Monday, February 24, 2014

On Being a "Yes" Sister

It's later than I like to start my math for the day. I spread out my books, notebook, calculators (yes, I use two), and note cards. Picking up my pencil, I write the lesson number and begin to copy the first problem to work out. And at that very moment, she comes through the door.

She's carrying a large book and as she walks toward me, her dimples show even though she's not smiling. "Lindsey, will you read this to me??" As I glance up into her big blue eyes, thoughts pour through my mind. That book?? She couldn't have picked a shorter one? You never even liked that one as a kid. And girl, you have so.much.math to do. Just tell her no. 

And I've told her no. Time and time again my voice has let those two letters free. No. No smoothies for breakfast. No book. No movie. No going outside. It got to the point where she and her twin sister would hardly come to me anymore for anything- and never to play with them. Let me tell you, that one hurt when I realized it was true. I was loosing my little sisters.

They're in an odd stage right now and its one that is so easy to harp on. STOP it. Act like a 5 year old. Don't be silly. Open your eyes. (Seriously, what is it with half closing or completely closing your eyes when you're acting silly?) Don't act like a baby. Normal voices. 

It was a few weeks before Christmas when I pulled out several of my favorite old Christmas books and asked them if they wanted to read with me. Of course, they did, so we read about the candy cane and an apple tree and many others. 30 minutes later, they exclaimed "Thank you for reading to us!" as they climbed the stairs to bed.

Since then, I've tried. I played Candy Land, read books, baked cookies and muffins, and made smoothies every Friday morning (Except this Friday, because our blender burnt out). I've seized a few moments that I wouldn't have before... and I've also missed out on many that could have been wonderful memories.

I've written about this many times before, how we should treasure our time with those around us because they can be gone so quickly and because we are growing up. I haven't perfected it though... I'm nowhere near close. It can be discouraging to look back and see the times I failed and how sparse the times I haven't look in comparison. Let me tell you, I'm still in the thick of this one. I don't really see any light. But I'm wondering how different life would look- theirs, but especially mine- if I switched out even half of those nos with yes.

Yes. I'll make time for you.

Yes. You are important to me.


It's not to say that no isn't okay. There are definite moments when a no is totally fine or even necessary. But yes, yes could work wonders on your relationship and your spirit. I've found that yes is freeing, life-giving. Yes allows you to step back from your own frazzled life and take a moment to seep it all in. Yes is a break, and more diligence and perspective when you come back to work.

Jesus said yes. I'm sure there were times when He wanted to go home or get away from the crowds or not answer one more question. But He did. He came to earth and served the people with love, giving more and more of Himself even when His human flesh grew weary. The story of His loving on and instructing the crowd of people who followed Him across the lake gets me every time. I know what it's like to want to be alone and withdraw from the crowds, yet He doesn't get annoyed or turn them away. I want to be like Him, to be able to surrender my plans without a complaint to serve others in love.

So I set down the notebook, smile at her, and open my arms. Yes. She climbs onto my lap and whispers, "I like this book." I whisper back, "I like YOU."

She's way more important than finishing three math lessons today anyway.

Monday, January 20, 2014

InstaThoughts: the Bible Study That Wasn't

Friday night, I was supposed to attend a new-to-me Bible study. God opened a lot of doors in order to let me go, and as I've been craving good Biblical fellowship, I was super excited to see what He was going to teach me. I knew a few of the attendees and knew that several others were great Christian people. It seemed perfect. 

Then I woke up Friday morning with a headache. It got worse as the day went along, but I was convinced that Bible study would be worth it, even with a headache. I was over halfway there when I realized I couldn't go. I ended up at home, nursing a throbbing headache and the chills and nausea that come along with that. It was disappointed to miss what I was so sure would be a great night, and the chance to make new friends, but God reminded me He has a plan for all things in my life and that I don't need a Bible study to be close to Him. He is always enough. 

I took that selfie in the mirror before bed. I was supposed to be in a new house, talking among people I had never met. I took this picture not to document my disappointment (or to show that I obviously don't care how my hair looks when I'm sick), but rather to remind myself how a night can be different and still be beautiful. I got to witness my siblings playing "mission trip to Kenya" and spend some time learning from Jesus. I don't know why it wasn't in His plans for me to go Friday night, but I do know that He is always good. 

{This is the beginning of a new series which will use pictures and thoughts from my Instagram feed and flesh them out a bit. They won't be as long as a normal post, but I hope they will encourage you just the same.}

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Turning the Page

two thousand thirteen

It was a crazy,

One of my favorite verses this year (and consequently, one of my favorite things I memorized) was Isaiah 43:1-4. 

