Sunday, September 27, 2009

Preaching Photo

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Sometimes I can be anti-social. I can be shy and reserved and quiet. Sometimes I don't want to leave my room because I am afraid I will have no one to sit with or talk to, so I stay inside my safe room and sit on my safe bed and eat canned fruit. I love canned fruit. I don't know why. I didn't like canned fruit, but then I started working at a nursing home. I don't know if it is an universal thing, but I feel like canned fruit and nursing homes go together. Sometimes I don't talk in class, sometimes I open my mouth and really stupid things come out. Sometimes I spend more time on Facebook than I do studying, but after all, I am in college. I am obsessed with necklaces with keys or owls on them. I eat when I am bored. I run into walls and door frames and I trip over my own foot.

I come up short. I fail. I am human. I believe that I a dirty, rotten sinner. But I also believe that there is grace and God's grace covers me. It wraps me up and takes me to a place where my love for God overwhelms my love for sin.

I am Annie.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Too Often

Too often we forget to enjoy the moments.
Too often we forget that there is church where there is a community of believers.
Too often we forget that each day is precious.
Too often we forget to see the beauty in old architecture.
Too often we forget to just breath in and breath out and that each breath means that we are living.
Too often we forget that because we are still living, God has a purpose for us.
Too often we forget that God's church doesn't have a mission, but that God's mission has a church.
Too often we forget that when God called us, we were immature baby Christians, that we were lowly, dirty, rotten sinners.
Too often we forget that God uses the ragamuffins.
Too often we forget that the kingdom of God belongs to the poor in spirit.
Too often we forget that community and fellowship go hand in hand.
Too often we forget that we are so totally blessed.
Too often we forget to love one another.
Too often we forget that whatever you give to one of the least of these, you have given to Jesus.
Too often we forget the importance of communion.
Too often we forget that Christ Jesus died for us while we were still sinners.
Too often we forget who we are living for.
Too often we get too busy making a living, that we forget to make a life.
Too often we forget to unwind and remember the good times.
Too often we forget that Jesus saves us.

Well, I want you to remember.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Single and Saved

Look at the title. I think that the latter is more important, but some people probably think that the former is more important. However, I found this poem from someone else's blog and I liked what it said so I thought that I would post it here. However, I do want to say that it is funny because I was just thinking about how long I have been single (which it has been quite some time relative to how old I am) and when I first got out of a relationship/having a guy in my life I thought that I would just become alright with being single and then God would bring someone into my life. Then after a while of feeling pathetic not having Friday night plans, I figured that I might not be okay with being single, but God would realize that I am trying and still bring someone into my life. Then I finally became content with being single and realized that God wants to keep me single because my single years are valuable years of my life. Besides, I am only starting college, so there is definitely no hurry towars finding a mate. My cousin told me something that was pretty good advice. She said, "Never make plans on where you want to be by the time you are a certain age, because you will only be dissappointed when you get to that age and nothing is like you wanted it to be." I feel that goes for career plans, but also for relationship plans. Because I am 18 and I very easily could say that in six years, I hope to already be married and starting to plan having children, but what if six years go by and I am still single? Will I still be content then? Only if I find contentment in the Lord and not in guys. So, anyway, I wanted to share this with you. The author is unknown as far as I could tell, but it is good and right on:

Single and Saved

What makes you think that just because I am an attractive woman of Godly intelligence that I'm incomplete without a mate? Who told you that without a man something's missing from my life? And if so, what would that be?


Love? I love myself and more importantly I love the Lord. He told me that when I delight in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart. Security? I have everything I need according to His riches in glory. Intimacy? Now, how's a man going to get to know me when he doesn't even know who he is in the Lord?

See my Father told me I'm above a ruby's worth and a gem does not seek, it is sought. I'm single and that's all right with me. See, it's not that I oppose relationships, it's that I detest co-dependency. As a woman I know it is not my role to chase after any man. Esther 2:14 reads that I am to wait on my king and when he's delighted in me he will call me by my name.

My Lord does not intend for me to be needy or desperate. I am to be Cherished, Relished, Valued, and Honored. It's not my job to convince him or convict him of that. My mate will already know it and consistently show it and he will stay on his knees daily - not just to adore me but to praise the Lord for the virtuous woman he has found.

So, when you see me by myself - I'm not alone. I know what I have coming to me. I'm single and saved, and right now that's all I need to be!

-Author Unknown

Saturday, July 25, 2009

No Going Back

I didn't want to go to TBC because I really did feel that only losers stay home and go to college. But, honestly, I have since realized that isn't true. I honestly wish I could just go to TBC to start off with. However, I have also since really locked in MNU, so there is no going back. I am trying to tell myself to think positive and it is just fear of the unknown that is keeping me afraid of going over nine hours away for college. I am trying to tell myself that everything will work out, it won't be so bad and I will actually enjoy it. However, it seems that the part of my mind that is negative wins out over my positive self a lot more often than not. Nine hours is a really long drive. What was I thinking? But what I think makes it the most difficult for me to get excited is that I wanted to go to MNU ever since I was in the 8th grade. But now, I can't remember why I wanted to go there so badly. I really feel like I have lost sight of God's plan for me and my life. I have no idea what I want to actually get a degree in and I have no idea what God wants me to do. I always felt like I knew before and I always worked hard to get there. For years, I wanted to become a youth pastor. But I don't know if it is part of growing up or being practical that made me think that odds are I would make an awful youth pastor. Now I have preached in front of my church and other churches before and when I am on stage or behind a pulpit, I feel like that is exactly where I am supposed to be. However, I highly doubt I could ever pastor a church because I don't really think I could lead a flock in the right direction.

So, those are some of my fears and I really hope I will get to MNU (in less than a month) and realize that everything will be alright. But for now, I am really just afraid.

As for the moment, I am still inbetween the jump and where I'm landing, so we will see how things go.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Death and Dying

Did you know? The same enzymes that digest your food while you're alive will start eating your body once you're dead.

Do you think that is an uncomfortable fact? Why? Death is a part of life. Granted it is the end of life, but everything has an end. But let's fact it. We don't like talking about death. We don't like saying someone died. That is probably why there are more than 200 euphemisms for death.

If you are a "technical" writer, you might say that instead of someone dying, they were lost in translation or they collapsed their outline. Perhaps if you are a Julia Child fan, you could say that someone is pushing up parsley, they were put in the crisper, they are marinating in soil and worms, they are sampling the french onion soup with a salmonella soup, cooking for the Kennedy's, or you could simply say, "Just add maggots." If you are a writer, you could put it poetically by saying they made the big deadline or they went to the big spell checker in the sky. Trekkies might say they are sleeping with the Tribbles.

However, if you don't fit into any of those categories, don't worry. There is a lot you could say without ever uttering the word "die." People push up daisies, kick the bucket, go to meet their maker, rest in peace, are six feet under, cross over, cease to be, check out, depart, perish, croak, kick off more often than they just die. Being in Abraham’s bosom, sleeping the big sleep, having gone to one’s narrow bed, having gone to one’s reward, and having gone to feed the fishes are also something you could describe a dead person as well. Next time you want to point out that another bit the dust, remember that death doesn't have to be depressing. We don't need to sugarcoat death or dying, because there is hope.

One death. One resurrection. That is why we can have hope. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. What do we need to do? Repent and turn away from our sins. Jesus died on the cross for us so that even though we are dying, we can have hope.

Why am I talking about this? No, I am not just obsessed with death. I am just taking it to heart. Because I know that so often we just get caught up in living the day-to-day that we forget the big picture. We forget that someday we will die (that's right, die) and what will we have to show for our lives? Did we make an impact for Christ? I am not asking you to "leave a legacy," I am asking you to realize that you closer to your death now than you have ever been in your life because I want you to realize that every day is precious. Every day is an opportunity to share Christ's love. Share the hope that even though we are all born into the world dirty, rotten sinners, we don't have to have death be the end.

