The Comparison Game: Cutting Ourselves Short

Image result for michael flatley lord of the dance

I have a few secrets. One of them (that I don’t even think my family knows) is that I admire tap dancers. Like I seriously do. As a six-year-old, I watched Michael Flatley‘s Lord of the Dance, and my jaw dropped as I fell in love with the art. Even watching the tap dancing in Singing in the Rain cultivates a desire for that ability. This admiration and jealousy extends to a great deal of other sports as well. A few years after being introduced to Lord of the Dance, I saw ski jumping in the winter Olympics. I was inspired. If I watch any sort of gymnastics or tumbling, I’m taken…And I want that skill!

While aspiring to be a pro tap dancer or Olympic ski jumper are so “out there” that they’re humorous, some of my other jealousies aren’t as funny. My sister has skill at dressing nice and she can look super on-point. Me? I have no idea. Maybe that’s why I wear an over-sized I-don’t-quite-know-what-it’s-called shirt-like thing that I found on the side of the road and decided to add to my wardrobe.

Related imageI’m also an action person. I get an idea in my head and I run out and start it right here right now. That has it’s benefits, but can really backfire when I’ve got three different baking projects going on in the same kitchen. (Did I mention that I get bored with said projects far too quickly and that I don’t normally even start the clean up process until my baked goods are in the oven?). Another sister, on the other hand, can keep house like a perfect, organized, wise woman should be able to…

I doubt that anyone could honestly say he or she doesn’t occasionally covet another person’s talents, skills, jobs, or opportunities. However, something Andy Stanley said in his sermon series titled Comparison Trap intrigued me. He mentioned that, while there are always things we envy in others, there is never a time when we would completely trade who we are for everything the other person is.

When I thought about that, I found it to be true. I love Eliza’s sense of style and Tessa’s sense of organization, but I wouldn’t trade my sense of adventure and positive passion for either of these. There is too much about me that I would have to give up in order to gain someone else’s positive traits.

18402114_1697171093629904_5370602383642028268_o.jpgAnd, when I consider trading all I am to gain all that someone else is, I pause and discover that there are a lot of things God has gifted me with that I wouldn’t like to trade–and that the other person isn’t quite as perfect as I may have thought in the first place… When we envy someone else’s talents and opportunities, we do ourselves an injustice and only consider part of that person.

What I’ve learned from Andy Stanley’s sermon series then, is that other people have downfalls and struggles too. God may have gifted others with talents and opportunities, but sin has reached us all. There is little point to envying another person’s life simply because of an obvious positive trait.

Secondly, I’ve learned that I’m not so bad off after all. I have failings, shortcomings, things that I’m ashamed and embarrassed of. But, in the end, I’m grateful for who God has made me. I’m thankful for the personality he’s given me and I would never trade everything I am for everything someone else is…because God knew what he was doing when he carefully crafted me.ben-white-170529.jpg

There are always people who are going to be better at certain things than you are, but you have talents and gifts that make you better in some areas than other people. To jealously covet other’s talents is to unfairly ignore the gifts and qualities that the Holy Creator of the universe specifically picked out for you.


I Don’t Know How: Living Life Without the Answers


Last night I lay in my bed, staring absentmindedly at the white-washed concrete ceiling hovering two-and-a-half feet above my bed. I was trying to have a conversation with God but, admittedly, it felt somewhat one-sided. Like all college students, I would certainly consider myself to be very busy. But, at the same time, as a single college senior, unsure of what this summer holds (let alone what next year has in store), I have a ton of flexibility and freedom and, considering all, time. That being said, I was trying to get a feel for what God might want me to do.

I know that the most valuable, fulfilling, and exciting life is one of growing in faith and living life the way God wants me to. But this was the third time this week I’d tried having this conversation with God and I wasn’t feeling any more confident. I regularly read my Bible, pray, go to church, volunteer, reach out to others, and try to encourage people. But right now, I’m really not feeling very filled-to-overflowing with Christ-likeness.

