Attacks, Battles, Faith, and Trust

I just got back from Poland a couple of weeks ago, so forgive my lack of posts. I’ve been trying to get my thoughts in order.

This mission trip to Poland was my first time going somewhere without my parents – well, first time going somewhere besides the grocery store. Frankly, I was just excited. It wasn’t until the night before I left that I realized what I was really doing. I was about to fly halfway across the world with twenty other people who aren’t related to me. I was going to go to a completely foreign place (in the most literal sense of the word) without anyone or anything familiar to ease the shock. Still, even through that realization, yes, I wanted to cry, but my excitement never faded. I was exhilarated. So we left. All twenty of us, on a little plane out of a nearby city.

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For months leading up to the trip, I had felt “under attack.” This is christianese for Satan was trying to keep me from going on this trip. I felt anxiety, fear, doubts, but through the attacks, God would always give me little words of encouragement. They would be short, they would be simple, but oh they were true, and they were exactly what I needed to do battle. The attacks continued throughout the trip, and the primary doubt that took root in me was the fear that God wouldn’t do anything in me or through me. I had been so excited to go to Poland because I felt so strongly that there was a reason I was going, but I still had this lingering fear that I wouldn’t feel a change. Finally, one day, this fear and others bubbled over to the surface, and, well, I spent a lot of time crying that day.

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The next morning, I was reassured once again that there was a reason I was in Poland. God challenged me to stretch my faith in Him. Plus, that was a word He had given me time and time again leading up to the trip: “FAITH” and “TRUST.” So I trusted. From that moment on, I had a renewed trust in my Father. I was able to trust that I was there for a reason. I was able to trust that I was making a difference, even if I couldn’t see it. I was able to have faith that God was making changes in me and through me. AND HE DID. Even if that is the only change He made, He did renew my faith and trust in Him. Now that I am home again, I want nothing more than to go back. Back to that place of isolation with God. Still, I know that this is where He wants me right now… and I am able to trust Him in that.

After Poland, I do feel changed. I have a new fellowship with God like I’ve never had before. I have a new trust and a new faith and for that, I am so thankful.

I am thankful to be home safe, but I can’t wait for my next adventure.

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Sometimes You Just

I’d like to talk for a minute about quiet time.  If you’ve grown up in a Christian home, you probably know what “quiet time” is.  For those of you who don’t know, this is Christianese for about 15 minutes to an hour spent, usually in the morning, reading your Bible, praying, and just spending time with Jesus.  Before I go any further, I’d like to say that everything I am saying to you all, I am also saying to myself.  Because I need to hear this.

It is impossible, in ones life, to never have a morning where you wake up and just don’t want to take the time to do your quiet time.  For me, the usual excuses are, “I have so much to get done” or, the ever-more-intimidating, “I’m afraid I won’t encounter Jesus.”  I’ve had good mornings, and I’ve had bad mornings, and I’m sad to say that the bad mornings have given me a fear of more bad mornings.

I’m here to tell you (and me) this.  When you wake up in the morning, open up your Bible.  Force yourself to step outside of time.  Don’t look at your clock, don’t look at your phone.  Invite your Father into your space.  And if you’re afraid that you won’t feel Him, just remember: He delights in YOU (Psalm 18:19).  So even if you don’t feel Him as strongly as you want, remember that He feels you.  He listens to you.  He loves hearing you talk to Him.  He loves to talk to you, even if it takes a while for you to hear.

Even if you can’t bring yourself to pick up your Bible… even if you can’t find the courage to pray… just sit with Him and listen.  Sit with Him and let Him calm your doubts.  Because His peace surpasses all understanding.

Sometimes you just need to read.  Sometimes you just need to talk.  Sometimes you just need to sit and listen.

Father, Abba, friend.  Let me have the courage, the patience, the faith, and the discipline to spend this time with you every morning.  I know that even when I don’t treasure it as much as I should, you do. I trust you, I know that you love me.  On the good days and on the bad days, I promise to sit with you in faith and in quiet.

A Story(:

For world history this week, I was supposed to write a story, true or fictional, about someone being in the right place at the right time. Of course, I chose fictional, so I could just let my mind run rampant.  I just thought I would share it with you people. Enjoy and let me know what you think!  Sorry it’s so long(;

Red Lipstick

     A chilling wind blew down the street, throwing fallen, dead leaves every which way as it went. Leroy looked down, away from the chill, and pulled his jacket closer to himself. When he had left that morning, his mother had told him to wear a heavier coat. “It’s only autumn, Mom. I’ll be fine.” He had said. Besides, the past few days it hadn’t been cold. In fact, it had been almost balmy… but not today.

“Of course,” Leroy thought, holding his jacket tighter, “the one cold day had to be today.” He could just imagine the “I told you so” from his mother when he got home. Still, he walked further.

