Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lessons From a Race: Part 4: And Having Run The Good Race...

Well, here's the final bit of wisdom I've been able to glean from running a race... True, I ran almost a full month ago, but I am still applying the lessons I learned from that bitterly cold morning.

So to finish, what exactly happens? Seriously, what happens when you finish?

If you are like me, finishing is the hard thing. Starting is easy. My room is full of things I started, and still haven't finished. I have model airplanes, LEGO projects, paintings, books I'm trying to write, random letters I still need to respond too, poems that just need that sixth line, and yes, a pile of clothes that need to be folded. Maybe I'm just highly distractable, or maybe I just don't have the vision to finish something.

So what does it mean to finish something? Or more importantly, when you are running, why is the finish so important? Well, for some people, they don't even think about finishing. They give up before they even come within sight of the finish line. Others come so close, only to collapse just a few steps from the finish line. Just how do some people not just cross the finish line, but do it running??

I would submit to you that most of this strength is in the mind. We are told to run the good race, to fight the good fight, to continue on until the end. In fact, in 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us that "in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize." He then exhorts us to "run in such a way as to get the prize." I don't know about you, but this sounds pretty rigorous! He's telling us that we're to try for first place?

My first thought as I went over that verse was "WHAT?? I'm supposed to try and beat the people who do this for a living? How am I, a mere mortal, with limited resources, supposed to beat someone who trains with professionals, has sponsors, and lives their life to run?" But then I started thinking. We are also commanded to be above reproach. This means that nobody should be able to even hint that we've done something out-of-line. So when it comes to running, we ARE supposed to try and challenge those people who run for a living! We are supposed to try for first place, no matter what! We are to do everything as unto God. That's not some things, or faith-based things, but EVERYTHING!

So here's a little confession. Right now is finals time. I've had three finals so far, and I have another two that got postponed to tomorrow because of inclement weather. And as I was thinking about what final grades I am expecting from these five classes, I thought to myself: "Did I really study as much as I should have for all of those homeworks? Did I really do every single quiz has if I was doing it unto the Lord? Did I give every single test and exam my all? Was I completely and utterly exhausted at the end because I had spent everything trying for that ever-elusive A?"

Sadly, I realized I could have tried much harder. Several of my friends without realizing it, showed me just how wrong my attitude was. Some of them, even non-Christians, just refused to accept anything less than a perfect grade! They weren't happy with just an A, they couldn't settle for a 99, they had to try for that perfect 100%. As I walked out of my third final, I thought to myself, "Now why don't I think that way? Why am I not striving for that perfect score, as unto the Lord?"

So my exhortation to all of you out there is to finish strong. When the finish lines looms in the distance, don't cower and shrink from that last challenge. Instead, sprint! Run towards it with joy and the expectation of reaching the end! Don't compare yourself to those around you. Instead, think of what the total potential is, and aim for that. Rather than just a percentile score, try for perfection. You've run a full race, you've made it thus far, and by God's grace, you are still alive today, so finish with a burst! Take everything you've got, and lay it all out!

"And having done all, to stand."


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lessons From a Race: Part 3: To Infinity, and BEYOND!

Have you stopped to think?


How often do you stop to think? Not just about your job, or your house, or your friends, but about your life? Do you spend hours thinking about where you are going to be in 10 years?

Today's focus is on big picture thinking. But with a racing application. So imagine you are running a race. Let's say a 10k one, just because that is what I have a small amount of experience doing... When you are running that first kilometer, you could very well get to the marker, and give up right there. You could spend all your energy sprinting for a couple minutes, and then not have any energy for the rest of the race.

The problem? You didn't have (I didn't have) big picture thinking. This is thinking big. And for some people, this means they think about their friend's friends. For me, big picture means thinking about how something I will be doing affects me 20 years from now, or how something will affect the state, or the country over the next five or ten years. In a race, it isn't thinking about the next step, the next few steps, or even the next mile. It's thinking about the finish line, about the next race, about what's beyond the finish line. And even bigger, it's thinking about the race of life. Thinking about the finish line of life, and what lies beyond that.

So often in life, we lose sight of what is really important. We focus on the small things, we get caught up in the day-to-day operations, and forget to think about how we are going to use algebra 30 years from now. We spend so much time stressed out about now, that we forget about what is to come. But even more than just losing sight of the application, we lose sight of what is real. We are caught up in life, but we forget to live.

Finally, in my very humble opinion, I think we, as a culture, lose sight of who we want to be. We are told to fit inside the box, to have a 9-5 job, a wife, two kids, live in the suburbs, commute to work every day; a typical nuclear family. So many people forget their dreams. They forget that they wanted to go to space, or climb Mt. Everest, or go spelunking, or go skydiving. People forget what it was like to actually live their lives, and let their lives live them, if that makes sense.

We are told to do everything as unto the Lord. I don't know about you, but not living my life to the max doesn't sound very God-honoring. Seems like we're just taking the talents and gifts He's given to us, and just throwing them away. So my exhortation to you is to dream! It doesn't matter how crazy or stupid it might seem, just dream! Think of something you've always wanted to do, and do it! Better yet, think of what you want to do with your life, and do it! There is NO rule that says you have to have a boring job, or you have to stay in one place, or that you have to do anything! It's your life, so reach for those stars you've always dreamed about!

One last thought: The only limitation you have is in your head. You can go as far as you want. If you really have a dream, then start thinking about what it takes to reach that dream. Sometimes it helps to reverse-engineer something like this. Start at the dream, and think what will need to be accomplished right before that, and then right before those items, and so on, until you arrive at where you are. Lay it all out. Some dreams only take a little bit to accomplish. Some take longer. Some, could take you your entire life. Some you may never accomplish. But it's not so much reaching them, it's the journey you take to get to that point! It's life!

So go! Live your life! Go tether your feet to a rope, and jump off a bridge! Go randomly jump out of an airplane! Get a job you look forward too, and really enjoy! Drive across the country! Live your life the way God wanted you too!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Love of God: Chapter last, Acceptance

"Be happy! Just let yourself enjoy this evening." my friend Courtney exclaimed as we drove to the airport. "You get to see your best friends tonight and we get to hang out for two hours. Just enjoy it." What am I doing? I thought, I mean seriously! I should be bouncing off the walls at this point, but instead I'm feeling depressed. Why? In my heart I knew exactly why.

Over the last few weeks God had brought up many topics in my life that I needed to address. But now, the gaping wounds of my heart were pretty much healed, and my life at the present was wonderful. I had won so many victories, yet I didn't feel like rejoicing. I felt sick of myself, a typical "Who I Am Hates Who I've Been" moment. I didn't feel loved and I wasn't happy at all.

Courtney looked over at me from the driver's seat as I finished explaining why I felt the way I did. "Tes," she said, "I can't possibly say it any other way, I love you, all your little quirks included and I've told you that and demonstrated that." I turned my head and met my adopted sister's gaze. There was genuine care and love in that look. I felt as if God had come down and shined through her just to tell me He loved me. A memory of one of my oldest friends then surfaced. We were both learning how to play guitar, and I was tuning hers. She smiled at me and said in an announcer voice, "Tessa, the world famous guitarist." Reader, I could barely play a single chord, yet she had lifted me up and told me she believed in me. As my mind snapped back into reality, the love that both these girls had shown me, was enough to lift my heart from the rut it had strayed into. For the first time, I accepted the love God had given me in these girls. My heart instantly felt lighter and my mind was able to escape out of this "swamp of sadness" I had strayed into.

