Tuesday, August 23, 2016
I experienced pain this summer. Pain beyond what I have experienced before. A pain that shattered my whole world.
My first year of Bible school has had it's ups and downs. I have enjoyed making new friends, learning more about the Bible and the truths God has spoken. I have benefited from so many people speaking into my life. This is something that I am sure that most (if not all) of my classmates could say the same thing about their experience here. However, there is something about my Bible school experience that is unique. Something, that I like to call the "bubble".
The "bubble" is incredible. I live in one building, with 200 other people, (married couples, single students of all ages, young kids, grandparents, staff and students). Outside of that building there is a small campus, with more housing that is filled with more students and staff. Everyone knows everyone, everyone encourages, prays for and lives life with everyone. It is impossible to not know someone. If it is possible to not know someone, it is impossible to not know someone who knows that someone you don't know (have fun following that). Our lives all happen in this bubble. Which means, when something happens to anyone, everyone is impacted.
Can you honestly think of a time in your life, where something happened, and everyone you interact with was personally impacted in some way? Besides major events like 9/11, I can't. Until now...
My first semester I remember watching and praying as we watched one of my classmates crumble as his dad struggled to hold onto life, and ultimately passed away. We all hurt for him and with him. It brought many of us together, into a tight bond. Little did I know that was just the beginning of the hurt we would all go through.
Two months ago I got the news that one of my classmates had died. My heart instantly sank into my stomach. Not only was Levi one of my friends, but he was best friends with my roommate, dorm brother to my best friend, roommates with one of my dearest guy friends, and son of my mentor/college mom. My heart broke, but not just for me and the loss of my friend, but for the loss of the people who were close to me. For my roomie, as this is the second close guy friend she has lost in a year and a half. For my friend, as he lost his best friends. But most of all, for the woman who has spent hours pouring love into my life, who now has to figure out how to live life with the loss of her baby boy.
I was asked by his mom to speak at his memorial service. It was one of the highest honors, and yet one of the hardest things I have ever done. As the day came around I remember crying out to God for the strength to be able to speak encouragement to those who loved Levi, and to be able to just honor the memory of Levi without bawling my eyes out in front of everyone. As I stood up to speak, I looked around and recognized so many faces. I saw so many people who were a part of my bubble. I looked into his parents and siblings eyes, and had to fight back the urge to collapse on the floor in a puddle. I looked, and saw that my bubble had been popped. Thankfully, God gave me the strength to say what I felt lead to share.
After I finished speaking, I sat back down in my seat, and I completely fell apart. It all hit, and it all hit hard. I was beyond thankful that I was sitting next to my dear friend Sean, who fell apart with me. One other person got up to share after I finished, and then we all stood to sing a song. We sang the song "Great Are You Lord". To this day, I hear that song and I can't help but cry. I remember standing there, crying, struggling to even breath while I felt a pain deep to the bone. Meanwhile, I listened to the words of the song. "It's your breath, in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to you only." I realized i couldn't... I prayed from my heart, "Lord, it is your breath in my lungs, but I don't even have the strength to pour out praise to you with this breath."
The one really cool thing about this pain is the bubble. I realized that as I was hurting, crying and praying, everyone who I have shared this bubble with was also hurting, crying and praying. As I look around at all the people who I am close with right now, 90% of them are going through pain, whether for their loss or seeing the pain of those around them, We are all hurting and we are all supporting each other. We are all banding together to surround his family in prayers, to support them how we can, and to love them.
This fall, as many of us have returned to school, a piece of all of our hearts will be missing. And I know that have been shed and the tears shed now, will not be the only tears shed for our friend. Many more will be shed, many more prayers will be lifted up, and the pain will always remain. I am just thankful that our bubble can face it together.
My bubble has been cracked, but it is still my bubble.
Monday, September 21, 2015
While working on a sewage-pipe break, some workers uncovered the Pool of Siloam in Old Jerusalem. This is central to the account of Jesus healing a blind man from birth (John 9:1-7). And many more Archaeological finds like this have happened that perfectly align with the Bible, making it one of the most historically accurate ancient collection of writings.
