Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sometimes a song just says it all...

I'm in hour 3 of my 4.5 day separation from Jared. It's going to be the first time since I started the semester to go a full 24 hours without seeing him, and I'm not very excited. Honestly, the apprehension and dread of it that I had all week was worse than the actual separation (so far). This Fall "break" is so full of paper writing, project doing, and house-to-house shuffling that it's not going to be very relaxing. And even though that all sounds super pessimistic, I'm excited to be home and have some time off.I'm going to lay around the house, sleep late, and eat my heart out with my momma. I'm going to go watch Harry Potter, eat Red Lobster, and enjoy a night on the town with my daddy. I'm going to have a relaxing Thanksgiving day with family. It's going to be a good break, I just wish I could share this holiday with the person I plan to share my life with. A few days apart will be good for us, I know's just not exciting. For now, I'm just going to go crawl into bed with my mom and cuddle. I love cuddling.

This song was on the radio on the way home. (One perk of driving by myself: singing at the top of my lungs.) It really just fits.I'm not really feeling it, but my mind acknowledges the truth of this song.

Rush of Fools-Undo

I've been here before
Now, here I am again
Standing at the door
Praying You'll let me back in

To label me
A prodigal would be
Only scratching the surface
Of who I've been known to be

Turn me around, pick me up
Undo what I've become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, I need Your help
I can't do this myself
You're the only one
Who can undo what I've become

I focused on the score
But I could never win
Trying to ignore
A life of hiding my sin

To label me
A hypocrite would be
Only scratching the surface
Of who I've been known to be

Turn me around, pick me up
Undo what I've become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, I need Your help
I can't do this myself
You're the only one
Who can undo what I've become

Make every step lead me back to
The sovereign way that You

Turn me around, pick me up
Undo what I've become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, I need Your help
I can't do this myself
You're the only one who can undo
You are the only one who can undo
You're the only one who can undo
What I've become

Jason Walker-Down

I don’t know where I’m at
I’m standing at the back
And I’m tired of waiting
Waiting here in line, hoping that I’ll find what I’ve been chasing.

I shot for the sky
I’m stuck on the ground
So why do I try, I know I’m gonna to fall down
I thought I could fly, so why did I drown?
Never know why it’s coming down, down, down.

Not ready to let go
Cause then I'd never know
What I could be missing
But I’m missing way too much
So when do I give up what I’ve been wishing for.

I shot for the sky
I’m stuck on the ground
So why do I try, I know I’m gonna to fall down
I thought I could fly, so why did I drown?
Never know why it’s coming down, down, down.
Oh I am going down, down, down
Can’t find another way around
And I don’t want to hear the sound, of losing what I never found.

I shot for the sky
I’m stuck on the ground
So why do I try, I know I’m gonna to fall down
I thought I could fly, so why did I drown?
I never know why it’s coming down, down, down.

I shot for the sky
I’m stuck on the ground
So why do I try, I know I’m gonna to fall down
I thought I could fly, so why did I drown?
Oh it’s coming down, down, down.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Things are looking up.
I don't know how much better I really am,
but I feel a lot better.
I went to a women's discipleship group last night.
Nicolle, the lady that leads it, isn't one for messing around.
She gets straight to the heart.
She's going to challenge me in ways that at time I'll wish she wasn't.
I know that for sure, but I need it.
We have a one on one today, and I'm excited.
I love talking to Nicolle.
She's real.
And that means I can be too.

Things are popping up that I'm genuinely excited about.
The thought of serving in Oakwood, and similar areas of Conway,
in a longterm capacity really speaks to my heart.
If the next year goes how I'd like it to...
(and we know that doesn't happen often)
then such a weight will be lifted off my shoulders.
Even though what replaces it won't be an easy undertaking.
The difference is in the heart.
My heart is excited about this.
So, we'll see...

Main point: Things are on the up and up...
and God is good.

