and wrapped me ankles a couple times just to practice.

-Giving him advice on life issues. Those have always been our most quality talks.

-Looking out for me. When he brought home his girlfriend, one summer, he made sure that I liked her and got along with her. The three of us had so much fun that week and I definitely approved of her!

-Watching him and cheering him in on throughout his many marathons, triathlons, half-Ironmans, and two Ironmans. The most treasured moment I have of this is when he was running down the home stretch of the Lake Placid Ironman. I was right near the finish line, jumping and yelling like a crazy person, and he pointed at me, waved, and smiled. It made me feel so loved and so proud. I'm tearing up even now just thinking about it!

This is us over looking the Lower Falls at Letchworth, one of my favorite spots to go.
I'm so thankful for Eric, my friend and my brother.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dry Bones

I'm embarrassed that I haven't blogged in so long. It's funny how I expect other people to blog all the time so that I can keep up with them, yet I have neglected my own.

To be honest, life has been a struggle for me in many areas this semester. I suppose the spiritual term for it would be a valley. This morning, I woke up and for the first time in a while, I immediately spent some time with Jesus. He reminded me of a message about Ezekiel that my friend, Christy, had shared last summer. Ezekiel was taken by the Spirit to a valley of dried bones. There was absolutely no sign of life. The Lord then said, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

Ezekiel's response wrecks me. He doesn't try to guess what God is going to do or try to prove that he has a ton of faith by saying, "Oh yes, they can live!" Instead he utters, "O Sovereign Lord, you alone know."

That statement is so true. God really is the only one who knows how the details of life are going to pan out. No one deeply and intimately knows you and me the way that God does. He created and formed us in the secret place. He wove us together in the womb. Before the beginning of time, He knew!

As I evaluate my life, I find that I am surrounded by dry bones that need the breath of God. This is quite overwhelming, yet Ezekiel's words give me peace. Even though tomorrow seems uncertain, I will rest in the fact that God alone knows.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

No Air

My brother sent me a dance done by Katee and Joshua from Season 4 of So You Think You Can Dance. It's about a soldier going to Iraq. Both of the dancers move really well. I couldn't get it to post right on here but here is the link:
Watch and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Silence

My roommate and I like to walk downtown on 8th Street for some exercise and some quality time. We peek into the shop windows and occasionally journey into a store that has caught our interest. Teerman's almost always falls into the latter category. We could spend hours in this store and have. They have kitchen utensils and appliances, dishes, clocks, TVs, and more household items that you didn't even know existed until you saw it on the self. One particular visit, last year, sticks out to me because I found this shelf of framed quotes on it. The frames themselves were not that pretty or worth spending money on, but the sayings behind the glass were filled with insight and wisdom. One quote jumped out at me. It said:

True friendship comes when the silence between two people becomes comfortable.

I have found that there are few people in life who I can just "be" with. Being together with someone, not talking, not feeling the need to talk, and getting lost in thought. A lot of times in conversations, there seems to be a sense of urgency in the air to ask another question as soon as a moment of silence has arrived. We like to fill the spaces with sound to make ourselves feel more comfortable...anything to avoid awkward silences. Yet, lately, I have come to enjoy those breaches of sound...a chance to not say anything and yet still be in a nonverbal conversation with that person. Some of the most precious hang out times that I've had with my roommate are when we just sat next to each other, didn't say a word, and still had a deep conversation.
It reminds me of the song that goes, "You say it best when you say nothing at all."

So my challenge to you and myself is to not be so quick to fill the air with words and questions but to become more comfortable with silence...realizing that friendship can deepen without a word spoken.

Monday, June 2, 2008

My Birthday

Well, today is my 21st birthday...a very monumental day! I have been so blessed by loved ones today and yesterday. Last night, the "Office" gang threw a party for Josh Cummings and me. Josh had a birthday a week ago (so he is 2 years and a week older than me). My friend, Kellie, had made Funfetti cake...which is my favorite!...and she even made a few in star-shaped cupcake holders. Together, the little cakes spelled out mine and Josh's names. So great! It's been neat to become involved in a community of young adults after coming back for the summer. They are such amazing people to be surrounded with.

