The Ways God Speaks

I’ve been stressed out about the grades I made on my finals, and what I’d end up with in my classes. All week I’ve just been sitting and refreshing the grade thingy in my school’s system. All my grades were in by this morning, except for one–the one class I thought I might have possibly failed.

It’s really unsettling to feel like maybe you failed a class because of your final. I mean! I had a comfortable B rolling into that test, but when I left, I just knew I had bombed it. I’ve carried that feeling with me for over a week now. It was eating away at me.

And then today, when I was sitting in my room, reading a book and drinking coffee, God sent me a little message. There was a bird, sitting on my window. And I don’t mean a ledge outside my window. The bird was on the tiny ledge between the two panes of glass that make up a window. It was literally pressing itself into the glass to sit there. And maybe this wouldn’t be wild if that was the only place to sit, but there’s a tree right outside my window. So close it scratches the glass during storms, and if I open the window, some of the branch reaches into my room.

And for some reason, I just felt calm. Like God sent that little bird to press itself against the window to reassure me, “Hey, I know you’re really worried about this, but you don’t need to be. I’ve got this, and even if you fail, it’s not the end of the world. I still love you kid.” I just knew.

I knew this because birds are a big thing in my life. One of my best friends calls me little bird. When I moved back to Georgia, she gave me a string of lights with little wire birds on them and told me to Shine bright, little bird. Birds have become a comfort item to me. My next journal has a bird on the cover.

I love God. I do. I love Him for so many reasons, for saving me, for loving me despite the fact that I am a certified dumpster fire, for forgiving me over and over. I love Him because He pursued me even when I ran away, I love Him for showing me what He is capable of, and what I am capable of when I trust Him and let Him work through me. But mostly, I love Him because He speaks to me in a way that He knows I will understand. When I was stressed this week, He didn’t make a verse of scripture pop into my head. He didn’t send a text or a person this way that would say just the right words. He sent me my bird, pressing itself into me and into my life, to let me know that He’s here, pressing into me and pressing into my life.

Sticky Note Gospel

Last week was rough. Actually, this entire semester has been rough. I’m in a bunch of weed-out courses. When I was scheduling last semester, my adviser wouldn’t let me take any more than my 16 hours because, as she said, “this is a bad schedule, but it’s the best you can do.”

So it’s hard. I feel like crying a lot because of stress. My grades are good considering the classes I’m in (I have all A’s and B’s), but they’re hard to maintain, and some of them still aren’t really where I want them to be to have final cushioning.

On top of all of that, I’m working 7 hours a week with one of the most inconsiderate, rudest teachers I’ve ever met. She tells kids she hates them, that she hates working at their school. She teaches me basic algebra and just points at me and then the kid I’m supposed to help. Doing that twice a week just kind of gets to you.

But, on my way to differential equations last week (definitely one of my hardest classes), while I was walking up the stairs, I saw something bright orange in the window in the stairwell. It was such a weird place for anything to be that I stopped to look at it. I honestly almost broke down in tears right there. I saw a little sticky note, with some messy scrawl on it in a verse I had never read before in Isaiah.

“When you pass through waters, I will be with you. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, nor will the flame burn you. For I am The Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Isaiah 43:2

You know those moments where you’re just so down you don’t know what to do? I had been in one of those. And an unassuming little sticky note in an odd place was the thing that pulled me back up.

This semester is like my fire. It’s one of the many things I’m gonna face on my way to being an engineer. But when I walk through this fire, I’m not alone. No, I don’t have to take on so much school and work stress on my own. God isn’t only watching me walk through, He’s walking through them with me. He’s fighting these battles for me!

And yeah, I knew all of this before I saw the sticky note. But I realized when I saw it that that wasn’t how I had been living my life. I had been trying to do it all on my own, and I’ll never be able to do that. When things get hard, I need to run to Jesus. Cling to the cross.

I don’t have all the answers to life. I also don’t know how to take the Laplace Transform of sin(wt). (Okay, maybe that one I know, because it’s in my chart.) But I don’t need answers. I just need to remember the Guy who has them has my back, if I’ll ask Him.

Adventures and Exhaustion and Writing

I’m not a writer. Perhaps you’ve noticed that, if you read my posts regularly. I don’t do this well, or often enough to get better. I graduated high school and that was about it for me and creative writing. I started this blog because I always felt like, when I was writing in my journal, that I should really be writing to an audience. I think that was God whispering something to me, and it took me about two and a half years to act on it. Late, as always.

Anyways, I’m writing today because I think I should write more often, and NaNoWriMo gives me (kind of) an excuse to do it. You’re supposed to write a book. I hate rules, so I’m just gonna try to write a blog post a day. Today’s actually hasn’t started yet, but I’ll get there. I just had to do some housekeeping (if only I actually did that and my room wasn’t trash right now). Explain that I’m doing this to get better. Explain why I started my blog. Who knows. Now on to the main event.

