Monday, December 23, 2013

I Have To

I have to keep up with all my friends. Practice piano. Harp. Write on my blog. Write a book. Get straight A's. Know my life plans.

Do you have a similar list? The things you have to do to be good enough?

Honestly, I struggle with these goals over breaks from school. While I'm at college I have plenty to keep my busy, but when I come home I fight a strange war with the time on my hands. I want to rest from the semester, but I don't feel valuable when I'm not accomplishing things.

The truth of the matter? God loves me as His child, not for my accomplishments.

Why do I think everything else matters?

Perhaps the greater problem is not with what I'm doing or not doing, but where I'm focusing. So far, this break has been about me. Getting my rest so I can do second semester. Organizing my schedule. And even worrying about my goals.

It's time to focus on God. Especially now at Christmas. Whenever Christ was really born, He came!! It's time for me to remember how He came. And why.

I have to move past the lists of requirements I "have to" reach to matter.

And I need to come to a place of overflowing praise.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Don't Deserve This

What was a time in your life when you've thought this? Maybe you got a poor grade on a school assignment and you knew you deserved better. Or perhaps a friend got angry with you for no reason. Or some authority in your life assigned you an extra task or maybe some extra blame.

So many times, it feels like we don't deserve what happens to us.

But hold on, before we start to pity ourselves too much, let's look at this another way.

"Giving thanks unto the Father which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:12-14).

I read these verses today and came to grips with the fact that I don't deserve this. I don't deserve this redemption God has given me.

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Romans 5:8-10). 

Thanksgiving is coming up. This year, let's allow the awe of not deserving redemption but receiving it anyway bring us to our knees.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Why I Write

What makes you do what you do? Was there some trigger in your childhood? Or do you perhaps have a learned passion--something you didn't expect to like? Do you even know why you love what you do?

I've been writing since I was a child, but I couldn't tell you why I started. It happened. I wrote, and I never stopped.

Perhaps sometimes the real question is, regardless of why we begin something, why do we continue it?

Recently I was reminded of one of the reasons I write. In attempts to get more familiar with the contemporary YA market in Christian books, I started doing some reading on my Kindle. In the process, I ran across the book Tournaments, Cocoa, and One Wrong Move by Nancy Rue.

I didn't entirely agree with the way God's Word was treated in this book. In one place I thought the Bible translation/paraphrase being used was completely wrong as it almost inferred incorrectly that Christ wasn't God (though I have to believe it was an unintentional error).

But other than that ... this book was a take-your-breath-away-it's-so-real picture of a teen girl looking for what really matters in life. It struck a chord in me so strongly that it stayed on my mind even when I wasn't reading it. I felt at the end I had been on the main character's difficult journey, and I was moved to tears by a realization of the things that really matter in life, loving God and people.

That, my friends, is the goal for my writing. I don't want to write a book that just excites readers or gains me popularity. I want to write books that encourage today's teens to go to their knees before God and want more of Him.

So think about it. Why do you do what you do?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Lately, a small collection of 3x5 cards have appeared on my walls. By my desk, one's a quote, one has song lyrics, and the other has a list of my priorities. And under my mirror I have one with two words: Nothing Else.

Why? I'm tired of forgetting.

After the Israelites crossed Jordan, they set up a memorial of what the Lord had done.

"And he [Joshua] spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever" (Joshua 4:21-24).

God's been doing some great things in my life this semester, but as I'm often ungrateful and forgetful, I've taken the advice of friends and made a way for myself to remember.

Now each time I sit to study, I can remind myself of my priorities. When I look in the mirror I can remember that Nothing Else besides God can hold highest value in my heart.

What kind of reminders do you have in your life? Are you making a way to remember what God's teaching you?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Where Are You, Part Two

Here's the conclusion of the story from last Thursday.

I was back at the house at 8:00 the next morning when the call came. It had been obvious, but Dad still felt he should call me when the miscarriage was official.

I hung up the phone feeling guilty about everything. Not wanting a sibling, being behind in school, hating my job, rarely having time for friends, and being rude to Mom.

Jerking my shoes on, I ran down the stairs and out the door. I didn’t even know what to feel.

I hit the track and started flying.

What was wrong with my life? My parents were great, when it came down to it. I didn’t have to go to public school, I went to church, I had a decent paying job, and I was looking at going to college.

It’s not enough.

I screamed in frustration. “Why isn’t it enough?”

I closed my eyes, following the path by feel. “God, what’s wrong with me?”

The truth was that I hadn’t been content in a long time. I had covered it up, tried to push through, work it out, live on. It hadn’t worked though. I was sick of the schoolwork that piled up every day. I missed the days when I had made time to spend with friends. I missed the days when Mom and I had gotten along … oh, I missed them more than all the rest of it. And I hated going to sleep at night knowing the next day would be a re-run of the day before, an endless hamster wheel.

What was wrong?

