Catching My Breath

Happy 2015!

I think this last week has been one of the most chaotic in a long time. I just arrived back in the country from a wonderful two-week trip spent in Ireland and the UK, only to return to my internship as a counselor a matter of hours later. (Score one for my pure stubbornness in wanting to have as much time abroad as possible. Fortunately I was so happy to be reunited with my clients that I didn’t notice the jet lag until that night…) As I sit here writing this post in-between jotting all of my assignment due dates for my final semester of grad school (?!) and typing a draft of my final research proposal for graduation, it is suddenly hitting me just how much has happened this past year.

I am still working on the long post that I briefly mentioned in my last entry. The words aren’t coming to me like I had hoped, but to be continued!

But because it is a new year, I wanted to make just a few brief lists for 2015 goal setting. Definitely encourage anyone else to make their own!

MY WORD FOR THIS YEAR:

Last month I was challenged to pray about a word that God really wanted me to focus on. Before I even finished, the word integrity came to mind, plain as day. Integrity, for me, is needing to…

  • Stop trying to cut so many corners. This is something I am especially bad about in my schoolwork. Sometimes I get so involved and focused on my internship (which I love) and actually serving in the field, that I begin to resent my graded papers and assignments, and just do the bare minimum. I need to remember that I am in school to learn- I want to appreciate what time I still have left and commit more to the entire process.
  • Be more intentional. This is a really broad goal, but specifically, I need to be more intentional about studying the Bible and engaging in conversations about it. Although I don’t want reading the Bible to become a chore, and merely check it off each day, I tend to get lazy and make excuses if I go several days on end without picking it up. I need to be more intentional about setting aside specific time and generally use the “whenever I get around to it” statement less.
  • Be more direct with people. Working as an addictions counselor has definitely toughened me up, but my tendency in day-to-day life is to want to bend over backwards to make other people happy. I need to be upfront and honest more often if I am frustrated with a situation rather than just doing nothing about it whatsoever. Raised voices tend to set me on edge, which is why I need to practice and remember that caring confrontation does not actually have to involve yelling.

Gratitude List

Even though people tend to do this during Thanksgiving, a project I want to pursue is to actively keep a gratitude list. The quickest way to kill contempt is to tell God, or another person, things that you are grateful for. For me, this most often happens when I am driving. (I don’t know if it is because I suddenly have the angry desire to issue driving tickets via hand signals that are supposed to express “What are you DOING?!?!” in the car, and therefore actually think about being grateful more often, but this is usually what happens.) The other day in my head I just started telling God how grateful I was for heat. That gas is a whopping $1.99 all of a sudden. That I have a car. And suddenly my road rage was lessened a bit.

Highlights and Lowlights

This year was a great one. By God’s grace, I published a book (see tab at top of website), joined a church plant team in Ireland for three months (and met an Irish fellow I am quite fond of while I was there…), finished my first year of graduate school, and heard some really amazing teachings and sermons that made my desire to follow Jesus multiply. I am going to be the Maid of Honor in the wedding of one of my best friends, got to see two friends get baptized, celebrated a new birth into one of my favorite families, and traveled solo across Europe for a few weeks.

It was challenging at the same time. It was difficult not having access to income anymore, and I felt guilty spending any just about any money that wasn’t a necessity as it was all coming out of my savings. Although I have some amazing relationships in Charlotte, I also spent a bit of lonely time missing friends in other cities. My sense of time management became stretched thin as I began taking night classes and electives in order to graduate on time and complete my internship. This unfortunately meant that I could no longer attend a weekly Bible Study or a leadership training I was nominated for. This has actually been one of the hardest things to deal with in recent months.

Goals for This Year

  • In some ways, not knowing where I will be living or working in five months, after graduation, has caused me anxiety. In other ways, it has led me to appreciate more of what God wants me to learn and do here in the present day. One goal of mine is to focus more on giving up control to Him whenever I am feeling overwhelmed. Personally, I think the whole “God won’t give you more than you can take” notion is mostly false- I think He gives us a great deal more than we can take sometimes so that at the end, there is no question of who should take the credit for it.
  • I have already talked about the necessity of spending more time reading my Bible, but as soon as I have a spare evening again, I am very much looking forward to joining a small group again for Bible study. I am very much missing the provided accountability and friendship!
  • Continue to invest time and love into the Urban Eagles. Last month, due to my course schedule, I had to stop volunteering in Grier Heights. This was hard for me to accept (I think I was in denial for a bit that a new elective option would be added to a morning), but am so thankful to continue to commit to the Forest Hills neighborhood. These young girls give me some of the most joy all week, and the leaders are all now some of my very best friends!
  • Create boundaries. This is one I will not expand on here, but is certainly a continuous goal, especially for a social worker.
  • Above all, develop more of a passion to know Christ more so that I may be able to know and love others more.

