Monday, December 24, 2012

He makes me...


There's something really special about my car rides. The short ones usually just consist of major jam time (usually including rolled-down windows and the music turned up LOUDLY) and/or a car worship session (worshiping Jesus, not the car... just to clarify). The long ones, like my trips to and from home, are about half-jam/worship, half praying and listening to my Jesus. Sometimes with a little audiobook mixed in.
Well this most recent long car trip I took was my drive back home from school, for Christmas break. and it was going all fantastic and I was semi-avoiding the praying & listening to Jesus bit, because I was being all selfish and enjoying the sunny day and the freedom that my heart was experiencing with every mile closer to home I inched.
And... Do you ever have those moments where God is speaking so loudly into your heart, you just KNOW the next step would be for Him to audibly speak, and that scares you, so you just listen to Him and obey? I feel like that happens to me a lot. A lot of times, I obey Him because I'm scared of what He could do if I didn't pick up on his whispers the first time (awful, but true). But that is not my point.
The point is, I had that moment. So I turned off the music and turned off my whirling thoughts and just waited. Then He told me to pour out my heart, and I did. I ranted about boys and school and friends and work and family and worries and hopes and everything else that was reigning in my thought life lately.
Then, I just shut up.
And He said:

"The Lord is my shepherd.

I shall not be in want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul."

Of course, at this point, I had already cried a good bit, and then I just started crying even more because... okay, is it just me, or does it really throw you for a loop when you're being all bratty/selfish/vain/stupid and complaining to God and he just heaps love on you anyway? His grace absolutely destroys me sometimes.
Here I am, pouring my heart out, yes, but most of it was very whiney and complain-ey, when He just says... Hey. I am your shepherd.
I am good at that and I am good to you.
Stop worrying about where you're going and when you're going and how you're getting there.
I'm guiding you.
You don't need to want for anything you don't have because if it's something you need, I'll give it to you when you need it. And if it's something you don't need at all, I'm protecting you from it for good reason. And, sometimes, if it's something you want but don't necessarily need, but it's just frivolous... I give it to you anyway, just to show my love to you in a more tangible way.
Beyond that, Sometimes you just gotta lay down in a meadow.
 Just lay down with me and be beside me.
It's time for you to let me make you do things because I know they're best for you. This is best for you. Lay down beside me and breathe. Look at the sky, listen to the wind, feel the cool ground on your back. Eat and drink My eternal sustenance. Appreciate being with me.
Then, let's walk together by the quiet waters. I want the peacefulness of this place (be it physical or spiritual) to allow you, too, to be still and quiet and just know that I'm God. I'm good. I'm FOR YOU. I WANT TO RESTORE YOU.  And, sadly, I just can't do that when you spend every day holding on to your hurt, pain, regret, and sin. In order to be restored, you must first surrender.
You must first let me be your shepherd, so I can provide for you and lead you to rest, peace, and plenty. 


And it all just blew me away.
How have I never gotten all of that out of Psalm 23 before?
All the "make me"s, reminded me of one of my favorite songs, by Commonground Band, called Make Me. The chorus says, "Make me to know I love You, make me to know I need You, make me to dream of only You, only You, only YOU."
And as much as I try to take control of my life and avoid God's conviction and whatnot... when it comes down to it, that's a lot of what I want in life. Mainly, I want to live my life as an offering to God that glorifies Him alone... Secondly, I just want to learn how to love Him. I know for a FACT that I stink at unconditional love, which is the only love God knows I do believe... So me loving Him in even a SEMI-EQUAL way to how He loves me is clearly impossible. However, I want to try. I want to learn and just attempt to know for a fact that I LOVE him wholeheartedly, that I NEED him unashamedly, and that I dream of Him only.
So much to attempt (the beautiful thing is, I really don't have to 'attempt' anything except the self-sacrifice. everything else comes from Him and straight back to Him.) but He makes it well worth it.
HE MAKES ME WELL WORTH IT.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

patience and opened eyes

I consider myself a patient person. Oddly enough, I'm pretty good at waiting contentedly on others and giving them time to do what needs to be done. Especially when it comes to kids... By God's grace, I am able to maintain a very even temperament and patient approach when teaching, so that comes in very handy, and often reassures me that I am, in fact, meant to be a teacher.
However.
When it comes to waiting on God, I'm one of the least patient people I know. Granted, I'm not physically hopping schools or dropping out and flying to London or sleeping around trying to find love, or even dating around... but emotionally, I kind of am all of that. In my heart, I'm always longing for London. Not necessarily a 'bad' thing to be longing for, but not the BEST thing to be longing for... which makes it a waste of time and energy. Same thing with looking for love, my future, etc. If in my heart I'm constantly turning away the consistency, patience, and goodness of Christ, and seeking satisfaction from other things, I'm letting them become idols and strongholds in my life. It's really much more serious than just wishing for something, in my perspective.
But I'm gonna be honest:
I want a boyfriend. I want to fall in love and get married and have adventures together.
I want to leave America. My first choice is London, but really anywhere except here is okay with me, as long as I'm GOING and DOING.
I want to be a mom. Whether it's having a biological child or adopting or being a maternal figure to orphans I hang out with or just being a loving teacher... I want it.
I'M READY FOR IT, GOD.

at least that's what I keep telling him.
but again with the honesty, y'all: He obviously knows what is best for me and what will lead to his ultimate glorification and the completion of His will. and since at this time I don't have a boyfriend, live in London, or work with orphans on a regular basis, it's obviously His will that I am exactly where I am at this time.
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven... He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." {Eccl. 3}

He is not currently rushing to make my life beautiful at this time.
He is not off working on someone else's life with my stale-ly 'beautiful' one sitting idlely by.
He is not attempting to find a way to tie all the knots together in the end and make this a beautiful work at some point.
HE HAS ALREADY MADE EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL.
The work is done.
I don't have to do anything. No adding or subtracting of the beautiful or ugly is necessary. I don't have to try to do everything myself and 'fix' the 'wrong' things that have happened in my life.
I just repent from the wrong. Turn to the right. and open my eyes.

I just have to let myself see it.

Be patient, redeemed daughter. Calm down enough to take in your surroundings and see the beauty God has made, that has already been planned and is slowly blossoming around you. Trust the timing of the omnipotent and omniscient One.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

LOVER of my SOUL

I had this brilliant idea today to pull out my old journal from 2008-2010 and read through it. It was cool to reminisce and whatnot, but it was probably more detrimental to my emotional status than beneficial.
Why? Because 1) I realized how little I've actually changed since then, in some ways. 2) My love life was much more exciting back then, which is definitely a depressing thought. 
As far as changing, I know that in many ways- such as goals, convictions, basic interests, and worldview- I am very much the same. However, the one area that I would hope to be most different is the one that I realized was most lacking in maturity: my everyday walk with Christ. Sure, my faith is more solid now and my convictions more sturdy and my experiences more widespread. But when it comes down to it, I'm the same 15-year-old girl who's scared to trust God and super self-focused. 

Grow me, God. 
A certain sign of grace is this: that from broken earth, flowers come up, pushing through the dirt.

