Monday, June 30, 2014

All Things

I know, I know. Philippians 4:13 is one of those almost "over" quoted verses. Even if you don't know the reference, you know the verse.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

For years, I've been guilty of passing and brushing off these powerful ten words from Paul's letter.

"That's a newbie verse. Is that really true? I mean, I know it's in the Bible, but still... All things??"

Last December, I had what was look to be a stretching, slightly overwhelming weekend ahead of me and I was discussing it with a friend of mine. He told me to remember that as Christians, we can do all things through the strength of Christ inside us. We on our own are so weak and so incapable, but the Holy Spirit is inside us, which means His strength is inside us. How amazing is that?!? 

We discussed this for several minutes, and it totally gave me a new perspective on that verse. I mulled over these words for several hours that night, thinking of them as this-could-be-overwhelming weekend started in my life.

God wouldn't let these words leave my heart.

Finally, I found a note card and wrote them- letters swirling across the page. I then hung this card on the refrigerator where it reminded me constantly over the next three days, all things. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Since that conversation, I've thought so often about that simple phrase. All things.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. So many situations have been strengthened by the simple words. My friend and I remind each other of them anytime we're in a challenging situation; big tests, long days when we're at the theater from 9AM to 3AM performing two shows and striking, huge spiritual battles, or just a hard day. I've picked up that notecard, traced the letter so many times.

all things.

He lives in me.

I wonder sometimes how this could change the way we live. How would our lives be different if we lived truly believing we could do all things through the Holy Spirit residing in us? Would you live more daring, free, willing to risk the things that don't really matter for the things that do? I know I would. Would you write the book, sing the song, speak the words, take the trip, do these things that we are so terrified to simply do? Taking this step could truly change our lives if we really believed "I can do all things-all things- through Christ who strengthens me."

But more than just the "big" things in life, how could these words change the ordinary things we do? How could "all things" give you the strength to wash the dishes one more time, to do one more math lesson, to pick up the toys once more?

These words can help us cook one more dinner, have one more hard conversation, drive to one more place- anything- if we just claimed them and believed- believed in their power, in their truth, in the way that they proclaim Christ is in us and that we don't have to be afraid, that we can accomplish anything in his desire for us just by accepting his strength in our lives.

Think about it once more.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

How will you live like you believe it today?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Begin & End

We started building a house last week.

We've been in the process for two and a half years, but it really feels like my whole life because "when we build our house" was always on the horizon.

It feels like that's the way a lot of my life is going right now. This is the time we've been talking about and to which everything's been leading up. I'm a senior in high school. That means this is my last summer of youth. My last year of HPA, co-op, piano. This is my last summer in this house. The last summer to run these specific roads in the morning. The last summer to sit alone on the tree swing as the sun sets.The last summer to make jam in this kitchen. The last fall to pull in and out of this driveway. The last fall to die of laughter in our kitchen over huge Carmel apples causing mouth problems. The last fall to watch these leaves change. The last fall to start a new highschool journal on the first Tuesday of September.

Last.

Last.

Last.

I hate lasts.
------------------------------
There's also a bunch of beginnings.

First time registering for classes. First time attending college. First time I'm fully responsible. First time I really have to decide what to do with my life. First time driving to school. First time driving the carpool to HPA. First time being a really truly "big kid." First time planning to graduate. First time to wonder about a after-school job.

First.

First.

First.

Sometimes, I think I hate firsts too.

If you haven't picked up on this yet, I'm a person of routine and order. I am usually content to keep things the way they are. Let's just perform this show every weekend for forever. Let's not start that new class. I don't want to drive on that new road. I like the group of people I hang out with now.

But we can never move ahead into all the fantastic blessings God has for us if we stayed in the past.

This means things have to change.

And we all know how I feel about change.

I had coffee with a friend last Friday and we discussed how wonderful it is that in the midst of our chaotic, crazy, ever-changing lives, God never changes. (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17, Psalm 102:27)

Ever.

I think as teenagers/young adults, when our life plans and friends and dreams and goals are changing faster than we can come to grip with it all, this is especially reassuring. My life feels like it is spiraling out of control so very often, but God never changes. My house may change, my plans may change, my friends may change, my job may change, but God remains the same faithful, holy, perfect, loving, all-knowing God that He always has been and always will be.

As a Christian, who you are to Him doesn't change either. As long as you continue loving and following Him, repenting and confessing your sin, He will hold you securely (1 John 5:18). Your world can be turning upside down, but He holds you in His hands, protecting you, shielding you, loving you, covering you with His wings.

For me, in the midst of so many beginnings and endings and I-don't-even-know!s, this is the ultimate reassurance. Wherever I'm going, whatever I'm doing, however life is changing moment by moment, these three things remain the same.

My God never changes.
He is always faithful.
He loves me, insecurities, unknowns, mistakes and all.

The same is true for you.

Yes, you. I might know you and I might not. But I do know this.

He loves you.

No matter how you messed up last year, last week, yesterday, this morning, no matter how much you doubt, He still loves you. He created you and you are His. Run to His unchanging arms today, friends, and let Him give you peace.

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 losing 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.

Yes.

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,
wonderful,
hard,
amazing,
blessing-filled
year.

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't.wait.until.this.is.me.

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 just.so.blessed. 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. ♥