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I’m a 21-year-old college student. I live at home and work a minimum wage job at a local frozen yogurt shop. I commute to college three times a week where I’m majoring in English with a minor in Spanish. I get up every day without fearing for my life or anyone’s life close to me.  I’m fortunate for the things in my life. I’m safe and that’s more than Christians can say in the Middle East.

As an avid news watcher, I knew what was happening in the Middle East and  it broke my heart. Thousands of Christians have been displaced by ISIS. We’ve all seen the headlines and seen the news coverage of the men beheaded by them. But has it actually sunk in? My pastor is on the board of World Help, a non-profit organization. He recently came back from one of their annual conferences and shared with us what was happening in the Middle East.

Children are systematically being slaughtered and beheaded in front of their parents, if they don’t deny Jesus as their Savior. The world hasn’t seen brutality to this extent since World War II and the rise of Hitler. No one expects this in our day and age. It’s 2014 for crying out loud. By this time, Marty McFly thought we’d have flying cars. This is barbaric and is reminiscent of the Assyrians and Babylonians of ancient times.

I think the saddest part, however, is the fact that news channels aren’t reporting the events anymore. It’s too gruesome for our reality TV trained minds. We need a wake up call. This is bordering on genocide and Western Christianity and civilization, for the most part, is doing nothing to stop it. We’re worried about what our costume for Halloween will be and if we can afford to go to the movies this weekend. Hasn’t it dawned on anyone that hundreds of thousands of people are being displaced and being slaughtered. Winter is fast approaching and for these Christians in Northern Iraq they’re facing impending doom, if we don’t take action.

I don’t have a pool of money to send over but I wish I did. However, you don’t need to have money to be effective. Use whatever voice you have. That could mean sending money but it could also mean spreading awareness or blogging about it. I wish I could do more but the one thing everyone can do is pray.

Pray for the displaced.

Pray for supplies to be safely distributed.

Pray for safety and comfort in the coming months for those in the elements.

Pray for the persecuted church in the Middle East.

This is where Christianity began. The roads ISIS are traveling on were the same that Paul the Apostle walked. This is where Jesus’ greatest ministry was held. If it wasn’t for the Christianity in the Middle East, Christianity would not have reached the western world.

Esther 4:14 NASB-

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

Mudslides and Bus Rides

Before I get to the point of this blog post, I need to apologize. Every time I have a blog post idea, I sit at my  laptop and punch out a line or two before becoming disinterested or uninspired. I must have at least five drafts I’ve wanted to post but have either forgotten about them or don’t know how to continue writing them. My sincerest apologies because I haven’t updated since August 15. Two and a half months of blog silence is unacceptable for me. I’m not going to make excuses because none are justifiable.

I wrote my goals for 2015 on a sheet of notebook paper last night and tacked it onto my bulletin board that hangs on the wall beside my bed. There were several items that made the list and one of them was this blog. It’s been a dream of mine for quite a while to get this blog updated on a regular basis. I’m not a planner or organizer in the least. Many of my lists remain unchecked and uncompleted. I’m determined to accomplish the list hopefully over the next year.

The point of this blog post wasn’t to detail my list of New Year goals. In fact, I hadn’t planned on writing about that for quite a while since it’s only the end of October.

This past week I had the opportunity to once again travel back to Rio Hondo, Guatemala. It was my second trip of 2014 and I couldn’t have been happier to return even though it was only for a week.

This trip was similar in ways the previous two had been, but it also held many new things in store for me. It started off on a plane and the first day ended with a five-hour bus ride. Normally, it would only take us about four hours to get to Hope of Life but because of several mudslides, our trek would be delayed a bit.

A family that had been on the trip in May also returned and I couldn’t have been more excited because they were such an amazing family. Throughout the course of the bus ride one of the kids, Austin showed me a game of jelly beans where by chance you would either get a great tasting jelly bean or a horrible flavored one. Some examples were barf or tutti fruity, lime or lawn clippings, and buttered popcorn or moldy cheese. Thinking that it would help pass the time, I challenged him to play. I will never eat another jelly bean in my life.

After consuming many disgusting jelly beans, we pulled into HOL and finally settled in the rancho. The week had only begun. I was able to spend almost every day up at the orphanage with my sponsor child Kenny and had the amazing opportunity to spend Sunday church with him.

 

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He’s growing, he’s happy and he’s still chubby. Even at four years old, I can tell he has a giving heart. He’d share his water or banana with me even though I adamantly said it was his in my broken Spanish. I read him Go Dog Go in Spanish and despite me not being able to roll my r’s he had me read it again. The next day I traveled up there, he came running out with another book this time it was Buenas Noches Gorilla. My heart soared. Even as I stumbled over pronouncing giraffe in Spanish he’d say it several times and wait patiently for me to repeat it.

