Be Still.

I’ve been stressed. Emotionally. Mentally. This semester has been much harder than any other I’ve ever faced, and I am the queen of taking on way too much and being way too busy, so that’s saying a lot.

This semester, I’m tackling 18 credit hours, directing a Spring Sing show, planning a Soundings Unveiling, helping put together the Soundings journal, working two jobs, and juggling relationships with friends, family and a boyfriend. When homework isn’t taking up every second of my free time, I’m trying to catch a moment of sanity with one of the people I love. On top of that, I’ve been working towards looking for a place to live and searching for an adult job after graduation, which if I’m being quite honest, is absolutely terrifying.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to shake off the fact that I feel like I’m drowning in everything I’m trying to do. The worst part of it all is that I didn’t have to do everything I am doing, but I decided to and due to my commitments, there’s no turning back. I’ve called my parents to vent way too many times. I’ve cried on Brad’s shoulder more than I’d like to admit. I’ve had to cancel plans on people. I’ve worn my body down so much that I even got pretty sick at the beginning of this week with a terrible cold.

“Paige, you need to give it to God and rest.” My mom told me.

Not that I listened. At least not at first, because I’m much too stubborn for that.

“I can’t,” I claimed. “I have Spring Sing Practice, homework to do, classes to attend. I can’t just stop.” Of course, I ignored my mom’s wise advice and pushed myself a little harder, even though I didn’t really have the strength do push. Day two of sickness and I was worse off than the day before.

I called my mom again.

“Did you rest?” No. “Paige, you need to trust in God and give your body a day off.” I try not to be dense multiple times in a row, so I figured I’d listen to my momma this time. So Wednesday, I took a day off. I skipped my only class. I slept. A lot. I prayed to God to heal me. I didn’t go to Spring Sing (a shocker, I know!) I just stayed in bed and when I wasn’t sleeping, I worked on homework while drinking hot tea and snuggling into my sheets.

Thursday hit and I was feeling 100 percent better. I took a day off to take care of myself, something I should probably do more often. Yet, that one day wasn’t enough. Instead, I found myself stressed out all over again. I had exams. I had Senior Salute. I had work stuff. I had homework to turn in. I had Spring Sing. And that was just in a single day. Not to mention, I’d been feeling homesick in a way I’ve never felt before, because I can’t drive home anymore. My parents are 23 hours away and that hurts a little more than I’d like to admit. It didn’t really hit me until I picked up my cap and gown and the only people I wanted to show were my mom and dad, because I knew that they’d be excited to celebrate in this small victory with me.

So dealing with the stress of my day, I called my parents again on Friday. I told them I was overly emotional. I told them what I was dealing with. I told them I needed a break. And like any good parents, they both gave me advice about how to handle my crazy life. I’d never been so grateful for speaker phone.

And if I’m being honest, my mom has been the key to telling me the thing I need to hear in this time of stress time and time again, even if I wasn’t really willing to hear it. I’m at a really difficult point in my life. Everything is changing. My brother just got engaged. He has a baby on the way! My sister is finishing up her master’s degree and living life in Kentucky. My parents are loving life in Miami. And here I am, failing at being an adult. I don’t know what I’m doing. I just want my mom and dad to take care of me like they’ve done before without having to ask them to do it. I want life to be easier and I don’t want to deal with all of the challenges I’ve taken on.

Why do I feel this way, though? I’ve never felt this way before. And then it hits me. My mom’s words. Her wisdom. Things she keeps saying, but things I’ve refused to hear.

“You have the strongest faith out of anyone in our house.” Not currently, I think.

“You should start your day with God.” I start my day running out the door, because I’m already running behind.

“Reading the Bible in the morning always makes me feel better. Also, praying to God when I first wake up.” I think about the thousands of things I have to do when I wake up. Not God.

“Oh, but I talk to God throughout the day, too. I’m always talking to God.” I only talk to God when Brad reminds me and does it with me.

And most importantly, “Trust in God. Place it in His hands. He’ll take care of you. He always does.” But mom, I’m trying to take care of myself!