All of these facts and evidence are merely just a portion of why I think the Bible is truth. None of these would completely convince me if it were not for the fact that God is a personal God who has given me the faith to believe that the Bible is truth. In believing the Bible is true, there are some things that I must apply to my life, and some things I must strive for.
The first, and most obvious, is realizing that I am a sinner, and that God sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay for my sins, thus making him Lord of my life; which means dying to my selfish desires, the wants of this world that do not align with the desires of God. The two main principles that come to mind are found in Matthew 22:37-40, loving God first and foremost with all you are, and loving others as yourself. Now, to keep these two, easily summed up, commands can be way harder than one might expect. Why? Because we are naturally selfish people. James 2:10 (NIV) says, “For whoever keeps the whole law yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” So, we see that if we put anything in our lives above God, we are breaking what God has told us to do. But that does not mean we should not try and keep that which we have been told to do. In Ephesians 4 we are told to “put off” our old self, and old way of doing things and to “put on” the new self, which is created to be like God in holiness and righteousness. We are told all throughout scripture to love, for “Love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV). We are told to in Philippians 4:8 to think on “whatever is pure, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…”. Over and over we are told things we should practice in our lives, and if I believe that the Bible is true and is from God, I am going to try and live these principles out in my life. But, I know I cannot do any of this on my own, it is only through God that I can do anything right, and I constantly mess, up, but “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV).
So, in short, I believe the Bible to be true because it is historically accurate, it is the inspired Word of God, and we have more historical manuscripts of it than any other book. But ultimately, it is because God has given me the faith to believe it, and so I have chosen to accept what it says and apply it to my life.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
With my brother newly married in September, my mom decided that it was time for a Christmas family tradition of our own. So, we started planning. Now, my mom's family all lives in the area, and we all celebrate Christmas together on Christmas eve (due to the fact we are Scandinavia). My brother's in-laws' celebrate Christmas day, all day. So, when were we going to get together without conflicting with schedules? We decided on January 1st. So, for the first time in my life, while others were waking up early on Christmas day, I got to sleep in!
After the hub of Christmas day was over, everyone was looking forward to the New Year. "What are you doing for New year's eve?", "Are you making any New Year's resolutions this year?", "What are your plans for this coming year?" These are the questions everyone was asking. Some of these questions bother me. Why do we wait till the new year to make resolutions? Why is it expected that we need to change now? Now, these aren't bad things; to want to change for the better. But why now? Why is it not our constant goal, every day. Do we forget that every day, is a new day? So, I challenge you. This year, and every year from now on, give up New Year's resolutions, and replace them with New Day resolutions.
Now, for New Year's eve, I went to a friends house for a party. There were about two dozen of us, some of my good friends. We played games, ate snacks, watched a movie, counted down till the new year... twice, had some laughs and then I went home. Woo-hoo! What better way to start a new year, then by having fun with people I care about.
Now, yesterday was the first, my families Christmas day. It started out with a bit of cleaning, cooking and setting up while we waited for my brother and sister in-law to get here. They finally got here a little after 2, then the fun began. We started out by opening up, not our stockings, but rather our very own Christmas hats (which we all had to wear later). We had a few little trinkets in there, a Pez dispenser, a chocolate Santa, a miniature lint roller and a small toy that my brothers and I all played with when we were little. After that it was on to games, every time you won a game, you got a prize. First prize you got was a store gift card, the next was a food gift card, then after that you could win as many small (less that $5) prizes you wanted till they were all gone. We played Stick the Sticker to the Target, Nerts, Set, Monkey Ball Flight, Would You Rather, Boggle, Take Two, Pass the Pigs, and several other small games. Everyone had fun, and won prizes. A midst all the games we played, we took funny pictures, and ate food. After all the fun we had, we all sat around the living room while my dad read the story of Christ's birth in Luke. It is refreshing to take time to remember and reflect on Christ's birth, the true reason for this Holiday, although it is celebrated all year long. It was an enjoyable day, full of family, laughter, fun and new memories. Something that I feel will be a great family tradition. Spending this day with my wonderful family, just reminds me of how blessed I am, no matter what I may be going through.
