For Upcoming Freshman…

You’ve graduated high school.

Congratulations! That’s a big deal. Now you’re off to a new adventure.


That word triggers feelings of excitement for some people and feelings of terror for others.

Freshman year…

That brings a myriad of emotions to mind-fear, excitement, tentativeness and bravery.

Freshman year is awkward and transformative. You’ll never have a year quite like it (hopefully it gets better).

I was the oldest so I didn’t have anyone to give me tips and secrets about surviving college and the onset of emotions that came with the new season.

Think about me as your older sister. Pretend we’re sitting at a coffee shop as I’m telling you some of the things I wished someone had told me.

  1. You will make friends. RELAX. You are literally living in a society of potential friends. My core group of friends were made up of people from my building, and my classes. I didn’t try to make them be my friends but somehow we all became kinda inseparable. Friends take time, especially the good and deep friendships. So don’t worry if you haven’t found “your people” by day one or day one hundred. You will make friends.
  2. People can be exciting and exhausting—make sure you give yourself me time. Even if you’re an extrovert being around people all the time can be exhausting! It can be exciting to always have people around, but don’t run yourself ragged trying to keep up with them. It’s okay-even if you’re an extrovert-to have some time by yourself to relax and recharge.
  3. It’s okay to feel alone. You moved away from home, to a college full of strangers, studying something that without a doubt will be hard work. You’ll allowed to feel alone sometimes. It’s hard. Change is difficult. It’s okay. It’s okay to want to curl up under the blankets and have a good cry about the loneliness and hardships. After a little while though, you need to get up, wipe your tears, and go on with life.
  4. Don’t join everything and try to do everything. You can’t give your energy well to everything. Everything looks exciting, but you don’t have enough time in the day to do everything. Don’t join anything simply because you are desperate to belong. You’ll end up feeling really overwhelmed, and you’re overcommitted to things that you’re really not very passionate about.
  5. But join something. Find something you think would interesting, and try it. But only join a few things. It’s better to give a lot of energy to a few things and do them well, then do a lot of things mediocre. Try golf if that sounds interesting. Or drama. You might discover you are good at something you never considered.

The Very Worst Missionary

I just finished this book by Jamie Wright.

10/10 would recommend reading with a grain of salt.

She has some good points, but there is some shaky theology. She also uses some language so if Christians using language makes you mad just read the highlights and not the book.

Here are the things I pulled from the book( these are my opinion so if you disagree or agree take time and research it for yourself. I would recommend that you don’t just blindly follow me because I could be wrong.)

  1. Missionaries are normal people. Missionaries are not “more spiritual” because they decide to give up American (or their comfortable) culture for one that is different. They have similar struggles as the average American but we get shocked when we hear about their struggles.
  2. Our calling is not what we do as much as it is who we are while we do it. I used to be convinced that God would “call” me to suburban America because that was the environment I was least comfortable in. Now, I have realized it’s not where you are but who you are that matter. You can be a missionary anywhere and anytime. Some people are “called” to go overseas but Jesus simply said “Love your neighbor”. “I’m pretty sure he meant, like, my actual neighbor—the person or people nearest me at any given moment. At home. At work. On the subway. In the supermarket. Y’know, neighbors.”
  3. The only way to know how to truly love your neighbor is to truly know your neighbor. I’ve heard stories of short term missionaries going into a community and building a church or doing something and leaving and then the nationals tear down and rebuild it according to what’s common in that culture. If we go into missions with a savior mentality than we lose something crucial—relationships. Relationships are hard and time consuming. There is no physical measurement suggested for relationships. They don’t have the same measurements that say building a church does. You can say you built a church and built relationships, but you can only visually see one. You can’t see the hours spent talking over coffee and just simply being present. You can’t measure the depth of a relationship as a grande or venti. But the content of the time together matters.

The Summer God Pushed Me Out of My Comfort Zone and Taught Me More About Who He Wants Me To Be

This summer has been a great and challenging one. I feel about two years behind my peers. Most of the people I graduated with are getting married, moving on from their first “real” adult job, or having kids. I, on the other hand, don’t know what the dickens I’m going to next. This summer, God taught me again that that’s okay-it’s okay not to have everything planned to the letter.