This morning, I woke up and immediately opened the box that my roommate had sent me. It had arrived on the porch Friday morning and I had been dying to open it. In it was a note saying that there were 21 little presents for me to open for the 21 years that I have been alive! Throughout the day, I opened presents. All of them were little things that I love or that Laura and I really like doing. She has been such a treasure to me! I don't know what I did to deserve her! Here are pictures of it:


Later today, we got everything final for the purchase of my neighbor's car. Even though it is now sitting out in the driveway right now, I don't think that it's really clicked with me that I own a car. crazy! My parents are very generous for making a way for me to have my own transportation. The best part about it is that I won't have to find a ride back and forth to college for breaks! People will probably start asking me for rides! I think that I will need to name my car this week, so if you have any ideas, let me know!

For dinner, my parents, brother, sister-in-law and I went to Outback Steak House. I'm a girl who loves a steak with veggies, potatoes, and bread. It was marvelous! Then we went to my brother's apartment to have Boston Cream Pie. When I was little, I always used to ask for a heart-shaped cake, so my mom made the Boston Cream in the shape of a heart....AND Boy!...was it delicious!

Thank you to everyone who blessed me on this day. It was a gift!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

a night at the hospital

I spent 7 hours at Highland Hospital yesterday. Michelle Chapman was in having her baby. Courtney Harrington called me to see if I would take care of her 11 month-old while she helped Michelle. I agreed. When we first got to the hospital, Michelle and Tim were just hanging out. Michelle was hooked up to an IV that was filling her with pitocin, since she was two weeks overdue. I was surprised to see her relatively happy and not feeling any pain. We all walked around the hallway for a little bit until Courtney decided that she was hungry. By the time we came back from eating, there was an intense look in Michelle's eyes and I knew that things were getting more serious. The contractions suddenly increased. I only saw her have one really strong one and though it hurt her, it was neat to see the gentle way that Tim coached her and encouraged her. Once things got more underway, I left with Lila to walk the hallways and wait.

Michelle pushed for about a 1/2 hour and little Gabrielle Grace was born. She was 9lbs 6oz, 21 inches long, and boy does she have lungs! I heard her crying from down the hallway. Tim came out at one point and was just glowing. The delivery had gone well.

Courtney finally came out to get Lila and things for Michelle started to go badly. I heard her saying that she was getting faint. Then, all of a sudden, more nurses were called into the room and they started some procedures that made Michelle yell. I took Lila back from Courtney and Courtney was back into the room. Apparently, Michelle was losing a lot of blood and she ended up having to go into surgery after I left the hospital. Poor Michelle.

From what I heard though, Gabrielle is beautiful and has blond hair! It was strange to be so close to the experience and not see the product but I will see her soon enough! Please keep Michelle in your prayers as she recovers!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Dad

Today is my dad's 56th birthday! Funny how that age seems old but when I look at my dad, he doesn't seem that old! He's just my dad! The older my parents get, the younger I think the age is. They still seem young to me...a compliment to them!

My five favorite memories of my dad:

1. Realizing it is the first of the month and racing to see who will get the other "it" for the
month. I will always remember driving home, opening the door to the garage and seeing this sign light up saying, "YOU R IT!"

2. Singing a little song that we made up in the mornings before I left for school. He would usually leave while I was making my lunch in the kitchen or eating breakfast. That song still brings a smile to my face.

3. Seeing my dad sit in our blue living room chair, doing his devotions every morning. He is faithful to start the morning off the right way!

4. Dancing with my dad in the kitchen or driving with him as we sing Chris Rice's "Radio" song. We have our dancing skills mastered!