Any prayers for me as I continue writing, studying, learning, and working are much appreciated!

Blessings. xx

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Announcements (Life Lately)

So…a lot has happened in the last month or two!

Update 1:

I began support raising for my trip overseas this summer, and can’t believe I leave in three weeks! I am flying solo to a small town in Ireland for three months where I will be joining a host team that has planted a church. Many hats will be worn by myself during my time there: helping out with the worship music, engaging in discipleship, leading Bible studies and youth activities, and just generally being the happy American who talks to everyone. I’m almost 100 percent fully funded (just about $200 to go!) and have been extremely blessed during this process. If you are interested in giving or receiving my newsletter, feel free to shoot me a message! I am not sure if I will do blog or email updates yet, but would love to hear from you.

Update 2:

I am finishing up my first year of graduate school, and have my last day of class tomorrow. Next week is my last few days working over at Byers before finals kick in. Next year, I am really excited to begin interning part-time at Dove’s Nest. I will be doing individual and group treatment for women in recovery from substance abuse. This was a placement that I really, really wanted. Definitely looking forward to learning from these women and having the opportunity to serve them the best that I can.

Update 3:

I have admittedly been a bit reluctant to talk about this subject up until this point publicly, just because I am still unsure of exactly what to say about it! Probably just being silly. But, here goes the announcement that isn’t exactly a secret anymore:

I wrote a book! It’s called The Good News Diaries (conveniently the same name as my blog), now available in print and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Good-News-Diaries-Encouraging/dp/1495399834/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398282847&sr=8-1&keywords=the+good+news+diaries

I began writing this in college, and picked it up every now and then for the next few years. About a year ago though, I basically changed everything I already had compiled, and powered through it at the end of 2013. When the book was first released last month, I was mostly excited and grateful, but also felt a little…odd, to say the least! It was literally like I was putting something out in writing for the world to see that made me feel extremely exposed and vulnerable. Even though I have similar conversations to the text and this blog, this felt a lot more official. It was as if the most important thoughts and beliefs in my mind and heart were suddenly made extremely public for critique and evaluation. But, it was definitely something I had been thinking and praying about for a long time, and am thankful that it finally happened! The day it was released, all I could think was “I don’t actually care if five or 500 people read this. Whatever happens will be sufficient!”

 

So, those are three pretty big things going on right now…so excited to see what all is ahead!

The Offense Found in the Defense

Yesterday after church, I was in a small group discussion where we were talking about grace, and what it means to us. There was a statement made by one of the members that I have not been able to get out of my mind:

Christ died for me with absolutely no guarantee that I would return that love.

Today though, an additional part of the sentence was added on in my head:

Christ died for me with absolutely no guarantee that I would return that love so that I would never have to defend myself.

At first this sounds a little weird, even to me, seeing it in writing. It’s sort of like…out of all of the things you would put after that sentence, that’s what you chose?

It’s been on my mind off and on lately largely because of what I wrote about in my last blog post. My overall theme in that one was how draining it was for me to read or witness people arguing back and forth, particularly when it was pretty below the belt, and how with maybe a rare exception (? I didn’t see it at least.) no one’s mind changed. It just seemed to generally tick people off.

I had one of those moments today though where something just kind of clicked. I had thought about it before, but something happened where it just really hit home. I was chaperoning a bunch of middle schoolers on a field trip, and basically half of it, shockingly enough, was them all at each others throats, especially the girls. There was one particular moment where a girl hurled some insults and language at another girl, and she began to get so defensive that her threats and actions were becoming more of a problem than the instigator. Now, I have seen this happen hundreds of times with all ages of people, not just teenagers, but this particular time that I was actually the one helping break it up put a few things in perspective. Most of you can probably relate to this, particularly if you deal with kids. You know about that exasperated feeling that you get that basically boils down to saying to one of them “Stop it. You calm down and let me deal with this. I have authority here. Stop yelling and getting angry, or else you are going to get in just as much trouble.”

