Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Thoughts

Well, I just got back from my church's wonderful Good Friday service. (which my big brother was in. He played Judas. High five, Shane! You did great!) It really was a good service, though it was different from the normal one we have had the past few years. We usually do a Tenebrae service, which is focused on the sadness and darkness of Jesus' death. This one was about seeing His death through the eyes of the people who saw it and asking the question "Who was Jesus?" We got to see through the eyes of a woman who was celebrating on Palm Sunday, Judas, a disciple, Peter, a Pharisee, and Pilate. Each song sung by each different person was indeed thought provoking but honestly, I don't think I got the main message they were trying to get across.

   They were trying to make you think about who Jesus was and what His sacrifice means to you. But for me...I know who He is. I knew that He was who He claimed to be. He was the Son of God. But something else in the story caught my eye.

   See, the pastor was talking about how all those people were expecting the coming Savior to be something. They all had ideas of who He would be and what He would be like. So when He didn't fit their description, they rejected Him. It would have been so much easier for Jesus to just conform. If He had only been the political leader Judas had wanted, if He had just followed the rules and been in order like the Pharisees, if only...if only...if only...

   People would have liked Him a whole lot more if He had fit the description. If he had acted how they wanted Him to act, if He had fit in. But that wasn't what Jesus had come to do. He didn't come to please people. He was here on a mission from God and nothing was to distract Him from that goal.

   That really hit me, because I want to follow Jesus. I want to do what He would do. But I never realized this cool point in the story. See, I'm not here to please people either. I am here to do God's will. Maybe people would like me more if I were the kind of person they wanted me to be. Maybe if I was smarter, or prettier, or more talented, or braver, then maybe people would like me more. If I only fit their description of "Pretty" and "Smart" and "Talented." But I'm not here to appease you. I am here to do whatever God wants me to do and if I spend my life trying to make you happy, I won't be doing God's will.

   Just because I am not what you think "Pretty" is, doesn't mean I'm not pretty. I have talent, but its not how you view talent. I'm not "Smart" like you want me to be, but that doesn't mean I'm stupid. I am not going to be the worlds definition of a lot of things, but not everything they say about me is true. I don't want to spend my life worrying about what other people say of me. I want to spend my life knowing who I am in Christ and pursuing His will with confidence.

   The same goes for all of you. You don't need to conform to what other people want you to be. Jesus set an amazing example of how to do this. To focus on God and not worry about what other people say of you. People will bring you down and sometimes you will fall, but the important thing is to get back up again. You are not defined by what people say of you. You are God's child and He loves you very much. Focus on Him and let everyone else's opinions fade.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Health Update

Wow. It's been a while since I've had to post about my health. Here's a quick recap: last year I was diagnosed with a blood disorder called ITP. (Don't ask me what that stands for because I can't spell it nor pronounce it.) But I have a very low platelet count, which means my blood is very thin so any injury I get can be very dangerous. This was very hard for me because I love playing sports, so I wasn't allowed to participate in many activities for a while. Since my diagnoses my doctor has told me it was chronic and I'll never get better. But me and my mom did some research and some people with ITP (an auto immune problem) are likely to have other problems with their auto immune systems; like Celiacs Disease. ANd many people have found that treating one auto immune problem can help the other as well. So for the past few months I've been going gluten free to see if that helps. My platelet count went way up to 50,000. (My doctor never expected me to get to 20,000...ever.) Though they average person have 120,000 platelets.

   Well finally I went in again today and got it checked. It was weird getting my blood drawn again. I used to do it every week but I haven't done it in so long I found myself a little frightened. So we got the call a few hours later saying that my platelets had dropped to 22,000. I wasn't totally upset because it was still higher than my doctors expectations. In 2 weeks I am scheduled to see the hematologists to talk and what not.

   The other problem I've been facing is I have trouble exercising. I get very short of breath very easily. I thought it was a psychological problem with stress and stuff or that I was just out of shape. But you see, I'm sort of a fitness freak. So I had really been beating myself up about it but no matter how hard I tried to press on, I couldn't. Today I found out that I'm anemic. That means I have an iron deficiency. The lack of iron explains why I've had no energy lately. So I'm actually almost happy about that. I'm very thankful that is wasn't a stress related thing; though I'm sure the stress I've been under has definitely contributed to it, it wasn't the main cause.