Here is a list of things that I’ve learned about myself as I learn to take one day at a time with God.

  • There’s not one plan for my life. Just because I’m 24 with no full time job and still living at home, doesn’t mean I somehow missed the turn towards a successful life. I’m a success where I am. Hey, some days, I’m lucky just to be standing at the end of the day. I don’t feel like there’s just one plan, but rather it involves all the things I’m passionate about. It could be littles, missions, or both.
  • Sometimes, accomplishments are not about being the best, but simply completing the task. So what if you’re not the best at whatever it is, you finished. About a month ago, some of my family did a 3 mile run. My mom and I walked the 2 miles required. A year ago, I couldn’t walk 10 feet without getting winded. I finished the 2 mile walk. I finished. I finished towards the end of the walkers and got passed by a couple littles, but I finished. I definitely wasn’t the best, but finishing was a milestone for me.
  • Being ambidextrous is not all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong it’s definitely very cool to use both hands, but sometimes, I think my brain is even more confused than it is already. It’s funny to watch people shocked faces when I use my right hand for one thing, and then in the next breath, I use my left hand.
  • Sunsets can be really calming. This is not something new, but it was further reinforced this summer. On days when I was overwhelmed and exhausted, God paints the sky and just looking at it is calming.
  • Music is how my soul speaks. I don’t know how that works, but I latch onto a song and play it on repeat for days. My soul needs—desperately needs—to hear the message that that song has its lyrics. When my soul has no words, it finds some. Music defines every season of my life so far. My first job was “Ride” by Twenty-One Pilots. My accident and rehab was “You’re Going To Be OK” by Jenn Johnson. Montana was “Mountains” by Biffy Clyro. Those are only a few of the songs that defined the many seasons.
  • Jam sessions are required. It surprisingly therapeutic to turn up music and open the windows while you’re driving.
  • Naps are life. It is funny how when we were little, naps were torture as life was not to be missed. When we become adults though, naps are necessary for us to put our best foot forward.
  • Jesus loves in the sweetest ways-if you have eyes to see. In the midst of shoving me—not just pushing me—He showed me I’m loved by allowing the kid I was watching to be all cuddly and fall asleep on my shoulder. He knew that I just needed someone to love and allow me to love him.
  • I have to push the envelope in regards to my healing. I can’t base how I’m going to be based on how I am right if I keep working towards 100%. I may not get there, but I definitely won’t improve if I sit on my butt and watch TV 24/7.
  • These are a few things I’ve learned, but I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that the best place to be is at the center of God’s Will by making the next right, brave step.
  • Half-ish of the Way to Brave

    This journey to brave is challenging me and teaching me more about my Creator. Here’s some thoughts about what I’ve learned so far.

