Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rest for the Weary

I’m all used up, I admit it. I have nothing left.

Apparently, this emptiness is called burnout.

One of the symptoms of burnout is a feeling of running on fumes. Responsibilities take me longer to accomplish, and the smallest mishap can make me feel like I’m going over the edge. I’m snippier when I talk to my family, and I’m out of energy by lunchtime every day. I feel incapacitated, unable to do even the littlest chore, even making my bed. I’ve been wandering around for the past few weeks, feeling incapable, inadequate, unproductive. 

The problem I’ve been facing the past few weeks is that life keeps moving, and I can’t move along with it.  That feeling registers as failure, and my first response to the feeling of failure is to just push myself harder.  After that doesn’t work, I move on to the next response, which is shutting down completely.

Interestingly, that second response isn’t as bad as I thought it was.  Shutting down completely has its benefits.  It forces me to rest.  It clears my mind from my troubles.  Most importantly it makes me rely on the One who says He will restore my soul.  That IS who He says He is:

Psalm 23: 1-3
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

So if I take these words literally, I understand that He makes me lie down. He makes me take a break even if I don’t think I need one. It isn’t God who demands me to work until I drop. Those are my own demands, and are actually completely contrary to the way He created me. He created the Sabbath, and when I reject that rest period, I pay for it.  

My weeks of wandering are over. I choose to rest in Him.

 “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Closed Doors

Sometimes I forget that God has a plan for me. And that what I want isn’t necessarily part of that special plan.

This happens a lot. And half of the time, I find myself pursuing what I want, instead of waiting on God.

Last week, I was out job hunting with my mom. I was looking for a part-time job close by, a 10-minute or less drive from my house. I knew exactly where I wanted to work, which was a movie theater close to my house. For the past four months I’d go and see a movie, and I would try to picture myself working there.

Wednesday, on the way to the theater to go apply, my mom told me this: “Remember, if this job doesn’t work out, there is a reason. This might not be the job God has planned for you right now.”

Of course, I thought it was the job I was supposed to have. I had my resume perfected, including a letter of recommendation and a cover letter.

I went in, nervous because it was my first time applying for a job, and walked up to the front desk. I asked to see the manager, and was immediately told they weren’t hiring. They weren’t even accepting applications until late June, and by the time they hired anyone, it would be August. The chances of me getting hired were 100 to 1.

I walked back to the car where my mom was waiting, and I shook my head. The ride home was quiet. We pulled into the driveway to our house, and sat there for a minute. My mom reminded me that there was a reason I didn’t get that job, and that there was something better out there for me.

Still, I was extremely disappointed. We went inside, I went to my room to start some homework, and then my mom called me into the living room. She was sitting on the couch with a laptop, and she turned the computer towards me. On the screen was a site for a newly opened restaurant in my area. Scrolling down the page, I happened to come across their Mission Statement:

“Our vision is to glorify God by positively impacting the world we live in.”

You could say a light bulb flashed in my head. That’s my life mission statement!

I called the restaurant and found out they were still hiring. I quickly rewrote my cover letter, and 15 minutes later, my mom, my sister and I were on our way there.

When we got there, I walked into the restaurant, up to the front register, and asked to see a manager. The manager came and introduced himself, and I told him that I heard they were hiring and I was wondering if I could fill out a job application. He gave me an application, and I sat down in a booth and filled it out. After I turned in my application and resume, my mom and my sister came in, and we all ate dinner together.

Ten minutes later, the manager told me that he had looked over my application and resume, and they would really like it if I became part of the team. I thanked him, shook his hand, and half-walked, half-skipped back to our table.

While my mom was proud of me, she also reminded me of this: Just an hour before, I was upset, thinking that there was no way for me to get a job.

Life lesson learned. By trusting that God had a better plan, I ended up getting a job at a restaurant that has the same mission in life that I do.

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Friday, April 6, 2012

How Then Shall I Live

Today is Good Friday.

In my church where I grew up, on Good Friday there is an evening service. It was a somber, dark service. After it was through, everyone would leave the darkened sanctuary and exit silently.

Three days later, on Sunday, we’d all return in our bright dresses and Easter hats, with trumpets playing and the Easter garden full of lilies in the front of the sanctuary.

