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More Than Meets the Eye

If I live with my eyes focused on the past, I’m walking in the direction I came from. If I live with my eyes focused on the present, I’m tripping over my own feet. If I live with my eyes focused on the future, I don’t see what is in front of me and I stumble. Most of the time, I live in the present. My whole generation has made that their motto. But spiritually, it’s no way to live. When I live in the present, I see more of what God is doing, but I’m not involved in it. I would see what is coming, and I would know to be prepared  if only I would look up. But I don’t. So I miss opportunities. I’m not obedient. Too often, when God asks me to “set my mind on things above”, I shift my gaze upward…and look at the future. But the future stretches beyond me. Not above me. Granted, I’m no longer staring at the ground. But when I focus on the future, I miss what God wants to do in my life right now. I choose not to hear his gentle voice teaching me along the way. I use my dreams as rough estimates for the path God wants me to take. And friend, that’s no way to live.

When God commands us to “set our mind on things above”, He isn’t asking us to direct our gaze to the past, the present, or the future. He’s asking us to look at Him. That’s the only way we will ever be able to see Him working in the present, yet be prepared for what He wants to do in the future. That’s the only way we can let go of the mistakes of the past, and follow Him in freedom. That’s the only way we remain teachable and the only way we can be completely certain that we are walking in the will of God. I wake up every morning with my eyes cast down to my toes as I plant my feet on the floor. I wake up with my mind ready to live in the present. If I don’t make and take the time to meet with God, and to seek His face, I’ll walk out the door with my eyes still focused on my feet. And when I step back through that door at the end of the day, I’ll wonder where the day went. I’ll wonder if I really made a difference. I’ll wonder if there was more I could have done for the Kingdom. And the difficult truth is I could have done more. But my mind was fixed on me. It was set in the present. It was staring at what was in front of me. I chose not to seek Him first. I never consulted with Him about what He wanted to accomplish that day.  And so I did what I wanted, and I missed the chance to be doing what He wanted. It’s the same for each of us who set our mind on the world instead of on Him.

Do you take the time to hear what is on God’s heart? Each day we wake up, we are alive for purpose and that is to glorify Him. There is something He wants to accomplish in you and something He wants to accomplish through you every day. Have you asked Him what that is?  Do you want to know? I understand. It’s hard to fix our minds on things above. It takes a lot of faith. It requires that we stop trying to straining our eyes to see something in the darkness of future and completely surrender our future to Him. No matter where He may lead us. We must let go of living in the present and believe that God offers a life that is more abundant than one the world around us promises. We must face our past, and determine that it will no longer define us. Following Jesus takes a lot of faith. Especially when we can’t see where we’re going. But “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. It’s not based on sight. It’s based on Him.

I want to challenge you today to deliberately and intentionally choose to focus on Jesus. The world can be chaotic. It often clamors for our attention. But is reliving the past worth never experiencing true freedom? Is walking in the present worth making decisions we’ll regret? Is staring at the future worth the awful sinking feeling that you missed something important? Is the gazing at the world around you worth never experiencing the fullness of what God has in store for you? Your actions will reveal what you truly believe. 

“So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth.

Colossians 3:1-2 (HCSB)

Categories: direction, Faith, God, learning, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Learning Faith the Heart Way

There is a point in the life of every believer when doubt inevitably creeps in and makes us question the promises of God. I can name quite a few times in my own life when I chose not to believe in His promises. Maybe it was because I didn’t want God to fail me. I wanted something to fall back on in case He fell through. The ability to say “He didn’t really mean that” or “I must have misunderstood him” was a sort of spiritual insurance. In better terms, my “spiritual insurance” was a complete lack of faith and a skewed understanding of the very nature of God, and it was caused by deeply rooted fear in my heart. Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”.

