Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Lost Friendships

     Her phone lit up with a Facebook notification. You have memories on this day. She tapped the shining notification and was immediately taken to the page which showed all of the things she had posted one year, two years, and three years ago on the same date. It was a neat little app which often made her smile or laugh in remembrance.

     Today, her smile quickly faded as the first picture that popped up was of a friend group picture from last year. Although it was a cheerful picture full of happy faces, it now gave her no joy.

     So much had changed. The group of friends had dispersed and no longer spent time together.

     They had gotten so close. They had laughed together, played together, sang together, acted together, had fun together, spoke honestly together, and wept together. Some of them had bonded so tightly that their friendship felt so secure that they were sure nothing could break it. Personally, she had waited a while before coming close to some of them, but when she did she was loyal.

She is loyal to a fault. 

     This school year everything was different. The bonds that were once as strong as steel somehow disintegrated into scraps. The secrets that they had once shared were no longer remembered or discussed. The hardships they had encountered were no more than a distant memory. It was as if their close friendship had never happened in the first place.

     Some people have said that the group was way too close in the first place, which is possibly true. Some people have said that separation is a normal part of sophomore year, which is also accurate. Some people have said that the distance is a good thing, which may turn out to be certain.

     Although she agreed with the logic behind the remarks, she still felt the emotional repercussions of the breaking. As each friend started to slip away, ending with a friend who was very dear to her heart, she began to grieve. Just as with the death or the separation of a loved one, so also she learned that it is possible to grieve over the loss of friendship. All of the stages are exhibited. At first, she denied it for such a long time. She would actively try to bring the group together again as if nothing had ever gotten in the way. She would naively believe that one day it would all be returned to how it once was. An honest friend soon spoke words of harsh truth to help her see how things really were. She has also briefly and sporadically visited the stages of anger against the people for giving up, mild depression for wondering how life could go on, and bargaining to find solutions in the middle. At last she is starting to accept things as they are, but it is not easy or fun.

     If you are going through or have gone through the loss of a friend or a relationship, do not beat yourself up for being emotionally compromised for a long time. Grief, the emotional instability after the loss of a close individual, is normal. Why do you feel this way? Because the Lord has given you the great gift of love and it hurts when it is torn away from you. However, do not be afraid to love people again. God gives us individuals for us to love and pour our lives in for only incremental seasons of time. Relish the chance to love with all your heart, even when it hurts! It is part of our purpose in this world!

So grieve for the people you lost, but always love the people you have! 

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Sometimes words aren’t enough.
The pain and suffering go too deep for any mesh of syllables to pierce through.
The words you think might be helpful somehow float on the air once they are spoken.
They linger for a moment and then leave without entering the heart.
Words don’t always figure out the problem.

Sometimes being a friend isn’t enough.
The joy of friendship loses its flavor when it is tested by the fires of life.
The bond once shared isn’t strong enough to fulfill the emptiness of the soul.
The well-meaning friend might handle the situation in just the wrong way.
Friendship can’t always go deep enough.

Sometimes being an ear to listen isn’t enough.
The silence can’t solve the issue.
The patience to listen runs aground once the speaker has finished.
The listener doesn’t have the words to complete the unanswered questions.
Listening doesn’t always finish the equation.

Sometimes being the shoulder to cry on isn’t enough.
The weeping may soften the ache but it doesn’t provide the answers.
The tears may release some tension but it returns after a night’s rest.
The shoulder can only bear the burden for so long.
Crying only brings the problem to light.

Pain of the mind tears at the soul.
Depression is a sinking hole that never seems to have a bottom.
How do good friends help a dear friend who is in need?

Sometimes singing is enough.
When all else fails,
            when the words linger in the air,
                        when being a good friend is only a title,
                                    when the time for listening has ended,
                                                and when your shoulder aches from carrying the heavy burden,

Sing every song of worship that enters your mind.
Sing even though your melody cracks with emotion.
Sing no matter who walks by and listens.
Sing with a passion that no simple words can describe.

Lift your eyes to the heavens.
Stare at the glittering stars in the vast blackness of the night sky.
Your problems always seem so much smaller when you glance at the bigger picture.
The One who made the vast galaxies created your little self.
Why do you doubt His power in your own life?

