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Find Myself in the Stillness

When I was a freshman, I went to every event I could get my feet to and spoke to almost everyone in my path. I wanted people to find me and to know me. I went to many late night drives to get food with classmates. I have spent time with people exploring fictional worlds through movies, taking in trivia about film’s premises, and met everything I could with enthusiasm. I did things because I love the people who do them. I value them.

College years are often characterized by someway by pushing your limits and defining them, making errors while seeking freedom, and in some ways being surprised where you end up.

Every so often, I think…how did I get here? By God’s faithfulness.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about “how did I get here” and wishing away the creeping thought of “how long will I stay here”. In my reflections, I have been brought little thoughts from history, the story of my life and His faithfulness.

Life and college is about losing some of yourself and finding yourself.

In the quietness of morning and the stillness sometimes caused by a dulled mind from a day of necessary work, I come to realizations of my quirks and why I have them. I laugh and think “no one could be more ‘me’ “.  When I was younger, I sometimes thought of that as a negative thing. Now I am trying to own my uniqueness. When people try to label it, maybe they’re trying to understand.

I have backed away from attending everything. I realized that self-care requires time to be aware of my thoughts and take care of my mind. I also have another reason for why I have removed myself some. Living from my heart has left a few metaphorical scars and bruises. Just like we knew when growing up, people move away and change schools, and some friendships end and you never know why. Though I think it is important to love, I think it is wise to do so by guarding one’s heart with their mind. Not going to everything has given me time to love what I study even though all the time I spend with it tires me. I have gotten to think about people, places, and times I would have otherwise forgotten and thank God for them. I would sometimes check on them and ask, “how did they get there?” but then again I know, by His faithfulness.

As one’s mind is home to much comfort, fears, memories and hopes, I’m thankful for this season where I can find myself in the stillness. In the stillness, You are here.

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What this summer taught me

This summer taught me that home is not housed in a singular building. . . as I spent my first long period of time away from home.

This summer taught me that not going home may at first feel like the most painful thing, it can turn–and did turn out to be the most right thing.

This summer taught me that one of the greatest joys is getting to put a face to all the stories of college life. . . as I introduced my family to my friends at graduation.

This summer taught me that children can teach me a lot about myself and life. . . as I spent mornings in an early childhood center.

This summer taught me that desires are fulfilled when you least expect it. . . as I saw trails of daydreams becoming reality.

This summer taught me that consistency in a college town can be achieved. . . as I was able to build routine around my summer studies.

This summer taught me how to have low-budget even free fun. . .as I was living off of no income.

This summer taught me that opening up your home is like opening up your heart. . .as I had friends to share in life with.

This summer taught me that some sweet friendships were yet to come and are on their way. . .as I invested in and was invested in by some people with big, beautiful hearts.

This summer taught me that it’s not weak to ask for help. . . as things seemed to turn out better than if I had tried on my own.

This summer taught me that spending a month in class can be fun. . .as I read about what my future life’s work may be about.

This summer taught me that the bliss of divine appointments. . .as I encountered chance conversations.

This summer taught me that though I have some of the same loves, fears, and dreams, I do not let them steer me. . .as lived a day at a time.

This summer taught me that real love in friendship produces both joy and pain.

This summer taught me that prayer is hope with wings. . . as I think back to the things I asked for that I now have, and I how I’ve seen that to be true for others too.

This summer taught me that God’s plan will not cease to exceed my expectations. . .as I thought the only right way to spend summer this year, was at home.

Oh, maybe I would have learned some similar lessons if I had gone home to California, but I can’t be certain that I would have passed this up to have done summer my way.

If I had gone, when would I know that I could find ‘home’ here?

-Oh, may I not miss out on noticing the next enriching lessons that are coming-

Especially, if it were to be because I thought my plans were better.

Hoping for a Summer of Sundays

Today marks the second Sunday of summer. As the semester has drawn to a close, I have recognized the value of rest. My history of Sundays have been full of laughter and sunshine, whether it is through nature or self-made. I have seen myself and many others plod through the week fulfilling requirements and then beginning to slow down on Sunday.

I see Sunday as a field of serving, sharing, and loving without time binding.

Last Sunday, I got to attend church service with my family. Four years and finally, it has allowed me to say “I go with my family to church”. We went out for lunch at a buffet with a dear friend and followed it up with watching the championship game of a community soccer league. It was great being at a sporting event my dad loves to watch. At dinner, my dad got to meet one of my closest friends!

This past week, I have enjoyed sharing meals and conversations with friends without having somewhere else to be. That has been so nice!

 

I am so thankful for the rest School-year Sunday siestas promised me. I cannot wait to see the blessings that come from the social, solitude, and spontaneity that may come from these Summer Sundays. May they carry traces into to the week!