As much as my mom has been reminding me, I haven’t been listening. I’m not giving my worries to God. I am not letting Him guide me. I’m not letting Him control my steps. I am being a worldly person by trying to handle all of these things on my own–a feat that no one can do!

Which is why I’m telling you that I’ve made the resolve to give it all to God. I graduate in less than 70 days and I don’t know what life will throw my way at that time. Nonetheless, I’m giving it to God.

Spring Sing is a week away and I’m nervous and excited. Soon, all the practices and craziness that have been the last month (year seems more like it!) will be over with. I will have so much free time, I don’t think I’ll know what to do with myself. (Though spending much needed quality time with my loved ones seems like a good place to start.) And GIVING IT TO GOD!

This crazy semester full of too many classes will be done with soon. Soundings will be over in April. Everything will settle down, but God will always be constant, so I’m giving it to God.

So today, I’m making time for God. I’m being genuine in my prayers and actually giving it to Him, instead of just talking at Him and trying to maintain my control. I am enjoying the sunshine He has created. I am breathing in a moment of rest and enjoying the stillness on this wonderful Saturday.

After all, God tells us to “Be still and know that He is God,” something I have not been doing. So today, I’m being still.

Will you be still with me?

A Very Different Kind of Christmas

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Yesterday morning, I woke up quite early. 7 a.m. to be exact. And while this is normal for most on Christmas morning, I found myself thinking back to the fact that I haven’t woken up early on Christmas morning for quite some time. The house was quiet. No one was awake. I stared towards the window, watching the sunlight sneak through the blinds and dance with specks in the air. It was calming and brilliant–as if God was saying “Look at what I’ve created. This moment is for you.”

Those words echoed throughout the day, too. First, as I called each of my grandparents to wish them a Merry Christmas. What a reminder that as we grow older, distance makes the holiday seasons a bit harder. My grandmom Elaine was particularly reminiscent of times where children were younger, reminding me that Christmas is always better with children who believe in the magic of Santa Claus. She was spending time with some of my cousins who are still young enough to wake up at the crack of dawn with excitement for what Santa brought on his sleigh. My grandma Maria reminded me that Christmas was meant to be spent gathered with family as she prepared a feast for family members. My grandfather Brown spoke of distance, reminding me of Christmases we used to spend in the glorious mountains. My grandma Ces told me of a meal she prepared for friends, reminding me that family isn’t solely blood. My grandpa Art talked about distance, as well, specifically the distance of Florida as my parents prepare to leave.

You see, if anything, this Christmas taught me that being away from family on the holidays can be hard and sadder than I could have ever imagined. After talking to my grandparents, I spoke to my mom and dad, who I was also away from this year. Due to the move and lack of children home for the holiday, I’m assuming my home did not feel like Christmas this year to them either. My parents didn’t get the chance to put up the tree. They didn’t make cinnamon roles. We didn’t gather around the tree to pray a prayer of thanks for Jesus’ birth. We didn’t go to the Christmas Eve service together.  Dad didn’t hand out presents. Jess, Dyllon, and I didn’t tease each other endlessly. Our traditions, things that we had established years ago, did not occur this year, because we weren’t together to make them happen.

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My siblings and I, although we didn’t talk on the phone, did text each other throughout the day. I think all three of us felt the pang of being apart during the holiday season. My brother, the only child at home this year, told me that Christmas felt weird. My sister said it was a Christmas without a dinner and without family. We all felt the absence of one another.

However, even with Jess in Kentucky, Dyllon in Texas, and me in Oklahoma, my brother still reminded me of simpler times when we were younger. In a moment of trying to cheer us up, particularly my sister, Dyllon reminded us of times when we used to search the house for hidden presents before Christmas day. Of course, that reminded me of the year my parents hid my brother’s Christmas rifle under his bed for months–something he never found due to the amount of crap he stuffed under his bed.