Christ died for me, with no guarantee of even my acknowledgement of that, so that I do not have to argue and defend anything to another person. The authority figure has spoken, He has defended me, and His opinion of my worth is the only one that matters. No matter what it is that you may be under attack for, whether it’s as small and insignificant as hair color or as large as your family or faith, there is always going to be someone who not only disapproves but has absolutely no problem with blasting their opinion without any regards for the consequences. But Christ’s love for you means that you don’t have to defend yourself or explain your point of view even a little, tiny bit. It’s so fascinating to me some of the criticism that the most influential people received. Based on different sources, here a just a few…

Billy Graham faced criticism from Christians of all races for holding integrated crusades during the 1950’s and inviting Martin Luther King Jr. to speak there.

In turn he, as is commonly known, was criticized by many African Americans as not being violent enough with the Civil Rights Movement.

Barbara Streisand’s mother told her that she wasn’t pretty or vocally talented enough to become famous.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor, was berated and ultimately killed for his statements and work to fight against Nazism, meanwhile refusing to leave Germany so that he could help as many Jews as possible escape to Switzerland.

Mother Teresa’s humanitarian efforts were criticized as being fraudulent and hypocritical, even after she died.

And what is even more unbelievable, sometimes people think that Duke’s basketball team is better than UNC’s, and then make up false criticism about a blindingly beautiful student body.

The greatest of all these however is of course Christ himself. He spent his life being mocked, ridiculed, and criticized by extremely religious people for telling people that they did not have to be good or perfect to get to heaven. In his last day of life he could have easily defended himself in a second even one time by performing a miracle or making a huge speech that put everyone in their place…but he didn’t. He just let everyone heap insults on him. He was criticized as weak, a liar, a fraud, a coward. And yet these were the people who he was suffering for, dying for, and he never stopped loving them.

Many times I look at situations and just can’t help but compare how much he endured to whatever minor thing I am frustrated or perplexed with.

You don’t have to defend your talents or what you feel like God is leading you to do. When you put any person, no matter how natural of a leader they are, on a pedestal, they are going to disappoint you. You make it a lot easier on yourself when you just do what you believe and let God handle the rest. Every second that you drain your energy arguing with someone or defending yourself to them is a second that you could be helping someone who actually wants it or developing a deeper relationship with someone you already know. This is something I am trying hard to remember during a particularly trying time. And just to end with one of my favorite quotes, “You have nothing to prove and only One to please.”

12 Years a Slave and the Bible

Last night I went with a group to go see the movie 12 Years a Slave. I had seen the previews a few months back, and was very excited to see what the whole product was. I had heard it was difficult to watch, and was prepared to see some horrific things on the screen.

But what I felt both during and leaving were much more powerful than I think I was expecting.

This isn’t meant to be a review of the movie at all, even though I think it was wonderfully done- I truly hope it gets the credit and awards it deserves. But there were several themes in the movie, one in particular, that I just can’t get out of my head. I remember when the movie version of Les Miserables came out last December, it was stated on the radio that there was one line of the whole movie that was stuck in everyone’s head (and out of 2.5 hours of singing that is saying something): “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Ironically, this was the quote that I posted right after seeing the movie myself. But anyway, similar to this experience, there was one scene in particular that really, really impacted me.

No spoilers or anything, but for those who don’t know, the film is based on the true story of a free Black male, Solomon Northup, in the mid-1800’s who was tricked, kidnapped, and sold into slavery down South. As the title says, he was a slave for 12 years. The very first scene after his kidnapping, it shows him chained up and bewildered. He hadn’t done anything wrong, anything illegal, nothing of the sort, and was desperately trying to tell the men who he was. They didn’t believe him, or rather, they didn’t care. There was then a very extended scene where it just shows them mercilessly hitting his back with a paddle over and over and over again. It seems like they are never going to stop, even when the paddles break from the force. Solomon is crouched over on the ground, crying out in agony.

During this scene though I had one really, really strong visual that came to mind. It was basically the same thing happening: this angry, hateful man representing the bad that exists in all of mankind beating a man, but this time that man was God. And instead of being crouched on the floor alone, He was laying over me saying “No, no no. This one’s mine. You can hurt me but you won’t take her. I’m not going to let anything happen to her.”

