Scripture Sunday Vol. 40

     I’m back.  I feel like I haven’t posted in decades (yes I know it’s just been ten days), but life lately has been crazy in all the best, and worst, ways.  I have a lot of exciting events and decisions taking place within the next few months and I can’t wait to be in a place that I can share that with you.  I’m planning on posting another “Fill In on Faith” soon so you can get a better idea of what’s been happening in my life lately!  Today I’m sharing a new “Scripture Sunday” which features a verse that has been really special to me lately.  Enjoy!

Today’s Verse:

1 Corinthians 13:12; For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

     I’m sure you’ve heard something along the lines of “it’s hard to see the big picture when you’re in the frame” at some point in your life.  Maybe this was while you were dwelling over a rough breakup or receiving a college rejection letter (irrelevant side note: isn’t it funny to think we’re never reminded of this when we’re experiencing a high point?).  It’s often hard to see how something difficult that isn’t part of my own plan is going to weave its way into my life story in such a way that could be anything near good. In my last “Scripture Sunday” I talked about Proverbs 3:5 and how we need to trust in God in times of doubt, but this week I want to remind you that we might just see a little bit of His plan right now.

     Something significant in my life happened the summer before my seventh-grade year.  This event led to my sister and I’s relocation to South Carolina with my father, and at the time it was really difficult.  In those first weeks in the city I now call home, I questioned the way God cared for me and my family.  I wondered what kind of loving God would allow terrible things to happen to a (divided) family full of people that loved Him.  Now, I look back at that move and see the way my life would be completely different without it, and not necessarily in the positive way my seventh-grade self would have thought.  Without that move, I wouldn’t have the best friends I love so dearly now.  I wouldn’t be so close to my father, step-mother, and half brother.  I wouldn’t have had access to YoungLife (my previous town was insanely small and I hadn’t even heard of YoungLife before moving here), and therefore wouldn’t have met my leaders that are some of the best friends and role models I could have asked for.  I would’ve never had the opportunity to serve on Work Crew, a month that taught me what it looks like to be a servant, gave me countless incredible memories, and introduced me to some of the most amazing friends I’ll ever know.  I wouldn’t know God the way I do now, I might not even believe in Him at all.

     I don’t know if everyone can pinpoint life changes like that, but I’m really grateful I can.  Seeing just this part of the way He’s worked in my life, 1 Corinthians 13:12 has become really important for me lately.  The verse says “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  What I know in part now is just a dim image in a mirror, but when I meet God, who knows me fully, in heaven and look back on my life, I’ll understand everything He’s done in my life.  I completely believe that the “big pictures” each of us see from above one day are going to be masterpieces, so carefully crafted with immense thought in every brushstroke.

     Believe me, I know there are moments when it won’t make sense, but just hold on.  He’s doing crazy big things in your life that you can’t even begin to understand right now — but I hope someday soon you’ll get a glimpse in that dim mirror.  This week, remember that God is sovereign in our lives and that we should trust that the artist who paints each sunset and sunrise knows how to make our lives just as beautiful.

Thanks for reading!  Have a blessed week!

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Scripture Sunday Vol. 39

     Happy Sunday!  As you might have noticed, I haven’t been posting as much as usual over the past few weeks.  The stress of starting a new school year paired with college applications isn’t leaving much time for blogging, but I promise the end of college applications and submission of my first major assignment are in sight!  I’m excited to have more time for blogging within the next month or so.  Anyways, today I’m sharing my thirty-ninth volume of “Scripture Sunday.”  I’m talking a little about the comfort God’s giving me in this weird season of life.  Enjoy!

Today’s Verse:

Proverbs 3:5; Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

     Deciding where to go to college is a big decision.  I have a list of schools I’m applying to where I could definitely see myself being happy, but that list is accompanied with so much fear that I won’t get into my top choice, or that when I get to tour I won’t even like my top choice.  The concept of college is tricky because you want to pick a school where you’ll be happy, get a good education, and meet people you genuinely want to be friends with forever.  This season of my life where I’m not sure where I’m going or exactly what I’m doing isn’t my favorite, I like order and plans.