God tells us that He loves us all the time. He gave up His only son to DIE for us and every day He is trying to get our attention, and show us how much He cares. Yet, do we really believe Him? I realized last night that I didn't. I had heard Him say time and time again how much He loved me, quirks included. However, I had never really truly excepted that love for what it is. I had never opened my heart and let Him in. As He stood knocking on the door, I had only listened. BUT, when I finally decide to take the love He offered, and let Him hold my heart, the most amazing thing happened. Suddenly, the problems I faced didn't seem so big. The relationships I was in didn't seem so complex. And that night didn't seem so dark. I remember looking out the window and seeing all the wonderful stars. I glanced across the car at my friend and smiled. She was one star in my life. I thought of my friends that I was about to see at the airport, there were two more stars. My mom, my dad, my brother, my sisters, my brothers in-law, my team mates, my teachers, all my other friends, and on and on and on. I had many stars in my life. I just had never looked up and noticed them before.

I encourage you, especially if you are going through a hard season. Look up, see the stars in your life. They might not be huge, but they are stars non the less. And always, always remember, that no matter who you are, you will have a bright and shining moon, guiding your path through this trial. That moon is Jesus, and He will always be with you. You might not always be able to see Him, but He is there. So take heart brave knight. Your morning is coming. But for now, enjoy the stars and walk by faith. :)

Tessa :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lessons from a Race: Part 2: Perseverance: You CAN Do It!

So most of the aches and pains have gone away. But while the physical pains have gone away, the lessons to be learned from a race still remain.

Today's topic is perseverance. With the same verse as before, Hebrews 12, we again look at something specific Paul commanded us to do. He tells us to put aside "every weight." Let me draw your attention to the word every. What does this mean? I would say it means to put EVERYTHING in God's hands. Not just some things, or most things, but ALL things.

So in a race, one of the biggest things people complain about is that they "can't do it." Some people don't think they have the strength, some people don't think they have the patience, and some people are just plain scared of the idea of running a race. And I'll admit, when I first thought about it, the idea of running 10 kilometers, timed, with a bunch of my siblings running at the same time scared me. I honestly thought too myself: "10 kilometers? 6 whole miles? There isn't any way I'm doing that for fun!"

But then I thought about Paul. He wrote so many times about how the Christian faith was similar to running a race. So I thought I'd give it a try. It was while I was running that I was able to realize just how much can be learned, and how the lesson of perseverance can be applied.

Until you have run a longer race (that you can't sprint) you don't really understand the whole theory of perseverance. There is this thing called "the wall." This is where a runner is physically, mentally and emotionally ready to give up. They've gone as far as they can get, and they simply don't think they can take another step. So what happens?

The large majority of people will just stop. They hit the wall, and collapse, sometimes within sight of the finish line. Can you imagine what that would be like? To be within sight of the finish line, and then to give up? What if it was life? You go through life, really trying to serve God, and do His will, until the last month? And then you die? Can you imagine how horrible that would be?

The lesson for today is to keep going. Don't give up. For a little history intermission, we can travel back to World War II. Not many people realize it, but England was on the brink of defeat. They had lost almost all their equipment earlier after they evacuated Dunkirk, and the morale of all the troops was rapidly declining. Germany was outperforming them with machinery, airpower, manpower, and strategy. On top of that, they had designed the V-2, a rocket that required very little to do a great deal of damage.

The only thing that kept the English going was their high morale. Their perseverance. Just about any other nation would have caved under such attacks, and in fact, many of them did. But it wasn't until Hitler met Winston Churchill, the stubborn man who led England through it's darkest hour. But it was his determination, his willpower, and his strength that got England through. He simply wouldn't give up. Ever. There were times when he literally didn't have any options. All his planes were gone, London was ablaze, the hospitals were full, and more bombers were coming. Through it all, he was remembered for one thing:

"Never, never, never, never give in!"

This is what perseverance is. When everything around you is falling. Everyone has failed, and you are the last stand. And it's when you have failed, and you have been driven to your knees, that's when He can shine through you. When we are weakest, He is the strongest.

So today's post isn't so much about physical or emotional strength. It's more a mental thing. You have to go all the way, give it all up, and keep going. We are told that we can do ALL things through Christ. Again, that's not some things, or most things, that is ALL things! We just have to accept it, and have the perseverance to run the race, even if it means Him carrying us across the finish line.

I'm sorry if this seems a little vague and rambling, but I've just finished a most exhausting day of school. And believe me, it wasn't by any physical strength of my own that I made it through. It was completely by God's grace, and His unmerited favor and blessing that I was able to complete everything that was required of me. But in order to do that, I had to reach the wall. I came to a point where I just stopped, and He took over.

So it isn't so much about your fight, it's more just persevering through Christ. To never cease to trust Him. To never reach that wall where you just drop your faith. That is my prayer for all of you, and for me. That we would never lose sight of what is most important, especially when we are facing diverse trials.

Until next time, you can rest in the assurance that if you give your problems to Christ, He WILL take care of ALL of them! How awesome is that?


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lessons from a Race: Part 1: on your mark... get set.... GO!


So many people talk about it, some people try it, and even fewer people can actually do it correctly. Whole sports are dedicated to running, or a form of it, people obsess over it, and it has been used for so many different analogies... But how many people actually know about it?

Perhaps the greatest analogy we have is in some of Paul's letters in the New Testament. In his letter to the Hebrews, he talks about setting aside everything, and running the race which is before us. But perhaps the most important part about this verse is the word "patience."

I really understood exactly what Paul was talking about, and I gained some new insight into this verse. On Thursday, I decided to run a 10k, with a couple of my siblings. And if there was one thing I learned, it was patience. My instinct was to spurt ahead, pass everyone, and just run! And at first, that is exactly what I did. But then I remembered the other 9 kilometers. So I had to slow down, I had to pace myself, I had to have patience.

The importance of this can't be underestimated. Perhaps the biggest part of running or participating in anything is getting the timing correct. In your car, if the timing is off, your car either runs really horribly, or not at all. If your watch is messed up, then your whole day could be ruined.

I guess the root of what I am trying to communicate is timing. As an extension of patience, which is more waiting for the right time, I would say it also has to do with doing things when you are supposed too, and not waiting beyond that.

But what is so important about it? Why is timing such a big issue?

To understand this, there is a certain engineering principle that can be applied. It is called the Critical Path. The basic idea is you assign times to every task that is in the path until you reach your goal. You lay everything out, and the Critical Path is all the items that take the longest time, in their chronological order. Because those are important, you do everything you can to get them done on time, because if you take a week longer on the first one, then the entire project will finish a week later.

All that to say: Timing is very important. Everyone talks about it, but they don't ever really explain why... We are told to wait for things, or to hurry up, and get something over sooner. There is such emphasis placed on timing, and yet nobody really understands why...

So here's the one thing I would encourage everyone to do. Go run a race. You gain so much insight, and just the feeling of joy you feel when you come around that final turn... You just sprint to the end! You finish with a burst, everyone is cheering, and you just run!! But most of all, you can understand how life is a race. Sometimes we go fast, and sometimes we go slow. There are curves and bumps, but then there's long straight stretches. But it's really the final stretch that makes it all worthwhile. When we near the end of our life here on earth, everyone is gathered around us, and we have millions and billions of people, waiting to welcome us to our new home... Let's just hope we can all finish with a dash across the line!

Oh, and a word of advice, don't plan anything strenuous for the next few days... You'll be very stiff and sore, and won't be able to move very much... :P be continued......

~(a very stiff and sore) unclejoe

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Love of God: Chapter 6, Am I allowed to quit yet?

"Bah humbug!" I spluttered as my drink fell for the third time. My friend in the driver's seat turned to me. "Ok, what on earth is going on with you? God has to be telling you something, cause this is ridiculous." Again, Bah humbug, I thought.

Ok, today, was not the greatest day. I woke up with my jaw half locked and a sore throat. Exhausted, aggravated, and discouraged, having my friend bring up another problem was enough to make me want to scream.

"I quit." I replied to her. "I don't know what's going on, and I am just DONE." I wonder what God was thinking at that point, because to me, it seemed like He had no idea of how annoyed I was becoming. This last week has been a roller coaster ride. God had brought up some really big issues that I needed to deal with. I knew that I didn't have a lot of room for error, but I didn't know that God had lined up a week of tests for me. It's felt like everyday brings a new problem that is getting between God and me. I've had to play snow plow and push those things out of the way and I was officially dead.