Relient K-Up and Up

Is not quite what it could've been
As were most of all the days before
But I swear today
With every breath I'm breathing in
I'll be trying to make it so much more

Cause it seems I get so hung up on
The history and what's gone wrong
And the hope of a new day
Is sometimes hard to see (what you see)
And though I'm finally catching onto it
And now the past is just a conduit
And the light there at the end is
Where I'll be

Cause I'm on the up and up
I'm on the up and up
And I haven't given up
Given up on what
I know I'm capable of
And I'm on the up and up
I'm on the up and up
Yeah there's nothing left to prove
Cause I'm just trying to be
A better version of me
For you
A better version of me
For you

To be prosperous
Would not require much of me
You see contentment is the one thing
It entails
To be content with where I am
And getting where I need to be
I'm moving past the past
Where I have failed

But I'm finally catching onto it
And now the past is just a conduit
Right there at the end
Is where I'll be

You never cease
To supply me with
What I need
For a good life
So when I'm down
I'll hold my head up high
Cause you're the reason why
I'm on the up and up

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Psalm 143

1 LORD, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
like those long dead.
4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
5 I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.

7 Answer me quickly, LORD;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, LORD,
for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.

11 For your name’s sake, LORD, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I've been going through a rough time. I have a lot of anger that I can't find the root of. My pride is so intense that's it's choking me. When either of these two things flare up, the me that is inside protests. It says, "Jennica, you're being silly. You're not really angry at this person or about this situation. You know the things you're saying aren't true." But my pride wins out and the only person I hurt is myself. And maybe my boyfriend. He doesn't deserve what's going on with me. He doesn't deserve to have to deal with this person that I'm being. I'm never happy, and always angry, and he gets the brunt of that and it's just not fair. I definitely feel like a burden most of the time, and though he will say that he doesn't see it that way....I know that some days there's no way around it. This is a burden. I constantly need his comfort, and can therefore not be there to comfort him when he needs it (because of me or whatever else). But that is a tangent. The point is, I'm not okay. But I feel more okay today than I have in a while. For the past month, I haven't really been able to pray or actively read my Bible. Anytime I end up in a conversation about God, I leave angry. It started out subtle and I ignored it. But it eventually got to a point that I realized it was more than a bad day or week and that I was in a place I didn't know how to get out of. I needed God to save me, fix me, love me, and I couldn't see or feel Him doing any of those things. There were many many nights of vehement anger at God. Why would He leave me in this place if I don't want to be here? If I want Him to fix me and I want to love Him with all my heart, then why is He ignoring me? I told my friend, "I showed my weakness and hopelessness and brokenness and He left me there broken and defenseless. He did not pick me up." I was genuinely angry at God, but even in that...I realized that it was misguided and immature and silly. I was in a place of knowing all the "Biblical truth" of the situation (that God loves me intensely, that He is maturing me, that He will deliver me from this and everything will be better than I could ever imagine, that He hears me and cares and is right by my side even when I don't feel Him) but not feeling it...and as a human my feelings win out over my mind. Honestly, up until today, I felt hopeless. That, even though there is a promise of joy in the morning, that this night of pain would never end. I had moments of hope throughout the month, but anytime I would try to talk to someone about where I was at...I left angry. They would tell me things that I already knew. Biblical truths that I could quote, but that didn't make me feel any better. I eventually just stopped talking about it all together. I would let my boyfriend talk about God, and semi-ignore it until he finished. I would talk to my friends about their problems, but gave up trying to tell them how I felt or where I was at. First of all, I had no clue where I was at, and there was no way I could explain how I felt. I could talk all day everyday for the rest of my life and never find the words to truly make them feel what I was feeling. I know that what they saw was an obstinate, stubborn, foolish, quick-to-anger, won't-listen-to-reason girl who wouldn't try to help herself out of the situation. But what was inside was despair. Fear. L onliness. Hopelessness. A desperate desire to NOT be this person anymore. I want to love God with all my heart, I want to live for Him, I want to build relationships and encourage others. I want to be a leader. I want to be one with God. But I don't know how, and the advice of others is useless at this point. It's a me and God thing. Even when I was angry at God, and even when conversations about God pissed me off, when I was alone with God I was fine. Things make sense when it's just me and's when other people get mixed in that things get complicated. And I know I can't seek comfort from outside sources, even though my boyfriend is one of the most comforting things I've ever experienced.

