Monday, December 28, 2009
So here is my first one:
The letter I had been waiting for.
I eagerly tore open the envelope, withdrew the sheet with the distinguished college letterhead, and hungrily read the words before me. My anticipation quickly dissipated to disappointment as I read the unwelcome phrase of, “you have not been accepted.” A crushing feeling swept over me. It had been my dream to go halfway across the country to pursue dance at this particular college. I had flown there twice, once to tour the college facilities, and once for the entrance audition. It seemed to me that my life would be perfect there, yet this letter brought an abrupt ending to that dream. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I sunk down to the floor. What was I supposed to do now? In that moment, I had the decision either to dwell in my sorrow or worship through the heartache I felt, knowing that somehow God was in control. I gathered myself off the carpet and sat at the piano. Sweet melodies of surrender and trust arouse from my spirit, and God met me in that place. He was orchestrating the details of my life, even when I felt that all the options I wanted most had been closed for me.
Whenever you’re nearing the end of a season in your life, such as finishing a school year or graduating from high school or college, people are always asking, “What is your plan?” This question is asked so frequently that I have been tempted to make a t-shirt with all the answers on it, so people can just read it. Their interest is appreciated, yet it can be a trying question to answer when you are searching for the answer yourself. This situation has met me quite a few times in life—right now being no exception. I find myself wondering what God has up his sleeve. It seems that when you graduate from college, you are supposed to get a job and launch directly into the career that you were educated for. But, I haven’t, although I know that the part-time jobs I have now are not in vain. This is not an easy place to be in, but I have found that a remembrance of God’s orchestration builds strength for the moment and hope for the days to come.
I co-lead a small group at my church, and we have been going through the book of Romans. When we came to chapter 8 (read it sometime, if you haven’t read it in a while—it’s powerful!), verse 28 jumped out at me. It is a verse that I’ve heard many times, but the Holy Spirit spoke to me through it. It says, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” This is a perfect description of his orchestration. First, He works in all things, and I mean all! Every detail is aligned according to His plan. Second, He works for our good. Our definition of good may not match His, but He has our best in mind and we need to trust Him in that. Though you may be in a tough place of questioning what is next in your life, be assured at this moment that God is at work. He is aligning situations and opportunities in the background as you pray and seek Him. Ask Him to open your eyes to His orchestration in your life.
When I was in that place of questioning God as a senior in high school, I was not aware of God’s orchestration earlier that year. My parents and I met a family from California on our summer vacation in Switzerland (a gift from my grandparents!). We went on a biking trip with this family in the Alps, and the dad told me about Hope College, where he had gone to. He spoke enthusiastically about the opportunities that he’d had there, as well as the excellent dance program. At the time, I quickly dismissed his comments, because my mind was set on the other school. When I was rejected by that school, God reminded me of his alignment of events. I applied to Hope College, was accepted, had a glorious four years there, and graduated from that school with the knowledge that God wanted me in that place at that time. I knew that Hope had not been God’s second choice, but His best plan for me. There is nothing like the peace that you feel when you know you are exactly where God wants you to be.
Next time you wonder what in the world is next for you in life, know that God standing with you. You are not alone. Rest in the awareness that He is orchestrating every detail of your life for His good and for your good. Worship Him, listen to Him, and follow Him. May He receive all the glory as His orchestration unfolds in our lives.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Have you ever had moments in your life when you could have been no longer? Moments that were filled with spiritual warfare and unexpected grace?
I can vividly picture two of those experiences when death was eagerly waiting to cease my weary body and God prevailed with His perfect plan. The first experience happened when I was nine and the second was last year, on Black Friday.
Here is what I wrote from that day:
Driving home from work
Music softly filling the car air while sleepiness slowly crept into my eyes after a long day
Dry roads, almost home
Rounding a curve, unexpected sheets of ice
Swerving, fish tailing, trying to gradually let up on the gas and down on the brake
Hitting dirt, flipping
Upside down, only being held by my seat belt
Trying to escape or at least let someone know that I'm here in a field
Unbuckling my seat belt, glass everywhere
Curling up in a ball on the ceiling
Searching for my cell phone, desperate to get help from my brothers
Seeing Eric's form yelling for me to put down my window
Letting my guard down as he held me tight and checked for broken bones
Missing one shoe and two loaves of bread
Being sorry about the new tires that had been put on that morning
Finally safe in my brother's arms
Rescued and protected by the Great I Am.
Struggling later to fall asleep after returning from the hospital
Feeling angels warring for me
Seeking rest in the arms of my Savior who had protected my life
Peace at last.
