Wednesday, May 11, 2011

And she shall grow in Grace and beauty...

In a faraway land, long ago, there lived a king and his fair queen. Many years they had longed for a child, and finally their wish was granted. A daughter was born, and they called her Aurora. Yes, they named her after the dawn, for she filled their lives with sunshine. Aurora was born in love, beauty and grace, expected to change her kingdom one day.

But on the same day, an evil villain, Maleficent stormed into the room, knowing something no one else had known. “Listen well, all of you!” She screamed. “The princess shall indeed grow in grace and beauty, beloved by all who know her. But… before the sun sets on her 16th birthday, she shall prick her finger, on the spindle of a spinning wheel-and die!” The king and queen along with the rest of the kingdom were in absolute shock. How could a princess born of beauty and grace take part in this sinful downfall?

Sleeping Beauty was raised for the next sixteen years in grace and beauty. She knew right from wrong, and surrounded herself with people who would only help her achieve her predestined legacy as a princess of grace. One day she met a wonderful prince, and little did they know that together they would lead a kingdom of great honor and excellence.

On Auroras sixteenth birthday, Aurora went to the castle. When Aurora found herself alone, Maleficent stepped in with temptation. Aurora was mesmerized by the spinning wheel, and although she knew right from wrong, she took her eyes off what the king had planned for her life, and at that instant, she went into a long sleep. Once her friends found her, it had been too late. Aurora had lost the battle of temptation and had to pay the consequences. Little did she know it would affect the whole kingdom for generations to come.

Although the princess had gone off the path that she needed to be on to achieve, There was a prince who would do whatever it took to get her on the right path. He fought through evil for her, putting his own life in danger, in hope that love would triumph all. We all know how the story ends, Aurora meets her prince, and together they lead the kingdom in grace and excellence.

I think we have all been aurora at one time. God had this excellent plan for our life to live a life in beauty, grace and love, but at one time or another we have taken our eyes off of the path we are on and fallen into the temptation of sin. As we all know, all of our sins have consequences. But the cool thing is that the same prince that saved Aurora from her sin, is the same God we serve today. A God that not fights through evil and Satan when we take our eyes off of him, but a God who died for us that we may live in beauty and grace, leading kingdoms in excellence.

We are all born royalty, no matter what, because we are all children of the king. Whenever we ago astray, our Prince of Peace will rescue us, and we can continue to live that live in grace. But never forget- we are all bringing up a kingdom of excellence, and that would be the Kingdom of Heaven.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Baseball games, curling irons and the love of a Sovereign God: A year ago today.

If I were to ask you where you were a year ago today would you be able to tell me? Chances are, probably not. May 1 is a special day to me, and here I’ll tell you my story.

On May 1, 2009, I woke up just as any other day. My cousin and I headed to Dallas Christian School to watch a friend play baseball. It was a very important game, the game that the team had been preparing for all season long. I remember sitting on the bleachers watching a good game. They put up a good fight, but sadly it just wasn’t enough. They lost a game they had expected to win, but little did I know that I would possibly be experiencing more than one loss that day.

I drove home with the windows down, music blasting, just living life at its best. I pulled in the house and ran straight up stairs to do Lauren’s hair. We were celebrating her 17th birthday in an hour, expecting 50-60 guests. While doing her hair, my dad came up and told us something you never want to hear. Dad told Lauren she had to cancel her party. Lauren not understanding asked Dad why. Then my Dad quietly said with a shaky voice, “Girls, there is a chance your mom wont live through today.”

In a moment of shock, Lauren and I went downstairs only to see our mother being carried by my father, almost completely lifeless. All of this had happened in a span of about 4 minutes, and as quick as it happened, was as quick as she was gone. We had no idea where they went, finding ourselves alone with 50 guests on the way.

Not knowing what to do, Lauren and I jumped in the car and began driving to the nearest hospital. Speeding close to 100, I was praying I wouldn’t get pulled over, but more importantly I prayed that today wouldn’t be the day I lost my best friend. We arrived at the hospital to find our mother had been taken into the ER. Lauren and I sat alone, with nothing but fear and anticipation filling the room. Our pastor was the first there, and I will never forget the prayer he prayed. “Dear Lord, we lift April up to you. We pray for you to heal her, but if it is your will God, take her home. Amen.” Honestly, at first I was not okay with that at all. My mom, best friend, was in the ER lifeless.

My Granny came out a few minutes after telling us that she had food poisoning. Now, I’m no doctor, but I am an Education major aware of the symptoms of food poisoning. I can assure you, my mother did not have food poisoning. She went back in once more and came out a few minutes later and told it and us her brain was bleeding, and it was not looking good. If you can imagine, Lauren and I were hysterical. All I could think is begging to the Lord, “not my mom, Lord. Not now.” My Granny came out one final time and told us she had had a stroke and had to be careflighted to another hospital.