Y’all, I’m tired. Exhausted. I have had at least two tests a week for the pasts two or three weeks, and this week, and next week, and I work, and every day I die a little inside. It’s whatever. I’m just struggle-busin to stay awake in class. To stay awake at home and talk to my family. Wednesdays feel like Fridays and Thursdays and Fridays just feel excessive. But it’s fine. Hopefully I’ll graduate college with a job lined up, hopefully I’ll be able to get scholarships, hopefully I’ll be able to live a normal life.

And in all of this exhaustion, I’m struggling to “fit God in”. But really that’s just not how it works. We don’t simply “fit Him in”, we live life with Him. How awesome is that. For so long, and even now in this busy time, I believed that I needed a certain amount of uninterrupted time with God. And yeah, I probably do need that. But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about walking and living with Him all the time. About doing homework but doing it with God.

Does that make sense? Probably not. But the same way I can text my best friend like eighty million times a day (this is not an exaggeration), I can reach out to God the same way. I can talk to Him and do other things without them being an interruption. Instead, I’m just doing them with Him. Life is an adventure, and I need to live this adventure with God instead of trying to put Him in a cute little corner.

I’d love to write more about this, but the building I’m sitting in is shaking and I think I need to go. See ya tomorrow, sweet friend.

Love Your Enemy?

Y’all.

Y’all.

I’m writing this post when I am still feeling fresh wounds and the attacks are still going, so this might be an emotional roller-coaster ride for you and it might be full of spelling and grammar errors. Bear with me. This is one of those things that is better raw. (So I tell myself).

Tonight I’ve been working on a group project and it’s been great, I’ve been able to get a lot of the work done, but one of my group members has just been incredibly rude. He’s not collaborating, he’s blaming us for everything, he’s being passive-aggressive, and because we haven’t finished on his timeline he’s attacking us.

It hurts. A lot. Because when I think of this group project I see how much we did get done over a holiday weekend, and I’m just proud. It might be due Wednesday but a lot of it is already done, and yeah it’s rough around the edges (a little more than the edges), but we have a full day to edit. We haven’t even seen each other since Wednesday and we’ve done so much.

And for, let’s call him Partner L, for Partner L to be so incredibly rude to us, it’s not fair. It’s just not. It’s incredibly rude. And to top it off, he’s facebook ranting about us even though he added us on facebook! He sent out the requests so he knows we are all “friends”.

But let’s not let that facebook title get mistaken for the truth. Partner L is certainly not my friend. To be completely honest, I just want to yell at him. Ask him why he thinks any of his behavior is acceptable.

But I won’t.

The Bible, and people, talk a whole lot about loving your neighbor even though you disagree with them. But that’s just disagreeing. What about your enemies? What about those people that are just tearing you down, aren’t just disagreeing but actively arguing? What about them?

(Obviously they are still your neighbor.)

It’s hard to think of someone like that as your neighbor though. So tomorrow when we meet up, I’m gonna show a whole lotta grace. I’m gonna bite my tongue, be nothing but polite and even friendly. Partner L does not deserve it, but I don’t deserve what Jesus did on the cross for me.

A friend of mine once told me to “Shine bright, little bird” when I was having a bad week. But that advice applies here. Tomorrow when he wants to argue, I’ll be nice. I’ll let myself shine through, not by arguing but by showing grace and patience and all of those things I’ve got to really work hard to be.

On Giving Up On My Dreams to Follow God’s

Dear LSU,

I never expected to fall in love. I never expected to feel as at home here as I do. When I applied, to be completely honest, I didn’t even know you were in Louisiana.

Then I moved out here, on what seemed like a whim, and my world changed. I found a school full of vibrant, crazy people, and for the first time I fit in. I feel completely comfortable here, so at home four hundred miles from my home. I began to love a school and a place more than I ever imagined possible and in a way I wasn’t expecting.

You gave me a place to grow as a person. I’ve become more open-minded as a person. I’ve become more responsible. I’ve grown up and I’ve grown closer to God. There’s no doubt in my mind that I ended up in Baton Rouge for a reason, that God wanted me to be here. But now I have to leave.

For months now I prayed for a sign about if I was supposed to stay here or go back home. A sign so obvious that even I couldn’t miss it. And Friday when I finally got it, I got mad. My sign has pointed me back home, in the exact opposite place of my dream. God’s dream for me doesn’t include me in Baton Rouge anymore, it includes me back in Macon. And now I’m sacrificing my dream to follow God’s dream for me. I know this dream will be better, and that there’s a reason I’m supposed to move home. I know He’s gonna use this to do great things for me or for other people. But it hurts right now. I’ve cried, I’ve had panic attacks, I’ve prayed, I’ve screamed.

I’m not just leaving LSU, though. It also means that I’m gonna move nine hours away from my forever friends after only getting to spend a few months with them. I’m going to move nine hours away from my sweet church family, the people that have surrounded me and accepted me and pushed me to grow closer to Jesus. The people that saw so much in me they put me on a leadership team. The people that made me so confident in my relationship with God that I’m getting baptized in two weeks.

