Unshakeable Faith

Standard

Normally, whenever I’m driving or in a car there’s music playing. It’s almost always playing through my iPhone but lately I’ve been listening a lot to KLOVE. With everything going on around us, it’s very easy to be swept up and consumed with minute details of our lives.

On my commute several times in the past week, KLOVE has played an older song but the words finally meant something to me.

He Reigns by the Newsboys played through my speakers one morning. This wasn’t a new song to me. We used to sing it in my high school’s chapel frequently. But this time I heard the lyrics in a new light.

And all the powers of darkness
Tremble at what they’ve just heard
‘Cause all the powers of darkness
Can’t drown out a single word

When all God’s children sing out
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

Anyone who turns on the news knows evil is always lurking. However, now more than ever has the evil persisted. We have ISIS decapitating heads, destroying ancient holy sites, and decimating villages.

Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars in the last days. ISIS has made it very clear what their mission is.

Eliminate Christianity.

There’s only one problem in that plan of theirs. You CAN’T eliminate us. Just like the days of the early church when the Romans were persecuting Jews and Christians, the more they killed the more people converted to Christianity. It’s having the opposite effect.

I read a news article about the 21 Coptic Christians that were beheaded by ISIS and it got me thinking. Imagine just as the terrorists began killing the Christians they began praying. Crying out to God, just as Stephen did 2,000 years ago.

Living in America, it seems we’re detached from a lot of these issues. We see the headlines, the brutal videos, but do we really understand what’s happening over there?

This isn’t the first blog post that I’ve written about concerning about ISIS. It probably won’t be my last. Those 21 Christians, that were beheaded, the pilot that was burned alive inside a cage, and the thousands of other martyrs who chose Jesus are now united with Him in Heaven.

Their families mourn them here on Earth but they have reaped the eternal reward. ISIS has not made its presence known in America but if it does, or when it does, will we have the same unshakeable faith that our brothers and sisters had?

Here’s to you, Dad!

Standard

I had a different blog post in mind when I sat down to my laptop this morning. It was one I had thought long and hard about. I even took a picture to upload. But I sat down I remembered what today was.

March 12.

For most it’s an insignificant date. Another Thursday in a countdown until the weekend. It almost slipped past me.

Almost.

For me it holds special meaning. Today would have been my Dad’s 68th birthday. I haven’t celebrated my Dad’s birthday in fifteen years. I was six the last time we bought a birthday cake, lit the candles, and sang Happy Birthday to him.

Years go by. I get older. The gap between my Dad and I gets bigger. Time and space is a massive hole that separates two people. Losing someone that young, you don’t quite understand the impact it has on you. Fast forward fifteen years, I’ll be twenty-two this year. My Dad has missed out on my whole life.

I’m not angry or bitter because it’s what God wanted. Somehow in His grand scheme of things, it was better to have my Dad up in Heaven than here on Earth.

I don’t get that. In this life, I won’t understand why I’ve had to grow up without a Dad. It’s something no child should ever have to do.

It’s molded me and changed me in ways I wouldn’t understand.

I have one of my Dad’s church notebooks up on my bookcase. Sometimes I take it out and read it just to understand more of the man he was. The man I don’t know.

He wrote in all caps. Tiny little letters and Greek symbols cover every inch of paper in that notebook.

His love for Christ was evident. Every page of that notebook was his love for Christ and what Christ meant to him.

It showed me how much more I need to be in tune with God.The legacy my father left is unblemished. My Dad leaked Jesus to everyone and everything he touched.

I want the same to be said for me.68th bday blog post

Seasons of Waiting

Standard

I walk across campus to get to my early classes and normally that has no effect on me. However, with the bitter wind chill that whips at your face, numbing it within seconds, the trek has become a daily feat for me.

Like so many other this time of year, I long for the warm summer nights and the days where you don’t have to warm your car up for fifteen minutes before you go anywhere. Winter has always been a season of waiting for me. Everything seems paused, at a standstill. The trees have given their last breath of life for several months and the bird migrate somewhere warmer.

Oh how I wish I was a bird sometimes.

Much like winter, I feel I am in a season of waiting. I’m young in many aspects of the word but I am an old soul. Once I took a quiz to find out my “true age” and got forty. I wasn’t sure what emotion to feel.

My whole life I’ve wanted only two things. Well, I’ve wanted several things but these two have always been constant.

I’ve wanted to write books.

I’ve wanted to be a mother.

Ever since the fourth grade when I wrote in a daily journal for my teacher, I knew I wanted to write. Fast forward eleven years and that’s still on my list.

But lately, it’s been the latter. I’ve always loved kids and desired to have a family. Where I work, I’ve been in the children’s sections the majority go my shifts. I love seeing little kids’ faces light up when you hand them the book they were looking for, or when an expecting mother comes in and asks for recommendations on starting a mini-library for her first child.

