Saturday, December 26, 2015

Have You Ever?

Have you ever walked through a crowd, attended a dinner party, or passed through a marketplace teeming with people yet somehow still felt alone? Have you ever watched from the shadows while others enjoyed an activity or game? Have you ever been invited by someone to get acquainted and then been asked to come after dark so no one would glimpse you together?

Have you ever fed a large crowd and discovered that the food you provided was more appreciated that you were?

Have you ever walked 30 miles to comfort a bereaved family only to be treated as if it were your fault the sick had died? Have you ever been turned away no matter where you went or whom you asked for lodging?

Do you know how it hurts to have no one to talk to no one to share with, even if that person would only listen? Have you ever cried so hard that your eyes ached and, trying to talk, you could only moan between sobs? Have you ever spent nights in tears that no one will ever know of, except you?

Have you ever thought you had found a few who accepted you as their friend and then watched as they left or ignored you so as not to be embarrassed by you? Have you ever felt the pain of rejection or the bitter disappointment of broken trust? Have you ever given of yourself until there was nothing left to give and then heard mocking laughter because you were so vulnerable?

Have you ever sat alone by the edge of a lake and watched gulls drift above the water, wishing you could fly away? Have you ever struggled against giving up the effort to give yourself, struggled until you actually sweat blood?

Have you ever spent entire nights worried and praying for a troubled friend? Have you gone to that same friend for comfort and understanding and heard him say, “I’m too tired to listen?”

Have you ever had people follow you so that they might distort something you say and justify putting you to death? Have you ever been rudely jostled by calloused men, helpless within their menacing circle, because of love? Have you ever had someone spit on your bruised and bleeding face? Have you ever felt blood trickle down your back from torn flesh while being beaten by a leather whip with metal strips attached to it?

Have you ever felt the sharp pain of thorns forcefully pressed deep into your scalp and temples? Have you ever had to wipe your eyes with a blood-sopped sleeve in order to see through tears? Do you know how it feels to struggle through your own blood while dragging heavy timbers? Do you think you could stagger on, willingly, toward dying for those who hate, despise, and reject you? Would you beat screaming insults, laughter, and mockery as you collapsed beneath your instrument of death? Would you struggle desperately to rise and continue towards your place of execution?

Have you ever felt the tearing, grinding crunch of nails being pounded through your hands and feet? Have you ever felt, with every nerve, the jolting thud of a cross dropped into its deeply dug hole? Have you ever hung from nails, with open wounds gaping ever wider while crowds taunted, throwing rocks at your bruised and lacerated body? Have you ever hung outstretched as rain and wind buffeted your exhausted body against a cross?

Have you ever gasped hoarsely for breath, aware that you are dying? Do you know how it feels to have vision grow dim as your eyes glaze? Have you ever exhaled your last breath, knowing it is finished?

Have you ever hurt? Have you ever ached? Have you ever suffered? Have you ever died-alone-for those who refused to let you be their friend? While on this earth, Jesus longed for companionship. He still does. Will you be His friend?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Joseph's Bones

Why did Joseph ask for the Israelites to take his bones out of Egypt when they left? I don’t remember if Joseph knew that his family would be put into slavery. But either way, Egypt was not his home, and he knew God’s promise to his forefathers. He knew that God would take His people out of Egypt eventually. 

The first amazing thing is that the people new about Joseph’s bones. The Israelites were in Egypt for 430 years. It was passed down through generations that, when they left Egypt, they were to take his bones. Joseph’s bones were a constant reminder to the people that Egypt was not their home. That slavery was not God’s plan for their lives. They should have been ready for Moses (or someone) to come and free them. Another example of mankind wanting to stay where they are familiar, even if safety is promised and provided. 

The second amazing thing is the faith of Joseph. He didn’t know when or how, but he knew that his people would leave Egypt. We don’t know the thoughts in his mind so I’m going to speculate. Maybe, as someone who was sold to the Egyptians, but stayed true to God, he never considered Egypt his home. Since he knew that God was going to take his people out of Egypt, he wanted to go too. He wanted to go back home. He thought, “One way or another, I will be home.” 

What kind of faith do I have? My promise is not that God will bring me out of slavery, but, like Joseph, do I believe in God’s promise? Do I believe that, wherever God calls me, He will be there with me, give me the words to say, and wisdom to know what to do? Or, like the Israelites, do I have a constant reminder that God is with me, providing for me, but I’m still scared to go where He wants me to go. Instead, I want to stay where it’s familiar, even if there’s a better world out there for me. God please give me the faith of Joseph!!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Ten Years Later...

Ten years ago, on September 2, I was moving down to Eastern Michigan University to start my college career. The five of us, driving down in my parents’ big van, 342 miles, gas at $3.36 a gallon. People everywhere. Boxes, bags, crates stacked all over the grass. There was an elevator, but it was quicker to take the stairs. Thankfully I was on the first floor. The group of girls on my floor were all in the same group during orientation activities. That helped jump start that year of all of us getting along. That was a fun year! Bubble wrap. Cart wheels down the hall. Too little sleep or too much sugar! Leaving our doors open and talking to each other down the hall. Good times!