     I’ve been reading Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence devotional every day for almost two months now, and recently Proverbs 3:5 was one of the Scriptures included in the reading.  This verse says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”  Right now, I really have no choice.  I can submit all of my applications and lay awake at night anxiously wondering where I’ll get in, but that brings no hope.  Remembering the ways God revealed Himself to me while on Work Crew and realizing that God frequently does things in my life that I couldn’t have planned for or wanted but always somehow turn out better than what I had planned, that brings hope.  I’ve memorized this verse as a reminder for all the little times when it doesn’t look like He’s working in my favor, like when I get a bad grade on a test or I can’t go to an event I’d been hoping for, because He’s most definitely doing something bigger and better for me than what I thought I needed.

     Instead of anxiously anticipating a decision from what I imagine to be the best place for me, I’m handing it over to God.  One thing I know for certain is that I’ll get in wherever God wants me to go, and I know the things He has planned for me there will be far better than the earthly and materialistic things I imagine accompanying where I want to attend.  I definitely still struggle with doubt and my own desires for my college path, but I can always find comfort in Scripture that God’s plan is bigger than my dreams.

     This week, remember that you can’t see the big picture.  Remember that God knows what He’s doing and why, and maybe one day you’ll look back and realize you’re glad nothing was any different.  He has a purpose for every perfect moment and every flaw in our lives.  He has a plan for you.

Thanks for reading!  Have a blessed week!

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Scripture Sunday Vol. 38

     Happy Sunday!  I hope you’re having an awesome Labor Day Weekend.  I’ve spent my weekend working, booking college tours, and spending lots of time in the Bible!  Today I’m sharing a verse that I’ve been really loving lately in another volume of my ongoing “Scripture Sunday” series.  Enjoy!

Today’s Verse:

Psalm 119:50; This is my comfort in my affliction; that Your promise gives me life.

     You know that feeling that you’re all alone?  That no one sees your struggles or that they don’t understand the innocence of your intentions when things turn out badly?  I have no doubt that we all have days where we feel broken with heavy levels of disappointment, sadness, frustration, or just general darkness.  When thinking about the word “affliction,” my mind flies pretty quickly to the minor yet frequent afflictions of the midwinter days of my junior year.  In the midst of lacrosse season and a heavy course load, I felt like nothing in my life was where it should be.  I didn’t get much playing time in lacrosse games, my grades weren’t up to my expectations, and my social life wasn’t necessarily thriving either considering I rarely had weekend plans.  When I looked around at worldly things and searched for a place where I was really doing well and could find my identity, there wasn’t one.

     My biggest piece of advice to any teenage girl (or anyone for that matter) in this day and age is to stop seeking your identity here on earth.  If you find your value in the attention you get from guys or your class rank, you’ll hit the ground hard when you break up with your boyfriend or perform poorly on a test.  So, where are you supposed to find your worth?  The answer is in being His child.  As I mentioned in my previous “Scripture Sunday” and I’m sure in countless volumes before, Scripture constantly points to the fact that our identity and the source of our value in God’s eyes is simply that we belong to Him.

     I came across Psalm 119:50 while reading my devotional yesterday and it hit me hard.  The verse reads “This is my comfort in my affliction; that Your promise gives me life.”  In our darkest days, we can find comfort in the fact that His promise, which is honest and eternal, gives us real life.  You read that right; full life doesn’t come from your soccer stats or GPA, but from His promise of eternal life and unconditional love.  On days when I feel down or worthless, I turn to Scripture where I find constant reminders that I am who He says I am and that He gives me life.  I can’t think of any better remedy for emotional pain than a promise of everlasting love taller and wider than we could ever comprehend.

     This week, remember where your comfort should be coming from – not from temporary worldly things, but from His promise.  Remember that His love is the greatest you’ll ever know and that it’s more than worth holding onto!  He meets you where you are, even in your life’s valleys.  You don’t have to earn His love and that’s one of His greatest gifts to us.

Thanks for reading!  Have a blessed week!

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Scripture Sunday Vol. 37

     Good morning and happy Sunday!  I go back to school tomorrow for my senior year and I’m honestly really excited.  After spending a month on Work Crew at a YoungLife camp this summer (read the post on my experience here), I feel so inspired and I can’t wait to implement some of the things I learned about loving others in my community at home!  Today I’m sharing a little of this in another volume of “Scripture Sunday.”  Enjoy!

