Sunday, November 25, 2012

My Demands of a God that didn't Exist

“Never pray for patience. God will surely give you situations in which to teach it to you.”

Kerri, my co-leader for small group told me that a couple weeks ago. My question is, why didn’t someone share that nugget of wisdom with me a year ago?!

A year ago, I was on my search for what I wanted from life. Mainly, what kind of internship I was in search of. Those that know me, know just how much I struggled to be patient with God. Some things however, have to be taught as lessons to you for you to learn them.

“For there is a time and a way for everything, although man's trouble lies heavy on him”
            -Ecclesiastes 8:6

Have you ever seen Bruce Almighty with Jim Carrey? It’s about a guy who gets fed up with how God is handling life and wants his own control. God (Morgan Freeman) scares him and gives him that high and very responsible heavy power. Now for those that have seen it, I want you to picture the scene with Bruce at the computer answering all the prayers by email. He eventually is so overwhelmed he answers “yes” to all of them.

That’s the God I was seeking. The one if I demanded enough times to give me what I wanted it would happen. That God doesn’t exist. If you remember how well it went for those people in the movie, you can appreciate how terrible it would be if God really gave us everything we asked for. God knows so much better than us. Aren’t we glad that God tells us no at times?

I slowly learned over the course of the summer the many reasons why God told me no. The true irony didn’t become a factor until I interviewed with one of my top companies Vanguard. Vanguard is an investment firm with a large office in Charlotte, NC. With having almost zero background in finance (except for that internship over the summer), the firm didn’t really make a fit for me but I was very interested in the company.

I went through three very successful interview rounds. My attitude this time around was very different however. Instead of asking God for this job, I was asking God if this job was for me. I prayed about the new location, the people, the company itself, and my fit. I looked for confirmation factors starting with the fact it was in one my top three cities, Fortune 500 company, ranked on best places to work, company invests heavily into the employees, benefits were great, I could go on. What really got my hopes up was that I knew many people in Charlotte or moving to Charlotte and it had ELEVATION CHURCH! I’ve heard the pastor speak before and heard such wonderful things about the church. I knew if I couldn’t be near a NewSpring campus, I wanted to be near Elevation Church.(

However, you don’t get everything you want. At those moments, we are usually disappointed.

A lesson I had really been learning and understanding. I think God recognized that I really had been because I GOT THE VANGUARD JOB!!!

Let me be very clear. I got the job because of faith, understanding, and hard work. I believed God would guide me in the right direction, I understood that God’s plan was much better than ANYTHING I could ever devise for myself, and I worked hard in school and preparing for those interviews to be successful.

Each time I think about it, I get so excited and thank God. I firmly believe that my financial internship (that I never would’ve pictured having) was a clincher in getting this job. Funny how those things seem to work out when God is involved.

It took me awhile but I finally got it:

"Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart"
-Psalm 37: 3-4

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

“It’s completely possible to live a life beyond normal.”-Unleash

Let's start with this quote to get it going:

“If our view of God is small and manageable and normal then we will have a small view of what
He wants to do in and through us.”-Unleash

Being back to school has its' ups and downs. I love being back with so many of my friends all in one place, having my own room and back, setting my own rules, you know, basically the college life. However, if I ever needed reminders that I'm not normal, college provides that.

How am I not normal? I'm a pretty focused individual to start with so I tend to extend myself over several activities and areas to be involved with. I don't go drinking on the weekends and party it up. As I've talked about in a previous blog, I don't really date. I think one of my primary purposes of being in college is to get a degree by working hard and aiming for the great job after graduation. I believe life should be fair and that everyone should be on an equal playing field. That picture I just painted would probably be safe to say, isn't one of the "normal" college student. Many people have had comments to make about my lifestyle choices but nothing says it better than another quote from Unleash: “One of the quickest ways to forget what God says about me is to focus on what the enemy says about me.”