I guess the point is, I'm okay today. I have hope. I've prayed more today, without even realizing it, than I have in quite some time. It wasn't hard, and I didn't force it. It didn't make me angry. I don't want to talk about it, for fear that I will get angry and mess that up, but I'm okay. This is a sort of explanation for myself over the last few weeks. An apology. Thank you for worrying, and I'm sorry that you have to. Thank you for trying to help, even though I didn't accept it. Thank you for loving me, even when I'm unlovable.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"When I Go Down"
-Relient K

I'll tell you flat out
It hurts so much to think of this
So from my thoughts I will exclude
The very thing that
I hate more than everything is
The way I'm powerless
To dictate my own moods

I've thrown away
So many things that could've been much more
And I just pray
My problems go away if they're ignored
But that's not the way it works
No that's not the way it works

When I go down
I go down hard
And I take everything I've learned
And teach myself some disregard
When I go down
It hurts to hit the bottom
And of the things that got me there
I think, if only I had fought them

If and when I can
Clear myself of this clouded mind
I'll watch myself settle down
Into a place where
Peace can search me out and find
That I'm so ready to be found

I've thrown away
The hope I had in friendships
I've thrown away
So many things that could have been much more
I've thrown away
The secret to find an end to this
And I just pray
My problems go away if they're ignored
But that's not the way it works
No that's not the way it works

Any control I thought I had just slips right through my hands
While my ever-present conscience shakes its head and reprimands me
Reprimands me
Then and there
I confess
I'll blame all this on my selfishness
Yet you love me
And that consumes me
And I'll stand up again
And do so willingly

You give me hope, and hope it gives me life
You touch my heavy heart, and when you do you make it light
As I exhale I hear your voice
And I answer you, though I hardly make a noise
And from my lips the words I choose to say
Seem pathetic, but it's fallen man's praise
Because I love you
Oh God, I love you
And life is now worth living
If only because of you
And when they say that I'm dead and gone
It won't be further from the truth

When I go down
I lift my eyes to you
I won't look very far
Cause you'll be there
With open arms
To lift me up again
To lift me up again

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Psalm 139

1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake, I am still with you.

[I cut out verses 19-22]

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

That last verse is one I quote often. Every time I read my Bible, I quote that verse before I start, and also Psalm 119:18 "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law."

Now for the MSG version, because it's pretty heartfelt.

1-6 God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I'm an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I'm never out of your sight.
You know everything I'm going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you're there,
then up ahead and you're there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can't take it all in!

7-12 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings
to the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute—
you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.

17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
God, I'll never comprehend them!
I couldn't even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
all the men and women who belittle you, God,
infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate you, God,
see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
Your enemies are my enemies!

23-24 Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I'm about;
See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.

I'm in a very weird mood today. I will have almost no contact with Jared this weekend because he's doing poverty immersion. [Living as a homeless person for 40 hours]. Because of this, I was in bed by 10:30 last night. I haven't been to bed that early least a month. I set my alarm for 8 this morning, because even getting up that early would have gotten me 9.5 hours of sleep...but I didn't actually get up until about 10:45. 12 hours of sleep. I'm worthless. My boyfriend is away and that makes me sad so I sleep, because what else do I have to do? My attitude about life lately is really messed up. Going into this, Jared and I both knew that this weekend apart was going to be good for us. It's a time of separation that, if used, will draw me closer to God. If I'd just stop avoiding God, and just stop being lazy...

Psalm 139 helps. I know that I need God every single day, and I need for Him to be preparing me NOW for the things my life will hold. And I know He is. I know He's doing so much more in my life than I can even begin to see. And how do I thank Him? I ignore Him. Or just throw a prayer at Him here or there. I'm not convicted about the things I do wrong. I'm convicted about not being convicted.

I'm so sorry Abba. I've wandered away, but I know you're still right here beside me. I want to love you, I want to WANT you. Thank you for loving me, even when I neglect You. Thank you for the blessings that You pour out and I drink up, and please Lord help me to produce a useful crop for You. Use me. But mostly Father, help me to feel you. I want to be infatuated with you. Completely and totally consumed by Your love. Giddy. I want to be giddy.

