Want an e-mail update when I post? Subscribe here!!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Wednesday Night...

Yes, technically it is Friday night, but I've been putting off this post for quite a long time. This is not going to be an easy one to write at all and I hope that I get through it all in one piece. 

This year-- Actually, my time in college has been extremely difficult. The time is filled with memories... some good, some bad, and some just good ol' learning experiences. In just 17 days I will be starting my last year in college and then enter the "real world." As I look back at some of my experiences throughout my time at Ozarks, I remember one main thing... "impact."

A person's impact on another's life is extremely important. We sometimes don't look into this as much as we should when we are just living our day-to-day life, but everything that we do impacts someone else. The people that have been put in my life, whether for a long or short period of time, have all made some sort of impact on my views, thoughts, lifestyle, and beliefs. This past month was a tough one for me as I ventured to Camp Tanako for a week of Junior High experiences. My mind was in a million and one different spots and I didn't know how to handle anything. I kept thinking about my experience as a Junior High camper at Tanako and as the week went by, I had to face something that I didn't think I was ready to go through. 

Each year at camp we had guest speakers come at different nights to speak at worship. As the years went by and themes and activities changed I knew that one thing would remain the same. I could always expect Jason Molitor to stand up and give the message on Wednesday night. It was always my favorite night of the week, and even when I was in charge of putting together the schedule, I always made sure that he was a part of it. When Jason passed away in October of 2013 I knew that it would be extremely difficult to face Wednesday night without him there, so I didn't go. This summer was the second one without him there and it hit me harder than a brick wall. I started looking for anything, everything to help me get through the night and I found a journal entry from July 9th, 2008, my last year as a Junior High camper. It says....

"I just got back from night worship, it was really meaningful. Jason Molitor did the message and he did a really good take on having us just let go. He talked about just admitting that yes, sometimes we need help and that it's okay to ask for it every once in awhile. That's where I come in. Dad, I really need your help... I have little faith in you and it makes it hard to listen to you. I love you and it makes it even harder when I know that I have told myself so many times that I can do it by myself. Well, I can't and I need you badly.... 
It's so easy to give advice to the girl that's having boy troubles or the girl with no clue about God, but when it comes to me, it's almost like I'm unsolvable. It scares me sometimes how much I don't have a lot of faith because I need to be able to trust you and love you. You hold me together 24/7. So, if I'm going to be Mrs. Minister than why can't I truly go to you? Lord, I'm going to search for that answer because I want to believe in you. You're amazing and I love you with all my heart and soul. Will you use me?
-Becca (7/09/2008)"

I read that seven years later and I think to myself how uncertain I was about my faith in God and his work in me. I begin to ask myself now, "Has that changed? Am I still lost? Am I closer to the answer?"

Jason and I served on a couple committees together and talked a lot my freshman year when I was going through a lot of different experiences. He let me in and helped me to understand what it really means to love what you do and how you live your life. I really wish he were here today to help me get through these trials that I face on a daily basis and guide me to the truth when it's the last thing that I want to do. I know that even though he's not here, he has laid the foundation for my faith and that will always mean the world to me. I would like to think that I'm not lost and that I have it all figured out, but the truth of the matter is that I don't. I'm not sure if I will ever be "un-lost" because that would mean that I would have no more need for a guide. I don't know just how much I've changed over the years because I've back tracked a lot, but whatever does happen I know one thing to be certain, God has been consistent in helping me find faith in tough situations. 

So, thank you Jason. I wish I could have told you that a couple more million times when you were still here! I miss you like crazy! You will always be the person that helped me to ask the hard questions to give my everything into what I love. 


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Problem with the Prodigal Son....

The Prodigal Son is one of my favorite stories in the Bible! It has such truth and grace to the story. There have been multiple times where I have used this story as an example when talking to friends who have "wronged me" or "stabbed me in the back." When they came to their senses and I was nice to them even though they hurt me deep, I always tried my hardest to provide grace and forgiveness towards them.

This morning I was reading my devotional and was thinking... One of the most important things is missing in that story. Let's think about this... This is how the scripture ends: "We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!'" (Luke 15:32)

Doesn't it end kind of abruptly? They just celebrate the return of the son without any question? That's not right. At least that's not what we, as humans, think we should do. The world teaches us that it's okay to celebrate, but after that, the game changes. We have to become aware of the things in our path and their path. We don't trust them and assume the worst it going to happen. I mean, how do we know that they aren't going to butter us up so they can use us again later?