It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. --Ecclesiastes 7:2

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What I Have Been Doing Lately

I know that I have really been slacking when it comes to posting and I do apologize for that. So, here are some pictures to briefly show you what I have been up to. Of course, there are no pictures of me working, which is what I have been doing most of the time. But, when I haven't been working, I have been:

Graduating:
Turning 18:
Being in a wedding:
Going to Montana (with my youth group):
Celebrating Kyle's birthday:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Failure or ...Success

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Let it All Out

I remember reading a quote once that was like, "A boat is safe in the harbor, but that is not what it was made for." Same goes for me, I suppose, an Annie is safe at home, but that is not what she was made for. However, I cannot help but being stressed.

First off, I have a headache right now because I did a lot of crying today. I did a lot of crying today because I had to take my cat, Olive back to the vet. She got her back claws declawed and she also got spayed a week ago and she wasn't getting better. She wouldn't eat or walk around, she wouldn't do anything but sleep. She was in pain, so we had to take her back to the vets whose fault is probably is in the first place. She has an infection in her body and I don't think she is doing too good. The vet said that they would have to keep her overnight and probably for several days. Now, my family are animal people, when we get a pet, they become part of our family. It feels empty in the house without her. I cried so much because I blame myself and because I know how death works. I work in a nursing home. I know people get infections and sometimes they don't come out of them. I really hope you aren't one of those annoying people who think that it is pointless to pray for cat. I remember my old Sunday School teacher once saying how he liked teaching kids that were middle school aged instead of younger because the younger kids had prayer requests for the kitties all the time. Let me tell you that my cat is my baby. She came into our backyard with a broken leg and cracked pevis and we took her in. And she began part of our family. I don't want to lose part of my family.

I am going to try to stop thinking about my kitten now because it is making me want to cry again. And I have already cried off most of my mascara. I got new tires put on my car today (believe me, having to get new tires on my car was another stress all its own) and so my mom and I had to kill time in Wal-Mart so we bought some supplies for college which only made me realize that I need to prepare and make lists of what I need to take to college. Which really just makes me stressed out because I don't want to go to college. I don't want to leave, I don't want anything to change. We are having to make some changes at the nursing home in dietary because the driver (who takes the food from the nursing home to the other building where it is the assisted care facility) is probably going to want a job that is actually more than just two 1.5 hours split up through the day, so they want to supply the position with the people who are actually already working, which isn't something that I really find ideal, because I don't like change. So I went with the driver one day to learn how and the dietary head person asked me how I liked it and I said that I didn't think it was so bad, even though I didn't want to think it could work because I don't like change. She was like, "I expected the older morning ladies to say that, but not you." Which basically led to a conversation about how I don't like change, I don't rearrange me furniture and that I am scared to go off to college. Of course, I am very scared to go off to college. I am scared of change and I am scared of, well, a lot of things. Which is stressing me out.

I think that there was something else that I was going to talk about, but I don't actually remember. I am not even very sure that anything else that I have said has made sense. You see, this is why I don't like having a day off, because when I get a day off, I think. When I think, I stress out. And then I cry and get headaches and everything goes wrong. I just want my cat to be okay.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Death is not Dying

For those of you who know me, I am not one to shy away from talking about death. I work at the nursing home and find out another resident died very often. But more importantly, I know that we are all dying. This isn't bad news for me. Not that death makes me excited or dying is happy, but I know that death isn't the end. That is why I am not afraid or scared of death. When I die, I know that it will only get better.

I really encourage you to check this website out. Please watch the video, even though it is a long video, it is well worth your time. Here's a quote from Rachel Barkey:

“Cancer does not define me. Neither does being a wife or a mother. All these things are part of who I am but they do not define me. What defines me is my relationship with Jesus.”

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Two Hands

Monday, June 15, 2009

This is Obsession


Why, yes, I did just become a fan of Peach Rings on Facebook. And, yes, that is what our society has come to. But, what can I say? I love me some Peach rings.

Hint, hint, my birthday is tomorrow. Buy me some Peach Os. It will make my day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Weird Confessions #2

I know this probably seems weird, but I was just thinking and I realized something: Now that I am a high school graduate (throw your fist in the air, thank you), I can look back and say that I was never really sent to the principle's office. I mean, yeah, I went there to talk to him about class scheduling, FCA, and basketball stuff (I did stats and he was the coach), but I don't really have any cool "I was sent to the principle's office" stories. Now, granted, there was this time someone stole my purse (and maybe tried to frame someone else by putting in their locker or maybe they were the ones who stole it in the first place), and I had to explain to the principle way I thought to open her locker and magically find it (I knew she stole other people's stuff; believe me, it was not a situation that I would like to relive), but I don't have any cool stories. Now it is probably good that I was not a trouble maker, but if I were, I think I would have better stories. And if you know me, I am all for a good story.

Anyway, my point is, how are you living your life? Are you being the cookie cutter goody-two shoes or are you enjoying living your life to the fullest? Every day, getting good stories? Or every day, just getting by? We were called to live. Is that what you are doing?

Weird Confessions #1

I know this may sound weird, but I really like to match. We are going to ignore that fact that lately, no one has really seen me when I am not wearing scrubs and have my hair shoved back into a ponytail (I also hate having my hair in the ponytail, but that is a story for a different time) and so I really have gotten a chance to accessorize to the point where it makes me happy. Normally, however, I really do enjoy putting time into my appearance, mainly, my outfit. And no, not because I am trying to impress anyone (yes, one of the residents told me today that my "eyes are so pretty they must drive the guys crazy," so all I need are my eyes apparently), I really do enjoy being pretty just for me. But anyway, that is not my point. My point is that I really enjoying having things match. (And no, tan shirt, tan pants and tan socks isn't matching. Well, it might be matching, but even I know matching overkill.) I realized a while ago that the days when what I am wearing matches the toothbrush that I brush my teeth with makes for a really good day. So, I confess that when I have my own place (my mom won't let me be OCD under her roof), I secretly plan to have a toothbrush in a whole bunch of colors so that I can only brush my teeth with what matches the clothes I am wearing for the day.

I am weird and that is my confession.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Love is Still a Worthy Cause

Since I have no real time to write anything (I suppose I should learn to make time), I am going to give you some fiction. I wrote this for a class and granted it probably isn't very good. Maybe it doesn't even really make sense. Oh, well. I wrote it. It is a short story. There you go. (P.S. Yes, I did get the name of the main character from an Anberlin song. Deal with it.

Love is Still a Worthy Cause
by Andra Lauren

Adelaide sat down on the rusty bench. The bench had once been green, before the paint started to make a run for it. In this end of town, even the paint wanted to get away. She pushed her straight brown shoulder-length hair behind her ear as she tightly clutched a wrinkled piece of paper that was yellowed with time.

“Are you waiting for the bus?” asked an old man as he walked up to the bench. He was wearing a hat and carrying a newspaper. His gray slacks and matching gray vest made him look professional, but he looked well beyond retirement years.

“Hmm. Mmhmm,” mumbled Adelaide, her attention was clearly elsewhere. She wasn’t really waiting for the bus. She looked around until she noticed the old rusty sign. Behind the graffiti read, “Bus Stop.” She looked over to the man and saw his grey hair and wrinkled, but kind face. “Yeah, I guess I am.”

Adelaide smiled politely at the man as he said, “I’m waiting, too.”

“I’m Adelaide,” she said.

“Nice to meet you, I am Finn.”

Adelaide glanced at Finn’s newspaper. “Anything in the news?”

“The same old,” he replied, “War is still going on. More dying all the time.”

Adelaide glanced at the piece of paper in her hand. Then she remembered the last glance from the taxicab as her brother drove away. Her brother looked strong and brave as he left. He looked a lot different when he returned. Even with the peach blush they added to his cheeks, nothing could hide the pale whiteness in his face.

Finn could tell this wasn’t the conversation that she wanted to have. He knew that talking about the weather wouldn’t be enough to break the ice that surrounded them, even in the 80-degree weather.

Tears started to flow from her eyes, picking up speed as soon as the next tear came out of her eye. She quickly tried to brush the tears away. Adelaide looked away from the old man.

“Would you like to hear a joke, young lady?”

