Tag Archives: future

Memories: Junior Year

I hoped to post pictures of the sticky notes here, since colors jog my memory much more profoundly than words do, but I am encountering technical difficulties. Maybe later.

A late-night conversation with Greg recalled a verse about silver to my mind, but I couldn’t find it. It was no longer in the recesses of my mind. While he waited patiently on Skype, I dug through my things and found a stack of sticky notes from junior year. And now I’m immersed in memories of how God shaped me that year. (Not in any order, logical or otherwise.)

In September, faced with a decision about leading a small group and wondering why I was at Baylor in the first place, I sat on a swing and cried to God. He simply told me, in a voice I could nearly hear, “I brought you here for a reason.” I decided to lead the small group and to wait and see what His purpose was for me at Baylor.

I do my hair in front of a $5 mirror in my dorm room. The mirror is surrounded with brightly-colored sticky notes and various printouts. Seeing His words every day on those sticky notes grew me in more ways than I remembered.

A friend tells me that someone I thought was genuinely interested in being a friend wants nothing more than a physical relationship. I fear going to Matrix Theory.

I learned that I am so weak and broken and prone to failure. God taught me that the only way to survive any of this was to rely on him. He was my strength and I trusted His guidance, though I had no idea where He was leading me.

For God alone,
O my soul,
wait in silence.
Psalm 62:5

It goes on a green sticky note.

Rachel comes over to sit in the papasan as one or the other of us cries.
We yodel on the way to ODE.

I fear so many things, so many people.
I take refuge in the song we sing at Highland that morning:

“‘Cause when we see you,
We find strength to face the day
And in your presence,
All our fears are washed away”

It also goes on a green sticky note.

I learn about God’s discipline. He truly disciplines us for our good. I devour the book of Lamentations.

And it is good for the young to submit to the yoke of his discipline.
– Lamentations 3:27

Pink sticky note.

God begins to kill sinful desires in me.

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires. Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry. – Colossians 3:5

It goes on an orange sticky note.

I watch one He loves blossom and find joy in life again.
I watch another He loves battle so many demons.

Every day we brush past objects of incalculable worth to God: people!

Pink sticky note. Minus the sticky bit.

I try to encourage a friend in too many late night talks in the HRC.
I collapse before my church leadership in fear of this friendship.

I try to convince people I’m not interested. Nunneries start to look appealing…

In repentance and rest is
your salvation,
In quietness and trust is
your strength,
but you would have none of it.
– Isaiah 30:15

Pink sticky note.

I discover life in my CG. I wonder at God’s ability to do anything worthwhile through me. I trust and love them.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him.
– Philippians 2:13

Blue sticky note.

I face tough questions and powerful images in colloquium. God uses Ordinary Men to ask me what I would do, and How (Not) to Speak of God to show me how incredibly powerful His call is. I love Him so much.

After fall retreat, I write,

Are your
in order?

on an orange sticky.

God uses an incredibly slow-healing wound to teach me that I cannot get out of my own messes on my own.

The Lord disciplines those he loves.
So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet.
– Hebrews 12:12

Pink sticky note.

This is the first April since I caught West Nile that I’ve made it through without illness.

I encounter Ezekiel and Covenant language. The words about a new heart and a new spirit ignite my soul.

I learned again to follow and trust God completely blind. I see now, as I write this, that these were only the first steps: He turned out the lights when I could follow Him on just a gravel road, barely enough to trip me. With this training, I will now be able to follow Him blindly wherever He leads. I feel like this is preparation for much more treacherous roads.
Oh, Lewis says it much better, in Screwtape Letters. He talks about how when we first begin to follow Christ, He gives us just a taste of His radiance and assurance, and it nearly overpowers our frail hearts. As we mature, we learn to follow Him without these feelings and without seeing the way, all “for the sake of the call.”

And the verse about silver?

Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling.
You have tested us, O God;
you have purified us like silver melted in a crucible…
We went through fire and flood,
But you brought us to a place of great abundance.
– Psalm 66: 8-12

(On a pink sticky note)

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Grad School

“Getting a PhD is not like going to summer camp.”
– Me

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Proclaiming and Healing

This should have gone in my personal statement.

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.
– Matthew 9:35

What do I want to do with my life? Why do I want this PhD in biomedical engineering? To follow in the footsteps of Jesus: proclaiming the gospel and healing diseases and afflictions by the power of God.

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Youthful Idealism

I’ve reached it. The Romantic time of life full of youth and idealism. We’re old enough that we are starting to find our place in this world and how we want to better it, and we’re young enough not to have our ideals burdened by tragedy or destroyed by satan.

