Tag Archives: Bible

Plans, Tears, and the Creator of the Universe

I was having a hard day some time ago, neither my day or my future seemed like it was going to plan. I was heavy hearted and disheartened, but I couldn’t let the signs of it show.

One thing that you should know about me is that I plan. I plan and scheme and layout my life on an Excel spreadsheet (literally, I’m not joking). I have contingency plans for contingency plans. I stay up late, laying in bed, planning my future so that nothing takes me by surprise.

It’s not that I don’t like surprises, I just like to feel in control, I like to feel safe and know where I’m standing and know where I want to go.

And so when it seemed like my life was not going according to plan or any contingency plan, I felt powerless. I felt lost and helpless and insecure.

I wanted to cry (because that fixes everything (I’m actually joking this time)), I wanted to scream at the world to put itself back in the little box I put it in, I wanted to dream up some plan to fix all this. But my heart was in control and not my head. Oh, the horrible and wondering things that can happen when the heart is in control!

So I walked through the halls holding my shattered plans in my hands and holding my tears in my eyes.

Two of my favorite quotes popped in my head, “The first casualty of any battle is the plan of attack,” by Cory Doctorow and “If plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters,” by Claire Cook. But I wasn’t in the mood for inspirational speeches especially if I was the one giving it.

So I finally get to my locker and look up at the Cross magnet I have on it, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [Italics added] That is God’s work right there. I change my magnet every couple of weeks and it was just by chance that I had Jeremiah 29: 11 up. I was lamenting over my broken plans and the verse used plans three times. God knows the plan; His plan is never broken; He is never caught by surprise; He is always in control. I am secure in His plan. I was upset over my plan when God said that He would give me one of His plans. And I’d take one of God’s plans compared to one of mine, anyday.

The conflict isn’t completely resolved but it is looking better. God said that His plan gives me hope, and it sure has. My heavy heart is now a happy heart. I don’t need my head to be in control when I know that God is in control. I don’t need a plan to make me feel safe; I have faith in the Lord Almighty. And faith is much better than any plan.


“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

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Pixabay/bykst

More Than a Quote

I have a blue notebook in my office that I received for Christmas in 2014, in which I write down in colorful pen whatever words touch me. I call it my Quote Book and I’m up to page 49 now. Not all the quotes are from famous people though, some are from my best friend, my teachers, myself, textbooks, or just random people who I hear talking in the halls.

Yes, this is what nerds do on perfect Sunday afternoons or on late Friday nights. I scour Goodreads looking for quotes and then I get lost in the ocean of humanity’s mind just like I get lost in the encyclopedia. Ralph Waldo Emerson once penned “Words are finite organs of the infinite mind” and I want to douse myself in other’s lively minds. I want to pour wisdom into my mind from wherever I can find it, so that I can have that wisdom while I live my life.

And so if I get lost on Goodreads then that just means that I am getting lost in wisdom that will prepare me for living. I am being found.

I am in a constant state of losing and finding myself. I am designing and developing myself by adding to my schema the thoughts of others who have already lost and found themselves hundreds of times over.

This is why I like learning because in learning about the world and how it works or doesn’t work, I am really learning about and forming myself so that I can change the world. Muriel Rukeyser once said, “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms” and so I learn about the universe by learning about stories and the people who tell them.

If you can’t tell already this blog post is gonna be loaded with quotes 🙂 If you are asking yourself why a teenage girl is writing a blog post about quotes when most girls her age are either taking duck-face selfies on snapchat, let John Green answer your question, “Nerd life is just so much better than regular life.” And let me remind you, you are reading this nerdy blog post so you might be included in that “nerd life”. Plus, you have hope for humanity.

Anyway, back to the Quote Book, on the inside front cover I have written a quote by John Green “Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the stories and people we’re quoting.” So what does my Quote Book say about me?

Well, on surface level, I at first only wrote down quotes from Superhero movies and comicbooks then branched out to other types of quotes. I was on a Mark Twain kick for a while (thanks, Goodreads!) and now my quote-obsession is John Green.