Our hearts are prone to doubt, to fear, to wickedness, and to darkness. We know this, and yet we still allow ourselves to be controlled by our heart. We even allow our faith to be controlled by our heart. This manifests itself in many different ways. I’ve mentioned a couple already- doubt and fear, but we also see it through comparison and emotion. You’ve probably experienced all of these in some way. We doubt our salvation or the promises of God. We are afraid to completely surrender everything to God, to follow wherever He leads, or to stake our entire lives on a God we can’t visibly see. We compare our walk with Christ to that of other believers, and rate our spiritual maturity or effectiveness in ministry on how we measure up to someone else. And finally, we base our worship, Bible Study, spiritual strength, or even our salvation on how we feel.

It’s clear our hearts have a lot of influence, and it’s not positive influence either. So how do we change this? What needs to happen? Let’s take a look at 1 John 3:19-20. It says, “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence:  If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” 

“Set our hearts at rest in His presence…” Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who talked so much you couldn’t even comment on what they had to say? I think we come to God like that sometimes. When are hearts aren’t at rest, they are babbling on and on. They are consumed with fear, with doubt, with emotion and focused solely on those things. I wonder if we miss some important things that He wants to say to us when we refuse to quiet our hearts as we come into his presence. We drown out his voice with our worries, instead of resting in Him, instead of trusting that He is in control.

“If our hearts condemn us…” Essentially, this occurs when we believe the lies of the enemy. This is the moment when we come before God doubting our salvation. When we hear that voice saying that we are eternally condemned, even if we are truly saved!

“We know that God is greater than our hearts…” What a wonderful reminder! As powerful and influential as our hearts can seem, they are no match for God. We can set our hearts at rest because we know that he is not only above our hearts, but He is above our thoughts, our circumstances, our lives, and our world.

“And He knows everything…” As it talks about in the beginning of 1 John, God is light and in Him there is no darkness. When he sees our hearts, He sees everything! Too often we imagine deep dark places in our hearts, but there is no such thing. Turn the light on, see your heart as He sees your heart- sin and all. He knows all of you, and He still died for you! He also knows the truth about our salvation. He is truth, and He will reveal the truth to you as you seek after Him.

We must turn our eyes away from our hearts that so desperately want attention and instead fix them upon Jesus. We must come before Him with a heart that is at rest and is ready and willing to hear His voice. We must remind ourselves that He is greater than our hearts and he knows all. That is how we change the influence of our hearts. This is what needs to happen in order to begin to have the kind of faith that moves mountains.

Categories: Bible, comparision, Faith, God, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
 
 

Strong and Courageous: Leading Well (Part 4)

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:1-9

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What God’s asking Joshua to do here, isn’t all about moral support for a leader, it’s about asking Joshua to trust Him . To let go of fear, and let Him take it’s place. Fear comes when we don’t trust God. That’s how perfect love casts out all fear. Where there’s perfect love, there’s perfect trust. I wonder if Joshua was scared. He’s painted as a strong leader, unafraid, ready to do anything God would ask; like Moses. But he must have had his doubts. With Moses dead, he must have been wondering what God was up to. When God said, “Moses died, you’re taking over”, and I don’t imagine there was a lot of gusto on his part. He probably felt like a deflated party balloon. Going to see the promise land one minute and the next being told the leader of the whole mission had died and he was in charge. Everything is different when you have a whole lot more people looking up to you. He saw what these people were capable of. What if they didn’t like him? What if he failed? What about the enemies? The danger? What about war? They can’t just waltz in there an expect them to give up their land without a fight? So now he’s an army general? Even better. A new leader, responsible for land, lives, lunch, and large groups of snickering people. 

And God says: “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”

God is telling him that he’s gonna be with him, just like Moses. His role-model. Who was so close to the glory of God his face shone so no one could look upon it. This guy was legend. His faith and leadership were legend, because of his trust in God. And God’s giving him the same thing? Wow. Ultimate confidence boost. Now Joshua may have been a fearless person who was so tight with God he just trusted him without hesitation. But I believe these words by God were said to him for a specific reason. Maybe because he had begun to take responsibility on himself for the people’s well-being or because he felt so inadequate to carry out such a task.

