#10- For Her.

I’m about to finish studying for my last final of the semester. Praise God again for the semester that I’ve had and everything I have experienced. Today I’ve been reflecting on the blessing of going to school. Not just school, but college as well. My great-grandpa was an amazing man and he lived to be nearly one hundred and he never completed school past the 6th grade. But his daughter, my grandma finished highschool, and her son finished college and now they have blessed me with that opportunity as well.

We take education for granted, and I simply do not want to do that. Everyday that I don’t want to go to school I pray for the children who can’t. This isn’t to say I’m a great person. This is to say I struggle with being selfish, and with taking what I’ve been blessed with for granted. But I am a very very blessed woman. To have the luxury of learning. My academics have been truly blessed. I had an amazing education through highschool, being homeschooled, and now I’m in college. And these are things that put me in the top percentage of most affluent people on the planet. Which is something I am constantly overwhelmed by… In the pit of my stomach I feel I have been given something far beyond what I have earned or deserved.

That’s a lot of responsibility. I would never want to take that lightly. I know there are young girls around the world who will never step foot in a school and never learn how to read. I have absolultly no idea why I am allowed to read and write and study tonight while women like the mothers of my compassion children sew clothes and do temporary labor. But what I do know is that I have a huge responsibility to them and to God.

So tonight I study for her. Someday I want to change her world.

#9–Shower.

Tonight at work a woman came in with a Justin Bieber backpack, shorts, and some funky shoes and tangled hair. I guess she comes in a couple times a week, I’d never seen her before, or never noticed. She apparently comes in to use our sink in the bathroom to bathe. My heart goes out to her because if she’s bathing in the bathroom at a Starbucks she must be pretty dwindled on options. It appeared she had a friend with her tonight as well.

Now I don’t know her story or who she is. Obviously she didn’t order anything. She also didn’t make eye-contact. And that was it, she was in and out, she walked by us. It was simple as that.

I’ve just gotten home from work and cleaned off all the grit and grime from my day… I’m thankful for a shower. I’ve never been somewhere where I did not have a shower or did not have access to a shower. And I’ve been a lot of places where I’ve seen homes that did not… but I have never had to experience that… and I’m grateful.

I think just how new clothes can give you a self-esteem boost, the inability to be really clean would be disheartening, it would wear on you, it would be hard to have self-esteem. It would be hard to have self-respect.

Restoring self-respect to people in physical poverty is a goal of the Kingdom. And tonight I really want to dwell on that thought. I hope I see her again and can talk to her. I want to know who she is.

#8-Kairos

Kairos. Kairos is this really cool word I learned a number of months ago. It’s Greek and it means a moment in time when time stand still. It’s like when everything clicks. It’s like an incredible life event. It’s something you can point back to. A moment in which you heard from God.

Well a while back I began to pray about church. I’d been between churches for a while. Both wonderful places. My family had been attending a newer church and I went with them many Sundays and for the rest of the time I’d been attending Crossroads. I love both churches, but I felt I’d hit a crossroads with my involvement in student ministry and life and just… everything.

Finally I began to dwell on the conviction I had felt in beginning Student Ministry at Crossroads and felt the Lord leading me to continue in that. From that point I’ve done my best to involve myself and my heart more deeply at this place. And from the the opportunities that have arisen for both Stephen and I. The people I have had the blessing to befriend, and be challenged by, and laugh with build me up in such unbelievable ways. I have a feeling of being part of something, something more deeply connected and healthy than possibly ever before.

Tonight I am thankful for the Kairos moment that has lead to opportunity, community, and enrichment.

The stories God weaves are deeply beautiful. His intentions for us are clear as well, we were meant to be part of the Church. To really pray for one another, to challenge each other, to transcend the boundaries of space and time and culture because we all KNOW HIM. And I love that.

1 Corinthians 12 gives us a really great preparation for more Kairos moments. The passage talks about how we are all the same in Christ but we play a different function. I think it’s really important to dwell on how God has gifted us individually and corporately. What do we have? What can we use? Where can we use it? How do we best steward it and how are we lacking? And what are we learning?

This exercise in gratitude is about all of that for me– so that I can clearly reflect on how God is at work in my life, praise him for it, and consider how I can use that to further his kingdom.

#7-Just to Make You Smile

I didn’t get a chance to write my gratitude challenge last night. As you’ve noticed, a few of my posts have been late. I acknowledged it facebookishly last night, so I’ll have last night’s post this morning, and Sunday’s post sometime later today.
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Yesterday was a crazy day at Starbucks. Customers can be mean and make you want to scream or strangle them. There were 3 people who came through my Drive-thru who made my night.