On a deeper level, just from that information of who I quote (comicbooks, Mark Twain, John Green), a statement is made about me. I do not care about who said the words; I care about what the words say to me.

I like to play a game where I read a quote from my book and a friend has to guess who said it: a professional writer, a normal person, or a comicbook. Generally they are surprised by who said it, and so the speaker of the words holds little power over the words themselves. Just because comicbooks has fist fights and aliens, doesn’t mean that they also have heart and poetry. “No acknowledgement or any amount of money can return integrity once it is spent” is a quote from One Month to Live #5, which was a comicbook  produced by Marvel Comics in 2010.

But what is my favorite quote? My favorite quote is my mantra, my motto, my manifesto that was written two thousand years ago; it is my rallying cry when I do not want to move forward; it is what is written on my heart and what I want to be written on my every action. My favorite quote says everything I want it to say about me and what I want to say. “But anyone who is not aware that he is doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, for their responsibility is greater” Luke 12:48.  I have a great purpose to accomplish and I will fulfill my potential with every breath I take because that is why I breathe. My favorite quote tells me the meaning of my own life and what I should do with it.

Plus, my favorite Bible verse is oddly similar to my favorite comicbook quote, “With great power there must also come great responsibility” from Amazing Fantasy #15. But this is a case where authorship is everything because I want the words I live by to mean more than words. Although I love Stan Lee, I have so much more assurance in the truth of words spoken by Jesus Christ, Creator and Savior of the Universe.

Ossie Davis said, “Any form of art is a form of power; it has impact, it can affect change — it can not only move us, it makes us move”; I think that quotes are similar to art. Quotes necessitate action. They inspire us to move forward and encourage us to keep moving forward. Quotes tell us to live. And yet quotes are just words of other people to whom we entrust power of our belief upon. A quote — if I choose to give it power — could literally be as plain as “I walked my dog”.  A quote has power if we accept it as truth.

And so, John Green’s quote about quotes has power because I accept it as truth and will transform its words into actions. With this in mind, I think that my Quote Book is not as its name implies; rather it is a collection of words that I have granted power and have promised to take action upon. It is a compendium of thoughts I have deemed worthy to hold prestige in the ranks of my identity. The words that others declared and whispered and hoped are the ones that tell my story because they are the ones that I have chosen to tell it.


“Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.”

-Proverbs 7:2-3

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The 4 Choices of the Heart

The world,

even the adrenaline in you body,

will tell you that you have two choices:

fight or flight.

And this might be true for physical crisis

but for matters of the heart?

Not so much.

We put that emotion

that heartache

that conflict

that wronged feeling

that abuse

that anxiety

that tangled thread of life

on a shelf

under a bed

in a closet

in a drawer

We ignore it

and hope that a magician comes along and makes it disappear.

Except there are no magicians for heartache

there is no remedy from memory

there is no elixir for the heart.

When told there is only fight or flight,

we rebel by doing nothing.

We choose the third option: let it fester.

We let that emotion fester and grow

into a thing without edges or boundaries,

something uncontrollable and unknowable

because we don’t even want to recognize its existence.

The world tells us that emotions are for the weak

and so we let the brain drive

and the heart barely survive.

The heart is like an overgrown, abandoned mansion

covered in poison ivy of festering emotion,

it once was great

but now it is just ignored.

Oh, poor, poor heart

will you ever beat again?

***

Then along came a gardener

He looked at this overgrown, abandoned mansion

and said that He could make it better

He came armed with three nails, an old wooden cross, and a dump truck of grace

He cleaned up this slow beating heart of mine

and is glad to do it night after night

because He’s a gardener that is what He does.

He prunes and cuts and nurtures and waters

and watches the flowers of my restored life grow.

The world might tell you that there are two options: fight or flight,

others might choose a third option of festering,

but the gardener has told me the best option:

forgiveness.

He showed me by His example

He showed me His scarred palms and back

He showed me grace.

And now I will go and tell the world about the gardner

about His best option

about His grace

I will shout from the mountain tops about my salvation

I  receive grace to show grace.

***

Oh, poor, poor heart

will you ever beat again?