God replies: “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. “

But maybe we still worry about messing something up and in response to that God answers: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

He said something similar to that before. Before, he said “I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” He reminds us that he is with us now, and will be with us in the future. There is nowhere we can go where he will not be there with us.  Looking over these encouraging words I was inspired to write a prayer I feel Joshua would say in the face of his circumstances. This prayer is something I desire to say in my own life, an act of surrender and recognition of how powerful God is. Maybe you need to remind yourself of these things as well. I think it should go something like this :

“Lord, I can’t be strong or courageous on my own. I can’t help but be frightened or dismayed by all that has happened recently. But you’ve promised you would be with me before. And you promised that you are with me now, and will still be with me no matter where I go or how old I get. Knowing that is the only way I could ever be strong and courageous when faced with what’s before me. Lord, I can’t lead these people. But you can, because their your people. I can’t take care of the land; but you can, because you’ve made it and chosen to give it to your people. I can’t give these people food, but you can, because you’re the great Provider. You’ve done it in the past and you’re just a capable now. I can’t win a war, but you can, because you’ll fight for your people. Lord, I can’t be strong, but you are. I can’t be courageous, but you can. Whatever you want to do with what I have to offer, take it. You’ve reminded me that I can’t do anything without you. I can’t be strong. I can’t be courageous. I can’t lead people. I can’t provide. But you can. And not through anything that I have done, but all because of what you have done and will continue to do. Trust casts out all fear. Where there is perfect love, there is perfect trust. So lead on Lord. Take everything I have and use it for your glory. Let them see your power and your might. Let everyone be utterly astounded by how great you are.”

If we would only take action instead of questioning God and letting our minds fill with doubts about our own abilities. They are justified doubts if we were required to do everything on our own; but we’re not. God will never call you to do or face something that you are improperly equipped for. He knows you better than you know yourself; and he also knows himself. He is stronger than we are, but so often we try to carry our burdens alone. He is wiser than we are, but we so often use feeble logic and reasoning to solve our problems. He is more courageous than we are, but, again, we look at our own small ounce of courage and maybe try to take a leap of faith. But we find our courage depleting fast, to the point where we have nearly none at all, and the leap is more like a wobble from one foot to the other in the wrong direction. Leadership isn’t about us being strong and courageous in the face of trouble. It’s about trusting him with our whole heart and letting him do the rest. And sometimes, the strength and courage come in when we take a leap of faith, not trusting our on footing, but expecting a free-fall before being caught in the arms of the Almighty God. “Be strong and courageous” is all about trusting him and letting him do the rest. And leadership requires much more of that than any skills we have we have to offer.

Categories: Bible, Faith, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, leadership, Uncategorized, words | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments
 
 

Behind the Name

With the one year anniversary of this blog only yesterday, I thought it would be appropriate to give some background about why I started this blog and what the name “Not So Supergirl” has come to mean.

On WordPress, unless you pay money, it seems almost every blog URL you could think of is already taken.  I didn’t want to use my name and I did want it to make it sound exciting- something that sparked people to want to read. I was becoming desperate after a few days of trying (unsuccessfully) to think of a blog title that wasn’t already taken. My mind began to wander and I thought of blogs that already existed. Not So Wonder Woman certainly sounded nice- but obviously that wasn’t the right choice for a blog by a teen girl. And thinking in that same mindset, I came up with Not So Supergirl. After milling it over in my head for a day, it began to sound better and better. But what did it really mean to me? Looking back, when I first started, it didn’t mean much at all. It just sounded like a good blog title. God was working in my heart and in my mind, and because it was his blog, his plan for the name meant much more than how it looked on a computer screen. After about 3 months into blogging, I figured that I should explain the title. But what was there to explain? And that’s when it hit me. There was much to explain.

Ever since the 8th grade when we made our own personal websites for class to share our writing, I knew that blogging was the perfect ministry opportunity. We were required on our website to tell something about us, and what better way to talk about me than to talk about Jesus. My friends said the testimony I wrote for my website was deep. I thought it was shallow. It wasn’t much more than stating the Great Commission and telling people that they needed Jesus in their lives. After 8th grade was over, I still visited my website the summer before my teacher had to take them down so another class could make their websites. Even though no one was ever on those pages again, I started my own miniature blog at the bottom on the page after all my writings. When the websites were taken down, there was great remorse on my part. I loved being able to share my thoughts with the world and, in a greater capacity, Jesus with the world.