 

 

Resolution Revisited

My Thought on Resolutions

I think that is common to see at the end of a year that one may have failed miserably in fulfilling their New Year’s Resolution. One cause of that fault is because the person has likely lost sight of it. I admit, that I have forgotten until it popped into my mind now. I’d like to remind us that my hope is to love well this year. It has been easy, I know for me, to get wrapped up in the demands of daily life. I have not phoned home in probably a couple months–this is referring to having an open-hearted, share about life talk.

When I am away at college, I have felt a little disconnected from home, I have some fear that if I extend and embrace the relationships I have in California, I will become too fond of home that I will actually admit I am homesick. I know I am a person who loves deeply, which means that I often want to be where the people I love are. I am closing on the remaining 3 weeks of my senior year. That. Stuns. Me. I realize that I have spent a lot of energy focusing on the wrong things. One senses they have not gone too far, when they are not certain of where they want to head toward.

How this Resolution Came About

I remind myself that one reason I came to CIU is so that I would be part of a graduating class size that makes it possible to get to know those whom I will graduate with.  This desire extends to wanting to know the people in my school.

My freshman self would say that I was good at this then. Though then, I wasn’t trying. I just felt secure in who I was.  I would go to all the organized social events, constantly initiate conversations of introductions with whoever I met, I established good friendships, watched Netflix on the weekends often, and joined the weekly movie nights in the theater rooms on campus. I didn’t realize that I was loving until one of my upperclassmen friends told me “you are good at loving people”.  I think the key to that was not expecting anything in return and loving what is.

Obstacles to Loving Well

Across the three following years I have been here, there has been  a lot of change in friendship. There have been misunderstandings and disloyalty among the nightly catch ups and weekend activities.

I began to ask in my heart, “I loved you. How could you do this to me?” and to God I said, “Why do you choose to take from me? What will I do now?

Wise friends tell me, “Christy, people will always disappoint you. God never will. He is always there when the people aren’t.

God has shown me countless times that I instinctively run to human help, feeling alone, when He wishes that I knew to turn to Him first. He cares to hear and always has. I receive rest in Him, but then I forget it, moving onto tomorrow.

In Scripture, it talks a lot about Israel forsaking their God and turning to other things as their focus. I don’t want that to be anywhere near where I am headed.

I think the sickness in my heart has been my inconsistency in living out my knowledge of how as believers in Christ Jesus, love for others is an outflow of the love we have flowing out of our relationship with God. When I extend acts of kindness, I should not be so concerned that people see that Christy did it, but rather be more focus on “as a recognition of God’s merciful love for me, I choose to live out God’s love. 

Imagine how hard it is to get water, if you forget where it comes from. It is embarrassing to say, but that is how I have been living. You cannot draw from an empty well. I think the best way for me to love others well, is by spending more intimate time with my Maker. I cannot recognize His love unless I invest time in knowing Him. 

Do you still remember your New Year’s Resolution? Do you think you are still heading toward it, or have you lost sight of it like many of us? It’s April and not too late, which is as true as the fact that God’s grace upholds us. Choose to accept His strength.

Please pray for me in this season, to stay near to the heartbeat of God’s love. A heartbeat is heard in the stillness by attentive ears. Lord, help me live by it.

Readers, I will pray that you will recognize God’s extension of His strength to help you accomplish positive change in your own life!

2017: The Desire to Love Well

New years usually starts with a mindset of “new year, new me.” It is a lot easier said than done. My resolution is to not be a hurt person that hurts people. There is a lot to live for cumbering expectations hurt both self and others. I have kept words in my heart that were said by my friend on my freshman hall: “you love well.” I want to get back to loving well. After a person falls, they must get up and I do not think I have forgiven all the disappointments that were meant to grow me. Sometimes I feel like I owe people fun stories about college or returns home and feel bad that I enjoy the simple fact of where I am with who I am. Being an incredibly sentimental person I have a collection of people I wish I never distanced from. I have let in people that tore me down and only semi-regretted it. I think part of what it takes to love others well, is that one needs to love their self. I have not been giving my soul, mind, and body enough attention. I will be using 2017 to change that. Then, I will be able to draw from a filling well.

A Reminder about Faith, Hope & Love

Today, I spent part of tonight watching the Christmas Special of “When Calls the Heart“(produced by the Hallmark channel and purchasable by iTunes) with Daddy. The storyline penetrated our hearts with themes of faith, hope and love. We soon forgot about our disagreement and frustration with needing to replay parts to fill in the interrupted dialogue. We watched the director’s note that reminded us that faith, hope, and love is what binds us all with unity. Though Christmas is not always the most restful and worry-less, or including many presents and a room full of people, nothing can take away from what it is truly about.

“Love from God is the greatest gift we receive and greatest gift we can give is Love for others.”

Thank you God for sending Jesus and giving us hope. Though, I have failed countless times, I am forever grateful for God’s grace and love. I am thankful God put people in my life to love. We have the greatest role model for a purpose-driven life in Jesus. He is the greatest fulfillment of promise and act of grace.  He is a friend to those in need, who is always there.