SECONDLY. Let's get one thing straight: God is a GREAT romancer. If you read my blog semi-regularly you probably kind of remember my Valentine's Day post from a London Starbucks this year about being in love with God for the first time. Well I'm not really sure when it happened, but sometime between then and about a month ago, I'd kind of let that side of mine & God's relationship die. I mean, I'll do all the 'Christian' things to do, but when it comes down to letting my heart be wooed by this Being who created everything and still had my life planned before time began... that kinda weirds me out and I just let it go. 
And at some point, he got sick of not having it apparently, because all the sudden my heart was being pursued again. Not that he ever stopped, but I'd built such a wall of unbelief up that He couldn't really get through it, I guess. Well, being in the Word a lot and being vulnerable to his life-changing tends to alter that kind of thing pretty quickly. 
So a couple days ago, as I was having my nightly date with Him, I remembered a song we once sang in youth choir, the lyrics of which absolutely wrote out my heart's words. 
"And in the night I will sing Your praise, my Love. And in the morning, I'll seek Your face, my Love. And like a child I will dance in Your presence, Oh let the joy of Heaven pour down on me. I still remember the first day I met You and I don't ever want to lose that fire, my First Love!"
Though my life is far from perfect, and I am far from perfect... at the end of the day, I am His. I am loved by Him and NOTHING can stop that or separate me from that permanently. I love Him, in a way I can't thoroughly explain. If I could, I would just hang out with him one-on-one all the time and just sing and dance and write to Him. I don't want to lose that joy He's poured out on me- I really do remember the first day I met Him and gave into His pursuit... I DON'T WANT TO LOSE THAT.
So I'm just sitting here pondering how He could love me so greatly, and I remembered an old hymn that I really like: Jesus, Lover of my Soul. and it just hit me... HE IS THE LOVER OF MY SOUL. He is the ONLY Lover of my soul. He is the ONLY ONE who has ever loved my soul, and the only One who will ever love me/my soul to this great of a depth.
JUST WHOA.
I think the thing that most gets me about this is: I am kind of a boring person. I don't like any extremely out of the ordinary things. I don't do outrageous things. I like school and my family and I have a plain old  "got-saved-when-I-was-nine" testimony. My whole life, I've beens striving to find the one thing that will set me apart and make me more lovable/likeable/intruiging/inspiring/accepted/attractive/fillinyourownwordhere. I feel plain and boring and don't have anything necessarily special about me except for my fingerprints.
The fact that God knows that, and He made me this way, and He is THE SOLE LOVER OF MY SOUL- the only One who knows the most... yet still loves the most- absolutely KILLS me. HE IS SO GOOD! I'm really grateful that He not only created my vanilla-ness, but He celebrates it, and rejoices over it, and delights in it, and just LOVES it. Doesn't that prove all over again his awesomeness.

I wanna sit at Your feet, drink from the cup in Your hand, lay back against You and breathe, feel Your heartbeat. This love is so deep, it's more than I can stand. I melt in Your peace; it overwhelms me. 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

face, meet ground. self, meet cross.

God is a funny man. er, spirit? Whatever He is, He's a funny one.
See what had happened was... Becca, for the longest time, has seen herself as "that awkward homeschool girl" or "the one that never quite fit in" or "little scaredy cat Becca"... and some more, much more negative things that I'm not quite ready to post on my blog. Honestly, it's such a normal thing for me to think these things about myself, I don't even realize, when I tell myself this, exactly what I'm saying.
Well, God decided somewhere lately that He was going to bring this back to my attention and laugh at how much I forget how in control and awesome He is... and how having Him in me makes me beautiful and worthy of love.
It's hit me several times lately just how fantastic my friends are, and how blessed I am to have the family and background I have. Honestly, it makes me feel a little guilty, because so few people have the pleasure of experiencing such an easy life. I've never experienced drastically life-changing things, except for the usual death of grandparents or moving away from a best friend or my cat dying. I was raised in a Christian home, by Christian parents, who've been married over 30 years. I'm not saying my life has been perfect, by any means. My older brother was a rebel who did some pretty awful stuff to myself and my family back in the day- but God is so much a God of forgiveness and redemption that even that story is changing rapidly. Basically, I'm just trying to get the point across that I'm INCREDIBLY blessed.
And then last night, through a roundabout chain of events that will be discussed in a later blog, I ended up just being really overcome with emotions and doubts and unsure of what I was doing and where I stood with Him. So like any normal, emotional wreck would do, I propelled myself to my room where I literally laid facedown on the ground and cried out to my God (including crying, whispering, whisper-screaming, etc.) on the hairy rug in my dorm room.
It was an oddly beautiful moment. I'm sure if I'd taped it, it would be on the AFV level of hilarity, because I looked like a ragged, tear-drenched nutcase, stretched out on the dirty floor appearing to talk to myself.
But that's a really cool thing about God is that no matter how silly you look, He doesn't really care. He just keeps pushing you to seek Him and wooing you into His embrace. (Heck, Ezekiel PREACHED TO A VALLEY FULL OF BONES and God used that!)
So there I am, completely overwhelmed and telling myself how I can't do this and why would I and giving myself reasons not to let all this new exciting stuff happen to me.
And the whisper came.
"You are more."
'You are more than the choices that you've made. You are more than the problems you create. You are more than the sum of your past mistakes. You've been remade.'
aaaaaaaaggggggghhhhhhhh.
I mean, how do you respond to it when THE God, the Everlasting One who literally holds the world in His hand and breathed you into existence, stops your pity party and says, "HEY. YOU'RE MINE. THAT'S WHY."
Cue world spinning in slow-mo and jamming to a halt.
It's heart-melting and earth-shattering and completely self-wrecking.
What do you say to that?
"Yeah, um, I try to love you too, God, but I'm human so I stink at love unless it's love of self and sin, so um yeah...Cool thanks."
Cause as much as I want to be able to say I truly LOVE God with every fiber of my being, it isn't true. If I remember, I kill my self every morning and let Him reign in me, and then I actually LOVE... but sometimes I forget, and sometimes I pretend to forget. Let's be honest here, truly loving is hard. It hurts and it's sometimes awkward and it's uncomfortable. And I'm still in the process of learning to/being used to LOVING everyone all the time.

I apologize for the choppy/disconnected/nonsensical/overdramatic aspect of this post. Another thing God is teaching me is how to ponder and meditate on what He's telling me, to the point that I can articulate that clearly to others, so thanks for being my guinea pigs.
Basically, He is awesome and I am His and I am undone.
auf wiedersehn!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

wrecked!

God has started this thing where he completely wrecks me whenever I let Him. Which is really great, because I need to be wrecked. However, the sad thing is, I don't let it happen as often as it needs to happen. I blame it on busyness and tiredness and who knows whatever else when I get up in the morning and say, "Nah, I'd rather spend these 20 minutes eating breakfast than building a relationship with my Savior and dying to myself."
Because really, living for myself is easier and more fun most of the time.
At least at first.
But it's a guaranteed fact: every Sunday, every Bible study day, every time I start to dig into the Word, he ruins me a little bit more for this world and what it tries to sell me. These occurrences usually end in tears, and sometimes screaming/sometimes complete silence and lack of words, and always being totally humbled by Him and His presence and His grace.
Today looked a little bit like this:
I go to church. He stabs these lyrics of songs into my heart like daggers. I cry, the brokenness-being-healed-and-redeemed cry. The pastor starts preaching. Once again, my heart is overwhelmed by my selfishness, pride, and lack of Him. I cry some more. The pastor relays God's grace and goodness.

The everlasting truth is that God IS who He says He IS and He DOES what He says He can DO.
His names don't just tell us what he does, they tell us HIS NATURE and HIS CHARACTER. They tell us that He IS the very definition of that quality- healing, righteousness, providing, etc.- because He will NEVER not do or be that. He has always been, is continually, and will forever be EVERYTHING that is good in this life. EVERYTHING. 
That continues to blow my mind and wreck my life every time I think about it.

So there's all that. Add on to that my personal issues and mistakes and pains, and the fact that when I pour them out to Him, it's as if there's immediate healing poured into my heart. When I repent and ask for Him to forgive and heal me, I'm reminded that He always will be and do that for me, no matter how imperfect I am on a regular basis... just because He is good.
Once we get all that personal stuff added to the bundle, I am MESSED UP by the time I've finished my ranting.

In our Sunday night Bible study, we've been working on John 1 for a while now. We talked a couple weeks ago about verses 3 and 4 specifically, and how we were made through and by THE GOD, and Him alone. Claire shared this gripping story about her godmother's baby. The baby was born with some issues and went straight into neonatal ICU. The mother talked about how much she longed to be on the other side of that pane of glass, holding her newborn baby, but she knew she couldn't and that it would literally kill her child. Then the mother realized that's how God is with us. We are here, on this earth, separated from Him by sin. There is no way he can touch us or hold us like He wants to because He is so righteous and perfect, we would literally die (Exodus 33:5, 18-23). But then He sends Jesus, our Savior, our Messiah, to remediate our sins and reconcile us to Him that He may indirectly touch us and hold us. We don't physically die because we don't physically see Him, but we spiritually die to ourselves and this world because He spiritually consumes us to the point that WE, shattered creatures of darkness, can no longer live, and can only have Him living through us.
It boggles my mind.
1 Timothy 6:16 says He "dwells in unapproachable light"... but this is why we have the Holy Spirit in us, from the day of our salvation, so that we may be seen under Christ's blood as His spotless righteousness and may therefore "approach the throne of Grace with confidence." (Hebrews 4:16)

I'll stop there because my mind is whirling and I can't gather my own thoughts for the sake of His extraordinary self.
Keep your eyes on Him, my friends. Let Him consume you.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Let's get down to business...