Life is so full of difficulties.
It can be a dark rain cloud that makes truth seem like a figment of the imagination.
It can be a dark, deep pool that seems to swallow every shred of hope.
It can be a battle of the mind that seems like it can never be won.
But that’s simply not true.

God never lets anything come our way that we cannot overcome.
He is enough.
Fight the hard fight!

And sing while you’re at it. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016


     Do you know that feeling of thinking that reality was a dream? Have you ever been on a vacation that was so fantastic that you kind of forgot what home was like? When you returned to the daily routine of home, did the memories of your vacation slowly melt away until all you could remember was a happy feeling? When a loved one died, have you ever caught yourself afterwards thinking of them in a fictional way? All you can remember were feelings, but not the normal drudgery of life?

     That's kind of what it feels like to go to college. In a sense, you are are living in two separate worlds. You live at home during breaks and in the summer. Home is familiar and has a comfortable routine with your family that you have lived for all of your life. However, you also live at college throughout most of the year. Soon this too becomes like home, but in an entirely different way. Friends become your family, and the days of non-stop commitment soon become a tiring but familiar routine. They are both vastly different, but they are both a part of who you are.

     Have you ever been in the summer and wished for the coolness of winter? However, when winter arrives you soon begin to complain about how cold it is and how much you want the warmth of summer?

We romanticize about everything we don't have. 

     When I was living at home for the summer, I longingly ached to be back at college. Now that I'm here, I have remembered how draining this life can be sometimes.

     Don't get me wrong. I love life here. There have been so many times when I have stopped and just thanked the Lord for miraculously bringing me back. I am so glad to be with my friends, to be living in the glorious mountains, and being involved in my passions of music and theater again! There are so many aspects about college that I enjoy dearly. It has been so wonderful coming back and knowing people. There is not this super awkwardness of knowing absolutely nobody and having to start relationships from scratch like last year.

     In my romanticizing of college over the summer, though, I had forgotten the hardships that were a part of this way of living. I'm not even talking about homework or classes. It is hard living in an environment where everyone is constantly comparing themselves to others. It is hard living in an atmosphere where one of the top priorities is to find a soulmate. It is hard living in a place where you are relied on and expected to know the answers for the difficult questions of life that you have never experienced before.

     Just as different workout exercises test different muscles, so the different areas and seasons of our lives challenge various aspects of our character. I had just forgotten what parts of my being had gotten weak while living at home. At home, I was challenged in patience and endurance. Here I'm being challenged in self-esteem and wisdom.

     I don't want to romanticize anymore. I don't want to focus on the "what ifs" because they take away my focus on the "what now". I need to enjoy the present, with both its hardships and its joys!

Monday, August 1, 2016

When God Says...

     "Alright, Lord. Today is the day. I need to know today if I can go to college again or not."

     This was her prayer as she drove to her first job. Everyday it was the same old routine. Go to work at a daycare with crazy kids from 8 til 5 and then scrub bathroom floors at Chickfila from 7 til 11 at night. There was also the same old prayer that she had been desperately praying every day for the whole summer.

     "Lord, please provide. I know you can; I've seen you provide in crazy ways before. Just please provide now. I want to go back to college so bad that I have a horrible feeling in my gut when I think about being prevented from returning." She would then usually dwindle off in silence, thinking about how awful it would be telling her closest friends that she would not be able to live another year with them.

     That was her usual routine, sometimes broken by moments of absolute trust in the Lord and His ultimate plan for her life. Some days she could bear the thought of not returning because deep down inside she knew that wherever the Lord placed her was where she was supposed to be. But she really just hoped that His plan and her plan were parallel.

     On this day, though, it was the hardest test of faith in this specific circumstance that she had faced all summer. She needed to know today if she would receive enough money to pay for her first semester. $2,000. That number rang in her head all day, along with the tightness in her throat. As she taught the class of four and five-year-old children, she kept catching herself on the verge of tears.

     Nothing came. She plodded through the day, crying while trying to sing praises on her commutes home and numbly accomplishing the tasks in front of her.

God hadn't answered. 