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The week flew by as we traveled out to Los Jocotes and watched as Cross Creek Church dedicated trees, the church’s bathroom, and gave Pastor Carlos a new motorcycle to make his trek to church quicker. Let me tell you, those people love the Lord and love serving. Serving alongside them for a week only helped my faith grow. I watched as they pushed past the pain, past the sweat, and rejoiced with the people of Los Jocotes.

 

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Temples or Billboards?

There’s an epidemic that’s taken control of today’s youth. When you’re in the midst of it, it’s hard to ignore. Growing up, I was fortunate to be raised in a family that set a pretty high standard when it came to womanhood. Today, I’m still setting high standards for myself. But they’re aren’t unattainable. To some they may seem unreachable and a waste of time, but to the trained eye and those who want the best, it’s just a few more steps.

It hasn’t been easy. Especially when it comes to clothes and being 5′ 11. It’s been downright frustrating at times. Instead of compromising for a shorter but pretty skirt, I’ve chosen a maxi skirt with an equally fashionable pattern. I’ve come to terms with how my standard represents me and speaks for me. I dress with dignity and class, not necessarily what the runway says girls my age should wear. However, I don’t wear a garbage bag down to my ankles.

I was in the mall today waiting outside the dressing room when I heard something that completely broke my heart. A young girl probably no older than twelve, opened the door to the dressing room and proclaimed that the outfit didn’t make her feel sexy.

What have we done that girls that young have the urge to feel sexy? Where are the Audrey Hepburns who dressed modestly but were style icons? That’s who we should aspire to look like. If just a few women chose the higher standard to challenge themselves, imagine what the world would look like.

I’ve also been fortunate to never really struggle immensely with body image but I know many young girls struggle with it daily. I fully believe it’s because the media, magazines, and reality TV shows, depict such unrealistic portrayals of how women should look, act, and speak.

Women are degraded with every channel I turn. I saw a Hardee’s commercial today and realized that the scantily clad girl on top of the truck was advertising something more than just the burger. It made me sick to my stomach to see that’s how women are viewed. It doesn’t get any better because nothing is changing. Instead of raising the standard, it’s being lowered more and more. Jeans become tighter, shorts become shorter, and tops become lower.

Body image is an issue that many people are speaking out about. Having a positive body image is important and I fully believe everyone should love their body no matter the shape or size. Our bodies are temples though. We need to start treating them as temples instead of billboards. You don’t want everything to be on display. Modesty is so much more than knee-length skirts. It’s a mentality. I do not dress in a way that shows the world everything and you shouldn’t either. We can’t display everything and then be shocked when someone sleazy hits on us.

When I heard the little girl tell her grandma that, it was a wake-up call. We have a generation that’s growing up with a low standard and it’s our job to uphold a higher, biblical standard that strives to prove that girls are more than the clothes on their body.

Revelation | Reason

Blog post 7:17:14

This past spring, I took several online classes through Liberty University. In my Old Testament Survey class one of the required books was Courageous Faith by Ed Hindson. This book helped me not only in that class but also in strengthening my walk with Christ.

One of the chapters dealt with Abraham and Sarah. I read a phrase, reread it, highlighted it, and starred it. Now five months later, I’m finding out what the phrase truly meant and how Sarah and I both needed to learn the same lesson. You see with Sarah she was learning to take God’s Revelation over Man’s Reason. Reasoning is the default setting when you can’t figure out what path to take. The majority of the time you begin to reason it out and take the most logical path.

Sarah, according to man’s reasoning, would never logically be able to have a child. She was past child-bearing age and everything said no. God said yes. He knew the prayer of her heart and how she struggled to years in wanting a child. When man’s logic fails God’s revelation succeeds.

Today we deal with the same issue as Sarah did. Maybe in a different context but the lesson is the same. I’m at a point in my life right now where I’m beginning another adventure. Whether my heart is in it or not, God knows where my heart truly lies and in His timing His purpose will make itself known.

Man’s reasoning leads to doubt, anxiety, sleepless nights, and a whole lot of worry that leads you nowhere. Give it over to God by praying and He will make known your requests.

Let it be Jesus

Every morning I stumble out of bed and blindly wander to the bathroom without my glasses. Which is always a mistake. Somehow, I manage to make my way down to the kitchen and pour myself a cup of coffee.

A few days ago though, I slept through three of my alarms. Yes, I set three alarms. I knew I was running behind and threw my clothes on, grabbed breakfast, and still managed to fill the car up with gas and make it to work on time.

Something was off though.

The reason I set so many alarms is to make sure I make time for devotionals and my prayer time. I missed that and I could feel it. Besides skipping the coffee, I knew my tiredness was caused by something else too. Something way stronger than coffee. I try to get up early in order to fill up on Jesus for the day. I have been able to share my faith recently and I know in order to share it, it needs to be instilled in my heart.

After work, I had to run some errands and it seems like every time I need to be somewhere on time, the slow drivers come out of their houses and drive their cars right in front of me. Now, I know that’s not really the case because it’s a test of my patience and most of the times I fail.