So, here I stand, praying to God, but still feeling limp. Jason Gray verbalizes some of my feelings in his song, “I don’t know how.A silhouette man outstretches his arms looking over a valley of fog in Chaing Mai as the sunrise-or-sunset turns the sky orange

“I wanna believe but I don’t know how
Trust what I can’t see but I don’t know how…
When the troubles come my way
I wanna walk by faith but I don’t know how

“I wanna be clean but I don’t know how
I wanna live free but I don’t know how
It feels like I can’t escape
The shackles of my shame
I wanna break away but I don’t know how ”

I wish I could write a paragraph here explaining that I found out how; a section exclaiming the quick-and-easy get-close-with-Jesus method that will work for everyone. Wouldn’t that cause a revival?! But the truth is, I still don’t know how. But, at the same time, however, I can realize that just because I don’t know how doesn’t mean I can’t still be growing anyway. And just because I don’t know how God is fixing “it” doesn’t mean he isn’t.

18423792_1754039561279573_8317050167611247718_n“I have no choice
But to cry out for You
Please help, cause I’m helpless now
You hear my prayer
When my whole world comes unglued
I know You can fix it, but I don’t know how
I don’t know how”

I often don’t feel like I’m growing. I often don’t know how to grow. But sometimes we need to walk by faith and I believe I have reason to trust God even when I don’t know. So, in humility, I will continue to pray, continue to seek after him. I don’t know how to grow, but he does. And he is in control.

Captured by Shame: A Reminder to Live Free

Image result for broken dishes

A five year-old-girl hurries forward carrying a large dish of green bean casserole toward the dinner table where the rest of the family is waiting for her before they pray for dinner. Crossing the line from the kitchen to the dining room, she trips and for a split second the green bean casserole hovers in midair. The next second, however, the casserole is strewn across the floor, an ear-splintering shattering ensues as the dish follows the path of the casserole.

The girl looks up slowly, terror painted clearly across her face, tears quickly forming at the corners of her widened eyes in the moment of silence that follows.

“Honey, it’s okay!” The mother stands up quickly and pats the daughter reassuringly on the shoulder as the family pitches in to clean up. For the rest of dinner, though, the child refuses to eat and instead hunches over, arms wrapped around her head, face planted into the table, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Related imageOr travel with me for a moment to India one hundred years ago when Amy Carmichael is devoting her life to saving Hindu temple girls from a life of prostitution. Going to great lengths, Ms. Carmichael brings a particular girl back to the shelter of her home. While the rest of the rescued girls help around the house laughing with each other, singing songs, and rejoicing in their freedom, this girl huddles in the corner so ashamed of her past that she cannot lift her face to see the opportunities around her.

Friends, we are freed. The God of the universe sent his son down to earth to die for our freedom. For you and for me, Jesus died. Like the girl who broke the casserole dish, we are forgiven. Like the Hindu temple slave who was rescued by Ms. Carmichael, we were once slaves, but now we are free.

Galatians 5:1 states, “ It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” How very much I struggle with shame. I am so ashamed of the kind of Terra Firma freshman-orientation leader I’ve been this year. I’m ashamed of the not-joyful attitude I’ve had lately. I’m ashamed of what I haven’t been and done with my time.

These things may be legitimate. The five-year-old did break the dish. The Hindu was a dino-reichmuth-85708temple slave. But we are changed. We are no longer slaves. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, italics mine).

Just as it pains the mother to watch her forgiven child cry in shame at the dinner table, and just as it stabs Amy Carmichael’s heart to see her freed daughter still living like a slave, so it hurts our Father when we let shame beat us even though he has sent his son to die for our salvation.

Friends, hear this: when you allow shame to define who you are, you are not practicing humility or giving yourself what you deserve. Instead you are scorning the death which has set you free and rejecting the joy that the Lord desperately wants you experience. 