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine. 
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...
You are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you..."

Isn't it beautiful?? These four verses have been SUCH a blessing. God has used them to help me so much, in so many circumstances. I've texted them to friends, written them on school papers, recited them in family devotions and while driving down the road and standing in Lake Michigan with the waves washing over my feet. God speaks to me every time.

I definitely want- need- to read and memorize more Scripture this year. I don't have firm goals in this area yet, but I definitely want to do indepth study of the NT letters and want to memorize several passages and/or chapters. So excited to see what God will teach me this year!!

We sang this song in church this summer and I've loved it ever since.I've sung this one in northern MI, southern CA, and everywhere in between. There's nothing like belting "Jesus, ONLY Jesus!" in Satan's face in moments of attack.

Our family thrives on music. We have Christian music playing every day, and I love it. I would love to solidify some basic guitar chords so that I can pick up my guitar and worship God, instead of strumming away with no purpose.

Favorite Blog Posts of 2013:

My goals for this little blog include a good long heart post once a month, along with a short post with a few thoughts, verses and pictures every few weeks. I love to write, and I want to keep it a priority in the craziness of transcripts and starting my senior year and such.

I read 163 books last year. Some were for school, some were fun "fluff," some were children's chapter books, and some were good uplifting nonfiction. My favorites were:

 I know I won't be able to read as much this year. School and working and school (and honestly, facebook) have taken up much of my time. My goal is 75 books right now, and I hope that I'll be able to prioritize my time to read that many.
I don't know what things God is going to do in my life this year. 
I know there will be hard moments. 
There will be I-can-hardly-breathe-this-is-so-perfect moments.
I'll cry.
I'll laugh.
God will choose to let some of my plans for my life come into being.
He'll also choose to remove some of them for something better.

He may take me home to heaven this year.

What He does, I'm choosing to to intentionally live every moment to the fullest, putting God above all, people above things, enrichment over mindless surfing, health over ease. I'm SO thankful that NEVER ONCE will I ever walk alone, that my God will "never leave [me] or forsake [me]."

Bring it on, 2014. 

I've got the King of the world on my side.

Monday, December 9, 2013

On Weddings, Babies, and Never-Ending Highschool

I have a friend who is married with a 8 month old baby boy. I ran into their little family on my way into Starbucks the other day and it was so fun to hug them and watch them click J's carseat into the car and drive away. That pang stuck my heart though... you know the one. Jesus... I want that to be me so badly. Can't I be grown up now?

Another dear, dear friend was married in May and is due with her sweet baby girl in March. We meet at Biggby or Panera and I absolutely love to hear her talk about how she loves being married and how she can't wait to hold her daughter. I love it. But there are also moments of I.just.can'

I have a friend who is planning her wedding, dropping out of college to save money for marriage. I have a friend who is head over heels in love with her man and honestly, we're all just waiting for her relationship status on FB to change and pictures of a diamond to appear. A good number of my friends are older than me by several years, and so these days, lots of life-changing things are happening to them.

It's easy for me to feel left behind sometimes. They're all out there, with their exciting lives and men and babies, and here I am. Still in high school. Still plugging away at the school books and enduring the drama (no pun intended) of HPA. It's exhausting and monotonous at times. It's easy to feel like the end of the school year- or even Christmas break- will never come, much less graduation. And graduation isn't even the magic key to marriage and babies and exciting life.

What would happen if we all just took a moment to think about this?? How as little girls we longed for this time in our lives? How so many others don't make it to 16, to 20, to 35? How these moments, these days, will never come again?? People, this stage in your life will finish, this page will turn, and we won't be able to go back.

I don't want to pine these last years of high school away by wanting a husband and a family. I remember thinking as a little girl that 16 would be the absolutely perfect age and it seemed so far away. But I'm living those perfect days right now! and they are good. I have a relationship with the King of the world, a wonderful family, amazing friends. I love homeschooling, HPA, quirky moments with those I love and freedom with my days. Why is it so hard to be content with all those blessings?!?

It all goes back to that one truth: Satan doesn't like God to be glorified. He will fight nail, teeth, and bone to keep praise from going back to our Savior. And you know something?

Discontent people rarely worship God meaningfully.