As I look over this last year, I see just how much I have to be thankful for. And as I look forward to this year, I already see some rough patches and curves in my path, but I am excited anyways. To see what ways God is going to grow me, to see what surprises He has in store, and to see what awesome things He is going to do through me. Praised be the Lord for this new year!
I suppose if I had a moral to go with this story, it would be this: Thank the Lord for each new day, and live it for His glory. Thank and bless Him for what He has done, and pray that He will prepare you for what He will do. Don't miss those small moments and things to be thankful for, because God didn't miss the chance to give them to you. Remember what is truly important, and think/act accordingly.
May God bless you all, like He has blessed me. Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
It started out with our morning, running around finishing our cooking, getting wood, and getting ready to head out to my grandparents house. We finished up all we needed to do in order to leave, and we climbed into our cars. I was in the car with my parents. My oldest brother, Calvin, drove his own car so he could head somewhere to black Friday shopping afterwards, and my littlest brother, Derek, rode with him. My second oldest brother, Justin, and his wife, Abigail, met us at my grandparents.
When we got there, the house was full of greetings. Cousins, my Aunt and Uncle, My grandparents, and the two 'extras' we had this year. After all the greetings, we sat around and conversed while we waited for everyone else to show up. Once everyone else got there (my other Aunt and Uncle, my cousin, and two of their family members) we all sat down to eat.
The meal was good, I was with the "younger kids", so there wasn't much conversation, but the company was pleasant. I hurried up and ate so I could sit by the "adult" table and listen in on the conversation. I don't remember much of the conversation, but I do remember it involved a lot of laughter.
After everyone had finished eating, and had their dessert, people slowly started trickling off to different parts of the house. The dads went into the living room to watch the football game, the younger kids downstairs, the moms to the table to do a puzzle, and the older kids were at the table conversing with the moms, or out in the living room, talking. I was one of the ones in the living room.
As the day went on, I kept hearing a lot of laughter out at the table, so I started listening in. They were all taking personality tests, I know, kind of weird and random, but weird and random is normal for our family.
Each person would take the test, and then they would read off different famous people who had the same personalities, and read about their personality to the rest of the group. I decided it sounded like they were having enough fun, so I joined them.
My Cousin Abby had the same as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sherlock Holmes, Hannibal Barca and a bunch of really smart and mean people. My mom has the same personality as Hitler, Winston Churchill, Darth Vader and sever other intelligent world dictators. My aunt, the same as Lady Gaga, Jesus, and people with caring hearts, that is, those who lived to adulthood without committing suicide. Several others did the test, and we were all having fun, making fun of each other.
As the conversation slowly died down, Abby said, "You know, it's a really good thing that I am a Christian. Because if it was not for Christ in my life, I would be a selfish jerk, and I wouldn't care what people would say about me." Now, she has one of the most compassionate and serving hearts, and is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. Then my mom said, "I would be too. I would boss people around, and do whatever I wanted, and not care about what others thought, if it wasn't for Christ in my life." Now, my mom can get along with almost anyone, she has so much grace in her. then my aunt chimed in, "I would probably have killed myself many years ago, if it weren't for God." my aunt has reached out and touched so many lives.
All those people my cousin cares for, the strangers she has compassion for, the people who see her shining smile. What would they be like if she had given them the cold shoulder, or pushed them out of her way because she 'didn't have time for them'? Those people who my mom has shown patients towards, even when she didn't want to. Those friends she has, that she is constantly showing grace to, and helping through their struggles, even though it's not in her nature. What would they be like, if she had yelled at them in frustration? If she had left them alone in their times of struggle, saying, "it's their own problem they are in that mess, not mine.", rather than showing them grace? Those people, who's lives my aunt has touched, those strangers she has 'adopted' who call her mom. What would they be like if she had taken her own life rather than used it to reach others?
All these people, who's lives have been changed, not by my cousin, my mom, or my aunt, but by the God who has changed their hearts. Shown them how to love. Given them purpose. Made them who they are rather than what they should be like.
This Thanksgiving, without even trying to think of something to be thankful for, we were all so thankful for the things we should be. A God that loves us so much, to changes our hearts, and makes us different, but not by our own deeds, but by His Love and Mercy.