It means when August rolls around, I won’t move in to my dorm room with one of my best friends. When September rolls around, I won’t be tailgating and spending Saturday in Death Valley. When October rolls around, I won’t be crying because of my 7:30 thermodynamics midterm. When November rolls around, I won’t make the trek back home to spend three short days with my family for Thanksgiving. When December rolls around, I won’t put a tiny Christmas tree up on my desk. In January I won’t come back for another semester, in February I won’t listen to the couples planning to go to Memorial Tower for tradition, in March I won’t die over midterms again, in April I won’t find internships in Louisiana, and in May I won’t get to say I’m half of an LSU engineer.

When graduation comes in three short years, I won’t take pictures with my best friend in matching outfits. I won’t take pictures with the giant Tiger Stadium sign behind me. I won’t take pictures in that coveted purple cap and gown.

And who knows? Maybe our paths will cross again one day. Maybe I’ll decide I need graduate school and I’ll come back for that. Maybe my kids will come here. Or maybe I’ll just have to accept that I’ll be a Tiger football fan for life and nothing more. Only God knows what’s in store for my future.

I’m trying not to cry because my dream is ending and my time here is winding down. I’m trying to stay positive because what’s coming has to be better for me. I’m trying to be happy about following God’s new path for my life. One day I won’t have to try, but for now I’ll just smile and eat donuts when I feel like crying. I’ll study for my finals, and when I drive off my last Sunday, I’ll smile and probably blast some music so I don’t cry while I see campus in my rear-view mirror.

So thanks, LSU, for all the great memories and learning opportunities. Thanks to all of the people who supported me, and thanks to all the people who made my freshman year here truly unforgettable. My heart will forever bleed purple and gold, even if I won’t be wearing it.

-Cam

Let’s Be Brave

instruments
Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp and some coffee in a cool cup

Today I was lucky enough to meet two really kind-hearted souls. I already forgot their names. Shame on me.

What I’ll never forget, though, is how brave they are. I go to an SEC school. It’s big. It’s in the south. I’m surrounded by fellow Christians. I’m surrounded by people of all different faiths, or no faith at all. Today was sunny, and I was laying in the quad, with some of my other classmates. It was bright and warm, and we were enjoying the weather.

These two guys, who didn’t know anything about anyone, went up to people laying in the quad and asked what they believe. They asked what my name was. They asked if they could pray with me. It turns out they know some of the people I go to church with. They were sharing the good news. When they knew I had a church, they didn’t try to push me to attend theirs, but they still invited me.

This is something I’ve been struggling with. God wants us to share His glory. We want to share His glory. I want to–I want everyone to know the same love I do. It’s hard though. It’s intimidating. But it’s what we’re called to do, to be a light shining to the Lord. So let’s be brave. Wherever we are in our faith journey, let’s ask, “What’s your name? What do you believe? Do you mind if I pray with you?”

Being Faithful Where You Are

car alabama

I’ve been struggling lately. This might seem small, or it might seem bigger than it is, but I might have to transfer colleges. And honestly, it’s taken me about two and a half weeks to become completely content with whatever happens.

The bigger problem though, and the problem I only realized I had actually been struggling with last night, is that I’ve let my heart grow bitter against God. Yep. That’s right. I let myself start to be utterly disappointed in the purest love I will ever know. That’s not really good, and it’s warped a lot of my perception about the thought of transferring. It’s left me with a lot of self-pity, and a lot of unnecessary anger.

I was mad. I couldn’t figure out why God had led me to what I feel is my absolute dream school, led me to a place where I feel comfortable, let me put down roots and dare I say grow and flourish, only to potentially lead me back home just a year later. It didn’t seem fair. I couldn’t understand what I had done and why He felt I deserved this. Because, in my anger, I thought God gave us what we deserved, completely forgetting that He has given me the sweetest gift of all: forgiveness and the chance for a relationship with Him.

I realized my awful mistake last night when I was reading my Bible. Genesis 37 tells the story of how Joseph was almost killed by his brothers, and then instead sold into slavery by them. That’s much worse than transferring to a different college. But Joseph, unlike me, didn’t get mad. He trusted the Lord. He was faithful where he was. In the bottom of a pit, he still believed that God was on his side and would help him through. He wasn’t mad at God for letting him be sold into slavery.

That was a convicting thing to read. My heart was full of sin, and I didn’t even realize it. Along with letting myself get bitter, I stopped being faithful where I was and with what I was given. I let myself be consumed by what I wanted, not by what I was so gracefully allowed to have. I started to realize that if I was truly following God’s plan for me, I wouldn’t be angry about what was happening. Sad, maybe. I mean, my dream school might be taken away. I can’t be angry though, because even if I have to leave coming to LSU was absolutely what God intended for me to do. Being here has grown my relationship with my Father more than I had ever imagined. I knew I wanted to start going to church, but I never imagined being so invested and not just going to church, but being part of a church. I always wanted to be the girl that read her Bible every day, and not only in the confines of her room but out in the quad or the Union where everyone could see me, but I never thought I would get there. I always wanted to talk about my faith with other people, but I never thought I would actually do it because I believed a number of lies of talking about faith. But in the course of a semester and a half, I have become all of those things, things that I will carry with me no matter where I go, even if where I go is back home.

God wants me to be faithful where I am so He can use me for His plan. It’s taken two and a half weeks, and I’m not all the way there, but I’m on my way.