Her expression turned to surprise. Embarrassed that he must have seen her tears, she nodded.

“A guy goes to jail for robbing a bank. Since the police fear that he might try to plan an escape, they told him that he was not allowed to talk to the other inmates. That night, he hears some of the inmates shouting numbers. When someone shouted, ‘27!’ everyone started laughing. This guy didn’t understand what was going on, so the next day he got a chance to talk to another inmate. ‘What was going on? I heard people shouting numbers and laughing.’ The inmate replied, ‘Well, since we are not allowed to talk, we have assigned different jokes to different numbers. Whenever anyone says a number, we think of that joke and laugh.’ So, that night the guy shouts, ’48!’ No one responds. The next day, the guy talks to the inmate, ‘That was a funny joke! Sid told me the joke and now no one laughs. What happened?’ The inmate replies, ‘Well, some people just can’t tell a joke!’”

Adelaide laughed, “Where did you hear that?”

“Oh, my father told me that joke. He was a good man. Served in World War I and World War II. Good man.” Finn laughed, remembering the man that taught him how to fish and how to drive. He sighed, looked up to the sky and said, “One day, pretty soon, I will be able to see my father again.”

Adelaide looked up, confused. “How will you get to see him again, Finn?”

“Well, Miss, it won’t be long before I join my father in heaven.”

Adelaide stopped on the word heaven. She didn’t know much of heaven, but she was sure that she couldn’t be counting down the days until she got there, because she didn’t think she could count for that long. She looked at Finn and noticed his laugh lines. She could tell that Finn had lived a long, good life.

“That’s real nice,” she quietly said, thinking that she would never get a chance to see Finn in heaven, or anyone else.

Finn looked at her. “Don’t give up hope, child.”

“It’s not hard to recall what blew out the flame. It’s dark where I am, and I don’t think I should waste time hoping on something that won’t happen.”

“Adelaide, I can see that your heart is raw. But love is still a worthy cause. Love can be the touch that starts the thaw on any frozen heart. Why are you hiding?”

Adelaide looked down at her dusty shoes. She remembered the day of the funeral. It was raining and everyone’s black umbrella made everyone’s clothes look blacker. She couldn’t remember what the reverend had said that day. She just remembered feeling angry. She was angry at a god who would take away her brother before it was his time. She wanted to yell at a god who would leave her alone, without the older brother that she depended on. He was the older brother who had been there the day both their parents died in a car accident. He was all she had and it was all gone in a matter of minutes. A minute was all it took for the enemy’s bullet to pierce his chest.

Suddenly her fist clutched the piece of paper tighter. She had forgotten all about the piece of paper until now. The small piece of paper felt as heavy as a lead pipe dragging her down to her knees. She could hear her brother’s words screaming as if he were shouting from a public platform.

She broke down. She could feel Finn’s hand on her shoulder. The wind seemed to pick up just then, and it whistled her brother’s words until his words were reverberating off the walls surrounding her. Her brother was telling her then just as he told her in the last letter he wrote to her, “Don’t let your love grow cold. I will always love you. I pray that you always love Jesus."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

All the Live Long Day

So, I was working tonight and Dixie decided to come visit (but really, she just wanted to kill time) and so since it was in between Subiaco tray line and the main tray line, she sat on the floor and I sat with her. Then Leona came in the kitchen to tell Gloria that she wanted cereal for supper and she saw Dixie and me on the floor and she said, "Are you on strike?" I laughed. It was fun.

Basically all of my stories involve my nursing home residents because since 6:00 in the morning until 8:00 (with a three hour break where I ran errands and went to the high school to work on the yearbook in between), I have been at the nursing home.

I am not really all that tired, because there are a lot of people around me (and really, in the whole world) that work a lot harder than I do. I am sure there are a lot more people whose feet hurt a lot more than me. I guess that doesn't make me any less tired, it just means that I really shouldn't complain. I do, after all, enjoy working. I enjoy my old people. I will be honest, I enjoy making money, too.

Basically, I am too tired to really be coherent. The End.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hustling While I Wait

I almost dropped an axe on my foot yesterday. And that basically sums up my life lately.

My mom and I did a bunch of financial filling out forms stuff yesterday. That is depressing in and of itself. It is not too happy to read "This is a loan. You will need to repay this loan" over and over again. It is even more not too happy knowing that even after accepting the loan for the maximum amount, I will still not be able to afford college. It is really quite depressing. No matter what I do, I am going to graduate college underneath a huge pile of debt. And I don't even have any rich relatives that are going to die. I don't even have any rich relatives. Even if I did, I don't think I would want them to die, but I hope you get what I mean. I am going to be a college graduate with a whole bunch of debt. To make matters worse, I am going into the ministry. Which means that I will be a college graduate with a whole bunch of debt that is going into a field that does not make a whole bunch of money. On the bright side, someone going into the ministry should be the one to know that if God wants you somewhere, He will provide the resources to make it happen.

Also, I have been looking at cars to hopefully buy a car, but that isn't any happier. In fact, it was quite honestly stressing me out. I have broken out in stress rashes on both of my arms. I drove a couple cars at one place and let me just say that I don't like people who work on commission. They pressure you too much and make you feel like you have to decide. Right away. Then we went to another place and the guy was nice. Mom explained to him that I got stressed before and he said, "if car shopping isn't fun, you are shopping at the wrong place." I drove a car there and it fit and I loved it. However, it isn't something I can afford, but if I could, I would have no trouble deciding. I would choose that car in a heartbeat. Of course, that wouldn't make my dad too happy, because if I choose anything that isn't a Ford, he isn't happy. Don't get me wrong, I am a hardcore Ford person, too, but that car felt way more comfortable than Ford Focuses that I have driven. Anyway, I am getting a stress rash. And that's not too attractive.

First off, I want to say that the next pay period I am scheduled for a lot of days and I wanted to be scheduled for a lot of days because I need the money. Of course, that doesn't mean that I don't know that I will be incredibly tired and worn out from working a lot. I work 13 days straight. Today I have a day off and I won't have another day off until my birthday, actually. The16th. It is funny because I didn't even ask for my birthday off, because I just figured I would have to work it anyway, but I still got my birthday off. I don't really care much about my birthday, so I would have been okay with it if I had to work on my birthday, but I suppose working on your 18th birthday isn't ideal.

At least that axe didn't actually hit my foot. Maybe that's a sign that everything will be alright.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I Worked Hard Today

I worked 6 to 2 and then 5 to 8. On the bright side, I need the money.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I am Loved

Even though some people can't make it to my grad party, they still show they care. Becky cut up stuff for my salad.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bittersweet

In one week, I will be still be 17. In one week, I will still live at home in my same bedroom that I have lived in my whole life. In one week, I will still be the same person. But...

In one week, I am going to graduate high school. In one week, I will be done with high school. In one week, I will no longer be a high school senior. In one week, I will be in "the real world."

It is a weird feeling. It is probably bittersweet. Jonas told me that he misses high school. I am sure that I will miss high school, too. I am excited, because it is the "future". It is...bittersweet is probably the best word.

I would say more, but I can't focus.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Talk With My Hands

I may talk with my hands, but I guess I learned from the best:
That's Jeremy, my youth pastor.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

You Know You Enjoy My Random Thoughts

So I go to Southside to buy some beef jerky (because it is Mother's Day tomorrow) and so I put three little packages of beef jerky on the counter and the checker guy says, "You must really like beef jerky." I say yes and then I say, "But really, how could you not like beef jerky?"

And that was my random conversation for the day. I mean, no one told me that I have nice "vampire" teeth. But, still. There is always tomorrow.