     She was waiting for a sign. A text saying she won another scholarship. An email from a mysterious family friend who wanted to help her out. A hundred dollar bill lying in a gutter. Anything to tell her that the door was still open. She needed it that day.

     Late that night, her parents gently reminded her of something that she had quite forgotten. God doesn't run on human time. Perfect timing is a gift that only He possesses, and we don't know how it works. The door wasn't closed until the day the bill was due.

     Two days later, God said yes. She got three texts from her mother at work, each time confirming another piece of the monetary puzzle. What a relief! She about cried again, while changing diapers, but this time with joy!

     Yes, God gave her the desire that she longed for. In all honesty, an answer was all that she really wanted. If God had said no, than she would have just found the road that He wanted instead. It was the three months of waiting that she despised the most. It was a test of patience. She didn't pass with flying colors, but she had learned that difficult lesson a little more.

God doesn't always say yes, 
but His answer is always the right one. 

I am just really glad that He did!

(Stay tuned! Another year of college adventures is sure to follow!)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Praying in the Playground

     That's right! I said "praying", not "playing" in the playground!

     I have worked at Chickfila for about two years now. It is a job that I absolutely love, even if I do get caught saying "My pleasure" at home! One of the aspects of working there is cleaning the store once we close and all of the customers have left. You know who usually gets stuck with cleaning the playground? This girl! I don't mind it. It is definitely not one of my favorite things to do, but it is kind of nice having some time to yourself after you have been dealing with customers all day.

And it's a good place to pray.

     I have been praying a lot lately. Ever since I went to college I have learned more and more how helpful it is to pray throughout the day no matter where you are at. My commutes to both of my jobs are fun 20 minute rides to have a chat with the Lord. Cleaning the playground is a great place to be alone to pray, while I am sanitizing sticky fingerprints on the plastic walls.

     On this particular Tuesday night I was praying/ranting about a problem that has been on my mind all summer. I want to go back to college. That shouldn't seem like a problem, right? Most people go to college for four years without looking back, and I have only done one. However, I can only take one year at a time, and the summers in-between are filled with the anxious scrambling to earn as much money as I can even if it means working 12 hours days most of the week. I had been working so hard, earning some scholarship money from the school from working hard as a student, and I had been praying hard while hoping that the tighter I closed my eyes the more likely my prayers would be answered.

It had gotten to the point that I was exhausted 
from trying so hard to earn something that was good.

     "Just tell me what you want me to do!" I screamed inside my mind to the Lord.

     (Now while growing up in a Christian home and being a missionary kid I have learned a lot of the answers. Ever since I was little I had to learn what the Bible says. I could have the correct answer for many things. However, that does not mean that I always live by them. I forget them quite often. Or if I do remember what I have learned since I was a child, I wouldn't truly believe them in my heart.)

     That night an answer popped into my head that I had quite forgotten. It was from an old song which was taken from a Bible verse.

"Be still and know that I am God."

     It popped into my head as clear as day. It made me pause wiping the slide for a second.

     "Well...but...what about...I don't want to do that!" It was the complete opposite of everything my mind was telling me to do. I wanted to work my butt off to earn my way through college. I wanted to figure out the problem. I wanted to go ahead and plan my next semester. I wanted to go ahead and practice my audition for the next play or think on how I would hug and greet my friends who I have been missing with all my heart for months. I wanted to...

"Be still and know that I am God."

     I gave in. Usually the things that you naturally don't want to do but you know is from the Lord is mostly likely the best option. I doesn't make any sense, but most of the time the Lord doesn't make sense until you can look back and see the whole story. I can't see the whole story yet. I can only see right now, and how the Lord has provided in the past.

     If I am supposed to go to college this next year than the Lord will provide, even if He only has three weeks to acquire a lot of money. If I am not supposed to go to college this next year, than I am supposed to do something different that will be better for me in the long run. This is what I've got to hold on to. And it has served me in the past well. I remember my past to have a hope for my future.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

From Mountains to Cornfields

"The mountains look different everyday!"