Bah. I'm sure I'll blog more this weekend. Just pray for me to be consumed by God. Pray that He reveals Himself to me and shows me just how much He loves me. That's what changes lives...the realization of God's love. And it's something I've realized before. I've been romanced by my Lord before, and I know He'll do it again. I know that if I would just spend time with Him, I'd see His love. So pray that I get my priorities aligned. Pray that I truly make God the Lord of my life. Just pray for me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Awesomely Overwhelming

On May 23rd, in Africa, I wrote in my journal: "I'm sick of this bread and that funny tasting butter. I'm sick of all the horrible smells of this city. I miss home...but I think all the things that I hate about this city wouldn't matter if I were living here with the person I love." That was in response to wondering how in the world Andrea was going to live in Maputo, but seeing her with Matt made me realize how much it wouldn't matter where she was as long as she was with him. Yes, a lot of days will harbor feelings of homesickness. That's almost inevitable, but it will still be beautiful and content.

This weekend was so overwhelming, but at the same time exciting. Listening to Paul and Marionette speak was like saying, "Oh, hey future." When I try to view it from the outside, I see how ahead of myself I seem. And maybe I am in ways. But the thing is, I'm very very sure of my life with Jared. And the longer we're together, the more ways I am sure. God willing, Jared and I will live the majority of our lives in Africa. Wow. It's crazy to write that. Of course, it's something I still have to pray diligently about, but I know I want to marry Jared and spend my life with Him and I know without a doubt that I want to serve God with Jared by my side every single day...and I also know that my life isn't going to look normal or comfortable. I've known this for a while. Since I truly encountered God, I've felt that I wouldn't be content until I did something drastic (in the eyes of the world) for the Kingdom. I always felt that I couldn't be okay just living a normal average life. Yes, some people are called to serve God in their normal lives. Yes, America has needs too. I get that, but I'm not called to that. So the thought of living overseas is by no means "out of the blue". I guess I've never specifically considered it, but it's not like it catches me completely off guard. That doesn't make it any less overwhelming or scary. No, at this moment I do not feel specifically called to Africa. But I do feel called to work with children, probably orphans, and I do feel like Jared is the person God created for me. (And he is most definitely called to Africa) so it may not be the prettiest or the most perfect equation, but it still adds up.

I'm definitely struggling with taking things one day at a time while still opening my heart and mind to what my future will probably hold. And honestly, I absolutely hope that this is what my future will be. As scary as it is, I can't imagine a better way for God to use me personally, and Jared and I together. Who wouldn't want to bring God's Word to people who haven't heard it? Who wouldn't want to personally be used by God to change orphans lives? If this is what God has for Jared and I, it's an honor. It's a privilege. Don't think that doesn't mean I haven't thought of every single way it's going to suck. The thought of raising my children away from their grandparents absolutely shatters my heart. The thought of breaking my father's heart makes me want to cry. Knowing how much my mother is going to protest makes me exhausted already. I know that a lot of days I'll be tired and dirty and unhappy. Some days the thing I will want more than absolutely anything else is a good old fashioned hamburger. Some days I will throw fits and just want to go home. I know it's going to be hard. Almost every part of this is going to be hard. But the thing is, my children would grow up loving God in a way that me, as a child in America, didn't have a chance to. They would grow up seeing that every day is for serving God. They would be better off for it. No, they wouldn't have all the perks of comfortable American life, but honestly...who needs them? They're not doing anyone any good. And as far as breaking it to my parents?...God will give me strength and courage...and He will give them comfort and peace. As far as all the things I will want to whine about?...what better way to grow. I'm far too attached to my comfort. As far wanting to be home?...well we talked about that this weekend too. In a way, Africa is already home. I definitely left a part of me there. It was a smaller part than most people left, but was hard to leave and I never doubted that I would be back.

So yeah, obviously if I'm ahead of myself, I'm WAY ahead of myself. But somehow, I don't feel like I am. Time and God will tell.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


My friend Adrienna is so amazing. She is less than a month into her walk with God and she says things that are so enlightened and so obviously straight from God. I am actually jealous of where she's at. It's a blessing to be even a tiny part of it.