Then, I realized that although distance could really stink, it was not the end of the world. Because at the end of the day, I was reminded of the love of my family. My brother and sister, even in distance, still tried super hard to cheer each other up. My mom and dad were only a phone call away and wished me a Merry Christmas, which was one of my favorite holiday wishes this year. My brother and sister reminded me that they loved me. I felt my home even when I was a thousand miles away.

christmas blog 3Lucky for me, Christmas didn’t only mean long distance this year. I was blessed to spend Christmas with the Eckhart family as well. Growing up, my family spent a lot of holidays with friends that felt like family and this was no exception for me. They made me feel so welcomed in their home. They even provided me with my very own stocking–glittered ‘Paige’ letters and all. With the Eckharts, I was able to experience new Christmas traditions-pancakes, opening gifts one at a time based on age, playing a board game, and reading on a couch. I was even blessed enough to help with Christmas Dinner and given the chance to make my mom’s garlic mashed potatoes– a reminder of home when my heart ached for it so much. There was lots of love, lots of laughter, and lots of Christmas.

You see, this Christmas was extremely different than any other Christmas I’ve ever had before. Nonetheless, it was filled with endless amounts of love and care. It was full of prayer and glory given to God. It was reminiscent of past Christmases and shined a bright light on new traditions. It was full of moments that God gave me. Moments that I believe are truly special.

If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that God will be given glory no matter who you’re with on Christmas. Jesus’ birth will be celebrated. People will gather with one another and commune together. They will bring one another joy and love and thanksgiving.

christmas blog 4This Christmas season I was given so many gifts that will forever fill a special spot in my heart. My brother and father were baptized. I was able to speak with each family member on Christmas. I was able to spend time with new friends and partake in their traditions. More importantly, I was able to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, which is a gift I will celebrate every single day of my life.

You see, we get older and traditions change. Family spreads apart. Coming together is more difficult. But God is with us always. Not only that. God is with our loved ones always. What could be greater than that?

christmas blog 2I hope you all had a Merry CHRISTmas. Continue to remember God throughout the rest of your holiday season and throughout the New Year.

Blessings,

PB

Defined By God

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Sometimes I sit back and think about everything I’ve done with my life and wonder, What was the point? I’ve always aimed for this idea of success, but I’ve never really paid much attention to what the success that I was reaching for really was. What was the idea? And more importantly, if I couldn’t pinpoint what I was reaching for, did it even exist at all? And if I didn’t reach this unidentified success, did that make me less of a person? Did I fail? And if I failed, did it affect anyone negatively? Did it affect me at all?

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These might seem like a silly string of questions. However, tonight I found myself feeling assessed, inadequate, and more importantly, like I was not accomplishing enough. I felt like I needed to do more. I needed to be more. Not for me, but for all the people around me. Considering I don’t really have any clue as to what people expect of me, or the amount of success they want me to achieve, this way of thinking is extremely hurtful. More importantly, it’s damaging.

My success is not defined by my grade point average. My success is not defined by the college I go to, or how I’ve ended up paying for it. My success is not defined by how many people I am friends with or how many individuals like me. My success is not defined by the amount of awards I win or recognition I receive. My success is not defined by words of affirmation. Nor is it defined by accomplishments.

Just the same, my success is not deflated due to my failures. It is not diminished due to the opinions of others. My success does not evaporate when something goes wrong.

Because I am not defined by success. My actions are not my successes. My words are not my successes. Who I am is not my success. Because in all the things I do, God should be the only one who gains any sort of glory. In all I do, I should give the praise to God always. 

Focusing on my successes has given me too many tears when I didn’t reach a goal, specifically goals I didn’t even know I was aiming for. Focusing on my successes and myself when everything I did to achieve them belongs to God is selfish, because I know without Him, I would have and be nothing.

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I am not defined by my success. I am defined by God as a child who messes up on a regular basis, but who is still loved. Loved when I mess up. Loved when I do good. Loved when I fail more than I achieve. Loved when I have sinned. Loved when I have done right by God. I am loved. And that is what I am defined by. Because God, He does not care about what this world deems as successful. He cares about what we do to serve Him and His kingdom. He cares about how we love, because He loves.

I am not defined by my success. When I accept that, I become the most successful person I can be, because I allow myself to be defined through love.

