Furthering or Crippling

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I’d like to say that between last year’s post and this year’s post, I’ve grown emotionally and spiritually. To a certain point, I have. I’ve come to more of a realization than anything else. One of my favorite authors, Bob Goff, writes in his book Love Does the following-

I want to leak from having been hit by Jesus. From having something crazy happen to me, something that flipped my life upside down. I’ve met people like that, people who leak Jesus. Whenever you’re around them, Jesus keeps coming up with words and with actions. I don’t suppose everybody gets hit by Jesus, but those of us who have talk about Him differently. We start steering funny; we start leaking wherever we stand. And it’s because we got thrown from our lives in a terrific collision.

I’ve mentioned leaking Jesus in previous blog posts. It’s always been a goal of mine and always one I’ve failed at miserably. I’d compare my walk to others’ walk. I’d compare God’s calling on my life to His calling on theirs. I’d question the way they dress or the videos they post on social media. I found myself questioning my Christian walk against their Christian walk.

I was driving home from Pittsburgh earlier today and it hit me. It shouldn’t matter what they’re doing with their lives. They can call themselves Christians and act however they like. It’s not any of my concern. My Christian walk consists of myself and Jesus. No one else has to answer to Him for my actions on Judgment Day, except me.

He won’t ask me if Joe Smith or Jane Smith walked a Christ filled walk or if they furthered His kingdom. But He will ask me those questions.

Did I do everything in my possible power to further His Kingdom? Did I talk to every person I could about Jesus? Did my life prove to everyone around me that I was a Christian? Did I convince them to follow Jesus? Was I the church? Did I help the homeless and the widow? Or was I waiting for someone else to make the first move?

Or did I cripple His kingdom?

Did I walk it but confess something differently with my mouth? Did I talk about others behind their backs or cuss out the driver who didn’t use his blinker while merging into my lane?

Did I hinder other Christians with my walk? I don’t want to be known as Hannah the Hypocrite: raising hands on Sundays and cussing out others on Monday. I want to walk a Godly walk. I want people to see Jesus in every step I take and every word I speak.

We are the church. We are Christ on the Earth. We are the ones called to help others. So why aren’t we? Why aren’t we helping the homeless get jobs or the fatherless succeed? If we wait for others to make the first move, we’ll be waiting our whole lives.

If people look or treat me differently, then that’s on them. It’s not about posting a Christian status. Our Facebook posts won’t get us into Heaven. I want to arrive at the pearly gates and look Peter in the eyes and say-

“I did everything to further our Father’s kingdom.” And I want it to be true. I want to stand before our Father and have Him say, “Well done, my daughter. You have done well. Enter in.”

I want to see my Dad and say, “I carried on your legacy.” I want him to look at me with pride and nod his head opening his arms for a hug.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~Philipians 4:8

I shouldn’t want to drop f-bombs at the end of every sentence. We shouldn’t talk about men and women with lustful thoughts. It’s in our nature-our carnal nature, not our Christ nature. I’ve decided to tame my thoughts, words, and actions to mirror what Christ would do and say.

I want to be like Esther, who stood for her people and bet everything on the One who called her to stand up. I want to be like Sarah who trusted and believed even though science and everyone around her said no.

I hope at the end of the day my heart looks more like Christ than it did that morning.

 

 

Song and Verse: 2015 in Review

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The last time I posted on this site was a few days after returning from Guatemala. I had big hopes for this blog this year and have let myself down tremendously. This is me grasping at straws to try and revive this blog.

I’ve decided to do something different for this blog post. Like many bloggers out there, I’m going to recap my year but a little different. Each phrase in bold is a song that has ministered to me these past 12 months. While I can’t include every single song, I have narrowed it down to three. Although that might change as I continue writing this.

I just looked up today and realized how far away I am from where You are
 You gave me life worth dying for but between the altar and the door I bought the lies that promised more and here I go again
Lord, I know I let You down but somehow, I will make You proud
I’ll turn this sinking ship around and make it back to You
2015 was a year of searching and finding for me. I felt like Waldo lost in a crowd hopelessly praying that someone would find me and quickly. In a lot of ways, I lost sight of who I was and what I was to become. I stopped praying, I stopped trusting, and the result was I lost myself. I began to doubt and question things.
My foundation had cracks in it and my cement wasn’t holding anything together. Finally, I cracked. My eyes stopped searching for Him and started searching for what I thought was best. Humans always put reason above revelation. That’s easy. Anyone can think something through and make it sound reasonable.
It takes someone filled with insurmountable faith to conquer mountains. My faith couldn’t even light a match let alone move mountains.
Standing on a road I didn’t plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I’m trying to hear that still small voice
I’m trying to hear above the noise
The world is a radio tuned to the wrong station. All I heard was static when I wanted to hear a calling for my life. I wasn’t tuned in to His Word and let my ears tune in to other things. If you’re not searching actively for Christ every day, you will lose Him. You have to swim in the Word and soak it in.
At work, I would easily get annoyed at the smallest things. How was I supposed to be a witness if I lost my mind over how people shoved magazines back into place? Something wasn’t working and that something was me. I had no balance in my life and was teetering on a very small ledge of a vast canyon.
Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I’m only just a memory
When I’m home where my soul belongs

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of us
Was my worship more than just a song

I wanted people to see Jesus through me. I don’t want to be the reason people never hear about Him or ignore Him because they see how I act. I want to love the unlovable and pray for those who don’t believe. I found Him again because I tuned my ears to hear His voice.
Sometimes it takes a smack across the face to hear Him. I wasn’t intending to ignore Him but it happened and it sucked.
So my New Year’s Resolution  Promise is this-
Trust in Him when all else fails because He is the anchor that holds me through every storm.
Become a prayer warrior and pray over those I love and who are lost.
Be the light that can change the world.
Doubt sees a mountain, no way around it
Faith sees a victory, no doubt about it
Fear sees a ceiling, hope sees the stars
Love be the light inside of our hearts
Happy New Year!