We have dreams to change the world by helping its people. One of my friends wants advanced science and theology degrees so that he can teach students to heal the false chasm between faith and science. Another friend is learning about running a business so that he can start up small companies in developing countries all over the world to help lift people out of poverty. Another friend is studying medicine and the environment so he can affect health on a national or global scale. I’m trying to figure out how to get to my goal of helping large numbers of people in third-world countries with simple technologies.

We have a firm belief that we will eventually find the man or woman with whom we can share our whole lives, serving God and changing the world together.

People and demons have tried to tell us we can’t. Divorced parents and broken friends sit among us, yet still we believe in true Love. Jaded scientists, graduate schools, and employers tell stories of how no one can really change the world with a handful of dreams and ideas.
But we don’t care.

We’re full of Hope, of Love, of Joy, of Faith. The world is our oyster. The God of the Universe is our King and our Friend, and He has given us these talents to invest in His people.

Oh, how wonderful is this time! I revel in the excitement when friends tell me their hopes and dreams. I pray to God, watching the many doors before me and awaiting their opening. I believe that, with God’s great help, we can have a more glorifying Church, world-changing careers, a love that lasts a lifetime.

I marvel that I can step outside this glorious excitement and compare it to what is often called the naive idealism of youth, the idealism that is slowly relinquished as many age and settle. I look along the beam and yet simultaneously study it for what it is.
I searched for quotes about idealism as I wrote this post, and all of them are cynical. Few people believe that idealism and hope can last or accomplish anything worthwhile.
I scoff at these doubters and smile. I worship the creator, the Father God of this universe, and He has placed these dreams and goals inside the hearts of those who serve Him. With His help, anything is possible. And though humanity can never create a perfect world–this world is doomed to die with the old heavens–God can and will create a new heaven and a new earth. How beautiful!

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Just Do Something

The only books I’ve written about so far on this blog are the Bible and Narnia.
Welp, here’s another.
It’s called “Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will, or, How to make a decision without dreams, visions, fleeces, impressions, open doors, random Bible verses, casting lots, liver shivers, writing in the sky, etc.” by Kevin DeYoung.
I expected it to be thought provoking, but I also expected it to require a grain of salt. People in the Bible did, after all, hear from God through dreams, visions, and the wet skin of a sheep.
But man, it was really good.

From the time I got my Bible at 8 years old until I got to college, really, my spiritual growth consisted almost entirely of me, Jesus, and my Bible. My parents modeled a Christian lifestyle and there were some scattered youth events (good and bad (mostly bad)), but I had very few friends intensely following Christ and no real theological training. I didn’t know what a Calvinist was until Aca Deca my senior year of high school, and I didn’t know that you were supposed to request prayer for your tests and quizzes until small group sophomore year of college. Anyway, I feel very blessed that I got such a deep grounding in the Bible and I know it created my falsity detector.

This book had the ring of deep, Biblical truth. (As my mom would say about having new and different teachers tell the same dancers to again point their toes, “Preach the same old Gospel at them, they just need to hear it from someone else.”) It blasted away a lot of the very Christian-sounding ideas that I’ve heard since coming to a Christian school. Though each point in the book is supported by Bible verses, it’s not the individual verses that give it credence. It’s a faithfulness to the message of the whole Bible.

God’s will? Follow Him.
It’s not the nature of God to have a perfect detailed plan for us that we are expected to discover before we do anything that He then makes difficult to find.
Well, doi! When you put it like that…
God will use you in whatever career you choose, in whatever city you reside, and with whichever partner you choose. Each decision, for grad school or career or spouse, should be made with wisdom and with the intent to honor God, but without agonizing for a specific revelation. That’s it.
The Bible tells us over and over not to worry about our future. So why are we asking God to tell us what will happen in our future?
God’s will is that we become more like him.
The Bible, God’s revealed plan, speaks over and over about gaining wisdom. Just read a Proverb. Why would He tell us to gain wisdom if we are supposed to wait for His specific revelation of an answer to every decision? God guides us and our minds and our circumstances, and gave us brains and wisdom to use them to make decisions.

Part of the book speculates that the reason we’re often paralyzed as we wait for God’s will is that we have so many choices. I actually had a conversation about this with a friend the other day. I watched part of some expert babysitting show a while back in which a mom was having great difficulty getting her daughter dressed and ready. The “expert” told her not to offer the child so many choices: instead of offering her the whole closet, offer her the choice of one of two outfits. It worked. 🙂 [I’ll write more about this idea in another post.]