Lauren and I got to go in and see her. It was something I never want to see again. She was almost completely lifeless. I remember being at her bedside drowning in tears as I reached my hand out to her to hold it. She couldn’t hold my hand. She couldn’t even grasp it. All she could do was throw her hand on top of mine, trying to hold it. Worst. Feeling. EVER. I remember telling her I loved her, and watching her mouth move….but with no response. I know what she was trying to tell me that day, and I know she heard me.

As we sped to the new hospital, silence was the only thing being said. I mean, what could anyone even say? We didn’t know if my mom was even going to live. We arrived at the hospital and stayed in ICU, along with almost 100 of our closest friends and family. I was overwhelmed by the love and support that day, and I thank God everyday for all 100 people that were there.

Mom had a hard road ahead of her. She was in the hospital for about another week or so, and my Dad never left her side, Now ladies, that is the kind of grenades you want a man to catch for you. Not even three weeks later, I left for 11 weeks to work for student life. I can honestly tell you it was not by my strength that I left my mom that long in her condition. It was by the Lord, and his strength only.

It took my mom almost a complete year to heal…. Hallelujah. Through all of this I learned how truly sovereign the God we serve is. Even in the times where we are so weak and beat down by sin and distress that we can’t even reach our hand out to grasp him, he holds it for us. The stroke was hard, but as weird as this may sound, I wouldn’t take it back, neither would my mom. I saw lives touched and changed, in my life and others around me.

Know this for sure: the God that I had to cling to during this time is the same God who is alive today. Our God is NOT dead, He’s ALIVE! And that’s something to rejoice in…. 100 strokes over.

Monday, August 9, 2010

More than Conquerors

If there is one word in the English language that I can honestly say I hate, it's the word "good-bye."

Whenever I just think of saying good-bye to someone my soul aches, my heart beats fast and I physically need to shake myself out of the feeling. Yet life itself is filled with good-byes. Last week I said good-bye to my first summer at Student Life. My question is "But where did it go?" I thought we just finished our first camp.

I was surrounded by good-byes last Thursday. That’s why I felt compelled to share this thought with you right now while I'm still caught in the after math of farewell.

A 75-day journey that changed my life. 11,000 miles, 19 states, and 25 simply amazing people. I remember my first day coming into training scared to death, surrounded by a sea of unfamiliar faces. Little did I know that Orange Team 2010 would effortlessly become family, and a strong component of my heart.

It’s the little things that bonded us together-bursting out into random song wherever we went, dance parties (I always tried to stand by Tucker because he was DEFINITLY the best dancer on the team), hours upon hours packing the missions trailer, the terrible Kansas trips, load ins, and the glorious 100 minute load out. I think I have eaten enough fast food to satisfy my now suffering body. It was all about Secret encouragers, waking up before the sun, ladies night, and “Sons and Daughters of the living God” 77 times over. More importantly, we’re family. All brothers and sisters spread out amongst this big country. Although I will never wake up and spend every breathing hour with these people, or wake up in the same bed as them, or even just get to worship with them, I know that they are no farther than a text, phone call, or facebook message away.

Seeing what was left of the team pack up their bags into trunks and back seats of the Baby Penske reminded me that every beginning has an end. But every ending invites a brand new beginning. The things we learned will never depart from us; for they are imprinted in our souls forever. Some of us will come back to serve multiple summers, some of us will step into the real world and work. Some of us will soon get married and start families, or graduate college; but one thing will always be: We are more than conquers.

Good-byes are not forever. Neither is parting such sweet sorrow. If I have connected in such a way to another person, then they are a permanent part of me. They do not leave intact, for they have shared with me a bit of themselves, which I have willfully absorbed into my heart. God's gift to us to compensate for good-byes is "memory." So with that I will always remember the family that is OT10.

And so as the roadways across this great country fill with our neighbors and friends returning home and closing this journey, I take this moment to thank God that although we may never see each other again, I know that whatever I may need, you will always be there.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lead me On, Let me Run after you

Lets see, it’s been quite a few weeks since I’ve last posted on this thing. Let me tell you, Student Life has revealed to me just how critical that extra 30 minutes of sleep really is…. Trust me, 30 minutes is Gold. We are currently on week 6 at Cedarville University in Ohio. Thirty days remain on my Student Life calendar, and while that may seem long, days fly by like arrows, slowly losing force as it reaches the target. Of course, I have been having an absolutely revolting time. In case you don’t already know, God is the biggest show off this universe has ever seen. I in no way was prepared for the things he has done this summer, and because of him my life has been eternally altered.

mean, don’t get me wrong, there are things that I miss about home. Aside from my wonderful family, there are three things my soul desires: sleep, Texas Rangers, and running. I started running a few months before I left for the summer and I find it to be one of the most relieving things for me. Nothing is more satisfying to me than running while my music overpowers my ear, almost as if it were pumping momentum into every vein electrifying my determination …ah, how I miss it so.

