Friday, August 26, 2011

21st Birthdayeve

Every year on the night before my birthday I reminisce over the past year, the highs and lows, the laughter the tears, the pain and the joy, the good and the bad. Each year I want to say is in it's own way is worse than any other previous year, however, I now realize that each year has it's own unique set of trials and triumphs. With each opportunity I'm given I am also given a choice of how I am going to react to it. Am I going to get mad and angry or am I going to allow it to stretch and grow me?

The first three months of my twenty-first year were full of excitement, I started my junior year of college at Shawnee Baptist, I went to Tennessee with my best friend, I was promoted to a management position at LEE's and overall life was good. Did I mention that we had a lice scare in my dorm? That was pretty exciting. I was getting good grades, having the time of my life, and pretty much didn't really seem to be taking much of anything seriously.

Christmas break of 2012 changed my life drastically. I had planned to stay at school for most of the break so I could work. I took a couple of days off before and the day after Christmas because Mom was supposed to have a hysterectomy. I should have known things were going to be bad from about 5 miles down the road on my way home...yep, I was pulled over with my first official speeding ticket (no comments mom, dad or Jason :P). I arrived at the hospital about an hour before mom went in to the OR. We talked for a few minutes and prayed and then we waited. And waited. And waited. When the surgeon finally came out he told us that things had been a little messier than originally planned but Mom should be fine. To make a very long story short, Mom ended up not being fine. She was supposed to be in the hospital only a couple of days, but ended up being in for 10 due to some major complications. I quit my job and school and moved back home to help out. That took up the last half of December, all of January and into February.

February my dad had surgery on his knee. He also ended up with complications which landed us in the ER at the same time a lifelong friend was having a fatal heart attack just a few doors down from where we were! It was the beginning of a lesson that I'm not sure I've totally learned yet: You don't know when it will be your time to make sure you are making your life count for something. Don't just sit idly by, get up and make a difference.

March brought about more loss and more wake up calls to live life to the fullest. Time after time it seemed that problems were thrown in my path and I had the choice of allowing them to pull me down or learning from them and growing. Learning that no matter what, God is in control and who am I to question His sovereignty?

April was perhaps where I was tested the most. On the 19th we were informed that my dear cousin Greg was missing with a friend in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming. Many of you probably remember reading everything that I posted about the search for them. It was horrific and terrifying and most of all, gut wrentchingly sad. Quite easily the longest week I can remember. The search seemed to be going on and on and on with no hints whatsoever of the whereabouts of Greg and Walker. It was a week of tears and prayers. Begging God to bring them back to us. But alas! it was not God's plan for on Easter Sunday the bodies of the two men were found buried beneath an avalanche. It was a freak of nature, something that should never have happened, but it did. Only God knows why.

May is when things started really looking up. I started getting involved in the Richard Mourdock for US Senate campaign and enjoy it very much. From Lincoln Day Dinners to parades, fair booths to Tea Party meetings I've learned a lot and have enjoyed myself very much.

If there was one lesson that I've learned more than any other this year I would say that it is that God is God and I am not. He is the One in control and He leads us each step of the way. When I rest in Him I fear no evil, but when I take things into my own hands I mess it up. Trusting Jesus, that is all. The other big lesson is to not let life pass me by. Don't be afraid to dream, dare to explore, make each second count.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Your Fault

A pastor complained to a higher up in his denomination about having sixteen doors that needed to be locked and unlocked each day. The man responded, "Don't complain to me, YOU built the church."

How often is it that we complain to God about our circumstances, moaning and groaning that we have all this extra stuff that is a result of what we've done. I'm sure God wants to say, "Hey dummy! You're the one who made the problem, don't blame it on Me!"

Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm Crying for Me

This year seems to be a "year of death." So many loved friends and family have passed on to eternity. Some were "expected" others were quite sudden and tragic. Often when I cry at a funeral I can't really explain the feeling I have inside of me. It's a feeling of awful heartache and utter sadness, but not for them, it is for me. Each time that I lose a friend I'm losing a part of me. There is a new hole ripped into my heart, over time it will become a scar but will always be there. Last night I was talking to a friend about all of this and I said, "I'm hurting for me." To which she responded with the line of this song, "I'm not crying cause I feel sorry for you, I'm crying for me."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Don't Take it for Granted

I am sure that by now most of you have heard of the tragic deaths resulting from the collapse of the stage for the Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair. Perhaps you have seen the video, or read the articles, or seen the pictures of the aftermath of that sudden, awful twist of nature. For those in it's path there was no advance warning, no time to do anything but watch their lives drastically change, and for some it was the end.