Yes, yes you will

because my Redeemer’s heart still beats.

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I Thanked God for You Today

I thanked God for you today

I thanked Him for your smile

I thanked Him for your silliness

I thanked Him for your patience

I thanked Him for your understanding

I thanked Him for your spunk

I thanked Him for your optimism

I thanked Him for your funniness

I thanked Him for your excitement about life

I thanked Him for you being a Christian

I thanked Him for your support

I thanked Him for your wittiness

I thanked Him for you

I would want to say that I thank Him for you everyday

but gratitude is such a fickle emotion

And so now, in one of those surpluses of appreciation

I want to tell you that I care about you

and that I am so glad that you are in my life

You truly are sunshine to my rainy days

and stars in my night.

I thanked God for you today, my dearest and best friend.

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Pixabay/user:Mary_L

God’s Infinite Love

The rambling of a Christian AP Calculus AB student about God’s love and math:

God’s love is ∞ (infinite) and always continuous

God’s love doesn’t have holes or sharp turns or cusps in it

God’s love has no limits

Makes your sins DNE (Does Not Exist)

God and us were parallel lines,

we were never going to intersect

but then Jesus died on a cross  (perpendicular lines)

so that we could meet.

God’s love is irrational (π), it doesn’t make sense why He would love us like He does

but it is real (7) and radical (√) anyway

When we share God’s love it does not subtract (-) from our own;

rather, it multiplies (*) and adds (+) meaning to other’s lives

He knows eXactly where to find us

and He knows “Y” (why) we are there

He knows you from you minima to your maxima

His love circles you X² + Y² = r²

from your center to your tangent line

To love God back has the absolute greatest value

We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God

It is a simple opposite over hypotenuse equation

the opposite side is always shorter than the hypotenuse

our sinned filled lives are always shorter than God’s perfection

God’s love to our love is not ∝ (proportional)

it is always > (greater than)

***

Of course I’ve saved the best for last: God’s math

1 cross + 3 nails = 4given

math-love

Love Extravagantly

I created a Christian mix tape this past summer and my mom, sister and her best friend and I were driving to an amusement park listening to the CD. On the mix was Proof of Your Love by for King and Country (which has the best music video I have ever seen in a Christian song). In the middle of the song are these beautiful words about love. We all stopped and just listened. Not until months later did I find where the words came from. I get a Bible verse on my phone everyday and I like the Message translation better than NIV in most cases. When I first read these words, I was dumbstruck. I could easily recite 1 Corinthians 13 – which is known as the love chapter – in the New International Version, but when I read it in the Message it felt so new and alive. So below I am sharing with you the Message version of 1 Corinthians 13.


If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Something Amazing

When I was younger, my sister and I would pick dandelion bouquets for our mother. Even though it wasn’t a dozen roses, it was just a handful of weeds, my mother still loved it. The dandelion bouquet was a double bonus: a sign of our love for her and she got her garden weeded. The same way it is for God, we do good works because we love Him and want to please Him. It is also a double bonus: a sign of our love for God and we help His other children.

No matter how big our dandelion-picking-love is for God, His will always be bigger, deeper, fuller, all consuming love. His grace in saving us wasn’t just what we did not deserve but He also chases after us. He pursues us with His love and His grace. He sacrificed His son and He won’t let that go to waste.

God didn’t just save us willy-nilly, He didn’t just say, “Sure, I’ll take that one”; He didn’t choose you by accident. God didn’t create you by mistake and He sure didn’t save you by mistake. God created you and loved you for a divine reason. God gave you a second chance and a third chance and a twentieth chance and fifty-seventh chance for a reason! He did it more than just because He loves you, more than because He wants you to be happy, He did it because He has a divine purpose for you. God sent His son to die a horrific death on the cross to save you so that you could do something amazing. Something amazing like sitting and listening to a coworker after a hard day. Something amazing like baby-sitting for a single mom. Something amazing like visiting someone in a nursing home. Something amazing like building a house. Something amazing like being known as the Christian in the family. Something amazing like fixing cars. You have been saved for a purpose and that is to do good works, to help others. When we love others, we are loving our Lord and we are fulfilling the first and the second greatest commandments.