We don't. 

The thing the story is missing is the exceptions. Jesus doesn't say, "And the Father welcomed him with open arms after he interrogated him about his past." Of course it doesn't say that! The story is incredible because of the grace, love, and unconditional faith the father has in his son. Why is this important? Because we should have the same in everyone else around us. We have this fatal flaw of choosing those that we love and giving them "limits." Why do we do this? Are we are attempting to protect ourselves from pain?
So. Here we are. We look at our lives and see plenty of people that we know have wronged us, hurt us, screwed us over... We want to get angry when we think of them or even shun them from our lives. It's easier to do that! But what happens when they come back? When you cross them in your everyday life? When they keep talking about you and being rude towards you? Do we treat them differently? In this scripture we see what the father did. When the son asked for his inheritance, the father didn't think twice. He gave it to him. Is this an example of what we are supposed to do? Does that answer all the questions that are in front of us? 

The best piece of advice I have ever gotten was this: "If you don't make yourself vulnerable to the situation, you'll never know what could have happened." I honestly think that if someone would have questioned Jesus after telling this parable, that this is what he would have said. We aren't promised that we aren't going to get hurt! We are promised that God will be there for us and guide us on how to react to these situations. 

Yes, we should guard our heart, but if we are really going to live this life whole-heartedly... We are going to have to give everything to the will of God and that is to love with all we have! So why is it that some people aren't okay with who we love? Why are there certain conditions to this scenario? 

Yes, I have a lot of flaws and I've messed up my fair share in the past few years of my living, but I am grateful that God has given me amazing friends to help me through the tough times! Now, as for my choice of who my friends are? That is my choice. I know that some people don't approve or think that I am making a big mistake with my life, but you don't live my life. You don't get to participate in the conversations that I have with my friends. You don't live in my head all day and see what I see. You may see a misguided girl with no clue of what she is getting herself into, but I promise you that I am fully aware! The past two years have been an eye-opening experience. There have been people that have come back into my life that I would have never expected to! Is this something for you to judge? No. Why? Because as my friend, you should see that I am happy. It has taken me a long road to get here! For a long time, happiness was a hard thing for me to come by, but now it's overflowing! Let me say that one more time... I am happy!

So at the end of the day. I'm going to listen to this story as much more than "People should love me when I screw up." I'm going to understand that it is far more important for me to live in the father's footsteps and love unconditionally.

I choose love. 


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Speak Lord, for Your Servant is Listening....

I've always loved going to church. That's a lie. When I was little I threw multiple kicking and screaming fits as my mother clothed me in multiple floral dresses on Sunday mornings. I hated church. Until I grew up. 

I don't remember the exact moment when church became fun. When it switched from me doing the kicking and screaming on Sunday mornings to mom and dad groaning as we walked out the door. But I do remember being excited. I remember wondering what I was going to learn and when I got into youth, it was what crazy game we were going to play or theme that was going to surround the message. 

I got really good at "doing church." and then I came to college. 

Imagine this. A girl raised in the church who has every opportunity to participate in mischievous activity, doesn't and then goes away to college to "live life." Did your eyes get really wide? Yeah. It was bad. Well, not really. I was telling my best friend the other day some of the things that I did and his respond was, "Your definition of crazy is more mild than my definition of normal." And he's totally right! I was trying way too hard to be a "badass" without actually doing the things that would qualify me actually being a "bad ass."

But I'm not going to talk about all the mistakes that I made tonight. I want to focus on the right now. The reason that I haven't wrote on here in over two months in because I've been participating in other activities. I haven't really been going to church that much unless I was home. Actually, today was one of the first Sundays that I had been to church in Clarksville in a few months. I've been really stubborn about my relationship with God lately. I wasn't having a consistent prayer life and really didn't care. I was all ready to go to seminary one day and the next day I was cussing and screaming. 

Today in church the scripture was about Samuel. Samuel was partially blind hanging out with this teacher in the church. They went to sleep and all of the sudden Samuel heard this voice calling his name. He goes to his teacher and asks him if he called him and the teacher replies with "No, go back to sleep." Well this happens like two more times and his teacher finally realizes that God is talking to Samuel. He tells him the next time that he hears his name to say, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." So Samuel does just that and God talks to him! 