As I vented my frustration and the reasons behind it to my friend, an idea began to form in my mind. I had tried to be superman, and realized that I wasn't.

How many of you have ever felt this way? You try and you try and YOU TRY. But no matter what you do, you never seem to win. There is a reason you feel this way. It's because without God, you aren't winning. In fact, you are losing. We are not capable of being God. Not even close. As teens, we seem to believe that we have the only real answers to our questions. We think that our parents don't (or won't) understand us, our elders are unable to see things from our perspective and anyone old enough to try to be a mentor doesn't really have our best interests at heart. So, we go to ourselves, our little group of peers. Alright guys, whether this group consists of good Christian friends, people who don't really care about God, or whoever, these people are dangerous to keep as your counsel. As teens, our brains are not fully developed. Literally, until you are 25, the part of your brain that deals with having good judgement is NOT EVEN DEVELOPED. We should not be looking to each other for guidance. We should be looking to God, and those He has placed in our lives to help us. And that's what I had to realize today. I had extended every fiber of my being to fix myself, and ended up drained. Basically my lesson from today could be summed up in a quote from an old play called High Tops, "We don't have to clean up ourselves to go to God, that's His job."

And y'all, I understand that is hard to do sometimes. We don't like the idea of having our lives in someone else's hands. But in the end, the safest place to be, is in God. And when we give our problems to Him, it's a beautiful thing. We can feel free to address the issues in ourselves because we know God is there to help us. We can take risks and do things that we never though possible when God calls us to them. So let God take the wheel of your life and see where He steers you. You never know what can happen with a little faith. :)

Sincerely praying for you all,
Tessa :)

P.S. Here is a poem that I wrote during another time of learning to trust, thought you all might like it, :) Praise God for His mercy right?

Am I allowed to quit now?
Am I allowed to back out?
Am I allowed to stand down?
and get away

My life is a crazy mess
I feel like such a wreck
I need to take a sec
ad get away!

Why is life like this?
A nutty insane asylum
where we're all running in the thick

I know I'm here
For a reason and not just in a random fray
I just need to kick this fear
and get away

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Names of God- Ch.1 Part 1- Elohim

Imagine you and I are meeting for the first time. Someone introduces us, and I say, "Hi, I'm Anna." And you reply, "Good to meet you, I'm Leah (or Justin... or Edween). One of the first things that you and I ever learn about one another when we are introduced is our first names.

What, then, do we learn about God when we first meet Him in Scripture? Does God have a first name?

Perhaps not. But He does have a name that was used first. The very first time you and I meet God in the pages of the Bible, we are introduced to Him by name. And His name, in the Hebrew language, is Elohim.

In the beginning God
[Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:1

Elohim is the name for God, as Creator, in this most foundational passage. It is also the primary word translated "God" throughout the pages of the Old Testament.

But what is that to us? How can the name Elohim serve as a strong tower to us? How can we hide in its depths from the savage storms that sweep into our lives? How does learning this "first name" of God bring us the kind of security and comfort and hope our hearts long for?

Learning who God is by name is the answer to every situation in life. When we know His names, we begin to grapple with His power, His purpose, and His incomparable love.

What does it mean, then, for you and me to encounter Elohim in that first sentence of our Bibles? El means "mighty" or "strong" and is used for any reference to gods, including Almighty God. The him ending of Elohim is very significant, for it is a plural ending in the Hebrew that indicates more than one. Genesis 1:1 could accurately be translated, "In the beginning Gods created the heavens and the earth." More than one God? No.

"The LORD [Jehovah] is our God [Elohim], the LORD is one!" (Deuteronomy 6:4). God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit- the blessed Trinity- created the heavens and the earth. One is essence, in character, yet three persons united as one. As you read various scriptures, you can see references to the different persons of the Godhead participating in the word of creation.

In Genesis 1:2-3 we read:

The Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.

God spoke, the Spirit moved, and Colossians 1:16 tells us that in Him, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, "all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth."

Each person of the triune Godhead had a part in creation. And it was no different when God scooped up the soil of His new world to form the first man. Genesis 1:26 tells us, "Then God [Elohim] said, 'Let Us make man in Our image.'" The "Our" has to refer to more than one! God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were involved in creation. Your creation.

Don't skip past that thought. Go back, read it again, and take a moment to think about it.

God is your creator.

You exist because of God.

You are the unique and distinctive handiwork of Elohim.

Yes, He created the heavens and the earth. He formed the swirling galaxies and the blazing stars and the orbiting planets, and all the life that swarms across the face of our world or swims in the great seas. But He also formed you. Specifically. Individually. Thoughtfully. Carefully. Precisely the way you are.

So then-
-if you've ever struggled with your self image...
-if you've ever wept over your family of origin...
-if you've ever bitterly resented who your mother was, or who your father was...
-if you've ever agonized over your reflection in the mirror, or with your physical limitations... the name of Elohim is your strong tower and unshakable refuge. When you learn to boast in your Elohim, no matter what, life will change!

To be continued...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How Easy..... And Yet How Hard...

Life takes many exciting turns. Sometimes it jumps with leaps and bounds, keeping us on the edge of our seat, and then other times, it meanders along, peacefully taking each gentle curve. One of my favorite set of paintings is called 'The Voyage of Life', by Thomas Cole. It's housed in the National Gallery of Art, in Washington D.C., and he does an amazing job of representing what life is like. You can view all four of them here:

If you are like me, you have started the transition from the carefree life, portrayed in the "Youth" stage, to dealing with the trials of life, and actually working through everything, as portrayed in "Manhood." You have some of the worries of the second, but you still have that optimism from the first. Right about now is when we have the most dreams and ambitions for the future, and when most of those are usually crushed.

So what do we do about this? How do we maintain that optimism, that bright spirit, while still facing the real world? Is it even possible?

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the world tells teens to not care. Live life for the eight years they are in high-school and college, and then after that, settle down to a job they will probably hate, a house with a mortgage, a wife we'll probably end up divorcing, and kids who will grow up, only counting the days until they turn 18. This is what the world wants to tell us about life, and how we are supposed to live it.

Fail. Epic fail.

So here's a thought: What if you had a job you actually looked forward too? Just to pick on one of those illusions of life. Some people say I'm weird, but I wake up in the morning, and I am happy to go to work! I truly enjoy my labors, and I look forward with great anticipation to being able to serve people! I see that as one way God has given me to use my talents and abilities, and I am able to glorify Him through the use of those said talents and abilities!

So here is just something to think about. Instead of dreading whatever you dread, whether it be school, or work, or exercising, or whatever! Instead of groaning, complaining, dreading, and postponing that said thing, look forward too it! Anticipate it with great joy! Think of that one thing as your way to glorify God! This is your purpose in life, to do ALL things as unto God, and He will bless you. In fact, He'll not only bless you, but He'll use those things you were dreading, and use them for His glory! How cool is that?

So now you have something a little bit more applicable... Now go do it!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Accepting the Invite (A Post From Our Girl Overseas)

Hebrews 4:16 (Amplified Version)

You should know the drill.
Grab your Bible. Bring up a fresh tab on your computer.
Check the verse.

In your hands is something very special. No-I am not referring to the laptop or iphone ;) The verse- look at it like a coveted prize or reward. You normally don’t have to win a prize-it just randomly is dropped in your lap when you least expect it, or don’t dare hope you could have it, or can’t imagine deserving it. Its like that. Face it- you don’t deserve the contents of that verse. Neither do I.