As I watched and re-watched, and re-watched the footage of the collapse there was but one thought that ran through my head, "That could have been anyone, including me." Those people didn't have time to go back and make their wrongs right, or to say "good-bye" to their loved ones. There was no opportunity for them to get things settled with God, that was their time, their last breath, their final call.

Often I find that it is easy for me to take life for granted. I just blow through it without a care or thought, not worrying about the consequences that it will have on my life or on others. I leave things undone or unkind words and actions left unforgiven. It is very easy to forget that eternity is only a heartbeat away. In the matter of a second I could be on the other side of life and never have the chance to forgive, ask forgiveness, finish what I started, or simply say, "I love you." We never know when our number will be called, make sure that your account is settled in Heaven. God desires for all to become His children, He wants us to have a home with Him when it is our time, but the only way for that to happen is for each one of us to personally admit our sins, realize we are in need of Savior, and to accept God's Son, Jesus into our hearts and ask Him to wash away our sins. Only then will any of us truly be prepared for eternity.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Major Changes...Again

It seems my life never, ever likes to sit still for long. Or perhaps it's me that can't sit still. I don't know. It seems I'm never content with the current level of my life, I want something more, something better all the time. I'm not content to sit idle when there is so much more to learn and do. A good thing? I hope so. This leads me to the current changes. I think they are what God wants for me and they are definitely for the better. They will bring with them a lot of hard work and effort, they will stretch me, making me into someone better than I am. This is what I want out of my whole life, to be constantly stretched into a better person, but more importantly, I want to be stretched to be a better Christian so I can serve my God in a more meaningful fashion.

The first change is my job! Yep, I'm leaving the bank. This is a shock to a lot of people, but it is something I've been considering for a very long time; I was just waiting for the right opportunity to come my way. This presented itself in a job offer from a dry cleaner. I know, you're probably thinking, "Changing from a bank job to a dry cleaner is a better thing?!" It is. I was starting to go nuts sitting in an office all day, I need to be with people. I love to meet new people, get to know the "regulars" and make the new customers feel welcome. It's what makes me "tick." God gave each of us different personalities that require different stimuli, mine include people. (Have I gotten my point across yet?)

On to the next change: school. I know I had posted earlier that I was going to be attending Baptist College of America, but I honestly didn't have a peace about it. I couldn't focus on the classes and I just felt like I was drifting off course. I didn't really know what to do so I prayed about it. I really like this politics thing and I've wanted to be in it for a very long time. So, I'm quitting the whole "Christian college" thing and switching to Thomas Edison State College and a degree in History. So'll be a little while until I finish, but I'm ok with that. I don't have anything I have to do so I'll just enjoy my time, enjoy life a little bit (although I have a feeling all I'll be doing is work and school), and see what else God has in store for me.

It seems my life is in constant upheaval, if it's not one thing, it is definitely another. I'm so glad to know that I have a Heavenly Father who cares for me and has everything perfectly figured out. In His time all things will come together, all I need do is take each step in faith, trusting Him alone.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

God Answers Prayers

For the past several years I have been very burdened for my friend Ray who is in the Army. He was unsaved and quite content that way. He's had some very close calls during his three deployments (he is still in his third). In June he was home on leave and we spent quite a bit of time together. During that time I was able to talk to him a little bit about God and my dad also talked to him some this year and a year ago when he was home.

Last night I chatted with him for the first time in well over a month. He was recently moved to another base and was without access to a computer for a long while. During our chat he told me that he had become very close friends with the assistant chaplain and they had a lot of really good talks. We then proceeded to have a discussion about having a religion versus having a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. In the course of this conversation he told me that he had admitted that he was a sinner in need of a Savior and had accepted Christ as his personal Savior! I was floored. A rush of about a thousand emotions ran through me, at first a little bit of apprehension and disbelief, then the realization that this was actually happening, he had really become a believer. Years of praying and begging God to save him had payed off and Ray is now a fellow Christian.