Now, as a young adult, I woke up today, contemplating Good Friday and what it means. It’s the day that Jesus was betrayed, beaten, humiliated, and crucified.

Those of us who know the story know that this was not how it ended. But as a child, the focus was so much on the victory that came with His resurrection, that His death and the despair of Good Friday often got lost in the midst of preparing for the celebration of things.

Knowing that He suffered and died, so that I wouldn’t have to die for my sin, really contemplating what He did for me, I find myself asking one question:

How then shall I live?

If I were to focus daily on his sacrifice, the outcome would look like:

• Daily joy rather than regret, knowing that I have been fully forgiven. This means instead of living in the past and feeling shame for what I’ve done wrong, I live free and joyfully in the present.

Forgiving people who have hurt me, knowing that my perfect Savior forgives me for all my ugly. This means never bringing up another person’s past offenses against me and wiping their slates clean like Jesus did for me.

• Practicing compassion, by regularly putting myself in the other person’s shoes. This means taking the time to figure out their point of view and not making judgments about other people.

Commitment in my relationships, walking with my friends through their good times and their ugly times. This means realizing that not all my friendships are for my benefit all the time, but that sometimes my sole purpose in the friendship is to be there for them.

• Remembering that it is an honor to bear His name and walk everyday with the purpose of bringing glory to Him. The realization that I carry his name and that my actions can lead people to Him or away from Him, should be reflected in how I live.

My debts are paid because of this day. Today I will walk somberly in that knowledge, and like every Easter Sunday before this one, I will join in the celebration of His victory over death.

First Peter 3:18
"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Calendar Tetris

You know the game. You try to fit each piece in place perfectly to earn as many points as possible before the page fills up and it all shatters apart.

This is my life in high school.

This past month has been exciting, stressful, exhilarating, overwhelming, fun, and emotional. Twenty-one days into March and I’ve already run through most of the available emotions.

We hadn’t realized it, but we’ve been steadily adding activities to our schedule since January. More youth group events, Bible studies, sports, hanging out with friends, and the usual timewasters like Facebook and Fruit Ninja on the Ipod (My high score is in the six digits. Yes, I’m that good…at wasting time.)

All the activities, except maybe the screen time, are good activities. But let’s face it, sometimes too much of a good thing can be a bad thing for family life.

Calendar Tetris. This is what my dad calls it when we’re so busy and that we have no time to relax and spend time as a family. When we’re hopping from one activity to the next, going from schoolwork to sports to church then to bed. We do it because we don’t want to miss out on anything, but there is little peace and no relaxation when we get caught in this cycle.

On Sunday afternoon my dad called a family meeting. He brought up the point that we (especially my brother and I) have been over-committing ourselves to a lot of different events. My dad said that although all the activities and groups we have been a part of are good, we’ve bitten off more than we can chew. We’ve given so much of our time that there is very little time left for family.

At the family meeting we each listed the 5 things most important to us. Oddly enough, most of us came up with the same priorities.

1. Our faith, specifically time spent in God’s Word together in our home, but including a feeling of commitment to the community church we are a part of.
2. Family Fun, including bonfires, biking, walking to Kaleidascoops to get an icecream; simple things that don’t take a lot of time, but make a good memory and draw us close.
3. Education. A no-brainer. As a home school family, this is always a top priority.
4. Sports, particularly our Osseo team sports throughout the year. Added to this is a desire for our whole family to be physically fit.
5. Our extended family and friends.

When things start to get really busy, it helps to have a meeting like this to get us all on one page so that we can make decisions about what gets added to our calendar. We take each activity and measure it against our list of priorities and all of a sudden making decisions on what goes and what stays isn’t nearly as confusing. Our resources of time and money only get put toward the priority areas.

So if you are as busy as we’ve been over the past few weeks, call a family meeting. You may be surprised by how similar you and your family members are in your priorities once you’re all on one page.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just Let It Go

I have the problem of holding onto my anger. Sometimes it’s just because I feel I have a right to be angry at someone. They hurt me, were unfair to me and I’m entitled to my anger, right?

What I’ve realized is that the only thing that my anger accomplishes is draining all my energy out of me, making it harder to reach my own goals and take care of my responsibilities. It holds me back from accomplishing the things important to me, like my school work, maintaining my friendships, sports, my faith, and my blog.