So….we don’t deserve it, we don’t expect it, and you- be real here- you honestly can’t fathom it right now. This verse is an invite. And its Christ’s personalized invite to each of us-His Followers! You- yeah, you there! YOU: are so loved! You are a treasure trove of His gifting. You are chosen and set apart, and designed to glorify Christ through fulfilling your calling! Don’t allow the Enemy to bruise your talents with his lies. Don’t let him reap your reward-or sneak away that invite. ‘Cause-I’m telling ya: he sure will try. YOU are irreplaceable to Christ. Don’t underestimate yourself. And look at this invite He’s just laid in your lap!

Face up- Its time to get real. Try to soak that verse in: You are entitled to come FEARELESSLY, BOLDLY, CONFIDENTLY to the very THRONE of GOD and ask for mercy and grace. And your assured of receiving them in your exact time of need. That is something powerful. I don’t know about you: but that is hardcore-and should rock the rest of your day. I’m trying not to sound like some sales person-I am not selling this: I was just so thrilled when I took in the enormity of this verse: I had to share it with you.

So now I challenge you to do the same. Take it in. Accept the invite. Share with a friend who needs to take it in too. You’ll be glad you did. And then…again….run with it.

Run with that promise.
Others will see, and ask, and also take it in.
Don’t ignore the invite.
Don’t doubt it.
Its real.

Running with it too,
Blessings, (Jakarta, Indonesia)


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Love of God: Chapter 5, What happens when you take your eyes off......

"I'm throwing myself at her! Doesn't she realize that I need help!!!???" I screamed into the air of the winter night. Frustrated, hurt, tired of being alone, and most of all, tired of pain. I had cried myself to sleep the night before, and was feeling far from secure in myself or my standing with God. My friends weren't helping either, no matter how loud my actions were, they seemingly weren't interested in helping me come up with a solution to my problem. My whole spirit seemed shut off. I could barely hear God, goodness, I could barely hear myself.

As I sat there on that cold balcony my spirits were at an all time low. Then, like a still small voice the answer I was seeking came to me. I had taken my eyes off love and put them on myself. With a little thought and help from the Holy Spirit, all the pieces fell into place. I had become snappish and angry, and unusually stressed. "Well DUH!!!" I wanted to shout. When you take your eyes off God, you also take your heart away from God too. Instead of living to please God, you live to fill your heart holes. What are heart holes? Spots in your heart that only God can fill. A lot of times we think people can fill these holes. So we grab them by the hair and attempt to stuff them into the mold. As you can imagine, all this results in is two tired people with broken hearts. And y'all I'm not just talking about dating relationships, or friendships with the opposite sex. I had and still have, several gal pals who I enjoy looking to as God. After all, they will listen to me, they're my friends. They will cry with me, give me advice and maybe even give me worship. Hey! They just might give me all I need. Catch the phrase that proves this equation false? "Maybe even give me worship."

In His word, the Lord says "worship the Lord your God and serve Him only." - Matthew 4:10. When we worship other people (aka giving them too much of our time, always trying to make them happy, thinking that their opinion is all that matters and they define us, etc.) we take from God what is rightfully His. He has done all the work here, He was the one who died on that cross, and more
importantly, HE CREATED US. Why do we spend so much time basking in the glow of the creature, instead of the creator? Here's another question to chew on. How many times do we fight for the spotlight?.................

I asked myself that question and was brought to the painful conclusion that I fought, a lot. But thankfully, along with that answer, came grace. God understands that I'm still learning, He's not expecting a perfect person. Just an apprentice, willing to learn. I needed to turn my eyes back on Love. Back on God. Back on the reason I became a Jesus Freak. I'll let you guys know what happens next. ;)

Having an eye adjustment,
Tess :)

P.S. Want to check out more about worship and what God says about it? Check out these verses. Pretty powerful.

Peace out y'all! :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Power of Love

Lately, I've been doing a lot of what I, and anybody who does management, calls "big picture" thinking. Lately, I've been tending not to be so practical, but more overarching, with broad thoughts, and trying to get the spirit of whatever it is rather than what I need to do in the next few minutes or hours.

I think I'll continue in that tradition, with yet another broad "big picture" post. This time, it's about love. Love, kindness, giving, showing graciousness to people around you, and smiling.

The main idea is this: There are so many things that make us happy. But it seems like there are even more things that make us unhappy. we are constantly looking for things that are wrong, always wishing for things to be different, constantly striving for that "one thing" that will make us really happy.

But more than this, not only do we usually spend most of our lives unhappy, but we allow it to affect how we relate with other people. Think about it: How often have you assumed someone is just unhappy? Did you ever stop to think about what that person might be going through? Or do you just loath meeting or dealing with them? I know I very often forget to think about it, and allow my opinion of their general mood to determine how I interact with them.

The basic idea for today is this: With so many people unhappy, and so much hate in the world today, what if you just loved unconditionally? No matter what they do too you, if you just keep loving them, no matter what their attitude, their position in life, the type of car they drive, anything. Just put aside any judgement or characterization you might make of them, and just really appreciate and love them for who they are?

Just how much change could we affect? Just how powerful would it be if everyone thought positive thoughts?

I'll leave you with one final thought. Life is too short to spend unhappily. In the grand scheme of things, we are only here for a short while. Do we really want to leave behind a legacy of unhappiness and hate? Is that really how we want to be remembered?

So next time you're out and about, in your daily life, just try loving instead of hating. Try blessing instead of cursing. Life is short, so live it well. You only get one chance.


Friday, November 12, 2010

The Love of God: Chapter 4, Encouragement

Ever have one of those days where you just want to die? Your exhausted with your fight against yourself, against the devil and against the world. Had one of those this week, :p God had been so good and gave me an incredible revelation that I hope to share with you soon! But Satan, with his usual (and annoying) swiftness, swooped in soon after and tried with all his might to steal my joy.

Here is part of an entry from my journal, "Well, a day of fight, joy. :p Yea, I'm really happy and so excited about his revelation, but there is still the fight against myself."

The devil had brought me pretty low, I'm sure you know how it feels. You feel sapped of joy. You know it should be there,'s not. At this point I picked up my Bible, sure that I was going to read some scripture about how I should be addressing my faults and stop being so, so, whatever. Now y'all don't get me wrong here, we are here on this earth to draw closer to God, and that means getting out junk out. But sometimes we misjudge God and think that all He is ever going to say it "You're wrong." That is what I was thinking at this point. To my UTTER surprise however, I turned to Psalms 27:6, which says, "And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of joy. I will sing, yea I will sing praised unto the Lord."

Needless to say, I was shocked, my jaw dropped and tears sprang to my eyes. God did care. He realized that I was trying hard to become like Him and He valued that. He loved me and understood my pain and frustration. Here is another verse He gave me that night that I would love to share with you, especially if you are feeling this way right now. It's Lamentations 3:22, I encourage you to look it up in your own Bible and read it with me. Let the power of God's love for you and the message of deep concern for you embedded in this verse seep into your every fiber. Let it flow through you. Believe it. "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail." Wow, if Satan ever tells you that God doesn't care, throw this verse back in his face.

Y'all, you are powerful, and wonderful because of Jesus Christ, it's not a joke, it's the TRUTH. But it's only real, if you believe it. God can say it to you every day of your life, but if you don't believe it in your heart, it means nothing. It's just empty words on a page. But if you do believe it, if you do accept it, the love of Christ can be the most powerful weapon you could ever wield against the enemy. His hosts tremble at the very sight of it, and Satan himself will one day be eliminated by it. The love of Christ ladies and gentlemen, can change you lives forever. God loves you, really truly, loves you.

I'de thought I'de show the rest of the journal entry to let you know how my night ended. "God is there though, and He will 'lift my head above my enemies. Then I will offer up sacrifices of joy! I will sing; yea I will sing praises unto the Lord!' I pray God gives my strength to go through this winter. I know You (God) have a purpose for me here in winter."

You too my friend have a purpose here in the winter your going through. God is good! Believe it people! Don't ever doubt that He loves you and always has your best interest in mind. I hope you've been encouraged. :)

God loves you!!!!!! Always praying for you all, :)
Tess :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Challenge for the week... Or month... Or year...

