life

 
 

A Recap of 2016 and a Preview of 2017: A Testimony of the Faithfulness of God

I’ll be honest, I’m not the type of person to make a New Year’s Resolution list. Usually, with some prodding from my Mom, I churn out 3 to 5 vague goals I hope to accomplish in the future. I’m 99% sure my resolutions for the year 2016 were something along the lines of:

  1. Start running
  2. Lose weight
  3. Be healthier
  4. Love Jesus more
  5. Read my Bible everyday

I had noble ambitions, to be sure. Awfully shallow, noble ambitions. What is it about goal-setting that I never fully embrace? Maybe I feel it infringes upon my go-with-the-flow attitude. I just want to LIVE another year of my life. I want to make a difference. I want to be able to look back and I know that I spent my time wisely, and I furthered the kingdom of God. I want to have memories to hold onto forever, both good ones and bad ones. I want to soak up every moment. To make every breath count for something. To live a life filled with purpose and inspiration. To seize every opportunity to be grateful, to laugh, to find a new friend, to revel in the vivid colors of a sunset, to watch the sunlight through the trees, to hear the echo of bird calls over the mountains, to be captivated by emotion, to be changed by conversations. I want more than just goals. Just things to work towards. I want to live a life of more. Never just going through the motions, never just trying to make it through another day. I want my years to be characterized by abiding in Christ, and allowing him to make my life worth something more. Greater than just the ordinary. Bigger than mundane. Every second of every day, I want to hold tightly to the promise that God has a plan for my life, a plan to prosper and not to harm, a plan to give me hope and a future. If He is for me, who can be against me?

Though my resolutions for 2016 might have been shallow, God still managed to accomplish amazing things through me this year. I’ve been reminded time and time again of His unfailing grace and His thoughts that are higher and deeper than mine could ever be. He took this humorously weak list, and did something incredible. It mirrors what He did in my life this past year. He took me, humorously weak, and used my life to do something incredible. Something that can only be explained by God. He deserves all of the glory.

I actually did start running this year. I made it through about 3 weeks of running at the beginning of January before I injured both hamstrings and had to stop. As the summer progressed, my goal became to run a mile. In all of my life, I’ve never run a mile without stopping. But summer is a difficult time to run in South Georgia, and I stopped just short of finishing half a mile without stopping.

I started college at the University of North Georgia in the Fall, and after realizing I had to hike to my dorm every day, set out to reverse the common phrase “Freshman 15”. I went to the gym, but that lasted about a week before my time table was filled with more important matters. I went back intermittently during the semester, and I tried to eat in a somewhat healthy manner, but I wasn’t sure how much difference it would really make. I could feel myself losing weight, but with no scale, I wasn’t sure how I was actually progressing. When I finally made it back home for Christmas break and stepped on the scale, I was shocked. I had lost 12 lbs. total. But God had something even better in mind. On December 23, 2016, I completed my first full mile run.

Losing weight and exercising has been on my resolutions list for close to 4 or 5 years now. It was something I could never seem to do. In fact, I only seemed to gain weight. The summer of Sophomore year of high school, I weighed over 150 lbs. This made it nearly impossible for me to run without causing severe pain to my feet. It was a Catch-22. I couldn’t lose weight to exercise and I couldn’t exercise to lose weight. January of 2016 it finally dawned on me. I was exercising and counting calories and staring at the numbers on the scale because I was insecure. Because I wanted to impress other people. Everything I did, I did out of a feeling of inferiority and a growing desire to be accepted. It never got me anywhere. For a while, I tried to tell myself I was doing it because it was the right thing to do. Because my body is a temple, and I need to glorify God. That’s true, but even though I knew it was true, I didn’t live like I believed it was true. Until this year. This year, from the very first moment my brand new running shoes hit the asphalt, I surrendered my journey to God. It was difficult. But it was worth it. There were times I thought about giving up, times I did give up. But God never gave up on me. And I am a living testimony of how powerful the God I serve is. He broke down the lies I believed about myself. I learned on a deeper level that the way I look to God matters so much more than the way I look to anyone else. He used the painful process of getting the most un-athletic, out of shape girl to exercise as a metaphor for my spiritual life. As I grew in physical strength, I saw how he was growing me in spiritual strength as well. It was hard. As with running, there were times I wanted to give up, and times I did give up. But He never gave up on me. He remained faithful. He remains faithful.

I’d love to say I read my Bible every day this year, but that’s not true. A majority of the days this year, I did pick up my Bible and read, but not every day. But I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I came to love Jesus more this year than I did the last. I faced a lot of new challenges to my faith. Things I was forced to trust God with. It was somewhat painful to realize that the things I thought I had entrusted to God; I had really kept to myself. But that’s what real worship is all about, surrendering everything you have to God. Even when it’s hard. Even when you’d prefer to hang on to some dreams. But I learned that I must die to those dreams. I must sacrifice them on the altar and present them as an offering to God and believe that God is good. If those dreams are meant to be resurrected, they will be. If not, God has something unbelievably better in mind, and who I am to choose something I may think is good over the very best that God has for me. He knows me better than I know myself.