Nothing and everything.

And now, my baby sibling was gone. I hadn’t expected it to hurt, but it did. Slowly, as I ran, I felt the pain begin to crush me. My feet faltered, and I slowed down. The weight I felt finally stopped me. Falling to my knees and then laying down in the grass, I started crying.

“God, what is wrong? Why am I never happy? Why do I hate my life?” My sadness melded with bitterness. “And why can’t I feel your presence? I thought You said You’d never leave me.”

The bitterness gave my legs strength, and I jumped up and took off screaming again. “Where are You, God?”

I ran faster. Now I didn’t feel anger and I didn’t feel sorrow; I didn’t feel anything but loneliness and frustration.  I looked up at the blue sky broken by clouds and hidden by treetops. “God … where are You?”

I tripped, falling into a pile of leaves. Silence. I realized this moment was quieter than any I had known recently.

 A voice spoke to my heart.

“Sydney … where are you?”


I grabbed the family Bible off of the coffee table and opened it in my lap. Genesis 1, Genesis 2 …. I skimmed the pages wildly. I knew the voice I had heard in my heart, and I knew it had said a very similar thing before, long ago. Near the beginning.

Genesis 3:9 read, “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?”

I looked at the page, trying to understand. What had He meant, asking me that?

I read the story. It had been a long time since I had done that. Adam and Eve had hidden from God after their sin. They didn’t want Him to find them.

Then God said, “Where art thou?”

Tears began to trickle down my cheeks. “Where art thou?”
God wasn’t missing.
I was.
I was the one who had been hiding, not finding time for Him. I had let school, work, frustration over the pregnancy, and frustration with my mom crowd out my God.

And that’s why I had been feeling so lost.

I sniffled and put the Bible back. Curling into a ball on the sofa, I whispered, “I’m here, God.

“And I’m sorry.”


I didn’t do so much running after that. It still felt good when I did, but I didn’t need it to think and I didn’t need it to feel something. Not anymore.

Because I'd finally stopped hiding. I was honest – respectfully honest – with my parents, letting them know what was really going on in my heart. I apologized to my mom for the way I’d treated her. I also worked harder on keeping my school under control, not letting myself hide from it like before.

The best part wasn’t that I stopped hiding, though. It was that I started seeking. Seeking my God again. It had been too long.

And it was better than ever.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Where Are You, Part 1

Today I decided to give you part one of a story I wrote some time ago. It is one of my older writings, but I hope you'll still enjoy it! Part 2 will come out on Tuesday.

Light exploded around me.

Forcing more strength from my legs, I pushed away from the old tunnel and into the sunshine. My route was almost done, but my legs still had more to give. I grinned as I whipped through the forest.

This run was a good idea. True, it was early, and true, I’d probably come close to being late for school, but I didn’t mind. A run always cleared my head.

It would be a good day.


I walked slowly into the house, cringing as the hinges squeaked on the screen door. Like I had expected, my mom awaited me at the kitchen table, her grade books around her.

"Where’ve you been, Sydney?" 

"Running." I didn't meet her eyes.

 "Is that a good reason for being 48 minutes late to school? And I am assuming you still need a shower, right?"

"No and yes." I wiped sweat from my forehead. "No, I shouldn’t have been late, and yes, I need a shower.”

She turned to the window, away from me. "Then I suggest you go take one and get to work as quickly as possible." She kept her voice down, probably trying to keep me from getting angry, which had been happening a lot lately. Life had just been… difficult. 

"Okay." I turned and hurried away, through the living room and up the stairs to my room. I had known it was a stupid idea to take those extra laps on my homemade track, but the running had felt amazing this morning. I could actually think clearly while I ran outside, away from school and friends and Mom’s unexpected pregnancy and everything that was going on. I rustled around in my drawers for a clean T-shirt. 

I wished real life was as peaceful as my morning runs. 


Halfway through the afternoon, I took a break from school. Being homeschooled had many advantages, but for me they were somewhat nullified by a mother who assigned schoolwork in bulk.

I hopped up from my desk and looked at my bookshelf. Gotta be a good read here somewhere. I glanced over the titles. Some I had read, most I hadn’t, but … oh, wait. My Bible was in the middle of the shelf. I hadn’t had time to touch it before running that morning.

I snatched it off the oak shelf and hoisted myself up onto my bed to read a bit. Psalms was usually my book of choice, mostly because it has a lot of short chapters, and today I flipped to Psalm 6.

"O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed."

There were more verses, but I didn’t really feel the Psalm applying. I didn’t think the Lord was angry with me. Why would He be? I was a Christian.

Switching over to prayer, I said, "Dear Lord, thanks for this day. It’s really gorgeous outside. Thanks for helping with my schoolwork, and please help Dad at work…" One of my eyes peeked open, and I saw the title of an interesting-sounding book on my shelf. "Please help all the sick in the church. Amen."

