This week I have been discovering more about God's grace. A gift that He gives more abundantly than I could ever hope for. I am not sure how to write the next few sentences because I want to be sensitive to the situation I have been facing this week. I work for an insurance company... a small agency... but a large insurance company. We deal mostly with home and auto insurance. On Tuesday morning my boss called me and asked me if I had heard any news about an accident killing a mother and daughter that had occurred on Monday afternoon. I told him no but that I had read a headline on our local newspaper's website about the accident. I chose not to read it because I see headlines like that almost weekly whether it be locally or nationally. He told me to go read the story and find out what he thought was true... the young lady and toddler that were killed were one of our insured. Sure enough all the local stations websites had written about the accident and I as able to confirm that it was one of our insureds. The driver of the vehicle was going at a high rate of speed around a corner and over corrected twice before slamming into a tree. The car was ripped to shreds. The young lady and her daughter were killed instantly. The driver was taken to a local hospital where he is still in critical condition. The driver has had a 10 year history of tickets, violations and was due in court on Monday for charges of larceny. On our local paper's website they have a comments section and I decided to go through and see what people were saying. I was shocked and blown away at how many people are wanting to take this guy (the driver) and shoot him. Now, I do think that this guy needs to be punished but he didn't willfully intend on killing anyone that day. This much I am choosing to believe in. I realized that there was no grace whatsoever in the comments wanting this guy to suffer even more than he is already is and will if this guy even survives. I am sure he is going to be haunted for the rest of his life and yes, he will probably spend time in jail and he will be sued by the girl's family. I realized more how much more I need to extend grace to others around me. I'm still processing all that is going on with this situation. Needless to say I am learning a lot more about insurance and grace this week!
Have you ever been sick and not been home while being sick? This has happened to me many times. But being sick in India thousands of miles away from home was probably the worst for me. I actually do sit back and laugh at how the event took place. I was working with the organization Youth With A Mission (YWAM) at the time. I was on staff with the discipleship training school (DTS) and co-lead a group of young people to India. We were staying in a house in Chennai for the first month and then the second month we would head to Dehli and stay there. The night before we were to leave Chennai I got really sick. It didn't hit me until about 2am and for the next two hours I ended up walking and at times crawling from my bed to another room where the bathroom was and not having a good time! I will spare you all the details... if you want to know more specifics just email me and I can fill you in. In my wonderful independent state I chose not to tell any of the girls on my team what was going on for two hours! Yep, no one knew I was sick for that long. I truly didn't realize how sick I was until I could no longer walk from my bed to the bathroom in the other room. I finally chose to tell one of the girls so if they woke up and couldn't find me in my bed they wouldn't freak out. I ended up waking up Amanda who freaked out anyway because I had not woken her up earlier. Yep, I didn't want anyone to see me sick and thought I could handle it myself. I figured it would go away. OH how I was wrong! (I asserted my independence at the wrong time.)
The next morning my co-leader Ryan and Amos who was leading the whole DTS (and just happened to be visiting our team) were told what was going on. When they came into the room I was laying down in I looked like a rag doll that had been tossed around for years. I could barely move. I am sure I looked absolutely stunning to them! ;) I think they were both surprised at how sick I was. Remember I said earlier in the post that we had to leave that day for Dehli? Well, most of my stuff wasn't packed and that evening when we did leave I had a 36 hour train ride to look forward to! The girls on my team got my bag packed. Thankfully I learned how to travel with just a hiking pack and a backpack! One of the guys working with our team decided to take pictures of me in the van on the way to the train station and then decided to send out an email with those pictures to our families. I think you can tell where this part is going... my mom got the pictures and knew right away that I was sick! The guy told everyone how I had gotten sick right before we left and of course my mom was VERY worried! I was able to contact her when we got to Dehli to tell her not to worry, that I was fine. Little did I know then that what made me sick was a parasite and that it would affect me the rest of my life! I still laugh about this story because it is something that would happen to me while traveling. I love traveling but getting sick thousands of miles away from home is not fun! AH India... that time changed my life forever! :D
I probably should go back a few years... the summer before going into seventh grade I went to a camp that forever changed my life. I was about to embark on a new journey in life. Moving on from elementary school to junior high. This summer camp is where I met my best friends. I went knowing at least a few girls from my church but of course I didn't know many of the girls in my cabin. I remember meeting everyone and by the end of the week we had all formed a group that would remain even until today. Three of the girls I met that summer are Jennifer, Shantel and Lisa. I remember meeting Jennifer before camp and then I met Shantel the first day of camp. From what I do remember I took Jennifer with me and introduced her to Shantel and many of the other girls. (I love connecting people!) I also introduced myself to Lisa that day as well. Little did I know then what God had planned!