Where on earth do I even begin? Let's just make a list.
- I miss London. a whole lot, obviously. But I've begun thinking about the logical aspect of moving there and it's really scary. Getting a student/work visa would be hard enough- let along finding a job, a place to live, and making completely new friends. and being away from my family ALL THE TIME. I mean let's be real, I'll probably only see them at Christmas if I live in England. I'm not sure if I'm ok with that.
- This bible study thing. I love Jenelle, and I'm so excited for God to start this exponential multiplication process. But I am so not ready to be a leader of a bible study ANYTIME in the near future, let alone next year. I just feel like I am lacking so much, and so unsure of how to respond to people, and so not a super-spiritual group leader person. Granted, I love Jesus A LOT... but I am super messed up and selfish. I'm just not sure how much of a success that could be. But then I guess I'm underestimating God when it comes down to it, huh?
- My major is consuming my life. It always happens, and I hate and love it at the same time. I love being dedicated to something and working hard for it and being wrapped up in it. But at this point, my major is coming before my relationship with God, which is NOT ok with me. And I really doubt any of my professors care. If it ends up being "finish practicing" or "go have God time," I practice to appease my teachers and get good grades. Which ends up happening. But even when I do get that 4.0 for the semester, 75% of the time, I look back and regret not having spent more time with the Lover of my soul.
- I love my little brother, and girls are messing with him and his friends are being mean and I want to punch someone for him. Nuff said.
- Also, work is tough. I'm wearing thin on my patience and enthusiasm now that I'm really getting to know these kids and it makes for some long, tiring afternoons- for them and me. They aren't progressing near as quickly as I'd hoped they would... and I just don't know what to do. I feel like a failure of a coach most days. My co-workers are good people, but I'm not super close to any of them and they're all like best friends, and it just makes me feel like the continual outsider. blehhh.

I'm an overcommitter. I'm in need of love.
"I'm wanting, needing, guilty, and greedy. Unrighteous, unholy... undo me, undo me!"

Still His unfathomable love and grace holds me together. His joy is my strength each day.

Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me. Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Desires

Life lately has been hectic, and without much down time... but well worth the ride. It still continues to blow my mind (and I hope it never ceases to) that God proves so faithful in the little, day-to-day stresses as well as the big, soul-gutting/heart-wrenching messy stuff. Obviously, being such the selfish impish human that I am, I'm not so great at the continual forgiveness and grace that God seems to pour out on every day. It humbles me and amazes me and makes me fall a little more in love with Him. And every time He does those sweet little things, like send a baby deer across my path or have a four-year-old tell me how beautiful I am, I'm brought even lower and realize just how tiny I am in comparison to His greatness and majesty. I love that fact.
The thing that I've really been churning through my mind these past few days is His sovereign will. Honestly there are several things that I selfishly want that I know are not His will. I'm partially grateful that he doesn't give me these desires, because I know they aren't what's best in the long run... However, I'm partially wishing that He would change His mind and make it possible.
Isn't that awful? I kind of feel like a bratty elementary kid admitting that, but it's SO the truth right now. To be really genuine, I would have to come right out and say that I would love for His will for me to be being in London right now. I would love for His will to be me being really awesome at piano instead of struggling to keep up. I would love for His will to be me in a relationship with a fantastic, godly guy. I would love for His will to be me being able to dance without looking like a homeschooled white girl. I would love for His will to be me coming from a ridiculously wealthy family and not having to worry about paying off my credit card and saying no when people ask me to go do fun things with them that I currently can't afford. and much much more.
But really, how would any of that benefit me? It's just selfish desires. And sure, they aren't necessarily BAD things, in fact some of them are really great things. But achieving and receiving those things would most likely only make me want more. Not to mention how self-focused they are.
I often brush it off and blame it on my age and stage of life. I'm ready for my life to begin- the "big" and "important" stuff- I so often forget that life has begun and when I spend it wishing for what I don't have and longing for things I don't need, I'm wasting so much time and potential. I tell myself it's natural, that everyone at this age wants to be the best they can be and make an impact and be known and loved and start a family, blah blah blah. Really, those are just personal excuses for me knowing I'm wasting bits of each day.
Psalm 37:4 is a verse that is often misquoted and overused... but it's come to mean a lot to me over my few years. "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart," it reminds us. One of my favorite Christian speakers, Priscilla Shirer, spoke about this once and it's stuck with me for a long time: 
This verse doesn't necessarily mean God will FULFILL your heart's desires. Although He does do that when your heart is in line with His, it's more of a promise that if you're truly DELIGHTING yourself in Him and reveling in His grace and love and seeking His face each day, He will GIVE YOU desires FOR your heart. He will place HIS desires in your heart in mind, and plant them there, so that they BECOME your heart's desires.
God, tune my heart. I'm flat and raspy and need your lovely music back, singing in my heart. Help me to seek your face, not just your hands. Thank you for giving me so many desires for my heart that are straight from Your heart. Please swell those up and shrink my selfish ones away. Fulfill Your righteous desires within me and squelch my own depraved wishes. Keep humbling me with your awesomeness and wooing me with Your subtle ways. May my heart beat to praise You and sing Your name alone!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFxVfAZj5Q0

Sunday, September 02, 2012

when things come full-circle

September is finally here and I am so far beyond excited! It's my third-favorite month (only because I love spring and Christmas a little bit more) of the whole year! Football season is finally upon us, the weather is slowly but surely cooling down, and this month brings back lots of fabulous memories...
The first of which is today. September 1. My former-best-friend-yet-still-semi-friend's birthday. I associate this day with prank calls, late night sleepover discussions, walking through her neighborhood, and watching Pride and Prejudice (honestly, it's a good thing I'm home and don't have a copy of Good Ol' Reliable near by or I would probably put it in and let myself bawl a little). It reminds me of how we bonded in the first place, and everything we experienced together, and all the crazy emotions we vented together. But it also reminds me of how much of a terrible friend I was, not only to her, but also (and possibly more importantly) to my faithful friends that tried to stick by me during my diva/selfish/awful years. It was not the prettiest or best season of my life, to put it nicely, so reminiscing on that bit always brings a dull ache. Mostly because I realize I could've been so much more, and such a better example, and so much more of a passionate follower of Christ- and I completely wasted that time.
September 24 is another date that reminds me of that time, because that was *our* day. Our "friend-iversary", if you'd like to call it that. As most of you know by now, Summer of 2008 brought a challenging period of my life. Peyton and I "broke up" (our friendship was ridiculously tight-knit and it was a devastating decision when we decided to continue on our different life paths and not be best friends anymore) and that brought on the worst time I have ever experienced. I was continually depressed and felt that I had no one there for me (most of which was my fault). Even though from then on, remembering September 24th was a very painful thing for me, Peyton and I always texted each other a "Happy Anniversary" message... even though it was oddly untrue.
Well, today is her birthday. So despite our roller coaster of a history, I texted her a simple birthday message. And she replied that we should get together over Christmas break for coffee and discuss life as 'adults'. The thing is, I know we're both serious about this and are going to make it happen. and I like that. As I was sitting here, watching Bama games and remembering the MANY Bama games we watched together and talked through, I was hit with the magnitude of this. Okay, maybe it's just me being my usual over-analytic, dramatic self but I really feel like this is a little physical taste of God's redemption. That He can take this friendship that I totally screwed up, turn my screw-up into what draws me close to Him for good, and a couple years down the road start to patch that friendship and heal those parts of my heart that exploded when I lost my closest and last friend in 10th grade. He blows my mind with His goodness.
Honestly, though, in the summer between 10th and 11th grade when I was undergoing this continual darkness, I was not having my mind blown by His goodness. I was asking him "Why?", at best, and often questioning His existence. I was angry and torn and broken. I definitely don't remember reaching out to Him... I just remember being comforted when I cried and being held together as I numbly tried to regain control of my life. I feel like it was one of those circumstances that's actually pretty common and no one realizes it: it's when God subtly steps in and picks you up and just starts carrying you, but you aren't even aware of it. Looking back, I see that He did that. I see that as this effects of this bomb ricocheted through my heart, He kept digging out the shrapnel. At the time it made me mad when he would resurface those old wounds... Now I realize it was the only thing He could do to heal me. Which he did very well, in the end.
Now I find myself in a similar place: torn over wanting to be in England and having to be here. broken over my sinfulness and lack of trust. But He's come full circle through the healing process with me and is ready to lift me back up and carry me through again. He's watched my emotional breakdowns over the life I know I was meant for that I can't have yet, and comforts me in the midst of them. He is replanting my heart, rooting it in His own even more deeply than before, so that I will not hurt when I physically move to a different location but only when my heart moves away from His. I love that.
God, I am so extremely grateful for your circular work and awesome ways that are beginning to become so familiar. I love that. In London, I fell in love with you in such a new and real way, but I planted my own heart there in the city. I'm beginning to realize now that I should've been planting my heart in yours so that wherever You lead me I can follow WHOLEheartedly. Please forgive me for my arrogant, self-assured, and selfish ways. Instead, order my steps with Your Word and direct my paths. Don't give up on me. I try to trust and believe- help my doubts and unbelief! 

