Thursday, October 28, 2010

Great is Thy Faithfulness

 I'll have to admit: I cried. When my webcam turned off, I sat staring at my computer screen; mesmerized. In shock? Maybe. I could feel my face crumpling. No, I thought. I can't cry. Crying doesn't change anything. I had managed to keep my face normal as I read the disappointing letter. But as my friends and I had left our video chat, I couldn't help but let my countenance fall. I made my way over to the couch where my mom was sitting, I let the tears fall. A couple of minutes later, I rubbed my eyes dry. My mom suggested I practice my piano, as I had a lesson today. So, I did. Not really thinking about, I pulled out my hymnbook and opened it to one of my songs and began playing.

Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God, my Father!
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not.
As Thou hast been, Thou forever whilt be!

Great is Thy faithfulness,
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see,
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Lord, unto me!

 I paused for a moment. Great is God's faithfulness. Morning by morning my eyes are opened to the new mercies He brings me. I could hear God whispering to me. Telling me that even now, He had a plan. Even though I didn't get what I wanted, He had something better. What I wanted was good. It could even be considered better. But what God has? That's what's best.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

Last night I spent much time in prayer, begging God to give me peace. To help me to be able to understand that whatever happens today, that I would know that He had a different plan for my life. I was reading Proverbs 27, and the first verse really hit me. Boast not thyself of the morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. For the first time, I truly began to think seriously about what would happen if the letter said what I didn't want it to say. I didn't know what was going to happen. I'm not able to tell the future. No one is. Regardless, I had spent quite a bit of time speculating about what life would be like if the letter said yes. But not much time wondering what would happen if the letter said no. I guess I just thought there was no doubt it would say yes. You know, the whole "there's no way they wouldn't accept me! I'm me!" complex. 

For I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an unexpected end. Jeremiah 29:11

Surprisingly, this wasn't a verse that came to mind immediately for me. It really only came to mind when a close friend in the same situation mentioned seeing this verse on a lot of people's Facebook statuses. People also in the same situation. In another version of the Bible (I use the original 1611 King James translation), the word "thoughts" is replaced with "plans". These terms are semi-interchangeable. I'm not going to get into a whole this version versus that version debate (because I very well could). I think here, the words are meant to be interchangeable (in a way...if I'm making any sense whatsoever). God has thought of a plan for each of us. He has our story written out. We don't know the end, but God does.

God is forever faithful. He is unchanging. He brings peace. He has a wonderful plan for each and every person in the world.

As most of you know already, I did not get accepted to staff for TeenPact. This has been a huge disappointment for me. But I understand that God has a different plan for my life. I was blessed to be able to have the experience of applying and interviewing for a position. I will never forget my interview and how I was blessed by the intern who interviewed me. I was able to open my letter along with two close friends via Skype chat. Even though only of us made it (and a big AWESOME JOB! to him by the way), knowing we were all supporting each other was such a blessing. As I was getting back to schoolwork, I was still lost in thought about my staff letter.

God began revealing all the things I had already planned on that I can excel in because I'm not staffing. Being a teen project leader in 4-H. Launching a card business. Speech with the NCFCA. And then stuff I can do because I'm not staffing. Taking a speech class in Yakima. Attending my state class as an Alumni for the first time (this past season was my first time at TeenPact). Work more hours at the clinic. Some of this stuff is coming to me as I type. God does not shut a door without opening another. I can't wait to see what's behind the door He has opened.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I'm really not sure how to start this post out. There's so much to say. I just don't know where to begin.

The minister's sermon last Sunday really hit me. He preached on forgiveness.

You know how sometimes (okay, a lot of times) you go into church on Sunday, and you're struggling with something, or something affected you that week that you can't get your mind off of? Or maybe you've been harboring something in your heart so deeply, you've stopped thinking about it? And then, the preacher gets up and when he announces the topic of his sermon for that day, your eyes grow wide, or you jump, or if you were looking down, your head shoots up to stare at the preacher. Why? Because the topic of that Sunday's sermon is exactly what you've been struggling with. Exactly what you can't get off of your mind. Exactly what you've been harboring in the depths of your heart.

That's how I felt this last Sunday morning. My family was in Idaho with a few other families, staying in a cabin. Our church has a thing where you can "call in" and listen to the sermon if you can't be in church. So we did just that.

The minister announced the sermon topic: forgiveness. At first I didn't jump. It was more of a "cock my head to the side with curiosity" kind of thing. As I started listening to the sermon, I felt something tell me "you need to hear this. This is for you. Listen closely." As if God had sat down beside me and tapped me on the shoulder. I instantly began taking notes. The minister was going through misconceptions about forgiveness. Then he went to lies that prevent us from forgiving. The next point was what really hit me.

The connection between bitterness and forgiveness.

