Friday, April 24, 2015

Expiration Dates Approaching....Approached?

Shew! This pudding's got a funky whang to it. Yeah it smells.  Down the garbage disposal it goes.
As I threw out the last few spoonfuls of butterscotch pudding earlier this week, I thought to go look at the milk, too. That explained it. The milk that I had used to make the pudding had expired, too. Already?  I had just looked and it said April 22nd...oh my gosh it's already April 24th!?  Oh crap, the Tribune dinner is already next Thursday! The conference meet is next Saturday?! That's only a week away!  Only three full class periods until the AP History Test!  And the Chemistry EOC is that same is that supposed to work? AP English test the next week! Only one more assignment to turn into my online least that's one relief..
Where has the year gone?
Things are winding down, but it does not exactly feel like it.  We have almost reached the climax of junior year.  Things are all exploding at once.  But then it will be all downhill!  My brain daily feels like exploding, but I gotta mellow out.  I can't do it all, and that's just something that I have to accept.  As the Newsboys's song says, "There's gotta be so much more to life than this, a higher calling that I've missed.  I want my life to count, every breath!  I wanna live with abandon, give You all that I am!  Every part of my life, Jesus, I place in Your hands."
As all these things have been coming and going faster than I've been able to fathom, I tried to snap some picture and take notes on things to be able to remember things along the way.  My mind is full of aspirations and projects to do sometime or another, but I am trying now more than ever to not try so much.  Sounds contradictory?  James 4:13-15 makes it make more sense.  "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow...Instead you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that,'..."  Two verses from Proverbs convey the same message:  we try to plan, but God will always win. (19:21 and 16:9) Life is totally out of our control--but that's okay.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23)  We are not wise people.  "God alone is good." (Mark 10:18)  Something that stuck with me from last Sunday's lesson on the above James passage was what our desire to plan and be in control really is--self-centeredness.  By being glued to our own plans, we can overlook what God has placed right in our path!  Some "inconvieniet mishap" could be one of the best opportunites to share the gospel.  If it's God's will, you can be positive that what you do is the best.  That is not so with our own plans.  They can be easily shaken.  We can rest assured that when we open up our future to the will of God, that we will be satisfied, protected, and above all, accepted as a child of God in heaven in the end. 
Peace comes with giving up control.
There are so many things we can spend our time on, and I am guilty of not doing so well with time management!  It is a daily battle that I am working to improve on.  Like right now.  I was going to study.  For some reason, though, I felt like I should share this.  Sometimes our minds need a break.  Taking time to sit back can benefit you more than frantically pressing on and on sometimes.  God even tells us in Psalm 46:10 to "Be still and know that I am God."
Take a deep breath.  (I'm talking to myself, too.)  Stop and think about what you're doing.  Maybe there is something else you could be doing.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mind Over Matter