Today’s Verse:

1 John 3:1a; See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!

     In everyday life it’s so easy to hear all the negatives and nothing positive about yourself between your peers, the media, and your own thoughts.  You hear that you’re annoying, not thin enough, not pretty enough, and so on.  These criticisms weigh on us like backpacks full of stones.  We become convinced that our flaws define us and in that insecurity it’s easy for us to define others with their flaws as well, even if we don’t vocalize that.

     In my time on Work Crew with approximately forty other teenagers from across the country, I got to know some people that are really similar to my friends at home but also some who aren’t.  The people that I didn’t think I’d talk to much at all in the first few days ended up becoming some of the sweetest friendships I had at Saranac.  We hear “don’t judge a book by its cover” all the time, but maybe we should start judging by a cover; that cover being that the person is a child of God whether they look and act like you or seem perfect from the outside or not.

     The verse that we’re memorizing for Wyldlife leader training this week is 1 John 3:1a.  This verse says “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!”  In memorizing this piece of Scripture, I’ve started to think about how it means more than just “God loves me.”  The verse means that He has given us a really incredible, unconditional, eternal love that we couldn’t ever deserve, but the key word there is “us.”  This reminder of the love that God has for me should comfort me in the reminder that my identity is found in being His child, but it should also remind me that this goes for everyone.  Something big that I took home from Work Crew is what I like to call my “God lens,” or the intention of seeing others the way that God sees them.  Now, when I catch myself thinking something negative about someone else or see a distance between me and someone else just because speaking to them isn’t “comfortable,” I fill my mind with positive thoughts about the way God sees them and pray for the boldness to be kind and loving towards them.

     This week, remember what truly defines us.  We are children of God!  I am and you are, but that girl that’s rude to you and the boy that sits alone at lunch are too.  Treat those around you with even a fraction of that reckless love that God treats us with.  Remember that He loves us more than we’ll ever be able to comprehend, and we should let our hearts overflow into love for others.

Thanks for reading!  Have a blessed week!

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Saranac Village Work Crew 2018

     I just had the best month of my life (so far, as my Work Crew bosses continuously reminded us…God has even bigger things planned) on Work Crew at YoungLife’s camp in New York’s Adirondacks; Saranac Village.  I spent a month of my summer, June 23rd through July 21st to be exact, cleaning bathrooms, worshipping, and living alongside forty-ish strangers that were all about my age, and as weird as that statement might sound, it was the best of times.  I’ve been trying to get this post together since I got back and I’ve found that there’s truly no way to recap or write a travel diary that would come close to encompassing my time on Work Crew at Saranac Village.  That being said, today I’m just sharing a few thoughts, memories, and lessons from this insanely memorable month as well as a ton of photos and a video I made.  Enjoy!

     As strong as I felt my faith had grown to be over the course of my high school years, I never truly found my strength in God or talked to Him as frequently as I did on Work Crew.  Yes, Work Crew was a ton of fun, but there comes a point when you’re picking the hair off of what feels like your trillionth shower wall and you just can’t find the will to keep going within yourself, that’s when it comes from Jesus.  Suddenly the reminder strikes you.  The reminder that everything, every single meticulous and disgusting thing you’re doing is for the purpose of showing high school kids like you the unconditional love of God.  Then cleaning toilets become less about how disgusting the bottom of the seat is and more about how you can pray for the open heart of every camper that sits on it.  While from the outside looking in Work Crew seems to be a voluntary service to show campers the best week of their lives at YoungLife camp, being on Work Crew does just as much for the individual volunteering as it does for the campers on the receiving end.  Being on Work Crew gave me a front row seat to some big miracles.  Being on Work Crew gave me a community like no other, one that prayed over people whenever anything went wrong and encouraged people no matter what they were doing.  Being on Work Crew taught me how to be patient with people that I don’t see eye to eye with and how to love people the way God does.  Being on Work Crew gave me new outlook and mission for my community at home.  Being on Work Crew enabled me to grow my faith in ways I didn’t even know where possible.  I can confidently say that I will never be the same.