I've been in a place of stubbornness. I know that I need to turn to God. I know that God makes all things better. I know that I am content and complete and joyful when I am focused on God. But I'm stubborn. I am currently missing the joy in life. Everything seems too hard. I am too tired. I lack motivation for anything and I just want to give up. Sink, not swim. Not because I am any less blessed than I was a week ago. Not because God is any less awesome. I'm just stubborn.

I need prayer. That God will show me my purpose...for today, this week, this month, this year. In Your perfect timing, just lead me God. I need God to show me how to surrender. I need Him to show me what surrender looks like. How do I die to myself today? How do I truly let go? Of everything. I pray that God will fill me to the brim with His passions and His desires, and I want to care so so so much for those things that I AM motivated and I enjoy working for His kingdom. I absolutely want to be consumed by every way. It sounds beautiful. But I'm too tired, and I'm stubborn. God, I need you. Rip this life out of my hands, because I know that I can't handle it on my own, but for some reason I just can't let go. Show me all the ways that I grieve You. Show me the things that keep me from loving You like I should. Like I want to. Burn away every single piece of me that isn't pleasing to You. Transform me, Abba, body mind and soul. Make me new. Make me like You. Rid me of myself, dear Abba. I know I don't have to beg, Father. I know that You want these things for me more than I could ever want them for myself. Give me patience and peace God. Help me to just turn and look upon Your beautiful face and just rest. I love you, Abba. Not enough, but I do love You. So just come consume me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Boyfriend has joined the blogging world. He's pretty insightful at times, so in my completely biased opinion, he's worth following.

This morning at church I was reminded of how much I need God, and how much I don't focus on that enough. As a congregation, we were praying for God to breathe on us. To make us alive and to be fully HIMSELF inside of us. I've definitely noticed my lack of passion over the last month. I've prayed a lot about learning how to pursue after God in times of blessing, because I am overwhelmingly blessed right now. I have Jared who I can't even begin to thank God enough for. He encourages me and blesses me and loves me constantly, no matter how whiny or
immature I may be. He's the person that, God willing, I know I will have a beautiful life with. And what's even more exciting is that I KNOW without a doubt, that my life with him will be completely focused on God and spent serving His people. To continue with the blessings, I have an amazing family and the best friends anyone could ever ask for. They build me up and tear me down as needed, and no matter what they love me and have my best interests at heart. I have Chi Alpha, which is so ridiculously good I can't even describe it. My involvement with XA in the last year has drawn me so much closer to God and through that, changed my life. I've been slowly transformed to be more like my beautiful Father God, and I still have a lifetime's worth of changing to do. Point being: I am blessed beyond recognition. So how do I need God when God has given me everything I need?

I want to be on fire. Burning, blazing, unquenchable, and most importantly...spreading. I want to be CONSUMED by God...I want to be OBSESSED with God...I want to be considered crazy for God. I want God to be always on my mind. I want everything that I think, say, and do to be for the glory of God. I want to make Him famous (which is something Jared said in his blog today). In my journal on July 22 I wrote:
"They brought the apostles back, but not by force because they were afraid they'd be stoned. They were afraid the believers would stand up and defend them. Why don't we act like that? We're so passive and passionless."
I was talking about John 5. On July 29 I wrote:
"Paul, "without hinderance" told about Jesus day and night for over 30 years. He had no other focus in life. Absolutely no distraction. No family. No home. No job. He went where God told him and said what God told him and trusted what God told him. He was imprisoned for half that time and just kept on with his mission as if he were anywhere else. Beaten, stoned,
mobbed, flogged...every city he went to tried to kill him. No wonder he wanted to go to Heaven, but he knew he still had work to do so he didn't question it or get mad. He fully recognized that this was bigger than him or any other man."

Passion. I pray for consumption. I want God to be so alive inside of me and SO in control of me that I'm not seen at all. I want to be completely united as one with Him. I want to hear His voice, and recognize His nudging. I want to walk down a road simply because God told me to. [John 8:29]

Philippians 3:12 "I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." I want Jesus to take hold of me. Oh, how I want that. I want to think, breathe, eat, drink, pray, walk, study, talk, fellowship, and live like Jesus.