This year, I’ve decided to make real resolutions. Yes, I want to lose weight. Yes, I want to be healthier. I’ve still got a ways to go. But I know that I am able to honor God because He gives me the strength to fight temptation and to continue pressing on, even when I may be weak. I’ve been reminded of his steadfast love and continual faithfulness this year, and I know that this will be present every day of my life. He will still be faithful to me.

So, without further ado, I present 17 New Year’s Resolutions for the year 2017!

  1. Love Jesus more than I did the day before.
  2. Be motivated by love for Jesus, not obligation or a desire to impress others.
  3. Worship God.
  4. Make time for Bible Study and fight to keep that time, amid the pressures of life. Look forward to hearing what He has to say.
  5. Cultivate a spirit of peace, joy, and contentment- in ALL circumstances.
  6. Remain confident of God’s love and provision, even during difficult times.
  7. Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  8. Follow His leading, no matter where He leads.
  9. Give every problem and crisis to Him and trust that everything will work out for my good and his glory.
  10. Focus on building the kingdom of God, not my kingdom. See the eternal, not the finite. Invest in what is everlasting, not in what is perishable. This includes investing my time. Be a good steward of the time I have been given.
  11. Spread the Gospel!
  12. Make lifestyle choices that honor God, and stick to them, even when it gets hard.
  13. Continue running the race that has been set out before me, both physically and spiritually. Find my strength in Christ alone.
  14. Become a prayer warrior and fight for the Body of Christ.
  15. Encourage and challenge others in their walk with Christ.
  16. Learn how to be a better leader.
  17. Choose faith over fear.

I am confident that the best is yet to come. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me in 2017. Here’s to the future, full of confidence knowing that the one who walks beside me has already been there before me. I’ll see you next year! 🙂

-Mackenzie

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Faith, God, life, New Year | 3 Comments
 
 

Happy Anniversary Not So Supergirl!

Wow! I can’t believe it’s already been ONE YEAR since I started this blog. It just doesn’t seem real. God has used this in amazing ways, but it was his blog in the first place, I was merely writing what he told me. So in honor of Not So Supergirl, I have compiled a list of the stats. And drum roll please….

Number of Hits: 1, 445

Most Views on a Single Day: 149

Top Posts:

When Earwax Clogs Your Hearing– 142 views

My Future Husband– 86 views

Speechless– 76 views

Number of Followers: 22

Number of Comments: 42

Number of Posts: 18

I have to say, I think that’s pretty good. Okay… more than good. When I look at all the stats I am amazed by what God has done and how he has used this blog not just in the USA, but all around the world. There have been nearly 40 counties represented in the views, not including the USA. To my readers, thanks for sticking around this long. I haven’t always been the best at posting regularly- even though my intentions were good. After a while the “new blog” excitement wears thin and you realize you need to keep writing, even when you don’t always feel like it. Not just for people to read, but to keep your own faith where it needs to be; to come to God and sit down for a while and let him speak to you, even when your not feeling it.  I know that this isn’t nearly the end of this blog and God is going to keep doing wonderful things through it, and I hope you guys still decide this stuff is worth reading. Once again, thank you so much. To God, thank you for giving me the privilege to write the things you tell me and telling me the things worth writing. You give me so much inspiration and I’m positive it will never run out. That’s just what I love about you, the more I think I know about you, the less I really do. This blog (not to mention me) wouldn’t be here without you. I love you so much!

Categories: Anniversary, Change, Faith, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, learning, life, listening, love, words | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

The Following: Leading Well (Part 2)

Proverbs 14:28 (MSG)

28 The mark of a good leader is loyal followers;
leadership is nothing without a following.

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This is the second lesson that God is teaching me regarding leadership. The verse really speaks for itself, you are not a good leader if you have no followers. It makes a lot of sense, you don’t to talk to people you don’t want to hear speak. You don’t hang out with people you don’t like. You don’t follow people who don’t lead well. Because this next year, everything will be new to me, I will see how many people follow me.

I will post things about Youth camp later this summer, but I wanted to shine a light on the commitment that I made to my youth group while I was there. Each night, we would have a worship session and then the speaker would stand up and give the message. That night, the message centered on this question, will you be able to walk across a graduation and have people say about you, I can follow her because he/she follows Christ. He/She constantly seeks after what God desires of him/her and I know that he/she is going to be on the right track, I know I can follow him/her because of their relationship and closeness with Christ.