She Speaks for the Glory of God

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I have always been a talker. I love to be front and center. I love discussing things. I love giving my opinion on any and all subjects. Public speaking has never been a negative in my life. In high school, I gave speeches in class, participated in Speech and Debate against other schools, and even led pep rallies every Friday in front of the whole entire student body. Speaking was easy.

Yet, as I prepared for my mission trip to Swaziland, speaking to others caused a deep fear inside of me. I was so scared and full of negativity, that I even spent time crying out of this terrible fear. I began to ask myself, “What am I supposed to say? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I say something culturally offensive? What if what I do say isn’t a good representation of God.” There are so many reasons why my thoughts were wrong to have.

First of all, my thoughts were not God centered. Notice the I’s in those statements. I was making public speaking about me! Not God. Which is wrong, because the point of the mission trip is to bring glory to God. It is to represent Him. For God to gain ALL of the credit. My fears were irrational, because it was never about me. It’s always been about God, and only him.

Secondly, I was blessed with the gift of public speaking. God has always allowed me to speak well in front of large groups of people- exceptionally well! The fact that I would question Him in a gift that He gave me is disappointing. Because of God, I have been able to talk with so many people about God’s love. I’ve been able to lead devotionals. I’ve been able to pray with people. I’ve been able to give my testimony. God has never failed me and has always given me the right words to speak when it comes to showing Him praise.

It took a conversation with my dad to make me remember all of these things. He was so encouraging and reminded me that God opened up the door for my mission trip for a reason- because he knew I’d be able to do work for Him! Like usual, my dad was so right about this.

When I got to Swaziland, students were full of questions. We were in charge of leading groups and getting people to discuss things. This came fairly easy for me when I understood the work, because I am a natural discusser. I love discussion of all kinds. I thought to myself, so far, so good.

Then, I found myself working at the MOM project with some students from the African Christian College. I inquired about how they decide who teaches the kids Bible stories each time. Then, Darian, one of the team members for my mission trip, saw that Veronica was teaching the next lesson, and before I knew it, she made it to where I was the new teacher. I was so afraid before my trip about what I’d discuss, and I didn’t have to be, because God gave me everything I needed to say. You see, they plan out each lesson, so I was given a topic. I had to tell the story of the Tower of Babel. Easy enough, right? And in ways, it was.

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However, it was still new and a challenge for me. You see, I’ve never taught children before, so I had to make sure I was being a story teller. I needed to keep it at their level, so that they could learn about God. I needed to make sure they were active in the story and that they didn’t get lost or bored. There was one more challenge. I had to do this through a translator. You see, in Swaziland, most of the children learn English in school. Unfortunately, a lot of the children we were feeding were not in school, or not at the level in which they could readily speak English yet. For those who could, they got my version. For those who didn’t, well an ACC student shared my words with them. It was such a unique and difficult situation. It was also really rewarding, specifically as little faces with big smiles looked up at me.

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My next opportunity to speak was at ACC’s Women’s Chapel. Again, I was nervous. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. I didn’t know what to speak about. Focusing in on prayer, I wrote down a prayer specifically about what to say and what kind of message to speak about to the women of ACC. Again, God showed me that my worries were silly. At ACC, they have a theme for chapel each week. That week, it was “Don’t Forget.” Not only that, but they had verses for each day. I had Mark 3: 20-15. They basically spoon fed, but you will hear no complaints! I had all that I needed. After talking to Dr. Rix, who was leading the men’s chapel, I got some ideas and began to write my short devotional.

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I talked about something familiar to me- family. You see, in Mark, you have the story of Jesus and Beelzebub. More importantly, you see Jesus getting denied by his family. “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). Jesus was trying to get rid of demons and his family questioned him! However, the true magic of the story happens in verses 31 through 35. “Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and the told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

You see, I was able to talk about family. The family we are born with. The family we choose (sport families, debate families, friendships, college families, church families.) You see, in Mark, Jesus demonstrates that some families we don’t choose. We just get thrown into them. Other families, well we get to decide that they are the right family for us. Our Christian family, the one we receive when we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts, that family is a choice. We choose it. We live with them. We love them. We hold them accountable and they hold us accountable. I am so blessed not only by the family I was born with, but also all the families I’ve gotten to choose, because they continuously help me grow in my walk with God.