Breathe on me, Abba. Consume me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

25 things God taught me this summer

This has been the most spiritually growing summer of my life. Almost daily, God revealed something new to me. Sometimes He just reminded me of something I already knew, but every single time He proved to me just how perfect and precise His timing is and that He is always listening to my heart and that He cares more than I can imagine. His love leaves me in awe. Now that school is starting and life is getting busy, I don’t want to forget all that I have learned…so I’m making a list.

1. Sometimes God uses unfortunate circumstances to remind you that you need Him. -This was definitely a theme of my summer, but it was also the first thing I learned. Travelling to Maputo was filled with obstacle after obstacle, and it was just what I needed to remind me to turn to God. “God does not always rescue us out of our painful season…He does not always give to us what we so desperately want when we want it. He is after something much more valuable than our happiness…He is restoring and growing in us an eternal weight of glory. And sometimes…it hurts.” -Captivating

2. God answers prayer. -This is a very simple concept that I should never forget, but God reminded me non-the-less. Even in the little things, God showed me that He cares and will do what I ask. Whether it be healing a sick stomach, or breaking me down to the point that He is all I had, or taking away something I love because it was taking away from my oneness with Him, God answers prayers. Even when I don’t remember what I prayed for, God does, and He ALWAYS comes through.

3. You have to let your life go, or you’ll screw it up. - If you think you can control your life better than God, you’re crazy. Unless God is in control, it will just be one dead end after another. You have to die to yourself in order to live in God. When you finally let go of your life, there is so much peace.

4. Focus on God. -This is honestly the most important thing I learned this summer. When my focus is truly on God and His purposes and what will bring Him glory, not only is there a peace that truly surpasses all understanding, but things fall into place exactly how God wants them to, which is really exactly how YOU want them to if you’re seeking after Him. There is no happier thing than to be doing what God created you to do. I wrote in my journal, “If I don’t make God the focus of my life, even the things that make me happy won’t anymore.” He must become greater, I must become less. [John 3:30]

5. I love God, and God loves me, even when I don’t feel it. -Emotions aren’t trustworthy. No one always feels happy or always feels content or always feels…anything. Relationships are about so much more than emotions.

6. Be patient and wait on the Lord. -This one speaks for itself, but is definitely not something I mastered, or even got a little bit good at. I’m still very very impatient, but God’s timing is not our timing. We don’t get what we want when we want. And His timing is PERFECT and precise.

7. My unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness. Where I am weak, He is strong. -There’s never a time when I will be good enough to approach God, and if I try to wait until I fix myself to go to God, then I’ll never be able to. God doesn’t want that at all, and honestly…I can’t fix myself even a smidgeon. You go to God and He fixes you. He restores your soul and renews your mind and transforms you to look like His beautiful Son, and in the end there is no mistaking that God did this. He receives all the glory, which is how it should be.

8. God is the healer of broken hearts. -This is a concept that every single human being can comprehend. We have ALL been heartbroken at one point or another over something. God is the only one who can truly free us of that pain and brokenness and make us new.

9. God is universal. -Everything about God is exactly the same no matter where you go. He is the same God in Africa as He is here. People feel Him and know Him the same in every corner of the world. He loves us all the same no matter where we’re at. In Maputo we sang “God of this City”-the Mozambicans in Portuguese and us in English, and it was the most beautiful sound. It was such a blessing to worship the God of our universe together in a way that is so beautiful to Him. His children were united.

10. There truly is a peace that transcends ALL understanding when you seek God. -One of the biggest things I learned this summer (which goes back to number 4) is the when my focus is on God, I have peace. It does transcend understanding. It’s not that anything makes any more sense or that any of the unfortunate circumstances are better, it’s just that I’m focusing on God and He’s giving me peace.