     That's what she said every time someone asked her how living at college in the mountains of TN was. It was true. There were so many layers to the mountains. so many distinct rises and falls. Various portions of the mountains were gloriously exhibited each day when the sun shone through the clouds. On rainy days, the greenness of the trees shone more brightly, and the lighting would hide behind the peaks as it struck. On foggy days, sometimes it was hard to imagine that there were miles upon miles of mountainous hills behind the thick wall of gray. Every time she walked to breakfast she would breathe in the crisp mountain air and praise the Lord for His amazing creativity. She would marvel at how magnificent the mountains were that morning.

     The same was true of college. Although it definitely wasn't always glorious, there was always something new and exciting to learn or explore. There were so many different layers of college, from being a dedicated student, to a loyal friend, to a compassionate counselor, to a daughter away from home, to a musician, to an actress, to a human being learning how to trust the Lord better. Each day different factions of her were pushed and pursued. On rainy days, her relationship with the Lord was tested and grown stronger. On foggy days, when she was ready to quit and couldn't see the other side of the problem, there was always a tug at her heart telling her to keep pushing on. The rises and falls of life on her own was challenging but worthwhile and exciting.

     Now she is back to the cornfields of Indiana, her home. Cornfields are very different from mountains. They are flat and you think that you can see all the way across to another state. It is harder to determine how far it goes. It seems to stretch on forever. Cornfields are very organized. They are in straight rows that never seem to falter. They exist to provide food for many hungry people across the United States. They are practical.

     The same has been true of this summer. This summer her goal is to work as much as she can to pay for the next year of college. Home is very different from college. This summer seems to stretch on and on with just the prospect of laborious hours to be worked in the future. If the money isn't saved by the end of the summer than who knows how long the time it will take to acquire it. Life at home is very organized. She goes to work at one job, comes home to eat and then heads out to the other job. It's predicable to a point. It is practical. She is home to work. to save, to be able to return to the mountains.

Life hasn't stopped. But in some ways it feels like it has. 

     It seems to be an intermission in the story so that the participants can gather enough money to be able to see more of the show. However, life doesn't flow that way. There are no gaps in the time line of a human's life. There are seasons and chapters, not chunks with chasms of void in between. This summer is a season, in both the literal and figurative sense of the word.

     Although she waits to see what the next chapter will be, (she hopes it will be another year in college, but she is relying on the Lord's provision to see that be made possible) she keeps on telling herself to enjoy and grow in the chapter she is in. If you try and read too much ahead you won't be able to pay attention to the page you are on.

She is not stuck, she is not being put on hold, she is not being confined. 

     She is supposed to grow in new ways while she is at home in the cornfields. The mountains taught her much, but sometimes you learn new things when you change environments. Only the Lord knows what comes next. Perhaps it will be an entirely new adventure that she would have never imagined!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Confessions of an Optimist

     I am an optimist.

     If you ask any of my friends or family, they will without a doubt confirm this mental state that I am almost always in. If you go up to one of them and ask, "Is Rebekah an optimist or pessimist?" They will probably give you a big smile and say, "Rebekah? She is definitely an optimist!"

     I see the good in a lot of things. While other students complain about being required to go to chapel, I usually remark about how much I love the worship music. While my other actors complain about the long and arduous rehearsal process before the performance, I will usually comment about how important rehearsals are to establish the details of the script that are so much fun to explore. While many people can't stand being stuck in bed sick, I can usually find an excuse to be happy about having a day of rest from my busy week.

Thunderstorms are breathtaking, hard work is producing Godly virtues, 
people who hurt are most likely hurting themselves inside, 
life always works out in the end. 

     Many people make fun of optimists saying that they would rather be a realist. I want to counter this argument by saying that optimists cannot hide from the ugliness of reality any more than pessimists can hide from the beauty of life! Life is hard and sometimes so ugly that you want to disbelieve that it is real. Trust me, I understand. There have been many times in my life when I look up to God and ask, "Why? This isn't worth living in!" There are horrid people who do horrible things that creates feelings of hate in the people who have been affected. There are diseases and catastrophes that wipe out entire towns of people in a matter of days. Life is not rainbows and unicorns like we sometimes desire it to be.

     But that doesn't mean there isn't any beauty at all. After the storm there are rainbows. After you get sick, your body becomes more immune to that virus. After the pain of childbirth, there is a new life. After the struggle of perseverance, there is the delightful feeling of a job well done. After the pain of waiting, God's best comes along.