My youth pastor posed this question, and what I heard was a call for leaders to rise up in the youth group. I stood. It is a big responsibility to have an entire youth group looking up to you and watching your actions to see if Christ is evident in your life, but for a while I could hear God calling me to do something more with my youth ministry. The teens in the youth group were being poured into, but it was hard to tell if they were pouring anything out. It was time to start a revolution, beginning with me, because I was willing to let God use me to change the church attitude both in myself and in others. I asked for accountability, because if I’m leading, not only do I need people following but people alongside me to point out things in my life and bluntly tell me; Mackenzie, if you carry this on any longer, you are going to be leading people into sin.

I’ve been gone for most of the summer, and I haven’t had a chance to notice if my commitment had produced any followers. I may not ever see the people who seek after Christ because my relationship with him changed them. I hope I will be able to look back across the graduation stage and look back at people who have followed me as I followed Christ and know that even as I step out into the real world, I will continue after what he asks of me with all I am, no matter the cost.

I want to be able to lead the people at my school this next year and the people in my youth group this summer and for the rest of my high school years, and if I notice that I have no followers, I know it’s time to back off and let someone else do the leading, while I follow.  With Christ at the center of everything I do, I want to lead people to walk in his ways, and get up people out of the pew and onto the road. If you always live your spiritual life in one place with no risks, you’ve never really lived at all. And besides, I need some followers. You can’t lead if no one is following.

Categories: Change, christianity, Church, communication, encouragement, Faith, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, leadership, learning, life, people, purpose, School, students, summer, teens, Trust, Uncategorized, words, youth group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

I’ll Be With You: Leading Well (Part 1)

Exodus 3:9-18 (MSG)

9-10 “The Israelite cry for help has come to me, and I’ve seen for myself how cruelly they’re being treated by the Egyptians. It’s time for you to go back: I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the People of Israel, out of Egypt.”

11 Moses answered God, “But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

12 “I’ll be with you,” God said. “And this will be the proof that I am the one who sent you: When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain.”

13 Then Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the People of Israel and I tell them, ‘The God of your fathers sent me to you’; and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What do I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, ‘I-AM sent me to you.’”

15 God continued with Moses: “This is what you’re to say to the Israelites: ‘God, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob sent me to you.’ This has always been my name, and this is how I always will be known.

16-17 “Now be on your way. Gather the leaders of Israel. Tell them, ‘God, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, appeared to me, saying, “I’ve looked into what’s being done to you in Egypt, and I’ve determined to get you out of the affliction of Egypt and take you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, a land brimming over with milk and honey.”’

18 “Believe me, they will listen to you. Then you and the leaders of Israel will go to the king of Egypt and say to him: ‘God, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness where we will worship God—our God.

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For a long time, I’ve been behind the scenes working for Christ on campus. I’ve been there, I’ve led in my own subtle mannerisms, but never noticed a big group following behind me, or was ever entrusted with the care of their spiritual growth.  I prayed, was outgoing, witnessed, all of this leading in its own way, but never truly led. This next year, I have the chance to lead. From what I have heard, I am a very possible candidate for a leadership position with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. You have no idea how excited this has made me. I get my chance to lead people. People will look up to me and I’ll challenge them in their faith. More witnessing will happen and the school will be turned upside-down because of the call he has placed on my life. But I’ve never truly led.

The reality of this hit me one night and I was suddenly asking myself, “How is it possible that I could be leading others?” I wondered what I would say to get their attention. How I would say it? I planned out all the things I wanted to get done and everything that needed to be done. And I was suddenly overwhelmed with the thought of leading actual people. Even more so, people my age and older than me. Of course the cute Christian girl praying at her Dad’s college meetings is enough to inspire a Christian college student, but not lead them. I’m not teaching Bible Stories to five-year-olds either. After moving, I hardly had any friends. In middle school, I integrated with the “outcasts” of middle school society and felt a whole new way to stand up for what I believe in , from a bunch of atheists who hated god, a bunch of skeptics who didn’t think he existed, and a bunch of hurting people who couldn’t accept a God who had never done anything for them and allowed them to feel pain. My faith dwindled and then grew as I was able to tell them what they needed and was able to stand apart from them, but allow a safe-haven for them even though I believed in something different.

I was still left out sometimes, most being of the popular Christians crowd.  As the two groups of us moved further away from each other, a fear began to grow inside of me that kept me from going back and finding Christian friends. It was a fear of rejection. We were only 3rd and 4th graders when we met. I didn’t know one person my 3rd grade year who had  felt what it was like to be new someplace and have no one to welcome you.

My story turned out for the better, I stepped outside my comfort zone and the haze of lies the Devil had fed me to keep me away from the people who might help to grow and encourage my faith the most. The Christian people like me. Of course, the giant gap remains between my group of lesser on the popularity chain to greater on the popularity chain. I feel like I can’t relate to  Christian people sometimes. These people have always had Christian friends, they always seemed to be accepted by everybody. I haven’t. So it was this that I came to that night. That I had a chance to lead the people I had been afraid of and bridge the gap between my group and theirs. Where do I begin? What do I say? They won’t listen to me! I’ve never led anyone before. Near tears, God spoke to me. He said “I’ll be with you, believe me, they will listen to you. I gave Moses the words didn’t I?” . I remembered this passage and read it over and was so overcome with joy.