I’ve learned to think of it this way: I need to forgive others, just like I want them to forgive me. I have no right to be unforgiving of other people’s shortcomings because I don’t like the feeling when others hold my shortcomings against me.

I have a trick that helps me forgive my friends or my family when I’m upset. It’s hard, and I grit my teeth while I do it, but I do it anyway. Every time I think of that particular person, I close my eyes, and pray for God to BLESS THEM. And I mean seriously bless them. I pray for God to bless them in their academics, to bless them financially and to bless them in their friendships. I pray for them to be loved and accepted by the people in their lives.

It’s HARD.

If I’m honest about it, I have to admit that I don’t mean it at first. I have to pray for God to help me mean it. But after a couple days of doing this, it gets easier, until all my anger has gone away and I only feel kindness towards that person.

The result of forgiveness is a huge weight being lifted off my chest. All the time I spent thinking about how I was wronged can be used spending time with my family, getting my schoolwork done and enjoying all the blessings God has given ME.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Life is a Minefield

I have decisions to make and I don’t know right from wrong. No matter what I do, someone could end up hurt. What am I supposed to do when there is no black or white, only gray?

It has been a week like that. A week where I don’t have clear direction. The decisions I’ve made today might be the wrong ones, but I really have no idea.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

Yet I didn’t know which path to take today.

Things are just not always in my control. When circumstances come up without a clear right or wrong direction, I can only guess what my next move should be. Maybe it is because I am young, but sometimes it feels like one step in the wrong direction can cause my whole life to blow up in my face. This causes me to desperately look for solutions, believing that any action is better than no action at all.

Today I prayed, I sought the advice of people wiser than I am and I cried until my family begged me to stop. After a long, emotional day, I remembered that I do know a few things for sure. I know I love my family. I know I love the friends I have been blessed with and I feel loved in return. I know that my God is in control and my world really isn’t coming down in my own little apocalypse.

My life is a minefield, but my life is still good.

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Do you ever wish God would send you a note so you would know what to do in a given situation?  Well, He seems to have sent me one today.

My planner had the following quote today:  “ If someone talked to you the way that you talk to yourself, you would have kicked them out of your life a long time ago. “

I’ve been  having a lot of those conversations with myself lately. Conversations where all I can think about is what I did wrong, what I said to people, what people have said to me, and I beat myself up over and over about it. Tapes play in my head repeating every stupid thing I’ve ever said or done.  Every embarrassing moment . Every careless thing I’ve said that I wish I could take back.  Replaying moments that I’ve hurt people.  Replaying moments where they’ve hurt me and all I could do is try not to cry. 

This week it has been hard being a fifteen-year-old girl. Every problem I face, every moment that doesn’t go the way I wanted it to, seems like the biggest problem in the world with eternal consequences. These problems aren’t life threatening problems, not problems that will mess up my future, so why are they ruling me?

I have absolutely no idea.

I keep asking people older and wiser than I am, “Did I handle that situation right?” panicked that I messed up, ruined a friendship, or missed an opportunity. 

Their reply?   “You are fifteen.  There is no way to handle every situation perfectly.  This is your time to mess up, make a fool of yourself and learn from your mistakes. Learn young while the consequences aren’t so great.”
So maybe this  feeling that I can’t get things quite right is just part of being fifteen.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I don’t want to be a hypocrite

Remember the post from a couple of days ago when I lost my phone? Well, it happened again. I got my phone back Tuesday, and just had it taken away on Thursday morning. You’re wondering what I did to deserve this, aren’t you? I did the exact same thing as I did on Monday; I texted during school hours. I was making plans to go see a movie that night with a friend, when I was supposed to be focusing on my school work.

Here’s the part where I would like to say that I received correction from my mother with a godly attitude.

Nope. Both of our ugly sides came out. My mom yelled in frustration. I faced her with an expression on my face that said “Bring it on.” My rebellion didn’t last long. I quickly turned from thinking “this is totally unfair” to thinking “ah… I get it now.” My mom punished me, apologized for losing her temper and then praised me for my quick attitude change.