When I remember that God has given me this school, job, year, life to do for Him and His glory, and when I live like I believe it, I do my school in a way that worships the Lord. When I remember that He has given me these last few years to have a huge impact on my siblings' lives, I work hard to invest in our relationships. When I remember that my high school friends will be busy with college and life in two very short years, we gather together to study the Bible and worship and pray and make memories together. When I remember that God has given me life, I live it to His glory.

Satan hates this.

Dreams aren't bad. Marriage is incredible. Babies are a massive blessing. What is wrong is when we allow Satan to distract us from our everyday work with whisperings and what-ifs. God knows the desires of our hearts! He loves to give good gifts to His children. But we have to trust that His plans for us are for the very best and that He never, ever makes mistakes. So many times I have prayed for something desperately and later realized how good it was that I didn't receive that gift. Other times I have prayed for something to later be overwhelmed with gratitude when God blesses me with that very thing.

Don't think I've mastered this. I've been battling it for days, weeks, months. I'm preaching to myself here. But be encouraged, friends! God knows what He's doing in your life and even if it feels like this stage will last forever, it won't. Don't let Satan discourage you from fighting the good fight. Find joy in doing what it is that God has you doing in the here and now, and remember that before you know it, these days will be but a memory. What you do with them is up to you, but don't waste them.

"For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow?" {Eccl. 6:12}

God does. Rest in His arms, in His love for you today, friends.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Long-Needed Update

I've been scared to update on my last post... scared to tell you all that things are going better for fear they'll take a turn for the worse and scared to tell you that things are still bad because they really aren't and I'm But honestly, I don't know how to start to tell you.

Do I tell you about how the pain slowly dulled and is now nearly gone?? How I disobeyed God and how that didn't go so well?? How I have amazing friends and family that helped me through? How since then, I've experienced the blessings of God in full abundance pouring down on me?

It's been such a growing year for me. I've experienced school and lots of it. People told me that the junior year was heavy, and it's true. Chemistry, Advanced Math, American History and Biblical Worldview don't give me a lot of time, but God keeps reminding me that this is where He has me in life, to learn and study and work hard. And it's all going really well. My days are full, but they aren't overwhelming. God helps me every day.

HPA has been interesting. Every year is such an adjustment, and every year I think is really hard... until the next year. I've learned (and been reminded of), thus far: 1. God works everything out for good. 2. Singing alto is a really fun challenge. 3. True friends make time to listen and remember to check on you. 4. If you hurt someone- even accidentally- apologize right away. You have no idea how much pain can be prevented that way. 5. Saying "No, God, I don't really like that idea." and doing it anyway doesn't end prettily. 6. God loves to bless those who follow Him.

I've had to let go of friends that promised we'd stay together, and God has grown friendships that completely bless my socks off. No words to explain this. He's given me a friend who lets me call her anytime, totally is big-sister protective, and mentors me through life; another who makes me laugh, who cares and listens, and who always brings me back to God; and still another who never runs out of things to talk to me about, who can finish my sentences and with whom I can laugh hysterically about nothing with and who is always a text away from a prayer request.

And finally, everything for me goes back to God and the cross. It has been truly incredible to watch Him work in my life, and to realize that He is really always there, caring, loving, waiting. Prayer after prayer, He has revealed Himself to me, and I'm such an awful Christian- so unworthy to even bear that title- but He loves me anyway. He died to save me, to offer me and you and everyone the undeserved, ultimate grace. These last few weeks, so often I've stood in awe of His holiness, His perfection. It never gets old.

And at the end of this long, rambling blog post, that's what I want you to go away with.
God is good. 
He came to earth. 
He died. 
He rose. 
He is holy
He is King.

Jesus, I am Yours.

More soon, friends. ♥

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Crashing Down

I think most people have a family. Not a flesh-and-blood, blue eyes, midwest drawl family, but a family of people that you surround yourself with when your mom and dad and sisters and brother can't be there. Theater's my thing and I've been so blessed over the years to have had some wonderful families there.

The devotion teams stand out the most. Each year, the directors pick 4-8 people to give devotions and lead the cast. We're selected, but it's more than that. We're a family. During Fiddler on the Roof, we were all trying to figure out exactly how to do this devotions and family thing, but my My Fair Lady team was incredible. We were all super close, we prayed and talked and encouraged and laughed all the time.

And I've been ready for this year. I had plans and dreams, ideas and devotions, all planned and ready to talk to that new team- my new family- about. Honestly, in my head, I was picking them out too.

"Okay, God, can I have Tim and Andy and Chase and Jamie and Abby and Ashlea and Christianna? Thanks."