Sounds pretty freakin' fantastic, right? God speaking to someone. I started to sit there in church and wonder what that would be like until the preacher man said something. He said, "How many times have you heard God speaking to you, but you didn't think it was actually God so you chose another route?" Of course, in my stubborn state of my mind I wanted to respond with, "God doesn't speak to me" but at that point everything in my life started to make sense. 

I loved church. Youth was some of the best years of my life and I learned so much about God and how to worship Him. It was so easy to open my Bible and read scripture. It was so easy to pray. It was so easy to say no to everything else and just go to church. It was so easy. 

When did I start hating church? When work was involved. And not work like during my internship, because that was the best time I've ever had, but I'm talking about spiritual work. The work that involved me making decisions about what direction I wanted my life to go towards. I thought about the people that are in my life currently and how they have started to shape my perception on life. It was then that I realized that the people that I least expected to be there for me are the ones that support me in making the decisions that are right for me. 

What am I getting at? I've been battling for a really long time about whether I want to go into ministry or not. I have tried to convince myself that I can live a crazy life, but help people and everything be okay, but that's not what God wants me to do. God has been calling my name to go into ministry for a long time and I have been flat out wondering towards other things that I wanted to be calling my name. 

So today was the day. It might not have been a burning bush that God spoke to me through, but it was something. I know I'm not perfect and I've got a lot to figure out, but as of right now I'm taking the next step towards ordained ministry. 

So there's the announcement! This girl is going to be a preacher! 


Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.

One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. Suddenly the Lord called out, “Samuel!”

“Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?” He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did.

Then the Lord called out again, “Samuel!”

Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”

“I didn’t call you, my son,” Eli said. “Go back to bed.” 

Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before.

So the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”

Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” 

So Samuel went back to bed. And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”

And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”
(1 Samuel 3: 1-10)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

And That's the Dream.....

It's been awhile. My writings are getting further and further apart. Things have been so complicated and busy! Any free chance that I get, I escape into a sea of Ellen videos and Netflix. You might think that's the life, but in all actuality, it sucks. I sit on a couch and I allow myself to become a third party inside of these movies. Why does it suck? Because after every show or movie I have to convince myself that it's not real, it's not going to happen, and just to frankly get over myself. 

This past year I binged watched a whole bunch of shows on Netflix. To name a few.... Flashpoint, Drop Dead Diva, Scandal (Three times!), Desperate Housewives, NCIS, Boy Meets World, Full House, Saved by the Bell, Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Last Man Standing, Orange is the New Black and an amazing collection of Nicholas Sparks movies! Because of these movies I have imagined myself as a cop, lawyer, fixer, mother, special agent, a popular kid in high school, a pop star, a comedian, a prisoner, and the perfect woman. 

One of the most recent shows that I got in to was "How I Met Your Mother." First of all, I must apologize to those who watched this year after year without the luxury of Netflix! That ending was a horrible conclusion to a brilliantly created show! My favorite character was Barney. Most people that I know might be surprised that my favorite character would be a womanizer with a playbook, but yes.... Barney is one heck of a character to me. First of all, the acting was incredible! To have that much personality was just amazing (If you can't tell, I'm running out of descriptors)! 

In the last season, the gang is preparing for Barney's wedding and all they need is an old bottle of scotch. Well, this scotch is $600 and Lily has discovered a way to steal it from the liquor store. She tells this to Ted who automatically says that he is not going to steal a $600 bottle of scotch and go to jail. Barney overhears this and says to him.....

Barney: Going to jail for your best bro.... That's the dream!
Ted:You're too liberal with the phrase "That's the dream".
Barney:Name one other time I've said that.
Ted:A suit made of prosciutto so you can eat your way naked, that's the dream. A pack of lions fighting a tyrannosaurus, that's the dream. Being able to take a whole year's worth of dumps in one, non-stop twenty-four hour period then not having to dump again for the rest of the year, that's the dream.
Barney:I never said Dump Day was the dream. I said science is this close to a pill.
Ted:There can only be one "the dream"! You're saying it's going to jail for a bro? You're comfortable with that being the one and only dream, forever?
Ted:Great, now you can never use that phrase again. And for me, that's the dream.

