The time has come to tell you about my extraordinary plans for this fall. I will be studying abroad on mission in Jerusalem, Israel for four months. This is an exciting opportunity for me and I wanted to share some details with you. My study abroad program is through my university. However, I am partnering with Cru Study Abroad so I can live missionally while I’m in Israel.
The main reason I chose to study abroad in Israel is that I am minoring in Hebrew. Of course there are so many benefits to studying in Israel. It is the Holy Land, and I look forward to experiencing the land where Jesus walked and taught.
I recently received my Missions Toolbox from Cru Study Abroad, and I was thrilled by what was inside. I’m going to give you a peek inside to help you understand what I’ll be doing in Israel. If you are familiar with Cru, you know that they have a lot of resources for starting spiritual conversations and sharing the gospel. Among these are Soularium, Perspective Cards, Knowing God Personally, and Satisfied. (To learn more about these, visit crupress.com) I have had at least a little practice with all these tools, and I look forward to putting them to use in Israel.
Another tool in my Missions Toolbox is my Study Abroad Playbook. With help from my coach, I will be able to take advantage of all the information in it. My coach is going to lead me through the book and help me learn how to live on mission while abroad. They will be my sounding board, my encouragement, and my kick in the pants. As much as I want to share the gospel while I’m in Israel, I know it won’t be easy. I will need some accountability.
God has blessed me with the financial means necessary to live comfortably in Israel for 4 months. I would love it if you would consider supporting me prayerfully. Opportunites like these come with inherent risks and obstacles, so I can use all the prayer I can get.
I will try my best to keep up with this blog while I’m in Israel. I know I am going to have so many adventures and stories to tell, so stay tuned. I leave for Israel in about a month and a half, and there is still so much to do. I ask that you please start praying for me now. I trust that God will provide for me once I am in Israel, and that he will get me there safe and sound.
If you would like to talk with me about my trip, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in Christ,
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Two years ago, I remember sitting in the Oklahoma Memorial Union at the University of Oklahoma as people crowded around the TVs to watch and celebrate the legalization of gay marriage. I figured there would be a celebration this year on the anniversary of that day. Instead, a whole month was dedicated to LGBTQIA+ pride. You can see it everywhere: social media, pride parades, TV, movies, magazines. As a Christian, I obviously do not condone homosexuality or any of the other lifestyles included in LGBTQIA+. I believe the Bible when it calls them sinful. Of the many issues I have with pride month, one of the biggest is their adaptation of the rainbow from a Biblical symbol to a symbol of gay pride.
Earlier this month, a Google doodle celebrated a gay man named Gilbert Baker, who came up with the concept for the modern day pride flag. It started with 8 stripes, but has since been cut down to six. The remaining colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Baker assigned a meaning to each color. Red is life, orange is healing, yellow is sunlight, green is nature, blue is serenity, and violet is spirit. None of those color meanings are bad. What I believe is bad is that the rainbow flag represents something unbiblical, even though the rainbow was originally a Biblical symbol.
Let’s go back in time for a moment to after the flood that destroyed God’s original creation, except for Noah and his family. In Genesis 9, God makes a covenant with Noah that is represented by the rainbow.
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with…every living creature on earth…Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood…”And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” (Genesis 9:8-15)
Whenever I see a rainbow, I thank God for not flooding the earth and destroying all creation, even though I am a sinner not worthy of saving. But it’s more than that. Rainbows remind me not only of God’s covenant with Noah, but also of all the other promises he made in the Bible. They remind me of God’s everlasting love and faithfulness and forgiveness.
That is why it’s insulting to see such a sacred symbol waved around in celebration of sin. I feel like I can’t use the colors of the rainbow without people thinking I’m supporting gay rights. I’m not. I just like the rainbow because of what it represents to me (and also because it’s pretty).
I know this is a controversial topic and that I probably have an unpopular opinion. But I felt the need to share this because I wanted to stand up for God. I’m sure that it’s upsetting to him, too, to see the sign of his covenant misused in such a way.
I’m not expecting anything to change. I know that the rainbow will continue to be the symbol of gay pride. I only hope that it will also continue to be remembered as a sign of God’s covenent, and of his love.
