Posted in Book Review

The Debt

Ah, Christmas break is amazing. After finishing the last day of school, I was able to sit down and just read for pleasure for several hours. I finished a very interesting book entitled The Debt by Angela Hunt. 

Set in a fictional Kentucky town, a pastor’s wife must rethink her view of the church when her grown biological son shows up in her life. Her son, whom she never met nor told her husband about, is a minister of a different kind than her husband; he goes to less-than-obvious places to build relationships with people who might never set foot in a church. She begins to see the flaws in the way she and her husband have been doing church.

This book’s purpose wasn’t to condemn church work or even to say that every church member needs to visit bars and impoverished neighborhoods. Rather, it asks us to pause and look at the opportunities God gives to us to be carriers of his word. For some of us that may mean doing work within the church, but for some of us that may mean carrying his work beyond the church walls.

Another main idea of this book was the idea of the church in connection with the world. The church in the book launched a nationwide boycott of a bookstore chain because a book with which they disagreed was being sold there. The pastor’s wife begins to question the effectiveness of such a boycott in spreading God’s love. She begins to see that the church is simply pushing agendas against sin rather than spreading the hope of God’s remedy for sin. One particular quote stands out: “don’t be shocked when sinners sin”. Just like the characters in the book, we need to examine what we’re fighting against. If we spend all of our time telling sinners that their sin is wrong without telling them about Jesus, we’ve missed the call. Remember, God meets us in our sin and then begins to change us, not the other way around. 

If you want a thought-provoking yet easy read, this might be a book to add to you Christmas wish list. 

Happy reading!

Posted in Gratefulness, Life

I’m not superwoman, but I have a super God.

Don’t try to be superwoman: that’s the lesson of the weekend.

I had grand plans of trying to make it back to Oneida for the 11 am service at my church after attending the early service at my brother’s church. I probably could have made it fashionably late if I had been cautious and smart. Instead I was on the side of the road with a defunct car, a policeman, an ambulance, my brother and his girlfriend, and many tears at 11 am on Sunday.

God had his hand on the entire situation though and still does. I wasn’t hurt, and I didn’t hit the car coming towards me. I only spun and hit the ditch a couple of times before I ended up back on the road with a busted tire and quite a bit of damage to the car. Roxie (my car) has been treated kinder, but God used her to shield me from any physical damage.

When I was in high school, I wrote a poem about slowing down. Metaphorically I was speaking of slowing down to enjoy life, but in light of this past weekend, I think slowing down while driving is a good idea as well. If I hadn’t been in such a hurry to be superwoman and fly back to Oneida (good intentions and all), I wouldn’t be driving a rental minivan right now and worrying about Roxie. One lesson I’ve learned is to not rush. If I can’t be part of everything, so be it. God has a plan for each location I’ll be. While I write that last sentence though, I also realize that God has a plan for my accident as well.

It’s hard to say yet what good will come of my accident, but I know God has a plan to take even this unwanted situation and bring glory to his name. Already he’s provided for me through many concerned people and a good insurance company, so I have no doubt he has a plan. For now, I’ll wait on the prognosis, and in the meantime I’ll take life a little slower.

Most of all praise be to God that I am safe and that no one else was involved.

Posted in Education

I AM a teacher…hear me roar.

I AM a teacher…hear me roar. (I am reposting this from the other blog I write with my friends. It’s quite old, but it made me smile to remember just a few months ago.)

“You look like a teacher.”

It may have been my professional work attire or the fact that he remembered me from children’s church, but I chose to believe it was because there was something about my aura that screamed “TEACHER”. That made my heart warm a bit and settled the butterflies in my stomach.

It was the first night of teaching AWANAS. Middle school AWANAS. I think the butterflies were there for good reason. Middle schoolers can eat a person alive if she’s not careful.

AWANAS stands for something that I can’t remember, but basically it’s a Bible study program for elementary and middle school students that runs on Wednesday nights at my church. They eat, play a game, and do a Bible study together.

This first night I had a lesson planned but I didn’t intend to actually need it. I wanted to lay some ground rules and get to know my students. I had them write out three things about themselves on index cards. Rule #1 was created. No flying objects. I then read the cards aloud and asked them to guess who each card was describing. No difficulty in this activity. I should have thrown in my own card to mix it up. I was pleased when the first thing one student listed is that he is a Christian. Pretty cool.