I don't know about y'all, but right about now, I usually start to get discouraged and depressed. The semester is starting to drag on... Work is fun, but you wish it would alter from it's predictability sometimes. Deadlines come, they go. All around us, nature is doing her work, and all the trees are losing their leaves, or are about too...

Everything just seems to slow down, and life seems to hang in the balance. As the year draws to a close, you gain a more objective view of life in general. You get to review everything you've done, the goals you set, victories, and accomplishments over the past 10 months.

Maybe it's me, but it seems like everyone usually ends up focusing on what they didn't do. Instead of a review of what you've accomplished, it becomes a rememberation of everything you still haven't done, that you need to do, or you wanted to do. If you are like me, you begin to think about everything that has gone wrong, everything that has separated you, everything that didn't go exactly as you planned. And in the end, you get really depressed. You become really sad.

Well, if you feel this way at all, I've got two verses for you:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
~Jeremiah 29:11
"Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."
~Psalm 42:5

So, what will these two verses tell us? There are two main things we can learn:
1) We are completely and utterly out-of-control. In fact, David takes it as an assumption. He doesn't ask IF our soul is downcast, he asks why. He is assuming that we are depressed, and is basically saying, why???
2) For as much as we are out-of-control, God IS in control. For every doubt we have, for every misgiving we have, God knows exactly what is going on. Not only that, but He goes as far to ensure that the hairs on our head are numbered!

As teens living in the world, we are surrounded by examples of the very opposite emotions God expects us to have. Some of the biggest examples come from Hollywood. With movies like the Twilight series, and a culture obsessed with "emo," few people realize just how much they allow their emotions to control them. Not so much their emotions, but how they view their emotions, the attitudes they develop, and the choices they make. I'll admit, I've allowed myself to taken captive too.

So how do we (this includes me too) break free of the twisted emotion mindset that the world keeps trying to push on us? The answer is so simple, and yet so hard.

Just depend on God.

That's really all there is too it. It seems so easy, and yet it is so hard. By trusting in God, we can know that we don't have a care in the world. We really do have everything to gain, and nothing to lose! And when you are constantly thinking about what an awesome God we have, how can you not be happy? How can you not jump up and down for joy? How can you not rejoice in His amazing creation?

So now, instead of being depressed by the falling leaves around you, marvel at how God has created such an amazing system! Think about everything you have done this year, and all the goals you DID manage to get accomplished. But also start thinking about next year. Learn from your mistakes, try to move on, and most importantly, remember, God is in control!!

And if you are like me, and are easily amused, then go walk on some crunchy fall leaves. That always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside...


The Names of God- Introduction Part 2

David wrote:

Some boast in chariots, and some in horses;
but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.
Psalm 20:7

In Old Testament days, chariots and horses were two means of protection and escape. Today our chariots and horses come with different labels, shapes, and forms. Even so, they are still a visible means of help, escape, or protection. Yet are these really a source of safety? No.

The horse is prepared against the day of battle:
but safety is of the LORD.
Proverbs 21:31

Why don't we turn to Him? Why do we hesitate to run into the arms of our all-sufficient God? Why is it that many collapse in the day of trouble and testing? Why are they immobilized rather than taking an aggressive stand in the face of fear?

I think it's because most of us don't really know our God. We don't understand His great power and might. We don't comprehend His fierce love and unspeakable tenderness. And because we don't know Him as we should, we can't boast in the name of our God.

What do I mean when I say, "Boast in the name of our God"? To boast in means to have confidence in, to trust in. To boast in God's name means to have confidence in His name. To know His name means to know Him. To boast in His name is to have a settled confidence in everything that He is!

In the day of trouble or need, we are to run to our God, to put the full weight of our trust in Him. That is why He says,

"Call upon me in the day of trouble:
I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me."
Psalm 50:15

Is your heart troubled? Is fear lurking in the shadows of your consciousness? Do you feel insecure about anything at all? I believe that every problem in our lives can be traced back to an inadequate or incorrect knowledge of God, or a lack of faith and trust in His person and His ways. We know so little of this wonderful God who loves us! In the next few posts, as we explore His Word together, ask Him to show you one of His names that will meet your need.

Then, when He shows you (and He will), tell Him that you will boast in that name!

With that kind of boasting, God is well pleased.


A promise of Love: A post from our girl overseas

Ephesians 3:16-20 (Amplified Version.)


Go read it.

Com’n, right now- it doesn’t take that long people: just google it or bring it up on Bible Gateway or something. I just need you to read this verse for yourself.

Hold it.

Read it again. Soak it in- immerse yourself in its meaning, ask yourself questions about what it truly means…and what God wants it to mean to you personally. It meant something different for me-as it will for you!

The day I flipped to that particular scripture-I was having a rough day. Like: one of those, “cry-every-few-minutes” kind. I have those far and few between-but this was different. I needed the essence of that verse. I felt dry and cracked up inside-and all I wanted was to find some sort of acceptance or praise from somebody-but nothing was filling the gap. I needed Him.

Especially as teens: we focus WAY too much on grapeling with our own self esteem. We look to our friends, our parents, our teachers and pretty much anybody else but God. And there IS a point where we become so dry inside for a promise of love that we can’t take it anymore.

But in this verse, it not only is a promise of His love…Oh no, it goes beyond that. It is a “Blessing” to us…to not only experience that Love-but that others may come to know and desire that Love through watching us. THAT is powerful. Not only powerful-but world changing. This verse isn’t just some ‘encouragement for a sec’ guys. It’s a promise and a blessing. But you need to claim it for your own. So take that verse…In faith: accept it…rebuke the enemy for stealing it…receive the promise, and take it to heart…

Others watch and see… and will be astonished at the Love of Christ flowing through you. And they will ask. And know. And also receive.

And run with it too…



(Written here in Jakarta, Indonesia)

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Names of God- Introduction Part 1

Currently, I'm researching and studying the names of God. Time and time again I am awestruck at the sheer amazingness of their significance and meaning. I want to share what I'm learning with you all, and I hope you get as many goosebumps as me. :)

Where do you run in time of need?
Where do you run when the predators of trouble, worry, and fear pursue you?
Where do you hide when your past pursues you like a relentless wolf, seeking your destruction?
Where do you seek protection when the weasels of temptation, corruption, and evil threaten to overtake you?
Where do you turn when your energy is spent... when weakness saps you and you feel you cannot run away any longer?

Do you turn to your protector, the One who stands with arms open wide, waiting for you to come and huddle in the security of all He is?

The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous runs into it and is safe.
Proverbs 18:10

Is the Lord your great tower? Is His name your strong fortress in a time of weariness or attack or great distress?

But how, you ask, could His name defend me? In biblical times, a name represented a person's character. God's name represents His attributes, His nature. His name is a statement of who He is. And He has many names! Each reveals something of His power and love and purposes toward you.

The Father longs to have you know Him better, that you might "trust in the name of the LORD and rely" on your God (Isaiah 50:10).

Did you know that this was uppermost in the mind and heart of Jesus as He faced the Cross? Just before He went to Calvary, He prayed for His disciples- and looking down through the centuries, He prayed for you and me, too. His deep desire was that "they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

This was the burning goal of Paul's life and the cry of his heart, "That I may know Him" (Philippians 3:10).

Knowing your God means everything. Everything.
It's the difference between victory and defeat.
It's the difference between rest and constant turmoil.
It's the difference between an abundant, overflowing life and a life of barren emptiness.
It's the difference between deliverance and captivity.
It's the difference between finding a refuge and living as a fugitive.
It's the difference between life and death.
It's the difference between heaven and hell.