That night he promised me that he would give me a full training in how to be a leader. I know it will make me better equipped and a better leader than any “how-to” book on the market or any year-long seminar. He’s the best leader there is. I love how he gets irritated with Moses. He says that he will be with him through everything, that he will give them the words and the victory, yet Moses doubts God. My favorite line is one I’ve said myself many times, ““But why me? What makes you think that I could ever _______________________?” And every time God answers me,  “I’ll be with you.” He’s with you too, whether it be leading an entire body of Christians or overcoming the initial shock of something extravagant he asks of you. He says,  “I’ll be with you” and proves it to be true every time.

Categories: Change, christianity, Church, communication, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, learning, life, prayer, teens, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Completions and Complications

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this blog, and before you go off on me about not writing for a few months, hear me out. I have this class that was a little behind grade-wise in AP U.S. Government and Politics (most of you know where this is headed) but before you go thinking that I’ve failed the class, I want to clarify that we are talking about a perfectionist (me) who “failed”. In other words, I was making a B and my 4.0 average began to slip down the drain. I’m not bitter that I was temporarily grounded from my blog, because I felt the same. Taking an AP class consumes a lot of your time, and like the usual me, I couldn’t get my priorities straight, and so my parents straightened them out for me. You have no idea how glad I am to be back and how glad I am to be able to write about the pieces of my life you missed this past month, and also about all the experiences I will have this summer. It’s going to be epic, just saying.

I titled this “Completions and Complications” because it sums up life for me right now, pretty well. As I have had the chance to read other’s blogs and let them pour into my life, I realized that I enjoy reading blog posts where people are real. Not the fake “I’m doing fine” not the teaching of what they learned about Jesus this past week, but when they sat down and said, look, my life is a mess. I don’t know why you’re reading this, but it’s for a reason. It’s hard for me to write this. It’s deeply painful to sum up what’s going on right now, but healing can be painful and I’m going to write and learn and listen until the very end. Join me if you want to. It inspires me. Because I never for one moment think; “wow, they don’t have it all together” or “their faith must be really weak because they can’t trust him with this”, instead I think, “I want faith like that”. It takes a lot of confidence to put out the things you are struggling with at this season in your life. You suddenly become more vulnerable than you’ve ever been, and it’s scary. Like stepping out on a limb that you’re not sure will hold you up. I’ve made the decision to write like that. I’m stressed. I’m worn out. I’m being pulled in a thousand different directions. I don’t know why you’re reading this, but it’s for a reason. It may be hard for me to write like that. It may be deeply painful. But healing can be painful and I’m going to I’m going to write and learn and listen until the very end. Join me if you want to.

The school year has ended and I cannot believe how many close friends I have made just in this school-year alone. This summer will be difficult to begin, I’m going to miss those dear friends so much, and they will always have a place in my heart. I’m finally beginning feel that I have accomplished something. I still have so much that I have to learn, and so many things that God has to pull out of my life. Just as the school-year ended, he put a pin-point on a fear I had lived with for a long time, and I was able to begin to overcome it. As this summer begins, expect to see shorter posts with more content, for as many days as possible. Thanks for coming on the journey this far, in June my blog will be 6 months old.

Categories: AP Civcs, Change, christianity, communication, converstions, failure, Faith, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, learning, life, listening, people, prayer, reality, relationships, School, speech, stress, summer, teens, Uncategorized, vacations, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Beauty in Exile

Here is a little short story I wrote for Easter Sunday. Enjoy!

As far as I was concerned, I was worth nothing. I had rags for a dress, soiled hands and a dirty face. I was an outcast of society; I deserved nothing but to be spit upon by a crowd of mockers. I was an orphan, without family or home. I had no name. I was exiled from the Kingdom, as ransom for a fault of my ancestors, many years before. They soiled the honor of our King. I suffered under the weight of their fault.

A prince sat in his castle window, staring out at the barren land where the outskirts of his father’s kingdom lay. It was dry, where the exiles lived. The exiles who soiled the honor of his father, exiles with rags for clothes and soiled hands and dirty faces; a people who knew no love, no home. His heart ached for them.

I worked hard with little pay and the only satisfaction I got was the hope of death, which was never a comfort. My freedom held me captive, all day long. I knew I was free to roam, but inside, I yearned for something more fulfilling. I needed to know my life had a purpose. I needed to feel loved. I shoved my thoughts out of the way, and toiled on. My search for water was unending.

The prince sat at the King’s table, feasting on the finest food. The king stood. “My son,” he said, “have you not longed to see what I have despised?” “Therefore, I send you out unto the exiles to live among them, to see what they face.” “Bring them back to me, and I shall make them my children, they shall be loved.” The prince, nodded solemnly, knowing this would be his last feast at his father’s table for a long time. His father continued, speaking softly “but you know they cannot be accepted without a price”. The prince stood, wiped away a tear and said, “It will be done.”