There was a desire in the back of my mind to have a website again. At first I planned to have a blog that I posted my writings on. Things like my poetry, book reviews, and short stories. And to share it with my mom so she could write too. She never found a great host for that kind of website and didn’t have the time to set the whole thing up. I decided to look on my own. I then found the “themes” page for WordPress. It took away a lot of the effort in designing the website, it was free, and had some sort of protection to keep people from stealing the things you write. I brought the proposition to my mom who told me she’d think about it, but really, she had to, because I asked her almost everyday what her decision was. It was during this time that my whole ambition for the website had changed and I knew that this blog, if given the permission to began it, would become my world-wide platform for my Savior.  I was going to write about my faith in him and use it to encourage and challenge others.

“Not So Supergirl” is a subtle rebellion against the way of the world and a surrender of everything to Jesus. Super Girl is the ideal girl: blond, skinny, powerful, she’s everything a girl would want to be right? You save the world and have tons of admirers. And that’s where my rebellion comes in. I’m not Supergirl, I never will be. I never want to be. She represents false ideas of beauty, and enforces the standards that the world tries to place. Standards that I’m determined not to live by or follow. Why? Because they aren’t realistic and they are not the measure of beauty or power. Beauty fades, as stated in Proverbs 31: 30

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

And “beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes; rather it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4.

“And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.”1 Timothy 2:9 (MSG).

That is the measure of true beauty. Godly beauty. The kind that never fades and never dies, the kind that is remembered and holds more power than unnatural abilities. Which leads me to the point that Not So Supergirl is a surrender. I don’t have it all together. I don’t have supernatural abilities. I’m just ordinary. And because I am, that means God has the freedom to show himself through me. It happens when I give up myself and everything I think I can do, and place it in his hands so that he has the ability to make the Not So Supergirl something special after all. Something with his purpose and someone who is used to bring glory and honor to him. He’s the superhero. I’m that one girl who needs saving. And frankly, when you’re not a superhero, there aren’t as many people that you have to keep from discovering who you really are.

Categories: beauty, christianity, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

People Pleasing: Leading Well (Part 3)

1 Samuel 15:24

                      “Saul gave in and confessed…“I’ve sinned. I’ve trampled roughshod over                                                           God’s Word and your instructions. I cared more about pleasing the people.                                      I let them tell me what to do.”

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People are very influential beings, and often very selfish. They think about what  they want, when they want it, and they use people in order to get it. Words can be as sharp as a double edge sword or as smooth as butter, leading people to their downfall. God placed kings to be examples of good leaders, designed to bring peace and prosperity their domain, if they sought after what the Lord would have them to do, and stayed in that will. He also placed certain kings to be examples of discipline and downfall, to show what would happen to the people if they strayed from him, to let them know how helpless and purely mortal they were. Riches and stone towers cannot protect people from everything. Even kings were ruined, sometimes inside their lavish homes. Some kings were evil and caused the people pain, but the people brought it upon themselves because they wanted a king, and were not content with God’s power and leading alone. Saul was the first king, made king because of this desire of the people.

This verse was written after he had blown his last chance at being a God-fearing king. He has heard the news that he is to be replaced, and that the Spirit of God would no longer dwell in him. God was tired of having the being in which he dwelled, consistently pursuing the wrong things. So, God said, “Enough”. It was that “last straw” that got my attention. It was his confession that got me thinking. His last chance at proving himself a godly king ended because he tried too hard to please people, and not hard enough to please God. Many times, the downfall of a leader is another person, or in this case more than one person. When we try to please them, instead of pleasing God, it creates problems. Our focus comes off of what God’s will is for something and onto what will make the most people happy. Often times, the things God calls us to do don’t make very many people happy, but that is where it becomes important to choose him over popular opinion.