A lot of you have heard me do the same exact thing. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing to have a lot of dreams or to change them often, but I'm guilty! Throughout my life I've wanted to be a collection of things... a ballerina, actor, singer, youth minister, preacher, speaker, roadie, camera guy, photographer, interviewer, author and anchor. I've wanted to go to Australia and work with Hillsong, go to Washington and walk through the White House, work with To Write Love on Her Arms, Speak to thousands of teenage girls and tell them that it's going to be okay, work on a movie set, go to Hollywood... And now? My biggest dream in located in Burbank, California on the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show. Why? I want to help people. I want to make people happy. I want to make a difference in the world! 

But I can't. It's just like going on a diet... things get in the way! Have you ever noticed that no matter how hard you try, shit will still hit the fan?! It always does and always will. 

So the question you may be wanting to ask is "Why work for Ellen?" It all started by laughing at her videos. She was funny and I needed that. I needed something to make me laugh and realize that it was okay for me a take a break every once in a while. Then I saw one of her videos where she gave a family an opportunity to see their husband and father who was stationed overseas or another one where she gave a single mother with three jobs $10,000 to help pay the bills. I must have sat on the couch watching these videos for four or five hours. Some of the stories I watched two or three times and cried every dang time. All I wanted to do after watching these videos was do the same exact thing. Help people. Just to have the power and resources to give these people exactly what they needed to get through the next day and be happy makes so much sense to me! Why not?! 

A lot of things have sparked this dream, but the spark became a flame when my family started going through some things this year. With my surgery this summer, the hot water heater accident, the trip to Buffalo for Grandpa's funeral and more... things have been really tight around here. I never noticed it before because I never took the time to really look, but when I came home last weekend to help my mom and dad clean up the mess from the hot water heater.... I saw my parents struggling in a way that broke my heart. I want to be able to give them everything in the whole world, but I can't because I barely have enough to buy groceries and gas. 

No, this is not a pity party. I just want you to know that it's okay to change your dream or to even have more than one dream! Because for me, to help you know that it is okay and to conquer that fear of not being able to be accepted because of your far fetched thoughts and ideas.....

That's the dream. 


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oh Fiddlesticks....

It's been a short week. 

Usually people would think that is a good thing, but in my case it was not. 

It was a short week with long and trying days as I towered the city of Buffalo, New York. Today was my first day back at Ozarks after a week away. People came up to me asking me where I had been. I would respond with, "New York." They would then look at me as if I chose to take a vacation in the middle of the semester all the while saying, "Lucky you!" It wasn't until the third or forth person that I discovered that I should have led with, "Well, my grandpa passed away so I was in Buffalo, New York for his funeral." 

So in another words, it was a short week. I arrived at 1:30am Thursday morning at The Lockport Inn and Suites to get a refreshing 5 hours of sleep before my alarm would wake me. After showering and putting on my face my Aunt Faye, Mom and I went to my Uncle Dan's house... the house that my Mom grew up in. We walked into the kitchen to see my aunt preparing to bake a pie (she never stops giving to people no matter what life throws her way). Now, my Uncle Dan and Aunt Marianne took care of my grandparents and lived in the same house as them until my grandma needed more assistance from a nursing home and my grandpa passed away. If anyone was having a hard time with everything that was going on, it was them. 

Funeral arrangements were made and my mom and I went to see my grandma. She was doing okay under the circumstances. She's a very strong woman! We sat and listened to her stories and she talked about a book that she helped a man write. My mom and I just sat there trying not to cry, being strong for her. 

At the visitation I saw a whole bunch of people that I didn't know, but they knew me. It was a little weird at first, but then I was okay. Just hearing the stories of how my grandpa affected their lives made my day so much easier. I think the weirdest part was seeing my grandpa laying in the casket. I say weird and not difficult for two reasons: 1) He might of looked peaceful, but I kept waiting for him to sit up and yell, "Boo!" It was weird not seeing him alive and my brain just couldn't comprehend why a perfectly 91 year-young man was taken from us. 2) Grandma wasn't with him. Grandma was at the visitation, but they weren't sitting next to each other holding hands. I kept thinking that grandpa was just laying there wanting to get out to hold his wife's hand! Weird. 

The hard part came during the burial. The horn played and the flag was given to grandma. The funeral home director told us that he would take care of the rest and we were all dismissed. I looked at this beautiful casket knowing that my grandfather was inside and knowing that the next time I would visit this spot he would be six feet below me. I started to cry as my mom put her hand on the casket and said, "Goodbye Dad." 