What a day. 
One thing I like about track better than cross country is that the races are usually not until the afternoon. I CAN SLEEP IN. In cross country season, Saturday race days are the earliest I get up. We usually travel all day Friday, too, but with track, it's a bit more relaxed. It was a kinda rough sleep to start with, but after finally getting myself woken up, I just had a different kind of feeling about the day. 
On the car ride up there, I did some Bible study with the stuff I've been looking at lately, and stuff just kept coming. One verse that I have been making my focus the past few weeks is Hebrews 12:1-2, "...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race marked out for us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith..."  not only because it makes sense with running, but every part of life.  This world is full of distractions, but Christ is what we should fix our thoughts on.  That's how life is found.  I also shared a picture that I had found earlier in the week that made me think of one of the girls I look up to in our student ministry at FBC, Kristen Curetin.  A few years ago, when we first got to really know each other, we were having a blast in Gatlinburg at the Abide girls' retreat, which was actually happening again this same weekend, so this picture had multiple meanings, as I shared on my Facebook and Instagram.  She reminds me to "keep my spiritual glasses on!" as I go through each day.
There was another verse that I had noted in my phone notepad to go back and look at, but I didn't remember what it was, so I decided to go find out.  There was no doubt that God led me to this verse at this time!  2 Timothy 1:7, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline."  It was indescribable how hard this hit me at this moment!  Exactly what I needed.  When I went back onto the track after two weeks since my last race, I couldn't be fearful of what may or may not happen, best or worst case scenario; God gives me power!  Fear, I have to remind myself, is a lack of faith.  God is love, and love drives out fear (1 John 4:8).  No matter the outcome of a single race, which is over and done with in a matter of minutes, the way I handle my actions means so much more.  I have to have that love and discipline every step I take, because, like the 1st part of Hebrews 12:1 says, "..we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.."  I am called to "live a life of love ,(Ephesians 5:2)" as love is "the most excellent way" to bring people to Christ (1 Corinthians 12:31)
Man, was I fired up and ready to go!
These verses were what I was using for guidance as I went out into the world this day, and still now.
 We got to Tennessee High in Bristol for the Frank Carver Invitational as the rolling schedule was about to start. There was some wind, but the sun was out! (And by the end of the day, people's tan lines were great proof). My first event was one that I had been struggling with this season, the 1600. My times have gotten a but better each race, but just not what I have done before. Turns out, this race didn't feel good either. Awful actually. I was really frustrated with all this that I don't understand, but again I have to remember that there are some things in life that we aren't supposed to understand. God knows and that's what matters. In my long break, I got to talk to some people and got some great encouragement, including a coach from another team that I've gotten to know over the past couple years.  He was confident in what I could do, just that it looked like I was trying harder than I usually do.  Maybe I need to just let go and let it happen.  I knew that was it.  I run so much better when I just do it for the fun of it!  I knew that God didn't give me that feeling about today for nothing, but still walking up to that line, I wasn't feeling fresh in my legs. 
A great song came to my mind:  Strong Enough by Matthew West.  Going back later and searching these lyrics was awesome to me, because it was yet another thing God sent me that sums up the past few weeks.
Runners take your mark--BANG
Sometimes that's all it takes. 
When I take off from that line, and God takes over.
 I just need to let my mind go! Stress is a sickness that can ruin more than your health. It's your attitude and motivation for life too. It's how the devil diverts your attention away from the plans God has for you. Once I got in this race, I just let it all go and ran my race, not worrying about anything else. Throwing off all these worldly things that hinder me, and running with perseverance the race that I am in, I turned my focus to Jesus instead of everything else.  And ya know what?  I felt totally different.  Where your mind is focused plays an incredible role in our every circumstance.  If you're not right with God, how could anything else ever possibly turn out right?  He is in control!  When we try to change what's already set in stone becuase it is what we want, anxiety sets in because that can never happen.  We can't control everything.
No, it still wasn't my fastest race, but it was just what I needed.  As I ran each step, I felt better and faster, and a peace came over me that I know only the Lord gives.
With about 2 laps to go, I felt even lighter on my feet and in my mind, and a verse came to me that I had looked at and created a wallpaper picture for earlier in the week.
At this time, the verse had a different meaning to it, as I felt it literally, physically and spiritually!  I trusted that God was in charge of my body and would give it strength to do whatever He had planned, and I felt renewed, soaring, all the way to the finish.
Coach Murrell, who I had talked to earlier, was on the back stretch, the quiet side of the track, giving me great encouragement.  Relax...flow...looking great...
As I counted down the last few hundreds as I passed each mark, my heart continued to rejoice!  Rounding the 200-to-go curve, Coach Murrell said something about being an artist and this is how I express myself--yes--this is what God gave me and running freely is how I use it to express my thanks and give back to Him.
Upon finishing, it felt like a weight had been lifted.
Mom also took some pictures and videos during the race, and it was obvious, to me and others watching, that the 3200 was like a totally different person out there racing than who was in the 1600.
Satan is always out there looking for ways to trip us up (1 Peter 5:8-9), but we can't let that get us down.  His goal is to keep us from being who God intends for us to be, but as Mom and I have been saying lately, we can't give the devil that victory.  God wants us to have full and free life (John 10:10), and that is a feeling that I desire for everyone to get to experience.
The way things were all tying together didn't stop Saturday, though!
Pastor Dean's sermon Sunday morning was on point, too!  He continued his "Amazing Love, How Can it Be?" series, with message #3:  "In All I Do I Honor You" based on Romans 12.  I laughed in my head as I am continually amazed at how often God speaks if we are just willing to listen.  Pastor Dean also used a passage that I have been reading lately, from Philippians 3:20-21 about being patient with life here on earth, because we are awaiting a permanent meeting with our Savior, "...who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."
The message went on to outline the Romans passage, as we are to give the best of our lives for Him because He gave His entire life for us.  Again, we can't get caught up in the world, but "be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2)"
Yet another instance of "Mind over Matter"
God is constantly pouring out His grace and mercy more than we can even imagine...just look for it!  It will change your whole outlook on life.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Comics and Quotes