Within a moment, I had escaped into the fresh pages of an unread book.


The phone rang shrilly above the sound of the TV in the next room. I glanced up at the handset in my room, trying to read the caller ID. It's Jessica. 

Tossing my science book off of my lap, I sprang up to answer the phone. "Hello?"

"Hey, Syd, what's up?"

"Nothing much, why?"

"I was wondering if you had time to come over and hang out. We're watching a movie tonight, and I was going to ask Shelby to come, too.'

"Sounds like fun." I looked at the clock. It wasn't even seven PM yet, but still, I had loads of schoolwork to do. "What movie?"

She named one of my favorites.

I looked down at the pile of books on the floor – history, English, literature, and the science book lying face down where I'd thrown it. "I don’t know. I’ll have to ask my mom."

"Oh. We can do it some other time if you need to."  She knew how things had been lately with my mom.

I frowned. I didn’t get many chances to see Jessica besides church. Didn’t I deserve a break?

"I’ll call you back, okay?"

"Yeah," she said. "Bye."

I tossed the phone on my bed and walked over to my parents’ room. Knocking barely louder than the TV, I waited for an invitation to come in.

"Syd?" my dad called.

"Yeah, can I talk to Mom?"

My mom opened the door. "What’s up, Sydney?"

"Can I could go to Jessica’s tonight? She’s inviting Shelby to come, and we were going to watch a movie."

Mom frowned slightly. "Didn’t I see you carry a big stack of schoolwork up here after supper? You can’t be getting further behind, Sydney."

I felt frustration creep in. I knew what I was doing. Really. "Mom, I know. But I want to go. I’ll make it up tomorrow." My tone was a bit south of respectful.

"Don’t talk to me that way."

"What’d I do?" But I knew.

She pursed her lips. "Fine, you can go. But tomorrow, you’re catching up. No matter what."

I felt a twinge of hesitation. Mom’s no matter what’s were serious. But now I really wanted to get away from everything. From my messed up life. From my newfound attitude problem I couldn’t seem to control. "Okay, then I’m going."


The next day I dragged myself to work after fighting through my mountain of homework. Flipping burgers was not my ideal job, but it was one of the only openings in Riley, the nearest town to my home. So I cooked burgers.

"Five juniors," my manager, Hannah, called from the front. I started slapping together sandwiches and then slid them into their racks, barely avoiding a collision with my friend Blake and a strainer full of hot fries.

Getting back to the grill, I stared at the spatula.

"So what’s up, Sydney?" Blake asked.

“Nothing. Nothing much.”

"How’s your mom doing with the pregnancy?"

“Fine.” Honestly, it was the last thing I wanted to talk about. After being an only child for so many years, the idea of a sibling was unsettling. In fact, the day she had announced her pregnancy was the day things had become strained between us.

"You don’t sound fine." He was pressing me, and he knew it.

"Seriously, I don’t want to talk about it."

"About what?"

"Everything! I don’t know." I paused for a moment. "I don’t even know what’s bothering me."

"Let’s go over the options." He smiled as he measured out another batch of fries. "Parents?"

I saw another order come up on the screens and started a new burger. "Not really. Mom and I have been a bit… off. But it’s my fault. I know that." My heart twinged. I knew that my problems were deeper than my attitude, even though I couldn’t identify them.


I moaned, slapping a burger into a bun with more force than necessary. "I’m behind. As usual. I get up every morning thinking that I’ll have time for everything and there are plenty of hours in the day, and then I get to the evening and I realize that I’m out of time without getting everything done."

"Are you using your time well?" His voice held a tinge of a deeper question; I didn’t know what he meant.

"Not too well. But I’m kinda keeping up with school. I mean, things are working out."

"Sydney, I meant ... spiritually." Blake was a serious Christian, and I knew it. But I still wasn’t getting his point. "I mean have you--"

He was cut off by the phone ringing. The manager grabbed it, leaving the other girl in the front to handle the customers by herself. After a few quiet words, Hannah hung up and turned to me.

"Give me the spatula, Sydney. Your dad’s coming to get you."

I looked at the clock. 8:19 p.m. My shift ended at 9:30. "Why?"

She paused. "It’s your mom."

I ran to the parking lot.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


It's illogical, and most Christians know it. But I'm pretty sure we all think it, or at least we are tempted to think it sometimes.

I've done something God can't forgive.

We know from God's Word that a Christian can never lose his salvation or the precious love of God. But when we blow it--and sometimes, let's face it, we majorly blow it--we think God won't love us anymore.

I won't go on and on explaining why this is wrong, because I think most of you reading this know that already (if you don't though, contact me and we can talk). Today, I want to present a reminder of how much Jesus loves even people who have sinned greatly.

In speech class today I'm doing a presentation from Luke seven. This passage talks about the sinful woman who anointed Jesus's feet. Verse 47 says, "Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little."