From February 14 through the 28, a 24.7 prayer movement was held in a building on my campus. In 2013, two University of Oklahoma sophomores started the movement after discovering the importance of prayer, especially for their school. In its first year, the movement lasted three weeks. Its founders rented office space off campus where students could go and pray all day and all night. Since I’m only a freshman, I didn’t hear about the movement until January through a campus ministry that I’m involved in. I was intrigued by the idea and wanted to give it a try. I signed up for a one-hour timeslot after class one day and used Maps walking directions to get to the building where the prayer room was. When I opened the door, I was wonderfully surprised by what I saw. Brown paper lined the walls and people had written lyrics, verses, and encouragement all over them. There were some bean bags, chairs, and rugs around the room for people to sit on. There was even a speaker in the corner where you could plug in your phone and listen to music. The atmosphere was very calming, homey, and conducive to prayer. Near the door, there was a large chalkboard that said what day it was of the two weeks and what the theme of the day was. That day’s theme was unity. I spent the hour praying, and I learned a lot about prayer. I learned that I often pray selfishly, as evidenced by the difficulty I had praying for others and for unity on our campus. I also learned that the right environment can really impact how I pray. I was reminded of the movie War Room and the closet the lady used as a prayer room. It’s like the prayer room I was in, but on a smaller, more individual scale. As much as I would like to have my own little prayer room, my dorm doesn’t have that kind of space. I have this problem where I want my relationship with God to be super formal. I set aside a certain time for prayer, I pray in a certain way and place, and my quiet times don’t go as well unless I’m sitting at my desk with a cup of coffee. I’m working on it. My point in writing this is to give you some context for the pictures. All these things were written on the paper on the walls. They stood out to me. I’ll explain why for some of them. “Come near to God & He will come near to you.” Maybe it’s the way it’s written or the Bible verse it brings to mind, but it’s just such a beautiful phrase. It’s especially fitting in this room dedicated to drawing near to God in prayer. “Praise Him who relentlessly pursues our hearts!” I love the way it is written, but I also love what it says. God relentlessly pursues our hearts. He doesn’t stop or give up or take a break; He is relentless. “I can see the ivy growing through the wall, ‘cuz you would stop at nothing to heal my broken soul.” This, combined with the ivy vine next to it, sends a strong message: God heals even when it seems impossible. “In my deepest wound, I saw your glory and it astounded me.” It took me a moment to figure out what this said, but once I did I loved it. Astounding is a strong word that is perfect for describing God’s glory. My favorite one, the one that my eye was constantly drawn to amongst everything else, is “Lord, take me to Ninevah.” I’ve never heard anything quite like that before. I’ve heard of people being willing to go wherever God leads them but referring to Ninevah, the place where Jonah was terrified to go, reveals a strong desire in that person to follow God’s will no matter where it leads them. They didn’t just say, “I’ll go to Ninevah.” They took it a step further. They said, “Take me there. I want to go. I want to bring your glory to this unreached place. I don’t care about all the bad things I’ve heard about it, that’s where I want to be. I don’t care that it’s unlikely that anybody will listen to me because I have faith in your power and your influence.” It made me think of how I’m going to Israel this fall (more on that later) and how it is my Ninevah. I’m scared but I’m also excited. I know it might feel like I’m talking to a wall (no pun intended), but I trust in God’s power to use me for His glory while I’m there. I say all this to remind you of the importance of prayer, and to inspire you to take a look at your prayer life and think about how you can improve it. Feel free to comment on what these pictures mean to you and how prayer is important in your life. To learn more about the 24.7 Prayer Movement, you can read the article I wrote for my school newspaper here.
Disclaimer: This post may be offensive to some people. Viewer discretion is advised.
There’s this problem that I’ve had for a while that I didn’t recognize as a problem until recently. The problem is that when a person says or does something that reveals that they aren’t a Christian, I think to myself, “Well, they’re going to Hell.” The problem is not that it’s not true. The problem is that it’s not nice. I shouldn’t think like that. I should feel bad for those people and want to help them change the fate of their eternity. Instead, I feel a twisted sense of pride, as if I’m better than them because I’m going to Heaven, and their stupidity and ignorance are being rightfully punished by them going to Hell. It’s basically like, “What they believe is wrong, so they’re going to Hell. Good, it’s what they deserve.” See? Not nice. That’s definitely not how God thinks, and it’s certainly not how He wants me to think. Because the truth is, I deserve to go to Hell, too. I’m not any better than those people who have it wrong just because I got it right. I’m no more righteous or deserving of Heaven than they are. God sees me as righteous not because I am, but because Jesus in me is. It’s true that I’m going to Heaven because I believe in God and have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. It’s not true that that gives me the right to consider myself better than anyone else, because I’m not. My sin killed Jesus just as much as theirs did. Their sin didn’t make him any more dead than mine did. God sees all sin the same. And he loves all sinners the same.