To be continued...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thoughts...On the Meaning of Life

Lately, I’ve really been thinking about the meaning of life. Well, not so much the meaning of life, but who we are, and what we should be doing, in the short-, mid-, and long-term. The main question I have been pondering lately is this: What specifically separates humans from say, monkeys? Obviously, many people just say we are above them, because we can reason, we can think, we have the ability for cognitive reasoning, and so on. With new discoveries every day in the scientific world, the general accepted idea currently is that we (humans) are no better than monkeys, mice, rats, or even a lowly amoeba.

So the question is raised: If we, as Christians, are going to say that we aren’t evolved from primordial slime, what does separate us? What makes us so unique?

This is a new idea, and I am still not sure exactly how true this might be, but I think I might have the answer. I’ve really been thinking about this quite a bit, and there is a whole story behind it.

Last year, I wrote a book. The main character, a computer, has the dream of becoming a human. After a series of events, she eventually does. However, I reached a conundrum. What does separate a human from say, an android? Or in this case, she became a human, but was she a full human, with every single ability and talent as a human? Obviously, I want to put a Godly message in everything, so what is the difference between us and a really smart computer? Can a computer even be smart? What is our special, inherent ability?

I would say it is innovation. It is the ability to create, to think outside the box, to develop, to introduce. Beyond just innovation, I have also been wondering how we are to use our innovation. We have the ability to think outside the box, and if we want, even think the box out of existence! If you accept the fact that we have the ability to create new ideas, to think outside the box, what are we supposed to do with this? To what end should we be using our physical bodies, and our mental capacities?

To God’s Glory.

We are to do everything to the glory of God. Everything we do should be as unto the Lord. Whether we are taking the trash out in the rain, or cleaning the gutters, or cooking over a hot stove, or anything we do, we should be doing it as unto the Lord. Regardless of whether we like it or not, we should be doing it with all our heart, and to the fullest of our extents.

So, the next time you have an idea, think about how you might be able to use it to the fullest extents. In everything you do, do it to His glory, and remember, ideas are good! Every idea you have is a gift from God! So go out there and innovate the world!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Love of God: Chapter 3

"Push it out!!!" My tv trainer screamed at me. "Ha, yea right, you don't know what I'm feeling," I retorted in thought.

Recently my mom and I began working out together for fun/I-can't-breath-very-well-so-I-should-probably-workout-my-body. Even though I ice skate and do a couple other sports for pleasure I realized that I was waaaayyy out of shape. After the first day my body was screaming at me. Today after I finished working out God gave me a revelation.

Sometimes He pushes us to places we don't want to go. Whether that's a missions trip, a full-day 24/7 schedule, a break from friends, whatever. We don't like it and we usually let God know it, kind of like me and my trainer. But, also like my trainer, God doesn't stop when the going gets tough. He will often push us past the point we think we can go. Why does God do this? For one simple reason, He wants us to quit. Now don't loose me here, God wants you to give up trying on your own. He wants you to rely on Him, not on yourself. If your like me, you probably enter a hard time with a little (ok, a lot) of pride strapped to your back. You feel in control, and you like that feeling. It's easy to stay in that position. But as I said in my last post, God doesn't want us taking the blue pill, He wants us to step outside our "comfort" zone and take the red pill.

Now if this is all relating to you, that's not a bad thing. Just like working out, moving out of the easy lane is helpful and builds out bodies both physically and spiritually. Another thing, as you go through this time you are probably going to accumulate a lot of anger at God. GET THAT OUT. God understands what your going through. God doesn't get offended, He forgives you, and the WORST thing you can do is let that anger bottle up inside you. Give that anger to God. You can scream into a pillow, cry it out, work out (one friend of mine plays football to get it out), sing at the top of your lungs (my favorite way) or whatever other way God gives you that OBVIOUSLY doesn't involve hurting someone or yourself! NOT ALLOWED!!! God wants you to push though this last chance work out. Cause guys, it literally is our last chance. We are living in the end times. It's not a joke, it's the word of God. We need to be prepared to meet Him when He comes! So trust God through this hard time, God is trying to be your trainer and help you. He only does it because He loves you. You can make it, God says you can and I believe you can.

Well, back to the gym, :) Blessings and prayers go with you all!
Tess :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ephesians 2:9-10

So i was in the dressing room while i was shopping the other day and a song came on that i knew and loved, so of course i started singing it. a lady came out of her stall thingy and told me that i had a beautiful voice. i said "thank you" but it got me thinking...

Its easy to take compliments and not think about it. but honestly, nothing we have comes from us or anything we have done. in Ephesians 2:9-10 it ways "Not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

Now the "not of good works, lest anyone should boast." part is saying that we have don't nothing to acquire anything we have, whether it is looks, talents, qualities, or a position you are in, it all comes from God.

My mom told me a story once about her friend from when she was younger. she met her friend again a couple months ago and her friend was telling/bragging about how she had started as an intern in this company and worked herself up to where she was the co-manager or something. now that is pretty impressive but she was telling it like she had done it all on her own, but quite simply, it was only by God's grace that she was where she was.

The last part of the verse says "which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." when God created us he gave us each a unique group of talents with a special purpose in mind. he gave them to us so we could use them for His glory, for His righteousness, but unfortunately that is not always what happens.

So in conclusion, its easy to get all cocky about ourselves but always remember that its all from God. keep asking God to help you use them for His glory. there is my rather long piece of wisdom for the day...

Miss. Bailey

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lessons from a wee one...

Today is my nephew Mikey's birthday! And because it's his birthday, I'm gonna share something related to him...

So a few weeks ago, my family took a trip up too Cape Cod for one of our friend's wedding. It worked out so that my sister, her husband and their two kids, (my nephews) rode up in the van with us. I had the amazing privilege to have nephew number 2, Mikey, sitting next too me the entire way up and back. It was during this time that Mikey, my now one-year-old nephew taught me a little bit about life and how to trust someone.

The main lesson he taught me was how to trust properly. His personality is such that if he has the few things he likes, he is very happy. In fact, he is so happy you would think he had just eaten an entire cookie bowl. I'm still not sure what it was though, but something about the 11 hour car ride seemed to bother him a bit. He seemed slightly scared about the whole experience, especially for such a long duration.

His solution?

Grab my hand. Seriously. That's all it took. So for probably 80% of the trip, I was holding my nephew's hand, and making sure he knew he was safe and secure. It was because of this that he knew he could sleep in peace, and he didn't have to worry. Every so often, I would put my hand back in my lap, and usually no more than 30 minutes later, he would wake up, start clawing on my shoulder, and continue to do so until he had my hand again.

It was while all this was happening that I thought of how we are with God. All it took was to let Mikey hold my hand, and he would just look up at me, giving me the most adorable smile ever. As I sat there holding his hand, I thought too myself, "Why don't I have someone to hold my hand?" But then I thought, "wait a minute, I do!"

Isn't it amazing that we do have someone we can just grab hold of, and know that everything will be okay? We can have trust to know that He is so much bigger than us, and will protect us if anything goes wrong. He'll clean up after us, He'll insure that we have food to eat, and He'll make sure we have everything we need to sleep. In short, He can be everything I was to my little nephew. Mikey knew that as long as he was holding on too me, he was safe, and in the same way, I know I am safe as long as I just hold onto God's hand.

So that is the main lesson that my nephew has been teaching me. Trust. To give everything up too the Lord. To know that I can just depend on Him, and place all my troubles and problems in His care, and He'll take care of them better than I can. He'll clothe and feed me, give me a place to lie my head, and make sure I have a shelter. But more than that, He made sure that I have eternal life. He went above and beyond the call of duty, and insured that I had everything I would ever need.

I have someone to hold my hand.

Do you?

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Love of God: Chapter 2

"Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth."
"What truth?"
"There is no spoon."
"There is no spoon?"
"Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself."
- The Matrix

I recently had the distinct pleasure of watching the incredible movie The Matrix. Now, I am able to understand and love science, so this movie blew me away. However, God brought along with it a really interesting idea.