She loved much. And in verse 50, Jesus statement to the woman shows His own love for her: "And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."

Next time you're tempted to pout over your sin (and yes, at some point genuine remorse turns into pouting), remember that, while this by no means justifies sin, being forgiven of much is a chance for you to love much. And Jesus loves you even more.

The fact is, we all have sinned much.

May each memory of Christ's forgiveness teach us to love Him more.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Just ... Life

I'm sitting in my dorm room right now, looking at a bit of a mess. Things aren't put away, I have shoes tumbling out of my closet, and I need to wash a couple of my dishes.

And while I'm doing pretty well on my schoolwork, I have a short paper due Wednesday that I'm just beginning, and next Thursday holds an exam and quiz I haven't prepared for at all.

For tonight, my itinerary holds speech practice, dorm devos, a possible Skype meeting with a friend who's on the other side of the world, an important e-mail, and writing the next segment of my book-in-progress. All before midnight!

Each thing in itself is little. My mess is relatively little. My schoolwork is manageable. And nothing I have to do tonight is difficult in itself. But when each detail gets piled on the other, I get discouraged.

But I have to refocus on the incredible life God has given me.

I'm in college. And just when I was sure our college had the prettiest campus ever with its amazing views, now the leaves on the trees are turning for fall, and I wake to pink sunrises that make me think something like, God, how on earth did I get the chance to go to college in such a beautiful place?

Even on the days I'm stressed, I come back to my room and I like it. I'm fortunate enough to have a private room, and this year I've been able to make it cute and cozy. I feel like I have a place of my own; it's a good feeling.

I've written a book, and no matter how long this publishing journey takes or what twists are in the path, I'm so privileged to be on this road at all!

And tonight in a special message I've been reminded of just how much Jesus loves me, and what it means that I'll get to spend eternity with Him.

So my messy room? My homework? My business?


God has given me a path to walk, and even when it's hard, I can walk it praising and holding His hand.
"I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth."
(Psalm 34:1)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Locked Away


That's what I felt in chapel recently. I sat there listening to the message, and I was convicted about an area of bitterness in my life. One I've had for a while.

I tried to justify it. The circumstance I was angry about was legitimately wrong. Something God wouldn't be pleased with. I pouted too. I mean, come on, this had hurt me. I know we're supposed to forgive, but can't we nurse our wounds for a little while? We aren't going to be perfect, so should we expect ourselves to forgive right away every time? Is that realistic?

All of my complaints and excuses fell flat.

Not forgiving is as sinful as the thing I didn't want to forgive!

So I sat there in chapel and prayed. I had to admit that I wanted to obey God, but the truth was, I didn't want to obey in this situation. My lack of forgiveness wasn't just me nursing my wounds. It was blatant rebellion against a command of God. But, by His strength, I made the choice to forgive then and there.

I don't want to live with fractions of my heart held away from God. I don't want to pretend I can hide my sins and my wickedness from the One Who knows all. It's futile. I'm acting like Adam and Eve in the Garden trying to hide and cover my sins and having to realize that it's impossible.

I can't allow myself to lock up any part of my heart away from His sanctifying power.

All the keys have to go to Him.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

What God's Given YOU

Tonight I was practicing the piano for a special I'm playing in church tomorrow. I worked on the song, and I felt pretty good about how it sounded.

Until I stopped playing.

In some other practice room, someone was playing something that sounded incredibly hard (it actually may have been a duet ... I don't know how one person could do all that!). And I suddenly felt inferior.

The truth? That other song had burst my little bubble of pride.

I felt sorry for myself. I guess the way I play isn't very special compared to that. 

But then I started playing again. I began to see how wonderful, how amazing it was that I could play the piano to my skill level. The ability to play the piano at all is a blessing in my life.

And I don't have to compare my blessings with anyone else's.

Don't waste time envying the blessings of others. Thank God daily for those He's given you.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Time Management 101

I'm happy to report that this semester is getting under control. Finally!

Lately it's been especially difficult to spend time writing due to the amount of homework I've been doing. Today, however, I find myself at the place where I've ...

A. gotten done a good amount of work today
B. spent time with friends and
C. worked on revisions of my manuscript.

How did this work? And how can I keep it working for me?

God's help.

I tend to schedule my days, then not live up to the plan. Yesterday was the first step in breaking that cycle. I had a lot of things to do, and I woke up praying that God would help me actually live out my goals for the day. I got a lot done and was pleased. I've also been trying to remember to pray before studying, or when I'm struggling with studying, that God would help me focus and be effective.

I still don't know much about time management, but I think I've figured one thing out: I don't have it figured out.

Only God can help me be successful.

So my job is to do the work ... and ask for His help.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Disconnect

Do you ever see a link on Facebook to an article that looks really good? I love it when my friends post valuable stuff. I'll read it and think how right that author was.

Then, I read the comments.