What is Normal? If you go to NewSpring Church on a regular basis, you've probably heard Perry touch on this but let me paint you a picture of normalcy in America these days:
1. Over 30% of marriages end in divorce. That's ONE-THIRD of families being broken up
2. In 2010, almost 7,000 teen mothers (6,847 mothers, ages 15-19) gave birth.
3. In 2008 (latest data I could find) there were approximately 1.2 MILLION abortions
4. As of August 2012, the unemployment rate is 8.1% (This has NOTHING to do with politics and everything to do with the state of our country)

If that is what "Normal" is for America, I'm going to take a pass.
Why is this important? If you are a Christian, thinking of being a Christian, or just want something more for your life, then you need to consider reading UNLEASH by Perry Noble.

Perry Noble is not only a charismatic speaker, but a writer as well. His ability to bring what many believe to be a boring book that isn't applicable to modern day to life and help the reader understand what God wants for us is AWESOME. Every major point Perry makes, he backs up with a scripture source. Perry isn't perfect and he makes sure to let the reader know this, detailing parts of his journey with God. God doesn't call us to be "normal." If he had, Jesus wouldn't have picked the outsiders to be his disciples or used people like Samuel and Joseph to lift up and do his work. God also doesn't call us to fit in, compromise our values and get along with everyone. God calls us to live the life he called us for, “God is not after our begrudging submission. He is after our joy.”-Unleash

Basically, God wants your happiness but being normal is not where you will find it. You must break free from being normal and live your life unleashed! PLEASE buy the book. It will be some of the best money you ever spent. So simple and easy right here:
(Copy and paste)

Thanks for reading :) If you ever have questions, please let me know. I'm always willing to try to answer your questions, especially regarding anything Biblical related and if I don't know the answer, I will do my best to refer you to someone that can or find it for you!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Living the Single Life

Have you noticed the closer and closer we get to graduation, the more and more people that are getting engaged? Is there something in the water? What is this time pressure to get married?

For the most part, I’ve never really felt the need to engage in dating. In this aspect of my life, God has put a mature look on it. Sex before marriage? Not for this girl. Hanging out with an immature guy? Nope, not interested. I’ve had a handful of boyfriends, dated some great guys, but at the end of the day, I just didn’t feel more than friendship. That doesn’t mean it has been easy to take the single road. It’s just something I’ve felt really convicted about. I mean really, where in my busy life do I have time for my friends let alone a boyfriend? Something I decided awhile back was until I get my life together with my friends and quiet time with God, I’m not dating.

Listening to Perry preach about dating and relationships and what to expect from a boy, wow, I’m thinking I might never meet a guy that would meet those expectations or at least can meet them and is single. I do firmly believe in what Perry has said, but three things in particular stand out:
1.     A guy should pursue the girl
2.     Twitter, facebook, texting  DO NOT count as asking a girl out. Man up.
3.     A guy should have to grow closer to God to pursue you.
Now, I’m sure there are some great guys in Clemson. I sure haven’t met any single ones that seem to match this criteria and where there is a mutual interest. So, it’s been relatively easy to keep saying no.

One guy told me this past year, my expectations were TOO high. Seriously? So you think I should lower them just for some guy who won’t remember me in ten years? I think not. Now, many of you are wondering why I’m posting about something that seems easy. The reason is, it isn’t easy for me. Many of my friends think I’m fine being single and that I’m taking the right path (even though some of them haven’t done it as well) but God has really convicted me about this. However, when I’m a third wheel or sitting by myself at home on a Friday/Saturday night doesn’t mean I still find it easy. A speaker at FCA spoke this Spring and I have these notes which really resonated with me:
John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.”
John 8:44 “When he lies, he speaks his native tongue,, for he is a natural liar, and the father of all lies”
The Top Five Lies of Satan
1.     There’s nothing special about you
2.     Your net worth determines your self-worth
3.     Your position determines your power
4.     Being single, makes you second class
5.     God doesn’t want you
I think we would all be liars if at some point, we didn’t believe/struggle with at least one of these. I’ve believed all five at some point. Now, you guessed it! I’m struggling with number four, being single makes you second class.