In the mean time, read a book:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I Double as a Tractor Model

Why I Don't Like My Birthday

"I have no fear of drowning. It's the breathing that's taking all this work." -Jars of Clay, Work

I am almost done with high school and that thought really hasn't sunk in yet. When I started my senior year, I didn't feel old enough or tall enough. (For some odd reason, whenever I pictured myself as a senior I pictured myself being 5'7" or something less pathetic that my 5'4". Also, when you are young and you look at anyone older than you, they seem so much older than you. And as you get older, they don't seem like they were as old as you remember. Hence, I thought that I would be older. Which is weird, because I am far more mature than other 17-year-olds. Can't you tell by the way I actually used the word "hence"?) Anyway, looking at the date on the calendar (which I can't really do in my room, because I have yet to change my calendar from April to May) I realize that the date is getting closer. I thought I would have saved the world by the time I graduated from high school. (When it says "saved the world" read: "do something that mattered." By something, I mean anything.) I didn't totally take the world by storm. I didn't make a mark on the world by the time I was 18. I didn't even make a tiny mark.

I found out that this is why I don't like my birthday. I used to love my birthday and I constantly encourage other people to love their birthdays. However, for the last two birthdays that I have had, I really didn't want to do anything. I didn't even really want to acknowledge that it was my birthday. I wanted to hide, basically, and do nothing special. Now isn't that a horrible way to spend your 16th and 17th birthday? I did do something, I want to a lame kid's movie one year (even though I do love penguins) and went out to dinner for another. But I didn't do anything special, because I wasn't excited about my birthday. I finally realized why. Because I saw every birthday not as a victory that I survived another year, but as a failure that I didn't accomplish more. A failure because I didn't change the world yet. A failure because I didn't think I grew that much, I didn't think I changed that much. I mean I have been the same height since August 2005, so it was a failure because I didn't get any taller. A failure because I didn't do anything spectular. There are teenagers that are loosening chains and here I have been sitting around, not doing much of anything. Except failure.

I realize that I should change my thinking. I realize that I should see my birthday as a celebration. I should see my birthday as a day to praise God because I am still here. Just my still being here means that God still has a purpose for my life. Just me still breathing every minute means that God cares enough to give me breath and means that He wants me. He want me to be alive. He wants me to be here. He still has a purpose for me to fulfill. Now my birthday isn't for another month (and eleven days), but when it comes and I am sad (like I know I will be) remind me that each birthday is not a failure and that I should see it for what it really is, a victory.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Why I am Not an Inspirational Speaker

I shy away from being called a “preacher.” Whenever Pastor Jeremy or Cole calls me “Pastor Annie,” I probably look down or blush or say, “I’m not a Pastor.” I do that because I am not really a Pastor, I have had no education and really, I am only 17. I feel that my Pastor is a pastor, he is old and wise and has been through seminary. Sometimes when I get up in front of people and deliver a sermon, I don’t call it preaching. Sometimes I just say that I have spoke or I am speaking. However, if I call it preaching or speaking, one thing I am not is a motivational speaker.

I’m not saying that there is anything at all wrong with a motivational speaker. After all, there is a time and a place for motivational speaking. However, I do not want to waste my pulpit. I am not going to get up there and deliver a happy message filled with happiness, cotton candy and to be quite frank, fluff. When I get up and stand behind the pulpit (or the stand, you get the idea) I am going to preach the word. I used to find it really hard to mention the Gospel in my message, but ever since I have really done a lot of putting together sermons, I now find that I cannot preach or write a sermon without telling everyone about the amazing grace and the sacrifice God made for all of our sins.

Delivering a motivational speech is great for people when they are down and it is great for people who want to be encouraged. And don’t get me wrong, I really want to encourage people, but if someone who walks in while I am speaking and has a real problem, like if they are dying of cancer or have just lost a friend to suicide, I want people to realize that there is a God who can save their lives. I don’t just want people to walk out saying, “That was sure nice, I feel great.” Warm, fuzzy feelings are great, but they don’t last. They don’t keep you out of hell.

I am really not trying to be down on motivational speakers, but I just want to make it my mission to never waste an opportunity to preach the Word. I want to preach the Kingdom of God. I want to preach the Cross. I want to preach the Grace that saved me while I was still a wretched sinner. I want everyone to know that Jesus saves. I want everyone to know that they are dying and if they aren’t careful, they are headed straight to hell. And I can’t do that if I am too busy speaking about success or happiness or cotton candy fluffy messages.

(Now I should just find out how to witness without starting with, "You're going to hell.")

When God Unites Us

I bet you didn't realize that I only have three more Mondays left of high school. Then I will never have another Monday of high school again. Yeah, it's a sad thought. Except I don't really like Mondays and I am not that fond of high school, so I am sure there are sadder thoughts.

Remember when I mentioned on my blog a couple days ago that I was exhausted? Well, that was true. But do you know how amazing God is? He knows just what I need. This past weekend, I was at (and spoke at) Unite, which is an event in Watertown. Even though I am Nazarene, it wasn't a Nazarene event. It was actually at a Wesleyan church, but it wasn't a Wesleyan event. Because it was a Christian event. It didn't matter what church we went to, because we all shared a common bond in Christ. And while that is amazing right there, God is even more amazing. It started like most events start. People talking to people that they know, that are in their own group. You know, people not really stretching out and finding an urge to introductions themselves to others. Thanks to a Drama Workshop where we all said our names and two random things about ourselves (My random things were: I cannot swim and I watch the movie credits to look for three letter last names) and thanks to some fun drama games, we loosened up a little bit. We started off sitting and eating by only those that we already knew, but by the end, we were all sitting and eating together. Because that's what happens. We have a bond in Christ and when God unites us, we become friends. We even become family. Because God is amazing.

I was exhausted a couple days ago, but God revived me, rejuvenated me. I know that I was one of the speakers and I think I sort of spoke to myself. (That's good, because that means if I needed to hear it, it was from God. So it really wasn't me speaking at all. I mean, sure, I talked about my experiences, but those were experiences that I experienced because of God. God brought me to this place and God gave me a message to speak. It's really all God. So everyone who thought I did a good job was nice, but wrong, it wasn't me at all. All the glory goes to God.) Sometimes we come into church too full of the things of the world that there is no room for God. I think that is how I have been lately. I have been so full of scholarship deadlines, college finals, getting homework done, and other issues that I haven't realized that I need to praise God no matter what happens, no matter how busy my schedule is, and no matter what the outcomes of my problems are. God is great, no matter what.

We watched Facing the Giants. I have seen it before, but I forgot how great of movie it. I needed to be reminded that we need to praise God in the good times and in the bad times. We need to praise God when we win and when we lose. We need to praise God when everything is going the right way and when everything is going downhill. We just need to praise God. We also need to focus. Anyway, below is a clip of my favorite scene in that movie. I hope you enjoy it as much as I always do.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

God of This City

I have a lot on my mind, so there is more blogage to come. By I want to post this video because it was one of the songs we sang at Unite and I loved this song before and just to sing it and worship with it made me just so amazed at the power of God. Anyway, this song has a cool story.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I am Exhausted

I am completely exhausted. I don't really know why, because I have just barely hit the tip of the iceberg (the iceberg being all the stuff that I need to get done). However, I really should be sleeping and even though this is probably closer to the time old people go to bed than people my age, I will be going to bed pretty soon, like in several minutes. But I am really tired, mentally and physically. It isn't that I have worked all that hard today. I mean, I had school, running errands, coming home to work on invitations for my graduation reception, going to work, going to the end of youth group, and coming home to work on invitations again, so it was basically like every other day, but for some reason, it still wore me out. Maybe it was that I was thinking about all the stuff that I still need to get done before Friday. Yes, it is so much that I am not even going to start packing until Friday because I have too many other things to worry about.

But maybe it isn't all that I have going on, maybe, just maybe, God is trying to bring me to my knees. I will be speaking in like two days (not even) and I still haven't decided what to say (don't tell Cole), but every time it feels like, before I speak, God takes me to the point of exhaustion so I get to the point where I am just like, "God, what do I say? What do I do? There's no way that I can do this." And I think God just answers, "Good. I don't want you to do it, I want everything you say to be what I want you to say. Don't try to do it all, listen to me and speak what I want you to speak." Amazingly enough, it always gets done. God is so amazing, so that even though I am so tired, I am so very tired (can't you tell by the way I have abandoned all sentence structure?), but God is enough. Not only does God bring me to my knees, but He also must control the shuffle on my ipod, because the song that came was a "Cry in my Heart" by Starfield, which is my ultimate stripped-down worship song. (P.S. I am posting the song lyrics and the actual song below.)

