There's been so much sadness and hatred going around lately, especially up here where cynicism is at its finest. In a matter of days, we've heard about the Sandy shooting where almost 20 little children were murdered, and also, found out that Westboro Baptist Church is going to be picketing at the gate in January.

Yes, both of these events are horrible things to hear about and it's unfathomable to us how they occur. Yes, my initial reaction is to want to give them a piece of my mind, just like everyone else.

But ultimately, they just break my heart. Because the families who lost their children are going to be having a very different Christmas than I will. I honestly can't imagine what they are going through, and tears that I shed have no comparison to the grief that they feel. The ones in WBC... I sorrow for them as well, because they have no love. Their actions are not rooted in love. They have no idea what they are doing.

Sometimes I just look up and scream, how could this happen?! How could they do this? Any of them?

But then I remember that the same could be said about me. The many times I've not acted in love, or turned away from the One who gives me the capacity to have such love.

He died for them too. He died for the children and their families. He died for the shooters. He died for the lost people who completely miss the point of what He did for them and claim to be of Him.

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

And be with those who are affected by these horrible events, and give them grace to eventually see past it.



We are vessels that the Lord uses to accomplish His work. That's what this post is about.

Although, I never really liked the word "vessel." Reminds me of blood. But that's just because I'm into science and stuff. It could also be a boat. 

Anyways, so I was completely caught off-guard by the advice of a 14-year-old tonight. We were just at Starbucks, having coffee after youth group. I took her out because I felt like maybe I could encourage her in some things, and reach out to her. (Irony.) We were talking about homeschooling vs. public schooling, and how she felt about possibly going to a public high school next year after being homeschooled her entire life. I asked her if she was nervous at all, and she said yeah. After all, it wasn't just high school that was going to be new, but public school as well... all thrown her way at once. I was able to offer some advice, having done both myself, and then I went into how I was definitely nervous about West Point next year. I told her how I was plagued with fear, about silly things like failing my classes, or not enjoying it once I got there. She sat there for a moment, and then says, "So I'm really bad at giving advice, but like, you have to just continue the journey in the zeal that you started it with." And right away, like 5 verses popped into my head (Romans 12:11) and we talked about them... but I almost couldn't even talk because of the profoundness of what she had just said. Her comment carried so much wisdom, and was exactly what I needed to hear, and she didn't even know it. And I thought I was going to be the one helping her! So that got me to thinking... how many times have I said something that affected someone else, without even realizing it?

And, more importantly... how should that affect how I interact with people? I mean, we never know who is watching. And this isn't the first time this has happened; God uses people in my life constantly. But am I ready and available for Him to use me? Do I pray for Him to speak through me? Just something to think about...

But isn't it cool that He uses us, even when we're unaware of it? He uses us even when we don't ask Him to, even when our motives are flawed. Even when our hearts are selfish (aka always). That doesn't stop Him from accomplishing His perfect will in us, and likewise in the Kingdom.

And in that moment You opened up the heavens
To the broken the beggar and the thief
Lifted out of the wreckage
I find hope in the aftermath
-Aftermath, Hillsong United


Old News...

So, this is a post that I've actually been putting off for a while. 6 months, to be exact. I kept moving it to the end of my mental list, because I was afraid of not doing it justice... but then I realized that 1) that's totally not a feasible argument, because it is not any work that I have done, but a work that has been done in me, and 2) I really, really need to have record of this. I need to have something to look back on, so I remember the "why." And that's what this started out as, anyways: a place for me to record my thoughts.

Well. First of all. I started out this school year with an attitude that was very different from years past. During the fall, I was taking 2 science classes (with labs), 1 math, and economics, and I was loving it. I wasn't loving the ritualistic late night study sesh thing I had going on, but I was renewed with a passion for learning and enlightenment that was very different for me. The science just fascinated me in a way that I can't explain without going off on a tangent (but if you're interested, start by doing some light research on SPONCH or cell life... blows my mind!). I had this new motivation for learning, and passion for life... and I wasn't sure why. It was just new, and very refreshing. This attitude of driven-ness caused me to take on many different activities outside of school, like 2 jobs, 2 additional work/volunteer positions outside of my paid jobs, pursuing my musical exposure and talent by continuing to study the piano, and serving in church, not to mention my commitment to my family. Now, all of this was definitely not something I would take on now; but God used a busy schedule for that semester to prepare me for this semester, next year, and the 3 years after that... He showed me what I was capable of when I trusted in Him. In spite of that overwhelming, completely full, non-stop schedule, I was still able to enjoy every minute of my life, to stop and think, 'this moment is unique, and I'm never going to get another one,' to "Be still and know that [He is] God" (Ps. 46:10). He gave me a real life example of it, and my life during that time was one of continuous prayer. And oh, how wonderful it was! It was hard, and it was messy, and God was so near. He showed me, through my study in Acts and through that season in my life, that He prepares us before revealing His plan.