The next few days were spent catching up with family and seeing everyone after such a long time away from home. I got to spend one last time with my grandma and it was amazing. She taught me how to play Rummy and I think she might have let me win! She would keep picking up cards (which is not something you want to do in the game of rummy) and scanning the piles in front of her until she realized that her cards weren't useful. Her expression was "Oh fiddlesticks!" I looked at her and laughed as I began to realize that that was probably the last visit that I would have with her. It was her "Wedding Night advice", (another post will be written about this advice!) Bingo lottery ticket scratching skills, and her funny stories that made me want to stay and never leave! Grandma and Grandpa have these amazing stories and I get to tell them.

That one person was right though, I am lucky. I was lucky for the times that I got to see my grandma and grandpa. He was a funny man, loving man, wonderful man. And she is a beautiful woman, wise woman, and caring woman. When people kept coming up to me after hearing the news, they would say things like, "He's in a better place" or "He's no longer in pain" but my Grandpa gave me the most comfort when he told my Uncle Dan before he died: "When it's my time to go, it means God needs help fixing the pearly gates." That character in my grandpa will always be a part of me and I will never be able to thank him enough for the way he raised me through his wonderful daughter. 

As much as I wished that my grandma and grandpa would die together as the couple in "The Notebook" did, I must realize the hardest thing yet. Life is not some perfectly written out novel, but it's a messed up masterpiece with a whole bunch of jumbled up cards, plays, and moves. Sometimes we just want to shout, "Oh fiddlesticks!", but my friends... we still have a chance to continue the plays that have been put out before us. Let's add to the piles and rejoice in the opportunities put in our path. 

I love you Grandma and Grandpa. Your love story is so much more perfect than any Nicholas Sparks book I know! 

Grandma receiving the flag at the burial service

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Big Red Wagon

This post is an accumulation of events that have occurred in the past week.

Friday, September 5th: I left The Battle on 64 and went back to my apartment with all the intentions of doing homework. Somehow, I managed to convince myself that my homework and photo editing could wait until the morning. Without the knowledge of How I Met Your Mother being on Netflix, I turned to my Amazon Prime account and purchased what I would soon discover to be the best movie I've seen in a long time. The Fault in Our Stars was incredible! I haven't cried that much during a movie since My Girl. For those of you that don't know.... The movie is about a cancer patient and her struggles with a love story twist.

Tuesday, September 9th: For my Backpack Journalism class we were asked to create a "character-driven story" and I was completely blank. I couldn't think of any good ideas until I got on Facebook and saw a status that stood out among the others. It was a status written by April Townsend, a wonderful student at the University of the Ozarks. She has a disability called Spina Bifida. This disability may put her in a wheelchair, but it in no way limits her abilities to be the amazing character that she is. 

Thursday, September 11th: This day will always be remembered as 9/11 in the hearts of many Americans, but for me it will be known as the day that I finally realized the most important thing a human could realize. I wanted to get a head start on my story for Backpack Journalism so I made an appointment with the Program Coordinator for the Spina Bifida Clinic at the Arkansas Children's Hospital. I did what any good student would do and left way before the appointment to make sure that I would arrive on time. Not only did I arrive on time, but I arrived an hour early. I sat in the parking lot looking at that building and brainstorming  a few more questions that I might have for the interview. With about 30 more minutes left, I got out of my car, locked the door and went to get my gear out of trunk. It was the moment that I was standing in front of my trunk when I realized that my keys were locked in my car. I looked at the wet ground and my beautiful tan shorts and I knew what I had to do. I, Becca Phillips had to find the spare car keys magnetized underneath my car. Luckily, it was found in the nick of time and I was successfully 20 minutes early for the interview. 

I sat on a bench in the lobby of the hospital watching the patients go in a out of the hospital. Some were wearing face masks, others with IV's, and then... I saw it. A big red wagon. I thought to myself that that particular parent was smart for bring fun to this child's appointment until I saw another one and another one and yet another one. The big red wagons were everywhere! They were carrying sick children, gifts, clothes, belongings, and more. I saw one family leaving with a wagon full of gifts and suitcases only to realize that for a short period of time this child's address was 1 Children's Way in Little Rock, Arkansas.

With about 15 minutes left before the interview started, I headed to the front counter. The lady called the PR worker that was going to direct me to my interview and I stood there at the counter waiting. I looked to my left and saw a girl in a wheelchair wrapped in a blanket coming around the corner and approaching the counter. I smiled at her as I noticed her hair was completely gone and she had a big red wagon full of suitcases and belongings. The first thing that I thought about was the movie that I recently watched. I kept repeating to myself, "That wasn't just a movie" over and over in my head until it finally sunk into my head. That wasn't just a movie.