With so many engagements, dating, kissing, relationships all around me, and nearing graduation, yeah, it’s hard to be single. Society has made me feel second-class because I don’t have a serious boyfriend or fiancé. Guess what, God hasn’t called me to be “normal” or fit in with society. God wants me to wait on the perfect guy HE PICKED OUT FOR ME. If it was a good enough plan for Ruth (and God gave her Boaz) I think it’s a good enough plan for me.

How can you NOT want to wait for the guy God has hand-picked for you? I’m not saying I’m not going to date until this guy walks on rainbows and clouds and appears before me but I’m going to wait until I meet a guy I think has the potential to be the guy God wants for me.

I ask for some encouragement in this area. It’s only going to get harder to see more friends get engaged and more friends to meet some great guys. Make no mistake, I’m very happy for them and am glad that their time appears to be now. It just doesn’t make it easier. Thanks for your encouragement guys!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Gauntlet 2012

I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to blog about one of the best and worst weeks of my life. Some of you are probably raising your eyebrow, trying to determine how those two could go together. Bear with me, this will probably twist and turn and be long but I’m just going to speak from the bottom of my heart.

I was leery, to say the least, going into this. Missing an entire week of my internship? An entire week of a paycheck? Not get to focus on the very expensive summer class I was taking? Be responsible for three teenage girls? Sleep on the floor? Lead three girls in example and small group when I’m already on a rocky enough road with God? Oh, and I’m PAYING for this? Someone knock me the head, please!

Challenge God to challenge you and he will do it. Brad Cooper said this week “God is a promise maker, AND a promise KEEPER!” Wow, that really resonated with me. I asked God to help me really connect with these girls and I may have gotten more than I bargained for.

Prayer is powerful. I’ve never prayed so hard or desperately to see some things happen. I came across this passage in quiet time one morning during the week: Matthew 18: 19-20 “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
Imagine most of 2700 people praying for salvations and people to be healed and miracles to happen. You better believe we saw that during the week. I believe in prayer, I believe in sharing your prayer requests. If you ever want me to pray for our about something please let me know. I’d be honored to do it.

I started the first morning off meeting two other leaders who are both engaged. This is important to remember for another blog post I will do. All I could think was dang, Satan really wants my attention.

Right before we stopped for lunch we met our student groups. My initial impression was that it was going to be a quiet week. HA! No. When we got to the hotel we went for a walk on the beach and talked and got to know one another. That night, was the first night Perry spoke back from his sabbatical. Man, did he BRING IT! His message was so convicting, 115 students were saved that night. Including, two of my three girls. You have never felt something quite like that until you see students bawling and holding one another while out loud asking God for his forgiveness. As the students walked out towards the back to meet with someone, Perry made the comment that THIS was why we tithe, why we do church. I’ve really struggled with tithing each week but let me tell you, now I look forward to giving money each week.

If you think the good times stopped there, try again. The daily schedule looked something like this:
-Breakfast/Quiet Time
-Worship/Morning Service with Brad
-Community Groups (students met with students in their same grade to get in smaller groups and discuss the morning service. I had rising twelfth graders. During this time I got to meet other leaders and just relax.)
-Free Time (Couple hours, we did beach two days and nap time and shopping another)
-Worship/Evening Service with Perry
-Small Group
-Small amount of sleep.
-Start Over

Watching 2700 people worship and listen to the message and feel God’s presence was surreal. It was awesome just to watch these kids come to know God and hear his word, for many, the first time ever, especially a message on their level. Over the next few days, the girls came to really share a lot of details of their lives with the group. One of prayers has been to break my heart God, for what breaks yours. He did that. Listening not just to some of my girls but other students stories and the things they have gone through, broke my heart. You know that people go through drug addiction, drinking, parents that don’t parent, inappropriate behaviors, self image problems, etc but until you hear it first-hand, I don’t think you can truly appreciate it.

On Wednesday morning, something awesome happened. I’d really been praying for my one girl that wasn’t saved Monday night. She was very distant during worship, seemed to have no desire to lead group, and didn’t really seem to have a handle on the “Christian thing.” I really felt convicted that God was trying to speak to her but she was running away. On Wednesday morning during service she stood up to accept Christ and I got to lead her in prayer for salvation. Out of all the things we discussed I won’t forget her answer when I asked why she was certain that this is what she should do. She described the feeling of running away and that God wouldn’t let her sit down, she had to stand up. It made me realize, if every time we felt like that, we actually followed God’s plan how much more awesome would God’s glory be? And people say that God isn’t present anymore, that he doesn’t speak to his people anymore. FALSE!

We did testimonies in small group on Wednesday night. I can’t divulge details out of respect for their privacy but I can say, more than ever did I believe in the every number has a name, every name has a story. These girls blew me away from the backgrounds they can from. My heart broke. I felt so much respect for these girls that were trying to climb out of the hole and reach for God. Much of what they said, they had never shared with someone before. Man did I feel privileged.

On Thursday morning, I got to witness over 500 students get baptized. Try not to be jealous, because you should be. Sunrise baptism is possibly one of the coolest things ever. Seeing these students come shivering out of the water, tears streaming down their faces, running towards their friends and leaders screaming and yelling. Then going and worshiping straight on the beach in this amphitheater area. If people didn’t feel God’s presence then, I’m not sure they were even trying to listen.

What did God teach me through all this? Besides some awesome messages from Brad and Perry, a lot.
1.     Never quite learning from those around you. My students taught me more than I thought possible. Especially that it is so important to pour into the younger generations. One of my girls I told would be a great leader. I’ve never seen someone have such a kind sweet heart with the potential to really connect with others around her. She cried because NO ONE HAD EVER told her she could be a leader. Blew my mind.
2.     Everyone has a story, no two stories are alike. You might think you have/had it rough, try again. Everyone has went through life and been dealt obstacles, learn from those around you.
3.     Never quite asking for salvations, never become immune to that amazing experience. We saw 250 salvations. It never got old.
4.     My basically nonexistent quiet time is about to change. Sitting on the beach each morning talking to God and reading his word, yea, I want me some more of that each morning.
5.     I need to do a MUCH more meaningful job of getting people to church. One of my students was there because her friend invited her. If she hadn’t she wouldn’t be there. People don’t just wake up one day and decide they want to go to church. It’s because someone took the time to make them feel special and invite them. I don’t care if you have invited them 500 times, it might take 501 for them to come. Don’t stop believing in them!
6.     My corporate America vision, might not be for me. I’ve never felt so convicted to work with teenagers. I’m still not sure what this looks like, but when I do, I’ll let you know. For right now, it means trying to rearrange my fall schedule so that I can volunteer at Fuse in the fall.
7.     Drinking? For anyone that knows my story they know alcohol is a big thing in my life. I believe that God has called me to step away from alcohol completely. I also think this means after I turn 21. I’m not 100% on this yet, but I have a feeling it will be. It won’t be easy AT ALL. I don’t think it is supposed to be. I think God wants to use it for a testimony to him and a way for me to connect to people. I’d be happy to talk about this anytime as I work through it.
8.     Perry asked what one thing is standing between myself and God. The answer popped into my mind instantly. Control. That means, as a senior in college this year, I will be making no firm plans for my future. I will be praying for God to lead me in the direction he wants me. That doesn’t mean I won’t take the GMAT or do job applications. It means instead of praying to God to put me at P&G or Smuckers, I’m praying to God that he makes it abundantly clear where he wants me, even if that entails getting exactly one job offer to make sure I get the message.

I know this was long, but it wasn’t even half of the story. If you see me, please ask me about it. I needed this week more than many of the students. I needed to get pumped back up for God, I needed to see what God wanted from me, I needed to be shown what I was doing wrong. Be careful what you ask God for, you just might get it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blessings rather than Spitefulness

If I would’ve been offered a job six months ago in Columbia I’d have said no thank you siree. Living with my parents again? Living in a city with virtually no friends left in it? Live in a city that seems to not really offer anything? No, I had 99 cities to consider and Columbia wasn’t one.

So where did God ask me to go? Duh. The one place I TOLD him I didn’t want to be. Lesson #2: Never tell God what you will do, learn to consider what he wants you to do.