By now, I should know better. Either the comments will be boring, with everyone giving the author a pat on the back, or I often find something far more disconcerting.


Either the commenter didn't understand what the article was saying at all, or his beliefs are warped. Sometimes, I'm a bit shocked by the disconnect. A man mentions helping his wife at home, and commenters say he's being arrogant in assuming that the work was hers in the first place. A woman speaks of modesty and is told she's in the wrong. But if we look at these situations from the Bible, men are to love their wives, and this can be shown in helping them; on the flip side, wives do have responsibilites in the home. Women are to be modest; men are to guard their eyes. It seems so simple to me. Why is there such a debate?

I've come to realize that part of the reason so many people have a problem with Godly wisdom is because they cannot understand it. As Christians, God gives us truth and perception others don't have.
"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthians 2:12-14).
So this disconnect I've been seeing? It's to be expected. And what are we to do?
Go make disciples.
Witness to others, and if they accept God, train them in the faith.
Each time we do this, one less person will have the disconnect.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My First Writing Conference!

Let's just say life's been crazy lately.

Along with trying to keep up in college, I've been preparing for my very first writers' conference. This past weekend I went to the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference. I had the privilege of sitting through workshops, hearing Robin Jones Gunn speak (she's excellent!), and getting to pitch my book to agents.

Yes. Pitch my book to agents. I'm still getting over the fact that I actually did it! Exciting and a bit nerve wracking.

All in all, the weekend went amazingly well. I'm so thankful to God that I went. I don't entirely know where He's leading me on my writing journeys right now. It will be some time before I know if this conference produced any real leads for me towards getting published.

It's true, I don't know the end.

But when I think about it, taking this journey with God ... that's enough.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Of Attitude and Sleep

It's hard to explain.

I've been thrilled to be back in college with my friends and the familiar places and people. I've been glad that I have another chance to learn more about God. Despite all that, lately, my attitude towards the classwork has been awful.

God is good, though. Last night I started giving Him my emotions and my trust for this semester. And this morning I woke feeling way better.

Life gets overwhelming pretty often, and the truth is we can't handle our problems on our own. Not God's way. The way we deal with problems and being overwhelmed is hugely important: will we give things to God or try to handle them on our own?

"The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower."
(Psalm 18:2)
P.S. And for the record, getting a little extra sleep can help one's perspective too. Just passing that on. :-)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

This Is Family

I'm back at college. Arriving this time was so different than coming my first time. I came back to places, policies, and people I was familiar with. I came back to a great set of friends, too.

I came back to family.

While I will miss my parents while I'm here at school, I have people here who I love and love me too. And you know what I think?

That's exactly how it was meant to be.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ are truly family. The bonds rescued sinners share are strong. And yes, we're sinners; we fail each other just like members of an earthly family. But still we can love one another and grow in Him together.

I'm so blessed that God has made me a part of the family.

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."
(I John 4:11)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

New Adventures

I'm excited about the future.

That may not sound that important to you, but if you knew how things have been lately, then you'd understand. Since leaving my first college, and perhaps even before, I've let the future intimidate me. The choices that needed to be made and the uncertainty of the results were overwhelming.

The future is still unclear for me. An upcoming writing conference, new college semester, and a harp student all lie in the next few weeks, so close I can feel them approach. But guess what?

I love my life. And I'm looking forward to the days ahead.

God is good. And I think He's teaching me more about contentment, and the trust it takes to face unknowns.

The journey is marvellous.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Forgetting Something?

I forget things sometimes. Like things I was supposed to do. Occasionally I'll leave out a word in the middle of a sentence in my writing. Very annoying.

But all that has nothing on what I've noticed myself forgetting lately. Sometimes I'm forgetting to pray like I should.

Praying should be like breathing. An integral part of my life. But lately I've been forgetting.

How does this happen? How do I go from this summer, when I learned so much about prayer, to relegating prayer to a short time in the morning and a few times I might think of it throughout the day?

I have a couple of theories. First off, dependency on myself. At home, I sometimes think, I can do this. I can manage my life. Lies. At camp, I knew I wasn't strong enough to serve like I should. Granted, the temptation to attempt self-sufficiency was at camp too, and sometimes I fell. There, though, I was reminded pretty often that I wasn't strong enough to handle things. Here at home, those reminders are fewer. With God's help, I have to remind myself.

Second? I think I may have fallen to the temptation to procrastinate. It's not like I look at a challenge and decide that, clearly, prayer isn't necessary for the situation. But it's easy to think that I don't have time to devote to deep prayer. I think that I'll do whatever it is I'm doing now, and next time I pray, I'll have a serious talk with God about it. Foolishness. I may not have time for a long prayer session right then, but I can still pray!

In life, we'll inevitably forget some things. But forgetting to let prayer saturate our lives isn't okay. It's not only displeasing to the Lord, it's devastating to us.