But hard times too. Classes sporadic throughout the day and the week. One to two hours long! Why did I accept computers at 8am? Learning how to make my own eating, sleeping, study schedule. Having to make new friends. Living by myself (roommate was MIA all year). Acting like an adult. Honestly, one of the hardest things was finding my spiritual identity. Being questioned about what I believe and why I believe it and not knowing how to defend myself. Not knowing how to defend God. Through lots of prayer, tears, and late night talks, I made it!

Since that day, I’ve finished 5.5 years of college and 4 years of nursing (1/2 year in between). Too much happened in those ten years to sum up in one blog post, but to think that this girl who hated talking to people on the phone or the student in class next to her is now about to start her next big adventure. Although I still had the assistance of my whole family in moving, all of my belongings don’t fit in the van anymore. I am not moving 342 miles away or paying per gallon. There are not hundreds of others moving in with me; all of us new together. I won’t be living by myself. But I will still have classes/events sporadic throughout the day and the week. I’ll need to learn to schedule my eating, sleeping, and preparations around the others I’m living with. I’ll have to make new friends. I’ll have to act like an adult. And most importantly, I’ll have to know what I believe and why I believe it and be able to defend myself and God.

September 2, 2005, I moved into my new home in 123 Wise Hall at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. September 2, 2015, I’ll be moving into my new home in Cork, Ireland. When I started college, I thought it’d be 4 years and it turned out to be 5.5. My life forever changed! Right now, I’m committed to 1 year. Time will tell how long this move will be and how it will change me.

Time to catch a train. Happy Birthday to me!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

In The Beginning

Reflections from CAMPUS Winter Retreat 2015:
-Ideal: the satisfaction of a person's perception of what is perfect.
-God has an ideal in every situation.  How do we get back to God's ideal?
-God's ideal way of thinking is not seeing boy/girl, tall/short, black/white, mom/dad, it's seeing saved and lost.
-Our way of thinking was changed by sin and can only return to the ideal by faith in God and the renewing of our mind (Rom 12:2)
-My knowledge of God determines how I react, relate, and experience God.
-God's commands are clear because the consequences are too grave for Him to be unclear.
-His liberties far out way His restrictions (Gen 2:16-17) He even tells us the results of breaking the rules and the blessings of obeying.
-We do not need to live in fear that we are breaking a rule we do not know. It is God's ideal that we not live in fear.
-The biggest fear is the fear of failure. What would I do if I knew I couldn't fail? Eph 3:20 "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us"
-Rom 4:16-21 Faith does not consider human weakness, circumstances, or past experiences, it considers what God said he would do.
-We fall when we mistakenly believe that God can't or won't help us in all circumstances.
-Faith is the power to go through a challenge and trial, not what is used to make the trial go away.
-Reality is not what we see, it's what God says
-Something only reproduces what that something is. I was created in the image of God. That means I have an infinite path of development and there is nothing I cannot learn to do.
-During creation, God did not do what He could do, He did what He planned to do. God knows that changing us to His ideal over night would be hard on us. This is why our development takes time. But He promises to complete what He has started (Phil 1:6)
-1 John3:2 "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him." God sees in me what I don't see in myself, that is why He asks me to do things I might not think myself capable of doing.
-Peter was a fisherman and did not expect to me a preacher for the Lord. What is God's ideal for my life?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Most Peaceful Sleep

What I am about to share is not going to be easy for all of you to read, but it is out of love that I share it. Please read to the end, otherwise it will leave you with the wrong feeling. After a recent death in the family, I told God I would try not to miss another opportunity to share His truth about what happens to a person when they die. I’m going to start by sharing verses right from the Bible (New King James Version).

Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, 10
For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, 
 And they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 
 Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished;
Nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun...  
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; 
for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom 
in the grave where you are going.

Job 7:10
He shall never return to his house, 
Nor shall his place know him anymore.

Solomon writes multiple times in the book of Ecclesiastes about what happens when a person dies. They have no more knowledge, no emotions, and no thoughts. They have no interaction with those still alive. Job writes that when a person dies, they do not return to their house. This could be unsettling for people who believe that a person’s spirit goes to heaven when they die. Heaven is a peaceful place. In Heaven, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” (Revelation 21:4)  If a loved one is up in Heaven, looking down on the pain and suffering that I am experiencing on earth, it is not going to be very peaceful for them. A couple more verses are:

Psalm 115:17
The dead do not praise the Lord, 
Nor any who go down into silence.

Acts 2:29, 34
Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch 
David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us 
to this day...For David did not ascend into the heavens.

We are told that everyone will be praising God in Heaven. If the dead are not praising God, they must not be in heaven. Even David, a “man after God’s own heart,” is not in heaven, but in the grave. (Acts 13:22) This does not mean that all the dead are in hell. Matthew 9:24, John 11, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13 say that death is a sleep. But as the last verse says, there is hope! We will be awaken from that sleep!

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who 
are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means 
precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend 
from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and 
with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 
 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up
 together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. 
And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  
Therefore comfort one another with these words.