Until this fall, you could still see the track marks that my car had made. The wheat grew around it, leaving me with the constant reminder of God's protection and grace on my life that night. Experiences we have shape us into who we are today, how we feel and think and relate to others. I think I have a better understanding of what it means to have no control in a situation, the feeling of being trapped, and knowing how much God cares for His children.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
So tonight I was driving back from the small group that I co-lead at my church. It was raining pretty steadily and I had turned off the music to hear the sound of the rain. As I drove the "silver bullet" (the name I affectionately call our van) down the driveway of the church, one of the lights lit up my van in such a way that I saw a line hanging off of my rear view mirror and a thick, white spider dangling at the end. At first I thought that it was my imagination because I didn't see it after I passed the second light. Weird. Then I made the mistake of letting my imagination get to me and began to wonder if it was crawling on me somewhere. Shudder. Deep breath. I stopped the car, turned on the light, and found the spider crawling around on my dashboard. Phew, at least it wasn't on me. I gathered up my courage and killed the darn spider. I did have a minor freak out after that occurrence, but it was a brave moment for me.
I'm thankful that God gives us just the amount of courage that we need in those moments, regardless of the magnitude of the situation. This little incident will remind me to have courage in tougher circumstances...for if God cares about giving me strength to kill a disgusting spider, he will certainly be there when I am struggling with something bigger.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Here is the letter I sent out as a thank you to those who supported me and prayed for me. I am still internally processing things that God taught me over there. I'm sure some of thoughts will come out eventually! In the meantime, take a peek at some stories:
On August 16th, my team (8 others) and I began the adventure to Africa, one that would have us in the country of
God’s first, tangible way of showing His favor was through refreshing rain. It began the first night we arrived, which instilled peace in me because I fell asleep to the sound of it, knowing that God had me in an unfamiliar place for a purpose. When it rained in
One of my favorite experiences was serving food to the children in the slums. They normally do not eat on Saturdays, but our team was able to provide two meals for them that day. In the midst of desolation, poverty, and the continuous fight for survival, I felt God’s love for these children and the calling that He had on each of them. One boy sang a song of his rejection and of God’s redeeming grace. Listening to him, I was reminded that nothing—and no one—is overlooked by God. He is at work in each place in the world, including the slums of
When the African youth found out that I danced in
Another gift that God allowed me to use was public speaking. Christy Harrington and I were invited to speak at a women’s conference at the Elim church in Kawanda. (The women thought it was so neat that we came from the original Elim church!) God placed in me an affirming and encouraging message for the women. As I began to speak, my intimidation became confidence, and God enabled me to be a conveyer of His love. It reinforced to me that we are humble vessels that God uses in spite of ourselves. He receives all the glory for all that we do.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thirty three years ago today, my parents got married in a quaint parlor at Big Tree Inn. They had only know each other for 9 months and had decided to get married because God told them to. They were not madly in love, which is a necessary ingredient of marriage as defined by my generation. God had orchestrated events and had woven their lives together in such a way that they figured they should obey God and get married. This story always baffles me because I can't imagine marrying someone I was not head-over-heels in love with and barely knew. Their interactions over those months were few and at many points during that time, each wondered what God was up to. He had quite an adventure for them in mind.
It has been neat to take a front row seat to their marriage, especially this summer as I have returned home. They have worked at establishing a Christ-centered marriage and raising three dynamic children, who would follow all that God has for them. I have seen a deeper commitment in both of them as my mom has struggled with her sickness. My dad is more attentive and supports her as she aims to walk in public places. They take time to listen to each other and then be a voice of reason and wisdom for each other. They also have taught me that marriage is for a lifetime...in every circumstance and season.
So cheers to their 33rd Wedding Anniversary! May there be many more to come!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
This is my prayer in the desert
And all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides
And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames
And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here
And this is my prayer in the battle
And triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand
All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship
This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be empited again
The seed I've recieved I will sow
Monday, June 8, 2009
the sound, especially as it hits the leaves.
the little droplets that bring miracle to the soil.
Today, it brings refreshment, peace, awareness, inspiration, and restoration. It is therapeutic and soothing for my impatient attitude and my state of transition.
It always seems to rain and storm in movies when something bad happens. Have you ever noticed that? The thunder clatters while the lightning sears the earth, just as someone brings bad news about a loved one or someone dies. Even outside of the movies, people seem more moody when it rains. The sun is not shining, apparently giving people a good opportunity to complain...that is until the sun is shinning, but too intensely, so the complaining starts all over again.
As I sit on my front porch steps, I am overcome by the joy that rain gives me, as well as, the hope for green days ahead. Instead of seeing rain as making things wet and miserable, I see it as bringing restoration to the thirsty ground. This mentality seeps into why I love to listen to people's gray days, seasons, parts of their lives. God has given me the ability to see the good and speak it forth. We all have areas of uncertainty in our lives...gray spots that cause us to question and lose sight of the big picture. No matter how dark the day may seem, we must live in the moment and be able to sift out the bad to take hold of the good. There is something good to be brought into every moment and experience, for we serve a God who brings refreshment and restoration.