By God's strength, I'll again allow prayer to permeate my life.

I must.

"Pray without ceasing."
(1 Thessalonians 5:17) 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Right now in my writing life, I'm trying to get ready for an upcoming writers' conference. Honestly, it's sometimes a bit of an intimidating prospect to think of going somewhere with so many other writers. What if this shows me that my book isn't good enough? I'm not good enough? Will I be able to stay calm when presenting my book to a literary agent?

There's work to be done in advance, too. I'm preparing a book proposal customized to each of the agents I requested to speak with. I'm also trying to get more of my book through a critique group so it's more polished before I present it.

A while back, it would have been easy to throw in the towel and decide not to go. That it was too hard. But I'm glad I didn't, because I'm sure all this work will be worth it.

Just like with achieving our goals, our walk with God takes a lot of persistence. Just this morning I was trying to understand a verse I've never fully grasped. I spent a good deal of time fighting with concordances, and still I didn't have a good idea of the meaning of the root word(s) in question. I'm not giving up on this one, though. Tomorrow's a new day, and I'll give it another shot.

The benefits of persisting in our walk with Christ--in our devotions, our prayer life, and our daily dependence on Him--are always worth the work. And when you think about it, it is His strength that allows us to persist.

He gives us the goal and the ability to do it.

What a good God we serve!

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
(Galatians 6:9)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

God's Been Good

In thinking about a topic to write tonight, I looked back over my blog posts. While I was doing this, I came across a line in one that, well, I didn't exactly know what to think about.

Last December, I wrote a post titled "What Remains Constant." In it, I wrote, "I hope that when I hit next summer, I'll be able to look back at this year and say, 'You know what? I made it!'"

I thought about that this summer. This year was a difficult one in some ways. I never expected to leave my original college. I didn't know I'd get certain pieces of bad news that would test my trust in God.

But as I look back over the year, I can see that God has been good. And is good.

This year God took away my plan for college and gave me a better one.

He allowed changes at my camp and I believe they worked to glorify Him and help change my heart.

Through a class, He showed me how to get more out of His Word ... more work but huge benefits!

Looking back at this year, my desire isn't to say "I made it." I don't feel as if I've victoriously conquered a hard road. I feel as if I've been stretched. Refined. And I'm thankful for it. I'm thankful to God for doing it.

As I take another look back, I choose to say, "God is good."

Thursday, August 1, 2013


I miss camp. For any of you that know me, that's not really a surprise. :-)

One of my favorite things about camp is the lack of distractions. In general, I didn't use my laptop during the week. I didn't use my phone--to the point that I kept forgetting where it was! I didn't really read anything but my Bible.

I also love the way God's Word and prayer is a part of the fabric of all we do. Operational staff girls started out their days with devos led by our camp cook in the kitchen. Towards the end of the summer we started having prayer meetings together in the evening. We went to evening services. We read our Bibles. We prayed personally.

Home is different.

It's not that I don't pray or read my Bible here. It's not that I don't pray with my family.

There's just so much distracting stuff.

Packing for college. Thinking about important things going on this semester. Trying to clear some junk out of my room. And starting to wonder about what God wants me to do in certain areas I thought I already knew about.

Undoubtedly, home has more distractions. But it doesn't mean it can't be as simple as camp. I can make the choice for a simple life.

Simply focusing on God ... in each choice and moment.

Simply doing what He's told me to do ... without resisting.

Simply loving Him.

I pray He helps me live simply.
"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."
(Mark 12:30)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Taking It All In

I've been gone from my blog for a while ... but with good reason.

I just finished another summer working at camp.

If you were to ask me how it went, I'd probably give you a big smile and tell you that it was incredible. That God changed me. That I saw Him work.

But really, that's only the tip of the iceberg.

How do you tell people that God helped you understand--at least a little--how prayer works? Or that He showed you answered prayers in a way you've rarely seen?

How do you tell of 101 more souls on their way to heaven now, and many, many Christians who made the choice to live more fully for Jesus?

And how do you explain how God took the one thing you thought you couldn't do--be a counselor--and blessed you so richly in it? How He gave you words when you had nothing to give?

That's what my summer was. And so much more! I don't think I'll ever be able to help anyone else fully understand what this summer was to me. But that won't stop me from telling you how good God is.

The best part? This isn't the end of an awesome experience with God!

It's another step on the journey closer.

Praise Him!
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
(Eph. 3:20-21)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


It's late, and my brain isn't really cooperating. But I've been thinking about blogging for a while now, so I thought I'd make a quick post. Now that the semester is over, I really have quite a lot of things I could talk about, but I'll keep it simple. Five thoughts from this semester (don't be surprised if I write posts elaborating on them later...).

~ God's plans are the best. I never planned on going to the college I'm at now, but I'm so thankful that I did!

~ God is always good. This world can be a terrible place sometimes, but in these past few months I've learned to trust through the hard times.