You cannot see how good God is unless you can see the evil around you. 

     That's why I'm an optimist. Yes, I'm sure it is a part of my DNA somehow that I naturally want to think positively. However, it is also a choice. You have a strength when you choose to think of the good. When you focus on the bad that is all you can see. You lose the willingness to fight. When you focus on the positive, life doesn't seem so unbearable.

     That's why I'm an optimist. Yes, this world is covered in sin and evil. However, that is not the end. God is still in control, and at the end of all things the world will be right again. His glory will be even greater since we have seen the worst of humanity.

     So stay optimistic! Stay filled with joy as you go through the trials of this life! Keep fighting the good fight while keeping your chin up!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Dear College: Freshman Edition

Dear College,

     You have been absolutely wonderful this year! Being with you has been such a neat experience in ways in which I could not have imagined! Although I had mentally prepared myself in some aspects before I was with you, I was definitely not ready for most of it.

     At first it was hard. I had never been on my own before and although the prospect filled me with excitement, I was also nervous and scared. I didn't quite know how I would handle being with you all by myself. Thankfully, I learned real quick that I was never really alone at all! The Lord was my constant. He also graciously provided me with a loving family who wanted to stay in contact with me every week and some amazing friends who wanted to live life with me every day.

     Speaking of friends, I laugh as I think back to my mentality when I first arrived at your doorstep. I thought it was just going to be you and me, college. I was going to be the perfect student, the perfect musician, and the perfect actor. Having other friends wasn't my priority and I thought I wouldn't need them. Wasn't I wrong! I soon became involved in a lovely group of Godly people who became vulnerable and real with me. We knew we were all flawed but we loved each other no matter how flawed we were. I have learned a lot about being a Godly friend and a Godly counselor. Being with you has opened up new doors for me to impact people and I think that's great.

     This first year of our academic relationship hasn't been all sparkling A+ papers and lead roles on stage, though. There have been many bumps in the road, from my grandpa dying to my friends and I going through really rough circumstances. However, it is a part of my story now and I can see how the Lord has used those not-so-nice things to strengthen and grow me as a person in Him. I have learned the lesson of forgiveness. I have learned the lesson of being a good friend. I have learned the lesson of how friendships shift and change into new relationships. I have learned the lesson of being able to serve no matter where I'm at.

I am still learning the lesson of being content. 
I am still learning the lesson of patiently waiting for God's best. 

     I have been in some wonderful shows since we've been together. My passion for theater and music has not subsided but has grown into a stronger love. Although I may have only gotten small parts, I have found out that I can give 100% in any role I may have, either on the stage of make believe or on the stage of real life. My love for music and my ever deepening discovery of my voice has delighted me in my pursuit of learning. I have chosen the right major!

     The last thing I want to say is that I can't believe we have been together for a whole year! I have heard many people say that the years with college go by so fast, and they were right! This year with you has been a whirlwind adventure and I have loved it! I can't wait to see where we go next during sophomore year. I'm excited to keep continuing down this road!


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Why I Do Theater

The bright lights. The exuberant makeup. The fancy costumes. 
The red curtain. The finishing bows. The excited applause.

     These are the things that come to mind when many people think of theater. They are all true. There are so many iconic aspects of performing that fill many actors, singers, and dancers with delight. During that moment when the show is done and you hear the roaring applause, you truly feel like you have finished a job well done! It's a wonderful feeling!

     However, that is not why I do theater. Although the numerous congratulations and pats on the back are wonderful and elating they don't last. The next week I am washing dishes in the back of a kitchen where nobody cares what I can do on stage. The memory of watching a show only lingers so long in an audience member's mind. Success is only a fleeting experience.

So why do I do theater?

     I do theater because I am a storyteller at heart. I have always been and will always been a person who shares stories, because I consider the whole of history a story. I delight in becoming a character on stage and creating their backstory that nobody will ever know but me. I enjoy becoming somebody else just for a moment so that I can see what the world looks like from their eyes. I can do so many things on stage that I would never be able to do in real life. Storytelling through theater fills a creative need that I naturally have.