Saturday, September 13th: I'm still thinking about that girl and wondering what her story is. "How long has she been fighting? Are her appointments going well? Does she have friends that she's going back home to?" My brain can't stop thinking about how shallow my thoughts have been over the past few years. Most of you know that I love a good movie and that I love to create videos any chance that I get, but there's something about being behind the camera that separates the story from the Editor. I'm always thinking about the best shot, sound bite, angle, anything! Every single time I become a little more proud of the product that I create, but not right now. I'm not proud of who I've become over the past few years. I'm not proud of the person that I've turned into a well-oiled production. How long was it going to take for me to realize that I have made real life people into well developed stories. Was I really getting a message out there? 

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a fellow producer-canidate when I said something that I've never said out loud before. I've worked on some productions over the years and even got to meet some pretty incredible people along the way. When I was younger working at some of the church productions I would stand behind my boss and watch over his shoulder as he worked his production genius. I went to college with this idea in my mind that I could continue living my life standing behind someone's shoulder watching them work their production magic. I never expected I could be the person in the chair. I get so nervous and I know that I'm going to do something wrong or even worse, I'll break something. So I did something about that last year and decided to become a producer. This year, we are expected to do so much more before we get our producer status again. Who would have thought that more responsibility would come with getting older?! Crazy, right?! 

This Wednesday I will be exercising my knowledge of KUOZ by being a producer for the Walton Arts and Ideas Series event. Granted, this should be a fairly easy production, but I'm super nervous about being the one sitting in the chair. I mean, give me a youth group event or a Bible study and I'll prepare for it in record time, but this... I kinda thought I could avoid being the person in charge for as long as possible. Guess it's time for me to step up and unload my Big Red Wagon of knowledge from all those years of watching. Let's see what Becca can do! 

Wish me Luck!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All that Junk Up in that Trunk

It's taken me awhile to continue this series. For those of you that don't know, two weeks ago I was taken to the hospital. Long story short, I had some surgery that fixed a lot of problems that I've been dealing with for years. I've been recovering ever since, but now I'm back and ready to continue sharing my story with you.

Part Four of "My Calling" Series...

I was sitting in Mr. Owen's math class when a girl walks in to the classroom. She was a new student and everyone stared at her wondering what her story was. She sat down next to me as she explained where she came from. She evacuated from New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. I looked at her and shouted, "I remember you!" Our church adopted families after the hurricane (two years before) and my family bought supplies for her family. Since that moment in math class, we became instant friends. 

Eighth grade brought me a lot of challenges. I dealt with gaining friends as well as losing some. I learned lessons the hard way and discovered what depression really meant. I was still really involved in church, but with Laura gone at college I felt alone. I wanted so much to have a girl friend that understood my brain and the way that I thought about things. 

I had been going to a lot of different youth retreats and camps over the past two years and I started to notice a pattern. Worship leaders and preachers would always talk about bringing all your problems to God. Now, I knew that I had a lot of things that were going wrong in my life, but I was content. I started to feel like the odd one out at these events so I would think really hard about the events of my life and pick out my "bad hair days." 

My conversations with God started to sound ungrateful and selfish. Instead of thanking God for the good things in my life, I prayed for the bad things to either go away or shape me into a decent person. I began to hate who I was. I let people shape me into a person that I didn't want to be all so I could "fit in" at these church camps. I didn't know how to act or behave because I was allowing myself to be who God wanted me to be. 

My question is this: Do we as ministers of God, focus more on people bringing their junk to church and unloading? I look at the great commission as Jesus tells us to go out in the world and make disciples. Do we make disciples by guilting people into thinking their life is full of crap? It's easier to convince a person that their life is so messed up that they need Jesus to save them instead of assuring them that the wonderful things that do happen in their life happen because of God's grace and Jesus' sacrifice. What part of our relationship with God is more important?

When I thought that God was only there to help me with my problems instead of also being there in my joys and triumphs, I treated God like vending machine. I put in what I had to in order to get a high from worship. Enough to make me feel good about myself. 

Our job as ministers of Christ is not to "condemn, convict or convert" but instead it is our job to create space for God to do those things. How can we create that space?

God Bless,

Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)