"There's a cry in my heart, for Your glory to fall, for Your presence to fill up my senses. There's a yearning again. A thirst for discipline, a hunger for things that are deeper. Could You take me beyond? Could You carry me through? If I open my heart, could I go there with You? (For I’ve been here before, but I know there’s still more. Oh, Lord, I need to know You). For what do I have If I don't have You, Jesus? What in this life Could mean any more? You are my rock. You are my glory. You are the lifter Of my head... Lifter of this head." -"Cry in my Heart" by Starfield

I Like the Rain Even When No One Else Does

I did realize I wasn't recording my face upside down.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Work at a Nursing Home, Part Two

My heart broke today. I know Ruby doesn't really remember who I am, but still it hurt.

I went down to Subiaco today to deliver some saran wrap (yes, my job is glamorous) and since I wasn't sure if I should wait for them to cover the cake or come back later, since I didn't really have anything to do at that moment anyway, I decided that I would chat with Ruby for a little bit. I say, "Hi, Ruby, how are you tonight?" She smiles all cute and says that she is good. She then asked me what my name was, and then she asked who I am related to. I told her who my grandfather was and who my father is. She smiles. I smile, even though, inside my heart is breaking. And the funny thing is, I knew this would happen.

Let's go back several months. I do actually remember the first time I had this exact same conversation with Ruby. I mean, I know she doesn't remember me all the time, and I do sort of wonder if she doesn't ask what my name is just because she can't remember if she has asked before. But, it is such a weird feeling having the same conversation. I love Ruby, she is such a sweet lady. It is sad because I can notice that she is getting older. I really do love her. I will be so upset if anything happens to her. If I am in Kansas at the time, it will be really hard for me to not come back to town.

It is hard when you grow attached to people, because people, no matter what age, will leave. Maybe we should all just learn to enjoy every moment we get to spend with people while we still can.

See Part One of I Work at a Nursing Home

And You Thought Death was a Big Problem

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm Bringing a Story from my Freshman Year Out of the Grave

Yes, this is from my freshman year of high school, wasn't I clever?

The Mystery of the Missing Socks

There are plenty of mornings in which you push the snooze button several times and when the alarm clock goes off for the fifth time, you still don’t want to move. However, this morning is not one of those mornings. In fact, this morning is quite the opposite. This morning the sun wakes you up and you smile as you slowly get out of your bed. After you’ve recovered from your sleepy state, you’re ready to take on the world. Perhaps with the assistance of a cup of coffee or a splash of cold water in your face, but you’re ready to take on the world nonetheless. There’s no doubt you’ve woken up on the right side of the bed. Nothing can bring you down from this high. Then, the unthinkable occurs. Your sock drawer is stuck. It requires a little more effort than usual to open it, but since your muscles are like that of a superhuman, you’re able to get that sock drawer open. Now, right in front of you are socks upon socks upon socks. You pick up a sock. Depending on your personality, you may smell it or just examine it closely until you come to the conclusion that this is a decent enough sock to adorn your foot. So, you go looking for its mate. After several minutes, you realize that it’s partner is no where to be found. You’ve found yet another sock that does not belong to any other.

What has happened to this other sock? That is a question scholars have asked more than “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” That’s a question that, though it is hard, they are able to form theories about it and are able to contemplate. On the other hand, no mastermind is able to answer the question or find that partner less sock. Perhaps the answer will continue to go unanswered. Perhaps, I will make known the truth by the time this story comes to an end. I will not tell you if I’ve chosen the latter. Perhaps, I may indeed dive into a deep conversation on something completely irrelevant.

Almost everyone has had the disappointment of losing a sock while doing the laundry. It’s truly a mystery within itself. Yet sometimes the mystery is not losing the sock. Sometimes the mystery is finding the sock somewhere else. Every now and then you go back to your closet and realize it was your mistake and that the sock just somehow jumped out of the laundry basket onto the floor. However, there’s nothing quite like putting on a sweater only to have someone else point out that there a sock stuck to the back of it.

Who is to blame for this unexplainable phenomenon? A number of people think that they have discovered the solution. Some people think that they can simply blame the dryer. They say that during the drying cycle, it gets sucked up in the dryer vent. Still some think that it’s during the washing that the washing machine eats the socks. Perhaps department stores hire secret agents to come and steal your socks, so you need more socks and where else to go but their department store? This would not surprise me. Department stores have been trying to take your money for centuries. Now, let’s focus on something more serious. Picture a pair of socks that you have forgotten about, due to the fact that they are ugly or maybe they are Christmas socks that you’d assume people would think would be odd to wear in March. You finally discover once again that they are in the back of your sock drawer. You go to take them out, only to find that one of the socks is no longer there. Perchance the sock didn’t go anywhere. It could have spontaneously combusted without notice. Maybe it’s even still there, it has just somehow put its cloaking device on so it’s invisible. There are several things that could be. Thinking of all the possibilities can be mind-boggling.

I am confident in my knowledge to boldly say that the answer is none of the above. The truth is sock gnomes. You may now currently have a puzzled look on your face and you may be filled with confusion. Nevertheless, I am not joking and I am not kidding. Gnomes, those pointy-red hat wearing lawn ornaments, are stealing your socks. They are sick and tired of being displayed in your lawn, having to endure all kinds of torturous weather. They’ve even started a website declaring that they need freedom. They are seeking revenge on you. Furthermore, they know nothing else bothers you quite as much as finding one sock and not the other. Since they are quick creatures, they come into your house and are able to take your sock out of the dryer. You may be thinking that, “I do not have a gnome in my yard.” Let me tell you, that does not matter. Sock gnomes work together to conquer everyone’s laundry. Sock gnomes devise evil plans and make detailed maps. They store them in a location that I prefer not to disclose because if I were to tell you every detail of their genius, they would come and I would wake up the next morning with an empty sock drawer. As a result, I must inform you that you never heard this from me.

Written by Andra Lauren

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why is This Happening?

Sometimes it is okay to cry.

Sometimes it is okay to breakdown.

Sometimes it is okay to become numb.

Sometimes it is okay to despair.

It is never okay to quit.

It is never okay to give up.

It is never okay to lose hope.

It is never okay to stop trusting God.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What Have I Been Doing Lately

"What have you been doing lately
Your life could use improving greatly
I just wanted to know what's going on
But everything that goes is going wrong"
-Relient K, What Have You Been Doing Lately?

I know that I haven't posted in a while and yes, I feel quite bad about that. However, we press on. Nothing much exciting has been going on really, although this week looks like it will be quite busy. Today is really my only non-busy day and by non-busy, I mean I only have one exam and something else that I need to write because it is due (even though I should have written it two weeks ago). Tomorrow might be my busiest. I have a Math contest thing that my class (and people from other classes) are going to, not that I am good at math, I am just in the Senior Math class. At least we will probably get ice cream out of the deal. I have a hair appointment tomorrow also, but I stupidly made it for 3:00, which I may or may not be back for. Then, there is of course, youth group, however, in the middle of youth group (around 7:30) I will be picked up for the ride down to Olathe for MidAmerica X-treme. Yeah, lots to look forward to. Or dread, in my case. I should be excited, but I am really not. Oh, well, hopefully I get over that by tomorrow.

I wish I had a story to tell you or this post wouldn't be boring just me telling you what's going on in my slightly pathetic life, but if I do, I will be late and I feel as though I will already be running around today trying to get everything in order for tomorrow. So, yes, my running will resemble a chicken running around without a head.

P.S. I just realized that my post doesn't answer my title at all... Hmm, maybe later?

