Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's Been a Year

January 18, 2011 I wrote this post, Beyond Awesome (reposted today to my new blog), because on January 17th I made the best yet hardest decision of my life thus far. It has been a little over a year since that weekend retreat where I surrendered all control of my life over to Jesus!

However funny this may be, my first thought when I realized a year had passed since becoming a Christian was a bit out of the ordinary. It had nothing to do with the complete 180˚ my life made nor the love I experienced for the first time but instead was more along the lines of, "I can't believe I've stuck with anything this long."

Some daisies I nabbed pics of on a bike ride and one
of my favorite Bible verses
I usually have a hard time finding meaning in one thing for a long period of time. For the everyday person a good example might be dieting and exercise. In the beginning you give it 100% wanting to reap the full benefits of being healthier so you work hard to eat right, vow to take the stairs at work and maybe hit the gym a few times a week. But when the results don't come quickly, you feel as though the work you are putting in is a waste! Your diet begins to slip, the stairs are seen as a hassle, and the gym membership is just another bill you get in the mail each month. Before you know it, chips and ice cream have made their way back into your diet and you count walking around your house as exercise. Frustrating right?

I couldn't  believe I'd stuck with anything this long and I wanted to figure out why I had but the answer was obvious! God isn't like a restricting diet or a vigorous exercise program! The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." The harder you look for God the more he reveals Himself to you and unlike dieting and exercise the result of your dedication to Him can be seen everyday in relationships, in school, and even in struggles!

So I guess this is when I talk about the 180˚ my life took and the unconditional love only God can provide....It's too remarkable. Every day the guilt that used to weigh heavily on my heart becomes less of a burden and I experience more and more of His love. I could go on forever about how his love has changed me but I wouldn't even know where to start so I'll save it for another post! Instead I'll just celebrate the best year of my life in the presence of a God who understands, wants, and loves me just as I am!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Beyond Awesome

Surrounded by believers in a cozy chapel, I pulled my knees close to my chest as I watched our new pastor impale an orange with a freshly sharpened pencil. Over and over again, he stabbed at the orange until its juices could no longer be contained by the punctured peel. Weakened by the many holes, it tore apart easily at the slightest tug of his hands. He explained that this orange was like a heart repeatedly broken and ripped to shreds by the pain and suffering of this world. (he was referring to a specific friend who had given her heart away and had it broken time and time again)

In an attempt to mend the broken heart/orange, he placed the nearly separate halves back together and wrapped the bleeding orange in tin foil. Though the heart was fixed and the puncture wounds were no longer visible, he now held a metal ball in his hand. It was still an orange but it barely resembled the unharmed orange he presented us in the beginning. By protecting this heart from further damage, the metal armor has also prevented any form of real healing. BUT THERE IS A WAY OUT...

He pulls out a fresh new orange and explains how God can give you a brand new heart, complete and whole... How much would I give to have that?

After Pastor Don had finished and we were dismissed from the chapel, the day progressed just like any other day (except for the fact that it was filled with fun activities and great conversations with friends. So really it was much better than any other day). In the evening he spoke again but this time about growing, connecting, and serving. (You can read more about this talk over at Like A Day Off and let me just tell you...) My mind still clung to the words of our pastor involving the orange, and more importantly a brand new heart. So as I was saying good night to a friend I asked if she would talk with me about something the next day (since we were too tired for a chat that night).

My heart was pulling me towards a God that I was pretty sure existed but my brain was rationalizing with this world. I've always seen religion as a set of good intentioned rules that, in the end, become the stone tied to your feet and the chains holding you back. But the next day Beth and I got to talking about my doubts and feelings about religion versus faith.

Though I don't remember Beth's or my exact words, she asked if I believed in God and if I believed that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die for me?... After several long moments, I said that I DID believe and wanted to experience God but admitted that I had never given my life to Him because fears, questions, and doubts still plagued my mind frequently. The following events happened so fast... she said come with me, she told Erik (the youth pastor) that she needed 5 minutes, and I followed her nervously to one of the girls "cabins." Beth suggested that I say a prayer out loud telling God what was on my mind. -I had never prayed out loud before- We sat down and after a few silent moments and some tears, words began stumbling out of my mouth. I continued to pray as tears traced their paths down my cheeks. Comforted by the gentle hand of a friend, I poured my heart out to a loving God. I told Him that even though I still had questions and doubts, I wanted to give my life to Him.

On January 17th, with a friend at my side, I accepted God as my Lord and Savior. My heart nearly burst out of my chest as it began to break free from all the chains holding it in place. No longer do I have to live restrained by this earthly world. Thousands of emotions raced through my mind and when asked how I felt I had no words to describe it. But I did know one thing... I AM FREE!

Someone captured the group hug... I'm somewhere in the middle :)
Though I could see the excitement on Beth's face I wasn't ready to share my AWESOME news. I needed some time. I let her tell the youth leaders while I dried my tears and did my best to make sense of what just happened. A few minutes later I returned to the chapel and tried to act as normal as possible (which meant changing my huge grin to a casual smile). We had worship soon after and let me just tell you that it was THE BEST WORSHIP EVER!! AND like Beth said at Like A Day Off I let her share the great news with the whole group the next day and I found myself in the middle of the biggest embrace ever (MASSIVE group hug)!