The first is a regular customer. Honestly, I was in an awful awful mood when she came through and as soon she smiled I smiled. I believe smiles are absolutely contagious. You just have to WANT to brighten that persons day.

The next person who came was Stephen with our friend Christian. And it means a lot that Stephen would come see me and make me smile (and… yknow get something from Starbucks). And it put enough smile on my face for the next person who made my night.

Someone came through and remembered me from Chick-fil-A. Normally I remember my regular customers. Some people I serve at Starbucks now that I served sweet tea to for 3+ years. Now they get Pumpkin Spice Lattes. This guy I have no recollection of, but he said he had 4 kids and came through a lot… didn’t help me. Maybe I’d remember his kids. But he told me he remembered me because my smile was so vibrant. It made me feel like the little things I do matter.

I’m incredibly thankful to people who remind me to smile. Like strangers from Chick-fil-A in Starbucks and Stephen. Sometimes I feel God sends me someone to make me smile… just because he likes to see us smile. And I’m grateful for that.

The application for this is simple. I get to give this gift away just by smiling. =)

#5&#6: Days of Grace

Yesterday through this morning I was a tyrant. I will admit my stress over projects for school had taken over. Especially regarding my Communist Ballet paper…. I felt I was so immersed in it I couldn’t clearly write my topic. Slowly sleep deprivation and resentment towards my inability to write clouded me even further.

God has continued to give me grace when I am stressed. I’m truly thankful to people who can love me at my worst. When I am stressed, and when I doubt myself, and when I make bad choices because of that.

Recently I have been feeling my brokenness and the brokenness of this world. Sometimes there’s not a perfect way to do something. My perfectionism says there must be. But I know my ways will always be less than perfect.

But if I am vulnerable about my shortcomings then I see grace. It’s not that grace extended is dependent on us. But it is as if we are crouched on the ground with our head facing down. A shadow appears over us. And we know that should we look into the eyes of another being we will lose face. All the pain inside may coming tumbling over in the form of tears… We can ignore the figure above us. We can turn to anger. Or we can let the tears roll and allow ourselves to be touched with Grace.

#4: Praising God for the Semester

I stress a lot about my classwork, my major, finals… This has been a difficult week school wise and God is allowing me to do things I didn’t think I could do. Not only that, but things I don’t deserve to be able to do. I began applying to graduate school back in September. I’m a junior with senior status and it was a complicated of series of events that caused me to drop my Chinese major to a minor so I could begin applying for grad school.

This has not been an easy process. I’m applying for a specific program to begin Master’s work my senior year… but every time I lose understanding God pulls through. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.” Today I want to continue to acknowledge God for the grace he has given me this semester, in every aspect, but especially my academics. When I have had to recently back off my application process to work on things for this year things have been coming together without my knowing.

I’ve received far more positive response to my pursuits than I anticipated. I wouldn’t say that this journey has been easy or smooth. Before the GRE I was pretty much in tears. But I will say God has put very specific professors in my semester who have been gracious in helping me apply, answering my questions, and writing me recommendations and even recommending me for things outside of my application to UK’s Grad program.

Regardless of if everything turns out for me to complete my graduate degree I praise God for how he has constructed this semester allowing me to accomplish things I hadn’t ever thought of accomplishing.

Tomorrow I’m turning in my research project with my awesome partner Elizabeth (another blessing from God in so many ways). Even down to my project partner, God’s hand has been in our communication topic of studying international non-profits and adolescents and so much more.

I thank the Lord for all he has done and is doing with my academics, because I know he is preparing me to do what he is calling me to do in the future with my degree in Communications and my study of Chinese.

#3: The Glad Game.

It’s pretty easy to feel thankful for having an wonderful family, serving a wonderful God, living a wonderful life… but sometimes we need to remember WHY it’s wonderful. Particularly the things that are easy to complain about.

It rained all day.

Rain+nice clothes+presentations+long walks on campus… it was not beautiful. There were lots of frowny people today. So today I played the glad game.

The glad game is something I learned from the movie Pollyanna (made in the 60s… cute movie). Essentially you take what is perceived as bad and make it glad.

So today I am thankful for the rain. Thankful because I know that rain is a blessing from God that can be often forgot until famine strikes. I take my gratitude for rain and use it to pray for those with out. My heart goes out to Somalia which is still suffering from hunger after a severe drought which climaxed in 2011.

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