"And if I have to crawl, well You'd crawl too. I stumble and I fall, carry me through. The wonder of it all is You see me through." -Superchick

Monday, August 27, 2012

glorious days

So I decided a few weeks ago, after reading Meg's blog about the sabbath, and seeing her talk about wanting to continue really RESTING on the Sabbath once she returned to MC, that Sunday would be my true Sabbath and I would learn to just REST in Him. Last sunday was a kinda boring one, cause there was no homework to be done or anything to begin with. But today was a complete success.
Friday I spent a good bit of time getting little stuff done like laundry, dropping by career services, friend dates, etc. I started homework but didn't get a lot done until Saturday morning, then ran some errands on Saturday that I'd been meaning to do, and I got to spend some awesome bonding time with a couple KT sisters, so I felt like yesterday was extremely successful as well. But today I decided not to stress over homework, and tried to avoid it totally. I had a LOVELY morning with my dear Kendall-twin at church, non-sunday-school (funny story... we went to sunday school and they didn't have it. so we got coffee and left), lunch, and some great dorm bonding time as well. That led to some movie-watching and a glorious nap, and a car worship date with my wonderful Meg-twin...
On the car-worship date I came so close to happy tears a couple times. As we were driving, it began sprinkling on the road ahead of us, and all the sudden there was a portion of a rainbow... then half a rainbow... then the whole semicircle of a rainbow! I've never really seen the actual base of a rainbow, like where it originates- and we saw not only the base of one side but the base of BOTH SIDES! I don't understand rainbows really well (I'm not meteorologist, that's for sure), but I know they're a promise of God's unending faithfulness to His promises. As long as rainbows are showing up, God is still enthroned on High, working in our lives, and protecting us from being utterly destroyed. At that moment, when I was jamming with Megan to "How I Love You" by Christy Nockels, and being so dramatically reminded of God's faithfulness to His great, beneficial promises to me (2. Cor. 1:20), I was overcome with His goodness. As if earlier in the day at church, and with Kendall, I hadn't been reminded enough of how amazingly GOOD He is... I was flooded with that reminder yet again. And again and again, as the car worshipping and talking about God-stuff carried on.
I returned to my room to some much-needed conversation and bonding time with the new roomie, which was absolutely superb. Finally, after being super relax-ey for way too long and feeling the need to be productive again, I did some calm homework... and can I just say this Sabbath thing is AWESOME?! I love this. I'm doing this for the rest of my liiiiifeeeee. Why did it take me until just now to realize that sometimes, God wants me to literally just BE STILL before Him and know he is God, he is good, and He is totally in control of my circumstances.... and the world. I love that.
God, thanks for being so close to me today. Thanks for drawing me into your arms and just loving on me in these odd ways that mean so much. Thank you for the friends you've provided me to celebrate You with, and for the lessons (big and small) you're teaching me each day. Order my steps with your word. Be my strength and my song. Help me to not be afraid but simply trust Your will each moment. Oh, how I love You!

Monday, August 13, 2012

struggling

Every couple of weeks, I catch up on my best friends' blogs. There are three or four that I try to stay plugged into (although I often fail at that), and lately I've been so convicted when I read each of their blogs. It's so awesome to me how God works in my friends, leads them to blog about it, and in turn works in me. I so often pray that I can be that type of vessel for His work... Honestly, it's kind of my goal in life. I think it's the highest calling of a Christian, to simply be able to be used by God. Because really, He doesn't need us at all. He can do absolutely anything He wants, anytime, with anyone. And He chooses to work through little nobodies like us, just to prove how awesome He is (that He can work through such stubborn and selfish creatures as me). Anyway, when I read my friends' blogs, I'm also convicted of my lack of empathy, my selfishness, and my vanity. They are all continually selfless, compassionate, and boast in Christ alone- I am so very blessed by them and inspired by their Christ-filled hearts!
As you probably know, I've changed a lot in the past 8 months. This period of time has been the most growth-inflicting bit I think I've ever encountered so far in my life. Honestly, it scares me a little bit. While I LOVE London and can't wait to go back, I'm scared that maybe I got it wrong somewhere, and I start thinking of all the "what-if?"s. What if God wasn't saying that London will be my home? What if I never get to go back? What if all this change in my life changes my friendships too drastically to repair? What if I DO move to London, and I have to leave all my family and friends and start an entirely new life? What if I move to London and realize it isn't really the place for me and have to come back, dragging my tail between my legs (so to speak)? I know I *should* have faith in God, and I *should* trust His every move and I *should* never question him... But goodness, we all know I'm super flawed and sinful anyway. I know I need to take every thought captive to obedience in Christ and not let my worries consume me, but this is something I really struggle with over and over. Most people have addictions to porn or alcohol or sex... my addiction is worry and fear. I can't make myself stop. I know how, but just can't seem to make it happen and the prayers don't seem to be doing much right now.
If it offends you that I'm being so doubtful in God, just stop reading. I'm not going to apologize for the genuine outpouring of my heart.
Obviously, friends, I have a lot of growing to do. I have such little faith and such big worries. I fail Him daily... which makes it even more remarkable that He still chooses to listen to me and work in and through me. His love and forgiveness is extravagant.

God, calm my anxious heart. You are sovereign over me and my circumstances. Even when I am unsure of your plan and doubt your promises, you are faithful... and I am SO grateful for that. Please don't give up on me. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Faithful to His promises

so here is the God-lesson that has been missing from my blog and my life lately.
I've got to be honest and say that my relationship with God is super up-and-down on my part. And month, it's been mostly down. Of course He is always so faithful to protect and provide and just be there. Of course I, being the human I am, often like to think I can take matters into my own hands. You'd think after 10 years of this being a christian thing I'd at least start to get a little better at it... but no. It seems to get worse, actually (or maybe I'm just more aware of my failures as time goes on and He sharpens me). Either way, I fail him a lot. As with the past month, I basically just stopped spending time with him. I know. WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU THINKING, BECCA?! Honestly, it became a "I'm really tired from work, so I'll let myself sleep in... oh no, don't have time for a devotional this morning, I'll do it tonight... I'm really tired from work again and would rather catch up on New Girl than feel convicted so I'll save that for later..." and so on. In hindsight, all I can think is "Seriously, how stupid can you get, self?" but I guess that makes it all the more apparent just how much I need a Savior and Lord. (note the AND Lord part. meaning I don't just need to be saved... I need to be saved, kept, and mastered by the One who can play this instrument much better than I).
Well God has this way of speaking into a believer's heart, as you probably know well (if not... talk to me. You need to get with God. He is really awesome.) and he did this to me. Every day. For the past month (and I mean, if you want to get technical, every day since the day I got saved on April 28, 2002).  Well for the past bit, in the midst of my stubbornness and being "too busy" to get to know God, He's really been tugging at me to just sit down and pour out my heart to him like I do my best friends. So I finally did. and of course, it included some tears and some whisper-screaming and a lot of brokenness. But the outcome is always worth it.
Basically, all that was said in order to say this: I find myself yet again redeemed despite my selfish stubbornness.