The Good Guy

So, I have a friend who has friends who make videos. Now, my friend wasn't there, but here is the video:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Watch Your Step

Rev. Dr. M. Rhodes once said, “Mr. Sheldon's venture is unique. It has at least challenged the thought of the reading world and as the aim of the author of the enterprise is sincere and in behalf of the world's highest good, good is bound to come of it.” The Mr. Sheldon that he is referring to is Charles Sheldon, author of the widely-known book In His Steps. This novel first published in 1896, published again in 1980 by Whitaker House, has sold more than 30 million copies world-wide and continues to be read all over the world. The theme in the book is to ask “What Would Jesus Do?” in all of life’s complex situations. It is a story that stirs souls by showing the lives of men and women who decide to take up a challenge given them by their Pastor to follow what they think Jesus would command them to do in their day-to-day dilemmas. A person should make conscious choices that follow in Jesus’ steps, but the book shows that Jesus is more of an example than a redeemer. If we forget that Jesus came to save the lost and only focus on our actions or deeds, we miss God’s purpose for sending Jesus Christ into the world. The purpose that is to lie down his own life so that we, sinners, not worthy of the glorious grace of God, could live.

After being confronted by a tramp, the pastor questions what it means to be a Christian. In His Steps shows several individual stories of people in the congregation of the First Church of Raymond that agree to commit their lives to Christian discipleship that demands more than a mental assent, that demands action. You follow a newspaper editor, a college president, a railroad executive, a pastor, a singer, a writer, and a wealthy philanthropist who face opposition when they make radical choices in order to follow Jesus’ steps. As Sheldon wrote, “The greatest question in all human life is summed up when we ask, ‘What would Jesus do?’ if, as we ask it, we also try to answer it from a growth in knowledge of Jesus Himself” (Sheldon 173).

The characters in the story encountered circumstances of poverty and deprivation. They underwent trials that come from giving of themselves. The singer turns down a good paying job so she can sing for drunkards. The newspaper editor gave up subscribers and lost money so he could print a paper that did not print advertisements or stories that did not glorify God. The wealthy philanthropist gave up money so she could help those less fortunate. The railroad executive gave up his job and status so he could do the morally right thing. They each gave of their money or their time to follow Jesus’ steps. Nothing that they did was at all bad nor did they have bad motives. However, everything they did was an action: something done or performed; an act or deed. “What if others say of us, when we do certain things” (Sheldon 27.) They lived out Jesus to the world, but the Jesus that they were showing was a Jesus that preformed deeds to save people, rather than a Jesus that bled and died for the sins of the world. “ […] those who volunteer to do this will pledge themselves for an entire year […] so to act” (Sheldon 24, emphasis added). “If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness’” (Romans 4:2-3).

Sheldon, however, hit the nail on the head when he had the tramp enter the church and ask the pastor went being a Christian meant. “But I was wondering as I sat there under the gallery, if what you call following Jesus is the same thing as what He taught. What did He mean when He said: ‘Follow me’? […] What do you Christians mean by ‘following the steps of Jesus’? (Sheldon 15). Charles Sheldon sparked thoughts in many more lives than just the characters in his book. He started a fad where everyone’s motto became “What Would Jesus Do?” When do we move past just wearing the bracelets and really start not only living like Christ, but being changed from the inside. In His Steps explores different ways that people had to give up something that was important to them. Sheldon’s book realistically shows that not everyone finds it appealing that following Jesus means suffering for Jesus. Following Jesus is a great idea, but when it comes to actually doing it, not everyone finds it easy. That is why the characters in Sheldon’s book should be applauded, because they knew the cost and took their crosses and followed Jesus’ steps anyway.

Sheldon effectively wrote a book that touched millions. Sheldon said, “No one is more grateful than I am, as it confirms the faith I have always held that no subject is more interesting and vital to the human race than religion.” “On February 24, 1946, two days before his eighty-ninth birthday, Charles Sheldon, after suffering a stroke, died peacefully in bed. As I closed the book on his life, I realized Charles Sheldon left us all an enduring legacy with his powerful question, one which I ask myself each time I face a crossroad: What would Jesus do?” (Neighbors, par. 21). For that, Charles Sheldon’s book truly achieved his purpose successfully.

In His Steps was written over a century ago, but can still be applied to our life and culture, despite a few differences. It still asks a question that each person should ask himself or herself in any and every situation. A spiritually dead person cannot live a spiritually Christian life. Christ, the redeemer, is the giver so we are the receivers. Christ did the ultimate act and we are the acted upon. We can do as many good, righteous or holy deeds as we feel are right, but in the end, we will not be able to save anyone. Christ does the saving. We are always the redeemed; Christ will always be the Redeemer of our souls. Sheldon’s book was a magnificent work of fiction, but we cannot forget that actions will not save us. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Philippians 2:8-9). We must remember is that deeds and actions are great. Much like Charles Sheldon asked us over a hundred years ago, “What would Jesus do?” we must also ask ourselves what our motives are for our actions.

Works Cited
Neighbors, Chuck. "The Story of "In His Steps"." 1996. 11 Mar 2008. http://www.mastersimage.com/articles/ihs.htm.
Sheldon, Charles M. In His Steps. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1980.
The Bible. New International Version. 1984. International Bible Society.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What Makes You Think to Pray?


Pete Says Hell_3.29.09 from Cross Point Church on Vimeo.

My old youth pastor's wife told us all the time that we should pray non-stop. Specifically, I remember her telling us that she would always pray in the shower, because you are taking the time anyway, so you might as well pray while you shower. This video reminds me of that and how there are times when we need to be reminded to pray. It is easy to get busy and forget, so sometimes we need reminders to bring prayer back to the front of our thoughts. This is interesting, so I think I am going to find some objects. (I will take ideas.) It makes me curious, what reminds you to pray?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Mom Used to Think Vacuum was only Spelled with One U

"Enjoy failure and learn from it. You can never learn from success." -James Dyson

If you have ever seen a Dyson vacuum cleaner commercial, you know who I just quoted. My brother and I always joke every time we see him on TV that he has no life because all he cares about is vacuum cleaners. However, Wikipedia just ruined that for me. Turns out he has a life and a wife and three kids. His net worth is $2 billion. He is a hardcore inventor. Anyway, I found this interesting quote and thought that I would share it with you. It took him five years and 5,127 prototypes, he finally sold his first vacuum cleaner. And look at him now--he's a success.

Some other quotes from Mr. Dyson are:
"I just want things to work properly."
"After the idea, there is plenty of time to learn the technology."
"Better to ask twice than lose your way once."

On a side now, when your vacuum cleaner doesn't work, you say, "It sucks." However, if it really sucked, you wouldn't have a problem.

You Can Get on Up or You Can Get on Down

...But you cannot just stand around.
My friends went to prom last Saturday. I got to pose with some pretty ladies. (P.S. I didn't go prom, but it's over with, so let's all get over it, too?)

Monday, March 30, 2009

More Than Just Old

In 2002, seven percent of the world population was over sixty-five years old. China has the largest elderly population (ninety-two million) but this is only seven percent of the Chinese population. In 2000, the United States population consisted of twelve percent over the age of sixty-five. Population experts say that over seventeen percent of America’s population will be considered elderly in 2020.

Lloyd said in Dumb and Dumber, “Senior Citizens, while slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can serve a purpose.” We are the generation of the future; we don’t really look at the generation that got us where we are today. Too often we overlook the elderly. We brush them off as old people who don’t know anything. Sometimes we forget that they need grace just as much as we do. Working at a nursing center, I have learned that elderly people may do wacky things, but they have lived hard lives, and most of all, they are people, too. I want everyone to see lives with value when they look at elderly people.

I only work in the kitchen at the nursing center, but in the eight months that I have worked there, I have grown attached to all of my elderly residents. Sometimes it is hard to have a positive attitude, especially when there are residents yelling at me for potatoes. I always put on a smile. When it starts out as a fake smile, it eventually turns into a genuine smile because my residents do wacky things. Some spit out their teeth and others just spit out their food. Sometimes it is downright disgusting, but sometimes it is heartwarmingly hilarious. They put the whole saltshaker in their prunes. The slightly confused elderly people say some wacky things, most of which I don’t understand. One of the residents who can barely hear or see once screamed that she needed light bulbs.

