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.

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Talent. And Also I Can’t Feel My Knee

I have a fake yeti cup. It works just as well and it was only $10. If you’ve never seen one, they have an awesome lid with a hole just big enough for a straw.

Today I spilled roughly a fourth of my coffee (>7 ounces) on my shirt and my sleeve from that teeny tiny hole while I was just walking, not even trying to drink. Talk about some talent, y’all.

So that’s how Monday started. And now, five flights of stairs later, I can’t feel my knee. I had surgery six years ago and now, like a true teenage grandma, I have mild arthritis. Except it doesn’t hurt right now. No. I just can’t feel that part of my body.

Also I missed a week of writing.

If you’re wondering what point I could possibly be making, it’s that I’m clearly a mess. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. But last night at Life Group (I help lead the student ministry at church, and I lead the girl’s life group), my heart was overflowing. In prayer, the girls were thanking God for me and my co-leader being positive examples and coming in to work with them week in and week out. I cried like a baby. These girls reminded me that it doesn’t matter how messy I am. God uses us all, despite the mess. God actually uses the mess to His advantage!

I don’t know what mess you’re in. I don’t know where you are in life. But hang on, friend, because you and your mess serve a purpose. How awesome is that.

Brown Thing

This is the story of brown thing. Brown thing is my mom’s favorite blanket, a quilt made my my great-grandmother and her sisters.

My granny told us not to use brown thing, that it was for decoration only. Obviously we didn’t listen, and just like she told us it would, brown thing ripped and tore, and I’m now in the long process of patching up brown thing with old t-shirts and my poor sewing skills.

And isn’t that kind of how our relationship with God works? We take His sweet grace and we rip it, and ourselves, to shreds. We have holes so big they could be jumped through, because we fall into sin’s trap. We think our grace is too speckled to possibly cover us, that there’s no way God could love, let alone save, us now. We’ve certainly just messed up all of our chances.

Praise the Lord that He doesn’t think the same way our broken little minds do.

God takes us, full of holes, ripped into pieces with all the stuffing falling out, and He so lovingly and gloriously stitches us back up to be as good as new, all because of the sweet grace Jesus provided on the cross. There’s no mismatched fabric or uneven stitching when He’s through with us. We will never run through His grace because He is always so patiently waiting to fix it.

He’s patiently waiting to fix us.

All we have to do is ask. And that’s the best news of all. When we’ve stretched ourselves too thin, when we’re at the end of ourselves, God is calling to us to just let Him fix us.

So, friend, will you?

God Is My Only Football

Now that I’ve got your attention.

Today I was reading through my Bible, looking at notes trying to find a verse that a book I was reading had called to mind. Skimming through my notes, I found one tucked away, written just as pristine as all the others.

“God is my only football.”

The verse I had been noting was talking about a lack of footholds, and I was trying to express that God is the only steady foothold. Somewhere between my head and my pen, my intentions had gotten a little messed up and I wrote down football instead. And I got to thinking, how often does that happen? How often do I start off with good intentions, but I mess up and make a mistake? How often do I start off with bad or mediocre intentions, starting off with a mistake?

The answer is a lot. My little heart is a mess, and my English skills aren’t much better when I’m speaking. It’s all too easy for me to trip myself up. But God, He still uses my mess for His glory. It doesn’t matter how I mess up or what I mess up, He’s gonna bless it and He’s gonna use it for His plan. I might get embarrassed, I might slow down the process, but He’s gonna make it all okay in the end, loving me all the while.

And how awesome is that? God uses me, and you, inherently human, for His divine plan. He knows we’re going to mess up, but He still uses us. Our God is perfect but requires no perfection from us. So how about it? Are you gonna let God be your only football too?

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.

Tune My Heart to Sing Thy Grace

One of my all time favorite hymns is Come Thou Fount. When I’m driving, looking for something, or doing anything really, there’s a good chance you’ll catch me (poorly) humming the tune or singing a few lines. Pieces of it are on my desk and taped to my wall, and the lyrics are tattooed on my heart. The entire song so perfectly describes my walk with God, and every time I hear it I just so clearly feel His presence.

One of my favorite lines out of the entire song is one of the first ones, “Tune my heart to sing Thy grace,” and oh, how often do I need to hear those sweet words. In times of trouble, God calls us to just keep on praising Him, no matter how achy our hearts are or how unstitched our souls.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”

Psalm 42:11

But it’s so hard to remember this and to actually praise Him in the middle. It’s so easy to ask Him for the blessing you desire without thanking Him for the blessing He has already provided. And oh, it’s just as easy to forget how truly blessed we are in the middle.

But He can help that. Our messy little hearts just need Him to lovingly tune them. And when you ask Him to (no matter how many times you ask Him to), He does. He fixes your little heart right up.

Once your heart has been so perfectly tuned by God, it’s so much easier to follow His call of praise in the middle. And when you’re singing His praises? Well the middle doesn’t seem nearly as bad to begin with.

Oh friend, ask for a fresh tuning. Ask for a heart that will sing His praise in the middle of anything. Because no one carries us through our problems like our magnificent God. And nothing can fix any situation quite like singing out His truth.

Cameron and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I remember when I was little, one of my favorite books ever was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I would ask my mom to read it to me over and over and over, and I’m sure she got sick of it. But I loved it. I loved to hear about how Alexander started off having a bad day, just the worst, but eventually, it all turned around to his favor. He didn’t even have to move to Australia!

Well the past two days have reminded me of Alexander. But, while my favorite fictional ginger was facing problems like not getting the window seat or having to wear his least favorite pajamas, I was having much bigger problems. I was dealing with unreasonable requests of my time, I burned my right hand with a pot, made a mess making my family pancakes, and then I dropped my phone in my coffee cup. More adult problems than train pajamas.

But somewhere in the middle of my mess, and my self pity party, and hating myself for all the messing up I had done, I was overcome. To God’s eyes, I’m always this messy. Even on my good days, I’m sinning and messing up. It might not be as obvious to me as my now broken phone, but it’s happening. And God doesn’t sulk. He doesn’t pity me. And He doesn’t hate me for messing up. He just loves me and gives me grace, and hope, and a future, and so much sweet sweet forgiveness.

And why, in my “bad” days, do I not forgive myself like that? Why don’t I show myself any grace? And why don’t I indulge in the hope He gives? I just get sad. Moody. Angry at myself. But my slip-ups in my eyes are far less than my transgressions against God, and He can do all of this for me. And today, after I really thought about this, my day, just like Alexander’s, started picking up. It even ended with some Chick-fil-A.

If you’re out there and having your own Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, just stop. Pause for a minute and reflect on God. Because He restores us each day and makes us new. He gives us hope for a Nice, Wonderful, Good, Very Great Day. And when we deal with our problems with this outlook on life, somehow they become much easier to handle.