I watched the cloud of dust come closer, the only thing it could mean was a new arrival. The person who came stumbling down the road was not eye-catching, but there was something about him. When he looked me in the eye, I saw no scorn, no mockery, nothing I had been used to receiving from travelers. When he spoke, there seemed to be great authority, and his next words shocked me. “I am an exile.” “I came from my father’s kingdom to live here for a year and bring you back to him after your ransom has been paid.” I laughed at such ignorance, but lead him around and showed him the life I lived in this dust bowl, a life without water, a life that seemed to mean nothing. Through the months, his phrase echoed through the walls of my mind. “…To bring you back to him after your ransom has been paid.”

The prince lived among the exiles, and experienced the heartache of the people. He felt their sorrow, a stabbing pain in his heart. He healed the sick, and they listened to stories of life in the castle, although they never believed them. But the days were drawing close when their ransom had to be paid. They would know the joy of love and family; he would feel the weight of their burdensome faults. A pack of thieves galloped down the road; he bowed his head and prayed before leaping into action.

We never had thieves. There was nothing to steal, and yet there they were before us, holding us hostage. The prince came out of the cloud of dust, his face set in a firm line, holding out a ring with the king’s coat of arms. “I know what you’re after”, he said, “Let them go.” The thieves dropped us to the ground and sprinted to the prince. I could only watch as a cloud of dust arose and the prince’s cries were heard above the noise. I turned my head; I couldn’t bear to watch it unfold. The others around me laughed and jeered, ugly people enjoying the spectacle of pain they never saw the prince go through before now.

The thieves, after finishing their work, left off into the sunset, while the prince lay motionless on the ground. The others around me wandered off. I ran to him. I watched, in awe as the river of blood flowing from his veins took form, creating a beautiful red dress. The prince stirred, and said in a hoarse voice, “take it, put it on, and walk back into my father’s kingdom, there you will be accepted, and there you will find rest and love.” I took his hand, and he died. The ground shook and the sky turned black. I put on the red dress and started my three-day journey back to the kingdom, carrying the dreadful news to the King- that his son was dead.

The third day, my heart felt lighter, as if the weight I had been under for so long was now gone. I looked at my red dress; it was a brilliant white as I climbed up the steps to the King’s palace. They received me inside, although I had made no appointment. I walked the narrow hallways to the throne room, my heart pounding furiously. I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror; no longer was I ugly, I wasn’t dressed in filthy rags, now I was stunning, the white dress reflecting off the walls.

A voice from inside the throne room called me in, and I walked into the brilliant light. There, my King stood tall and welcomed me to his table, and said I was his child. I opened my mouth to tell of how undeserving I was, when I saw my prince. He stood and spoke for me. He told of the wonderful things I had done for him while in exile. His father nodded. I was lead to the table, and knew that I was loved. I was lead to His table; and I knew I was home.

Categories: beauty, Change, christianity, encouragement, God, God, hearing, Holy Spirit, identity, Jesus, life, listening, looks, love, Moving, people, perfection, prayer, purpose, reality, relationships, selfishness, words | Leave a comment
 
 

Work in Progress

I’ve had people ask me a lot of challenging questions this week. I’ve gone through many faith-challenging things these last few weeks. I found that through my walk with Christ, I’m able to give things to God more easily. When something comes up that I feel like I don’t know how to handle, I’ve learned to give it to God. It’s still a work in progress. That phrase, “a work in progress”, describes me well. My tennis skills: a work in progress. My gym class tolerance: a work in progress. My faith: a work in progress. Mackenzie: a work in progress. There are many things I need to work on, and many things God needs to work out of me.

I find that people often say “be strong” when you’re faced with hard circumstances, but I’ve found God tells me just the opposite. He tells me that through my weaknesses, he is made strong. Basically, he says “be weak.” When you become weak, you become flexible to God’s schedule as opposed to your own. You’re giving him control, letting him turn something into a masterpiece, instead of trying to make it on your own, without even knowing how. You’re trying to make something perfect out of nothing. Have you ever done pottery before? Imagine an instructor sitting a ball of clay before you and saying, make a flawless teapot. I don’t want to see any cracks, and make sure all the air bubbles our out and make sure you use the spiral method. Oh, and don’t forget to wedge and knead the clay before you hollow it out, also score and slip the pot before adding the handle. Unless you really know how to make pottery, you might be a little lost.