While I clear the dishes in the dining room, there are some residents who are waiting to go back to their rooms. At times I get the opportunity to talk to them. There is one resident who I especially love talking to. She is in her eighties and used to work in the nursing center as a nurse. She once told me that she never knew the meaning of working part time. Even though she sometimes falls asleep at the table and in front of the television, her favorite show on Sundays is Lawrence Welk and she doesn’t eat butter. She has lived a full life and learned to help and serve people. She doesn’t mind sitting by the residents who need a little more assistance, because she has an encouraging heart and loves other people. She has lived a life all her own and even though she lives in a nursing center, which is a hard adjustment for most, she has settled in and always seems content. I don’t know a lot about her life, though. I don’t know if she had a husband or if she had kids. I don’t know much about her, but I do know that long before I even entered the world, she was a nurse, helping and loving others.

One of the most important lessons that I have learned is that just because elderly people are “old,” they are still people. They have feelings, experience pain, and need love and encouragement. There is a resident that most of the certified nurses’ assistants don’t really like to work with, because she asks to go to the bathroom about twenty times in one hour, randomly starts eating other people’s food and because she can be a little annoying. However, I have found that when you say hello to her and ask how she is, she smiles and looks so happy. She just wants someone to care about her. She has the same desire that everyone has—to be cared about.

Recently a new resident arrived at the nursing center. She has a black and blue arm because she shut it in a door. It is obvious she doesn’t want to be there. The first night she was there, she didn’t say anything and was the last one in the dining room, even though she scarcely touched her food. The next night, her husband came to sit with her and feed her. It is the kind of relationship that everyone hopes to have, a love that hasn’t changed over time. Before it was time for him to leave, she looked at him with sad eyes, “Do you have to leave? Please don’t go.”

It’s strange to think that I used to be afraid of old people. I used to feel awkward around them. I thought that we had no common ground. There was no way anyone could be more different than me. All that changed when I start working at the nursing center. I never intended for it to be that way, I only wanted to earn money. I wanted to raise money so that I could go into college for ministry. I never used to think that a nursing center could be a place for ministry, until I got to know some elderly people in the nursing center. They need grace just as much as anyone else. Even though they may do wacky things, they have learned lessons through living their own lives and they are people of value, too.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Raising Your Hands

Now in my church, not many people raise their hands to worship God. If someone does, they are probably the only one. Yesterday during Sunday morning service, I saw the birth and death of a young worshipper. She is just six years old. She started by closing her eyes during the song and then she slowly raised her little hand and put it up in the air. She held it there for a couple seconds before she looked around. Then she saw that no one else had his or her hand up, so she slowly lower her hand. She closed her eyes a couple more times, but didn't see anyone else doing it, so she gave up. She sat up and down every now and then, but she just stuck to singing, no raising of hands, just the singing. And so, I am standing there thinking, how sad. I want the young ones in my church to develop a fire and passion for God and I want them to worship God with everything that they have.

So, that makes me look at my own life. Am I worshipping God with all within me? I am not saying that you need to raise your hands or even that music is the only way to worship, but why don't I raise my hands and surrender? Can you surrender with your hands down? What about adoration? Can I adore someone with my hands safely resting on the pew in front of me? Maybe I don't raise my hands in church because I don't want to stand out and I don't want people to look at me. Maybe I don't raise my hands because I have gotten comfortable in church, it is my routine to just sing the songs. I do know that God requires all of me.

"So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands" (Psalm 63:4)

"Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven" (Lamentations 3:41).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

State Capitol Building Trip

Yeah, we went to the State capitol building yesterday. It was pretty fun. Nothing too exciting, but still fun. We sat in on a committee that was talking about gay rights. The room was super packed. Then we ate at Pizza Hut and got bad service. Then we watched some Senate time. Dixie and I enjoyed this one guy who felt passionately against the bill but no one was really with him. Poor guy. Then we went to the museum and since we had cameras, it was quite fun.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Children's Story--I Fail at Life

If inspiration were a well, mine would be bone dry. If inspiration were a human, it would be six feet under right now. Do you get the idea? I have no inspiration. To make matters worse, I have to write a children's story for my writing class and I have no idea what to write about. I don't remember what it was like to think like a child. And while talking to kids, they just make me play Transformers. That doesn't help me come up with story ideas. I don't know any good children-like conflicts. I have some ideas, but I can't build on them. As soon as I open that Word document and the blank page laughs me at saying, "You fail at life. Too bad you aren't that same third-grader that wrote a story about a janitor who stole all the basketballs." Of course, if I remember correctly, I reread that story and I wrote it before I knew that you had to start a new paragraph everytime someone said something. Yeah, it was a big mess. And I can blame my first grade teacher for only letting me four colors of crayons, but that didn't stop me from being creative. In the first grade, I grew hearts with faces and earrings. (Yes, my friend told credit for the idea and I didn't NOT see it as a form of flatery.) I should start with writing about my school lunch. You know, take advice from Anne Lamott.

At any rate, my children's story is due Wednesday. Time is running out and my creativity isn't kicking in.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Just To Let You Know

A Word to Husbands
To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.
-Ogden Nash

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Waiting for That Kiss

Puritypeople.com's Candace interviewed Maria and Antti Kettunen, who shared their first kiss on their wedding day:

"When people asked why we made this decision I came up with these points:
1. It might not be wrong to kiss but we want to do things as good as possible. We want to do more than what we HAVE to do, and this is the way we show it to God who we love. We can't deserve love with this but we can show how much we love him.
2. This makes it easier for us to have a pure relationship. When you kiss it's natural to go further, if you don't kiss it's easier to draw the line.
3. We think that IF we won't end up married there is no need for us to kiss. Then we can continue saving our kisses to our future husband or wife. And IF we end up married why can't we wait to kiss until then? I mean really why? We have the rest of our lives time to kiss each others. We can use the time now to get to know each other.
4. We just felt we need to do this, and this is what we want. You better listen and obey if God speaks about something to you.
5. And by the way, doesn't it make my husband EVEN more reliable if he can control himself and not to touch me, the woman he loves. If he can do THAT i believe he can be faithful and not to cheat with a strange woman. I mean I would trust him anyway, but this makes him even more reliable. I think it tells a lot about man's self-control."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Better Late Than Never

I apologize for not really taking any time out of my week to care for my blog; I’m sure you have noticed and are about to call missing persons just because you are so worried about me. ...Not. (See? I am so from the 90s.)

I just want to update you on some things that are going on in my life. Nothing too exciting, so don’t get your hopes up. I am just still living and still trying to keep my head above the water. Even though it is spring break at the college, I am still busy with high school (yes, I go to the high school, just because you see me not at the high school during the day doesn’t mean I don’t go to high school). I should really be filling out scholarships right now, but I just don’t know how to describe things in 500 words or less. I also should be writing a children’s book (an assignment for the Writing for Publication class I’m taking at the college), but I lost all my imagination in the first grade where even though I had a 64-color pack of crayons, they only let us use green, blue, red and yellow. Granted I am in a library and could look at some children’s books for inspiration, I still have no idea what new ideas I could say that little kids would want to read.

I am still not planning on going to my prom, even though I might regret it. I don’t like thinking that I regret anything, but I do. I regret not going to Close-Up (the only reason I didn’t was because I went to Africa last year too and thought it was selfish to find money for both), but it is in the past so there is nothing I can do. Too many adults have told my mother that it is very mature of me to realize I shouldn’t waste money on prom, so I would sort of feel like I am lying to everyone if I decided to go now. Because, I know this probably sounds crazy to everyone except Josh, but I really think that God is calling me to not prom. Maybe I am just hearing voices because that is what I want to hear. But, whatever, that topic depresses me.

I am really hungry right now. I don’t know why, either, because I ate breakfast. Oh, well, I am going to go roam the hallways because I am a senior and I do what I want.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It Still Hurts

It still hurts. I thought that it didn't. I thought that if I just develop an apathetic shell that it wouldn't affect me. I thought that if I smile on the surface that my lips in the shape of my lips curling upward would somehow sink deeper inside and cause a smile on my heart. I thought that if I closed myself that there wouldn't be anymore room for the hurt to enter in.