During this entire time, I did have a goal. I wasn't completely sure if that goal was God-inspired, but it seemed to be, and I knew that all I could do was move forward and trust. So I did. During that short time from my summer vacation in August to right after Thanksgiving, I worked hard at all the things I just mentioned, and an application to the United States Military Academy at West Point. I honestly have no idea what I was thinking when I first started the process... it is so out of my comfort zone, first of all, and it's a huge commitment. I hate getting up early (most of the time,) and I hate working out. But because it's not something that I would have decided to do on my own, I thought that just maybe it was an opportunity from God, and that all I could do was apply. I knew I would learn a lot out of the application itself (I had to start training and take a fitness test), and that if I did get in, it would be totally and completely because of God. Additionally, I decided that I was going to apply in August, and started the application about two weeks before school started. Most applicants start it in March or April, which meant that I was starting the process late in the game. Not to mention the fact that most of the people who are applying have wanted this for their entire high school career, if not longer. So in spite of feeling out of place in this competition for a spot, I had peace with whatever came, because of the fact that I really wasn't in control of what happened. Everything I was putting in my application was things that I had already done, and couldn't change. I trusted in God to bring about His plan...

He also showed me ways that I could enjoy being there. It wasn't like I was being dragged through this application, kicking and screaming, saying "I don't want to!" No, I had so many ways that I could see it being a good fit for me. For example, I loved being affiliated with the Army. The community, the selflessness, the service to people... it fit with my values. But I also knew that even good morals aren't enough; without the truth of the gospel as a foundation, all else fails. I had seen the need for Christian influences in the military, and I saw that as a specific way that God could use me. I have always been fascinated with other cultures, and this brought about many opportunities to go overseas. I am also a very structured person, which is another way that this fit in so perfectly. Everything is planned out for you from day 1, and everything has a schedule, a specific way of doing things, and I thrive in that kind of environment. So all of these things were good encouragement, like, "See? I will provide for you. I will take care of you. I'm not doing it to make you miserable."

Well, He certainly did bring about His plan. In November, I got my acceptance letter, which was far earlier than I ever expected or hoped to hear back from them. I have never been so emotional or excited in my entire life. My dad was bragging on me, and I went back to think through all the reasons I gave myself for wanting to go there. I had all these reasons why it would be a good fit, how God could use it in shaping me into who He wants me to be, but it's like I had never allowed myself to dwell on them, because I had honestly not believed I would get in. Now, I had to start looking at it from a new light. I had to remember why I felt that God had led me here in the first place. One of the biggest things, though, was the overwhelming knowledge of the sovereignty of God through it all. Remember when I said that I wasn't in control of what happened? That everything I put in my application - the activities and accomplishments - were from the preceding years? That was just a small example of the fact that whatever you're going through now is preparing you for something bigger, and most of the time, you don't know what it is. I had made all of these commitments - all the things that helped me - before I decided to apply for West Point. It does help to have a goal to work towards, but ultimately, it comes down to doing everything to the glory of God.

All this, and everything that continues to happen, is teaching me about dependence on God. I have learned that I will not succeed unless I am totally reliant upon the Lord and His promises to me, that He does have a plan for my life. I had plans of my own before the West Point goal, but they weren't the plans that God had for me... yet He used everything that I did for myself in His own work that He did. How awesome is that! And now, I am working towards this goal, because I believe that it is from God. Even though it is initially out of my comfort zone, I have faith that he will use it, and I am reminded that it is not comfort which I seek, but to honor God. If this was of my own accord, it would undoubtedly exhaust me, but He has given me strength  and energy and peace to run the race set before me, with joy that I am being made into the person that He wants me to be. John Piper says, "God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives." If God is not the highest in every part of our lives, we will lose the passion and drive that we have. I can only keep praying that He restores the vision I once had, and trust that He can indeed do more than I could even ask for.


Stop at Nothing.

Invisible Children is an organization I've followed for about 4 years now, that sponsors and raises awareness about children in Africa who suffer from all kinds of injustice. For me, the phrase "children in Africa" has become so cliche that I hardly think twice about it, and it's sad. IC has recently launched Kony2012, a campaign to stop a man whose acts of ruthlessness are so horrible, that he has been number one on the ICC's World's Worst Criminals list for ten years. The end is in sight, though, if we can raise awareness about him, which Kony2012 has finally created a method for doing so. Please, watch this video and help the cause to make his name known.