I know I said this wouldn’t be easy to read. At first, it’s not a comforting feeling to know that I can’t speak with my grampa anymore. But we are to encourage on another with these words. I know that he is no longer in pain. I also know that he is not suffering by watching me in pain either. He is asleep. A peaceful sleep with no dreams or nightmares. No worry about waking up with chest pain or an inability to breath. A sleep with the best alarm clock in the world. When Jesus returns and blows the trumpet for all of His followers to join Him in Heaven. The dead and the living will meet the Lord together in the air. We will all be reunited to spend eternity with each other and with God..

Friday, August 22, 2014


Sorry. Defined by google as 1. feeling distress, especially through sympathy with someone else's misfortune. Also known as sad, unhappy, sorrowful, distressed, upset, downcast, dishearted, despondent, heartbroken, inconsolable, grief-stricken, sympathetic, compassionate, concerned, regretful, remorseful, apologetic, ashamed. 2. in a poor or pitiful state or condition. Also known as pitiful, distressing.
Sorry. Defined by as 1. Feeling regret, sympathy, pity. 2. Regrettable, unfortunate, tragic. 3. Sorrowful, grieved, sad.

There are many uses and definitions of the word ‘sorry.’ Google’s first definition comes from two perspectives. One from a person who is hurt and the other from a second party. The one I have heard a lot lately is the one used for sympathy and sorrow coming from a second party to someone who is hurt. I know it is meant to be a serious word, but it is also one that is used so often and loses its meaning. Even when people are serious when they say it, if it has been over used prior to them, it lowers the reception of the depth of the feelings.

As lines of people passed by, giving their regrets, condolences, and hugs, the word started meaning less and less. It actually started getting annoying when people said it. After two hours of greetings and a one hour service, the condolence that meant the most to me involved no words at all. It was eye to eye contact, both sets of eyes holding back tears. Her eyes not even knowing the person who had died. Only there to be my support. The only thoughts going through my mind were, “I knew you’d come,” and “I’m glad you came.” Then it wasn’t just an arm around the shoulder 2 second hug. It was a full embrace, by both parties. I squeezed, because I knew she wouldn’t mind. It felt good. I realized she was squeezing back, and not letting go. She was giving this hug for me, and would hold it until I ended it. It was the best, tightest, longest, most comforting hug I had received all week. My best 10 seconds of the week. I knew she was sorry for my loss, having been close to being in a similar position herself recently. But she didn’t say anything. She saw a physical need and filled it, which in turn, filled an emotional/spiritual need. That’s what ‘sorry’ means. Using the words from above, it means being concerned, compassionate, and sympathetic. But it also means knowing when and how to use those feelings. Put them into action. What action are you going to take now that you feel sorry?

The pastor, that Saturday morning, when I found out that my grampa had died, said that, as Christians, we should not say the phrase, “Let me now if there is anything I can do.” We should cook for that person and bring it over. My thoughts, we don’t know what we need in times of sorrow, we just know we need. It really didn’t fit into this friend’s schedule to come to the funeral. And I told her she didn’t have to because I didn’t want to put more into her busy schedule. But that’s how she showed her love and concern. She saw a need, that although not convenient for her, she could fill. And she did. And she blessed more than just me. My family and others at the service greatly appreciated that she came. Other friends said the ‘anything I can do’ phrase but they also gave suggestions. One told me to let her know if work got to be too much and I had to come home early and didn’t think I could drive myself. She didn’t care that she lives a half hour away and it would have been the middle of the night. Another friend offered her place to stay if I ended up being back at my apartment by myself. I didn’t end of taking either of these friends up on their offers but it was good to know that the options were there. They weren’t options I had to come up with or think of someone to let them know what I needed something.

The other phrase that the pastor said that we should never say to anyone is, “I know what you’re going through.” But earlier in the sermon, he himself said it! He said that he lost his son in a car accident 3 years ago. I tried not to get upset at him as I compared our situations. Christian son died 3 years ago in a car accident vs. non Christian grandfather died of a heart attack two hours ago. No matter my relationship with my grandfather, those situations are in no way the same. Understand that no feelings were very strong at that point, but I resisted raising my hand and saying, “But your son was a Christian!” But I didn’t really want to hear the response. My friend who came to the funeral had more right to use that phrase of knowing what I was going through. Her grandfather has been in and out of hospitals for a year now, not sure from one day to the next, not sure if a procedure will be too much for his body. At least in this case, the similarities would be the timing, grandfather, and heart condition. But even in her case, her grandfather is Christian. She realized that that was the issue that mattered to me. She saw that our situations were Not the same, and that’s how she addressed it: a SIMILAR situation, but she didn’t stop there. When I shared my feelings with her, she did not use that popular saying. Her response was what comforted her when her non-Christian aunt died. There were other details that didn’t play a part in her situation. No two situations will ever be exactly the same. Which is why the phrase, “I know what you’re going through” should never be used.

That is my reflection on the word ‘sorry.’ Words mean a lot and some require physical action. Sometimes the word doesn’t even need to be said in order to be understood. And sometimes words are best left unsaid in general.