After that, we laid some ground rules. I let them suggest the rules. They are old enough to know how they want to be treated in a classroom. They got all of the major ones that I would have listed, even if they were written a bit differently than I would have said. One rule says “don’t yell at the top of your lungs.” I quickly added to not yell at the bottom of your lungs either. They laughed at my pitiful attempt at a joke. Success!

I almost forgot to pray at the end, but other than that, the meeting went well. They didn’t even complain too much when I gave them homework for next week. I’m excited about this opportunity to teach. I think it flows in my blood because I just feel so much more at ease when I’m in the front of a classroom watching students think.

Posted in Life, Work

A New Chapter

side shot

On Sunday, I graduated from college (hence the subtitle change to the blog) and in a couple of weeks I will receive my certification to teach English to high school students. It’s an exciting yet scary time of life. Even though I know that God has equipped me to teach and he’s given me a passion for English, right now I am not going to teach full time. Beginning in January of 2015 (which is approaching very quickly), I will gain the title of Campus Missionary Intern for the Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM) on my college campus. It will give me an opportunity to pour back into the group that has given me so much over the past couple of years while also giving me some time to get quiet and still before God and wait for directions.

As I step into this new role, I want to take a moment to look back on what I’ve experienced while at college. Recently the college asked me complete a survey about my college experience. It asked questions about how much I feel the college has taught me in several different areas, but my struggle was deciding whether the college had taught me some of these core values (such as respect of diversity) or I had learned them other places during my time in college. I know I’ve grown over these past four and a half years, but so many other groups and organizations besides the college have impacted me.

The more I thought about that survey, the more I realize that there is no good way to differentiate who taught me what, but the two institutions that were a stronger influence than the college as an institution were church and BCM. This is not to say that college has not influenced me greatly, but I feel that the impact church and BCM have made on my life will go farther in this life and eternity. They have worked together to teach me about myself and about my faith. There were many times that, without these two organizations and the people who comprise them, the stress of classes and work would have sunk me. It was beneficial to have a church family whom I could call whenever I was sad, stressed, or some combination of the two. They have also been there to support me the numerous times my car has decided to give out these few years. The church also provided a place of refuge. Yes it was a time commitment to attend services three times a week, but the benefits outweighed the cost. There were actually many times I felt more prepared for life after going to church than when I went in. Of course, in all honesty, it wasn’t the church or the people who did that; God worked through the church to provide peace, strength, and growth.

The BCM became part of my life freshman year, but it wasn’t until my first senior year that I began attending meetings. During freshman year, I joined a dorm group that met once a week to study the Bible, and it was led by a college student and a lady from the church I ended up attending. Actually it was because of this group that I began attending my church. They both went there and made me feel more welcome than I felt at other churches. That group was small but it provided me with yet another source of encouragement, refuge, and connection. The leader left college after one year but I began leading the group for a while. Through the experience of leading the group, I learned about teaching and leading, and I learned to really listen to God. After returning from England, I began attending BCM with my best friend because we weren’t getting as much from the other Bible study we had been attending previously. In this group, I found a role model and many great friends. Mondays are the best days of the week now because I know I get to go to BCM.

All of this that I’ve said leads to one point. The value of connecting with other believers far outweighs anything I could have learned in a classroom at college. While coming to college provided the opportunity to make these connections, this wasn’t something required by the college. That’s why I am super excited to step in as CMI; I want to encourage the kind of connections I have found through church and BCM in other college students. I want them to know that it wasn’t anything the college provided that made me who I am; only through God and his people have I been able to survive college and life. As I step forward into the next chapter of life, I step with confidence knowing that God is already there.

Posted in Gratefulness

Day Three and Four: Friends and Church

How is it that I missed yesterday’s gratefulness post? Oh no! I figured this would happen at some point though. I’ll just play a bit of catch up.

Day Three (abreviated version):

Yesterday I spent the majority of my time watching The Great British Bake Off and writing papers. I also made some jewelry but since I can’t find my card converter I can’t show the pictures to anyone. Finally, my friend and I went to see Ender’s Game. Yesterday I was grateful for friends. Because of many changes in mine and my friends’ lives, we just don’t get to see each other as often as we would all like. Senior year is busy. On Friday night though we got to hang out and do a scavenger hunt around campus which ended in pizza at a local pizza place. Yesterday I spent some time watching a movie with a friend, even though I’ve never read the book. It’s good to do something that maybe you wouldn’t have chosen to do simply because your friend wants to and then discover that you enjoyed it as well. This semester, with all of the time I spend alone, has taught me to be grateful for the time I do get to spend with my friends. I am grateful for my friends.