I’m a people pleaser. I love people. I want them to like me. If they don’t, I think there is something wrong with me personally. I don’t stop to think that maybe they are the ones who need to do something different, instead, I try to change myself. Now, that doesn’t mean I go off and become someone I’m not, but I take their opinion of me personally, when their opinions aren’t personal to me at all.  It’s hard to be task oriented when you focus too much on the people involved. It’s hard to be people oriented  when you focus too much on the task at hand. There has to be a balance. Because if there is no balance, either nothing gets done or people get their feelings hurt, and sometimes, some of both.  Saul in this verse, not only paid too much attention to pleasing a crowd, but he got so caught up in pleasing the crowd, that he went in the wrong direction completely. God was angry because he specifically asked Saul to do an important task and Saul said “no”.  So God said “no” to his being king any longer. Leaders are entrusted with an important task, and straying from that task in order to please others is just as bad as saying “no” to the face of a holy God. There is no respect, no fear, where there rightfully should be, and God’s command isn’t something we need to rebel against like an immature teenager. At the very end of the chapter, 1 Samuel 15: 35, reads “…God was sorry he ever made Saul king in the first place.” I would hate to have God be sorry that he ever entrusted me with a task as great as the one he has given me.

We are not defined by what people think of us, we are defined, and always should be defined, by what God thinks of us, because his opinion matters so much more than any other person on this planet. “Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” 1 Timothy 2:8-10.  We are not here to please ourselves or to please others, but solely for the glorification of our God and one true King. Leading well requires us to forget about pleasing people, and instead make it our aim to please God in everything we do.

Categories: christianity, Faith, Kings, leadership, people, perfection, Uncategorized, words | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Do I Trust You? (Jesus pt. 82)

I read this post this morning and thought about how many of us need to hear this and ask God this question. There is something in this post that strikes a chord in each one of us, some area of our life that we need to let go of to let God take control. This post challenged me and I hope it challenges you.

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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
 
 

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
 
 

Spilled Milk

Many of you know the phrase “it’s no use crying over spilled milk”. I have heard that a lot at the breakfast table when my sister or I, knocked over a glass of milk after just waking up. When something is spilled, I’ve noticed people have one of two reactions. One, they jump into ninja mode and pick it up so it doesn’t spill anymore. Two, they watch in horror as if they can’t believe they’ve just knocked over a glass of milk. Knocking over a glass of milk usually isn’t intended, something like that isn’t in your plans for today. There are things you just can’t plan for, things that are painful at the time but are really for the best. God ruins plans. If you want to make God laugh, make plans. When something doesn’t line up with what he wants, you can forget about it. It’s not easy to accept spilled milk. It’s not easy to cope with ruined plans. So people have one of two reactions.

People like me see their plans about to be ruined and they jump into action. Sometimes jumping into action can mean pleading or making bargains with God. “Pretty please, with a cherry on top?” Or the classic: “If you just do this for me, I promise to read the Bible more, pray more (etc.)”. As if you actually have something to trade with God. Or you think because you want something for yourself, God wants it for you. I know I can’t see into the future. I don’t know how bad things would end up 20 years in the future if I did it on my own. He knows. His reasons for ruining plans are to bring him glory and honor, to let you prosper, not to harm you.

Sometimes jumping into action can mean attempting to fix the issue on my own. When I see something falling apart, I began to feel like God really didn’t know what he was doing after all. I think that in my vast knowledge of the world and everything in it, I am the only one who can fix something I’ve screwed up. I push others away; I push God away. I believe I have it all together. Until the pressure builds up to such an intensity inside me; the lies I’ve believed of myself shatter, and I’m left with a bigger problem than I started out with. It’s like trying to wipe up milk off the table, and to your utter dismay, the entire table collapses.