That’s when my eyes really started welling up. I think before that I was experiencing a lot of emotional pain thinking of how many people really did endure this kind of treatment not all that long ago, and how many still endure it today. But suddenly when I thought about how there are things in all of us, certainly myself included, that place attacks on love, grace, and purity, it sickened me. I had a sense of disgust with all the times when while maybe I haven’t hit another person or screamed obscenities at them, I have held on to anger towards them or acted out of my own pride and well-being. But just as I had these feelings of disgust, I had a sense of overwhelming gratitude that in spite of all my flaws and past mistakes, that I (and everyone) am so loved by the God who created the whole universe that He was willing to undergo public humiliation, unspeakable pain, feel the weight of every single person’s sin on His shoulders, die, and then overcome death. He overcame death so that not one person would have to ever experience it if they call on His name.

It was also difficult to see how the Bible was taken so far out of context during that time in order to justify slavery and treating other people like dirt. The word “property” was thrown around a lot in reference to the men and women who were slaves- aka, “less than animals”. But at the same time it gave me so much joy to see how even though the angry men were practically beating people over the head with the Bible screaming about superiority, punishment and abuse, those in slavery were singing songs of praise and hope from the gospel and what they were hearing preached. They sang of their souls receiving redemption, and the promises of freedom. They were able to listen to words of the Bible and look past the tone and image that man was giving it, and instead see God’s actual purpose. It made me think about how this is often still the case today: how some use the Bible as an excuse to be hateful, vindictive, or lazy. There are others who use it as a book that tells the greatest love story ever told. I pray that the second group remains faithful to that message. I pray that despite my failures I can be a faithful, loyal member of that second group. It can be so easy to look and see the people who claim that God is unhappy with this population, or this phenomenon, or whatever, when they are taking one line out of context of an entire book, message, theme, you name it, that is actually centered around love. When you know that God loves you no matter what, and that you can be guaranteed to go to heaven through no actions of your own, you can’t help but love others. But instead, so often we hate the sinner, instead of the sin.

That’s my prayer for the future, and for every day- that even just one more person today will come to know the love of Christ, and not what people so often make Christianity out to be.

Grateful.

This is going to be a very short post, but I just wanted to take this opportunity to say how grateful I am for the response I got on my last post on my testimony. It had about five or six times the number of views that I anticipated, and the support that I received was very overwhelming. Thank you so much! I am very grateful for your encouragement.

Currently I cannot give too many details on the situation I am in, as I am in training to go overseas. We are about to learn in the next few days about online security, and what kind of information we can give about the program and our location for safety reasons. What I can say however is that I have learned so much more already in the last 72 hours than honestly even I had anticipated. It’s been really challenging, but in a good way. I am having to pump myself up with caffeine to keep up with the pace, as even sleep is not doing the trick for keeping up with the 7 am – 10 pm schedule : ) But once again, I am very grateful for this experience. It could end tomorrow without the weeks spent overseas, and I would feel like God had already made this experience incredibly valuable.

I am not sure how often I will be able to update my blog. My hope is often, but I will not find out exactly what my duties/activities will be until arriving in my host country. Any prayers you could offer my team, whether in the moment or over the course of the summer, would be greatly appreciated. If you could also pray for me as the leader of that team, as I am learning how to do that piece as well!

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5

I Was Baptized Today. (My Testimony)

Today I was baptized for, technically, the second time in my life.

I felt the need to write this post to talk about what convicted me to request this, partially because it was an online testimony that placed it on my heart. So, being a bit vulnerable here, and laying it all on the table!

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I was exposed to the story of Christ as a very young child, as I began going to church nursery school when I was two years old. There isn’t a time that I can recall where I ever doubted this story as being true. Growing up it was simply a fact; Jesus came, died, and was resurrected. I accepted these facts with very little question, and learned how to pray, what hymns to sing, and so forth. Going into my teen years however, I very much wanted to have an understanding of the Bible and all of its promises, but did not feel like I had a grasp of what exactly people meant when they talked about its display of sacrifice and unconditional love.