We all went to the same youth group and that helped solidify our friendship. Junior high came and went. It was time for high school! There were so many things we were all looking forward to. Trips with our youth group to the mountains, summer camp and a missions trip that I would not be able to go on but Jennifer and Shantel wanted to go on. It was to New York city. They both applied and really felt like they were going to go. I should mention by now Jennifer and Shantel were best friends. We all were best friends. But Jennifer and Shantel clung to each other. Which would prove to be something Jennifer needed as much as Shantel. While going through the application process for the NY missions trip both of them were turned down by our youth pastor. It was with a heavy heart that he told them they would not be able to go. He had prayed about it and felt the Lord tell him that it wasn't there time.
The trip took place in April of 1993. It was during our spring break. I had gone to Illinois for part of the week and came home in time to go to youth group that Wednesday. I was so excited to be able to hang out with my friends that didn't go on the trip. That Wednesday would be the last time I would see Shantel alive. I still cry. The following day my dad received a phone call from a pastor on staff at my church. He knew my dad well and wanted to be the one to let him know that Shantel had passed away earlier that morning. She died of a heart attack in the shower while Jennifer was trying to call her mom and an ambulance. I heard my dad on the phone and couldn't figure out why he had a look of sadness mixed with shock on his face. He got off the phone and looked at me and told me the news that changed my world forever. I was living in the downstairs part of my parents house at the time and immediately went to the bathroom that is down there. I shut the door and just sat for what seemed like hours. I didn't move, didn't talk and wanted my dad to come in and say "just kidding"! Anything to make the reality of the situation go away. But that didn't happen.
Two days later our group of friends said "good bye" to Shantel. For the longest time I couldn't listen to Michael W Smith's song "Friends". It's still hard but not as hard as it was then.
Lately I have thought more about this story than ever before. I am helping my parents remodel that part of their house and I will be living downstairs again in my old room. So every time I walk into the bathroom down there it brings back those memories. I have seen how God has walked me through one of the hardest times in my life. I cling to His word: Psalm 119:81, 114 81My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. 114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.
I love to read! I try to read at least one book or more a month. At times there could be four or five at a time that I am reading. The amount of books I read depends on how busy I am with other things. I read many blogs through out the day. Lately I have read many blogs that share stories of others lives. I have read about affairs, heartache, bad decisions made, lives seemingly destroyed, abortion and yet through all of those I have read about redemption. God's redeeming love. It's powerful.
There has been healing throughout the stories. Ah healing, maybe that's what is tugging at me through these stories. Maybe that is what I am supposed to do... share some of my stories and let others see God's healing.
I have decided in reading others blogs that I will start to share some of my stories. They may be disjointed, fragmented and at times raw. I have stories I share all the time with others in conversation and wish I would write them down. I have felt the tug for a while to start writing more... so if you are a reader get ready... I have stories to share and I hope that through them others will see God's grace, redeeming love and His unending mercy towards a girl who just wants to serve Him daily!
This weekend I kept thinking about obedience and discipline. Being obedient is not something I struggle with greatly. I have always been a rules follower! Yes, I am that girl. You know the one who gets made fun of for supposedly not wanting to "live life a little". :) Discipline on the other hand I struggle with daily! I like to think I am a very disciplined person but when it comes down to it, I suck at it. In 1 Samuel 15:22 there is one line that says "to obey is better than sacrifice". Lately, I have had to learn the art of discipline in my finances. It's not easy. I like spending money. Who doesn't? :) But I realized that my spending habits are not helping me get out of debt any sooner. So, I have made some changes. Disciplining myself to not spend money on things I don't need at the moment. I would rather be obedient to what I know and have felt for a long time the Lord was asking of me than to sacrifice what the future holds if I am not obedient now. This week has been hard. I really want to go and buy some new clothes. Not that I truly need them. I just want them! (I have to be honest about that!)
I have two coupons for two of my favorite stores and I will not be using them. Just because I have them doesn't mean I need to go spend money that should be used to chip away at my debt because I have a coupon! I have put myself on a stricter budget as well. I am determined to get out of debt as quickly as possible.
This is a hard thing for me but I truly want the freedom to be able to give more generously to others. I read on twitter this quote: "Live simply so others can simply live." This quote was on Bianca Juarez's page. She also had a great post on her blog about debt. So if you get the chance go check out her post Ghetto Fabulous.