Here I was freaking out about how to be a missionary. I was nervous about the abilities God has given me. I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to speak. As I was wrapped up in all of these thoughts, God laughed and guided me. He spoon fed me the whole time. He placed my words in front of me and I spoke. For Him. He gets all of the glory.

It’s not about what we can do as individuals, but instead what God can use us for. I’m glad I had the opportunity to do God’s work through a gift that He has blessed me with.

A Vow of Silence

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As I gear up to leave for my mission trip, a lot of mixed feelings have started to weigh on me- the biggest being stress. I’ve said it once and I’ll say is again. I am a planner. I like to write out lists and check things off. I try not to procrastinate. I really like getting things done. However, this trip hasn’t been something I can really plan. I don’t know what I’m doing each day that I am there. I don’t know what kinds of things I will be asked. I don’t know if I’ll have everything I need. There is just a lot I don’t know. Not to mention, I’m trying to finish my final summer class, get papers notarized, pack my bags, and meet with my bank. Everything has been coming at me full force and it is overwhelming!

In those crazy moments comes a lot of self-doubt and impatience. Call me overemotional, but I think I’ve broken down in tears a least 5 times in the last 48 hours- ridiculous, I know. Yet, as I start to check things off of my list and let it sink in that I will be heading to the airport in 24 hours, all I feel is comfort. I am so excited for the blessings that will come from this trip! I already feel God working through this trip and I’m not even there yet. I’ve had so many friends and family members encourage me and love on me. They’ve blessed me in ways that leave me absolutely speechless.

Not to mention, my team is so great! I know that we will not only have a wonderful time, but also help one another grow- something I am truly looking forward to. I cannot wait to see their strengths in action, because I know they will be great. I also cannot wait to see how they help me strengthen my weaknesses.

Speaking of weaknesses, I think the reason why I’ve been so stressed out about this trip rests on a decision I’ve made. I know what you’re thinking. What decision? Why would you deliberately do something that stresses you out or makes you nervous? Well my dear friends, I’ll tell you.  I decided not to talk to anyone while I am away on my trip, whether via email, text, video-call, or phone. Gasp! But Paige, you’re a people person. You talk! You stay connected! Trust me, I know. It’s crazy. But there is a reason for it. I make it such a point to be connected with everyone. I talk to my friends everyday. I call my mom multiple times throughout the day. Getting that reassurance from my loved ones is something I not only need, but something that I thrive off of.

So why not cut it off? I want this trip to be super centered around God and His work. I want to experience every moment and give ALL the glory to God. I want to rely on God when I feel lonely, weak, or scared. I want to rely on God for reassurance. I want to build my relationship with Him and give myself to grow spiritually in a way that I can’t do if I don’t separate myself from what I find comfort in.

I’m looking at this trip as the ultimate challenge to connect with my Father, God the Savior. I don’t want to hold myself back. I want to reach for Him and keep reaching higher and higher. I want GOD.

But Paige, what about all your friends? Not talking to them during your trip, that’s kind of crazy, don’t you think? How will you stay connected to everyone? Again, valid questions that I’ve asked myself. My friend, Katelynn, told me of this thing she does when she goes on mission trips. You see, she disconnects from the world and doesn’t get on social media. In order to stay connected, she asks people before she leaves if she can pray for them when she is gone. Then, while she is on her trip, she does so. Earlier this summer, she was on her way to Africa for a mission trip when she asked if she could pray for me. Of course, I was excited for this question, and I asked her to pray for my spiritual growth. I wanted to have a summer centered around learning how to be a better Christian. She prayed for me and without knowing it, helped me by giving me a way to grow.