I see all the books I loved as a kid, Corduroy, Jamberry, Go Dog Go and my heart yearns for a little one of my own to share my love of books with.

All in God’s timing

That phrase has haunted me, given me encouragement, and confused me all in a span of a few minutes. For one, God’s timing is completely different from ours. What’s years for us probably feels like minutes to Him.

People have said, “He’s saving a great one for you.”

I get that but sometimes it’s frustrating. Why is He saving him? Can’t he just drop him in front of me and go “BAM! There he is Hannah.”

Another common phrase I’ve heard is, “This is where your faith comes into play. Have faith and trust God.”

While I understand both concepts and somewhat agree with them, I can’t help but get at least a little discouraged. Motherhood has always seemed like a far off dream. I’m in the middle of my college years and it’s not feasible right now.

I’m still a kid myself and at the end of the day just like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:34-

An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.

For this season of my life, I am dedicated to the Lord. He knows my heart better than myself or anyone around me. He knows exactly what I need and when I need it.

Even in the Small Things

Standard

Months ago I prayed, “Lord, I pray whatever Your will may be, I would find peace in it.” I had just returned from my third trip to Guatemala and like every other time, re-adjustment was difficult. I’ve always had a heart for the less fortunate but it wasn’t until I began going on short-term mission trips that my eyes and heart were truly opened to the need.

I’ve written several blog posts about my sponsor child, Kenny. Over the course of a year and a half of sponsoring him, I’ve come to love the little boy a whole lot. While adoption isn’t tangible physically yet for several reasons. (There’s a ban on Guatemalan adoptions, I’m single and only 21.) The weight never quite goes away. I found myself praying for Kenny a little more each day. That if the door ever opened, I would be blessed. But also, if the door remained closed, I would still be blessed.

Just a few days ago, I found out that Kenny is now a part of a family in SafeHaven Village on the campus. The news was shocking at first because like most people I had certain plans in my head. SafeHaven Village is such an amazing opportunity for the orphans as HOL. It’s family style orphan care that is changing these kids’ lives. They are no longer orphans. My heart is overwhelmed with joy in hearing that Kenny is now a part of it. He’s happy, laughing and smiling. It makes me smile to know that even when I cannot be there he is loved. He is so loved.

I was reminded of my prayer and a peace settled over me. God’s plans are ALWAYS so much better than anything we would’ve planned for ourselves. In a little over four months, I’ll be back in Guatemala this time, with my cousin in tow. I’m eager to see hearts changed, including mine. I’m excited to see how Kenny has grown. I’m excited to be apart of something great.

Radiant Diamonds: A Tribute to My Mom

Standard

There’s a famous saying that says, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” It’s been featured in several jewelry commercials and on multiple Pinterest boards. There’s always the few girls who exclaim that it’s not diamonds but dogs that are a girl’s best friend. That’s where they’re both wrong.

radiant diamonds 2

Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday. I won’t reveal her age but she doesn’t look or act like a day over forty-five. I’m not lying either. That woman has gone through more in her life than I ever hope to go through. However, if I did go through it, I’d want to come out exactly like her. It hasn’t always been easy but my mom has stood by me through countless issues. She’s been the rock that’s kept my family together and she’s done an amazing job at raising three kids on her own.

She’s my best friend. I know I give her a hard time each time I hear her call my name asking for help with the computer. I’m not going to lie and say every time I’ve been eager to help. Because I haven’t. More often than not, I get frustrated. She has done everything for me and the least I could do for her is fix the printer when it’s not printing out her weekly newsletter.

She put herself back through school to renew her teaching license and it might have been because I was still so young, but I can’t remember ever hearing her complain about anything. Now that I’m an adult, I appreciate every little thing she does for me. It  might be something minor like unloading the dishwasher for me simply because I’m swamped with Shakespeare homework.

The majority of the time the things she does for me aren’t just small things. She prays with me over anything and everything. I know I can come to her with anything and she’ll hear me with an open heart. Recently, I got a new job and like any job there’s training involved. I was getting worried about performing my tasks with minimal errors when she reminded me of something.

“Hannah, training is there to make mistakes. That’s why you train in the first place. You will make mistakes and you will learn from them. Nothing worth having comes easy.”

I wish I could give my mom the world because she deserves every last treasure on this Earth. Numerous times she has sacrificed things she’s wanted to get us things we need or want. I hope that as I get older that I’m able to give her all she has given me tenfold. In a way, I can never repay her for everything she’s done but I can spend my life trying. I love you, Mom and I hope one day we’ll do everything we say we will. Happy Birthday!

radiant diamonds

Welcome to the Tundra

Standard

It’s only mid-November but winter has come in full throttle. I’ve lived in the same place my whole life but I’m still not used to the harsh winters. Last winter was especially brutal with temperatures reaching into the negatives at some points. When it falls below zero degrees nothing moves. Gas freezes in your tank, buses can’t run which leads to snow days, and if you are outside for an extended amount of time the chances of getting hypothermia are much greater.