Yes, there are numerous other areas of cruelty in the world. Yes, many of them lie within our own country, and are raging with no effort to stop them. But just 10 years ago, Kony was in the same category. This is the result of one man, with the help of his Savior, fighting for change. Let us stand with him, stand for justice, and use this as an example when we see something that is wrong in the future.

End a war. Stop at nothing.


In His Image?

If you've been watching the news, you might have seen that there is a current trend for "Am I Ugly?" videos on YouTube. I watched some today, and it just broke my heart. These teenage girls take videos of themselves talking about how people tell them that they're ugly, and how they agree. Worse than that are the hateful, spiteful, sinister comments that people post in response. I wanted to go find every single one of those girls and give them a huge hug and tell them how beautiful they are, because of the One who created them, the Master Artist.

I think I'll do a post later on the influence of the media into any and all areas of our lives, and this is just an example:

 And this one is sweet.


Chipmunks, Abba, and Weeds.

Well, since I was fortunate enough to have President's Day off, I've come to two conclusions. First, I've decided that I'd like to do some research on Abraham Lincoln. I mean, I'm definitely not a history buff. It's actually my least favorite subject. And I feel like he's extremely emphasized in like elementary school and stuff. Oh, maybe there's a reason for that! [cue lightbulb] I was informed today by my mother that Mr. Abe over here has had more books written about him than any other human being, with the exception of Jesus Christ. And he was honest, and he was a Christian, and he saved America... all that good stuff. So that's my first conclusion.

The second one is a little more involved on how I came to it... Let me start with this morning. Around 9:30, I made a CD to play while my mom, AnnaBeth and I cleaned the house for Community Group tomorrow. As an incentive, Mommy and Daddy were going to take us to the State Fair, because they had a Military discount thing in honor of President's Day. Well, my dad went to look up the policy online and discovered that actually, the whole free admission thing didn't start until 4 PM, and that in fact, it wasn't for Military personnel at all, but for everybody. That left me out of the picture because I had a dentist appointment at 1, and my mom didn't really want to be out that late anyways. So, we decided to watch Mamma Mia! instead. Anyways, so I went to my dentist appointment... It's only reinforcing my disdain for those people that stick metal and lasers in my mouth. Not cool. And come to find out, you have to get numbed for a filling. I had forgotten about that, because fortunately, I don't make a habit of getting cavities. So, that brings me to where I am right now: sitting on the couch, feeling like half of my face is either falling off or the size of a tennis ball (I can't decide which), listening to all the Abba music that is currently stuck in my head, drinking a milkshake (and wondering if maybe I should go get a bib), and contemplating my discussion with my parents last night.

Well, after 4 hours, this is what I think I look like:

And this is the song that has been playing on repeat in my head for those 4 hours:

The circumstances which initiated the conversation were not so great. They involved me losing my wallet somewhere in St. Petersburg, and me quitting my job three weeks ago and neglecting to tell them. I wouldn't recommend either. Well. Through this little chat, we discovered that these two mishaps, among several others within the past couple of weeks, are rooted in character-based problems that I struggled with and supposedly conquered years ago. In 2008-2009, I was doing many things the wrong way, one of them being not talking to my parents about really anything. It didn't matter if I needed advice, if something was bothering me, if I needed encouragement, a hug, forgiveness... I just didn't want them to be involved in my life like that. I think it's a typical thing that many teenagers go through: wanting to be independent. The sadly un-typical part of my situation was how involved and persistent my parents were (and still are). After over a year of being shut out, they never gave up on trying to get me to open up. They never threw up their hands and said, "okay, I'm done." They never passively waited for me to "come around:" they actively waited. And, I eventually did. So, when I decided to quit my job, I had very good reasons and had thought it through well, but I had made the decision on my own, because I knew they probably wouldn't like it (which is what drove almost all of my withdrawn behaviors 3 years ago). So I was sitting there and talking with the three people that love me the most, and it struck me as concerning that I seem to be regressing in a way. "I can't bear to see the man I've been rising up in me again."[a] I was reminded of a prayer I prayed a few days ago... not the conscious, on-your-knees kind... more of like a passing thought. It's encouraging that God hears those too. I was thinking about how I only have a few more months before life as I know it is going to be completely transformed (more on that later,) and how there is so much I would have done differently if I could have. Then, I realized, even though I can't change the past, it's not too late to start anew. Actually, it's a perfect time to start anew. I asked God if he would reveal things about myself to me that I had maybe forgotten about, or was ignoring, or were just unnoticed. Well He answered that one, alright. It's like He took a giant highlighter and just started marking up my life right and left. These signs of the "old me" are God's way of weeding out the qualities that I have in me that are not of Him. I thought I had fixed these things, but maybe I only thought I did. Maybe I just got better at covering them up. He's showing me how well He knows me, and He's helping me to change, just like I asked. These next five months are going to be messy, I know that for sure... but I have no doubt that they will be rewarding. God is shaping me into the woman that He wants me to be, and therefore that I want to be. 