We are to live saved every day, we are to live knowing that there is a God up there and that He is large and in charge. We are to use our talents to fulfill our God-given, divine purpose every day. If you think your background, age, or  education are reasons why God can’t use you, think again. Look at who the Lord Almighty, Creator of the heavens and the Earth, chose to be His son’s earthly foster parents: an unwed teenage peasant girl and a carpenter from a town in the middle of nowhere. Look at who Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, spent His time with: under-educated fishermen, crooked tax collectors, reformed prostitutes. If you believe that God created the universe, then God using you to fulfill a divine purpose is like a cakewalk to Him.

Now go out and do something amazing, go out and fulfill your purpose knowing that God has your back and your future.


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

Jeremiah 29:13

grace

Flicker/Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon

This Changes Everything ~ A Cento Poem

 

Empty manger perfect stranger, about to be born, into darkness sadness
Des’prate madness, creation is so torn, we were so lost on earth
Warm hay cold sweat, a mother not yet, praying God-speed the dawn
She looks to her man, holding her hand, they wonder how long
They did not find a palace, just a humble village home and searching for a King
Lowly and small, the weakest of all, unlikeliest hero wrapped in His mother’s shawl
But finding a Child, no crown, no throne, still they bowed down
Expectation turned to mystery
For nothing was like anything they’d dreamed
It’s still a mystery to me
That the Hands of God could be so small
How tiny fingers reachin’ in the night
Were the very hands that measure the sky
Still a mystery to me
How His infant eyes had seen the dawn of time
How His ears had heard an angel symphony
Just a Child, is this who we’ve waited for
‘Cause how many kings stepped down from their thrones
How many lords have abandoned their homes
How many greats have become the least for me
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me
That the King would come for us, this changes everything
A Baby born to save, to save the souls of man
Born that we may have life
You were born that we may have life
A throne in a manger, a cross in a cradle
The hidden revealing this glorious plan
Of the child who would suffer, the child who would conquer
The sin of every woman, the sin of every man
And the world didn’t know, mercy was meek and so mild
And the world didn’t know, that truth was as pure as a child
And the world didn’t know, redemption was sweet and so strong
And the world didn’t know, salvation was writing a song
That the King would come for us, this changes everything

Nativity

What My Dog Wants

My dog normally likes to stay away from me, well except when there is food around. 🙂 It’s not that he doesn’t like me (well, I hope not) but he just prefers to be alone.

So when he comes into my room, I know that he wants something. Kind of a sad mentality that my dog can’t just want me, but wants something from me.

I’m not complaining about my dog, I do have a point.

When I go and find my dog and want to spend time with him or pet him, he usually tolerates me for a couple minutes then goes away.

I feel like too often we can be like my dog, except towards God. We only go to God when we want something and when God seeks us out, we tolerate Him and then say “I’ve done my Christian duty for the week, I can go and do my own thing now.”

For me when my dog doesn’t want me, it hurts but I know he is just moody. It adds to his charm. But think about how God must feel when we tolerate him or treat Him like an one-hour-duty on Sunday. He must feel like the computer techs at the store, you know the ones you only go to when your computer is all buggy and you are all grumpy. No one ever stops by the computer store techies just to say hello or that they are loved.

God, the Creator of the Universe, wants His creation to recognize Him, to look at His work and say thanks.

Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer from our sins, wants those He saved to love Him back. His death on the cross also says, “I love you, love me back”.

God, the divine writer of the Scriptures, put so much time and effort into the world around us, into the Bible, into other Christians and He is saying, “Look at all I did, spend some time with Me. I hold you in My hand, I protect you, spend some time with Me.”

But God is not some love-sick puppy chasing after humanity; however, God does chase us and He does love us. God’s love is so much deeper, so much fuller, so much greater than we can ever imagine. God will never forsake us, He is with us through thick and thin.