Last winter, I was taking online classes so I barely left my house. This winter not only am I commuting, but my classes are all over campus. Two jackets, gloves, a hat, and a scarf later I am ready to face the formidable tundra. However, there are several students who seem to think these aren’t dire conditions.

While waiting for my car to heat up, I saw several guys walking across campus in athletic shorts and hoodies. That’s it. (I swear it’s a guy thing because my brother does the same thing only in jeans.) There are a few select girls who still thinks it’s warm enough to wear light hoodies and moccasins. That’s not an issue for me. If you want to freeze and get sick, then be my guest but please stop complaining about how cold it is outside.

In just a few short weeks, Facebook will be flooded with Do you want to build a snowman? posts and I’m bracing myself. I have to keep in mind that these are minor issues. I have a house with heat and a bed with multiple blankets to keep me nice and toasty. I can drink unhealthy amounts of hot chocolate and tea, if I want. I’m wearing a thermal jacket and have warm sweaters to wear underneath.

I’m lucky.

I wrote a post on this topic earlier but it won’t leave my mind or heart. A girl who I used to go to school with has started a blog and curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to see what hers was like so I checked it out. I came to the conclusion that there are two types of blogs.

1. You either want to raise awareness for a cause or are passionate about something and want to bring awareness.

2. You gripe about minuscule things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of life.

It’s my hope that I fall under the first category. But as I’m typing this I realize that the first half of this post falls under the second category. Who cares what others wear in the dead of winter? It’s their choice and they’ll reap the consequences of it.

I’ve been given one voice and I want to make this voice speak for the right things. I want to be an advocate for those who can’t speak and those who are being served injustice. Those people don’t have a voice but I can use mine to make their pleas known.

Over the weekend, ISIS decapitated another American, one who had been a hostage for over a year. It made the news for a cycle but then we’re back to hearing about the Pipeline XL not being passed in the Senate. ISIS is the greatest terror since Hitler, in my opinion. (Others have agreed.) There are a few however, that hear the Middle Eastern Christians plight.

Winter is coming for the Middle East and unlike most Americans who are guaranteed housing, food, and a warm place to sleep at night, the Christians in Iraq and Syria aren’t guaranteed anything.

World Help is hearing their plights. Visit world help.net and that’s the opening page. They can’t help them if they don’t have the funds.

Everyone can do something. Pray and see what God would have you to do.

Little Arrows: the 2 am effect

Standard

Many of you know the feeling. It normally hits you once you’ve relaxed and are lying in bed after a long day. Maybe it hits you in the quiet hours of your day. I call it the two a.m. effect and when it hits you, it hits you hard. It’s a potent mixture of self-doubt, failure, and every mistake you’ve made in your life, dumped on you all at once. If you’re not careful, one sip of the poisonous concoction and you’re down in the dumps for the remainder of the day. Trying to resist it is hard, but giving in to it can prove an even bigger uphill battle. The arrows have poisonous darts at the end and if you don’t dodge them quick enough, a root takes hold in our mind.

Growing up, my mom called this “the battlefield of our minds.” It’s where we over-analyze our mistakes and where our greatest ideas come from. It’s our hard drive to how we live our lives and what we watch, listen to, and who we let ourselves socialize. She hung a hand-drawn picture on our fridge and I think it’s still there to this day. It’s faded and worn even in its plastic sleeve, but the message still rings true. The devil wants us and he’ll get us any way he is able to.

The picture was of a stick figure’s head. Inside his brain was split into sections and each section had a different inscription written on it. This particular drawing was filled with positive thoughts.

Love with a gentle heart.

You have a purpose.

Trust in God.

Walk the path He shows you.

Those words didn’t mean much to my seven-year-old self, but now a junior in college those words mean more to me than I thought was possible. The devil loves to use doubt as his greatest weapon and I have admittedly fallen prey to his strategy too many times. While I was in Guatemala, my mom did a fantastic job of tidying up my room. (I’m not the most organized person known to mankind.) When I got home, I found a book I had been looking for for several years. Well, my mom found it and put it on my desk.

The book was given to me after my dad passed away when I was six. Pages are missing, the white pages are no longer white, and the cover is torn, but the book has helped me in some of the most difficult times during my childhood. God’s Promises Rock Your World had a ridiculous picture of a dog wearing goggles on the front. The contents inside is what mattered to me. Over ninety different topics of Scripture helped me immensely. I haven’t had the chance to flip through it yet but it’s still sits on my desk waiting for me to peruse its pages again.

Through Scripture and devotionals the devil loses his grip on our lives. The two a.m. effect no longer keeps us up at night when we turn over everything to God.