Thank you for reading these scattered thoughts, and blessings to you as I enjoy the gray, rainy scene before me. Oh, what peace.
Friday, June 5, 2009
During my last semester of college, many peers would make the excuse that they were going to drink and have fun because they would have to start "real" life after graduation. They seemed to be waiting for "real" life to begin. I never got that...what was it called that they were living at those moments? fake life? I realize that being in college permits a more carefree lifestyle and that this transition into becoming a self-sufficient adult is not easy, but every moment is life unfolding. The decisions they made, and I made, will stay with us as we now go forth from graduation.
My arena of waiting is slightly different from Shauna's and my peers'. Though I'm content to be where I am and who I am, there is still a sense of waiting for what God exactly has in mind for my life and what my future will look like. This, I know, is gradually unfolding as I live each moment. Yet, sometimes I wish that there was a big billboard that I could look at or a movie that I could watch that would explain it all. If that happened, I would try to make it on my own and would miss the whispers of God and nudges of the Holy Spirit that steer me in the right direction. So I suppose I'll have to just buckle my seat belt and go for a ride!
I have been pondering these two questions all week and will ask them to you: What are you waiting for? Is is prohibiting you from seeing what is happening in the present? Life is here and now, in this second that just passed us by.
Monday, May 11, 2009
The decision was made last week to go to Uganda in August, rather than in May. It is crazy to me that I would be on a plane this minute if God had opened the door for me to go. There were some complications and I was extremely disappointed to not go this week, but things happen for a reason. The August trip will be an amazing trip and will give me the opportunity to work more with the youth.
So, a deep, sincere thank you to the ones who were committed to pray for me this week. I will be sure to keep you updated on my upcoming trip in August. May God's blessing and grace be with you.
Friday, April 24, 2009
As the breeze gently goes through my hair, I am thankful. Looking back on the day...it was my last day of classes and the anticipation of graduation is now running full speed ahead. I had lunch with Amanda, a friend from freshmen year, and I asked her how she had changed throughout the past four years. We both agreed that we had formed a clearer idea of who we are as individuals and had become more open to other's ideas and viewpoints. Listening to other people share has strengthened my own convictions, yet, at the same time, has caused me to think deeply about issues. Though it is a continual process, I am content with who I am. I do not have the desire to be anyone else or be anywhere else. God has appointed me in this place for this moment, and content in this place, I will be.
Dr. Suess once wrote, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." I am so glad that these four years happened the way that they did and I am eagerly awaiting for what God has next. For now, my gown hangs in the closet as I attempt to concentrate on the two finals and two papers that I am facing this week. So, back to work I must go!
Friday, April 17, 2009
Here is a more detailed version, in the form of my support letter:
God has certainly been working in me throughout my senior year at Hope College. He has urged me, through words of encouragement, to remember the passion that He has placed in me for reaching out to others. This driving theme has challenged me to have deep conversations with people as well as shifting my outlook beyond my college bubble. Recently, I went on a Hope-sponsored mission trip to Stinking Creek, Kentucky during spring break. Fifteen students traveled together to work on Lend-a-Hand farm, located in a remote and poverty-stricken region of Appalachia, to aid the community surrounding the farm through tutoring and hosting a carnival for area children. It was such a wonderful and rewarding experience.
As I began to question what was next, God turned my focus internationally. Derek Levendusky, founder of the Ugandan Water Project and Isaiah Six Ministries, asked me if I would be willing to go to Uganda from May 11-21, 2009. The Ugandan Water Project is a Christian outreach to the Ugandan people through provision of water tanks. The Muslims are giving water for free to villagers who profess Islam and then sell it to Christians, thus contributing to the growth of Islam in Africa. Derek’s project aims to provide water to Christians and villagers for free. More information can be seen at http://www.isaiahsix.com/.
As I thought about the prospect, God spoke to me through various sources, confirming that I should go on the trip. Derek will be speaking at a pastors’ conference in Kampala, the capital city. From there, we will travel to check on some of the wells that Derek and his team were able to install in August of last year, as well as check out some potential sites. Our team of four will have the opportunity to meet many Ugandans and share the love of Christ with them. Derek has asked me to give a talk to the village women on Biblical womanhood, an honor that will put my public speaking skills to the test. The idea of going to Uganda causes me to shake my head in wonder of what God has done—and what he is going to do through this trip.