I’ll explain. If there are cracks in the clay you are molding with, it will be hard to shape and falls apart easily. If there are air bubbles in the clay when you fire it in the kiln, your masterpiece will explode. The spiral method of making pottery is difficult and it usually comes out lopsided if the clay “snake” is not rolled out evenly. You wedge and knead clay to get all the air bubbles out so it doesn’t explode in the kiln. You must also hollow out the inside of your pot because you couldn’t use it if you didn’t and also because there is a great chance there are air bubbles in that clay and it will explode in the kiln if you do not knead them out. You score and slip pieces of clay that you want to attach together, because they would not stick otherwise. Slip is a mixture of clay and water that acts as a glue for pieces of pottery. Scoring refers to the process of roughing up the surface area of the two objects that you want to attach, where you want to attach them; scoring is like making scratch marks in the clay with a utensil such as a plastic fork before slipping it and attaching it. If you do something wrong, your masterpiece will either fall apart or explode when you try to complete it.

I wonder how many of us, would have known exactly what to do, without being told any of that information. How many of us could have made perfect, flawless teapots? And yet we treat our lives like a piece of pottery that we know exactly how to mold, which is the biggest lie. Does a pot know how to mold itself? So for God to accomplish his purpose in us, we must first become weak and willing. We are all works in progress. None of us are perfect. I’m not perfect. I never will be. But I look at people who don’t seem to have any problems in their life and wish I were them. Comparing myself to a broken, useless person who God has fixed, isn’t perfection. It’s a broken useless person who God has fixed and given a purpose to. I’ve misunderstood and undoubtedly misplaced perfection. We have God’s full attention. He is intent on making us into something wonderful. We never take the time to notice that our creator is perfect. We never take the time to compare our own lives to his. We are too caught up in comparing ourselves to “perfect” people. Like I said, I’m a work in progress, and only when I become weak, can God turn me into something breath-taking.

1 Corinthians 4:6-7 (MSG)

For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. You already have more access to God than you can handle.

Categories: beauty, Bible, clay, clay pot, comparision, Corinthians, creations, Faith, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, learning, life, listening, people, perfection, potter, pottery, purpose, relationships, Self-esteem, Thoughts, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

The past few weeks have been a challenge and I was tempted to write a blog post about it. But finding out where to begin was hard, and I feel like I’ve posted enough posts about the sadness in my life. Optimistic and cheerful are two words describing me in the dictionary and I want to keep up the image. This blog is to encourage others in their faith, not to tell them my life story. So while I was worrying about what to do, a song came on my iPod.

“Here is a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy
In every life, we have some trouble
When you worry, you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy……”

I love this song. If you’re having a bad day, this song is perfect. Spiritually this song has great value as well… but not as much as this verse:

Philippians 4:6-7(MSG)

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

I hope today has been blessed, and don’t worry…don’t do it. Be Happy 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Categories: Bible, christianity, communication, encouragement, Faith, God, God, happiness, hearing, Holy Spirit, Jesus, learning, life, listening, love, Moving, people, prayer, reality, speech, spiritual ears, students, teens, Thoughts, Uncategorized, words, worry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Learning to Listen

I’m a chatterbox. There is the plain truth in black and white. If someone asks me how I am, I’ll tell them. They will hear much more about my life than they ever wanted to. It’s comical really. But I also have a tendency to be a chatterbox to God. I talk and talk and talk about my problems. Why this, why that, I wonder about this, I wonder about that, on and on and on. It’s good to pray. It’s good to talk. But sometimes all the talking drowns out what the other person is trying to say and you miss something important. When my mouth isn’t moving, there is something wrong with me physically. When my heart is talking, there is something wrong with me spiritually.

Why is there something wrong with me spiritually? It’s because I’ve completely ignored what God is trying to tell me. I’ve interrupted and kept talking. “Be still, and know that I am God.” For me, God is trying to tell me in that verse to stop being such a chatterbox and just quiet down and listen. He is God! He holds the entire world and my problems are nothing compared to him. One of the first steps toward having gentle and quiet spirit is to be quiet. Many of my friends are quiet people. That leaves me to do most of the talking. But when me and another friend both like to talk, it creates serious communication issues. You try to talk at the same time and all the words are jumbled together. When you tried to say “my fish is sick” and they tried to say, “I bought some tuna” you wind up with something like “my tuna fish is some stick”; not at all what you were trying to get across. It’s the same thing with God, though with a not nearly as funny outcome.

When you talk so much you can’t hear God, your almost saying “what I have to say is so much more important that what you have to say, therefore you must listen to me before I’ll hear anything from you.” It’s a detrimental spiritual disease called selfishness. It grows in your soul and has to be weeded out by a professional gardener; otherwise, it spreads and you think you are entitled to everything because the world revolves around you and what you want. This is what I’ve done when I needed to listen to God. Because I don’t, I wind up completely and utterly confused and lost. Because I don’t focus on his directions, I lose sight of the way he wants me to walk. Being quiet takes practice; it takes vigorous spiritual exercise to listen. When all you want to do is tell God about your problems, you forget that he is trying to tell you how to fix them. Spiritual chatterboxes don’t make strong Christians; they make confused Christians who have a selfish slant to their lives.