Guess what? I was wrong.

It still hurts. I hate seeing my father. I hate every time is in my house. (It's my house because you lose ownership when you leave.) I hate hearing my parents argue. I hate every word my father says, because it is all lies. I hate it.

Sometimes I feel like a wimp and a baby and a PMS-ing girl every time I cry. It's not true. It's not just the things that "I don't need to cry about" that are bothering me. It's pain and scars that will never be removed. There are they forever. Here's a lie that everyone wants you to believe about forgiveness: that you are able to forget. Scars don't go away overnight. They don't even go away over time. Sometimes they fade, but there are always there. I want to discover the healing power of tears, but I know that no band-aid is big enough to cover the pain.

Dad: How are you doing?
Me: Fine.
Silence
Me: You don't have to pretend you care.
Dad: I do care.
Me: I know you don't. Haven't you noticed that you never call. The only times you ever called was when Mom told you to. Haven't you noticed that Mom has stopped telling you? She's stopping telling you because I don't want to talk to someone that doesn't want to talk to me.
Dad: I like talking to you.
Me: Really? Cause your actions speak a little differently.
Dad: I saw your picture in the paper.

I am timid and I don't like confrontation. Me saying that little thing just a couple minutes ago took a lot of courage. I am a wimp and I don't have the strength to fight. I have gone for six years without a father. I would be lying if I said the pain wasn't there. I try my best to hide it and forget about it and live dispite its existance, but it's there. Scars don't go away. I wish I could say the same for fathers.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Inspired but Too Tired

I was really pretty inspired to write a blog, but right now I am feeling just a little bit too tired. So, instead of writing anything deep and philosophical, I will just get you updated on how I am doing. My mother and I watched a pretty "wacky cracker" kind of movie last night. It was interesting to say the least. Maybe some people could draw some sort of lesson from it, but I am oneof those people. It was still fun. You know it's a fun movie when my mother says, "I'm not sure I should be letting you watch this." However, it wasn't a completely unsuccessful night. I baked a Cherry Chocolate Torte thing. The picture on the recipes looks a little better, but it was really yummy.

In other fascinating news, I learned a beauty trick. It's probably not a new one to most people, but I found it absolutely amazing. I was having trouble removing my mascara, so my mom told me to try Vaseline and that didn't really work, but then she told me to try baby oil. After trying the Vaseline, I wasn't really sure if I wanted to try something else just to end up being disappointed, but it was amazing. Turns out baby oil is one great make-up remover. Who knew?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Please Pray For Levi

"I guess we can just pray." Just? When did prayer become not enough?

I don't know about you, but my God is still strong enough to cover all our needs. I don't know about you, but my God is working in the lives of the people around me and He's not done yet.

He probably doesn't want me to share this, but I will anyway. (If you want me to remove it, just let me know.) Yesterday morning one of my friends, Levi was cleaning his gun and shot part of his hand off. I don't know all the details, but I am told that he came through surgery and he will be fine. He didn't lose any fingers, but there could be some nerve problems.

It was last night at about 9:00 when Krista texted me, "How come no one told me about Levi?" I had no idea, so I asked, "What about Levi?" And then I freaked out and ran upstairs to tell my mother. It was weird to see her reaction. She sat down on the side of the tub and clasped her hands together and started praying and after her prayer, she had this peace and calm and kept saying, "He's going to be alright."

Right now all we can do is really pray, but I know that God is big enough to handle this whole situation.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I've Learned a Couple Things in Three Years

I recently learned something else about my Pastor and another Nazarene pastor. When this other Nazarene pastor starting preaching about three years ago (hey, that's when I started preaching too, but this isn't me because I'm not a pastor. No, Cole, I'm not), my Pastor gave him some books to read and use when writing and preparing sermons. This Nazarene pastor used those books for three Sundays and realized that they weren't him at all. That they were actually keeping him from using his style and his way to get God's Word out. I am going to assume that those books were keeping him from listening to what God wanted him to say because he was too busy trying to prepare the "right" sermon.

So, in light of the fact that people are always going to be preaching and speaking, I thought I would share a couple of the tips of the trade that I have learned in my past three years:

1. Before speaking, if you feel your voice tense, take a deep breath. Now I don't mean a wimpy deep breath that some crazy person has asked you to do for breathing exercises. I mean a deep breath that pushes your stomach out. Really, the main goal is to push your stomach out as far as possible. It will really help loosen your voice. It's hard to be relaxed, especially if you are nervous, but this will help.

2. This is probably going to be a little weird, because this isn't at all what my Pastor taught me. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Don't write your sermon (or speech) out exactly like you would say it. If that works for you, great, I'm glad. However, I have found with myself that I depend on my notes more when everything I want to say and how I want to say them are written out compared to just having an outline. Writing just an outline allows for you to have to really know what you are saying and so then you are able to make a lot more eye contact with your audience.

3. Practice. Everyone in your entire life has probably been telling you to practice and it's annoying, but there is a reason they are all telling you to practice. That reason? Because that's exactly what you need to do for just about everything. Preaching and speaking gets easier in time, but that doesn't mean you don't get nervous. When I say practice, I don't just mean do it a lot over time, I mean say it all out loud beforehand. If it sounds stupid when you hear the words, it probably will be stupid when you say the words later too. What I do is I always try to go to the empty church the next before for a couple hours before (my family cleans the church, so I always have a key) and say the whole thing like I want to when I actually have to. I really can tell the difference in the delivery of the sermon when I have done this and haven't done this beforehand. It makes a huge difference.

4. When you are speaking, you may look back at the clock and realize you are going to go too long or it's going to be too short. I will admit for me, it's really easy to go too short. But here's something my Pastor taught me that I will always take with me: What material you have is all you have. Don't try to add something to make it longer or cut something important out to make it shorter. I once spoke for the evening service at my church and it was probably closer to the length of a devotional than a sermon, but I knew that I didn't have anything else to add and I definitely knew that no one else wanted me to get off on some tangent just rambling on to make it ten minutes longer. God placed something on my heart and that's really all there was to say. Even though I got comments like "well, at least I didn't have time to fall asleep," it was okay, because I had said all that I needed to say.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Never Too Old for Valentine's

I go to the post office every day because I am cool like that. I actually find that I have very great conversations with random people there. Mostly it is about the weather, because really, what else do you talk about with strangers? With Valentine's Day coming up, it leads to a lot of fun, for example:

Old lady: Are you opening Valentines? Any luck?
Me: (laughs) No, no luck.
Old lady (as she opens her PO box): Well, we'll see if I have any luck.
(No Valentines were in her box.)
Old lady: There's, well, it's not a Valentine, but it's a letter.
Me: That's better than nothing.
Old lady: Maybe I'm too old for Valentine's.
Me: You can never be too old for Valentine's.

The whole thing actually made me kind of sad. I wish I had a Valentine to give her, because she never got one. Old ladies should all get Valentines.

While I should be one of the many people that are supposed to be celebrating Single Awareness Day, I instead want to say that there is nothing wrong with Valentine's Day. It's great for couples, but it is even greater to be reminded that you are loved. Everyone needs to be reminded sometimes that they are loved.

I am going to leave you with that little gem of a thought, but I will end with one of my Valentine's Day memories, because I really can get like a little school girl. It was third grade, so we had a Valentine's party within our class with each person having a box and everyone giving them Valentines. We then had a little activity where each person said what their favorite Valentine they received. Now here's a little bit of back story. I had a crush on Jeff. Yes, it's true. (We are going to overlook the fact that he has grown into quite a loser.) My best friend and I both gave out Britney Spears Valentines (yes, back when parents didn't totally disapprove of her, although that is probably another story). If I remember correctly, my friend and I were probably in a competition because we both liked Jeff. So, when the moment of truth came and Jeff had to say what Valentine he liked best, we all gripped the bottom of our wooden desk with the built-in seats. And then... Jeff said that the Valentine that I gave him was his friend. It totally made my Valentine's Day.