   So I'll be on iron pills from now on and I guess we'll have to see what to do about the gluten free stuff. Please just keep me in your prayers and we seek what's best to do in this situation.

   May the Force be with you!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Me...But 6 Years Ago

I was always a really odd kid. I was so over dramatic! But after re-reading my journal from when I was 10, I realized I was way more over dramatic then I had originally thought. But I also realized something else. I pointed this out in my post from my all Star Wars blog,  but as I read through the pages full of random stupidity and over dramaticness I saw how God began changing me to make me to be who I am today.

   Though in reality the things I ranted about were stupid, but God used them. They were things that were important to me as a little nine year old girl that seemed like huge mountains (but were more like ant hills) that God used.

   "Jacen is evil!"
   "No! He's awesome!"
   "But he kills people and he betrayed his whole family!"
   "But he can still change back!"
   "No! He's lost his mind! He's psycho!"

   These are the almost daily arguments I had with my older brother. (Guess which side I was on.) I can see that I've always had a place in my heart for the bad guys. Because thinking about my favorite characters from everything...they're all bad guys. Why have I always been so drawn to the evil characters? That question will be revealed throughout this post. But first I want to show you the way in which God used Star Wars to help me grasp concepts I struggled with. He showed me truths about Him at my level. In the Bible Jesus always used parables. That was Him telling the people truths in a way they could grasp it. He used visuals they understood. God did that for me. Because I wasn't grasping the concepts in AWANA or church. Sure, I was arrogant. But maybe I just couldn't connect with them on that level. But here is a sample of a journal entry I wrote after an argument with my brother about Jacen Solo.

   "Ever since I opened the book Lightsabers, it just felt so real! I started getting closer to God! I want to tell the world everything I learned about God. I really feel God calling me to finish my project to tell people about God through Star Wars. I feel God really calling me to tell the world about God's unchanging love."

   "The project" I was referring to was how I tried to find God in everything I read and find bible verses to back it up. This is something I still do today, though it comes naturally to me now. If I see something, I just make it about God. Its how I'm wired. After reading that journal entry I realized how He was working and placing things in my life at certain times.

   More of my journal reveals dreams and callings I've had to reach out to broken people. "The bad guys" of society. I remember seeing people labeled "goths" or "freaks" by others and feelings stirred inside me. I wanted to help them. But I wasn't sure why. My dad always criticized people of those sorts and I couldn't help but ponder why. He once told me that people dress the way they do because it shows what they feel. I wrote in my journal about the subject saying "If they feel alone and hurt, how come no one is doing anything about it!!!! So I want to use my whole life to help people get to know God."

   That seems really deep for a 10 year old.

   But that was something God places on my heart. Not much has changed in that aspect. I'm still trying to live my life for Him and to shine His light by reaching out to broken people. I still have that same fire yet more I'm more mature. Reading that has really been crazy for me. I wasn't expecting to read something so deep. God has had His hand on me since I was 9. All that was written a year after I got saved.

   Well, that's some crazy stuff right there.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Standing Still

I've been reading this book called Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris; two brothers who lead the Rebelution. The Rebelution is defined as a teenage rebellion against low standards. Now, my change the world mood switch has been on for a while (I might blog about that soon.) but reading this book has blown up the switch now. There's no off button anymore. Now I am craving hard things to do. The book encouraged big hard things (like the outreach night I helped organize) and small hard things. (like doing more chores than is expected of me and doing the dishes without being told.)

   I've really been trying to do everything I can. I did the girls night, I made an email account where hurting people can tell me their stories and maybe get some release from letting things out, I also started a website with the same purpose. I'm also trying to find a way for me to reach and get to know non believers, such as joining a group or work on a community project. Yet all the doors seem to be closed right now. My website is getting no new members and no one posting, I'm getting no emails, my blog/Facebook page has no new followers. Everything is at a stand still.

   So now what? It can be tempting to ask "God, why would you give me this passion and all this input to fuel me...just to give me no resources or open doors?" Honestly, I have thought that. I feel like I'm getting nowhere. I know I can do big hard things for Christ, I can do so much more than I've been doing. So why am I being held back?

   Sometimes we need to learn to have patience and wait on God's timing. He has plans for each one of us but sometimes we need to trust God with where we are and instead of wishing for more, work hard to do your best at what God has provided you. When life gives you lemons do you throw it back and ask for limes? No. Take it and make some lemonade! That ties into something Kol Skywalker said in the Legacy comics. "We take what we're given." That means we don't complain or ask for more. We graciously take whatever God hands us and use it. We actually have a lot more resources than we think we do.