The more comical reaction to spilled milk is to stare in horror. As if you can’t believe you’ve just knocked over a glass of milk, or you can’t believe the things you planned didn’t work out. You just stare. The second part of that isn’t as funny; you then start blaming God. “God, why did you let this happen?” “God, where are you?” “God, you’re supposed to be good!” “God, don’t you care?” “God, I don’t understand” “God, why me?” “God, it’s your fault.” God knows what he’s doing. God has always been there. God has always been speaking to you; maybe you’re just not listening to the right things. God is good. He is incapable of being anything else. Even when our world falls apart and things get broken, he is still good. God cares. He doesn’t want to see his children struggle, but as children, sometimes the only way to get our full attention is to knock us flat on our backs, until we have nowhere else to look but up at him. Other times, he needs to teach us things. Still other times, he wants to test us and see if we will still be faithful to him through hard things that don’t seem to have an end. But it’s only a valley. And there is an entrance and an exit to every valley, no matter how dark. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts; his ways are higher than our ways. We can’t comprehend him even in our wildest dreams, much less his plans for our lives. God knows why you may be going through what you’re going through. It could be to encourage someone else along the way. It could be to teach them. It could be to grow your relationship, you trust, and your love for him even more. But ultimately, God will show you why you are going through what you are. It could be tomorrow, it could be next week, and it even could be 10 years from now. I am just as guilty of this as I am of trying to fix it on my own.

This weekend, I went on a retreat to Panama City Beach, FL, and had the privilege to listen to one of the godliest women speak to me (lone high schooler) and the other college students who attended the retreat. If you want to check out her blog, it’s www.deannadavis.wordpress.com. She spoke about hearing God in the midst of distractions, and paying attention to what you’re paying attention to. She also talked about inner world things and outer world things. Your inner world is the dark, scary place you hide all your emotions and everything else you don’t want people to be able to see. Your outer world is the place where everyone sees, the one you can polish up and paste a smile on and no one can tell the difference. I took away lots of deep spiritual truths from this weekend, but the most important was the fact that Jesus wants my inner world. He wants to see the things I let nobody else see, possibly even myself. The inner world is like a monster under the bed. It scares you until you shine a light on it and see it for what it really is. When something goes wrong, I can take my emotions and store them in my inner world “for another time”. When milk gets spilled, I try to fix it myself; and all the issues and the emotions I’ve tucked inside my inner world come pouring out and I can’t stop them. While the first instinct is to shove them back in and hope nobody saw that, this weekend taught me that where there is emotion, there is an issue. And where there is an issue, there is an inner world to be healed. And where there is an inner world to be healed, Jesus is waiting for me to let him in and allow him to clean up the mess for me.

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 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
 
 

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
 
 

The Potter

Imagine that you sat at the potter’s wheel and made a clay pot. Okay, so it’s a little lopsided, but it’s your creation, its perfect and it reminds you of yourself. Now imagine that this specially created clay pot could talk. It couldn’t say much at first, it’s a pot, com’on. But through the years as you made other clay pots, it could talk. And this beautiful pot, this perfect clay pot, started comparing herself to all the other pots in the house. She said, “I want that pink pot shape, and I like that color blue better than my own. My rim is too big and I lean too far to the left. I don’t have that kind of voice and my height makes me feel self-conscious. I feel overlooked, like you care about all the other pots more than me. You have so many, why spend time admiring me? What makes me so special? Why was I even created? Is there a purpose for me? What am I going to be used for? Do you even know? Do you even care?”
If your pot said this, your perfect clay pot that you specially designed to remind you of yourself, that you mixed the perfect shade of blue for it, made sure it had the perfect shape; its rim was the perfect size. It leans just far enough to the left to make it look beautiful; it had the best voice you could offer. Its height was the perfect height for the purpose it was designed for and you spend lots of time admiring it. So how does God feel? When you spend time staring in front of the mirror looking and pointing out everything wrong with you. That your nose is too big. That you look too fat. That your ears are too big or your hair is too curly. His perfect creation, saying that he made the wrong choice; you were given what you have been given by mistake. How does he feel? Imagine that you sat at the potter’s wheel and made a clay pot.

