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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)