Praying is a wonderful thing. But prayer is a conversation, not a journal you’re keeping. With prayer, you talk to be heard and you talk to be answered. Spiritual talking is almost like a cheat prayer. You just talk to talk and whether anyone responds isn’t your concern. Each trial we face in our lives, is for us to learn from, whether we want to learn or not. The trials build up our faith and the more you learn from it, the stronger you faith becomes. But how much you learn depends on how much you listen.

Categories: Bible, Change, chatterbox, christianity, communication, converstions, encouragement, Faith, garden, God, God, hearing, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Journals, learning, life, listening, love, people, prayer, reality, relationships, selfishness, speech, Thoughts, Trust, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Speechless

I’m not often speechless… or wordless. Words are so natural for my person; most everything I’m good at has something to do with words. Being speechless is not something I like. Having the right words to say at the right time is something I find confidence in, something that I can lean back onto when most other people don’t know what to say. Very few things have left me speechless. I was left without words again this week; at a time when I counted on them to get me through a conversation.

I was shocked into reality by a truth this week. My imaginative, optimistic self doesn’t like to come into agreement with reality sometimes. It would much rather stay where it’s comfortable off in la-la land somewhere prancing happily around like nothing is ever wrong. But sometimes there’s no other way to come to agreement with reality without facing it head-on. This time, I didn’t have a choice whether to face it or not, I was forced to. God wanted me to see that some of the most perfect-seeming people are struggling, broken people just like I am; and I was shocked. Not that I think less of them because of it, not even that I don’t want to talk to them for a few days because of it. I was just shocked, speechless, wordless, while I processed that fact that my mental images had been shattered into a million pieces. That a person I thought I knew, I really didn’t know at all.

Not that it hurt me to sweep up the glass image; I needed the blunt truth shoved into my face in order to realize that God is doing something great with my life. Something so much bigger than myself and “Mackenzie’s World”. That I need to step out of myself sometimes and realize that people are hurting around me and I’m doing nothing more than staring blankly at their lives. Loving people for who they are, in spite of what they’ve done isn’t easy. I can only imagine how hard it is for God to look at my life and still love me in spite of some of some of the things I’ve done. I’ve broken his heart a thousand times, and he’s never left me. The thought of someone willingly dying for me is beyond crazy. Who would want to? It’s sad to think someone could love me that deeply and I brush him off as if finding that sort of love happens every day.

What am I supposed to say to a person who has gone through something I can hardly comprehend? I have to say something! But like before, I’m speechless. I’m wordless. No encouraging words will come. They all sound fake, like a person saying, “Don’t cry it’s going to be okay” when they’ve just lost their legs. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to say? “Everything is going to be all right”? It sounds fake. They’ve heard it a million times but hardly anyone knows what it’s like to be in their place. You’ve just spoken a bunch of empty words. People talking because they don’t know what to say when faced with that sort of thing. People talking because they don’t want to be left…speechless. It’s as if a giant elephant sat down in your lap and you have no idea what to do with it now that it’s there. It ruins a conversation.

This week, I need prayer. I need the right words to say when I’m speechless. I need to be encouraging when all I can think to do is slump in a chair and process the words. I need God to show me just how to trust him for words and not my brain. I’ll finish with a letter from Paul to Corinth.

2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (MSG)

We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.

Categories: Bible, christianity, Corinthians, elephants, encouragement, Faith, God, hearing, life, love, people, perfection, prayer, purpose, reality, relationships, shock, speech, Thoughts, Trust, Uncategorized, words | Tags: | 5 Comments
 
 

When Earwax Clogs Your Hearing

To be honest, earwax isn’t the most pleasant thing. Unfortunately, I have gotten to know that really well. A few weeks ago, my ear was clogged up… and wouldn’t unclog. We went to the doctor and, what do you know, a big hunk of earwax was stopping me from hearing things correctly. During that time, I really stopped to think about my spiritual life. Is there anything clogging my spiritual ears from hearing God’s voice? What is the earwax that keeps me from doing what God has planned for me? For any of you who know, it can be kind of cool to hear your own voice after your ear gets stopped up, but eventually it just gets annoying. You try to remove with a Q-tip… nothing. You try all these different things because by now; it’s beyond annoying, it’s maddening.

I went to Disciple Now “D-Now”, a youth retreat at my church, last week. During the icebreaker, my fun fact was that I blogged. Since I said that, I was forced to blog about D-Now. But that’s not the only reason that I brought it up. It really was an awesome weekend that dealt with finding your identity. And as a teen, that can be difficult. You try to find it in so many different things other than God, and soon you’re entangled in a false identity, not at all what God wanted you to be. I will blog along those lines later. What I really struggled with this weekend, wasn’t finding my identity. I knew what my identity was, it was Christ, what I struggled with, was surrendering a few things.