Categories: beauty, clay pot, comparision, creations, Faith, God, looks, perfection, potter, pottery, purpose, Self-esteem, Uncategorized | Tags: | 2 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

Attempting to Understand

I enjoy listening to Christmas songs in the middle of the summer and ice cream in the middle of winter. I enjoy dreaming a of snowflakes falling softly on my tongue outside my house back in Texas, as a 4 year old girl who had no cares in the world. I enjoy going back in time to where we snuggled in blankets and drank hot chocolate while watching the fire dance for us. I love looking back at the memories of summers and winters. And just as summer is the opposite of winter I seem to have seasons of my life where I realize I’m not the same person I was all those years ago. I long to go back in time, to Texas, back to when life was merely love and fun and nothing more, but life goes on and I find myself reading bible verses like “…content with who they are and where they are, unanxious, they’ll live at peace.” Time rushes on…but I dream that the memories I made will be retold for generations, and so I will never be forgotten, just as my own memories haven’t been forgotten. I know others won’t remember, but my memories that are held in the deepest reaches of my heart are forever alive, as long as I am.
I try to forget and put the past behind me, but it comes back up anyways. Maybe that’s why the Lion King always makes me cry. The songs I used to sing…the games we used to play on the rusty playground equipment…. I don’t think I’ve changed all that much… I find that I can cry myself to sleep over something that happened nearly five years ago…why haven’t I let go? I feel like the only person in the world who has ever held on so dearly to something you know you can’t control. But why? I still ask God that question. I know there is obviously a reason, but where is it, why can’t I focus on that? So why did we move? I realize that it would have been the same in Texas but why? Let go how? Forget how? Or maybe I’m supposed to remember…
It’s been a rather rough journey when it came to God attempting to teach me why I am here instead of the place I would rather be, Texas. I still find it hard to cope with, even though it’s been 5 years, on my birthday (yes, we moved from Texas to here on my 8th birthday). I don’t really know why it’s been difficult, I guess I had made so many memories there and then was told, “okay, now everything you knew here, you’re going to leave behind you because we are moving and none of your tears are going to change that fact”. I’m a person who hates change, I like everything to be kept normal and under control all the time. Everything here seems to bring up something else that I used to know there. I tried so hard to get myself to understand why I was here. And that was one of the main problems. I trusted myself. I tried to do it on my own. To, let you know, it didn’t work. I just felt more miserable. I found this verse:
Content with who they are and where they are,
unanxious, they’ll live at peace.”
Zephaniah 3:13 MSG

I got, as well as I could , what God was telling me. Sometimes he takes away things that means a lot, only to give you something better, than will mean even more. “Content with who they are and where they are…” I know there is a reason, a deeper reason than just the fact that my dad got a new job 5 years ago, it could possibly be that it all happened so that I could make an impact here. I have no idea why God needed me here, and at this time. But there is always a reason. And I just wrote down whatever came to mind in that moment. I have a feeling there was some reason that God wanted you to hear that.
Even from looking at the pictures, not only are the sunsets better in Texas, but in my memories, life is too. It seemed that my friends there were having a fine time of life there and I wish with all my heart that I could be back in Texas. God wants me here for a reason, though it is hard to understand exactly what it is. Then again, it’s not up to me to understand God’s plans, all I have to do is follow them. Sounds easy, right? Much easier than planning it out on my own. Funny thing is, I like to know where everything leads. I have trust problems. It bothers me that I can’t ever seem to trust completely in God’s power so I’ll keep trying. It won’t be easy for me, but that’s the great thing in giving it to God.

(This post was part word-document-journal entry, part letter. It was something that I found hard to deal with at the time but I tell you with great joy that God came through, as always. It reminded me how much I don’t know and how much he does. I’m positive now that it’s the best thing for me to be here. Although Texas needs me, Georgia needs me even more. I haven’t gotten all the reasons put into place just yet, mainly because there’s too many to count. I started to wonder; it could be that my Dad getting a new job was as much for me to minister to my social circle as it was for him to minister to college students. We have been here 6 years now, and I couldn’t wish for anything better. Keep up the faith 🙂 )

Categories: Bible, Change, Faith, God, Journals, Moving, Replacment, Texas, Trust, Uncategorized | Tags: | 6 Comments

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