If I’m honest, sharing this with all of my friends is humiliating. It’s so much easier to write about my victories than it is about failure. It’s especially humiliating when my victory post was only 2 days prior to a repeat of the same sin.

But when it all comes down to it, I consider my failure a gift—especially when it’s a repeated failure. Gods Grace is very real to me. I know people who beat themselves up because they keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again and don’t believe they can be forgiven. But my repeated failures remind me of my need for my Savior.

Before I decided to write this post, an old Sunday school song was going through my head. It’s called “ I just wanna be a sheep” And the line was “I don’t want to be a hypocrite, cause they’re not hip with it” ( Anybody else remember that song?) 

I’m sharing this with you because now the song going through my head is “Grace Greater than all my sin.”

            “Grace , Grace, God’s grace
            Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.
            Grace, Grace, God’s grace,
            Grace that is greater than all my sin.

…. ALL my sin.  Even the repeats.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Have an Enemy

I have an enemy. It’s name is Distraction.

This year I have many goals for myself. My biggest goal is having three years of college done by the time I would graduate highschool, which would require passing the accuplacer test with high enough marks to place into pre-Calc at Anoka Ramsey Community College as well as taking more CLEP tests for credit this year. I’d also like to be more scheduled in my blogging, make Varsity next year in at least one of my three sports, and get my drivers license.

This morning, I woke up with a plan for my day. I was going to get up, start my schoolwork and finish it in time for my Ski Meet. I watched my math lesson, sat down on my bed, opened my math book… and promptly grabbed my phone to read my text messages. I knew this wasn’t a good idea. It’s wrong, and it’s against my mother’s rules, and it’s a roadblock to accomplishing what I set out to accomplish. And yet this is a mistake I tend to make over and over again.

I asked a friend who is older and wiser than I am about how he manages to reach his goals without giving in to distraction and he gave me the following advice: Forget about boys, make growing in your relationship with God your first priority and submit to your parents authority because there is a reason God put them in authority over you—you’re not grown yet and you’re bound to screw up.

After that reassuring note, I decided to use his advice to analyze my choices today (right after my mom caught me texting and took my phone away for the day), and came up with a few interesting notes.

·         My major problem is starting any work that requires sustained focus. I will go as far as doing the dishes and cleaning the bathroom to avoid my one hour of math homework. This is a constant struggle for me because I have not put the effort into training myself to focus for an extended period of time. I’ve ignored my parents advice to write in my planner, and bring my school out to our living area instead of my bedroom, where I tend to be more distracted.

·         I am a follower, not a leader. My parents always said since I was a little girl, I’d jump off a bridge if my friends told me to. Since I know this about me, I should be surrounding myself with friends who have common goals in order to keep me on track. That doesn’t mean I can’t have fun, but there is a time and a place to goof off, and it isn’t right now.

·         Boys aren’t a problem, because I have made a commitment to myself and to my parents that I will not date until I’m 18.

·         I always feel like I could be stronger in my faith. I know right now I’m really lucky because I have parents who can lead me in that area of my life, and friends who are seeking Him too.

Seeing as though the one area that is not a problem is the boy dealio, and that submitting to my parents authority on the issue of dating is more than likely the reason for this, I can only come to one conclusion:

I need to submit to my parents authority in other areas of my life. Yes, my parent’s have high expectations of me, but they aren’t unrealistic. And I like that they believe in me. I like that they require me to be the best version of myself. I believe them when they say that I will look back on my teen years and be grateful that I pushed myself to succeed.

I plan on beating my enemy with my most powerful weapon available to me: Loving parents with high expectations, and faith that God put me in their care for my own good.

Ephesians 6:1-3    Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right, “Honor your father and mother.”- which is the first commandment with a promise-“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Set an Example

I have a close friend who I’ve known all of my life. As I’ve been focused on the idea of kindness and servant-hood, her demeanor and behavior has caught my attention.

My friend has a very strong work ethic. One of her greatest strengths is working towards a goal and maintaining her own plans for her life. Her goal is to get through four years of college debt free. To do this, she oftentimes says no to fun things in the moment so she can get her homework and extra curricular events done. She joins every single academic club available, because she knows that she’ll have a better chance at getting scholarships. When I see her at church, after she has an extremely overwhelming week, I have never heard her complain about her life. She has a goal and is content to live out the steps to reach it.