Maybe you’re like me and would immediately claim that you aren’t letting shame define you. But, unless you’re awaking every morning with the realization that you are truly a son of God, an heir of the Creator of the universe, and that you are no longer a slave (so long as you are truly saved), then you are still cutting yourself short.

How readily we forget that God can use broken people, and, so long as we are handing our brokenness over to God, let me remind you wholeheartedly, you are doing something right. Be confident in who God made you to be.

“So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians 4:7

The Best Days of my Life: Always.

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My legs burn as I peddle madly on the stationary bike. Kicking the peddles is about as close as I can get to kicking my problems. My frustration is going to come out in either sweat or tears and I’m hoping it will all be the former, so long as I push myself hard enough.

Last semester this experience became a weekly occurrence as I had a weekly job which reminded me of my shortcomings, frustrations, and feelings of failure. But I was back to it at the beginning of this semester as well, as my plans for an internship fell through and I was caught in a whirlwind of being unsure of my plans, afraid of my future, and aware of my inadequacies.

In times like these, I sometimes long for the security of middle age, when I’m settled in a career or in a family and I have an idea of where I’ll be a year ahead. At that point, I’ll IMG_7374know who my friends are, I’ll know what my job is, and I won’t be constantly checking my grades. But this perspective is more subconscious than conscious, because, when I really think about it, I do not want to wish middle age upon myself right now.

There are so many blessings college life entails: the random weekend adventures, the opportunity to devote oneself to learning, the constant action, the environment of energetic spontaneous young adults, the nights going to bed when I want to without having to put any kiddos to bed…

Doubtless, the future holds great adventures and (hopefully!) there will be a point in my life where I don’t have so many unknowns. But, as I’ve written before, the last thing I want to do is pine for the security later years will bring and ignore the countless blessings right in front of my face right now.

Jason Gray wrote a song titled “Best Days of My Life” which grasps this concept so well. The whole song is worth listening to, but my favorite line is,

“Every step along the way
I know You’ll never leave my side
Whatever the season I can say,
‘These are the best days of my life.’

Life now might scare me. I might not always appreciate the uncertainty of it all. But at the same time, there is so much adventure in this time of life. There are so many things I love about learning, so many things I adore about being here at Cornerstone. And, through it all, no matter what stage of life, I know that God is with me.

“the good times and the hard times were the best times I ever had18447548_1209092089216552_4674075823915041457_n.jpg
Cause You were beside me, above and behind me
Lovingly leading me home”

So this year, I want to, at some point in every day, stop and realize that–in every season of my life–these are the best days of my life.

P.s. Is the background too dark?


New Blog Title: HELP!

0611171320a-1.jpgOkay, so what began as a class assignment with a focus on interpersonal communications has now become a heart-felt blog focusing more on my adventures of being a Christian. This being the case, I believe it may be time for a blog title change.

Unfortunately y’all, my dear readers, don’t realize how much say you have in my blog (what I write, how often I write, how confident I feel, what tone of voice I use…). But now is your time to shine! I’d really appreciate some help in coming up with a new blog title. Listed below are some options I’ve brainstormed, but I’m open to new suggestions as well 🙂 PLEASE comment on which title you like best/or any suggestions you have.

Possible titles:

  1. The Adventurous Life
  2. Adventurous Living
  3. Living the Dream
  4. Experiencing Adventure

Possible subtitles:

  1. Finding Joy by Keeping God at the Center
  2. Experiencing Joy with Raw Faith
  3. The Adventures of Following God
  4. Living with a Faith-Focus
  5. Living with Raw Faith

I like the word “Adventure” and in some shape or form I should probably declare my faith-focus.

While you’re at it, feel free to comment about anything else as well!