    1. Dream in Pieces. Where you are today is made up of little steps and brave decisions sprinkled through your life so far. God gives us our dreams in pieces because we would be too scared if He presented us with the whole puzzle. David is a great example of this. “David wholly believed in who God is and that God had a role for him to play that would require courage. The same is true for you and me.”
    2. Open doors are not lit with flashing lights but opportunities. Sometimes, they can be super spiritual but often times, they are just simply brave decisions.
    3. Brave people recognize closed doors. Sometimes we can be doing our thing, walking, praying that we are in alignment with God’s will, and we’ll come to closed door. “Be brave enough to walk through the doors that the Lord leads you through. Even when they are unexpected or feel scary.”
    4. Mourn the dreams that have died. “The dreams you thought would come true in a certain time frame never did. You saw a life for yourself that you will never have. You can mourn that loss.” Cry. Mourn that. Then wash your face. Pull up your big girl pants. And move forward with the life you do have.
    5. Chase the dreams that are alive. “If you’re reading this book, you’re alive, and if you’re alive, so is a dream. Think about things you can’t stop dreaming about. Talents you have that you haven’t explored. God loves to put wings on dreams that His children chase, dreams that can bring Him glory.
    6. Speak your brave thoughts. Tell someone. The first step to being brave is admitting you want to be brave or do that brave thing. Speaking it out loud gives it life-gives it power.
    7. Calling is different than career. Your job right could not be something you feel called to do, but it takes bravery to be faithful even when you don’t want to be. It takes bravery to find aspects of your calling regardless of what your job might be right now.
    8. Who you do life with matters as much as what you do. People matter. It’s important to make time for people in your life. Things can fade but souls last forever. Balance of work and life is important because we need relationships. Don’t let pursuing your dreams or maximizing your calling keep you from investing in relationships. Life is meant to be shared, so share it.
    9. On the same lines, brave people need people. It takes courage to let people in and let yourself love them. Friendship takes work. Friendship takes courage. If you want to travel faster, go alone. But, if you want to travel farther, go together. We need people. We need someone to hold our hand and travel the journey of life with us.
    10. Brave people cling to God. Change is inevitable, but if we hold tight to our never-changing God, it will be okay. We will be okay, because God has it. He is the boss and His plans are always for our good. He loves us more than we’ll ever know or understand.

    So, in conclusion, a brave life is not a lonely life, but one with other people surrounding you and pushing you forward. Also, a brave life is not instantaneous, but it’s made up of a dotting of small brave decisions that make up a life.

    The Year Of Me

    The Year of Me.

    This is what I titled this year. It sounds selfish, but it’s really not. It’s only been a year and a half since I almost died. By God’s grace, and only God’s grace, I’m standing here before you. I wished the process would move a whole lot faster, but like a wise friend once told me, “You almost died. You can’t except to bounce back to your same bubbly self so quickly.” It has been a year and a half. I think I should be all better. I think other people think I should be all better. They have less patience with me when I still have trouble getting my thoughts out, or when I walk slower. I guess mostly that is me transferring my impatience with the slow healing onto others.

    I had ambitions before my accident that 2 years after college, I would have paid off my student loans and be getting ready to move overseas. I had it figured out that if things went as they were going, in 25 months I would be debt free and be financially able to support myself overseas. I guess God had different plans. I was living in Akron and then I had to move home. It just seemed like everything that was moving me forward closed down. And I even took a few steps back. Last year, after my accident—in the deepest part of recovery—I would never have considered going to Ukraine. There was just still a lot going on with me that I didn’t think traveling overseas as possible. God, though, kept opening doors, closing others and pushing me forward. I have no idea why but God seems to want me to go and isn’t just opening doors he’s flinging opening the doors and removing any barrier that I place in the hopes of slowing things down.

    The year of me.

    This year, I decided to pick one or two things and excel, rather than commit to a lot of things and not be able to follow through. I chose being a Jr. High youth group leader and being the nurse at Mansfield Christian. I think I did those well. The extra energy I did have was put into my healing—driving, swimming and managing my fatigue. I’ve seen God do some remarkable things already, and we are only halfway through 2018.

    Also, in this journey, I’m striving to know Jesus more personally. John Eldredge writes, “What is missing in our Gospel reading—in our attempts to “read” what Jesus is saying and doing in own lives right now, this week—is his personality, undraped by religion”.

    If you read the Gospels with an eye out for his personality, you realize that he’s playful, sassy, cunning, and fierce. You can kinda make sense of some of the things he does, because you know his personality. A couple things I have already learned in this year I’ve titled, “The Year of Me and Jesus”.

    • Jesus is creative and playful. I mean think about it. He made the wind, music and flying squirrels. How creative do you have to be to think up flying squirrels? Laughter is from God also. Think about the story of Abraham and Sarah. They were in their 90’s, and God told them to expect a child. Sarah laughed, and I’m sure Abraham joined in because it seemed impossible. They were old enough to be great-grandparents but God had a different plan for them. In the same way, Jesus was playful and loved laughter. In John 21, after he was buried, his disciples were fishing for hours and they caught nothing. Jesus sauntered out of the tomb and eventually onto the beach. He called out to them and suggested that they try to other side. They did, and the nets were teeming with fish. Jesus rose from the dead. He could have shouted, “It is me. I’m alive”, but instead he stands on the shoreline, hands in his pockets and asks, “Catch anything?” The story is made richer when you see the playfulness of Jesus.
    • Jesus is necessary for existence. “We need Jesus like we need oxygen. Like we need water. Like the branch needs the vine. Jesus is not merely a figure for devotions. He is the missing essence of your existence. Whether we know it or not, we are desperate for Jesus….To have Jesus, really have him, is to have the greatest treasure in all worlds. To have His life, joy, love, and presence cannot be compared. A true knowledge of Jesus is our greatest need and our greatest happiness.” John Eldredge. Some days, I can’t get through the day without Jesus’ help. I won’t say I’m glad for my accident because my life won’t ever be the same as much as I wish for it, but I am thankful for this season because it brought forth a dependence on Jesus that I never had and probably wouldn’t have had if not for my accident.

    We are about half way through 2018, and I’m already blown away by the doors God has opened and the adventures he will take me on. In the next half of the year, I’m praying to become closer to God and understand more of his personality. I continue to pray that God uses my story and continues to change my heart as I’m impacted by the wonderful people of Ukraine.

    How Beautiful are the Feet

    «¡Qué hermoso es recibir al mensajero que trae buenas nuevas!»

    How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

    I’m thinking about this. Feet are not pleasant at all. Now we are told beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.

    What makes their feet any more special?

    I think it goes back to ancient times where there wasn’t anything like phones or internet. When a general won a battle, he would send a runner back to town to announce his win.

    Think about the runner’s feet.

    Dirty. Caked in mud. Sweaty. Bloody.

    Not at all what we would think of as beautiful.

    But to the townspeople, they were flawless because they bought news of a victory.

    They couldn’t care less that they were dirty and bleeding. The news the runner brought was worth celebrating.

    How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. That phase has more meaning now when you think about the circumstances it was written in.

    Now, it’s used in situations where someone is bringing the gospel or the good news to a community.

    John Eldridge writes, “We need Jesus like we need oxygen. Like we need water. Like the branch needs the vine. Jesus is not merely a figure for devotions. He is the missing essence of your existence. Whether we know it or not, we are desperate for Jesus.” In that situation, we are in fact bringing good news, because if we need Jesus like we need oxygen or water. We are bringing them their life source as we know it.

    May your feet be beautiful as you bring the good news of a savior to those near and far.

    My Story: God’s Story

    My story.

    Before when people would ask me to share, I would be terrified—I never knew what to say, or how they would react.

    Now when people ask me about my accident, I don’t mind talking about it. In telling my story, I get to tell everyone of my God who puts the stars in the night sky.

    This story is about hardship and trials, but also about a God that holds me close. He wraps me in his arms and whispers in my ear, “I love you, child”.

    In being His child, I’m not promised a life of ease, but He says that He will be right next to me and hold me through it. Even in the hard days—the days where it takes everything within me to get up—I see the threads of grace that God has woven into my story.

    The threads He has woven into my story speak of a God who holds me when I cry but puts people in my life that understand that but don’t let me wallow in it. They speak of people that celebrate the small victories that we often take for granted like walking up stairs.

    Then, it becomes His story.

    His story of grace, of life, and of peace.

    My accident—a year and almost 5 months ago—will forever be a milestone. It will be a time that I look back on and say “if God can do that, then He surely can do this smaller thing.”

    It’s my story, but it’s also His story.

    The Blessing of Community

    College was strange.

    It is the only time in your life where you are placed in a community of people who are the same age as you for an extended period of time. You get to live life with other humans who have a similar purpose, but come from vastly different backgrounds.

    My first apartment was strange. I was so used to walking across the hall for something. I had to plan to hang out with people whereas in college, they were just there.

    Henry Nouwen writes, “Community is not an organization; community is a way of living; you gather around you people with whom you want to proclaim the truth that we are beloved sons and daughters of God.“

    Living in a community allows us to call out in each other the aspects of God that we find in each other. The thing about living community like this, it that we first have to is to recognize in our belovedness. Nouwen shares that ministry starts “because your freedom is anchored in claiming your belovedness”.

    My freedom lies in believing that I am beloved.

    I remember one time, as an RA, we were asked to spend some time in solitude. It was an amazing experience because I was able to sit, just me and God, after the craziness of training. We were given this article called “Moving From Solitude To Community To Ministry” by Henry Nouwen. The article reaffirmed the vast majority of what God had been teaching me this summer.

    I sat there in solitude, simply dwelling in the silence and being with God and God alone. It was important for me to sit still and listen to the voice of the one who calls me beloved.

    God calls me beloved.

    The more that I dwelled with that phrase, God began to speak to the corners of my heart, the center of my being, and slowly I began to accept his love for me. I sat on the edge of a pond where a gaggle of geese were relaxing. I began to watch and study the geese. A group of them flew to the opposite side of the lake to feed.

    I watched as a clear leader stepped out of the water.

    He took one timid step, intently watching his surroundings.

    He stretched his leg out as he took another timid step.

    He was constantly on guard and he took small steps forward.

    Sometimes I feel like that goose. I know what God is asking us to do or accept, but I timidly step forward. Kind of like this idea of being His beloved. I step forward timidly believing that I am loved, but constantly looking for the other foot to drop. It sounds crazy because you would think that being loved would be an easy thing to accept. Meanwhile, God had become so vulnerable in his pursuit of us. He became so little, so dependent in a manger and on a cross and is begging me, “Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you really love me.” How crazy is that? The God of the universe loves me.

    It is a gift freely offered by the creator of the universe.

    As a result, I am more prepared to do and capable of loving others when I accept that the King of the World and Creator of the Universe loves me.

    The aspect of community changes when you don’t live in the dorms anymore. I have to be more intentional about seeking out people to do life with. I am beginning a new journey.

    One that reflects my belovedness.

    Tenth Avenue North wraps this idea up well in their song “Beloved”.

    You’re my beloved lover
    I’m yours
    Death shall not part us
    It’s you I died for
    For better or worse
    Forever we’ll be
    My love it unites us and it binds you to me
    It’s a mystery

    I am choosing to walk in the freedom of accepting that God desires me to be exactly the way he created me. He chose me to play in his story of redemption. I have a purpose in his plan. I desire to choose to live in the freedom of God. The freedom that doesn’t worry about what other people think of me.

    The freedom that accepts myself for who I am—crazy, beautiful, smart, and weird.

    The freedom that steps out of my comfort zone. The freedom that loves God with abandon.

    The freedom that crosses oceans and roads to share the gospel.

    I want to choose in to God’s desire to change the world. I want to choose in to loving people without judgement. I do not know what God has planned for this year, but I know that his plans are better thqan my plans.

    I Won’t Let You Go

    I am a piece of work.

    I have a lot of faults.

    I compare myself to others.

    I complain A LOT.

    I have trust issues (sometimes even with God).

    I push people close to me away because I am afraid of them leaving and getting hurt.

    I am often too proud.

    These are only a few of the faults that make me cringe.I have a lot of faults.The beautiful thing is that even though I am a mess of faults, I am a living human being. This means that I have the potential to change or grow. I have grown. I am a different living human being than I was 6 years ago, when I was a senior in high school. I have outgrown some of my insecurities and gained new ones. I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone so many times, that my comfort zone has changed. Insecurity has the power to push me into the corner, causing me to become a wallflower, not growing but wilting in the feeling of being alone right in the middle of a crowd—a crowd that loves me for me. The thing about insecurity is that just when you think you have won, it rears its ugly head again.

    I have a lot of faults.

    I know I am not perfect. That thought rolls round and round in my head until God stops me in my tracks and tells me over and over again. “Beautiful daughter of mine, you don’t need to be perfect. You are already perfectly loved.”I am loved through my faults.That does not mean that I do not have the responsibility to fix my faults if I can. I fail. I hurt my friends when I get insecure because I say things I don’t mean. I push people away and hurt them. I often push people away before I could possibly get hurt. That’s really no way to go through life. I need to take responsibility for my faults.I try to hide from my responsibilities and put the blame of my faults on other people and things. As I try to hide, I become encamped in a place where God is preparing me. He is working in me.I may be encamped in a way that I do not understand. I don’t know how to fix my faults. God offers hope.“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”Phil. 1:6

    God began a journey in my life and heart and He promises to finish it in his perfect timing. He is working out His plan for my life while helping me work on my faults.

    I cannot change who I am and how God made me: I do not want to do that.

    I run with my head down.

    -I cry when I am stressed.

    -I laugh at myself even though I am not funny.

    -I act like a kid sometimes.

    -I love colored pens and organized schedules.

    -I desire spontaneous adventures.

    -I am a romantic at heart.

    These and other quirks make me who I am. A brown-eyed, curly-haired, laughing, and romantic, brave individual.

    I am a work in progress, but I do not want to change who I am. I just need to work through my faults.I am God’s beautiful, loved, cherished daughter, and He wants me to live fully. As God works in me, helping me fix those parts of myself that need fixing. The areas that need work, because I am not perfect. He is there when I can’t change myself. He walks beside me as I wrestle with being present when I want to run away. He encourages me as I choose to trust people. He sits with me as I learn to love who I am through my insecurities. He cheers me on as a give up my pride and base my abilities on Him.I don’t have to be perfect because God is. In the quiet spaces of my heart, God continually whispers “You are loved more than you could ever know.” No matter what our story is-where we have been, what we have done-God’s love can never be diminished, tarnished, shaken or taken. Our response is to abide in that and fully live loved. The amazing thing about God is that even when I fail, God doesn’t loosen His grip on my soul. Even when it feels like He’s let go-when things aren’t going anywhere near my way-He’s still right there beside me, holding my heart. He’s still working in me-figuring out the sinful kinks in my soul. It’s always an adventure with Jesus as He works in me and makes me more like Him.

    Giving in to Negative Thoughts

    A bad day does not make for a bad life (Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it).

    This week, I gave into my fears, of failing, of letting people down, of being imperfect.

    I have learned over the years that the only difference between an adventure and an obstacle is attitude. I gave in to my negative attitude this week. I allowed myself to follow the mental tracks of self-doubt, negativity, hesitation, and uncertainty.

    I failed.

    I failed in almost every area of life this week-oversleeping, and not having words. Utterly and absolutely failed.

    I gave in when I allowed my failures to define my life.

    I fell into old patterns of fear.

    I had a bad day-a few bad days-but that does not give me permission to go down this trail fear.

    I gave in and allowed my thoughts to define who God is and what He meant.

    In my failures, I gave in and decided to control my life myself.

    And, guess what….

    I failed miserably.

    I had no control of my emotions, of my life, of even my alarms.

    It hurt.

    Failure humbles me and reminded me that I am not the One who breathed the stars.

    Just when I thought I knew that being brave and audacious meant, I was reminded that I need to be brave in my failures.

    Admit my shortcomings and buck up.

    Offer the failures up to the King of Kings and move on.

    King David writes, “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him” Psalms 62:5. He knew all about failure. He failed at many things, but he kept returning to the steadfastness of the Lord. He presents himself, his failures and successes, before the Lord.

    Finally, at the end of the week, I gave in and accepted that God was God (C. S. Lewis). I relinquished control of my life and emotions to the One who created me.

    Audaciously, I cried letting God meet me in failures. Humbly, offering them up as a meager sacrifice of my messy life.

    Bravely, I accepted my humanness and let God be God.

    Redeemed, I allowed myself to focus on His grace and not on my failings.

    “I learned to dance with the fear that I’d been running from.”

    Ben Rector.

    I gave in and let God instill joy in my heart in the midst of my fears.