~ It's amazing to think that God thinks about us. A friend told me to read Psalm 40 this semester; verse five says, "Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." Just the thought that God thinks about us--insignificant as we are--should be enough to make us pause and be thankful.

~ God is more than capable of getting me through things I never thought I could handle. I didn't know if I could do this whole college thing, but God saw me through this semester, and I look forward to continuing.

~ Priorities are a hard thing to keep straight. Motives too. One thing I realized this semester is that wanting God isn't enough. I have to want Him most.

Monday, April 22, 2013

No More Sunday School!!

Before anyone thinks I've gone off the deep end, I'm not advocating an end of Sunday School. Rather, I'm saying I'm fleeing Sunday School Christianity.

This weekend at my college we held a teen camp. I was one of the counselors, but I think the sessions may have had as much of an impact on me as on anyone. One thing the speaker talked about several times were "Sunday School Answers."

"Is God good?"

"Is God in control?"

We learn these things in Sunday School. We know all the right answers ... but there are some people who don't allow these truths past their heads and into their hearts.

It seems I'm really learning a lot about that this semester. In my last post, I talked about trusting even in the hard times. If someone asked me about a year ago if God is always good, I would have given them the Sunday School answer "yes." I believed it, but I hadn't majorly experienced the truth of it in my heart. I hadn't clung to it even when life was terribly confusing and I hurt.

Now I have.

The more I start really living this Christian life, the more I want to go deeper. I don't only want the answers, I want the life. I know God...

...and I want to know Him more!

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Way It Is

Sometimes things come into our lives, and we just know it's not supposed to be this way.

And we don't get it. We know God is good and He is there, but we still don't get it. Here's my proposition: We don't need to get it.

No, this world isn't the way it should be. It hasn't been since man rebelled in the garden of Eden. Sometimes things hurt so badly we can physically feel our emotional pain. Sometimes we wish we didn't have to know how bad the world can really be sometimes. Sometimes we don't understand what God's doing ...

... but our circumstances change nothing.

God is still God. He is still eternally good, and holy.

We can still trust God in the hard times. Look at the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). When we walk with God we can have joy and peace ... even in our pain.

I'm guessing there are some things that will come into each of our lives that will never make sense to us. But even when I don't understand why God has allowed something, I will not stop trusting Him.

How can I expect to fully understand the mind of God? It's impossible.

But when I don't understand, I know that He does. Even if He never chooses to show me why, I will cling to the fact that He knows.

God is true, no matter what happens.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Forced to Think

Want to know one of the best things about college? It's this: you're forced to think (at least a little bit).

At home, it's pretty easy for me to read a passage of Scripture and then lay it aside without trying to understand what it means. But you can't do that when you're taking a Bible study exam and you have to explain how a passage relates to its context.

In my regular life, it's easy to glide over the issue of the role of women in the church. I just coast along, believing what my parents and church believe. But when I'm having to write a paper about it, I have to see what the Bible really says.

And while I've heard the Beatitudes for seemingly forever ... I don't know if I've ever had to think about them as hard as I had to in Christology class the other day.

So while college can be a bit stressful and crazy (things are getting better, though), it has its perks.

Thinking about things is worth it.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Survival Skills

"Spring Break" in college is not what I had imagined. Rather than being a chance to sit back and relax, it was more like a sneak attack on my college adjusted-ness.

Let me explain this. I went home for break and was happy to see my family, friends, and church again. But I missed all my college friends, and I was also like, "Seriously? I have all this homework I should be doing during my break?" So I got through the week, got some stuff done, and then was sent back to college right about the time I was getting used to being home again.

When I got back to college, the problems continued. A sudden lethargy decended. Break was a reminder that there is life outside of the college campus ... and I kind of like that life. So I got a bit sluggish with my homework, until ...

BAM! The homework struck. See, if you don't keep an eye on that stuff, it sneaks up on you and tries to drive you over the brink of sanity.

So, to jump ahead a little bit, here I sit at my computer. I'm still a bit behind, and I have two more group projects due on Tuesday. But I'm feeling like I'm used to college again, and I will indeed survive until the end of the semester.

That being said, I return to the title of this post. Survival skills. I'm pretty sure a lot of the art of getting through college (and life) has to do with two things: keeping your eyes on Jesus, and (with His help) keeping your head above water.

I don't know how much sense that made, but I've gotta run ... keeping your head above water takes a lot of work sometimes ...


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Nothing Else

What do you spend your days thinking about?

I was challenged about this last week when the leader of my small group Bible study talked about Jesus being our everything. The gist of what she said is why would we want to do anything but serve Him? Why would we think about or talk about anything else?

That struck a chord in me. I knew what I'd been thinking about lately. I'd been worrying about making friends. About how I look. About getting through the semester. I'd been spending my free time reading or social networking.

My friend was right. Why would I want to think about anyone or anything else? He died for me in spite of my sin.