Day Four:

Today, our pastor showed a video about a church in Nigeria. The small church was meeting for a normal Sunday service. In the midst of praying for persecuted churches, some Muslim hate group came in to the service with guns and opened fire. A 13 year old girl told her perspective of the event where she watched her father die in church. She told how he was the one that always talked about Jesus and brought them to church. Then he died. She told how she was running out of the church and felt scared and cold. Then she realized that she was bleeding. She cried Jesus because “that was all she had.” It amazed me that even after watching her father die in church she still had a strong faith in God. That’s the power of Jesus.

I am grateful today that I was able to sit in church without fear of attack. That girl mentioned that her church did not fear attack either, but it happened. I realize it could happen in my church here but I am grateful it has not. I am grateful that I can go to church at all, because there are some places where Christianity is not welcomed. I am grateful for church because it helps to revive my spirit and reminds me of my faith. The fellowship is sweet; God’s presence is sweeter though. I know what I believe and it breaks my heart that others do not see the need they have for God. What also breaks my heart is that different belief systems cannot get along. I realize that people do believe different things but killing each other is not going to make anyone change their mind. That’s not necessary.

So I am grateful for church.

Posted in Life, Music

I Never Knew Jesus Til I Knew You

Last night at church, Annette Herndon came and sang during the service. She sang several songs but “I Never Knew Jesus til I Knew You” really stuck out to me.

She sang a song about appreciating people and the Christ-like influence that people can have on us.  She encouraged us to use that time to go to someone that has been that influence on our lives and thank them by giving them a hug.  At first, few people moved, but when she sang the song a second time there were hugs and tears and smiles everywhere.  It felt good.  Why? It felt good because people were showing appreciation for each other.

All too often, I don’t show appreciation to the people who positively influence my life and I don’t think I’m alone in this boat.  As humans we do not appreciate each other enough. No man (or woman) is an island entirely unto himself (that’s a quote from John Donne that I memorized for Spanish 3 in high school).  We all need each other.  We all need to show appreciation for each other.

I encourage you and me to consciously show appreciation for the people who influence your life.  It may feel uncomfortable at first but give it a try.

Posted in London


When I set out for the summer, I knew I wanted to attend church on Sundays as much as possible.  I asked my host what churches were in the area and did some googling.  This morning I attended Restore Community Church, which is typically held in the local school.  It’s about a five minute walk from my homestay, but when I got there I thought it was odd that there weren’t very many cars in the lot.  There was a lady at the entrance talking to people in cars and then the cars would leave.  I took a deep breath, sometimes approaching strangers is a scary thing for me, and asked her if there was church.  Turns out this Sunday they were having their service in several different locations.  The church had split up into areas and were having small groups in order to build community.  Perfect.  I like the foundation of the idea because it is very important to have Christian friends who can support you during the week.  I also like the way she put it, “we’re gonna pack up and fellowship and take Jesus with us.”

When I got to the community center (I rode with this lady and her daughter), I was greeted by another lady and taken in to the main room and introduced to more people.  It was  nice time.  Their focus was on building community while also inviting people who might not normally come to a church service.  The preacher did not give a sermon, in fact I didn’t meet him until I was eating lunch. We played some games and a couple of the ladies gave a devotional/testimony.  I really liked what the lady was telling us.  She made a metaphor with the game snakes and ladders and then told us about some of her snakes and ladders during her life.  When she told the snakes though she always related it back to how God had used that hard time to bring about something good.  That’s how we get around hard situations, by finding where God is working in them.

The thing I really appreciated about the church was their willingness to outreach.  I figured out fairly quickly who were the regular church attenders and who were the guests.  The event had been advertised in the community center so people who come into the center during the week came in today as well.  The preacher was telling me that it was a good opportunity to talk to people who wouldn’t normally feel comfortable coming to church.  While I was sitting there eating lunch, I people watched and noticed that the regular attenders were very vigilant about spreading out and talking to people.   They were also very pointed about asking about questions that brought the conversation back to Jesus.  Overall, I think I liked the church, and next Sunday I’m going to go back and partake in a full service.