P. S. the picture of me and my fish has nothing to do with a new blog title, but I’m proud of my catch and thought this may be the only appropriate time to showcase it…


I don’t want to be afraid; A desperate cry to the God of the Universe

Children's Eyes, Eyes, Blue Eye, Emotion, Feelings

“I don’t want to get stitches.” Pupils dilated with pain, my six-year-old little brother lay tense on the couch while we waited for my parents to take him to the hospital. I gently pressed a rag to a gash on his chest that had long ago bled straight through his shirt. The tough little guy hadn’t shed a tear, but his shaky breathing declared his pain. I looked down into his pleading eyes. He could be a man through the pain. He could be deal with a trip to the hospital. But the one thing he asked was that we protect him from stitches.

My little brother is a beast–he doesn’t let fear stop him and, at the age of six, he had the pain tolerance of an adult. But this attitude landed him in the ER four times between the ages of four and six. By the time this episode happened, he was familiar with stitches. But I had witnessed his blood-stained shirt when my little sister brought him up the stairs, saying the boards he’d been playing with had fallen over on him and gashed him with a 0824172031 - Editedprotruding bolt. I knew what was coming. No matter how much bravery and pain shown through those six-year-old eyes, I couldn’t lie by telling him he would avoid stitches this time.

That was more than five years ago, and yet I still remember the sincere, helpless way he pleaded to not get stitches. In past blog posts, I’ve admitted my fear of the future. I’ve admitted my insecurities and my irrational worries. I can deal with not knowing what’s coming. I can deal with a change of plans. But one thing I am so tired of carrying is my dreadful fear of the future.

Tenth Avenue North wrote a song called “Afraid” which has really spoken to me. Since hearing it, I’ve taken the words on as my own and cried out to God in a helpless, pleading, painful voice: “I don’t want to be afraid!”

“When the world shakes
Feel my heart race.
When the voices start again
Oh, the panic’s creeping in
Who will I listen to?
Fear never told the truth.

“So I’ll wait on You tonight;
Worry’s only wasted time.

“I don’t wanna be afraid
I don’t wanna be afraid anymore
Not like before, oh
I don’t wanna be afraid
I don’t wanna be afraid anymore
I’m safe in Your love, oh, Lord

“…This world cannot take my treasure
This world doesn’t own my tears
My hope is alive in heaven
I will not give into despair!
I don’t wanna be afraid
I don’t wanna be afraid anymore
I don’t have to be afraid
I don’t have to be afraid anymore”

And, despite my struggle with fear, I know my God is real and I have experienced that inexpressible peace that he offers me when I am most desperate. Don’t be afraid to cry out to God, even if all you know how to say is, “I don’t want to be afraid!”


Well, I’m ready to call it a life: Persevering with Purpose

dog-2532610_1920.jpgRecently I was making my way through another day. At about 5:30 PM I sighed and commented, “Well, I’m ready to call it a life.”

While I feel far inferior to Paul in most of his godly approaches to life, one attitude of his that I can relate well to is the way he sees our time on earth: “We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing…While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh… we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:2-4). 

Or one of my favorite verses, which has been scattered as a reminder to myself throughout my journal pages: “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Phillipians 1:21). Dying is Image result for to dogain and when the Lord takes me away, won’t I ever be rejoicing! But as I learned through years of asking questions, we are granted life on earth for a purpose. While there are many days I wish I could be relaxing and rejoicing in God’s presence right now, I have to remember that I have a purpose right here, right now. While it’s not necessarily fun living on earth, we have many blessings and many tasks to accomplish. Each day we’re alive, God wants to be working through us. That is a very encouraging thought; the Creator of the universe has a plan for each day you’re alive. He’s using you for his great purposes.IMG_0711

So, while we do want to be heaven-focused, we also have the privilege of serving God here, and we can’t dismiss this opportunity.

Therefore, until that day of rejoicing when the Lord takes me home, I am determined to use this gift of life that I’ve been given to serve God and others–through my work and through my attitude, by being positive, joyful, and intentional. If I can’t be home now, I might as well make the most of this earthly adventure.