I differ from some Christians in that I cannot actually pinpoint a day where I gave my life over to Christ. Part of me almost envies those testimonies that really grab people’s attention, as mine in comparison seems rather ordinary. You know what I am talking about? “I had been using crack for 10 years, been in and out of rehab, and was in the middle of my weekly atheist coffee group when I felt a calling from Christ”. Yet that is a very small part of me, as I know that how dramatic my story is makes no difference to God.

For me though it was more of an extended learning process as to what everything I learned in Sunday school really meant; that it meant not just going to church out of habit or because it was “the right thing to do”, but to actually develop a passion for the scripture and all that it teaches. Around the time I turned 14, I began experiencing some health issues that were very stressful at the time. Doctors were pretty inconclusive as to what was going on, and it felt like the pain would never go away. Hindsight, a great portion of the problem was stress that kept piling up that I didn’t know how to cope with. I would ask God why He was putting me through this pain, feeling like I had done something wrong to be feeling like that. I kept thinking “I’m a good person, for the most part. Why is this happening to me?” This is where I really feel that my journey to the point I am now began.

During this time I began reading the Bible more often, searching for a solution. I spent a lot of time alone, and wasn’t sure where to start, but kept reading the New Testament looking for answers. Even though I did not surrender all of my trust to the Lord at that time, it was then that my dependency on His word began to develop.

Fast forward two years later, when I began having more health problems. I had been feeling better for the most part, but suddenly I began having digestive issues that no one could explain. Over the next three years, I lost about 20+ pounds, could barely keep any food down, and had countless tests done. I can’t accurately describe my emotions during this time, and I won’t go into much specific detail over the blog. The medications doctors tried to put me on had bad side effects, and I found myself becoming depressed. Along with simply being malnourished from not eating, I lost much of what little physical strength I had. It got to the point where it would be genuinely painful when someone would even playfully poke me.

Finally, in 2008, I saw a different doctor who was able to determine that I had a rare condition called gastroparesis, which literally means that my stomach is partially paralyzed (it empties about 25 percent slower than the average person). Few people have heard of it, and it is currently not possible to treat or cure. While this is a subject that I could go on about for much longer, my point is that it is something that has shaped my life in many ways. I have had to put my trust in God to lead me through nutritional and exercise plans instead of medicine to take care of me. Don’t get me wrong, I think medicine is a wonderful thing, just for me this was a path that has been able to strengthen my reliance in things unseen.

During this time with my health, I had been dating a boy in high school. At this time unknowingly, I was putting far too much pressure on his shoulders. I expected a great deal of support, and expected that everything would magically work out. In the middle of my freshman year of college, after some on and off again stints, we broke up for good. Again I turned into this pretty pathetic mess and felt like I must have done something wrong since God was not making the problems go away. It is clear now that God has taken these experiences and turned them into something that glorifies Him. Most recently, for example, I led a small group discussion on body image with the girls of my church’s youth group. In that sense, I am incredibly grateful for everything that I went through. While I would not wish it for someone, I am much more prepared than I would have been otherwise to help others deal with their own insecurities and hardships.

I would say the low point for me was in the spring of 2009. It was at that time that I knew something had to change, and clearly whatever I had been doing to cope hadn’t really been working, at least, not for very long. I joined the UNC’s Christian sorority that semester where, for the first time, I met other girls who wanted to serve God just as much as I did. They were friendly, open, and accepting of me, and I found that I looked forward to going to the weekly worship services. I began to grow in my faith again, and started feeling God’s love and forgiveness wash over me. Everything was slowly starting to get better.

Someone once said “It’s always darkest before the dawn” (not trying to quote a pop song here). Since that moment freshman year, my life has become less about me and my wants and more about Christ. I found that I am at my happiest when I am glorifying God through public service. In the last five to six years countless things have happened to continuously reaffirm my faith, and have led to a greater understanding of just how amazing and important Christ’s sacrifice was. It is from these experiences in my past that I have been able to connect and empathize with women and peers I meet. When people twice my age have come seeking my advice, it has been through the grace of the Holy Spirit within me that I have been able to help them.

Ephesians 2:9-10 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” It has been purely by the grace of God that I have been brought into His kingdom, and not a day goes by that I am not reminded of how much I need His grace, as I could never hope to earn that kind of unconditional love on my own. My mistakes humbled and weakened my heart enough so that I could no longer stubbornly avoid God’s will for me. I was broken down so that God could build me up, and when He did build me, He built a stronger, better version of myself to mold into His will. He was with me in relationships that proved to be less than healthy. He was with me when my sorority had the opportunity to acquire a million dollar house and the project was assigned to me as both housing financial director. And He has been by my side as I have tried to find ways to spread the gospel using whatever spiritual gifts I have, and has given me some of the truest friends I could ever ask for along the way.