“Don’t forget to stop for cornmeal on the way home. I’m making cornbread with supper tonight.” Leroy’s mother’s voice echoed through his head once again. At least he had that to look forward to when he finally arrived home. Just the thought of warm chili and cornbread almost warmed him right up, even out in the cold.

“Cornmeal… cornmeal… cornmeal…” He repeated it over and over again to himself. Leroy didn’t want to forget… again. He didn’t want a reputation as “the one who always forgets.” He let out a chuckle; as if he didn’t have that reputation already.

Still, he walked.

“Tap, tap, tap, tap….” Leroy’s shoes hit the pavement one after the other. “Tap, tap, tap, click–” He stopped. Those weren’t his shoes. Those sounded like his mother’s Sunday heels; the ones she only wore on very special occasions. “Click, click, click…” Leroy listened awhile longer, then looked up. He saw a young girl, about his age, maybe a little older. She was wearing high heels–too high. She couldn’t walk very well in them. It was apparent that she had put on makeup that day, however, most of it was all over her cheeks by now, smeared by tears, apparently.

Red lipstick.
That was all that was left intact.

He stopped for a moment and watched her. She was looking down, so she couldn’t see him. He watched her take a few steps, then stop to wipe a tear from her eye, smearing her makeup even more. She took two, maybe three more steps, then collapsed onto the pavement. Before he even knew what was happening, Leroy ran to the girl and stooped down in front of her. “What am I doing?” he questioned himself, “Why did I stop?” It was as if something else, something outside himself had pushed him over there, and had set him in front of this stranger. He wished it hadn’t, but there was no going back now.

Leroy was good with people. In a few seconds, he could feel someone out and immediately know just what to say to them. It was different with this girl; he didn’t know what to say. All of the sudden, he was totally conscious of himself. He started to reach his hand out, but his arm felt as heavy as lead. Still, he pushed on. Leroy gently put his hand under this girl’s chin and lifted her head. Quietly, he asked, “Are you alright? I saw you fall.” He didn’t mention the fact that he had seen her crying… he didn’t want to embarrass her. He looked over his left shoulder and saw a bench along the sidewalk. “Do you want to go sit down?” He inquired, gently. When she didn’t respond, he stood up and held out his hand. “Here, come on.” The girl reached up and put her hand in his. Her hand was small, and her fingernails were painted red to match her lipstick. The hand was cold, Leroy noted, it felt like it hadn’t been warm in a very long time. He closed his hand around hers and pulled her up, still very gently. As she looked up, for the first time, he saw her eyes. They were the most beautiful eyes Leroy had ever seen. They were bright green, and they sparkled as the light reflected onto them, off of the cloudy sky. Once she was standing beside him, Leroy let go of her hand, took off his jacket, and draped it over her shoulders. He felt silly for thinking he was cold, not two minutes ago. Seeing this girl, dressed in business attire, not at all appropriate for the weather, he knew she needed that jacket more than he did.

Then, Leroy put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close to him. He hoped she wouldn’t think he was trying to take advantage of her, he was only trying to help her–to warm her up. She seemed to appreciate the gesture, and leaned into him. They were walking, slowly, carefully, and finally they reached the bench. They sat down, Leroy’s arm still around this strange girl, whom he had only just met. They sat in silence.

It could have been one minute. Five. Thirty. Leroy didn’t feel the silence. He sat with her. No words were necessary.
Finally, he turned to her, “Can I… um…” Leroy had never been one to struggle with his words, “can I pray with you?”

More time passed. He knew she had heard… or had she? He couldn’t tell.

Then, a tear. Two. Three. A flood of tears cascaded down this girl’s face. Hardly any makeup was left.

Red lipstick.
That was all that was left intact.

Finally, she nodded. Ever-so-slightly, she nodded. Leroy took a deep breath, and plunged in.
“Lord, I lift up this young lady to you today. I ask your shield over her, that she would know that whatever she is going through, whatever is happening in her life, it is all part of your plan. You might let your people bend, but you will never let us break. I know she might feel broken right now, but you work through broken people. Thank you, God, that you made her and you have a plan for her life. Stand by her, guide her, comfort her, protect her. Thank you…… amen.”

There was more silence after this, but, again, Leroy barely noticed. Slowly, the tears stopped. Slowly, this beautiful girl looked up. Slowly, she turned her head to look at Leroy. All of the sudden, he knew God had used him. He knew that there was a reason he had been there, on that street, at that time. Leroy had heard stories like this. Stories of people being in the right place at the right time… and that had just happened to him. He prayed a silent prayer, thanking God.

Then, he looked straight at this girl who he had just prayed over. Her makeup had been completely washed away by her tears, and as the sun peeked through the clouds, her eyes sparkled like the stars.

Red lipstick.

