10 years- Looking back, and looking forward.

As everyone remembers today, September 11, 2011 is the 10th anniversary of the infamous September 11, 2001, when our nation was attacked by terrorism. It was what seemed to be an ordinary day, but a day that would change our nation forever.

 

I was 12 years old, sitting in my 7th grade homeroom class at Burns Middle School in Brandon, FL. To be honest, I had never heard of the Twin Towers until that day. We watched the news all day at school. I knew something major and scary was going on, but I couldn’t wrap my 12 year old mind around the enormity of the situation. After I got home from school that day, my family of 5, my dad, mom, and brothers Jason and Jonathan and I gathered together in our living room. It was the first time that I can remember praying together as a family that wasn’t around a meal. We all stood in a circle, holding hands, as my dad and mom lead us to pray for our nation. That moment, was what defined that day for me. I began to understand that this day would forever be part of history. From that point on I started to pay attention to the news and what was going on in the world. I tried to understand, but until recently, I couldn’t quite grasp it.

 

Today is the 10 year anniversary of that day. We all remember. We look back. We look at pictures. We watch those fateful videos. We pause. We pray.

 

Throughout today one verse has been replaying in my mind: “The LORD sat as King at the flood; Yes, the LORD sits as King forever.” (Psalm 29:10) – God was not surprised by the attacks. He was not caught of guard. He was in control. Our human minds cannot understand, and we don’t have to. All we have to do is be still and know that He is God. He is on His throne. He is worthy to be worshiped. He shall forever be praised.

 

As we recount the number of first responders that lost their lives, the number of airline passengers and crew, and the number of innocent civilians who went to work like any other day, I can’t help but think of those who were spared. Yes, it is a tragedy that 3,000 people lost their lives. I’m not minimizing that by any means. That’s not my intent. But I can’t help but remember the stories of those who were running late to work that day, and thereby were not in harms way. Those who might have been in traffic and their every day route was interrupted. I think of those tourists who weren’t scheduled to visit the Towers that day. I think of those who were spared. I praise God for those who survived. So often we focus on the negative, yet it is my conviction that thousands more were spared to carry us from that day, to pray for those who lost loved ones, and to lead our nation to a stronger unity, to carry the name of Jesus to those who have yet to hear. We’ve been spared. For what reason? To merely talk about that day and to mourn? Or to provide HOPE for others, hope that can only come from Jesus Christ? I am convinced it is the latter–that we have a mission.

 

 

This afternoon I’ve been sprawled out on a blanket on my patio porch, journaling, praying, and remembering that day. Not only did the Lord help me remember September 11, 2001, but He brought to my mind the years between 2001-2011. Ten years. Ten years have passed. I am 10 years older. I am 22, turning 23 in a few months. Quietly, the Lord began to make me ponder how I’ve grown in HIM over the last 10 years. When I was 12, I was a quiet Christian girl, saved for five years, just trying to figure out how Jesus wanted me to be a missionary in my middle school while I also went through puberty and tried to get straight A’s. In the last ten years I have started wearing make-up, learned to drive, survived high school, graduated, went to two different colleges, was called to ministry, graduated college, and gotten married. Wow.

 

I am one of the spared. He not only saved me and my family on September 11, 2001, He saved me from tremendous amounts of sin and entanglement in the toughest years of my life. He saved me during a tough move from Tampa to Woodstock. He saved me from temptations that teenagers often struggle with. He saved my physical purity. He SAVED me! He’s done so much in me spiritually over the last ten years. He has taught me how to cultivate intimacy with Him. He has called me to minister to teenage girls. He has taught me how to pray. He has taught me about grace. He has taught me dependency on Him. He has taught me that satisfaction can come only from HIM. He has given me a hunger for the Word and not the things of this world. He has quickened my heart for missions. Oh, praise the Lord for the work that He has done! I do not say all of this to boast about my life or the work that He is doing, I say that to boast in the cross of Christ and the difference the gospel has made to this daughter of the King. I am unbelievably overwhelmed by how He has enabled me to grow in Him over the past 10 years, which only makes me bubble over with joy at the thought of what He can and will do in the next 10 years.

 

If I were to present a challenge to anyone who reads this and to myself, it is to do a self evaluation of your relationship with the Lord over the last 10 years. And from there, evaluate where you want to be ten years from now. In ten years, if the Lord grants me that long on this earth or if Jesus doesn’t come back before then, I will be 32 years old. I do not want to be in the same place spiritually that I am now. I desire so much more. I want to know Him deeper, so so much more intimately than I can even fathom now. I want to learn, to grow, to be challenged. I want to suffer for His sake. I want to endure trials and tribulations so that He can produce in me that which is impossible without strife. I want to see His glory, to dive into His presence, and to be a gospel centered woman.

 

Oh He is so worth it. No one else will ever compare. I have no idea what He has in store for me. But I know that the things of this world do not satisfy, and I only desire to know Him and to do His kingdom work.

 

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits;

Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases;

Who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.”