Before I watched the movie, my dad asked me the famous question, "will you take the red pill or the blue pill?" Sometimes we put so much trust and energy into this world, our "Matrix". We put on masks, we play parts, we make people happy (teachers, parents, friends, siblings) and at some point (only you know when ;)) you go to sleep only to wake up the next day to do it again. It's hard to break this pattern, but taking the red pill is exactly what God calls us to do. His word says that we are not of this world, we were created to serve Him in His kingdom.

Sometimes God has to tear us out of our own little world in order to see what is really important.

My friends are probably the most important thing in my life besides my faith. Sadly though, I still struggle with putting God first. At one point in my life I had a friendship that consumed my entire life. This girl was everything I wanted to be, pretty, admired, talented, and confident. I swiftly let go of God and set this friend on top of the throne of my heart. Eventually God broke up our friendship and my 12 year old heart was devastated. I was just feeling cool, feeling worth loving and now it had all collapsed. Yet through all the pain, God led me to the place where He was all that matters, and all I wanted was Him.

Maybe your going through a time like this, you feel like quitting and don't understand what God is doing. Keep holding on. God will come. He loves you and He is strongest when we are weakest. "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might," Eph 6:10. Even if you don't understand, keep seeking God. This rough patch might just be God's way of saying I love you.

Always praying,
Tess :)

Here is a song I wrote once that I felt I should share, hope you find God in it,

I told You that rain was all I could see
You told me that You were right in front of me
I told You I was crying myself to sleep
You said to let go and accept Your peace

You taught me to cling to You
and I learned to love this truth

That even when the mountains are falling down on me, you're still good,
Even when the dark is creeping into my soul, you're still there,
And even when I don't understand why you do the things you do, you're still God and I'm still here………..
in Your arms.

You say to start here and trust that you know best
I say that this is crazy and I'm just one big mess
You say to jump and believe Your word
You're breaking my heart but somehow I'll learn

That even when the mountains are falling down on me, You're still good,
Even when the dark is creeping into my soul, You're still there,
And even when I don't understand why You do the things You do, You're still God
and I'm still here……..
in Your arms

In Your arms the rain is outside my window
In Your arms I can see rainbows in the distance
And even though I don't understand why You do the things You do
You're still God and I'm still here

And even when the mountains are falling down on me, You're still good,
Even when the dark is creeping into my soul, you're still there,
And even when I don't understand why You do the things You do, You're still God
and I'm still here……..

and I'm still here………

In Your arms

Enjoy Life ~the way it was meant to be enjoyed!

Ok, here are some random thoughts I've been thinking about.... This is kinda the stage I'm at right now, so I could really use prayer in what I'm sharing... :)

Life can be mundane, so we think. We sometimes compare our lives to those around us those who you would think are "enjoying life" right now... with worldly things that only bring enjoyment for the present.

Who says that we can't enjoy life??.... I read once that an observer of the Christian faith said "You Christians seem to have a religion that makes you miserable. You are like a man with a headache. He does not want to get rid of his head, but it hurts to keep him to keep it. You cannot expect outsiders to seek very earnestly for anything so uncomfortable." This really made me think... sometimes in my Christian walk I struggle so much between what I know I should do, and what I want to do.... it makes me very unhappy. It doesn't have to be this way!

But I serve a God who is faithful who cannot and will not let me go! He is every moment teaching me to grow in His grace. I am learning that I must live a life of continual surrender... until everything, in my physical and spiritual life is His. If I am a lump of clay given to the potter, how else can the potter work with the clay unless it stops asking questions, arguing, and struggling against the will of the potter? To let him work in my life I must have complete trust and faith in Him.

We, in Christ are the only ones who can enjoy life to the fullest! You and I were made to live life to the utmost it could be, What could bring more fullfillment than having a reason to live.

Life is a vapor, enjoy it to the fullest! We have this moment, not the next, God gave us today, but only He knows what tomorrow holds for us.

How to enjoy life (the real way)

  • Purpose to love and seek God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12.30, Luke10.27, Matt. 6.33) 
  • Surrender COMPLETELY! Trust and have faith in Him, for the present and the future. 
  • We were made in the image of God to glorify Him, Build everything around God make Him the reason why you live 

Live for His glory! and Remember He Loves you!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Love of God: Chapter 1

The love of God. How many of us actually take a minute and think about what that really means? Sure we've heard it said a million times in church and youth group, but do we really, really know what it means? Over the next week or so, I'll post about the different parts of God's love I've encountered, and hopefully He will reveal to you what His love means too. :)

Most of you remember the old story from Sunday School about Jesus telling Peter to go fishing and the first fish he caught would have a 4-drachma coin. He told Peter to take this coin and give it to the tax collectors for His tax and Peter's.

God directed me to this passage today. But instead of the usual passage I was given the verses before it. Here is what I read in Matthew 17: 25-26, 25 "When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and tax-from their own sons or from others?" 26 "From others," Peter answered. "Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. Then it hit me like a brick what Jesus meant by this statement. He was trying to show Peter that sons of God (the ultimate king) are exempt as well from the taxes or death we deserve, through forgiveness.

Sometimes it's so hard to believe that. There are many days where I feel like quitting. "God can possibly care anymore, I've screwed up WAY too many times," I whisper to myself. But God still considers us His loved ones and keeps forgiving us, no matter what we do or where we go. God says in His word, "Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God." That means NOTHING!!!! Not what you've done in your past, not what your doing right now, not what your afraid you will do. Nothing can separate you from His love. No matter what your faults are, He can and will cover them with His cleansing blood and with His forgiveness. Just ask Him. That's all He wants is a willing heart. He doesn't want a perfect person, He just wants your love. :)

So next time the enemy pulls you down and tells you that God can't possibly love you, remember the story of the 4-drachma coin, and remember that You are covered with His forgiveness. :)

Blessings! and always praying for your walk with God,
Tess :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

The pull of LIFE

Life. When I think of it, I usually think of the game. You go around the board a bunch of times, try to keep your finances balanced, get married, have kids, graduate them, and then die.

Pretty depressing, no? Is that all there is to life? Are we really just going around a board, in the hopes of beating the other guy? Is everything we do just to get ahead of someone sitting across from us?

I would argue we are here for a purpose. I would argue everything we do has a purpose, no matter how small. Some end goal, something we are all striving for. But what is it? Some people say it is reincarnation. For some, it is to better the world. Still others think they will be nothing but dust, and their death will give a new baby life.

Paul, in many of his letters, compared the Christian faith to running a race. We are running the race. It isn't a circular race, but more like a marathon. It has it's ups and downs, twists and turns, roundabouts and yes, a finish line. However, unlike a typical runner, we only get one chance. We only pass over each bit of ground once. We can only affect the world once.

So my question is this: How are you affecting those around you? How are you sharing His light with the world, in a way that would make everyone want to run the race?

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Beginnings... And An Experiment...

With dread, I realized that I neglected this blog, yet again. This is a problem, especially since I really like the idea behind a blog like this, and the topics that have yet to be discussed...

It was while pondering the strange fate of this fairly new blog that I came up with a very interesting idea... A friend and I were discussing the different ways we might bring teens together. We were hoping to create a network for teens to support and encourage each other, as well as maybe even begin to provide physical assistance to areas in need. This was several months ago. More recently, (today) another friend and I began to discuss how much time is "wasted" through Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, and the other two dozen social networking services.

While musing upon these two separate ideas, I decided to put them together: What if there was some means through which teens could do something useful, in the median of social networking? Something that takes as much time as they want to put into it, and provides some output?

My mind switched into high gear, and began racing around the track of ideas. When I put both of those ideas together, along with this blog, I came up with the obvious solution: Find other teens who are willing to give this blog a try. If you have a handful of teens who are willing to post, at a minimum, once a week, you could have daily content, thus generating traffic, and thus getting whatever it is you have to say out to the world. Plus, by having multiple writers, it provides some accountability for posting. The idea is to pair teens together, and let them start their own blogs. Every two dozen kids, you give them a blog. They create their own network, and then you can create another network of the authors.