   Sometimes I doubt if my small day to day tasks make a difference or if I'm really helping. I have a constant fear that I'm not doing enough. What do I do during those times? I wish I had some dignified response but in reality I've been known to sit on my floor in a ball and cry while texting my friend, Diana, about how maybe I should be in public school witnessing to people. Sure, I have those moments, but I don't let myself mope around for too long. I'm allowed my few tears, but after that its all turned into determination. God gave me this desire for a reason and I will use it to serve Him no matter what situation He hands me.

   So here I am, no doors are opening to me. The question still stands: What do I do? Well, that's simple.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Operation Beautiful: Girls Night

It's been well over a year since God placed an idea in my heart. He gave me this vision to have an outreach night for girls that would focus on self image. What gave me this idea what something called Operation Beautiful, which is something I've been a part of for a few years now. The movement was started by Caitlyn Boyle. She had struggled with self image and one day she posted a note in a girls bathroom that simply said "You're beautiful."

   The rest is history. Since that first note she has created a whole mission to change the way girls see themselves...by leaving anonymous encouraging post it notes in various public places. I heard about this and loved it immediately since my favorite things in life are what I call "the little things." Things such as, finding a random post it note that says "You're beautiful!" I love those things. (They can make me smile for weeks on end!)

   Then I felt like God wanted me to gather a bunch of girls and go to the mall to do it together and cover the whole mall in encouraging notes! Well, it took sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much hard work and loads of planning but finally...it came.

   TODAY!

   Yes! We had invited 43 girls to the event. By last night 21 people said they were coming but by this morning 2 girls had canceled but we ended up with like, 17 people! So overall it was a good turnout. No one had really expected that many. (I find their lack of faith disturbing...) Of course today was crazy hectic and pretty much everything went wrong at one point. Like, me forgetting to make handouts, then the printer not working, everyone was late, so many people canceled last minute, I left the food in the wrong car, there was miscommunications with drivers, no one had keys to the office so I couldn't make copies of previously mentioned handouts and we also had issues working the soundboard.

   Yet somehow the day went great.

   Yes, this morning my mom sent me to my bedroom to cry it out with God and yeah some other leaders were frazzled and upset and yeah I questioned my ability to lead at points but really...it was a good day. I loved seeing the enthusiasm from the Jr. High girls and by the end of the night they were all complimenting each other and building each other up. We could really learn a lot from those girls. From what I heard one team completely cover Forever 21 in post its to the point where you couldn't look anywhere without seeing a note saying "You look great today!" I also got to step out of my comfort zone and talk in front of them all. There were a lot of points in my speech things where it seemed totally scripted and maybe it didn't flow right but I felt more confident in front of a crowd then I have ever felt. And my voice didn't waver and I was bold and not quiet. God really blessed me today. I loved being on stage and seeing all the reactions from the girls who listened so intently. I also had them write down lies that they had been told (since the theme was 'Don't Believe The Lie.') and then rip them up and throw them away. It was very powerful to see them throw away those things and to be able to say that those things didn't control them. Also, my friend Diana had a killer speech and really rocked that out.

   We had discussion time at the end and I loved hearing from all these girls who had a lot to share and honestly, they were more talkative than I thought they would be which was really good. I pray so much that they heard the message clear and they wouldn't forget who they are in Christ and that they would never forget that they are beautiful no matter what anyone else says.

   So now after that outreach night is over I guess I'll be planning my next big thing to do. So I'll be ready the next time God calls.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Meet Silas!

Hello everyone! Yes, my sibling posts are over (You're probably excited about that.) but there is someone else I would like to introduce you to. His name is Silas. He's a little boy who's been battling cancer for I think, the last year. Silas is an adorable little boy and he is an inspiration to his whole family and so many others. This is something I got from his Facebook page, Praying For Silas.
 
   "Tonight Silas and I were talking. I told him that he is going to be better than OK no matter what happens. If God heals him and wants him to stay on the earth or if God heals him and takes him to Heaven he will be better than OK, he will be great! Silas says to me "NO! I will be FANTASTIC when I am in Heaven!"