Psalm 103:1-5

In Pursuit

For the small handful of people who have ever read my blog the three times I’ve posted, I wanted to explain the constant changes being made to the title and look. I have wanted to be a blogger for some time now; not for the title of being a “blogger,” because I honestly think that sounds rather nerdy. However, I love expressing myself through writing, and if my writing encourages or challenges someone else, then I’ll feel like I’m making some small contribution of worth. Either way, writing is a very tangible way for me to process my thoughts and to stop and meditate on one thing. It is almost therapeutic in a way. Call me crazy, but that’s how God made me I guess!

 

Anyway, I think I’ve finally landed on a theme and title for this blog that really fits me. As I know you’ve already noticed, I’ve renamed my blog to “In Pursuit” with the tag line being “of the One who calls me His own.” For some reason, that is quite a summary of me. As much as I lie to myself at times thinking I have arrived or will arrive one day, the Lord constantly reminds me that my relationship with Him is ongoing until completion in the day of Christ Jesus. Until then, I am in constant pursuit of Him. I will never have enough of Him. I will never be finished in my walk with the Lord. He fills my cup to overflowing, and overflowing, and overflowing. He will never become “old news,” “stale,” or “out-dated.” Even in His never-ending(ness) and constancy, I will be the one who is always learning and being blown away by Him.

 

The fact of the matter is, this is a very humbling truth. So often in life we have “end goals.” We have a destination we are trying to reach and we have a countdown for the next stage of life (guilty!) But the Lord has been reminding me that that’s not how it is with Him. The moment I stop pursuing Him is the moment I start sliding backwards and out of communion with my Creator and Redeemer. My relationship with Jesus does not have to be perfect because He is the only One who achieves perfection. I’m still the sinful party that is going to mess up and be thick-headed. It is going to take me a lifetime to learn the things He wants me to learn. It is going to take years upon years to reach spiritual maturity. And the humbling part is that He completely understands that. He’s so faithful that I don’t have to worry about running out of time in a lifetime pursuit of Him. He is continually pursuing ME, so that I will pursue Him right back. The fact that I will never be able to get there on my own apart from Him is what is so humbling. I’m even completely dependent on God even to be able to strive after Him. But that is also His desire for me, so He’ll be with me every step of the way.

 

I no longer want to be striving after a certain level of spiritual maturity. I no longer want to strive after biblical womanhood. I no longer want to strive after being the best leader I can be. I want to strive after Jesus. Period. Which, by the way, the beauty of strictly striving after Jesus is that in doing that, His grace will mature me, make me into a godly woman, and provide me with leadership opportunities. But if those things become my goal, then my target is off and I’m then missing the whole point. The pursuit of Jesus leads to the glory of God in my life, and that is my purpose and highest satisfaction. His glory is His goal. His glory is my joy. I’m just a participant in His magnificent, Sovereign plan. And it is by being an active participant that gives my life purpose and meaning which then leads to even more glory for Himself to receive.

 

It’s not about me, and I’m finally beginning to understand that.

 

Praise the Lord.

Fall Must-Haves

It’s getting to be that time of year…that beautiful, blissfull, favorite time of year…

… FALL!

 

The cooler weather, the crisp leaves, the breathtaking colors. They all take hold of my heart and keep it captivated as I’m reminded of God’s creativity in the changing of the seasons. I’m fully convinced that He made Fall especially perfect to remind of us His beauty. There are so many fun activities, so many memories that go along with this season. Fall festivals, pumpkin patches, state fairs, apple picking, jumping in leaf piles and riding with the windows down… don’t even get me started on the smells. Cinnamon, pumpkin, nutmeg spice, it’s my favorite season! (There’s also that beautiful thing called Alabama Crimson Tide football, Roll Tide!)

 

I’m becoming a list person. I like to make to-do lists. Some are in order to keep my life from being crazy chaos, but other lists are for fun, to ensure that I don’t let myself get too overwhelmingly busy and actually slow down to enjoy the season. Thus, the reason for this post: my electronic Fall to-do list.

 

Must-Haves/Do’s for Fall 2010:

  • Alabama football with my family every Saturday
  • Matt’s 23rd Birthday
  • Cagle’s Dairy Farm for the North Georgia Corn Maze
  • Pumpkin Carving with my Fiance
  • Apple Picking in the North Georgia Mountains
  • A ride through the country side with the windows down
  • Boots shopping
  • Scarf wearing
  • Camping Trip with my friends

There’s so much to look forward to! I don’t want to miss a bit of it. Way too often, I’m always looking forward to the next big thing. But I’m beginning to learn that the Lord has intended for me to not just count down, but to live every day with the intent of glorifying Him through being fully aware and alive in the midst of never-ending change. That’s it. That’s my thoughts today. So go out there and enjoy Fall everyone! It will be over before we know it.

The new and improved!

My blog was stale. I realize this. Even though no one verbally communicated that to me, I knew it all along, but kept putting off making it better. However, time is on my side today so I figured a little sprucing up was in order. I’m not positive that this is the final layout, title, or set-up, but it’ll do until I think of something better.

Again, I’m not much of a blogger, but I might as well try to make use of it since I’ve got one now. Plus, when the Lord is teaching me so much, why would I not want to share it with the world?!