Before I leave and while I am in Uganda, would you be willing to stand with me and pray for my team members and me? I am asking God for protection, provision, and power to be evident in this trip. Only God can soften hearts, keep his children safe, and raise up Christians to proclaim the Gospel in Uganda. I would deeply appreciative for your prayers during this time.
To make this trip possible, I am raising $2,000 of support. This amount will cover the airfare, food, lodging, and transportation within Uganda. Will you consider supporting me in this adventure? Checks can be made out to Isaiah Six or you could contribute online at http://www.isaiahsix.com/. Anything that you give would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for being willing to pray for me and support me as I step out into what God has for me. I will be sure to let you know just what God accomplished on this trip! May His blessings be with you.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
the sudden feeling of leaving and the gut wrenching tears.
It happened in my place, the back right corner of the chapel.
A place that has become precious.
A place where I feel free to express who I am through dance in worship.
A place where I've met with God in an intimate, tangible way.
It finally hit...
the gift that dance is.
I sat in my corner and watched as a couple Sacred dancers moved to the rhythm of His Spirit.
What a beautiful image of giving your whole self in worship.
What intimacy is created by letting God move through your body.
What raw, authentic worship is depicted through the movement.
It finally hit...
graduation and leaving a place I have called home for four years.
Knowing that Hope College will continue on as it did before I ever came.
Interceding for God to keep awakening this place with new revelations of who He is.
Praying that I was able to be an encouragement to others.
Realizing that I was exactly who God wanted me to be during these years.
I have no regrets. Thank you, Father.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
-I finally went to the mail room to get my mail after being prompted by my future sister-in-law. My brother and his fiancee sent me their "save the date" card. I don't think I've ever been so excited for a wedding! It will be an honor to stand in the wedding and witness the work of God that has brought these two amazing people together.
-God has been drawing me into having a stronger and deeper devotional life. The mornings have been marked with intimacy with Him. I am currently facing a situation that requires more faith than I think have, but he has given me peace. He is our provider and Father.
-My roommate surprised me at work today to bring me candy and hair moose (that I had forgotten to get the night before). She is such an amazing friend. We went shopping last night for things that I would need for my spring break trip. I appreciate the quality time we spend together. The hardest thing about graduation will be saying "goodbye" to her...even though I think we'll be lifelong friends. It will be different not living with her.
-Spring break! I am going on a Hope missions trip to Stinking Creek, KY. We are going to be working with two older ladies who run a farm and help the community that surrounds them, in the deep of the mountains. I have no idea what this week will bring, but I'm anticipating God working in my heart and allowing me to be an encouragement to others.
I will let you know how the trip goes! Good bye!
Friday, March 13, 2009
Here is a link to the music video and the words are below:
At twenty years of age
I'm still looking for a dream
A war's already waged for my destiny
But You've already won the battle
And You've got great plans for me
Though I can’t always see
‘Cause I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
On my own I'm so clumsy
But on Your shoulders
I can seeI'm free to be me
When I was just a girl
I thought I had it figured out
My life would turn out right,
and I'd make it here somehow
But things don't always come that easy
And sometimes I would doubt
And you’re free to be you
Sometimes I believe that I can do anything
Yet other times I think I've got nothing good to bring
But You look at my heart and You tell me
That I've got all You seek
And it’s easy to believe
Sunday, March 1, 2009
After both services, people told me that the movement was powerful and helped them connect with the message of the song more. Even though I thanked them, I still doubted the power that can be released through dance. I went back to that church this morning and met a woman who challenged my doubt. She said that watching dance created a bridge between her and God that enabled her to enter into a deeper level of worship. There is power released from the Holy Spirit when we dance for an audience of one. It is reassuring that God uses what we do inspite of our doubts, fears, and insecurities. We are to be willing vessels for His use, and He will do the rest.
We should never underestimate the life our gifts can bring to other people, whether we feel that they are a blessing or not. Each of us has something to give. Each of us are impacted by the gifts and talents of other people. So let the doubting cease and let us set our minds on the capabilities He has placed in us to bless the family of Chirst.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Today is the first day in a while that I feel like I'm stepping out of the muck and into a new awakening (and the sun is not even shining!). I don't have a headache causing me to be lethargic and I have a renewed sense of purpose. I can sing Sara Luneack's song, "Father, you are more than just enough, even when the times get tough. You're more than just enough." We were made to live intentional and victorious lives because He has redeemed us and has given us purpose.
If you ever find yourself in Funkville, it's alright. Don't feel guilty but rather breathe in deeply and say, "Be still and know that I am God." You will soon make it out...for God does not leave us to struggle on our own. He's faithful to finish what he has started and will bring it to completion when the time is right! Be encouraged this day!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
So without further ado, here is my article!
Hope you enjoy it!