My friend is very welcoming, at home and away. When she sees me or other friends her face brightens and we know she is genuinely happy to see us. She has a quirky sense of humor, and within a minute she has me laughing. When we’re at church, she makes everyone feel loved and included by talking to each person and showing individual interest in them.
I can see her faith show through her actions towards others. She radiates love, joy, faithfulness, self-control and discipline.

Is she a world changer?
That is a good question.

Whenever I’m around this girl, I feel loved and accepted. More importantly, she has become a role model for me. Her example has helped me set the bar high for myself, not only by being kinder to my family and more engaged with my community, but also more disciplined with my schoolwork and responsibilities.

I’ve never realized how big of an impact another person’s behavior towards me can make. It made me realize how important it is to make a positive impact on others.

So yes, she’s a world changer, because she’s changed mine.  

1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers, in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cookie-Cutter Kindness

It’s hard being kind.

One of the things that can be hard about being homeschooled is being stuck in a house with the same people every day.  Patience sometimes wears thin and we end up snapping at each other.  Although everyone in my family has good relationships with the others, we go through patches where we only notice the things that annoy us and become more frustrated with one another. 

Here’s my dilemma.

I worked really hard at being kind this week. 

While talking to my family, I made my voice soft (in my head I sometimes rolled my eyes), I didn’t talk back when I was frustrated with my mom and dad (all the while holding on to my anger), and I went through the motions of doing the right things.

In the end it all led to more anger toward my family members.

What was missing?

Galations 5:22 reads:
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

On the outside I was showing cookie-cutter kindness, but inside I lacked all the fruits of the spirit.

Here’s the great thing about my family:  I get to talk things out.  We have scheduled meetings throughout our week to talk about what is going right and what is going wrong.  This week, in response to my frustration with how my plan was going, my dad pointed out that our family has been watching too much television and that our choices in programs were not ones that would draw out the fruits of the spirit.  He made a decision that the shows we watched would be planned events that we watched together and not a way to escape from each other and from responsibility. 

My dad was right. After two days of no television, there has been a significant change in my feelings toward other people. I’ve taken another step into my plan. Instead of being kind on the outside, I actually feel real kindness towards my family.

My conclusion?  I believe kindness can’t be an act.  It has to be real.  In order for it to be real, it needs to be the result of a heart that is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control -Impossible if I’m distracted by selfishness and irrelevant things. 
So, I am hopeful that God will show little by little the changes I need to make in order to be the kind of person He wants me to be.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Let the New Year Begin

My Vocation is Love. –Mother Teresa

Happy 2012!!

It’s a fresh start to a new year and resolutions have been made. I heard that 78% of people at the end of the year have failed to complete their resolutions they made at the beginning. Part of the reason we fail is because we think we’re going to complete our goal all at once. For most of us, that would involve a complete 180-degree turn towards the other direction, with no room for error.  Oftentimes we quit when we don’t achieve instant success.  This doesn’t mean our goals are too big, it just means we need to take smaller steps to reach them.

My resolution this year is to change the world. I don’t plan on solving world hunger or bringing about world peace, but I firmly believe I can change my little corner of the world by being a kinder, gentler version of myself beginning right here in my home. Let’s face it, sometimes the hardest people to love are the ones we live with! Making an effort to love them the way Jesus taught us to love is the perfect training ground for loving and serving my neighborhood and community. 

In a church service I was in this morning, our Pastor was talking about different people who have made a big change in this world. People like Mother Theresa, The Wright brothers, Sir Isaac Newton, and Martin Luther King Jr. When you look at what these people accomplished, you see that their success was not instantaneous and it was not without effort. They took small steps to reach their goals, but they were always moving in the direction of those goals.

Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire. –Reggie Leach

Over the past couple of years I’ve prayed for God to change me. It finally dawned on me that God wasn’t instantly going to change me into the perfect version of myself, but instead if I am focused on delighting in His will and walking in His ways He will give me the opportunity to change. As Pastor Levi said today in his sermon “Change doesn’t happen instantaneously, but rather happens one stride at a time.” So 2012 is the year I take one stride at a time to become the kind and loving adult I want to be.

Luke 10:27    “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.”