5. Waking up in the morning, knowing that my dad had made french toast and maybe even bacon! No one can beat my dad's french toast! :)

I have many more memories but those are a couple that stick out to me right now. I must tell you that I have a wonderful Dad. He's someone who I really respect and who I look up to as a Godly example. Throughout these years in college, I think we've gotten closer. I crave his approval, request his advice, want one of his protective hugs, and await for anything he (or my mom) send me in the mail. It will be fun to see him and my mom this weekend when they come to visit me!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Gray Days

Monday of this week was a gray day...the kind that makes me want to curl up with a book with the window open to the sound of raining steadily coming down outside, forgetting everything else on my "to do" list. My dorm room window is such that usually the rain streams in when I open it...not this morning though. The rain must have been coming down in a different direction. I listened to the water pour down on the buildings outside, the cars driving through puddles, and the wind through the trees...all while finishing up a paper for a class later that day. It was peaceful to me after a restless night of sleep.

God knows exactly what we need when we need it. He knew I needed the encouragement of rain in my whirlwind of stress this week. The peace he gave me takes me back to the fist blog I ever wrote. Days like those inspire me somehow to write, read, and be creative.

Please know this moment, right now, that God is in control and that nothing can separate you from his love. There is nothing like a weary being lifting up his head to praise God through the storm and rain.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
Amen

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Orion

I looked up into the vast dark sky tonight and was able to see my three favorite stars, or as Scientists call them, the belt of Orion. As my roommate and I walked to the Gathering, I couldn't help but be filled with the awe of God as I saw those stars. Different memories some to mind of watching the stars: laying in the road, only to look up a little bit later and looking at headlight coming steadily nearer... or in my driveway, with my roommate from Chicago holding my hand so tight in anticipation for a car to come down my country road and into my driveway...or laying in the soccer field at camp or just looking up any night and be amazed all over again. Looking up at the stars has a way of encapsulating me with wonder and a peace that surpasses all understanding. The stars speak of His promise...He has everything under control.

This really struck me tonight, maybe due to the fact that this has been the most difficult semester of college for me. Homesickness has been continually knocking at my door, headaches have left me wanting to curl in a ball in the darkness and sleep, friends have been going through hardships, classes are stretching me and pushing me out into the realm of the unfamiliar...but in the midst of the whirling of life, there is a stillness...a place where I am met by the One who completes my heart. There in the quiet is a constant, faithful Father and friend who love me to no end. There in the silence, I am reminded of his promises to me, ones that I have hidden in the depths of my heart. There in the refuge, I am refreshed and redeemed. There in the grace, I am purified in the glory of the King of Kings.

If your soul is aching and your life seems to out of your control, get into your tent of meeting and seek Him. Let Him remind you of His promises like He reminded me tonight as I looked into the sky...for His presence is like no other.

Monday, February 11, 2008

all I want to do is grow old with you

It's funny how the most random things can make you really think. I just watched the Wedding Singer and I had to wonder how many marriages are confirmed on the foundation of security. The woman, in this case Drew Barrymore, thought that no one would ever love her for who she was, so she devoted herself to a guy who could give her security but not a faithful relationship. This guy would just tell her that he worked long hours in the city and use that excuse to get laid by some chick who would feed his lust.

In addition, I wonder how many times we assume something about a situation, make a rash decision, and never truly hear the other side of the story or how the other person feels. It all leads to a pile of misunderstandings. The man ends up with the wrong girl and they are miserable.

It's a common belief that we will all be complete when we find love. If you're not that fortunate, then there must be something wrong with you. Man, what a hopeless way to live.
We all have the desire to be loved...we were wired that way but that is not what can complete us. Les and Leslie Parrott wrote it like this: “If you try to find intimacy with another person before achieving a sense of identity on your own, all your relationships become an attempt to complete yourself.” We need to find true contentment in ourselves and be established in God's grace and love so that we can then love others. Our lives can be an outpouring of what God is doing in our lives in the secret place. Then we can learn what it means to sacrificially love someone. And, when it comes your turn to get married, you won't get cold feet because you will know that that is exactly what God has for you.