So after a lot of prayer, I picked about 10 people and reached out to them. I’ve asked if I can pray for them. With some, I’ve had face-to-face conversations. We’ve talked about how we can pray for one another. With others, I’ve Facebooked them or texted them. Each person has given me specific things to focus on for them while I am gone. I plan on staying connected to my loved ones by having open dialogue with God. It will keep a conversation going that will not only help me stay focused on my overall goal, but will also allow me to connect to my friends through God. I am really excited for this opportunity.

A silent Paige. That’s what’s about to happen, world. Weird, right? I never thought the day would come either! But I am extremely excited, nervous, and most of all, encouraged by this trip. I want to trust in the Lord for guidance. With that being said, stay tuned. I’d love to share my journey with you. If you find it is on your mind, I’d appreciate prayers as I tackle this challenge. It’s not going to be easy, but I do believe it will be worth it.

God Chose Me. I Choose God.

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It is not about me. It is about God.

I am defined by my faith in God. My life is meaningless without Him, because He made me and gave me life. Without Him and the sacrifice of his son, Jesus, I would still live with the guilt of my sin and the penalty of death.

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In my life, I have always had friends across the spectrum when it came to faith. I’ve had friends who believe in different gods than me. I have friends who believe God is a figment of my imagination. People have challenged my faith. They have asked me why I believe what I believe. They ask me why I put so much effort into my faith. They diminish what I believe, stating that my belief system is just my RELIGION, and therefore, it is not as important as I make it, because everyone follows their own version of religion.

Let me tell you, my beliefs are NOT religion, at least, not to me. My faith in God is a way of life. My prayers are open conversations with a friend, protector, and father. The songs I sing are an offering of love and gratitude. The words I read in the Bible are the most powerful form of literature. They are a way of a life. A guide. My connection to God makes me who I am, and without that faith, I would not be me.

My truest self is found in God. The more I reach for Him, the more I become the person I want to be. Without my creator, my father, my God, I am absolutely nothing. God gives me all that I have. He is with me always. He made me, and because I am a child of God, I am wonderfully created, because He established me through His unfailing love.

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If there is absolutely anything I deem to be true, it is that I sincerely believe in a God who sacrificed for His people AND I believe in my God, who defeated death. Do not try to diminish who I am by stating that I focus too much on my faith. Do not try to get me to speak less about God. He will ALWAYS be first in my life, because life without Him is not a life I want to live.

If you do not accept my faith, you do not accept me.

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“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Proverbs 139:13-16.

God knows me better than I know myself. He is my creator, and I place ALL of my faith in Him. He guides me. He leads my decision. He protects me. He pushes me. He challenges me to grow. Without Him, I am nothing. You don’t have to accept that belief for yourself. However, you must accept that He will always be the center of my life. Always. Thus, he comes first and foremost.

The more I know God, the more I know myself.

My Very Own Good Samaritan

Lately, I’ve been reminded that when it rains it pours and boy has it been pouring. Between dealing with school, work, being sick, and a billion other little things, I’ve been worn out, busy beyond recognition, and honestly a bit cranky. Each day seems a bit more difficult than the one before. Although I try to start my day off on the right foot, it turns negative somewhere in the middle. I’ve definitely had my patience tried on more than one occasion and being graceful in each situation has proven harden than I would have originally imagined.

With all that being said, I find myself continually blessed by the wonderful people in my life. God knows how much I can handle (and how much I can’t) and he places people in my life that will care for me when I am in need. My roommate, who is truly a blessing, goes the extra mile to remind me that I can escape from work even though my job takes place where I live. She focuses on my day, makes sure I don’t need anything, and surrounds me with the best friendship I could have ever asked for. When I don’t have time to do little things, like clean, she picks up the slack. Also, I start the day off with a warm cup of coffee every morning due to her having class before me each day. God knew I couldn’t handle this year without her and therefore he placed her in my midst.

Similarly, our really good friend goes out of her way to take care of me as well. Knowing how sick I was, she stocked my fridge full of juice, bought be chicken noodle soup, medicine, and cough drops. She used her own money without even thinking twice to make sure I was provided for and constantly asks how I am doing. Not being the only one concerned about my health, my boss and coworker gave me an extra day off earlier this week so I could catch up on sleep. It was truly an unexpected blessing and another example of God placing people in my life who would help me when I couldn’t help myself.