     I do theater because it is a gift that God has given me. I am good at it and I enjoy every part of the process. Many of my fellow actors don't enjoy the rehearsal process, only the performances. However, rehearsals are how you create the world you want to present! They are filled with layers upon layers of discovery! Each time you practice a scene you discover more and more of why the characters think the way they do and how they relate to the other people on stage. God has given me a gift to create, and I thoroughly enjoy using it. He has also given me the gift of empathy. I feel what other people are feeling, and that works well on stage.

     I do theater because it impacts people. Theater has been a part of culture since the early ages of humanity. Even with our modern methods of storytelling, theater is still not dead! Why? People are still drawn to the story when they can see real people right in front of them. There is a special connection that actors have with the audience. They both feed off of each other in a mutual respect for the other. It's fascinating! I want to use the stories I present on stage to inspire people to follow the Lord and follow good examples. I want to use the stories I present to convict people of the wrong actions they may be doing in their own life by showing them how the consequences could affect their loved ones around them. (Theater shows the whole story from the inception to the conclusion.) I want to use the stories I present to challenge people to work hard, to treat others with respect, and to see the beauty of the world around them.

     Although most of the scripts are not blatantly Christian, I think that most of them can be used to share the Gospel. So many stories exhibit sin and the consequences it has. They are filled with relationship problems. God created this world, and so no matter what stories we create it all really comes back to Him whether we realize it or not.

That's why I do theater. 

But the applause is nice too...

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Life of Denial

     We all have ways in which we cope with the not-so-pleasant circumstances in life.

     You may show all of your emotions and lash out at the people nearest to you; crawl away in a corner and silently sob by yourself; blame other people for your misfortunes and walk away not feeling guilty; or deny that the event ever happened in the first place. I tend to be the later one.

     Although this first year of college has been absolutely amazing, filled with so many wonderful opportunities and brand new relationships, it hasn't been easy. There have been many difficult circumstances that seemed to have hit me out of nowhere. I have attempted to bring some of those to light on this blog, but it is hard to know how vulnerable to be on the internet.

One common theme that I have noticed is how I handle hard situations. I live in denial.

     My grandpa died on December 5th, 2015. That is a fact. I can process that.

     What I have a hard time processing are the implications of what that really means.... What does that mean? Even now as I write I have to stop typing letters on the screen and think. I will never see him again. I will never feel his arms wrap me in a strong bear hug. Right before I moved to Indiana, he told me that I better watch out for all the northern boys who would like his "southern belle". It makes me smile now just thinking of that, a sad smile.

     My family is thinking about traveling back down to my grandparent's house during the summer, and a large part of me doesn't want to go. The house will be more empty without him. It will probably still smell like him, but he won't be there. It won't be right.

     You know, the last and only time I wrote about his passing was the day he died. I thought that writing the words on the page would help, and it did. But you can't just write something once and think that it magically makes the hurt go away! That's not how grief works. I haven't had the time to grieve. I've been very preoccupied at college,

     It's not like college has been an emotional breeze either. At the very end of January, one of my closest friends contemplated suicide to the point of actually standing on the cliff. As I write that out, I scoff as I think back to how much that affected me. I wasn't actually involved to a great extent. Yet, the stress of that day, and the days before that, twisted my emotions in ways I never believed I could feel.

     Even now I catch myself trying to dismiss both of those bad memories as terrible dreams. "It seems like a nightmare. I didn't actually happen to me. It seems like something out of a dramatic book or movie." Every time I have to remind myself that it did happen. It is now a part of my life's story.

And that's alright.

     You see, denial never gets us anywhere. We just keep going around and around the circle of remembering and hiding the truth of reality. Believe me, it never really goes away. It just keeps playing hide-and-go-seek, popping out at the most random times. A life of denial is a life of creating lies.

     These unfortunate circumstances are a part of us now. They can never go away. They are weaved into the intricate nature of who we are. God knows this. In fact, He used them or is using them now to make us more like Him. When I do look back, I can see how He taught me important lessons in such a quick time frame that I would have never learned if my life was free from depressing emotions! His plan involves some not-so-great things so that we can grow, and we can see Him better. We realize how much we need His love and guidance when we realize how pathetic our own strength is. That's how we deal with the bad. We ask Him to help us with it, instead of living in denial.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Is Imagination a Sin?