The end of the book is quite interesting, especially for college kids. He talks about applications of this idea to finding a job and choosing whom to marry. It was good, down-home, just-feels-right kind of advice. He then tells the stories of his two godly grandfathers, who lived through the Great Depression and WWII. They never sat around agonizing about God’s will. They did what work came to them, married and raised families, and followed God’s revealed plan (the Bible) to the best of their abilities.

Sound advice.

Forgive this slightly disorganized post as it’s just after reading the book and it’s rather late. Go pick up a copy if you have a chance.

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Reality Straight Ahead

Reality Straight Ahead

I snapped this picture leaving Wicked on our last night in New York.
I don’t particularly like it.

The mission/service work we did in NYC felt like a fantasy world.
That sounds strange. I mean, we were in Harlem and the south Bronx. We served people by informing them that they could be tested for free for HIV/AIDS. We got hot, sweaty, sore, and exhausted.

I think what felt fantastical was that my goals and duties were so clearly defined.
Goal: Love God by serving the people of New York.
Duties: Hand out cards, organize books
That’s it.
I was a part of a team focused single-mindedly on advancing God’s Kingdom by serving the people in New York City. This sounds like the great fantasies that enchant my imagination: The Pevensies and friends always work towards one goal (finding Aslan, helping Prince Caspian, seeking out the East, or saving Prince Rilian), and Frodo and Sam seek only to destroy the Ring in Mordor. Simple, direct, and extremely important.

As I came back home, I felt myself descending into the mad, busy, confusing world of Reality. I have DemiDec deadlines, a thesis to write, the GRE to prepare for, volunteering, graduate school to worry about, friends to contact, family to care for, and, of course, thinking way too much about boys and men and my future. I understand so little of what I should be focusing on, and I feel myself pulled in so many directions. What one goal should I be working towards when I have so many things to do?

I suppose it is exactly the same goal as in Narnia and New York.
Goal: Serve and love the King.

It’s the specific duties that are a little harder to figure out.

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Jarrod’s and Mark’s Story

A man (from my school) shared this story at one of our nightly meetings in NYC.  I cannot remember his name; I believe it is Jarrod.
The homeless are everywhere in New York.  When Jarrod and his wife are approached by the homeless, they try to give them energy bars and jugs of gatorade rather than money.  One evening a man named Mark approached Jarrod and his wife; they gave him a bag of energy and breakfast bars and juice and send him on his way.  Mark was just out of prison and trying to get on his feet.
A few weeks later, Jarrod runs into Mark in the park while Jarrod is doing City Uprising outreach. Mark is giving his speil asking for money and Jarrod stops him to say, Wait, I know you. They introduce themselves and get to talking about Mark’s life. Mark went to prison in his twenties for killing his stepdad, who was beating his mom. He spent 20 years in prison. He has become a believer.
Mark is going to go take a test at 4:00 to get his commercial driver’s license so he can support himself.  He has a training book that’s been highlighted and knows a lot about tow trucks. The test is $10; he already has $3. He hopes Jarrod can give him the final $7.
Jarrod tells Mark about the HIV testing we’re advertising. This clinic is giving out free metro cards. Jarrod thinks Mark should go get tested to find out his status and get a metro card to be able to go uptown for his test. Jarrod tells Mark that he’ll give Mark the $7 after the test.
Mark goes. The nurse asks him if he knows his status; Mark replies that he thinks he is negative.  Jarrod thinks he is lying, but waits for what feels like forever in the waiting area as Mark gets tested.
Mark finds out that he is positive for HIV. He comes out, informs Jarrod, and goes back in to receive counseling.
Jarrod waits for him so that he can give Mark the money he promised him and to see how Mark is doing. Mark comes out and Jarrod walks him to the metro station. Mark tells Jarrod, “I think God has really used you in my life. I’m living with this married couple that fights all the time, and now that I’ve gotten tested, they’re gonna set me up with somewhere to live and medicine and they’re gonna help me get this job.”
They exchange phone numbers, and Jarrod invites Mark to the Gallery gathering.

What a story.

At the gathering, Jarrod informs us that he has recently lost his job. His family in Texas is hoping that he will bring his wife home.
Jarrod is staying in New York. He tells us, with tears in his voice, “I am not in NYC for a job, I am in NYC because God has called us here.”

What faith and courage for that young couple. That is what I want for my future. I want my husband and myself to follow God wherever He leads us with great faith and great courage. Though I would be delighted to live near my family and my roots, I know that God’s purpose is higher and I trust His leadership. I will marry someone who feels the same way. If God leads us away from my parents, I hope He grants us all the peace and wisdom to understand.

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