So I decided to put this idea to the test. I invited several of my friends onto this blog, and (hopefully) they will begin posting. I am hoping to provide a place where both kids and adults alike can come to be encouraged, inspired and uplifted through Godly advice, suggestions and random thoughts, but all with a Godly worldview as the framework, and the Bible as the foundation.

Hopefully the test will prove successful, and we can launch a forum for the sharing of ideas, resources, etc. I look forward to seeing these projects through, and if you want to help, let me know!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


So I realized with dread that I had completely forgotten about this blog... So here goes another post with a few thoughts on worldviews and cultures...

First thing that comes to mind is how we have slowly switched to a more "popularity" based culture. If you think about it, and look at the world around you, you'll see what I am talking about. Who do you see on TV? Mostly stars, all of whom are worshiped and idolized by their respective followings. We have entire shows dedicated to seeing who can become the next most popular person. American Idol, for instance. Does anyone else catch on to the name? What is an idol? According to Merriam-Webster: "A representation or symbol of an object of worship." Does anyone else have a problem with this?

Sure, some might argue that there will always be someone for us too admire, someone for us to follow, someone for us to pay money too look at, but I would argue some people take it too far... Sure, I know, you are saying to yourself, "well, I'm not one of those people..." Well, let me ask you this: How much time is spent every day watching the TV? How much time do you spend watching movies? I'll admit, I love watching movies. So where do you draw the line?

Let's take into consideration some of the following statistics. First, the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV a day. Kids spend, on average, 3.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their parents. How much TV do they watch? 1680 minutes per week. The TV is on, on average, 6 hours and 47 minutes in American homes. And yet only half of Americans say they watch too much TV.

If you do a little bit of math, you get 250 billion. (That's 9 zero's after it.) If you say that the average wage is $6, which is very conservative, you get a grand total of $1.5 trillion. (That's 12 zero's after it.) The National Debt currently sits at approximately $13.2 trillion. If everyone took the time they would normally spend watching TV, and went out and got a second job, we could have the National Debt paid off in less than nine years!

In closing, let me just insert a verse. Philippians 4:8. "Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." I just encourage all of you to examine what it is you are worshiping, if you have any idols, and if so, to get rid of them...

That's all for now...

Monday, January 25, 2010

An Eternal Golden Braid...

With all my talking, raving and discussing of this book, I thought it was time to share it with everyone else...

Perhaps one of the greatest books ever written, Douglas Hofstadter has created a masterpiece with Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. When you first pick this book up, you are immediately faced with its daunting 777 pages. All of them filled to the brim with scientific and technical words, diagrams, puzzles, art, mathematics, and even music. The author describes it as a "metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll." but it is really much more. Many people have come to look at this book as the relationship between science, music, mathematics and art. But more importantly, the connections between these, the symmetry involved in going from one to the other, and finally, how humans are able to do what we do.

But when you really begin to dig into it, and begin to analyze everything that is being discussed, you realize that there is more than what meets the eye. With different analogies, he builds the groundwork for how the human brain, and thinking in general, has been developed, and the many attempts that technology has made to create a human brain. With his likening of the human brain to a colony of ants, he digs even deeper than that, and looks at how DNA defines who we are. He looks at how the brain interacts with the rest of the body, and how art, music, mathematics, and just about everything around us is interlaced and how closely connected everything is.

From the worldview point of view, he avoids the creation question all together. In fact, he even mentions at the end of one of his chapters that he could discuss at great length where we came from, but he chose not to do so, but rather to leave that up to the reader. Because of this, you can interpret this book either way. He has very carefully written this book, and while I tried to figure out which side he is coming from, I was unable to decide.

So, all that being said, I highly recommend this book to everyone, regardless of your area of focus, education level, interests, or anything else. It presents many interesting ideas and theories, and it is loaded with amazing selections of art and intriguing discussions between different characters.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Textbooks and more... Have we adopted a Don't Ask-Don't Tell policy?

So I know it has been quite a while since I last posted, and due to an influx of what is generally referred to as life, I have been previously occupied, and now find myself with free time to begin blogging more. Today, I just want to give a few thoughts about textbooks.

We all use textbooks, right? Everyone has had some kind of education in their life, and odds are that you used a textbook at least part of the time. Unfortunately for us, the way our education system is set up, whatever the teacher's views on the subject are, you will have to conform to those views in order to pass the class. We place ourselves underneath instructors, and many times, their beliefs and value systems don't line up with ours. We very often find ourselves in the position of either having to disagree with the professor, or just be quiet and pretend not to notice.

Textbooks are often used as sources for many things, and people, especially students, take the information inside of them for granted. In some cases, like with my Calculus textbook, this can be done without too much uneasiness. Math isn't really something that changes from person to person. But when you start looking into books that have more subjectivity in them, you enter a dangerous ground. While many people accept most science books for granted, many of them have inherent flaws in the knowledge that they enclose. Take Physics for example. The first chapter of my textbook deals with units; time, weight, length, etc. A pound is a pound, right? An hour doesn't change from person to person. I was agreeing with everything in the book up until the time when they discussed how old the earth was. I'm sure you can guess what's coming. Current "Scientific" approximations currently put the age of the earth at about 3 billion years. We've all heard this, and from the Christian point of view, we know the complete opposite. But how many of us actually say something about this?

Many of us, and I am guilty of this as well, have adopted what the Army calls a 'Don't Ask-Don't Tell' policy. We aren't asked our views on controversial issues, so we don't tell them. I did this very thing the first day in Physics class. The professor went through the table of units, and off-handedly mentioned the age of the earth. Inside, I knew I should say something, but instead, I allowed myself to be convinced out of it. 'Don't be a fool' I told myself. 'You have to spend the rest of the semester with these people, probably longer. Don't make a bad first impression.' I was thinking inside, and too my shame, I held my peace and allowed that statement to go unchallenged.

Throughout our entire lives, we will constantly be facing a barrage of contrary beliefs, ideals and morals. People are constantly making statements that they believe are true, and unless someone says differently, that is what they accept as the truth. Unfortunately, the Christian worldview has been almost completely forgotten, and people have been writing and rewriting their own versions of morals and absolutes. Academia was one of the first stones to fall, and many people within the halls of it are professing atheists. This means that most of the textbooks we have today were and are written by people who, in some cases, have openly stated that they are anti-God.

While I don't have any helpful tips or an answer to this problem, I do exhort everyone to think about what they are accepting as true. When you are reading a textbook, or any book for that matter, try to analyze every bit of it. If we lower our guard, it allows false truth to take seed, and once it has claimed some land, it is increasingly hard to reclaim it.

Another thing that I have seriously been thinking about is career paths. Most of us will have some career field that we will spend most, if not all of our lives following. Many of us will have gone through higher education to get a degree to follow that career. But how many of us have thought of passing our knowledge and worldview onto the the next generation? I was waiting for a professor a few months ago, and as many of the halls are lined with bulletin boards, I was reading all of the posts. One of them was a flyer on how to become a professor. Looking more closely, I found that at the community college I attend, you can become an adjunct professor if you have a 2.5 GPA in you're field of expertise, meet certain background information, and pass two tests, with the SAT being able to count for one of them! This means just about anyone could affect the lives of anywhere from 30-200 students per year, and even more if you become a full-time professor!

Most people say that professors are in Academia for that one bright student that comes along every 5-10 years. I would beg to differ, and say that there are some professors that teach because they know they can make a difference, and they have realized that the foundation of everything someone will do in their life is set while they are in school. So ask yourself this; are you willing to take on a part-time job, to pass on what you know, to the next generation? Many people spend their lives just trying to get ahead, thinking of the next year, or sometimes, the next 5 years. What they should really be doing is thinking of the next 100 years. We are setting the stage for our children's and grandchildren's world. I don't know about you, but that makes me think a little bit harder about what I want to do with my life.

Just a few thoughts for you to consider...