SOOOO as this long story comes to an end, my new life as a Christian is just beginning. I know that I would never have reached this point in faith without the many people who have acted as "bridges." So I want to thank EVERYONE: the people at school who invited me to my first FCA, the youth group and youth leaders who challenged me to grow w/ God, other youth's parents that went out of their way to help me pursue Christ, and to Beth who was at my side when I committed my life to Jesus. Thanks so much for all of your support!

*this is my attempt at describing THE BEST day of my life and though it falls short of explaining how phenomenal it really was, I hope you can grasp that it was BEYOND AWESOME!*

Friday, January 14, 2011

Running with Brad

I'm back to school and I LOVE my class schedule! I have soccer at 7:45am until 9:45 and most of my classes are done by noon keeping my mornings jammed packed. I much prefer getting everything done in the morning and having the rest of the day to relax and for once in my life I get to take advantage of being a morning person. I rarely have anything in the afternoon which tends to be my least productive hours of the day -- Last semester was extremely difficult for me because my classes began at 8am went until 2pm and soccer started at 3pm ending somewhere around 6pm. On top of just being really busy, the most difficult part of the day began around 1pm (right when my motivation, energy, and overall function begins to decline for a few hours). I'm so glad this semester suits me better!--

But the last semester ended well with a trip to Nebraska to see all the cousins and my brother and I fell in love with the newest addition to the crazy bunch

Isn't his smile the cutest thing you've ever seen?

I mentioned soccer is in the mornings though I don't feel like I can even call it soccer since all we do is lift weights and run for two hours every morning. We are only allowed to train with our soccer coaches two hours a week until the 21st of February so that just means they give us a conditioning coach and a weights coach to punish us until then. BUT I play better in the morning, listen better in the morning, and learn better in the morning so I pray that this will be my season to shine! I'm definitely nervous about all the running and lifting sessions but it's nothing I can't handle. When my legs tighten up, my lungs begin to give out, and everyone seems to be passing me I just need to remind myself that I am capable of finishing!

On another note, I want to celebrate someone's life today! I friend of mine died this week and for the first time in his life he is able to run, dance, jump for joy, and enjoy life in a way that he never has before. Brad had a muscle condition that made nearly every task difficult and/or painful but I want to celebrate the fact that he is no longer trapped in a body that doesn't work the way it should. So while I stand in line waiting to sprint the length of the soccer field again I'm going to remember what a blessing it is that I CAN run. Running is something that Brad only dreamt of and now he can finally do it too! So this spring season I'm running WITH Brad! As he runs for the first time in heaven I will be running with him here!

Brad your strength was incredible and you will be missed dearly!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I loved being home for break! I met up with friends watched movies, read books, and mainly just took a break from my busy life in college. I loved hearing about friend's college experiences and can't wait to make some more of my own HERE!... in Wyoming! Nearly every person I talked to asked "Isn't Laramie the worst place to go to school since it's cold, small, and boring?" "Have you run out of things to do yet?" "It must be horrible! Do you want to transfer?"

NO, NO, and NO! It isn't the worst place to go to school! Yes it's cold but I received plenty of warm clothes for Christmas. It is small but it's only as small as you make it. I love laramie and the people here and this is where I feel most at home so why wouldn't I be in Laramie? There are plenty of things to do that the college puts and on top of that I have an incredible group of friends who are creative when it comes to finding activities to pass the time. So as you can see it isn't horrible and I don't wan't to transfer because I love it here. But then someone says, "but it's Wyoming," as if Wyoming is a prison or some kind of torture camp.

I don't think Wyoming is right for everyone and if you've been here (for more than a drive through) you can think whatever you want of it but I feel judged when people just assume it is miserable here. I don't like when people ask me why i settled with Wyoming when I could have gone to a "better" college in a "better" state and by "better" all they mean is something they would like more. Someday they'll understand that I like it here and I'll realize it doesn't matter what they think anyway :) But whether others like it or not I wish they could appreciate the beauty that is here!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I've never liked New Years resolutions but I appreciate the fact that people recognize the need for change in their lives. I love the idea of choosing a few areas in life to work on but I don't like that it is limited to a new years. I guess all I'm saying is if you think something about your life needs adjustments than make them and don't wait around saying you'll do it next year. Too many people struggle keeping their new years resolutions because they don't set smaller goals for themselves throughout the year. Then New Years comes around and they make HUGE goals and don't know how go about accomplishing them. So this year I've decided to list a few smaller resolutions I've come up with and once those are accomplished (could take a week or a year) I will come up with a few new ones. So here are a few of my mini new years resolutions.

  • Get into the Word. I don't have to read chapters and chapters every day but it could be as simple reading a few verses in the morning before class to remind me where my focus should be throughout the day.
  • Try hard at one thing every day. Being busy means dividing time and energy amongst many different events, hobbies, and obligations but if I choose just one to be my main focus I find the whole day goes smoother. Even if that means choosing to put all my effort into making a delicious dinner :)
  • and last but not least: I'm going to cause less drama. I know it sounds a bit ridiculous because I'm not dramatic according to most people's definition of the word but it's something I'd like to work on for me to feel better about myself and my friendships.