So I made a challenge for myself this week. I chose three things that had been taking up a lot of my time and brain power, and set rules for myself. I won't go into details, because they really aren't important. I'll just say that I'm near the end of my week, and I've done pretty well keeping my resolutions.

Most importantly, I feel like it's working. My focus is slowly shifting. I want my Savior more.

There are still tons of distractions here. But it's changing. I'm getting closer to where I want to be ...

So what about you? Anything you need to take out of your life for a while or change so you can focus more on the Lord? Care to share?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I love America.

Leaving all political/religious/societal contention alone for the moment, I love America.

To me, when I think of America, I get pictures in my head of cookouts my family used to have for the Fourth of July. Fireworks. I remember learning about the patriots and the character of the people who started our country. I think about the fun parts of my very American childhood--lazing away summer afternoons at a friend's house, playing and refereeing soccer in our local league, going to the ocean, going to camp.

Besides that, I know I've grown up to believe in some more-or-less American values. Hard work. Making something out of yourself. Loving your country. Loving your community.

Those are pretty good values if taken in proper context. But I've been realizing lately that there are some values I have come to believe in that are also a part of our culture, and that are not what the Lord would have for me.

You see, I think I've subconsciously bought into a warped American Dream. From what I understand, generations before mine have believed in an "American Dream" which was something like this: Work hard, love God, love your family, and you'll have a chance at a good life. Not an easy, lazy life, but a good one. Enough food. Sufficient shelter. Material comforts to some degree or other. And contentment in the fruits of your labors.

Now, maybe that dream isn't perfect and maybe I'm not quite right in my definition, but you get the idea.

Now we come to my generation. The generation that believes in the warped version of that dream. The one that says, "Yeah, I should probably work hard, but if I don't have to, I won't. My goals are to be accepted by the people around me, to be entertained, and to have all the cool things I can buy."

Don't think I'm being mean. I love my generation; I just recognize that we have issues. And I know I may be exaggerating both points of view. But still, so many people my age have had life so easy in so many ways--myself included--that we think the rest of our lives should be that easy.

The reason I'm thinking all that is because I've felt that attitude here at college. Like I said in my last post ... studying just isn't my favorite thing. I keep thinking of how I just want it to be summer. I want to go back into those good memories of peaceful summer days, good friends, and no worries or pressures or undesired work.

That's a warped dream.

My God has bigger dreams/desires for me. Bigger than my warped American Dream or even the original American Dream. He desires me to bring glory to Him and to help others come to know Him. He desires me to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

I want His dreams to be mine.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I know it's been a while since I posted last, but my thoughts have been so scattered that until now, I don't know if I could have written anything more than a list of random things that have happened.

As a general update: I'm still happy to be here, and I don't yet feel like I'm flooded with work. (Though I'll admit, that makes me wonder ... am I forgetting something? Is a project sneaking up on me?)

The adjustment to living here at college has been good so far. I like my dorm. I like my new friends, and I'm getting to know people better every day. I've learned a lot of little things in classes--like details about the Pharisees and Sadducees--that are helping me understand the things I read in the Bible.

But, I'll admit, I often have an improper attitude about my study time. While I'm not saying I should be super excited every time I write up my current list of things to do, I should be thankful for this opportunity. And I should be thankful that, though the work itself isn't fun, the things I'm learning will benefit me for the rest of my life.

The other day in Bible Study Methods class, our teacher mentioned a verse I had learned years ago:

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15).

It was just the reminder I needed. While "study" in this case isn't exactly referring to my pile of textbooks, it still indicates work.

Study. I need to work hard where God has put me, to please Him. Yes, it will be work to get through my classes, work to learn more about the Lord. But is it worth it?

"A workman that needeth not to be ashamed ...."

Oh, yes. To please the Father, it is worth it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

When God Steps In

I'm back at college, folks! And you know what? I'm so happy to be here! Praise the Lord!

Today was a rather hectic day of orientation. Apparently, students who come in spring semester don't get as long for orientation, and are thus sent scurrying from meeting to meeting. I enjoyed the day, though.

The only part of this process that had me a little antsy was registering for classes. I'm working on a 1-year Bible certificate, so I needed to figure out how to divide my classes between the semesters. I chose to make this the heavier semester of the two, and I signed myself up for 16 hours.

I didn't feel right about that. I was thinking, I didn't even make it through last semester. Why would I start with the harder semester?

So I called my dad. He was concerned that if I didn't take the course I wanted to drop, I'd have a very busy next semester. It was looking like I'd try for the 16 hours when my call waiting went off. I told my dad I'd get back to him and answered the incoming call.

It was the registrar.

She told me that I actually didn't need to take the class I had wanted to drop! I was so excited! The timing of her call was perfect.

Sometimes it's hard to see God working in our lives, but sometimes He clearly steps in and shows us the way.