ALSO. Last night we had a lock-in, right? Well it went REALLY well. I absolutely loved it, even though it was exhausting. And somewhere between 2 and 4 AM, when about half the girls were asleep, I started getting all sentimental about how much I'll miss them during the school year, and how I invest so much of myself into each beautiful child and they don't even realize it... As I sat there on a big fat vault mat and looked over the gym floor at the gigglers, the sleepers, and the talkers, I realized how protective I feel over them. Every 30 minutes I got up, walked around and made sure everyone was behaving and doing well. I felt a little like a tiger on the prowl, checking for anything askew and ready to pounce on it, as I slowly padded around the gym. It didn't hit me until after I'd gotten back home today just how big that is. I've always joked about being Mother Theresa, and semi-seriously considered working at an orphanage if the marriage thing doesn't work out... but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I could do it because I feel God's called me there, whether for short- or long-term. I've already discovered that life is seriously incomplete without children in it. Which is exactly why I want to teach... but I realize now there's something to this that's bigger than just that. This is bigger than me becoming a teacher or coach or whatever. I don't know what it is yet... but I feel the promise of more.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

After not having blogged in well over a month, I am now sitting down and forcing myself to write. Where do I begin? Life is absolutely nuts-o. I've worked 5 days a week for most of the summer. It's exhausting to say the least (I mean, I basically exercise for 2-4 straight hours each day), but so very worth it. Which I'm sure I've stated before. I love my kiddos and realized Friday, on my last day of class, that they've been keeping me sane all summer and just how much I will miss them. Which is A LOT. I'm not terribly sad about it yet, though, probably because I realize I'll be coaching again in just 3 weeks.
Beyond work, my life has consisted of Hulu, Harry Potter, and Pinterest. With a little bit of Sonic, The Bachelorette, and a couple friend dates thrown in. Yeah, I know- livin' the good life.
SOOOO basically that is all. Wahoo.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I decided tonight that I really like humans. I mean, I already liked people in general, but I decided that I like the human-factor about people. How we're so imperfect and raw and spontaneous. I really truly treasure that and find it so beautiful.

He works in the nothingness.

Lately, my life has felt like a lot of nothingness. I work. I come home (where I read, sleep, watch Hulu, or babysit my nephew). I go back to work. I come home. I go to bed. And on the weekend, I break up the routine with a trip with the fam to the dollar theatre or books a million. Livin' the life. My hometown friends are either not here or not avaliable when I am, for the most part, so I have absolutely no social life outside of when I visit MC friends or they visit me (which will happen a total of 4 times, over the entire summer). However, the hardest thing, I think, is knowing that my whole summer will be like this- there are 2 more months of mundane days to live through, after having lived in the most beautiful and lively city in the world for the whole first part of my year.
So in the hustle and bustle of working, driving back and forth to work, and playing mommy to my 18-month-old nephew, I almost forgot that life is beautiful and God is working in my boringness. What a strange thought that is to me, that He would work while I seem to be accomplishing nothing in my mundane, repetitive day-to-day schedule. This past week I've been waking up early every morning and spending some much-needed time reading my Bible and dwelling in His Word, and it's been glorious. Why have I not been doing this the whole break? I'm not much of a morning person (which means the waking up part is awful, but once I'm up and awake, I'm happy and peppy most days), so I usually have my God time before I go to bed. But after seeing what a difference it truly makes to get up just 15 or 30 minutes earlier to soak in Him before the madness begins, I regret not having done this sooner.
Thursday I was reading in Proverbs 3 and 4 and noticed something I'd never seen before. I usually have trouble when reading Proverbs finding new things and truths I've never noticed, because I've read through the book so many times before... but this time I was using a different version than I normally do (ESV as opposed to NIV) and God really opened my eyes to several new things. The one that really impacted me, though, was 4:23-26. 
"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you crooked speechand put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.

Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure."
When I've read this in the past, I've always highlighted 4:23 in my head, which in NIV reads "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." While that's great and wonderful and needs to be remembered, I feel like the context is just as important, if not more so. This passage gives us wise instructions with how to handle not just our hearts, but also our mouths, eyes, and feet. Too many times I find myself concentrating on my emotional growth and maturity instead of what I physically DO- this reminded me that it's just as important to truly live your faith in the mundane actions as it is to guard your heart from the many things that corrupt. People can tell a lot about you by what comes from your mouth, where you go (or more like where you DON'T go), and what you look at (both in actuality and metaphorically). And I can tell you from experience that it's shocking how much you can change when you don't guard your steps, words, gazes, and longings. 
Anyway, in the midst of all this boring, I'm reminded that God is still working, still sharpening me, still preparing my paths and molding my heart, and I treasure that promise.

Friday, May 18, 2012

London Flashbacks- Volume 2


QUOTES of the SEMESTER:
"My life is SO. HARD." -Christy

"Cutting off heads: an old English pastime." -Mr. Rumbelow 

"Oh dear, don't die! Think how inconvenient it would be!" -Dr. Bracken

Stutz: Does anyone have scissors so I can cut this tag off?
Michelle: No, but we have STEAK KNIVES!

"I've never actually counted how many putti there are, but there are PLENTY of putti- a PLETHORA of PUTTI!" -Dr. Bracken

"My hound found a round pound on the ground, how profound!" -....getting cheesy on the Shakespeare/Dickens walking tour

"Micheal just wants to see my lips." -Stutz
>>insert any other quotes from the back of the coach that are unsuitable for public audiences<<

Dr. Price: It's like when the father pushes his adorable 2 year old daughter on the swing and she flies off and hits her head! It isn't funny, and yet we laugh!
Micheal: (under his breath) and then it turns into a dead baby joke.

"Zeus was always flying down to earth and getting off to some hanky-panky..." -Mrs. Molly

Micheal: Hey bro!
Stutz: I can't be your bro today, my hair is down!

"What a DIRTY slide! Look at that big, dirty fingerprint at the top! How REVOLTING!" -Dr. Bracken

"Micheal is the king of all my world.....
Please don't judge me for saying that." -Jordan

"Oh, no!......" -Cortez, as the owl flies off

"Pain is weakness leaving the body! Oh no, wait.... that's my skin leaving the body." -Stutz

Dr. Bracken: She's either taking her stockings off, or putting them on, depending on how you look at it *smug smile*
Micheal: (under his breath) Or depending on whether you're an optimist or a pessimist...

Cortez: A HORSE!
Dr. Bracken: *dryly* Well-spotted.

Me: I really like this butt warmer.
Stutz: It really likes your butt... *creepy voice* and I can't blame it.

Stutz: What was the title of Harvey's book on his embryonic egg research?
Shell: "I LIKE CHICKEN!" 
(oh, the things finals week does to you)


"Just so you know, it would be 14 euro, but I will give you special price because it's Sunday. And because it's you and it's me." -Fernando (from Salzburg)

(IN SCOTLAND)
Me: Who's that statue of?
Stutz: Lewis and Clark. 
Me: Really?!

Me: That's like the Tesco headquarters, guys!!
Shell: So THAT'S where the magic happens!

and our VERY FAVORITE...
"FLAG THAT!"

London Flashbacks- Volume 1

The other night I went to a Switchfoot concert. I was kinda doing my own thing jamming out as strangers pushed in closer to me and I was separated, minute by minute, from my companions. We were in the middle of one of their more 'classic' songs (I believe it was Dare You to Move), when all the sudden Maleesa reached past a stranger in between us and nudged me, whisper-screaming "Look, isn't that London?" as she pointed to the screens on stage. Sure enough, there, in the middle screen was an overhead view of a London street (probably Oxford Street) with double deckers passing along it and people bustling around.
I nearly had a heart attack and emotional breakdown at the same moment. I was overwhelmed with nostalgia and excitement when I yelled back "OHMYGOSH, YESSSS!" as I jumped up and down, pulled out my camera, and attempted to capture the moment. The thing that got me most wasn't that it was my 'hometown' (I sincerely consider London my home now), or even that I got a picture of it, or that it was at the concert of one of my favorite bands. It was mostly the fact that it was such a huge moment of reassurance that God is faithful and He would uphold His promises. And I know my God well enough to know that He knew I needed that confirmation and reassurance so desperately.
When I lived in London, it was literally the happiest I've ever been. It was the highlight of my life. It was my niche, my comfort zone- I fully believe that when God knit me together, all along He had intentions of moving me to London someday... and January 12, 2012 happened to be that day. Everything within me screamed YOU WERE MADE FOR THIS, REBECCA MICHELLE STOVALL, every moment of all 89 days. I was fulfilled and on track and so very in love with God and His plan and the city.
And then we left. Granted, I was ready to see my family and friends again, but the moment I saw everyone waiting on us in the Jackson airport, I wanted to turn around and fly back. I knew that Mississippi is not where I belong. Alabama is not where I belong. I belong in London, England, UK. and it will be years before I go back, quite sadly.
So anyway, I see this picture of London in the middle of a concert. And it was like God slipped it in there, just for me. I doubt anyone else in that arena realized it was Oxford Street, or maybe even London for that matter. I don't think they'd care... But God knew I would. God knew how my heart was aching for my home away from 'home'. He knew I was beginning to wonder if I really would get to go back (much less live there). HE KNEW. And in the weirdest, tiniest way possible, he proved just how closely he was listening to my heart's groanings, just how carefully he had laid out the plans for my prosperous and hopeful future.
Yeah, I get it. You probably don't care one bit about this story and what it means to me. Hopefully, you've skimmed over it and moved on to the silly quotes at the end or totally nixed this blog-reading idea totally. But I reserve this space for the outpouring of my heart (on occasion), and here it came (yes, I actually cried as I wrote it). Cheers, friends. and never forget that He is faithful, and His promises are YES and AMEN!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

homesickness

Last night I realized that this is my current status: Heart in London. Body in America. 
Not a good status.
Mostly because that means I cry a lot and feel super out-of-place, all the time.
I truly fell in love with the city of London, which is weird to experience. I've never felt so at home in such a strange, huge, bustling city. and it's not that I'm just missing it or having withdrawals. I'm incomplete without that part of my heart that stayed in London, knit to its inhabitants and traditions. 
This may be a bit melodramatic, but if you're reading this blog, you knew what you were getting yourself into. and it's on my mind.
It's a wholly new feeling, being homesick for somewhere that isn't my 'home'. But it honestly now feels like home, and my "real home" in America feels like my 'home'. 