[a] "East to West," Casting Crowns.



You know, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the ways we should differ from the rest of the world. Not to be cliché, but… “In it, not of it.” Well. The more you try to do that, the more you realize that it is a lot easier said than done – essentially, because we simply cannot do anything on our own. But even the act of admitting that truth – that we are incapable – is something that requires an amount of humility, which we also (surprise, surprise) do not have on our own accord: we need God to step in and strip away everything else that “defines” us, and show us what is really inside… And we should actively seek this! We need the humility to ask for the humility that we don’t have. Ugh… that’s dizzying, isn’t it? Oh man… I’m going to move on before my brain implodes.

Well, before I got hung up on that, I was thinking about how living separately really rests on one fundamental truth that we have to strive to carry with us through every task, whether significant or menial. Rather, to ask God to impress on our hearts… We must not lose sight of eternity. That’s it. We must keep our eyes set on what is to come. For that is what our faith rests upon: the knowledge that this life is not, in fact, all that there is, and that we’ve horribly messed up since the beginning of our existence. We’re running in one direction, and in the midst of running, we look around and realize that oh, by the way, we’re actually going the wrong way, and we have been for a while (forever, actually) and we’ve been completely indifferent the entire time. We need a Savior! But even this is not something we are remotely capable of acknowledging on our own. Still, God, in His great mercy, reveals to us our own hearts, and gently picks us up and sets us apart; and that’s where we start living differently. We set our eyes on what is to come, unlike the rest of the world’s philosophy to “live in the moment.” Yes, we should indeed be aware and conscious of what is around us, ready and watching for opportunities to learn, and to teach. We are to be focused, but not oblivious.

If we simply look towards eternity, we are able to see everything else much more clearly. Paul describes it as running a race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). We run in such a way as to get the prize. We keep our eyes set ahead, and suddenly everything else falls into place. The hurdles that seemed impossible now, suddenly, seem insignificant. The tasks that we are to accomplish, things in ourselves that we are to change, everything that once seemed so hard and painful… it seems such a small price to pay, because there is so much more! Wow, that’s an understatement.

Because I have been rescued from certain death, I can now look forward to eternity. I can anticipate with joy the life that awaits me. And because I can look forward to that, my simple worries of now, today, this year don’t matter nearly as much as I make them seem like they do. Because they don’t matter (rather, won’t matter), I can surrender them to Someone who can handle them much better than I could anyways. Yes... it's hard. Life gets in the way a lot of the time. Sometimes, I look around and find myself fighting back. But the wonder of it all is that my Redeemer looks at me with the same patience and love that He did four years ago when he first captured my heart. His unconditional love is just that... unconditional, unwavering, beautiful, patient, merciful, unfathomable. 



Yeah. It's been too long. I guess so much has happened that I just don't know what to write about... but also I feel like I've been lacking inspiration lately. Well actually, I think I've been lacking originality, which I confuse with inspiration. If that makes any sense at all.

I'm taking World Literature this semester, and I'm really excited about that. Partly, because in each unit there's something from the Bible that we study, so it's like "...opportunity!!" but also partly because there's so much to uncover in literary works and poetry. It's an area I enjoy, but need to exercise a little more. I get a window to the inspiration of others, separated by hundreds of years. I think that's pretty cool... plus, with me being a math/science-y type person I don't get too much of it, at least in this sense.

Science is sort of the same way though. The people who research and seek knowledge about whatever subject it is certainly have inspiration. I love it, because I can see connections all around me... I like to ask why.

And... I'm still not really sure where this entry is heading.

Well, hopefully I've broken the ice enough to where I can start writing again. Regularly, I mean. But for now, I need to finish breakfast and go to the beach before work. Time outside is good for the soul. :) I'm so excited! I went home and packed myself a little picnic lunch, and I've got a few books to read, music to listen to, my Bible, and some thank-you cards to write. I don't think I have enough time to do all that, but that's okay. I'll just do it again tomorrow!

Goodness and mercy.