As I considered all of this, my thoughts kept going to a phrase I use quite often, "Oh me of little faith!" How I had despaired of this day ever coming. I thought that God had probably just written him off, but how wrong I was! I am so thankful for a prayer hearing and answering God. A God who loves the whole world and is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. A God who loves each one of us individually, and cares about us and our burdens. Praise the Lord!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mourdock for U.S. Senate 2012

So in case any of you have been wondering why my posts have been so scarce lately it would be because I've been crazy busy volunteering for a U.S. Senate campaign.

Richard Mourdock is running in the Republican primaries in May 2012 against 6 term incumbent, Dick Lugar. Our current Senator is now 80 and has become quite the career politician, not to mention extremely liberal, and is no longer sensitive to his constituents. In fact, he doesn't even live in Indiana anymore and he rarely comes back home to visit! On the other hand, Richard Mourdock (currently our state treasurer) is a fiscal conservative (Indiana is one of the few states that has a budget surplus), a social conservative, and in general an all around good guy. He's pro-life, pro-family, pro-tax CUTS, pro-term limits (and has practiced this in previous political offices that he's held), and on the list could go. While on the flip side, Dick Lugar has been called President Obama's "favorite Republican" even appearing on a TV add for him in the 2008 Presidential election! In fact, Obama himself has referred to Lugar as a "mentor." Richard Mourdock has done a great job in previous offices and I'm sure he will do a good job as a Senator! Below are some pictures from the campaign.

~~*Richard Mourdock*~~
~~*St. Joseph County Lincoln Day Dinner*~~
~~*Grant County Fair*~~
~~*Salamonie Festival Parade*~~
~~*Richard handing out pencils*~~

~~*I got to drive the truck...such fun*~~
~~*With Richard*~~
~~*Somehow I skipped some parades...but this one is from Kosciusko County*~~
~~*This is what happens when you've been on the campaign trail too long*~~
~~*Culver parade*~~
~~*Sometimes you've gotta take a break!*~~
~~*Elkhart County 4H Fair Parade*~~
~~*Elkhart County Fair Booth*~~

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Even the Trials

"Have you thanked God for the life He's given you? Even the trials?"
~A Friend~

From friends and family to work and beyond life has been one twist after another lately. Things have been confusing, irritating, flat out wrong, full of people who are indecisive and careless. As a result my soul has been cast down and my spirit has been lacking the joy that is usually there. I've been troubled about many things and instead of relying on Christ as my Rock I found myself focusing instead on my circumstances and worrying about what I was going to do about them.

Last night I was texting a friend about something we were supposed to do today. I was not very optimistic about the outcome and finally told him, "I'm just tired of my life in general and this is yet another problem at the moment." To which he responded with the quote above, "Have you thanked God for the life He's given you? Even the trials?" It was as if God were saying, "Hey girl, quit your whining and complaining, I'm getting tired of it! You need to focus on Me instead of you, and you need to find that there are things in life to be thankful for, even in the worst of times." I felt as though I were a three year old and had been caught getting into something I shouldn't have and been thoroughly spanked. I'd been so busy focusing on circumstances rather than on God. All the problems that I was having were only made worse by the attitude I'd had towards them.

This morning I went to the book of James and read, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:2-4) Patience, what an awful word. According to the Merriam-Webster's dictionary patience is "the ability to remain calm and not become annoyed when dealing with problems or with difficult people." So that was pretty much a second spanking. Obviously I failed miserably in this area over and over again. However, there is hope to the passage in James, the very next verse says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given him." (James 1:5) Also according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the word wisdom is defined as, "good sense." So putting that word into the verse it would read something like this: "If any of you lacks good sense, let him ask of God..." So here I am, realizing that I'm handling all of these situations completely wrong, and I have no idea how to handle them. Yet the Bible clearly states that trials bring about patience, but if we don't know how to bear the trials all we have to do is ask God and He will give us the knowledge we need to deal with them.

God doesn't want His children focused on their circumstances. He wants them to focus on Him. Praise Him. Thank Him. Live for Him. He desires for us to be so dependent on Him that we automatically hand over our struggles to Him. He alone has the answers, nothing is up to us. Only when we thank God for the life He has given us can we then appreciate all that He has done for us. This is a lesson I am sure I will be learning over and over again, but God is gracious and long-suffering and He will always welcome us back to fellowship with Him.