   That is a brave little boy. He's braver than a lot of adults in the world today! Please keep Silas in your prayers. He's had a rough journey and especially lately things have been hard. His cancer has spread and grown larger and there is no curable treatment for it. Please pray for him and his family. Pray that they would trust God and that God would perform a miracle. I don't know about you, but I certainly believe God does miracles.

 
   God has a way of using the situations that seem the worst to reveal Himself through. Even when all hope seems lost, God is still in control. I remember going to the doctor a lot and wanting to just get better already but I would sing the chorus of Cling To You by Trip Lee. It says:

   "Lord it may get better, but it may not. So when I pray God, I pray I would trust you whether or not the pain stops. So when the pain falls coming down like raindrops, I just gotta cling to you."

   A thing about Silas is, he really likes sea turtles. So whenever you see a sea turtle just say a short prayer for him. I know God is with them and He can do anything.

   Stay strong little Silas. I pray that God blesses you just like you've blessed us.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Shane

Well I had been anxiously awaiting a post from dear Becca about another member of her family I have simply decided to finish up my family and post about my big brother, Shane.

   Yes, at long last people, I'm blogging about Shane. Now, if you only follow my blog and don't know me in person than you probably don't get it. Honestly, I don't really know either. All my friends that I know personally are just really excited for this post. Not too sure why. Though most people at my church think Shane's the greatest kid ever and might be really excited to see what I have to say about it.

   My brother is a year older than me, that's the closest age gap in my family. After me is Dayle, who's 4 years younger than me. So before Dayle I spent a considerable amount of time with just my brother. Most of my best childhood memories are of playing toys and goofing off with him. I can remember laying in my bottom bunk at night with him on the top and we would talk about Star Wars or AWANA or whatever.



   We also argued a lot. Actually, we still argue a lot. But many of you know when I was 12 we were evicted from our home and I didn't live with my brother for over 7 months. I saw him once or twice a week and I texted him almost every day, especially when I was in the homeless shelter because honestly, I was bored out of my mind. I really enjoyed our limited time together during that year and not having seen him really grew our friendship.


   Shane really is a man of God. He is so strong in his faith and soooooooooooo many people look up to him. He's also a great older brother to all of us. See the picture above? Yeah, I have a picture just like that with every sibling. Another thing about Shane: he eat, sleeps and breathes baseball. He's been a catcher for his baseball team since...well, a really long time. He can play any  position really but catching is his thing. His coach once said that he was the best catcher in the league. That's a bold statement. (So just remember this post when he's in the major leagues.)


   Shane has a sense of humor and a ton of wisdom! One of my friends even calls him a walking bible because he can just pull verses up for any situation. He can also debate like nobody's business. Another thing I admire about my brother is his bible...I really don't know how he reads it or understands all the notes he has in it. Its literally filled with notes and cross references and who knows what. It's also practically falling to pieces; he got his bible when he was very young and he's had it ever since.

   A lot of people know him as Captain America, since a lot of people we know go by which Avenger is most like them, and his fits perfectly. He's a natural leader and when he speaks, people listen. I got to hear him and his best friend do a talk at a church retreat last fall and it was amazing! I just looked around the audience and everyone was at the edge of their seats listening intently.

   I know if I ever have problems or questions or just need to rant, I go to Shane. Just last week I went down to his room and just ranted to him and asked questions and all that fun stuff and he stayed up until midnight talking to me. Now, being the older brother he's very protective. He's already planned on how to threaten a boy if he ever asks me out and don't ever get him started on when little Lois starts dating. Last week at high school group I fell and twisted my ankle a bit and he ran out onto the court and pulled me out and made me sit until the game was over to keep me safe. These are just some examples of why he's a great big brother.

 
   So to sum that all up for you: my brother is fantastic. I have those moments where I want to punch him in the face and scream at him and all that, but overall he's great. I couldn't have asked for a better brother. My prayer for the little boys in my family is that they would grow to be like him. That's also my prayer for the boys in my youth group, that they would become men of God like my brother.
 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Culture

So I'm taking a break from my siblings posts and I just want to talk about culture. My culture in specific. I guess culture isn't really the right word for it but that's what I'm going to call it for lack of a better term.

   Now, I'm American. Born and raised here. I'm also Irish (And psyched for Saint Patricks day!) and German. But that's just my heritage. I've always been fascinated by Chinese culture and their language. Ever since I started watching the animated show, Sagwa, when I was little I've been in love with China. I always thought it was weird but then I realized that God gives us passions to use for His glory! I want to go on a missions trip to China one day and bring people there to know Him.