Before auditions, I spent some time down on my grandparents' dock. And righ there in my journal, I wrote,

"So right here, God, I dedicate HPA this year to you. I'm placing my role, my cast, my committee, my friends, and my life in your hands. I give it all to You. There is no place I'd rather be than YOUR perfect plan. I am Yours. Use me, Lord."

Did you catch that little part there about my committee? The words sound nice, but they really meant, "God, I'll let You decide which devotion committee I'm on this year. I guess I'm okay with either one." It wasn't real submission, probably because I never had any thoughts about not being on the team. I'd been for the past two years, and I was a strong Christian with a desire to do it. I full-out adored it. I thought that was enough.

It wasn't. God had other plans and other lesson for my life. The cast and committee lists came out and the hardest part of that day wasn't the "oh, she and she and he and they aren't in my show." or even the "Okay, God, I guess I'll do the small, girl-group chorus again." It was reading those lists, seeing those committees, and knowing that they were a family. And I wasn't in it.

Call me crazy, but I've grieved the loss of this never-was-mine family. I denied for a bit that this was the truth, thinking, hoping, pulling at any last straw, "It's just a mistake. ____ will email me any time telling me that they mixed up the lists." Then it hit me and I was mad, upset that they could give "my" place to someone else.

God's been teaching me so much, though. It's humbling to have to answer people's "What committ- oh, right, you're on devotions." with "Actually..." and then the truth. I realized how proud I've been, how much I built my place in HPA on that lofty platform of devotions. I glorified in putting together devotions that would sound good and powerful, not necessarily asking God to speak His words through me, just to use my words for Him. There's a difference. Yet through it all, I loved it so much, I made it an idol in my life. It was an idol of pride, self-worth, and popularity. We all know that God can't stand idols.

So He pulled it down. It kinda felt like HPA as I know it came crashing down around me too. It's brought tears to my eyes more than once to watch the team meet in different corners and knowing how encouraging those meetings are. My heart hurt while I sat through devotions last week. Watching the community between the members has been painful. It's all been painful.

But it's good. That's the last word I want to use to describe it, but I must. Chris Brown talked at the Leadership Summit about how much pain and revenge Saul went through because he refused to admit that David was a better leader and warrior than he was. Saul wouldn't move over or get out of the chariot to make room for David.

Chris then asked us, "Do you have room in your chariot for someone else? Someone who might do the job better than you?" I kinda feel pushed out of the chariot, but honestly, I don't know if I would have gotten out any other way. So it's good. I'm where God wants me, and it's the best place to be. I'm crazy blessed to have been on the devotion team for two years, and I'm crazy blessed to get to listen to their devotions now.

Larry Osborne says, "We don't care who teaches the message, as long as the message is taught."

So teach it, devotion teams. Remind the casts who God is and who we are, and how everything we do; the singing, the dancing, the acting, everything, is for Him and because of Him and His love and His grace. Encourage them, rebuke them, teach them, and love them, every one, even the ones who are in no way like you. Stay humble, stay focused on grace and God. I'm praying for each of you.

"Not to us, oh Lord, not to us, but to Your Name be the glory."

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Repeat

Some of you might remember how I took a break last September.

It was so, SO good for me. I did devotions every day, established a journaling routine and got the first month of school under my belt without the lure of the laptop calling to me every 10 minutes. (okay, the computer still lured me. It just didn't win.)

So you might have guessed, I'm repeating the experiment this year. I'll be off blogs, Facebook, Pinterest and everything except 15 minutes of email a day. I've actually been looking forward to it. Last year was hard, especially the first two weeks. But the freedom and the joy that comes is wonderful. I'm excited for this year.

My goals are pretty similar to last years:
  • devotions every day... 30 days makes a habit!
  • Memorize Isaiah 43:1-4 and Psalm 34
  • start journaling daily- or almost daily- again (summer hasn't been good for consistent journaling.)
  • focus on establishing a good school schedule that works
  • keep writing. I don't want my newly refocused fire to be suffocated just because I can't type.
  • Get aperture, ISO, and shutter speed straight, and be able to shoot a good photo with them.
I've got birthday reminders in my calendar, fresh pencils in my desk, and unopened books in my school crate. I don't like to say good-bye to summer, but I'm super, uber-excited to get into a routine that will affect the next 10 months of my life. That thought excites me so much. I can't wait to see what God is going to do in my life!!

Have a blessed September!!! I'll see you in a month. :)