Do I think God put me here to spite me? I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind. Guess what though? God is bigger than petty emotions like spitefulness. He just wants what is best for me. Now I’m getting the blessing to finally see it and try to follow along.

Why did God place me in Columbia for the summer? I’ve asked this since the moment I found out and it has taken some time to open my eyes and see and now that I have, I’m learning more and more each day how awesome God was to place me here, to see my weaknesses, see how I could work on them here, and how to keep myself out of trouble.

1.     I live with my parents, it’s not exactly exciting in my spare time which means I get rest. For anyone that knows me, you understand that the crazy amount of classes and work and team, etc during the school year doesn’t really allow this. I’m finally getting feels awesome.
2.     I work in a Baptist Financial Foundation Office. The entire building is a daily workplace for God’s kingdom. I need that daily reminder of God and positive work environment so I can grow in my walk because it pretty much sucks, but I’m working on that.
3.     I’ve been saying I wanted a Master’s Degree in finance, my internship this summer in a financial office has really affirmed that decision. (I’ve learned so much!)
4.     I GET to be around NewSpring all summer, enough said.
5.     As a result of the above, I GET to volunteer as a chaperone for the Gauntlet.
6.     I’m getting to spend time with my parents as an adult, and finally respecting why they’ve made some of the decisions they have. It feels good to get to know them as adults and not just my parents. Who knows where I’ll be after graduation in less than a year?!
7.     I’m away from harmful influences. Alcohol is a struggle I have. For those that know my background you understand alcohol and partying isn’t something I like to deal with. I’m not 21, being the youngest intern is always hard when you’re rooming with those that are. Now, I don’t have others around me influencing me to drink because the rest of the group is going out.
8.     I’m saving money by living with the rents. No rent, utilities, or groceries? $500 a month saved easily. (Now I’m learning to tithe faithfully)

I’m sure there are many other reasons I’m here but these are the main ones and those I feel comfortable sharing. God has blessed me even when I was angry with him for sticking me here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Search....

Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it. Last summer, I was given a great opportunity to travel the country to teach rifle, something I’m passionate about. At the end of the summer, I knew the next one might not be so easy because I would need to “grow up” and get an internship to gain the experience and credit for a resume that I currently lacked. I started the search early back in October and went hard, applying to companies of all kinds (that’s the great part of being a business major, every company needs ‘em) large and small.

I talked to many about this search and my Christian friends calmly reminded me God would put me where I needed to be. Meanwhile, my non-Christian focused friends assured me that with my resume I would surely be a hit with companies and get what I thought I wanted. Now take a guess who had the better sense?

I prayed fervently that one of my top choices like Proctor & Gamble or Bank of America would give me an interview and then internship. I did make it to an interview with P&G but didn’t make it to the next round. During the entire search, I prayed to God asking him to place me where I needed to be while at the same time inwardly cursing the fact I was very unsuccessful with the entire process. By beginning of finals week I had to accept the fact I wasn’t getting an internship. I was ungrateful about it and very angry with God for what I believed at the time to have “failed me.” God never fails you, you just fail to trust him 100%.

God has a great sense of humor, no one can convince me differently. While I sat there fuming trying to scramble plans together for a summer and income to pay the bills God was laughing and asking when I would decide to submit. I tried to say I submitted the whole process back in October (lies) I again said I wasn’t panicking in April (again, I was lying). Finally, during finals week in May I said God, I’m not getting what I want, honestly this time, please help my bull-headedness and show me what I should do this summer. I originally thought it was to take classes and work in Clemson but God had different plans.

I received an internship at a Baptist Foundation office back home. I tried to wrap my mind around living back with my parents, where I didn’t have many friends at, at Baptist office when I definitely am not Baptist, to a job I never even considered two months ago. This job is not what I expected my summer to look like, but exactly where God wanted me, giving me exactly what I asked him to. It becomes clearer and clearer each day….

Trust is key. I definitely got that message so I’m learning to trust God. Living with my parents wasn’t easy at first, it’s still not, but it’s getting better. That’s a story for another day.