"If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place. Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow- I've never been more homesick than now"

Sunday, April 22, 2012

icky stuff like growing up and what ifs and overanalyzing.

"oh, darling, don't you ever grow up, don't you ever grow up, you can stay this little. oh, darling, don't you ever grow up, don't you ever grow up, things could stay this simple..."
I've had these weird moments lately where I realize what my mom must feel like sometimes. I don't really know why, maybe it's because I was gone for so long it made me really value being with my family. or maybe I'm just getting older and more maternal (blegh. like I need any more mommy tendencies?), but whatever it is, every time I listen to Never Grow Up by Taylor Swift, I cry. I realize how quickly life is going. I realize I'm growing up wayyyy to fast, and I'm not sure if I'm ok with that. On the one hand, I want to finally finish college and fall in love and start a family. On the extreme opposite side, though, I don't want to grow up and have to deal with adult problems; sometimes I'd much rather live with my parents forever and just take the easy way out.
However. I really do think the whole getting married thing sounds pretty spectacular. Even more so the taking care of tiny humans (scary, but awesome). Mostly because I love how everything is beautiful to kids. They expect the best of the world all the time and are hurt and offended and shocked when that isn't always the case. While it would be naive for me to fully retain that mindset, I try to keep it even though I'm starting into adulthood. Isn't life better when we expect beauty and view it with wonder? Today I was sitting on the couch, holding my now-16-month-old nephew and cuddling with him. We were giggling together and learning the difference between teeth and tongue when he suddenly became more solemn, though still smiling, and just put his little baby hand on my cheek and stared at me. I melted. (even now as I type, I'm getting all teary. Curse you, PMS.) I know he won't be a baby and think I'm wonderful forever, but I love that he does now. I love that even though sometimes all I see in myself is imperfection and blemishes, he doesn't really care about the 'adult' perception of beauty. He just sees someone he loves, someone who loves him, and that is the definition of beauty to this little man. How perfect.
Isn't that what beauty really is, though? I mean, seriously. Things you count as beautiful are things you love- for me, sunsets and curly hair and piano keys. Things you count as ugly are things you hate- pimples, traffic cones, and essay prompts.
I wonder if that's how God sees everyone as beautiful, maybe. Because really, the only thing God hates is sin. So wouldn't that mean even a sin-covered person is still beautiful in God's sight, just as a mud-covered person may still be beautiful to us, though caked in mud? We are beautiful because He loves us. We are loved because He is beautiful. just wow. How insane is He?

Also, I considered something really weird tonight. I know a woman, one who I consider to be an outstanding woman of God that I really look up to, who had a miscarriage. I ran across her story earlier this week and have recalled it randomly a number of times, and wondered why it kept sticking in my mind. Then tonight suddenly I thought... her son would've been my age, almost exactly. I'm already good friends with their family and am so inspired by her faith, and there are many connections I have to her beyond just a surface respect. But when I heard what her son's name was- Brandon- and realized he would be my age, I was dumbfounded. What if he had been born? We would've been friends, most definitely, and he would've been a crazy awesome man of God, as his dad is (and his mom is too, but a woman of God). and here sets in the weirdness: what if he'd been my future husband? Crazy, and WAAAYYY overanalytical, I know. But we're talking what ifs here, anything can happen. What if he was THE One, the only one ever, and that's it? He never even got to know this gorgeous world, or his amazing family, or me. And that leaves me, with my 'future' husband already in Heaven. I know I probably sound like I'm tripping on illegal drugs right now (promise I'm not!), but it just came in my head. So after I got over that WHOA! moment, I got to thinking even more (as if the overanalyzing/what if scenario-making-up wasn't bad enough). Mostly about my life so far, my past, and my future. If you're reading this blog, we must be pretty close friends, which means you should already know the fact that Becca has awful self-esteem. (but I'm getting better, and besides, 'I am confidence in insecurity'.)
{WARNING: IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO WHINING OR SELF PITY, READ NO FURTHER}
Well, I considered the fact that A) some of my less-than-stellar friends have boyfriends. 2) I don't. C) As a matter of fact, I've never really even been asked out.
which of course leads to:
WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ME.
Yeah, I know, "nothing's wrong with you, the right guy just hasn't come along yet." blah blah blah.
(I warned you already, I'm PMSing)
First let me address A- I know I'm not supposed to do this, and it's wrong, and God is dealing with me on this. But if we're really gut-honest here, sometimes I think of myself as better than others. Awful, I know. But I do it because, hey, guess what, I SIN.
SURPRISE!
But seriously. I know I'm not the prettiest girl on the block, but when you get me on a good hair day with makeup on, I'm really not terribly ugly. And at least I have some smarts and personality to balance that out, right? So I just wonder how some people I know/see that have ugly personalities or really greasy hair are in a relationship, and I'm (still) not. Geez people, you can't help but wonder what is wrong with you. I mean seriously.
2- I kinda already covered that.
C- No, seriously, unless you count facebook chat that one time that led to a five-month semi-long-distance fledgling relationship. No guy has ever even asked me to grab coffee or go to a swap. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nil.
So I guess all this amounts to is Becca's mini pity party that's gone on tonight. and I need to get over it, so I decided to whine a little more here since no one will really read it and my hand would be dead right now if I'd tried to WRITE all this, then be done. This is all terribly selfish and immature.
God is big. He is sovereign and faithful and working, even if I don't see it.
Keep that in mind, as I try to do the same.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

adventures on high places!

I feel like my life is turning into this really awesome reality TV show or even some epic action film. Every day is more and more exciting; every day I'm a little more daring. Let's take it back about a week, for starters. Last wednesday we went on a day trip to Tintern Abbey. I've been really pumped about this specific trip the whole semester because I accidentally ran across a picture of the abbey on Pinterest one day over Christmas break and fell in love with its ruinous nature. The day I found out we were going, I was ecstatic, to say the least. We got to the abbey and had such a glorious time running through the ruins taking pictures, hollering at each other, and playing games like hide-and-go-seek and Sharks and Minnows. On that gorgeous sunny day, it was so hard not to be in a wonderful mood (and on top of it all, I was in that dream location!). After a bit of running about and being kids together, we ambled off on what we thought would be a leisurely hike. We were wrong.
We got down near the River Wye, crossed a cute (but somewhat rickety) bridge over to the mountainous side, and started up. At first it wasn't bad at all, just a slight incline. But it slowly got steeper and steeper, until we were all gasping for air and red in the face. We got to a flat part and a bit of a clearing, to what we thought was about halfway (once again, wrong.) and several people stopped there because they hadn't worn appropriate clothes or shoes for such an intense hike. The remaining 10-12 of us continued on our way, alternating turns of being 'the weak one' and taking a rest break to stretch out our calves or work up enough saliva to swallow in hopes of tricking our bodies into thinking we were hydrating ourselves. Time passed and we struggled onwards and upwards, searching for our goal at the summit of the mountain, called the Devil's Pulpit. After hiking intensely for about 40 minutes, we found it!  No one was injured, dead, or even the slightest bit harmed, and after being on a flat place for about 5 minutes, we all returned to normal heart rates and breathing rhythm. We had conquered!
Once again we found ourselves in this situation yesterday in Edinburgh (eh-din-bur-oh) when climbing Arthur's Seat. Lots of intense hiking for close to an hour, followed by relaxing at the summit and returning to the bottom (this time with several falls and a couple scrapes, but we're only the better off from them. battle scars, yeah!).
During both of these expeditions, I found myself wishing to have the feet of a deer. Or really any wild animal that was accustomed to the hidden intricacies of the land. I wanted to climb, and I got there somehow, but my big clunky walking-shoe-covered foot made it really hard to get firm footings, both up and down the mountainside. It reminded me so much of one of my favorite books, Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, in which the main character, Much-Afraid, spends the whole book learning to trust the Good Shepherd and letting him lead her to the High Places (though he often isn't physically with her). This whole idea of being led to God's high places (His places where he calls us to sacrifice and worship) and letting him transform our clunky, earthly feet to those of a sure-footed deer, comes straight out of the Bible. I find it to be such a beautiful image! Habakkuk 3:19 says, "God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places."
I want more adventure, God. With you spiritually and with you physically like my mountain-climbing experiences. Make my feet like a hind's. Make me walk on the high places with You. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

those moments when you're thinking about so much you can't focus on one single thought.