We Do Not Exist For Us

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I’m gonna cut right to it. I’ve been struggling and not just with returning from Guatemala. Within the first night or two of my week-long stay, God kept repeating to me what I needed to work on. The word came with an image of my hand in front of my face.  I get so caught up with making realistic goals and plans that I can achieve that I miss the great masterpiece He’s creating behind it.

I knew that until I removed my hand from in front of my face I’d continue missing His calling. Essentially, I was wasting my time. God’s plans are infinitely better than ours could ever be. And if it could be any more fitting, our team’s verse for this trip was jeremiah 2911

Here I thought that verse was speaking to the people of Guatemala. I couldn’t have missed the sign if I hit it with my car. The Lord doesn’t give us a burden or a passion and then rip it from us. That’s what I was doing. I was saying, “God, my plans are more tangible. They don’t require so my faith and trust.” I was missing Christianity as a whole.

Until we fully put our trust in Him and lay our lives down, we will miss our calling completely.

Hillsong UNITED is releasing their new CD Empires within the next week or so but their first single Touch the Sky completely floored me. There’s a line in the song that says

“I found my life when I laid it down.”

Daily, I need to lay my wants, my desires, my hopes and dreams at the feet of the One who can grant them. Jesus.

We don’t exist for ourselves. We exist to exalt His name higher.

40 Days and Future Projects

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This past week, I returned to Guatemala on my fourth trip only seven months after my last visit. A few weeks before leaving, I began praying that God would open my eyes to what He had in store for the group of us heading down. Like always, I encouraged myself and my team to not have expectations on what we were going to accomplish because that almost always never happens.

On Monday, we headed out to Altimira, the village Russ has begun transforming. About an hour into the day, it was made clear that this was now our village. We all had a part in building, praying, and believing for this vision to come to pass.

What I wasn’t prepared for was meeting Altimira’s pastor. Pastor Mynor is 27, loves his wife and young son, and is passionately in love with the Lord. He had told our group that prior to our group coming, he encouraged his congregation to fast for forty days and pray for our group.

Someone who the majority of us had never met laid aside himself and his congregation to pray for us. My head is still trying to wrap itself around that idea. I’ve fasted, for a day, and that was a challenge. I cannot imagine fasting for forty days for a groups of Americans you had never met.

While in Guatemala, our group built a church and Pastor Mynor a house. Seeing the immense joy and happiness on his wife’s, Sulema’s, face brought tears to my eyes. They had been paying 500 quetzales, roughly 65 U.S. dollars, for rent monthly. Now with their own house, they don’t have to worry rent, or making sure they have enough money.

This trip had blessed me in several ways. I met a bunch of people on Saturday, May 9 and by Saturday May 16 they had become my family. We’re connected through the experiences this week has brought us.

Our next project requires a ton of faith, a ton of prayers, and one incredible God who has the power to do anything. While touring Altamira, Pastor Mynor led us to the school. Right now, there are two school buildings that hold 150 children. They have over 200 children now attending school. The school has no bathrooms so the children just go anywhere they can.

Our goal is to raise $70,000 in a year before our trip in June. I ask for your prayers, for your donations, and ask God that he would lay on your heart what He wants you to give to the people of Altamira.

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Starbuck’s and Sunrise Church Services

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It’s four am and I haven’t slept at all. I’ve stared the my dark ceiling for the past three hours wondering why on Earth I’m still awake.

I bet you anything the culprit is Starbucks’ new cold brewed coffee in a size grande. (Which is actually pretty amazing.) I worked an eight-hour shift and needed a pick-me-up about halfway through. Turns out, that pick-me-up came four hours too late. So instead of wasting more time staring at the ceiling, I made my way downstairs to where my laptop was and here, I am.

Growing up in a Christian family, Easter is the greatest holiday. Well, I’m pretty sure it ties with Christmas. Every year, we are reminded of the price for our sins and the cruelty of Jesus’ suffering for our sake. Even now, I don’t think I can fully grasp the immense pain He went through.

I grew up listening to Carman. I have the majority of his songs memorized and just a few months ago, Olivia, my sister, and I downloaded a bunch of them to our iPhones.

Of course, this time of the year I’m reminded of his song “Sunday’s on the Way.” Carman mixed theatrics with a true and bold Gospel story.

This song chronicles what Satan was more than likely thinking after Jesus had been buried. You see, Satan thought he had won. That maybe finally, he had stopped Jesus.

But just like in the song, Jesus knew Sunday was on its way.

So as you rise to head out to Easter Sunrise services wherever you go to church remember that Christ is alive. He’s alive and well and living within us.

Happy Easter Sunday!

Unshakeable Faith

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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!

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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