     When does imagination become a sin?

     This startling thought popped into my head a couple days ago and it has been resonating with me since then.
     Just to give you a bit of clarity, let me give you some background information about myself. I am an immensely imaginative person. Ever since I was a little girl I have always been enthralled with creating new worlds inside my head. I would read books and visualize the words in my head to where the characters and places were real to me. Sometimes I would go further and dream about who I would be if I was suddenly placed in the story. I was the ringleader and game-maker in my posy of siblings, always coming up with the next game we would play in the backyard. Sometimes we would be in Narnia along with the kings and queens and fantasy creatures, other times we were lonely orphans who had to live in the woods to survive without being caught by the evil orphanage owner, and then other times we would pick which animal we wanted to be and we would crawl around for hours in the red clay dirt living alligators or lions. I built fairy houses out of sticks, leaves, and moss for little fairies who needed places to stay. All of my little plastic animal figurines had complicated family trees and individual personalities. My childhood was a happy compilation of villains, heroes, and the damsels in distress.
     As I grew older, I didn't act upon my imagination through elaborate games as I once did. I would still daydream and create in my head, but my stories exhibited themselves through writing and movie making. Eventually, work and school dominated most of my free time and I was only left with my imagination inside my head.
     Now, having a vivid imagination is not a sin. The imagination itself is not an evil thing. In fact, my creative nature has help shape how I view the world and relationships. Pretend playtime prepared me for my present positions. The Lord gave certain people a fantastic mind so that we can create. It is a faction of Him that He puts into His human beings.
     Here's the problem. Now that I'm older I use my imagination to escape. I daydream and make up scenarios in my head that seem like they are out of a story. I come up with lovely circumstances that I would love to actually happen to me in real life. Stories of love, romance and perfect relationships cloud my mind throughout the day and into the night. This may seem like a pleasant pastime, but it can be a harmful hobby. The more I imagine how I think my life should be, the more disgruntled and disappointed I am with what reality really is.
     That's when imagination is a sin. When we love our own make-believe stories so much that we are miserable living the one that He gave us, we are sinning. We are putting something else before the Lord.
                                                                    He is the Author. 
                      We are just a most beloved character in His grand historical novel of life. 
      I know that I need to work on separating my imagination from my desires. It is fine to create. In fact, it is a gift that He has given me and is a part of my purpose. I just need to stop trying to write my own story and leave it up to Him.
 He has already written it anyway. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Smiling in the Shadows

     The play is announced! After weeks of waiting, the title of the college's next theater production is revealed! In nervous anticipation, you prepare for auditions that will surely be a little intense. Your friends and other theater comrades excitedly begin to pre-cast the characters in hushed tones so as not to upset anyone. The auditions go well and everyone says you did a great job! You can already imagine what it would be like to play a specific character, picturing what your costume would look like and how much stage time you would get. You tell yourself not to get too excited. After all, the director might pick someone else for the part that you so desire. Yet, there is always a secret hope that you will be the star.

     The cast list is posted, naming every character beside the actor's name.
     You press your finger on the newly printed sheet and slide it down until it lands on yours.                    Swiftly, you move it over to see the character that you get to portray.

Rebekah Runner                                                                           Extra

     Immediately, doubt and disappointment flood your mind. Stupid questions reenter your brain. Was I not good enough? Am I not as good of an actor as I thought? What's wrong with me? Were my friends lying to me the whole time when they said I was good? The director must not like me.

     Friends, every performer has felt the saddened shame of not being chosen to perform in the spotlight. This is a most recent reality for me. This has happened multiple times before, and each time it does I have to remind myself of the truth. I do theater because I enjoy it. I work hard because I work unto the Lord. God's plan for me is to have that specific part, even if it is just smiling in the shadows.

     This pertains not only to theater and on-stage performance. This relates to all of life. 
Sometimes your full potential can only be reached where no one can see it. 

     We complain that if we work "behind the scenes" no one will notice us. We won't receive the credit for a job well done. It's not worth putting in all the effort if it is not recognized.