It is wonderful when people who know and love you take care of you. I am grateful that God has blessed me with these people, especially in times of high stress. These people do not have to go out of their way for me, yet they do. Most importantly, they don’t expect anything in return when they go that extra mile.

With that in mind, I think it is even more important to stress the random stranger who goes out of their way for others. Today, while a friend and I were at Goodwill, my keys ended up getting lost (or donated if you will). We looked absolutely everywhere. We even had a handful of shoppers stop what they were doing to help us look for my keys. Unfortunately, we were not lucky in our endeavor of finding them.

During this time, a lady overheard us talking and took extra time out of her day to help us look when everyone else had given up hope. Once we realized they were nowhere in the store, she continued to stay with us. She offered to drive us back to campus. When we decided to get a locksmith to come make a new key, she stayed with us until it was taken care of. Daniel, the friend who was with me, ended up paying for the locksmith to come down. However, upon a simple mix up the locksmith left. When coming back, we had to pay once again so that he would actually make the key for us. During this time Daniel went to pay for the key, however the woman with us ended up paying for it instead. This woman, who didn’t know us, took time out of her evening to make sure we were taken care of. Prior to being in that store, she knew nothing about us, yet she rescheduled her whole evening for us. She called her husband and had him pick up their daughter from dance practice so that she could stay with us until the situation was taken care of. She genuinely got to know us. And when it was time to pay, she took her wallet over to the guy and paid the bill. It was such an overwhelming blessing that I think I could have cried.

God has blessed me in so many ways, whether through friends or strangers. These people that he has placed in my life show me how reliable people can be, especially in a world where others could care less most of the time. We live such selfish lives that it is truly refreshing to know that people care enough to go that extra step even when it is not required of them.

It reminded me of the parable in Luke about the Good Samaritan. For those of you who haven’t read that in awhile, here it is:

The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
-Luke 10:25-37

Basically, what I am getting at is this- we live in a world where it is really easy to pass people by. We can get so wrapped up in our own problems that we don’t pay attention to those who are struggling around us. With that being said, I urge you to remember those people who take the time our of their day to help you when you’re in need. Even the small things can make a really big difference to someone who is struggling.

I’m challenging myself to take the time to truly focus on those around me. If someone is in need, I think it is important to remember the golden rule and love my neighbor. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and need to be able to rely on each other. So what do you say? Take the charge with me? Together, we can make the world a little bit of a better place.

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” ― Desmond Tutu

Being Humbled by God

I’d like to think I am pretty blunt when I talk about my problems within myself, especially in relation to how I’m dealing with them. Currently, I have come to the conclusion that we live in a self-absorbed culture. We put ourselves first, leaving behind our friends, family, and anyone else who may be in any type of need. There are so many problems with this mentality, the biggest being that if we don’t help others, who will? I’m not necessarily trying to call anyone out here, but we’ve started living in a world that coddles everyone and that simply doesn’t do anyone a bit of good. Building up our own self confidence, although a nice ego boost, doesn’t help us realize that we can’t always be a winner.

We are a participation ribbon generation, giving undeserving people rewards because at the end of the day, we want to feel good. We want to feel like a winner. We want to be praised for our efforts. Unfortunately, that isn’t the way the world was meant to work. In order for success in any sort of way, people must fall. In the same respect, some people must rise up. Most importantly, each one of us needs to know when we’ve failed and when we’ve been successful. A lot can be learned from our mistakes and I am not saying we should reprimand people for messing up, but we shouldn’t reward them for just trying. Then there isn’t any reason to try harder.

With that in mind, I think it is important to discuss my dilemma. I became pretty cocky for a lack of a better word, after starting my job at Waffle House. As soon as I hit the floor, I soared. I was making so much money, getting $8, $10, and even $25 tips. My coworkers were asking me how I was doing it and I just replied, “I am just being the best salesperson I can be,” which might be true, however, I wasn’t giving any credit to those who were blessing me with such high tips, nor was I giving God credit. Let’s be honest, no one can do anything alone and at the end of the day, all our blessings come from God’s hands. I kept this idea in my head that I was doing so well and earning so much money on my own. I started to get really close to my summer goal supper fast. $2,000 was close in sight and I wanted it so badly.