But on Tuesday, I stopped at the grocery store got what I needed and proceeded to drive away. A lady blew through the stop sign causing me to check my brakes in a rather harsh way and the first instinct was to get angry. Then in midst of opening my mouth, a thought came over me. Let it be Jesus that they see in you.

Jesus was definitely not a road-raged driver. I can’t see Him in downtown Jerusalem shouting at the camel driver in front of Him that He needs to get home in time to work on His carpentry skills or to raise someone from the dead. Jesus had an immense measure of patience something that I need. I mean how am I supposed to win people to Him, if I shout at them to move faster down the road or that they’re an idiot that needs to get their license checked.

Let it be Jesus simply means whenever I have a chance, Jesus needs to shine through my words, actions, thoughts, and deeds. It’s not easy to refrain from calling someone out who doesn’t know how to drive but it’s infinitely better to let Jesus shine through.

 

A Pillow and a Mattress

Right now, I’m blogging from the comforts of my air-conditioned living room with a bowl of popcorn within arms reach and the news on. That’s makes me feel incredibly selfish and lucky. As an American, I’m safer and more blessed than more than half the world. I can fall asleep at night to only the dog next door barking not bombs exploding. I can drive anywhere as long as there’s gas in the tank, and there usually is plenty.

I take a lot for granted but many people in the world aren’t so fortunate. My cousin recently traveled to India and when we caught up this past weekend we shared plenty of stories from our trips. Despite being in two completely different places in the world the problem was the same. Extreme poverty and the need for Jesus. While we were sharing stories, he said something to me and it struck a chord. If we have a pillow and a mattress, we are luckier than 75% of the world.

Seventy-five percent!

For me that’s unimaginable but I know it’s true. We have shelter, clothing, and food. That’s life’s basic necessities. We don’t need a car, a flat-screen TV, or air conditioning. Those are just perks of being born and raised in a first world country.

I’m reading a book one of my other cousins recommended to me probably three or fours years ago. And it’s sat on my bookshelf for three or four years. It’s not that I didn’t want to read it but I think God was just saving it for a time where He knew I would appreciate it a little more. The book is called Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. Let me just say, everyone needs to read this. Seriously, go to your bookstore or iTunes account and buy the book.

It’s eye-opening on so many levels. I work a minimum wage job but I make a decent amount for having a minimum wage job. I’ll admit that I like to spend money, I mean who doesn’t? What the book pointed out though is how much of your purchases are actually necessities. Not that many. At least of my purchases.

I love coffee just as much as the next person. But I can’t justify buying a $4.00 small cup of coffee. That’s pretty much a gallon of gas! For me that’s a luxury not a necessity. The book has set a goal in my heart and mind now. Stop buying luxuries thinking they’re necessities. It’s not easy and it won’t be easy, but I believe if we start eliminating the luxuries we’ll be able to give more freely.

Directing My Steps

There’s a point in everyone’s lives where our faith is tested and we see what we’re really made of. For me, that time is now. I’m transferring to a new college, attempting to figure out what classes I’m taking, and trying to finish my undergrad within two and a half years. Add to that working four to five days a week and taking an overloaded course load. My physical man is stressed, anxious, and unnerved. I’ve been digging deeper into the Word knowing that while my physical being is falling apart my spiritual being needs to be at peace and found in Him.

It’s almost as if God is yelling at me, “Trust me, Hannah. I know you’re stressed but everything is for my glory. Wait until you see the end product. It’s amazing.” In all honesty, it’s not that I’m stressed but it’d be much easier to just have two options and either option in the end would work out to my advantage. That’s where I’m wrong though. Nothing in life should work out my way. It needs to be in line with God’s Word and in line with His priority. Faith is in a massive partnership with Works and together they make up a huge part of Christianity.

I can’t expect to sit back and expect God to just orchestrate my life without me doing anything. Math is my worst subject but I think of it like an equation, or multiple equations.

Faith= 50%

Works=50%

F+W= 100% trust in God and the best outcome in life.

F-W= Half-hearted Christianity and a lackluster life.

W-F= Stress and over-thinking that leads to many sleepless nights.

I don’t know about you but the best equation for me seems to be the F+W one where God has our complete trust. It’s not easy and sometimes I see the F+W people and I think to myself, “Wow, I wish I could have a life like theirs.”

My Aunt Sandy was one of those F+W people. No matter what life threw at her she always was found standing solidly on God’s Word and her faith. When she passed away, I looked to my mom and said, “If I could have half the faith that Aunt Sandy had, I’d be one of the luckiest people on Earth.” That’s how much her faith wowed me. But it wasn’t just her faith, it was her works too. She was so active not only in her community but with every single person she crossed paths with. She literally leaked Jesus.

And that’s my goal. To put 100% of myself into God’s calling for my life. I want to leak Jesus so much that when people see me they ask me how it happens. I need an extra dose of faith in God knowing His dream for me is so much better than I could ever create for myself.

“A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9