11. Every situation is an opportunity to bring God glory. -Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. [1 Corinthians 10:31]. I’ve really begun to understand that absolutely everything I do, every action, every word, even every thought, can and should be used to show people God. I want people to see God, and only God, when they look at me. I don’t want my humanity to taint they’re image of Him. Every person I meet, I can bring glory to God. Every conversation I have, I can bring glory to God. In EVERY situation, I can bring glory to God, and I should. But in the end, it’s not about what I do, it’s about surrendering and letting God shine through me despite what I do.

12. Notice God in the little things. -God does things for each and every one of us to make us smile. Once, this summer, he sent me a family of beautiful butterflies to flit around on a patch of daisies for me to take pictures of. It made my heart smile, and I knew it was a gift directly from God to me. These little things happen ALL the time, and we rarely acknowledge them. He loves me in a unique and special way. He loves me individually. He loves you individually too. He created you, and He knows what makes your heart smile. He loves to make you smile. He’s a passionate God and He is romancing me all the time, I just don’t always see it.

13. Christianity is about relationship. -Your relationship with God is the most important thing, followed by your relationships with people. We show God’s love by loving others. I’ve always been horrible at maintaining friendships, but I am really determined this year to reach out to new students and truly care for them. I want to follow up on them and to seek them out and to show them that they ARE cared for. I’m going to go to events and just talk to people. I can’t do any good for God’s kingdom if I won’t go out and live in it.

14. The journey with God is one day at a time. -As I stated in the previous blog entry, this is Jared and my motto. Things only make sense if you seek God daily and just focus on what He wants for you TODAY. As I read through my journal from Africa, this is the same advice Chief gave me when I talked to her.

15. When you pursue after God, everything else falls into place. -Nothing matters except God, and when you focus on Him, everything else will just fall into place. You will be happy and at peace, and He will take care of your every need. There is nothing in this world that you need to concern yourself with except God and glorifying Him and building His kingdom.

16. God punishes us because He is a good Father and He loves us. -God will punish me for forgetting Him, and take away the things that keep me and Him from being one, but then He will “allure me” and “speak tenderly” [Hosea 2:13-14] to me. He wouldn’t discipline me if He didn’t care, and He cares so very very much. Discipline sucks, but it produces righteousness and peace. [Hebrews 12:11]

17. Trouble is never wasted on believers. -It is used to make us stronger and more mature. God makes ALL THINGS work for the God of those who love Him.

18. Actions alone do nothing; you have to LOVE God and WANT to do things for Him. -I struggled with this so much. I read my Bible and prayed because I knew I needed to, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to be passionately in love with God, but I didn’t know how. And this is a toughy, because nothing I did, and nothing you do, will change that. But when you just surrender to God and just seek Him, when you take the first step, He will carry you the next few. He will change your heart to match His. “Follow me and I will turn you into what I need you to be.”

19. Sin is individualized. -Obviously, there are sins that are universal, but some sins are individualized. If it keeps me from being one with God, it’s a sin. If it distracts me from God, it’s a sin. The thing that distracts me may not distract you. TV is a sin for me, because it consumes my life. I feel convicted about wasting the time God gave me. He didn’t allow me to live another day so that I could sit on the couch and watch tv all day. Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. [1 Cor. 6:12]

20. Jesus ADORES us. -The shortest verse in the Bible says Jesus wept…and what did he weep about? That Mary was deeply trouble. He cares that we’re sad. He’s not like, “Who cares if your brother is dead, you only need me so be happy.” He understands and he hurts when we hurt.

21. God is the only one who has any answers for me. -People are just people, and they’re struggling with things of their own. Every situation I am in is so unique, and God’s plan for me is unique, and His purpose for my struggle is unique, so my guidance must come from Him alone.

22. Love God. -The key to everything is to love God. How? Know Him. How? Read His word and spend time with Him.

23. Stop worrying. -It’s ungodly. To worry is to not trust God. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” [Phil. 4:6-7]

24. This life is bigger than me. -Me and my wants are really insignificant in the grand scheme. This point of my existence is to do God’s will and to bring Him glory. If I focus on anything more than I focus on God, I’m misguided.

25. God graciously gives all things. -He already gave us His Son, why would He hold anything else back?

Yes, that was long, but God is so good, and he taught me SO much this summer. :) Praise Him!