 

Right now we are t-minus 29 hours from the High School Girls Retreat. It’s taken tons of planning and preparation, but we’re almost there and I’m PUMPED! The Lord is up to BIG things and I can’t wait to see what He whips out during this short weekend. I’m confident that the students won’t be the only ones being challenged. Even in my preparation for the one session I’ll be teaching, the Lord has been reminding me of His faithfulness and ability to answer prayer. He has been working behind the scenes, in front of the scenes, and all throughout the scenes. Just get ready to hear about what takes place this weekend as we watch and participate in the things the Lord has planned for us!

Please join us in praying for every person going on this retreat. All the students and all the adults. We’re waiting expectantly for the Lord to chizzle away the flesh and replace it with more of Himself!

Sleepova Frenzie

So…one of the coolest parts about doing Girls Ministry is that we get to hang out…as GIRLS! Woohoo girly things bless my heart. I love it. So for the girls who came to the Girls Summer Bible study for the last 6 weeks, we had a sleepover to celebrate our finale! 1 Peter 3 taught us SO much about how our attitudes should be as women, how to behave, and how to exercise a gentle and quiet spirit while we respect the men in our lives. It was an awesome time of fellowship and of breaking Bread with my fellow sisters in Christ.

 

 

 

On the last night of our Bible study we decided it would only be appropriate to get together as girls and just party it up. Here is what ensued. Oh…the laughter and good times that took place….

 

It wouldn’t be a sleepover without a dance party in the strobe light… These girls were BREAKIN’ IT DOWN…. I am the first to say that I absolutely LOVE dance parties and don’t think its a party without one. But I’m not gonna lie, these girls were killing me in the energy department! Every time I tried to stop the dance party to move on to something else, somehow someone would start it back up again. There was no cutting it short. They were going to get their groove on no matter what I said. It was a blast!

 

 

Overall, we had a fantastic night, ate tons of pizza and junk food, and barely got any sleep. I would say it was a very successful event which will definitely have to be repeated!

 

 

 

 

We MUST Abide

That’s what Scripture tells us if we are wanting to produce any fruit in our lives…

John 15:1-5, 10-11

“I am the true vine; and, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing…”

“…If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

 

No matter how many times I hear this passage…I am ridiculously challenged. What does it really mean to abide? I got curious and looked it up from dictionary.com and the original Greek.

Dictionary.com:

1) to remain; stay; continue

2) to continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship, etc.; last

Original Greek via blueletterbible.com:

1) to be held, kept, continually

2) to continue to be, last, endure

3) to remain as one, not to become another or different

Am I remaining, staying, continuing in Christ? Am I enduring, remaining ONE with him, not letting myself become another or different from Him? Jesus says here that if I am not then I will not bear fruit. At all. Period. I will be useless. What is the point of a vine that is supposed to produce fruit but doesn’t? There is no purpose, it is cut down so that a fruitful and useful vine can take its place. And that’s what will happen to me if I am not being useful for the Kingdom of God. And I can’t be useful if I’m not abiding in Him.

I want my life to count, I want to be used for God’s glory for His Kingdom purposes. Otherwise it would be better if I would be cut off, so that others who are producing fruit can step in my place and be used by Him.

His Word is life, it is food for my soul, and I desire to abide in it so that I may know Him more intimately and abide in Him. Without it, my life will shrivel up and stop producing fruit.

I can’t let that happen. Jesus deserves more than that.

New to the Blog World

 

Well… Here I am, a new found, self-proclaimed….blogger. That’s right. Didn’t think it would EVER happen. Typically I write my thoughts in a journal and reflect that way. But I guess this is similiar, it’s just available to all who are willing to take the time to read it.

This summer God has given me such a tremendous opportunity to serve alongside our youth ministry and specifically reach out and disciple the high school girls. To say I am absolutely LOVING it is an understatement! It all started with HS camp, then MS camp, and now we are doing Monday night Bible studies through the book of 1 Peter. It has been amazing, and God has been using this time to draw me closer to Himself as I lead others to do the same.

My heart, passion, burden, and goal in life is to glorify God by the way that I live. It is my understanding that if He was finished using me, He would have called me Home as soon as I received salvation. However, I know He is not finished with me, and I am thrilled to get to be a part of His story. God has given me a unique passion for high school girls. Maybe it’s because they are not afraid to be themselves, tell you how they feel, or completely allow themselves to get wrapped up in the most dramatic situations, just for fun. Even though this age group gets a lot of flack from adults these days, I know that they are much more potential and heart than they are given credit for. Teenage girls are fully capable to understand the Gospel, share it with others, grow DEEP in God’s Word, and live their lives above reproach. It is my desire to run alongside them, to encourage them, and to help equip them to be Biblical women of God, who find their trust and satisfaction in Jesus Christ alone.

 

That’s why I am here. That’s why I am doing this internship. That’s why I’m investing my time. Because I believe the Lord has a great work to do among the high school girls, specifically of FBCW. It’s time we step up to the plate and allow God to amaze us through our obedience to His calling.