I am also getting more disciplined in writing on my blog! Look for more post and pictures to come soon and hopefully a blog makeover! :)
Oh I how I hate criticism! I believe we all do. I had a conversation with my dad earlier this morning about this very thing. He stopped doing certain things because of the criticism he was getting and instead of dealing with it and moving on and continuing to press forward he just stopped doing those things. So, he was defeated by the criticism and is now seeing that it has hindered progress in his life. It has hurt his self esteem. I told him that sometimes we just have to deal with the criticism in our lives and continue to push forward. I see it as a challenge. A challenge to improve on whatever it is I am being criticized for! There are times that it hurts so deeply that I become paralyzed. Then the fear creeps in slowly, undetected to those around me. I stand still and watch the world swirl about. After standing for what seems to be an eternity, I finally push through with God's word resounding with in me... "7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 1 Timothy 1:7 "6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philipians 4: 6-7 (ESV) These verses remind to push forward and continue on in what I know the Lord has called me to do. No more letting fear or the fear of being criticized stop me from living life to the fullest!
After work this afternoon me and my friend Anastasia will be carving pumpkins at her house. We are going to bake the seeds from the pumpkins and I am going to make hot apple cider! It's been quite a while since I have done this... okay since I was a kid! I will have pictures of this event later on this weekend.
The title of the post is a statement (or quote) from the show One Tree Hill. It's a statement that has stuck with me for a while. I have had a year of transition within my friendships. I had to let one friendship go (which was not easy but necessary and proved to be a great decision) and out of that came several new friendships and a closer friendship with my best friend Amy that I cherish deeply. One of the new friendships I developed is my with my best friend Jamie. He told me on Monday is he moving! He will be moving back to Nashville. It's a great move for him and I am very excited for this opportunity. He loves the Lord and is going to be able to do ministry full time. Working with guys that have been through similar situations he has been through. (Maybe soon I will be able to share his story here...of course with his permission!) A few weeks ago I had a conversation with him about how I am just getting to the point in my friendships with him, Amy (my other best friend) and a couple of other friends where I feel that I can be more vulnerable and that they will love me despite my faults, decisions, and my sometimes craziness. (Yes, I have times of craziness!) While talking to Jamie about this I told him it was hard to open up b/c "people always leave". I knew he would be moving at some point and I was cheating myself out of a deeper friendship with him because of my fear that when he moved he wouldn't want to be friends anymore. Which of course is not true but insecurity and fear had set in.
I had to go to prayer.
It was the only way I knew how to over come the insecurities and fear. I needed to learn yet again to trust in the Lord with my whole heart. I have had other friends move before. Close, dear friends that I wish I could go and have a cup of coffee with weekly. And of course, I have been the one to leave as well.
(Oh how I wish I could travel to each place that my close friends live! I would be in Switzerland one week, Oregon, LA and of course Nashville the following weeks!)
It's not an easy thing to watch a friend move but, I am excited for Jamie. This is a great opportunity for him! And yes, for the record I will be sad for a bit. But that's okay right?
Last night I spent some time writing to the child I sponsor through Compassion. As I was writing to Obsa, a verse came to mind that I am constantly reminded to meditate on. It's Proverbs 3:5,6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths". I so easily forget the trust part! But each day I am reminded to trust in the Lord. He already is directing my paths!
Oh if you get the opportunity please go check out Brad Ruggles blog! The link posted here is to a video from the Catalyst conference that took place a few weeks ago. It's all about sponsoring a child through Compassion. Go check it out! You will never be the same!
This is the title of Matthew Paul Turner's blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading his post and lately he has put up some rather hilarious pictures that people have either painted, or drawn of Jesus. Actually the comments are funnier than the pictures. :) You should go check out his blog! I am always intrigued by people drawing pictures of Jesus. Especially if they look like Jesus has blonde hair and blue eyes. Last week I took my dad to go hear one of my best friends play for an event (Jamie Morgan). This event was in a small town right outside of Charlotte. On our way home I noticed a huge mural on the side of a small church that was just of Jesus' face. I then told my dad about Matthew's posts. You really should check out his blog.:) And then when you are done you should check out Jessica Turner's blog. Jessica is Matthew's wife and she has a lot of great posts as well. Including many that have pictures of their adorable son Elias! There will be more recommendations to follow this week. I am greatly encouraged by all the people I have found on line through twitter and to be honest it was all thanks to Matthew one day following me. Otherwise I would have never found half the bloggers I truly enjoy reading. So much so I have neglected my own blog for a while!
I am a follower of Christ. Passionate about missions especially overseas! I love photography and being able to use photography as a creative outlet. If you would like to email me you can at firstname.lastname@example.org