I devoted the weekend to seeking after God’s plan for my life and not my own. I realized that sometimes, living fully for Christ could mean giving up things that you’ve held onto for a long time. Things like your biggest dreams, your firmest hopes, and your obsessions. I can name at least one that this theology struck really hard. I felt like it nearly killed me to give up control of it. I found out something though, once you make God the desire of your heart, things began to change… fast. So fast, it’s like you’re caught up in an amazing whirlwind of his love, his holiness, and his grace. I am completely and utterly in awe of him.

After the youth retreat, I got to talking with my youth pastor and he offered to let me teach a small-group of 6th grade girls this summer. To let you know, no youth lead the small groups, it’s all college students. Teach at church; become an even bolder person in the faith? No way, my life had been planned so drastically different. Last Sunday, my Sunday school teacher offered to have a student teach the class, I was dying to, but before I could say anything, my class members unanimously elected me via the “stare vote”. So I’m teaching now.

I believe it all came from one prayer. I advise you to use these words carefully as they always bring about change as soon as God knows you’re willing. I had been warned, but I honestly thought I could imagine up what God wanted me to do. Take me seriously on this, unless you really want something to happen in your life, which includes all of your dreams falling to pieces in light of God’s supreme plan, don’t pray this prayer.

The prayer: use me, bless me, do whatever you want with my life. I give you all my hopes, all my dreams; I want you to be my heart’s desire. I want to fall in love with you. Take all my plans, and turn them into whatever brings you glory. Here I am, send me.

I finally got the earwax cleaned out of my spiritual ears; and once I did, I heard God loud and clear. What are you waiting for? God wants to do amazing things in and through your life if you’ll just listen. Chances are; you have spiritual earwax. Clean the earwax out of your ears, and give him all your attention. He’s worth every second. And that earwax… toss it in the trash.

Categories: Bible, Change, christianity, Church, comparision, D-Now, earwax, Faith, finding your identity, God, hearing, identity, life, prayer, purpose, small groups, spiritual ears, students, teens, Thoughts, Uncategorized, youth retreats | Tags: | 7 Comments
 
 

Fighting For Life

My friend sent me a text today asking for my help in spreading the word about something she wanted to do this Tuesday morning in honor of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. She proposed that we gather at the courtyard of our school before first block and pray against abortion for and the support of life. She said, “I just feel like we need to pray out against the murder of unborn children and mercy for women who have gone through abortion. I know this issue probably affects several girls at our school currently, and while I believe we as Christians shouldn’t stand for it, I believe picketing the issue isn’t the way to show how much we actually care about this issue and the many lives lost to it. This event isn’t a picket for abortion or even something that would condemn the mothers and children. It is a prayer time where we can quiet our hearts and ask for help and healing of this nation and the hurt surrounding this issue. We need to pray for comfort for the mothers, whether prepared or unprepared for children, who decidedly give up their child, whether forced to or unforced. It is a sight to see what this nation has become…after everything we used to be. We survived here, we fought and won this land, not anything of our own doing, but because God chose to bless us. Because our founding fathers left everything they knew, to come here, and worship God the way he should be worshipped. My pastor quoted Dr. Russell Moore, the Dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary, in today’s bulletin. This is what Dr. Moore wrote:

Why I Hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

“I don’t hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I think it somehow, unbiblical. No, indeed. The entire canon throbs with God’s commitment to the fatherless and to the widows, his wrath at the shedding of innocent blood. I don’t hate it because I think it’s inappropriate. Just as every Lord’s Day should be Easter, with the proclamation of the Resurrection of Jesus, and Christmas, with the announcement of the Incarnation, so every Lord’s Day should highlight the worth and dignity of human life. I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I’m reminded that we have to say things to one another that human beings shouldn’t have to say.
– Mothers shouldn’t kill their children
– Fathers shouldn’t abandon their babies
– No human life is worthless regardless of skin color, age, disability, or economic status.
The very fact that these things must be proclaimed is a reminder of the horrors of this present darkness.
But I also love Sanctity of Human Life Sunday when I think about the fact that I serve a congregation with ex-orphans all around, adopted into loving families. I love to reflect on the men and women who serve every week in pregnancy centers for women in crisis. And I love to see men and women who have aborted babies find their sins forgiven, even this sin, and their consciences cleansed by Christ.
We’ll always need Christmas. We’ll always need Easter. But I hope, please Lord, someday soon, that Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is unnecessary.”

This too my hope and prayer. I hope you’ll join me this Tuesday in praying over this. For my high school folks who are here for information about this event, we will meet in the courtyard (by the flagpole) just before the tardy bell rings for first block. We will have a time of prayer for the children who are affected or will be affected. We will pray for the mothers and/or fathers that are going through this rough time, and the doctors and nurses working with these women. We will pray for those giving or receiving advice, whether directly or indirectly involved. We will pray that people everywhere will realize they can make a difference and eventually stop the necessity of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

Categories: abortion, Change, Dr.Russell Moore, Founding Fathers, God, human-rights, life, pregnancy, sanctity of human life sunday, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

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