   But learning Chinese is really hard to learn, and its even harder when you have to teach yourself. So I've really been slacking on that. I can get really frustrated with not being able to learn to phoenix of it and getting my tones just right. Though I have been able to learn a bible verse. I know 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17.

   要常常喜乐,不住地祷告
   or in pinyin:
   Yào chángcháng xǐlè, bù zhùdì dǎogào

   That says "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing."


   I love everything about Chinese culture! I have some Chinese cups on my desk in my room along with a scroll on my wall. In China, the color red is considered lucky. They also celebrate other holidays like the Moon Festival.

   
   But one sort of culture that has really started to grow on me is Deaf Culture. I've know some sign language since I was a baby because my mom always teaches some signs to us kids while we're babies because we can pick it up faster. But I've never really thought of it as a culture. I've been talking more with my friend from church and she knows ASL like she was deaf herself! She's amazing at it! She also knows a ton about their culture and I love hearing about it from her. She's been teaching me and another friend of mine to sign and its really cool! Another reason why I've been able to get ASL easier than Chinese, is I have people who understand it. I can frequently sign a conversation with the people who are learning it with me. That helps a LOT!

   
   I feel bad because I've not had trouble picking up American Sign Language and have been neglecting my Chinese. Though I'm trying to understand how hard it is and to give myself a break. But each culture I love is amazing in it's own way. I love all of them. Maybe one day I'll actually be good at speaking (or signing) all their languages. I really hope so.

   What about you? Are you passionate about any languages or cultures in particular?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lois

Hi! As most of you are aware I have been dedicating a post to each one of my siblings as are some other bloggers. To see each post you can click on the 'My Family' tag on the right side of my blog and that'll show you all the other posts.

   So people keep telling me that they can't wait to read what I post about my older brother, Shane. Apparently they're all really excited to read it. So just to keep them all waiting, I'm doing the blog about him last. *evil laugh* That means today's post will be about my little sister, Lois.

   Lois was named after a bible study teacher that my mom had who passed away a while back. My mom always said that she would name her baby girl Lois, and even told her that. Lois had told her not to name a baby after her but after having a few kids we now have little Lo Lo.

   Lois is pretty much the definition of girly. She just adores dresses and the colors pink and purple. If you asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would say "A princess." She also loves doing ballet along with any sort of dancing. Even with all this, Lois has definitely learned from me. She can name pretty much all the X-Men, all the Avengers and pretty much any Marvel character out there. She's a geek genius. And she's only a preschooler. Just like me, she also likes dying her hair. Right now she has a little purple streak in the front. We love doing our hair weird colors:)



   This is some of her dancing to a song that her and Shane did for a talent show at our youth group. The funniest part is at the end when she quits because she wants to eat her cupcake...


 
   I just love Lois. When we picked that name before she was born I told my mom that if that was going to be her name then no one could object if I called her Lowbacca. (Like, from Star Wars. Chewies nephew.) So especially recently she's been asking me why I call her Lowbacca. I needed to tell her it was from Star Wars and in the books, they call Lowbacca, Lowie. Which is another of her nicknames. It works.

   This little girl is just the light of my life. I remember holding her when she was a baby and singing her to sleep. I was so thrilled when I got a sister after having 3 boys in a row. I love cuddling her and playing with her and tickling her. We have this thing where we try and see who loves each other more. I'll say I love you and she'll say "I love you more."

   "I love you most."
   "I love you more than you love me."
   "I love you to the moon and back."
   "I love you infinity!"
   "I love you infinity plus never ending!"
   "I love you infinity plus never ending plus 12!"

   And so on. Don't ask why but Lois seems to think that "Plus 12" is the ultimate trump card.


 
   I think I could probably post a trillion and 3 pictures of her. She loves posing for pictures and since I love photography, we make the ultimate team.



 



   The collage one is pretty much all of the best pictures of her. She's adorable. Yes, she can be a drama queen, but she's also a princess. One time she told me "When there's a storm, I don't have to be afraid! Because God is with me!" I think we can all learn from those wise words from this little girl.

   So yeah! That's my sister for you. I love her to death. I can't wait to see her personality come out more as she gets older. She's going to be a great young woman of God one day:)