🎀 Prayer of Saint Francis 🎀

Lord make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, Let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, Joy.

May it be in the heart to remember that it is a greater joy to give than receive. It is God who gave, for us to receive the greatest gift of experiencing a life with hope and purpose.

The Lord Makes a Way: Milestones of Learning

We have come upon the tail end of 2016. There have been Facebook announcements of events that date back to my freshman year of college 3 years back. A lot has happened since then, but God consistently reminds me “Christy, you are mine. You belong to me. I see great value in you. I am equipping you to do exactly what I have set ahead of you to do for me.”

I would like to share with you 3 lessons that God has taught me through this semester.

Lesson #1:  God gives perfect gifts. He knows my every need and the best way/time to give it.
I entered this school term with some doubts about where I’m headed with my program (elementary education). I am nearing the end of my undergraduate program, having declared this major only the year before. Here is some history for you: I had never in the past saw this as a goal for myself before until some people mentioned that they saw that in me. God used them to weird me out with affirmation in an area I had never considered.
God has done a work in me this semester, not only providing me with a great role model of an elementary school teacher to learn from (Ms. Fisher), but also confirming my place by the grades I’ve managed to keep-by the grace of my professors while taking 7 courses this semester. When I thought that God’s grace had run out on me, God answered the prayers of those who have interceded on my behalf.

I feel so humbled as I see myself unworthy, but God has deemed me worthy to contribute to His kingdom by educating young minds and influencing lives with Christ’s love. The reason why I want to be a teacher is that I want each student I come in counter with to know their worth in Christ (whether I can verbalize it in the classroom or not) far surpasses their academic capabilities. I do also want them find confidence and grow to love who they are and follow after their hopes for their lives. They are not limited by past experience, living conditions, or others’ doubts but that God will build a bridge far beyond that so they can do what He has set aside for them to.

Lesson #2: Loving is a lesson that we keep learning.
This semester, I took on a lot of leader-oriented environments (3 courses and one role) that walked me through and caused me to reflect on the different ways love should be expressed in life. I am guilty of interrupting people while they are speaking and as I am making steps to becoming a better listener, I am loving better. There are times I assume things when it is almost always better to ask than to guess. This allows me to better understand how I can do my part to meet others’ needs. This is gold that struck me hard: it is loving that I contribute my honest thought in response to situations. God has been teaching me that voicing my weakness is not intrusive, but opens myself to the Body blessing me with their gifts and play their role with me, as we are a part of a Kingdom community.

Lesson #3: I ask for more, but I have what I need.
Living while comparing myself to others is exhausting. Being a person who loves consistency, the hardest thing I have ever done is leaving home to go to college 2,000 miles away. In my current dorm hall (Floor 2 in Dignitas-The House of Dignity), we start each hall meeting by sharing our current state with the phrase “I want… but I need…” The two sentences I think that outline my time at CIU has been:
1. “I want to be good friends with everyone (or as close as possible), but I need to be faithful in investing in the immediate environment God has placed me in and grow in the friendships that have come naturally over time.”
2. “I want to either not go back home or not go back to school, but I need to rest in the consistency of God through the transitions and be thankful for His providence of having two places I am welcome back to.
I am such a friend-oriented person and God knows that it is both a blessing as well as a set back. I have always struggled with choosing academics, family, times of solitude, and God over friends. God is the only fully trustworthy captain to drive my ship. He knows where I am heading and where I ought to go. I have all the resources to navigate the time in life I am at. Prayer is the most powerful thing we can do. It is painful to ask God to realign you. Although, it is the best thing to be headed the right way and reach the destination that I was meant for.

[I would like to invite you to pray with me]:
-Lord, please help Christy recognize that she is secure in Your constancy. Have your love fill the cracks of where she has felt failure, rejection, and belittlement. Have her see Truth.
-Lord, please create a humble heart in Christy, so that she may lead others with an imitation of Christ in servanthood and love, so that only God’s name would be made great in her work. Help her know when to ask for help and guide her to where she will find it.
-Lord, being home is hard because it seems that so much has changed, but have Christy see the purposes for why you have placed her where she is and be obedient to what you lead her to.
-Lord, Christy desires to be a light. Let nothing stand in the way of her living out her desire to live for you wherever she goes (dorm, church groups, school breaks, public school classrooms, old friendships etc).
>Lord, may refugees feel your peace and healing as you are with them. As they feel displaced, their home is where you are. Even though they may not know you, grant them mercy with their hurt. Show Yourself to them as their loving Father as you meet their needs. May they meet people with compassionate hearts to invest blessings to them.
>Lord, be with the leaders of this nation as you can change the hearts to align with yours. I pray that this nation will the progression toward one that loves one another and honors you. Guide our leaders to make wise decisions and strengthen the believers to trust you. You have said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” May your great presence be known. Please be merciful to us as we have strayed from you, but draw us back to you.