If you've seen some of my previous posts, you know that I like to look at certain comics because they tend to relate to my life!  Here are some that I've cut out and kept lately that I'll get around to sharing now. 
My mom showed me this one, and some others when she thinks of it because I haven't had much time to read the comics lately with school and track. I am addicted to butterscotch pudding, though!

This was a heading at the top of my planner one week. If that wasn't another thing God put in my path, I can't tell you what is. I've been looking up a lot of verses about perseverance, and I am always making mistakes that I should learn from. And that's a track. Whoa.

How most of west high AP juniors feel right now. History class has gone downhill. 
Mmm maple syrup...!
I'm also addicted to concocting pancakes, but maple is a very enticing smell and flavor, as well. 

I always say it. I believe it. Jesus is coming. 

Our team actually did this at cross country camp last summer. All the way from 99 to 0. My head almost exploded. I gave this one to Coach Farmer to add to his memories. 

This made me crack up!

Dad sent me this one. I said the picture was just like him and our dog, especially once they get the new house set up at the lake!  But I also like the words. Life is totally unplanned. We try to plan, but that's not our job. God already has everything planned out. 
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares The Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.'"  Jeremiah 29:11

Dennis may be a menace, but this comic made my heart happy. Praying yourself to sleep is a great way to end the day. 

This is totally my dad. Spot on. 

Sadly, this is a great representation of our world. We are way too depressed over not having things that are totally unnecessary, yet we act like it is the end of the world if we don't have it. 
Let's try to rejoice more in what we do have instead of what we don't have!

Holiday comics ride again!  They're my favorite. This was from several months ago, but it is relevant all year. I am not a very flexible person, so that is something I have resolved to work on. 
This quote was from one of my Motown Madness college leaders this year, Katie Russells. We don't have to be "great" to e of mighty use to The Lord. He will give us just what we need to do just what He needs us to do!

I've also come up with some of my own little sayings lately. 
-It is often through our deepest pains and toughest trails that we emerge the most on fire for God. 
-God will open our eyes, but it is up to is to keep them fixed on Him. 

Some favorites I got from others that have been on my heart lately:
-If God brings you to it, He'll bring you through it. 
Very similar to this one from my dear friend Jenna Rogers
-If it's God's will, He'll pay the bill. 
-Nothing under God's control can ever be out of control. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Vietnam Veterans

This past Sunday, March 29th, Pastor Dean announced that he would like to especially recognize all those in our service who had served in any way in the Vietnam War because it was Vietnam Veterans Day.  This was a new holiday to me, but it brought to mind two amazing men who are very dear to my heart!  I want to give them each a special thank you for being so brave then, as well as being so loving and caring men now.
This is my uncle Chum!  Yes, I am sitting on his lap acting like a little child sitting on Santa Claus.  We joke about that all the time.  This was a couple Christmases ago when we went to their house in Richmond, VA to visit.  He is my dad's sister's husband, and the two of them come to visit every few months, and we head up there every few years.  We keep in touch through text and Facebook, but I can't tell you how excited I get when we get to see them in person!
The laughs they bring our family are too good to the soul to describe.
He is one of the goofiest men I know; like a kid stuck in an old man's body.
I am so thankful even for the memories from before I can remember, like the times when just a few words out of his mouth would send me sound to sleep within seconds as he held me as a "little squirt." 
I'm still squirt.

These are my neighbors, Don and Gail.  They take such good care of our family for anything we need!  Through the years we've shared cookouts, fireworks, yardsales, gifts, newspapers, stories, laughs, emergencies, late-night-neighborhood-scares, and even ganged up on some people.  Whenever one of our families goes on vacation, the other is always in charge of the other's house and pets, too!
A lot of people live next to members of their family, but I live next to Don and Gail, and that's close enough.