so obviously I need to vent/whine.
here goes:
I'm really tired, and I wish I had more time for sleep. but at the same time, I feel like I should be spending more time out in the city, soaking in every moment of these 3 short months.
my legs hurt, my feet hurt, my head hurts. but I'm losing weight! this is worth it!
I did an awful job on my History of Science midterm. It's the worst grade I've ever made. But they said I could raise my grade by working extra-hard on my mini-essays and obviously by studying more and doing well on the final. So I'm just gonna work my butt off to get the grade back up and pray that the rest of the semester goes well.
I'm tired of school and class. I want to just live in London and not have to do anything for class or have a job or anything. I want to just live here and be a tourist every day, all day.... Yeah, in my dreams.
I miss my friends. I don't have time to talk to them or write to them and it's grating on me. Especially because there are things going on there that I should be there for, but can't (obviously). Which is kinda tearing me up.
I miss my nephew. I miss just holding that baby boy and singing to him and making him laugh.
I miss American food. Not that English food is bad, or even that different, it just TASTES different.
I'm getting tired of these people.
I hate cigarette smoke.
I hate hearing cursing.
the end.

Monday, February 13, 2012

she speaks of love and London


they say a bad day in London is better than a good day anywhere else. I don't know who "they" are. I haven't been many other places. but, for the most part, they're right. I still stand firmly behind my earlier blog post about examining life (see 'dancing through life' from 22 Jan. 2012), but I also feel more strongly every day that London is the most beautiful, magical, hopeful city full of possibilities ever has been. Samuel Johnson (pretty well-known guy around here) hit the nail on the head: "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." 

well, I feel as if I've had my first day that can classify as 'bad'. But it wasn't BAD, just less than good. Friday, we had class forever and ever, and it was bitterly cold, and my tummy was being weird. and I missed my family, and I need preschoolers in my life (I stinking MISS coaching!), and people were annoying me. basically, I was just crabby... and still, I feel as if my 'bad' day here is so much better than it would've been if I were back across the pond. 
and still, those occasional (er, becoming more common the longer I'm here) cups of tea, and moments of God wooing me, and the combination of every tiny magical particle makes me smile, eases my worry away, begs me to just love life.
It seems like I've experienced more happiness in this 1 month I've been in England than I ever have before in my life. This is the absolute happiest I've ever been, no doubt about it. I'm sure I've said it before, and I don't mean to be redundant... I just feel like this fact needs to be emphasized. Every day is the next best day of my life, no matter how tiring or trying or cold- though there are the occasional terrible days (Friday was one for me), again I say: they're better than my average days in the US. 
basically, I love the city of London, the country of England, and the great work God is doing in my heart here. I've always heard about falling in love with God, and I thought I knew what they meant. I didn't.
It's what I assume being in love with a man is like, only you can't physically display your love (except with worship). He sings to you and whispers to you and makes things that previously seemed dull glow with warmth and opportunity. He holds you close and points out things you wouldn't have ordinarily seen. He smiles at you and makes your tummy get butterflies. He wakes you up to new love and new grace every day. He draws you in and listens to your stories, hangs on your every word. He is always there when anything goes the slightest bit wrong and you just need a hug. He thinks you are beautiful, and tells you. a lot. He sits down to tea with you and you just sit in silence and enjoy being with each other. It's every bit like human love, but much better, much deeper, much more constant, and much harder to doubt. It's perfect. It drives out fear and holds you tight, keeping you in His hand and unable to be snatched out. It is impossible to be separated from it, by anything in all of creation. 
ok, so now that I've gotten all sappy about God and feel really weird about that, I just want to encourage you to forget all this Valentine's Day stuff. Guess what, ladies? Never once in my 18 1/2 years of life have I had a Valentine, except for the Love himself. And I can tell you that it's much more satisfying to spend the time drawing close to Him and cultivating that relationship. and HEY, while you're doing that, you could write a Valentine's Day love letter to your future husband! :) That's what I'll be doing. Join me, loves. 
Join me, and London, in loving life and loving Love and being made more like Him each moment. 

Thursday, February 02, 2012

trying not to be swept away

pushing my way through crowded streets seems to be something I've been doing a lot of lately. in London, it's just a given that you push through people to get where you need to go, shouting "Sorry!" behind you. You have to do it every day, and people do it to you, and no one gets offended. it's just part of life. Well today, I pushed through crowds like I NEVER have before. And believe me, I've pushed through some crowds. I've been at Youth Camp with hundreds of hungry boys in the dinner line, I've been at the beach for Student Life with thousands of other teenagers, I've gone to an Alabama football game in Tuscaloosa, and I've even been at Passion with 45,000 college students trying to give money to stop slavery. Those all make for some pretty great instances to improve in my pushing-through-crowd skills. Well tonight was the absolute worst/best (depending on how you look at it) pushing-through-crowd-scenario you have ever heard or seen.
Chinese New Year. Trafalgar Square. thousands of people, all speaking different languages. In the short 30 minutes I was there, I heard English, French, German, Spanish, and what I assume was Chinese. We were packed in the streets like wadded-up clothes fill a too-small suitcase. All for some wimpy fireworks, distant music I could barely hear, and freezing cold. When all the fun and celebration was over at 6:30, I pushed forward into the crowd trying to get to the Square itself (which I was still at least half a block away from) and find my friends. It seemed as if at the exact moment that I decided to push forward, the whole world was there, walking towards me and occasionally pushing me backwards (literally). As I struggled to keep my belongings close and avoid pick-pockets while trudging toward my seemingly unattainable goal of Trafalgar Square, I retreated into my head (or maybe God just put the thoughts in there all the sudden, which is more likely).
Isn't that what life is like so many times? At least for us children of God. We're on this mission to glorify Him with our every word, thought, and deed. We're commissioned to seek the lost as He did, and share with them His Salvation. Then we're stuck here on this busy, crowded, selfish earth. Everyone else wants to go their own way and have their own selfish goals attained.
Sometimes we literally can't move, we just have to wait for Him to make a way for us.
Sometimes we get on that train of others moving toward Him together and help each other push through the crowd, and we accomplish a lot together and send out ripples as we go, making others see His glory and getting to see them join our train.
Sometimes all we can do is shuffle, inch-by-inch, holding our valuables close.
And sometimes, we're pushed backwards. At first, it results in completely losing our footing and fighting to stay standing. Then over time, as we join different trains, we find a few of the members of that train have broken off with us and are there to catch us when we tilt backwards and set us back on our feet and on our way to Him again.
Isn't that beautiful?
In the many stages of this crowded life, He is faithful to protect us, save our brothers and sisters, and ultimately bring glory to Himself. He stays with us in our stillness, makes a way for us in our inability, moves us along in our striving for Him, picks us up in our fallen state, and supports us in our overwhelmed moments.
I love that.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