     I only briefly mentioned that sweet community, but I could talk about each person on Work Crew for days on end.  My love for these people is endless, and I’d do anything to hear Kayla’s loud laugh or see Derren dance in person right now.  I don’t know what I did to deserve such an amazing group of people, but I know God planned for each and every one of us to be on Work Crew at Saranac for session two from the beginning of time.  There’s no other explanation for how every person on Work Crew clicked so well, like puzzle pieces.  God is too good to us and showed up in everyone on Work Crew in the coolest ways this month.  From our cabin huddling on the guide house dock in silence to watch the sunrise at 5:00 a.m. to the housekeeping crew’s late big cookie on Sunday nights, His presence was so clear in every moment.

     I honestly don’t even know what else to say about this month, other than that I’m ecstatic to reunite with everyone on Work Crew in Heaven.  I made the video below to a remix of one of the songs they played on repeat in the dining hall while bussing tables (I loved the song before Work Crew too but that sentimental connection is an added bonus) and I’d be lying if I said the quick flashing of happy faces around the two minute and thirty second mark didn’t bring tears to my eyes every time.  You probably won’t cry nearly as easily as I do since you don’t actually know these people, so I recommend you watch the video in HD by clicking the HD button in the bottom right corner of the video.

This video was created using iMovie.  All the clips were taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T6 and a Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM lens.  The background song is “Take It All Back (BRKLYN Remix)” by Judah & The Lion.

     Below are twenty-four photos from Work Crew.  Yes, I know that’s probably an excessive amount but I was there for a month and the property was stunning and I couldn’t leave any of these memories out.  Sorry!

This might seem strange but I’d really like to close this post in a prayer if that’s alright with y’all.

     Hey God, thank you for my month at Saranac Village.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet and serve alongside some of the best friends I’ll ever have.  Thank you for showing me what it means to be a servant, what it means to be a disciple, and what it means to be a friend.  Thank you for the peak of our Sabbath days and the dirtiest camper bathroom and every moment in between.  Amen.

 Thanks for reading!

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Scripture Sunday Vol. 36

     Good morning and happy Sunday!  Today’s post is another installment in my “Scripture Sunday” series.  The verse I’m discussing today is one that really spoke to me while I was on Work Crew at Saranac Village and I can’t wait for you to read it yourself!  This post is rooted in Christianity, so if you don’t think that’s for you please continue to scroll through other recent posts of mine, I hope you find something else you like!  Enjoy!

Today’s Verse:

Psalm 23:6; Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

     My time on Work Crew was oh so sweet (but that’s for another post!).  Being at a YoungLife camp for a month surrounded by likeminded people that wanted to serve a good God and reveal Him to others showed me a lot about what true community and constantly pursuing Christ really look like.  That being said, my final week at Saranac Village was one of the hardest simply because I spent a good amount of time dwelling on how sad leaving my amazing new friends and this beautiful place far away from home would be.  I never wanted Work Crew to stop.  I wanted to continue scrubbing toilets by day and worshiping with my best friends by night.  I wanted to eat big cookie once a week for the rest of my life.  I wanted the stunning setting to forever remain in front of my eyes.  I wanted to serve until the end of time.

     On one of the final days of Work Crew, our devotional was on Psalm 23.  I immediately recognized the chapter and was excited to read it again but didn’t expect to learn anything new.  That was until I got to the last verse.  This verse isn’t another metaphor, but a statement about what following God looks like, wherever you are.  Verse six says “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  My days at Saranac Village were drenched in goodness and mercy, and I began to realize that the loving community of believers I had been surrounded with all month were residents of the house of the Lord.  The beauty of Saranac doesn’t even compare to that of the true house of the Lord; heaven.

     As sad as I was, and still am, about leaving the beautiful little glimpse of heaven that Work Crew at Saranac Village was, I’m comforted by this verse.  The reminder of Jesus’ presence regardless of where I am and promise of goodness and mercy show me that the greatest parts of Work Crew came home with me.  Yes, I still want to hug my sweet Work Crew friends everyday, but I know they’re only a call away and we’re tied together eternally by our faith.  God isn’t going to stop showing me kind people, beautiful places, and good times, for the verse says “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”  If Work Crew all God had in store for me, He wouldn’t have sent me home.  I rest assured that He has more planned for me.

     This week, remember that Jesus never stops pursuing you with His goodness and mercy, no matter where you are physically or spiritually.  Remember that you’re never alone in your faith, that you’re always part of a greater community; the house of the Lord.  You might not be surrounded with other residents at home, but they’re out there, I promise.

Thanks for reading!  Have a blessed week!

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