So if you're single...know that there is nothing wrong with you or the way you look or act. God will reveal his plans for you in due time. In the meantime, see this time as a gift to invest time in your relationship with God. You'd be surprised at how much he has to reveal to you. Make yourself moldable and experience a journey that you will never regret.
For He is the only one in whom you will ever find true contentment.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Blessings from Groundhog's Day

We never know what can come from a holiday. In Punxsutawney, PA, Phil said that there would be six more weeks of winter. Well, thank you, Mr. Groundhog. I can't say that I'm particularly thrilled at the prospect of walking to my classes in knee deep snow (it seems that Michigan snow plowers are in denial that they need to plow)...yet I have to stop in amazement at God as I trudge to the Martha Miller Center as to the intricacy of each snowflake. Complete wonder encapsulates my being as I look up at the beautiful snowflakes dancing in the wind all around me...The deep mysteries of God never cease.

Speaking of mysteries...I went to breakfast with Sacred Dance leadership this morning. There were 7 of us meeting at 7:45am (an hour that I haven't seen in a couple weeks). We had good fellowship and enjoyed our pancakes. Towards the end the waitress came to the table and said that someone had covered our bill. The person was struck by how respectful and joyful we were. I must confess that I was a bit incredulous. I have heard of many stories like this but they always happened to other people. This was God's blessing for us...7 poor college girls getting breakfast. God works in mysterious ways and they are also for our good. So even though there are six more weeks of winter, I have that blessing from God to warm my heart.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Augustine

I was reading Augustin's Confessions for a class and some of this thoughts triggered me into thinking. How often are our eyes opened to what our friends have gone through by watching a movie or reading a story? If it's through the former, why does it all of a sudden seem real to us when we see it on screen?

This may not happen to you but it happened to me two summers ago. I was at a movie with two of my friends. One of the friends had recently had the tragedy of losing a loved one. Three quarters through the movie, a boy dies tragically. I will never forget the moment of sitting there watching the actors on the screen gather around the grave and wondering how my friend felt at that moment. It tugged at my heart and suddenly the compassion was real knowing that the friend has just been through that. A stream of light was shed on what this friend might have been going through.

How aware are we of what people are really going through? Even if we haven't gone through the experience ourselves, we can gain incite to how others around us have dealt with a similar situation. Take time and lend yourself to listen to someone else's story and experiences...you may be surprised or provoked by what you hear...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Falling Snow

See the pretty snowflakes
falling from the sky;
on walk and housetops
soft and thick they lie.

On the window-ledges
on branches bare;
now how fast they gotten,
filling all the air.

Look into the garden,
where the grass was green
covered by the snowflakes,
not a blade seen.

Now the bare black branches
all look soft and white.
Every twig is laden-
what a pretty sight!

-Unknown

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2007 into 2008

The journey that we go throughout a year can be quite arduous but rewarding. I am not the same person that I was a year ago...all because the work of God! I learned to be completely honest and bare before God and let him speak his guidance and affirmation over me. These words from Mercy Me encouraged me this year:
"To hear you say, 'This one's mine.' My heart is spoken for."

Highlights of 2007
-birth of writing
-renewed friendships with a couple high school friends
-breaking free and learning how to speak directly to a controlling friend
-starting new friendships...especially with Elizabeth
-my brother dating Rachel
-PUSH Physical Theatre Apprenticeship
-accountability with Laura...bringing honesty and vulnerability to a whole new level
-high grades for fall semester
-getting revelations in Scripture and prophecies from the Lord
-birth of true contentment

lowlights of 2007
-losing a friendship due to my mistake of taking things into my own hands
-putting Faithful, our 14 yr old black lab, to sleep
-deaths of Sam and Karen, two Hope students


Derek Levendusky challenged me to not make a resolution about what I'm going to DO this year, but rather who I'm going to BE.
So my goals for 2008 are:
-to live a life worthy of the calling that I have received
-to be an imitator of God
-to be a child of Light
-to be an encourager
-to keep in this journey of contentment
-to be one who makes the most of every opportunity and has no regrets!