dancing through life

deep breath.
where do I even begin?
first, to clear my mind: I hate slow wi-fi. it makes skyping really hard. I feel terrible for spending so much money, but then again I knew this was coming and have been preparing for it for over a year. I miss my family, and it's only been 10 days. I just need hugs. being a grown-up and scheduling flights, train rides, and hotels for weekend trips is NOT fun, only tough. I also miss my home church and really need to just worship with reckless abandon like I can there and at Passion... people in London don't worship like that and I feel so restrained. I need more clothing (no really. I have one shirt here that is warm enough & suitable for church.) I feel like I should be spending more time out in the city exploring but I already feel like my brain is going to EXPLODE from all the new things going on around me.
so anyway, in the midst of all these weird, totally new stresses, here I am in London, England. falling in love with this city. falling in love with God in a new way. falling in love with life in a new way. I really really like it.
I can't help but be scared, though, that this is the climax of my life. I feel like surely it could never get better than this. nothing could top it, not even being in love. because for some reason, I'm thinking that being in love with the True Love, more so than I've ever been before, tops any worldly love I'll ever experience. Because maybe the creator and definition of Love himself knows how to do it better than humans do.
so anyway. I have this feeling like these three months are gonna be the best it ever gets. and God has to keep reminding me "The best is yet to come," even after I've gone back to boring old Alabama. There is beauty to be found in every place, every situation, every person. It's just not as hard to find it in London as it is in Alabama, probably because I'm so tired of Alabama that I forget to look for it and instead only see the mundane, plain, and boring.
This reminds me of a quote by Socrates we were told of during Art History on friday: "The unexamined life is not a life worth living." Obviously true, at first glance. But when I just typed that last paragraph and reminded me of this. Life before WAS dull and boring in comparison with life in London, not necessarily because it's such a new and exciting adventure (although that is part of it), but because life in London forces me to examine life. It forces me to think new thoughts and develop new convictions and ask new questions. It makes me learn new words, meet new people, examine new emotions. So then isn't that why life here feels like it's so much more worth living than life in Alabama was? Because I'm actually examining it every minute of every day? Whoa. I think that just blew my mind.
This also reminds me of Stephen Schwartz and his GENIUS musical, Wicked. One of the songs, Dancing Through Life, contains the line "Stop struggling with strife and learn to live the unexamined life!" Then it goes on to talk about taking the easy way out in every circumstance, and sloughing off responsibilities and how life is "better" that way... but the character singing, Fiyero, ends up growing out of his immaturity and changing his mind about everything he says in that song, and even falls in love with a different girl because he realizes that the unexamined life is NOT worth living after all. He comes to realize that fighting for what you care about, finding nuggets of truth in life's lessons, and struggling to understand life's curveballs makes life more vivid and enjoyable in the long run.
I feel like I'm just coming to this realization too. While I didn't exactly slough off responsibility before, I definitely didn't enjoy struggling to understand life's curveballs. I didn't enjoy examining life at all, and I am beginning to learn to. I'm sure it's a long, winding road. But I've discovered that those are the most fun roads to explore.

Friday, January 13, 2012

LONDON.

whoa. I'm here. the best city in the world.
warning, this post will be short. it's almost 1 am, and I'm worn stinking out. 
I feel like I've been waiting my whole life to be here and do this and be this person.
And now here I am. Being and doing. 
The only way this can be explained is God. it's because of Him that I got accepted, that the money came in, that we got here safely, and that all the experiences of my life have been building up to this, which is building up to something else. so crazy. 
Yesterday, we arrived in London at 7 am, London time. We ended up being awake for 34 straight hours, because of the time change and flight weirdness. It got to some of us, cause A couple girls got sick when we got here, I guess from the crazy traffic in a big bus & jet lag & airplane food. but I was OK! :) I was thanking God that I wasn't in their shoes. It's weird that I'm finally in England, but it's awesome. In the bus between Gatwick & here we saw Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye, the River Thames... all those lovely famous places which we have yet to explore.
we are at THE VERY TOP FLOOR of the hotel. so lugging the suitcases up was a feat, but we made it.
Yesterday, Dr. Parks fell and dislocated his shoulder. He is all right now- went to the hospital and got it put back in place, along with a sling and some pain meds. But he's his usual chipper/persevering self and met us for a pizza dinner after the incident and took us to hear Big Ben chime on the hour and see Westminster Abbey and the London Eye all lit up. we also got our Oyster cards (tube & bus passes) and rode the tube for the first time. SO FUN!
Guys, I know this is weird, but I feel like my whole life has just been waiting for me to be here. I love it so much. 
No one wears make up, and everyone just makes up their own fashion and doesn't care what other people think (not to mention the fantastic history & landmarks). We're reading a George Orwell essay called "England, Your England" to prepare for Brit. Lit. and it states several times that England is much more millions of individuals than it is a single nation, and I so agree with that. Of course they're a nation and are unified in the love of their country, but everyone is so diverse, and they do what they want. 

Today we went on a "tube rallye" and took the underground & buses to basically ever possible inch of downtown London learning where things were and how everything works. We were out 6.5 hours but it was SO FUN! I feel like a true Englander now. Tonight we went to see the musical Guys & Dolls, which of course I loved. a ton. and now, here we are sitting in the hotel lobby. at 1 AM. all trying to facebook and skype our families. feeling the tube rumble a hundred feet under our feet.
I know this all sounds silly and doesn't make much sense. but I absolutely adore every second of it. 


Fun facts: every single house has weather vanes. the accents are AWESOME, duh. customs was really mean & scary. the driving here is crazy like Ecuador, everyone's really close and you think you're going to crush pedestrians and small cars. 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

give me words!

Isaiah 1:16-17 says, "Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows."
There are 27 million slaves in the world today, more than there have been at any other point in human history. But they aren't just "27 million". Not just a number. They have names. They have faces. They're a little girl who's kidnapped and is now the subject of pornographic pictures. They're a man who was born into slavery and is forced to work in dangerous conditions with no hope for his family's future and childrens' education. They're a young woman who was tricked into moving to a different country for a job, only to become a prostitute whose only hope of escape is suicide. 
THEY ARE REAL PEOPLE.
"WE'VE GOT TO RISE UP, OPEN OUR EYES UP.
BE HER VOICE, BE HER FREEDOM.
COME ON, STAND UP."
This week was Passion 2012, also known as the week Jesus changed my life. Obviously, he'd already changed my life the day He redeemed me and I became His at 9 years old. But this week, I realized I truly desire God. He is beautiful to me, and I seek to glorify Him with my life so that others may see His beauty as well. I am satisfied by all that He is in my life through Jesus Christ, because of how he's freed me from the bondage of sin and bound me to a life of sacrificial love with Him (thank you, John Piper, for that wording). I feel like my heart has been pricked with an injecting-needle of faith. It's like a small blossom has entered and is spreading, slowly and boldly. 
He opened my eyes to the brutal reality of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Did you know it takes 3.2 slaves to make a smartphone? Yeah. There's a really awesome anti-slavery organization, www.slaveryfootprint.org, which has a survey you can take to calculate how many slaves you employ with the products you buy and the things you own. I calculated mine, and I employ 47 slaves. The sad truth is, I don't live that extravagantly. I have a car and a smartphone and eat food in the caf at school. I wear mostly t-shirts and buy the Wal-Mart brand a lot. And still, with the purchases I make everyday I am continuing global modern-day slavery. Take a couple minutes and learn about modern-day slavery on SlaveryFootprint's website, and take the survey. Then, use your voice. They have a great resource on the website where you can send letters to various companies whose products you use, asking them to reevaluate where they get their resources and if they're made through forced labor. I've sent 26 today alone, because I am concerned about our culture's rampant apathy about this issue and I want to see it changed. Also, you can donate money on their website to help end human trafficking, and you can download their app that helps you keep track of the products you're buying and whether they were made by forced laborers. Other wonderful organizations you could check out are the A21 Campaign, International Justice Mission (IJM), Tiny Hands, Hagar International, Wellspring Living, NightLight, and Restore International are just a few of those seeking to "seek justice, help the oppressed, fight for the rights of widows, and defend the cause of the orphans."
My one prayer, now, is that my God would give me the words to speak. That we all would "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:16-17). My prayer is that the Jesus that has been poured into my life the past three days would spill over on everyone that I come in contact with, especially in the spiritual darkness of London. My prayer is that I would not be ashamed of the Gospel, for I know that it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes it (Romans 1:16). My prayer is that my conversations would overflow with the words of God and with His grace; and most of all, my prayer is for those of my brothers and sisters around the world that are enslaved, that they would be found and rescued. That they would come to faith in Christ, and that their captors would be imprisoned, and that this bright blaze of a fire that started at Passion 2012 would catch fire around the world, and that the church would rise up and do her job- seek justice. help the oppressed. 
Here's a video of what CNN reported as a teensy bit of what happened the past three days in Atlanta, Georgia.  $3 million for 27 million

welcome to midnight.

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