course, there are two ways you can run correctly. There’s the good old treadmill or just the good old Combine turf. Personally, I love nothing more than running down Chrestman Lane every night taking in the sweet Texas air. But God dropped a message in my mailbox and broadcasted to me a life lesson through running. Our physical walk, or run in this instance, is exactly what our spiritual walk with God is like. When we choose to run on the treadmill, we have control of so many things. Speed, time, radio, Air conditioning, incline, TV…. you get the picture. Maybe our treadmill is almost like our throne, per say. We stand up there and control exactly what WE want to control. Is that how we run our lives? Don’t want to run too fast? Its all good turn the speed down to your preferred comfortable amount. Too hot for you in the gym? Well thank Goodness for air conditioning. WE MANUVER THINGS IN OUR LIVES TO FIT OUR COMFORT ZONES AND DESIRES. God wants us to get out of our comfort zones and let him be in control of our circumstances and situations rather than let us have our way.

you can control a lot on a treadmill, one important thing you cant control is running down hill. We seem to avoid these areas at all cost because they are just too much work; they beat us up and bring us down. If we never run down our hills and obstacles in life, then how in the world can God run along side us? He DESIRES to run along us. He DELIGHTS in us. A race isn’t run in a day, its run in every moment leading up to the goal. Run the races, don’t give up. With that being said friends, I challenge you to get off the treadmill and hit the hard pavement enabling us to run down hill with our Father who is CRAZY about us.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Somewhere A Compass Can't Point

As I am writing this, I am sitting on a balcony of a lodge in the Rocky Mountains. I can see mountains covered in snow, and the sun beaming down perfectly. It makes me wonder how in the world can people see things like this and NOT believe in God? But more about that later.

Week 1 of camp is done and now evaporated in time. It went by way faster than I had expected it to. It was a smaller camp, only about 400 students but perfect to start out with. The speaker Ed Newton was absolutely phenomenal and students and adults alike could relate to his teaching. David Walker was our worship leader, and he lead worship in a way that was completely natural. You could tell that he wasn't just putting on a show, he was letting God run the show through him. I can honestly say that I have never experienced worship in such a prodigious way.

My team is unquestionably the best. I am so blessed to have each and everyone of them in my life. I am developing relationships now that will last a lifetime.

This weekend as we were traveling from Louisiana to Colorado, we went through Good Ol' Texas. I began to see familiar places and signs, assuring me I was merely a few short minutes from Combine. As we began to pass through, I said Good bye to my hometown once again. It truly was a bittersweet moment, but God dropped a message in my mail box and let me know that I was indeed home in that very van. While my home in Combine is where I sleep and live everyday life, it means nothing. Home is God's will, wherever it may take me. A place a map will never be able to find, and a compass never to point to, because the end result is eternity.

I've realized that being in the center of God's will isn't always a fun place to be. It is lonely, challenging and even dangerous at times; but he has all of me. I am fully devoted and willing. Here I am lord, Send me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Break my Heart for what Breaks yours.

Only 18 more hours to go. 18 more hours until I step on that plane and leave the beautiful state of Texas for 70 some odd days. Here we go…

For those of you who are not familiar with Student Life, let me give you a brief background so that you may understand how I will be serving this summer. Student Life is an organization that hosts youth camps (grades 6
th-12th) at College campuses around the United States. Last summer, 64,000 youth and adults attended student life around the country. My job is to be a “Mission Site Coordinator.” Everyday I have the amazing opportunity to serve by doing local missions all around the United States. I will be leading a group of teenagers in local missions such as spending time with the elderly, children in need, and building repairs needed around the area. I was placed on the Orange Team, which means I will be traveling over 11,000 miles this summer…Wow. I didn’t realize how big of a number that was until I said it out loud.

Everything is packed, ready and sectioned accordingly. I have looked over everything time and time again, and made sure the essentials were present. Bible, check. Favorite Hoodie, check. Clothes, check…you get the picture. But the most important thing that I am bringing on my journey has been packed and ready to go for almost 19 years now, and that is my WHOLE heart.

Did you know that the NIV bible mentions the word “heart” 1,273 times? I think its obvious that God was trying to stress the importance of how important our hearts are in our lives and the lives of others.
I will confess that the past few weeks, my heart has been in different things. School, personal ambition, church, and even to one individual person. I was beginning to notice a lot of things were falling apart and fading away. I began to question God about it. These things weren’t wrong, and as a matter of fact some glorified his name…why would he take them away from me? Today he revealed to me why. Luke 20:27 says “Love the lord your God with ALL your HEART and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Its not that those things were bad, but if my heart were to be divided amongst all of them even just a little bit, what does that leave for God this summer? He surely doesn’t deserve the “leftovers” of my heart, and neither do the individuals I have the privilege of serving. I am happy to say that tomorrow I will be starting my journey with 100% of my heart, with nothing left to leave behind. My heart is already consumed completely by my Savior, and I can’t wait to make him proud this summer.