If you don't forgive, you can...well, you will become bitter. Signs of bitterness are feeling angry when that person is mentioned or you see them; being more likely to say negative things about that person when they are mentioned; and it goes on.

I felt a pressing on my heart. A name. A person that I have not forgiven. Someone whom I had decided was not worthy of my time. Every time this person is mentioned or their name crosses my mind, all I can think of is how sick and tired I am of them. I don't want to talk to them. I don't want to be around them. For a while, I seriously considered deleting them from my Facebook and blocking them so they wouldn't notice. I told my mom that last part once, and she quickly discouraged me from doing so. She told me to just be an example to them, and be someone they can see Jesus in.

But as I listened to this sermon, I realized that there was no way I was being a good example to that person. Sure, they had hurt me. I felt justified in not forgiving them. The whole "well they hurt me, so I'm gonna find some way to hurt them" attitude. But the minister said something that I've heard many times, but as I was listening to this sermon, and allowing thoughts of the unforgiven person run through my head, it finally made sense. He said: "Not forgiving someone is like drinking a deadly poison and waiting for it to kill that person." Obviously, if you drink a deadly poison, it will kill you and only you.

The minster continued with the simplicity of forgiveness. God forgave us. Even though we have done so much to disappoint Him, He has forgiven us. Ephesians 4:31-32 says "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

God has forgiven us. Why can't we forgive each other? There is no valid reason on earth not to forgive each other.

As the sermon closed, I thought back to how my unforgiving spirit had affected others. I had grouched at a good friend who didn't even know the person I had not forgiven. Why had I grouched at them? Merely because that person had been on my mind, my hackles were raised, and the good friend had the misfortune to try and have a conversation with me. (I have since apologized for being such a grouch). But I realize now why I had been grouchy. The person I had not forgiven was on my mind, and I was bitter towards this person.

Forgiveness is a choice; an action word. Much like love.

And that's what I have done: forgiven.

Forgiveness doesn't erase everything that happened. But I'm no longer going to linger on it. God long ago forgave that person. And now, I have forgiven them.

Forgive; so that you will never have any regrets.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Superbly Seventeen

Yesterday I turned seventeen. Crazy. I don't feel all that different. Yet. It's kind of weird being only one year away from being eighteen. The age many people have mistaken me for since I was almost fourteen. I wonder how old people will think I am once I'm actually eighteen. Hmmm.

Being sixteen was definitely the best year of my life. I've grown so much spiritually and I'm closer to God than ever before. Everything that happened this year is leading up to something bigger. I can hear God whispering it to me. At the end of two weeks, I will know what I'm supposed to be doing with the next two years of my life. The knowledge will be contained in a single letter. I wonder if the mailman delivering it to my house will understand exactly what he's placing in my mailbox the day that letter arrives. Probably not.

I've always wondered if mailmen think about the contents of the mail they're delivering. Every day one of these people delivers a life-changing piece of mail.

Hmmmm...wasn't expecting that rabbit trail. But then again, I did walk into an automatic door last Friday. Oh, and I almost got run down by an older man pushing a grocery cart. I'm quite the distractable person.

I spent the day in Seattle yesterday with my family. I was able to use my brand new Canon Rebel XSi. It was amazing. I got some really great photos. I'm really glad I do 4-H photography. And that I have a photography "like" page on FaceBook (click here to see it). I saw a wedding party getting their photos taken while in Seattle yesterday. It would be so much fun to be a wedding photographer. Definitely something I would love to do as a side business.

I'm considering becoming a junior leader in 4-H this year. The project I'm considering doing it in has absolutely no leaders whatsoever. Not in any clubs. So I'd like to be the one teaching it. But, I need to see if I can do it first. So I would like prayer for that. That I can see and understand God's will for this. Thank you. :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Adventures in an Airport

You know, I'm really starting to love flying alone. I mean, I've always really enjoyed flying. And doing it alone, that's been seriously legit. But the last few times I've flown alone, crazy things have happened. Crazy good things. Take the last time I flew. Coming home from TeenPact Congress. I was in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport charging my iPod touch and cellphone when I first heard his voice...

"Free internet? How does that work?" A young man wearing a red, white, and blue bandanna on his head and legit over-the-head headphones around his neck speculated. I turned around, shrugging my shoulders. "I'm really not sure," I replied. "I tried using it, and the computers are bugging out. Besides, it looks like you can only go on those three sites listed on the screen. Seems like they're just trying to get you to buy stuff. I don't know, just my thoughts." He nodded. "Yeah...yeah, I see what ya mean. That's kinda dumb." I laughed and nodded in agreement, packing up my chargers and gadgets. Then, I got up and walked to my gate, which was just across the way from the charging station. Never thinking I'd see him again. Just a random guy in an airport, sharing my woes about no free internet. But he followed me. Okay, this is weird. I thought. I instructed myself to calm down. This was probably his gate too.