Leroy realized, then, that he still had his arm around her. As he pulled it away, she took his jacket off her shoulders, folded it gently, and placed it in Leroy’s hands. She took a deep breath, looked straight into his eyes, and finally, she spoke, “Thank you.” Her voice was like music. That was all that she said, but Leroy knew that she meant it.

Then, without another word, she leaned in, kissed him on the cheek, and stood up. Leroy watched her as she walked away, then he stood up and walked the opposite direction.

When he reached home, he walked into his house to see his mother in the kitchen. “Cornmeal!” He exclaimed aloud. I’m sorry, Mom, I’ll go back and get it.

“No, Leroy, don’t bother… there’s no time. Just go into bathroom and get washed up.”
“Alright. I’m really sorry, Mom.”

She glanced up, from her cooking, and looked at Leroy with an inquisitive expression.

“What is it, mom?”
She paused. “Um, nothing… we can talk about it later.

Leroy went into the bathroom, and, as he washed his hands, he looked in the mirror and understood his mother’s reaction. It was right there, on his left cheek.

Red lipstick.

To Be a Grown-Up

Every child has their moment. That moment, in the midst of a temper tantrum, where they scream at their parents: “I can’t wait until I’m a grown-up so I can do whatever I want!!!”

For me, I remember distinctly, as a young’n, thinking, “I can’t wait until I grow up, so I can chew gum whenever I want.” Little did I know that, not only would the opportunity to monitor my own gum chewing come sooner than later, but, also, that wasn’t even close to everything being a grown-up has to offer.

Now, as I approach my senior year of high school, and am still not by any means a “grown-up,” I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what the future has in store. Where will I go to college? What will I do for a living? Will I get married and have a family of my own? All of these are questions that I ask myself often. Still, the desire to be a grown-up comes in waves now. There are days, often, where the future is really very intimidating, and all I really desire is to crawl under my covers and return to those days of a nap per day and limited gum chewing.

But still, more often than not, the future is an exciting place. Just this evening, as I walked home from my big sister’s first real show with real actors for a real job, I was struck again by that desire. That little voice, saying, “I can’t wait until I’m a grown-up!” This time, it wasn’t the desire to “do whatever I want,” necessarily, and definitely not the desire to chew gum all the live long day, but simply the desire to go off on my own. To have that independence that I’ve never experienced before. To live in my own home, have my own job, my own car, my own food. All this to say, I am immeasurably greatful for the blessed life God has given me so far, and the family I was born into… but not a day goes by when I don’t long to know what the future holds.

I think that’s something that’s really a privilege of a relationship with God. Because, thanks to Him, I don’t hold my own future. If I made my own plans for my own life, it would, quite frankly, suck. But He holds my life in the palm of His hand. This is something that I’ve recently found an awful lot of hope in: the fact that I don’t have to worry about tomorrow or the next day or the day after that, because my Heavenly Daddy has it all figured out. Just the other day, He showed me this verse:

1 Corinthians 2:9, “However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him—”

God has huge, AMAZING plans for me, and for you… and who knows? Maybe his plan for me involves all the chewing gum my little heart desires(:

–Gracie Isabella–

The Prodigal Son-Revisited

INSPIRATIONAL STORY TIME!!!

I’ve grown up in the Christian community and, therefore, have heard the story of the prodigal son about umpteen times. For those of you who don’t know this story, it’s a story that Jesus told about some kid who asked for his inheritance before his father died, then blew it all on parties and prostitutes. When he had fallen so low that he felt he could even stoop to eat pig slop, he finally decided to go home and ask his dad if he could live in his house as a servant. As he walked home, his father not only accepted him back, but ran to meet him halfway down the driveway (if they had driveways in the Bible), hugged him and kissed him, and threw a party for him.

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And. That’s. What. God. Does. For. US. Yeah, I know right, BIG YAWN, eh? Just most powerful person in the universe accepts you ALWAYS. Pssshhhh no big deal. And you don’t have to do anything to deserve it. NOTHING. He accepts you, burdens and all, and runs to you so that you can’t even think about changing your mind. And not only that, but he also fights all your battles for you, so you don’t even have to fight once we accept His acceptance, you just have to run to him.

I don’t know about you, but I am imperfect. Even so, I am still accepted.

Like I said, I’ve been told this pretty much my whole life, but it wasn’t until the other day that it really became real to me. Because I turned my back on God. I spent my inheritance on things that were only for me… I didn’t listen to a word He said. And yet, He told me over and over and over and over and over again that I didn’t need to be enough for Him. That he was waiting for me to run into His arms. I didn’t listen at first… I thought I had to prove myself to Him… I thought I wasn’t good enough. But I didn’t have to be “good enough.” I can never be “good enough.” God accepts me just as I am.

I think that’s pretty dope.

–Gracie