Nonetheless, my cockiness started to get the best of me. I went from making about $95 a shift to $65, which was a pretty big cut. I stopped getting my big tips and, slowly but surely, started to receive an abundance of $2 tips. I was still giving my customers the best possible service I could manage and I was being conversational. My sales were great and I felt good about how I was working, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t performing. Today, I was so frustrated. I had 3 tables in a row who had tickets over $25 who kept leaving me $2 tips. They left messy tables, were a lot of work, and at times frustrating, but it didn’t matter because at the end of the day, they controlled the amount of money I made.

Sitting with one of my fellow coworkers, I started to count my tips to see the daily earnings. My irritation continue to rise as I realized I was barely hitting $60 today. As a whole, the day was slow. I only wrote 16 tickets and some of my tickets were less than $10 so that amount of money made sense. Yet I was so wrapped around myself and my performance, I decided I was worth more than that. I decided I deserved more than that. I made the situation all about me, not taking into consideration anything these people were going through. Maybe money was tight? Maybe they had more important things to spend money on? Or maybe, I just wasn’t as good a server as I originally thought I was? See how it still gets brought back to me?

Then, something my coworker said really hit me hard. He had roughly made $20 in tips that day after writing about 20 tickets. His tips should have way exceeded mine and he isn’t a bad server, but the first thing he did was blame himself. He was not mad at the people, but about his work ethic. He wanted to do better in order to make more. I was sitting there worried about only making $60 in one day of work, which was over minimum wage, and he was telling himself that HE needed improvement. He is a great server, a nice kid, and super friendly. There was no reason that he shouldn’t have made more and I felt like total crap when he asked what kind of tip day I had. For me, I thought I had done bad, but then I realized God was still blessing me even if it wasn’t in the amounts I thought I deserved. I don’t know if you’ve noticed as much as me, but I’ve used a lot of I’s and me’s in the post, demonstrating just how self-absorbed I can be at times.

The moment I stop giving glory to God and to those who help me achieve my goals, is the moment I am not worthy of it. I do NOTHING on my own and today was such a humbling experience, because yes, I am very blessed. I am so sick of living in a world where I make things about me and what I want and what I need and what I expect. That isn’t how it works. No money in the world can make me any happier than God. The way I perform should be for the glory of God, no one else.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:3-11

God wants us to put others before ourselves. He also wants us to avoid being selfish in all that we do. That verse is so powerful and reminds me that I fall short of the Glory of God. Nothing I do, say, or think will ever measure up. Jesus, who was so amazing in all that he did, LIVED LIKE A SERVANT. He served others and put everyone else’s needs above his own. He did all things to glorify his father.

Romans 3:23 reminds us that we ALL fall short of the glory of God, as stated above. There are also several verses, including James 4:10, Matthew 23:12, James 4:6, and 1 Peter 5:6, that state that we should be humbled under God so that He will exalt us. As for our work ethic, I will once again remind you of one of my favorite verses. Colossians 3:23 reads “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” We should complete all tasks for God and not for anyone else. He deserves all the glory and all the praise, not ourselves. We can do nothing without him.

Finally, I leave with another verse that is good to be reminded of in a generation of me, me, me’s. 2 Corinthians states, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” The verse prior speaks of being as lowly as others, those who sin and feel weak. We are all equals in the eyes of God, none better than another. We should avoid building ourselves up, and instead focus on being an equalizer. We should help others to achieve the same wants and needs as our own.

With that being said, I am glad I was humbled today. It was necessary and I hope it offers me a bit more perspective in the upcoming month as I work for Waffle House and further into the future. My challenge to you is to find humility in all you do. Learn from your mistakes and praise those who deserve praise. Let’s leave this I-me generation behind for a God Above All Else generation.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity