Wednesday, July 29, 2009

my worlds: a look into how I've grown.

Jillian and I were talking about Washington last night. I told her about my sister visiting me back in March and mentioned that it was a little strange, my two worlds meeting one another.

She commented that that's exactly how I view things: little worlds. She says that I live completely wherever I am. Writing it like that makes it sound pretty neat but sort of boastful but that's not what I'm trying to do at all. I think it's really neat that I do pretty much view where I am as "my world"... I think it's a testimony to what God has done in me. Wow!

Once upon a time, I was me. I lived in Beaufort and my dreams for the future included going to college and getting a job, outside of Beaufort because everyone stays and I didn't want to be like that. I made plans to leave and pursue my dreams but due to not controlling my circumstances, I stayed a year longer than I intended to. I fell in love with Beaufort at that time. And with God. That's the point of this story: Him.

At this moment, I'm in Beaufort, South Carolina. This is my world: I live here, eat here, sleep here, have relationships here. A few months ago, I lived in Spokane, Washington and I know that and have memories there, but the second I came back to Beaufort, all those memories became really distant, like dreams or something.

It was the same when I moved to Washington. Obviously, I had a family back in the South, friends, and places so familiar to me since I've lived here all my life. But it didn't seem real. I wasn't living both lives even though I had great communication with both. And when I come back, of course I've changed and there are adjustments, but I pretty much snap back into life wherever I am, just like I'd never left. I think that's why I don't get homesick easily.
It's been similar in my short stints in Ukraine and China also... the lack of homesickness and the feeling that I only have one reality. (The term "reality" sounds Sci-fi... unintentional.)

Sometimes I wonder if God is preparing me for something that will involve being away for a really long period of time. I wonder if God has made me this way because my life will be constantly in limbo. The biggest constant lesson for me has been trusting God, being content in Him wherever He has me go. I struggle with wanting to just be comfortable and stay put but I love new experiences and changes so much. It's really been great. And I wouldn't exchange the things I've learned. Definitely not for the "normal" life I expected once upon a time.

When I was younger, I thought my life would be figured out by the time I was twenty. I'd be pursuing that major, getting ready for that job, not in Beaufort. At twenty though, my life holds no consistent rhythm. I've been all over the place (meaning places I didn't expect to be) for indefinite periods of time. And right now, I'm in Beaufort. And I like it!

I'm perfectly content. Here is why: my life has a pattern of God working and showing Himself faithful. I trust Him and have no worries or concerns in Him. My contentedness is only a result of His working and moving in me and my response to that. I can't honestly claim that this life is mine - it belongs to my Lord. He made each "world" I've lived in and knows the length of time I'll be there.

I hope this verse (one of my favorites) is true of me, both now and for the rest of my life: ["they" refers to the Israelites but the principle of resting in Him is what I'm referring to] Whether it was two days or a month or a year that the cloud lingered over the tabernacle, staying above it, the sons of Israel remained camped and did not set out; but when it was lifted, they did set out. At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out; they kept the Lord's charge according to the command of the Lord through Moses" - Numbers 9:22-23

He is faithful. I hope to be faithfully obedient to Him and His word.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

shadows and love.

I've been preparing for my Sunday School class this week. For the month of July, we've discussed the topic of LOVE, something that has been on my heart as I realize how little I understand it. God's love is so specific, yet vague. I find myself in a constant battle of now I understand it, now I don't. Most of the time, of course, I don't. 

Nevertheless I've been trying to talk about it and explain it as if I do understand. I'm not really sure why I do that. 

So as I was thinking about it and reading First Corinthians 13 for the thousandth time to try and understand love, I read this verse:

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face t0 face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. I Corinthians 13:12

My first thought was of a really dirty mirror, but I don't think I've been around many mirrors that were so dirty that the reflection was nearly indistinguishable, so that didn't make sense. So what other kinds of reflections are there?


A shadow, as you know, is an image of someone. It's them, but not, but still them. You understand what I mean because you've seen a shadow. Love is the same way, I think. It's something we recognize, something we talk about and something easily understood as love, but we have yet to see what love REALLY is. We don't understand it fully because what we see is just a shadow. 

If you consider that, then love must really be something special. Something amazingly special and wonderful. Because it seems to be that already, but yet it's so vague and hard to understand. Can you imagine what love, real LOVE looks like if what we have is just the reflection? 

We have the outline, a glimpse of what the real thing is. We've yet to see the face of God but we see the shadow of His love. Isn't it wonderful? 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Haley spent the afternoon with me at work yesterday. I really enjoyed having her here for the fellowship and encouragement. She's such a refreshing friend!

She's not one I post a lot about, but someone who means a lot to me. I met her just a few weeks after she became a Christian. She joined our Tuesday Night Bible study during our senior year and brought so much life to the group with her questions and thoughts about the things we studied. I was amazed by her obvious love for the Lord and challenged to pursue Him more because of her example.

Fast forward a couple of years. Last spring/summer we were in the same place, wondering WHERE our letters back from Moody were. We texted and called each other for a few weeks as we waited for our futures to be determined by MBI. She heard back first... she was accepted to a campus in Spokane, Washington. 

Meanwhile, I asked myself what if God wants me to go to WASHINGTON? Will I go? No, God doesn't want me there. It's Chicago or nothing. Or not. The letter came a week or so after Haley heard. And I accepted, as you know. 

So anyway, we both came from Beaufort, both went to school in Washington. We and only a handful of other represented the Eastern side of the country. We'd planned on rooming together but it didn't work out. Who knows why... but not rooming together meant that meeting her for coffee or catching up in the halls at school was a treat. It was SO nice to have someone from home. We talked about church, people we'd known prior to school starting (our histories with everyone else only went back to August), what it was like when she first got saved, Beaufort... though our talks were few, they were a treat. 

It's summer now, and only eleven months since we made the trek to Spokane. I'll be in Chicago in August and she'll be in Wisconsin. We won't be together but we will be a mere three hours from one another. 

Now we have lots more in common, since we're the only ones from Beaufort to venture to the other coast. We talk about those people, those churches, that school, that town... and once again, it's nice to have that connection to the not-so-distant past. We're also going through some of the same things and in that, we can encourage one another. What a relief! How great!

I love that God puts people in our lives like Haley. We're completely NOT alike, different in every way. Yet He's placed us in the same situations, giving us the ability to be used by Him in each other's lives. We're both believers and we're able to encourage one another in Him, to lift things up, and to pray together in His name. It's super. 

Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:14

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. I Thess. 5:11

cell phone pic of us, yesterday.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

summer in the south.

jumping off the dock.
historic beaufort.
ice cream on a hot day.
Beaufort in July... how I have missed thee.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Queen Anne's Lace

One of my favorite pictures.
I took it in a wheat field in Ukraine last July. 
Love the bright blue sky, flower slightly to the side, and wheat in the background.
It was so beautiful last summer and I feel that this picture is indicative of that.

Friday, July 10, 2009

But WHY, God?: Thoughts on Faith

I can't live without questioning every single thing. Even small things. Why do I like dark chocolate and dislike milk chocolate? Why did I go to Spokane and not Chicago last year? Why do I feel so tired? Why can Carolina never seem to beat Clemson?

God, why do I trust you?

I don't think the question is wrong. I already said I ask it all the time. If we ask WHY God has put us somewhere or WHY we're supposed to believe certain doctrines, we allow ourselves to look for an answer. And looking for an answer leads to having an answer and knowing, not doubting. Honestly asking Him why we should believe that God sent His Son as Savior or why we believe that He rose from the dead. Or why we're in a given situation. There's an answer. 

If we never wonder and question what we believe, then we won't look for the answers. If we never look for the answers, we'll never find the answers. We won't grow if we don't ask questions. We'll just stay the same. And the same gets old after awhile. Just imagine if no one ever asked why about anything. We'd be in the Dark Ages. 

This recent thought was brought about by several conversations with different people about different aspects of faith. I'm not sure that those people will read this, but thinking about it has allowed me to think and articulate for myself. 

So many people become Christians and then that's it. Fire insurance paid for by the blood of God. As if that's enough. 

Don't worry, I'm not saying His blood wasn't sufficient. I'm saying that some people never bother to make their faith their own because they never asked the all important "WHY?" They just believed what they were told. And believing something because someone said so, no matter how important or godly that person is, is never the reason to believe something. Your faith is based in GOD, not what other people think or believe. 

I know it sort of sounds wrong to say that I doubt sometimes. But seriously... I've wondered if the things I base my world on are true. I think that's valid. I think wanting to be sure that we know what we believe, why we believe it and searching God's word for an answer or asking Him or thinking about it a lot is good. Maybe even wise.

I don't mean to say that doubt is the right way to go all the time. Doubting Thomas wasn't really a Bible hero. I don't mean that we should act in unbelief but we should acknowledge that we're human and don't get it... and then go to the Source. It's okay to say "I know I'm supposed to believe this, God. I just want to know why

All it is, all it ever was, is about God. You and God. It's a relationship, NOT a religion. Not what other people tell you to believe, but what you believe. We can question and ask and interact. We believe certain things. Wouldn't you like to know why?

If you believe but don't know why you believe, why does it matter?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

independence day

It's INDEPENDENCE DAY! Yay freedom! Yay America!

I wouldn't say I actually celebrated freedom today but it's been a great day just being with Americans... (if that counts)

It started out with the Firecracker Run on Hilton Head this morning with Dustin and Brandon, which I almost died from, followed by a good amount of time in the car sitting down and then a shower and prepping for the party we had at the house. I'm not the greatest estimator so I'll just say that a LOT of people showed up to play volleyball, eat burgers and hotdogs, talk, and baby-talk our dogs. The crowd dispersed early so everyone could go see fireworks.

Well, not everyone. I didn't go. But I'm sure they were explosively wonderful :)

[pictures in collage at top of post...race stuff on the left, party on the right. many thanks to Brandon for the party candids]
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