So go and spend some time with the Creator of the Universe. He created a personal telephone line just for you. Toll free. The line is never busy. You will never be put on hold. So pray and sing and meditate and read and praise and talk and stand in awe of God. Go and spend time with your Father Above, God Almighty, your Savior and Redeemer, you best friend. I guarantee that you will be glad you did.  Better yet, God guarantees it.


“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5: 8

moody-hero

God Doesn’t Run on Batteries

A couple of weeks ago I had to walk my dog in the dark and by dark I mean more than an hour and half until sunrise. Besides the cold and the rain and the early mornings, the lack of light was really something new to me. I mean I have been on Lake Superior’s shores at midnight but this was a different kind of darkness. Up at the Lake I always knew that I could just walk a couple of feet and find my cabin or walk a couple of feet and find my friends.

But this darkness was different, it was more than just nighttime darkness, it was pervasive, swallowing, encompassing, and lonely darkness. Yes, I had the stars and my flashlight but it was strange to not see other people, other house lights, other signs of life more than the occasional cricket or tree swaying in the wind. It felt like I was the only human in the conscious world. Now I know this all may sound too dramatic and like I am a five-year-old scared of the dark, but to be honest the darkness is scary. The darkness is the unknown and I found a new perspective of that because of my early morning walks.

When I walked in the morning, the only sources of light were my flashlight, the stars, and my house end lights. The lack of light made the light all the more precious and I gained new insight to verses about light, particularly about Psalm 119:105 and Matthew 5:14-16.

My flashlight actually was a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I relied on it to know if my next step was okay to take and where my next few steps would take me. The amount of trust I put into my flashlight is downright crazy. My family has had that flashlight since before I was born and not once did I think about it going out on me. I didn’t once think about the batteries or what I would do if it went out, I just trusted that it would guide me.

That’s the way I want to be with God. To put total trust in Him to secure my next step and to show me where to walk next. I should put even more trust in God than my flashlight because God doesn’t run on batteries. I only knew where I was with my flashlight if I pointed it in the direct I wanted to go, but what if that was the wrong direction? With God, I don’t decide the direction; God does. Oh, am I glad that He is my guide. His timing and direction is beyond perfect, beyond any coincidence I could even think of, God truly still is the God of miracles. How much better would my life be if I trusted Him to guide me to the right path verses trying to stumble my way through the darkness? We should trust God to guide us because He knows the road map when we only have a tiny flashlight.

Just think about how much time and energy we waste having this pent up anxiety about which path to take, what university to go to, which job to take, who is the right partner. Just think how much easier it would be just to give it all over to God, to let Him guide you through life, to let Him be the light on your path. I want to let my path be God’s path, my light to be God’s light, my life to be God’s life. I want to be God’s. I don’t have that much time and energy to waste trying to figure out my life when I know God already has it all figured out and I just need to say “yes”. God is my light and my guide.

The other verse I gained insight to was Matthew 5:14-16, particularly about the city on the hill. I walk my dog around the property line of my ten-acres and my house is in the center of my property built on a hill. I could see my house’s end-lights from anywhere on the property and my house became a sort of beacon. A beacon saying, “Within this light is safety and familiarity, the darkness and the unknown is not present here.” My house and the light was safety, safety from the wild animals that could be just around the next tree, safety from the unknown.

This thought was quite different from my general take away from Matthew 5: 14-16, I had always thought that the ‘city on a hill’ was a light of goodness and hope to a world in darkness. Now I realize different, the city is also a refuge, a shield from the darkness, just enough time to catch your breath before you plunge back into the unknown. The Church should also be a city on a hill, not just source of goodness and hope to the world but a place to go when you just need a break, when you need security, when you have been emptied and need to be filled. The Church should be restorative and a refuge. The Church shouldn’t just be a lighthouse or a beacon saying that hope still lives, it should also be a campfire – a place to come to to rest up and talk with friends, a place of comfort and community.

I realized that the darkness wasn’t scary after I focused on God and on His Word. God was the guide of my path, He had me securely in His light, so I didn’t have to worry anymore. Once you focus on God then the twists and turns and questions of life pale in comparison to His light. God is in control so step back and follow His light.

city on a hill