One of the most important things I have learned is that in order to really let God have control of your life, you have to pray for the wisdom to let go and let Him in. For years I would desire a close relationship with Him, but when I prayed I would ask for the things I wanted. I did not pray for Him to have His way with my life, but instead for things to go the way I wanted them to. And even if I got what I wanted, it still didn’t work in the end. God knows what is best even if it isn’t clear at the time, and offering your life to Him as a living sacrifice is actually the most freeing and liberating thing you can ever do. One of my favorite quotes is by CS Lewis: “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” Although I have had many good things happen to me the first twenty-something years of my life, and I am incredibly grateful, I consider my story to be an example this, and each year truly has gotten better than the last.

So, with all of this said, the reason I decided to become baptized again is because I wanted to make the decision when I was mature enough to know what I was doing, and to show that Christ is Lord of my life. While I grew up sort of under the impression that if I was baptized again it wouldn’t really count, since I had already had one as a baby, I now see that that was a misimpression. While my baptism today was not in close proximity to the time when I really invited Christ into my life, it is a symbolic representation of the spiritual growth and journey that I have been on, and will continue to go through for as long as I am alive. I am so grateful for the people who came today: my real family (parents), “second family” (Lara, Ari and Grace), and church family (Pastor David and his family), as well as a supportive and loving family from Calvary, were there for encouragement. The process of being baptized was something that gave me a great sense of peace. I don’t really know how to put it into words. Hopefully I will be able to one day. Despite the fact that there were lots of happy families there swimming, enjoying the gorgeous weather at the lake, I have to say I didn’t actually really notice them when this was happening. It was a very personal experience, and I am so thankful beyond words that it happened.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

A Sense of Peace

It’s getting quite late, so this is going to be a relatively short blog post, however I am so fired up right now that I felt like I should write something! I should warn you- this is very much an introspective segment.

For those of you who I have been talking to the last few weeks, you know I have been in this really bizarre state of emotion that people apparently use the word “bittersweet” to describe. I have been so pumped about this mission I am about to begin, moving to Charlotte, and what the future will bring, but at the same time I have been having a hard time letting go of some people here who have become my second family. 

Well, this is just going to be a positive post. So, enter the “sweet” side of that equation. 

Lately I have been praying for God to give me peace about what He has in store for me. I am excited, I know that it’s the right thing, but I want to move forward with it completely committed with no loose ends. I want to feel like I am moving on to the next chapter of my life with a sense of excited urgency to get things done and just enjoy every minute of it. And I knew that if I was feeling “homesick”, so to speak, for Chapel Hill, my roommates and others friends, the families at the homeless shelter, and Grace and her parents, that I would not be as effective as a leader (oh yeah…did I mention I was picked to lead the team? Could use some extra prayers for that : )) as I could be. So I knew I needed to pray for peace during this whole time.

Peace has proven to be a very different thing, as could be expected, than “I can’t wait to leave.” I am going to miss everyone so incredibly much. But instead of feeling anxious over the situation, lately I have been oddly, and at times eerily, relaxed. I am focusing on the new beginning, instead of the ending. Focusing on how all of the lessons learned, especially over the last year and a half (and there have been many) can be applied to my life purely for the purpose of serving the Lord. 

And that is a really, really great feeling. To be trying so hard to focus on not serving my own desires, but doing what I really believe it is that I am called to be working towards. I have had this desire lately to completely immerse myself in God’s word. I have listened to about 20 sermons in the last two weeks (podcasts are an amazing invention), read several books, and am working my way through the New Testament. Lately I haven’t been able to get enough of it. It’s probably the best addiction you could have though, really.

My biggest prayer of all right now is that God maintains this fire that has been lit inside my heart. 

I have said lately that for my stint overseas this summer I am 90 percent excited and 10 percent nervous. I am sure that the latter percentage will rear its ugly head again in the next week (yep. I am moving in one week. crazy.) but right now I am just stoked and ready to see what the Lord has planned, whether its baby steps or giant leaps.