“Give me your eyes for just one second. Give me your eyes so I can see everything that I keep missing. Give me your love for humanity. Give me your arms for the broken-hearted. The ones that are far beyond my reach. Give me your heart for the ones forgotten. Give me your eyes so I can see.” ~Give Me Your Eyes, Brandon Heath
Hello, everyone! I don’t think I’ve ever told you before, but I wrote another book! I finished my second book, Second Chance, back in January. I haven’t told you all about it yet because I didn’t think it made much sense to promote a secular book on a Christian blog. Don’t get me wrong, the book is not inappropriate. It’s just not inherently religious. Let me tell you a little bit about it. Anyone can tell you to read their book, but not everyone will tell you why you should. But that’s what I’m going to do.
This book was a labor of love for me. It took me about a year to write it, and I loved every minute of it, but it was hard work. It made it a bit easier that the book is based on my life. The main character, Bella, is based on me, and the other characters on my friends and family. Bella is who I might become if a certain event occurs in the future. For now, I get to live vicariously through her. The book is written from what I consider a unique perspective. Even though I am a girl, the story is told through a guy’s point of view: Logan’s, the other main character. You might find it interesting to see a girl’s idea of what goes on in a guy’s head.
This being a romance novel, you may be inclined to believe that it is cliché. I’d like to think that isn’t the case. Whenever I wrote something that could’ve been seen as cliché, I usually changed it because I try to avoid clichés like the plague (yeah, it’s an old pun, but it’s still a good one). Besides the main plot of a romance developing between Logan and Bella, there are a couple subplots. That way you get a break from all the lovey-dovey stuff.
Logan is breaking into the architecture business and he has quite a few interesting, and even humorous, experiences. Both in Logan’s job and his romance with Bella, things aren’t all rainbows and sunshine. I tried my best to keep it real. People appreciate honesty, after all. But don’t worry, no one dies. If you’re still reading, that means you aren’t completely opposed to the idea of reading my book. Yay!
If you’ll stick around for a little longer, I’ll give you a summary to help you make up your mind. Here it is: “When Bella was a young girl she fell in love with her brother’s best friend, Logan. She loved him for seven years, but her love was unrequited. Seven years after they last saw each other, Logan shows up on her doorstep hoping for a second chance. Bella locks him out, then lets him in. Things begin to change for them as she begins to trust him again. They start off as friends then, after facing some complications, Logan breaks down the walls around her heart and she gives him a second chance with it. Opposition meets them wherever they go, but they fight it together. As Logan struggles to find his place in the business world, Bella begins struggling to find her place with Logan. The relationship is far from perfect, but it’s definitely worth it. Logan and Bella grow in their love for one another and, with a little help from friends and family, end up where Bella always dreamed they would.”
Okay, so if you think you want to check it out, I should probably tell you where you can find it. Well, if you head on over to Barnes & Noble…Just kidding! Unfortunately, it is yet to be published. You can, however, find it on Wattpad, a story sharing website that also has a mobile app. All you have to do is create an account and then you can get started reading. If you like to read on your phone, you can download the app.
Most of the chapters are pretty bite-sized, so you can read them whenever you have a few free moments. You’ll find that Wattpad’s app is very user-friendly and you can change the settings so the font, font size, font color, page color, and more are just the way you like them. And if you’ve had a long day and just want to relax for a while and read, switch it into night mode and then turn on automatic scrolling at the speed you want so you don’t even have to do any work.
If you have something you’d like to say about something you read, just leave a comment! At the end of each chapter you can vote if you liked what you read. All this being said, it’s totally up to you whether or not you read the book, or even give it a chance. If romance really isn’t your thing, that’s totally fine. There’s no book that everyone likes. But if you start reading and you do like it, I encourage you to keep reading at your own pace.
You don’t have to comment or tell me if you’ve started reading it, but I’d appreciate if you did. It would be a nice self-esteem boost for this aspiring author. If you read this whole thing, which may seem longer to me than it actually is because it took me so long to type it, then I want to thank you. I had almost given up on trying to get more people to read my book, but then I thought of you guys and how you are, for some reason, interested enough in what I have to say to follow me. So I hope you like my book as much as you like my posts. But, even if you don’t, stick around here because I’ll continue to occasionally post good stuff. I’m thankful for every single one of you. God bless!
Last night at work (Sonic) we were really slow so a group of us were standing around just talking. One of the guys joked that I did crack and another guy didn’t know he was joking and he was so shocked. He was like, “I can’t imagine her doing that!” He’s new and he already knows me that well. Then the guy who was joking about it said, “I’m just kidding. She loves Jesus.” That made me so happy to hear. That must mean that I’ve been showing Jesus through my words and actions, which is great because the point of my life is to point to God.