Sure enough, it was. He sat down a seat away from me and struck up a conversation. You know, the usual "I'm in an airport and I'm so bored so I'll just ask you the age-old airport question".

"Where're you headed?"

I hid a grin at his heavy Texas drawl. "Home," I responded. "My plane flies into SeaTac, but I'm actually from Ellensburg. What about you?" 

"I'm stationed in [insert port I can't remember the name of here]. I was back home just for a little while, but now I'm going back."

"Oh," I cocked my head, curious and a bit surprised he wasn't in uniform. "What brought you back here?"

"Death in the family," he replied, simply.

"Oh..." This stopped my perky curiosity short. "I-I'm sorry."

He shrugged. "It's alright. I wasn't really that close to 'im." He seemed to want a change in subject. "What were you doing in Texas?" he asked me. 

"I actually wasn't in Texas," I told him. "This is just my lay-over. I'm coming home from a week in Virginia. I'm apart of this organization called TeenPact, and I was just at their alumni event, Congress." I talked a little about the week, and what we did.

He seemed really interested. "Cool, that sounds like a lot of fun."

"It was," I smiled. "God did some amazing things this week."

"What religion are you?" He asked me suddenly. This surprised me. I'm not sure why. Maybe because that's not your typical "conversation with a random stranger in an airport" question. Earlier in the week, when we had spent a day in DC, Ruth was telling us how we needed to be always ready to talk to someone about God. To show a good example. You know, the whole "make people wonder why all these teenagers are in suits and actually behaving themselves" thing. That's when I started asking God. Asking what His purpose was in bringing this young man to me. Was it to witness to him? Okay, God, I thought. I'm ready.

Of course, this thought process took about a millionth of a second, so there was no awkward pause between his question and my answer.

"I don't usually think of myself as religious. I'm in a relationship with Jesus Christ," I answered. "But if you were to put me in a category, I lean towards Baptist. What about you?" 

"I'm Pentecostal," he responded. 

Okay, I thought. So maybe he doesn't need someone to witness to him. What's my purpose in this conversation, God? I thought. What do you want me to do here?

So, we kept chatting. At first, kind of just about random things. He asked me how old I was, I found out he would be 27 a week after I turned 17. I told him more about TeenPact, and how I had applied to staff. At some point, the conversation turned to home. And why he had been home.

At that point, we were back at the charging station, as his laptop was in need of charging. He started talking about the deaths in his family.

"My brother got brain dead in a motorcycle accident. They were gonna have the funeral next week, but the people at the funeral home told us his body was rottin' and that we should have it as soon as possible. My father passed away eleven days prior to my brother, so that was hard. Not so much with my father, though. I know where he's at. But my brother..." He trailed off for a moment. 

"You don't know?" I offered. He seemed at a loss for words. 

"Ya." He said. "I mean, there was that time between the accident, and when he got brain dead where he coulda repented. It's possible. But I don't know." The realization of this made us both quiet for a moment. 

"You'll find out when you get to Heaven. I really hope he did." I said softly. "There's a lot we're not going to understand until we get to Heaven. Sometimes I wish God would make everything obvious from the start, but that's not how life works."

Our conversation continued. We talked about God, Heaven, people's random predictions of when the world would end, stuff like that. 

All too soon, our gate was boarding and my group number was called. As I waved a quick good-bye and was starting to get in line, he called me back.

"Hey, if don't acknowledge ya or say good-bye or anything when we're picking up our bags, don't get offended or anything." He said apologetically. I must have looked confused, because he continued. "You see, my girlfriend's picking me up, and she doesn't like the idea of me talking to any other girl. Even if I have no interest in her. She gets jealous. She'd be all over me, asking me what my intentions were, ya know. She wouldn't understand that I just needed someone to talk to. Someone to get my mind off of what's been going on, you know, my dad and brother's passin' and all. Thanks for talking to me. I really enjoyed it."

I smiled and nodded. "I completely understand. It was great talking with you." And I walked away to board the plane. 

I saw him at the baggage claim, later. Caught a quick glimpse of his girlfriend. She was standing quite close to him. As if he'd run away if she turned her back. I looked away quickly, so as not to draw attention to myself. God brought my bag down the claim quickly, and I grabbed it and walked away. 

And now... I'll never see him again. It's weird to think about that. But that's how it is with people you meet on flights or during layovers. You chat for a couple hours, then you go your separate ways.

But as I was relating the experience to my mom as we drove home that night, I realized what God's purpose for allowing this young man to walk into my life. If only for a couple hours. To bless him. To encourage him in his time of mourning.

I'm still kind of overwhelmed from the idea that God used me to bless someone. Me? Really, God? You want to use me? It's crazy that He would even consider using me for His purpose. But He did.


Never miss an opportunity for God to use you.