     This is a lie! I have been given many jobs and put into many situations that seem dumb and trivial compared to the grand scheme of things. (My work study jobs on campus currently include putting computer paper into all the printers on campus and washing dishes on Saturday mornings.) I have been a greeter at a bookstore, a stage manager who turns on a fog machine, a fill-in player, an assistant to the assistant, and the silent listener. Most people view these as trivial jobs, but the Lord can give you an attitude of seeing it as a grand opportunity.

     Every small act of kindness or diligence in a trivial task can be used to the glory of God! 

     You have been placed in your position by the Lord Almighty, and He is the only one who can see the outcome of your faithfulness! He's got such a grand plan in store!

     So here's a challenge for you today. No matter where you are at in life (if you are a farm hand, an intern, an introverted friend, a dishwasher, an accompanist, a bench-warmer, or a background actor) be the best you can be for the glory of God! He can use you to your full potential no matter how small of a box you think you're in!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Answer

     She found herself staring at the back wall again. How long had she been staring in that fashion this time? It was such a weird feeling; her mind felt completely empty and overwhelmingly full at the same time. How do you process unexpected situations?

     She felt like she got hit by a truck. All of the sudden, her marvelous morning had turned into an afternoon rushed with adrenaline. She didn’t know how to process the sudden change. Eventually her mind just gave up on thoughts and emotions and just settled in an empty void.  Sadly, she couldn’t stay there forever. Although it felt like a bad dream, that situation was her reality.

     The funny thing about tough circumstances is that they reveal deep thoughts that would have otherwise never been explored. As she sat alone, trying to think, deep questions arose in her head.

     What does it mean to be strong? After that day, many of her friends had come to tell her of how strong she was. They marveled at how she pushed through the difficulties and stood firm while those around her seemed to crumble with emotions. Over and over they told her this, and yet she never truly believed it although she nodded and laughed with the group verbally. She was not strong. She was just trying to handle it like she had practiced in her head multiple times for fun during sleepless nights.

     “How would I react if something bad happened?” She had thought many times before while lying in bed waiting for sleep to overcome her. She knew the facts and had imagined her response; although never in her wildest dreams did she think it would escape her imaginative fantasy and become reality.

     That brought up another question. What does it mean to be calm under pressure? Sure, during that moment, she remained calm…on the outside. She tried to keep her voice steady, control her breathing, and stop her body from shaking. However, her mind (which always seemed to be her constant enemy) taunted her with frightened thoughts and horrific scenarios. She was calm, but not at peace. She knew how to turn off her emotions, momentarily, to get the job done. That is not always the best solution, though.

     During the days afterwards, she struggled with a question that she had never truly had to face before. What does it mean to forgive? She couldn’t forget, although she desperately wanted to. Forgetting never truly eliminates the problem. It just contains it for a while. Through many days and nights of wondering, she came to the conclusion that forgiveness wasn’t forgetting; it was letting go. Forgiveness wasn’t an easy fix (like Ramen noodles or canned chili), it was a slow and deliberate process that took time and dedication (like a simmering stew or a well-done roast). She couldn’t expect herself to get over the circumstance easily, but it would come to her with the Lord’s help.

     She stood up from her curled position on the floor in the corner of the room and decided to walk around campus. As she did so she couldn’t help but wonder if life would ever go back to normal. What was normal? Is there a normal? She supposed there wasn’t. Normal must be an ever changing feeling of stability that periodically gets moved. You can never go back to a normal you once had, because once you leave it it ceases to exist. You cannot hold on to it, you just have to keep searching to find it once again after it changes.

     All of the sudden, it hit her. This experience, although it was unexpected and not at all what she would have wished for, had changed her as a person. It had given her new questions that needed to be answered in her mind. Although it would be hard to adjust to, life had not ended, it had just changed. 

     Her Lord had not changed, though. He is ever-constant. Her life-long mission was to follow Him no matter what and that meant trusting Him to use that situation for good, just like He had done a thousand times before.

     She was strong when she trusted in Him. She was calm under pressure when she believed He had everything under control. She could forgive because He had forgiven her. He was, is and will always be her normal because He is enough. He was the answer.

He is her answer.