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.

You Turned My Darkness Into Dawn

I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of girl I was in high school lately.

To be completely honest, I don’t like that girl. At all.

She was loud and rude and incredibly mean. Desperate to be “cool” and to fit in. She couldn’t understand why nobody wanted to hang out with her, and she hung out with people that maybe weren’t so nice either. But she didn’t drink! She didn’t smoke! She was a straight-A, 4.0 student, a model of what a non-rebelling teenage is!

I look back on high school now and I understand a lot more about life. Some of it is just because I have a little more life under my belt, but two years isn’t really the biggest gap. Mostly, I look back and understand because of Jesus.

I recommitted my life to Christ when I was sixteen, and maybe I’ll write more about that later, but that was a really pivotal moment for me. But still, that nasty girl who was just bitter and angry still existed. And she didn’t realize the kind of person she was, so she didn’t want to change. She knew she wasn’t perfect, but she didn’t realize how deeply flawed and broken she was.

When I moved to Louisiana for college, I started going to church for the first time in my life, and I actually developed a relationship with Jesus. And that’s when I started to change (Praise. The. Lord.) All of my bad hard edges got softer. I’m still sassy, but I’m kinder. I’m still feisty and hard-headed, but I’m willing to admit my mistakes and give. I am comfortable with who I am, and I like who I am. I don’t want to be like all of my peers, because I was not designed to be like them. I pick my friends carefully, so I won’t get dragged down to that place again. I kind of feel like the Grinch, like my heart grew two sizes that day. I definitely don’t want to go back.

And ya know, that’s what Jesus offers all of us. He offers to turn our darkness, whatever it may be, into dawn. To bring that nasty stuff out into the gentle light of the morning, and to fix it. Being on the other side of that, it’s so dang sweet what He does for us. It’s amazing the kind of transformation a person can have in such a short amount of time when Jesus goes to work.

So yeah. I’ve been thinking about high school me a lot lately, and when I do, I’ve been thanking God for the amazing Cameron-flip He’s done in the last two years, because I was a real fixer upper. I pray that He’ll keep changing and molding me into a person that is more like Christ and less like a person. And I go out into that dawn, birds chirping and pollen covering my car, ready to face the day and the changes ahead.

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.

The Third Round

“Hi. I’m Cameron. I’m from Georgia.”

When I lived in Louisiana, it’s how I introduced myself. I immediately wanted people to know that I was not from there, I did not understand all the things they said. I would need someone to explain things.

So hi. I’m Cameron. I’m from Georgia.

I’m not telling you this to get some explanation-I’m telling you this because the weather here, particularly where I live, has been awful. The National Weather Service is calling it a Particularly Dangerous Situation. The Walmart 12 miles away from my house had its roof ripped off yesterday. Things are kind of scary. I’m sitting in my house and all I know is things are bad (and also that the Falcons are winning, which is exciting even though I don’t care about the NFL).

I also know I’m terrified. People around me have luckily survived, but there is damage. It’s bad. And I’m thankful I live at home with my parents, and I’m not stuck in a dorm for this. I think I’d cry.

But this morning, in a brief reprieve from the weather, we took the opportunity to go to church. My mom didn’t want to. My sister didn’t want to. But I was determined. I’m glad I was, because during the service I was reminded today that He truly is a good, good Father. That He’s taking care of us, even through all of the uncertainty happening. That no person will ever be in control, only Him. What a comfort. He alone is in control here. And because He is a good Father, He will take care of us.

As the third round of tornado weather sweeps through, it’s a thought I’ll be repeating in my head. I’m scared right now, but I am so blessed. My family is alive. Our house and cars have sustained no damage. We still have power and water.

To quote the great Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, “Happiness (and hope) can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Kiddos. And a Servant’s Heart

I think, if you look at my life, it would be fair to say I like kids. Like might actually be an understatement. I tutor high schoolers for work, and at church I volunteer in the student ministry and in children’s church. So I think I might like kids.

Sometimes, though, I wonder if I’m actually good at any of this. I mean, I haven’t been fired. The kids I tutor say hello and seem excited to work with me (and my coworkers). The kids at church like to say hello and talk to me. The students text me and seem to enjoy coming to group.

But am I good?

Do I do good enough?

Am I liked?

Recently I realized my questions were all wrong. It was really layed on my heart that maybe I would be much happier if I reconsidered why I do all these things.

Do I like tutoring?

Do I like hanging out with fifth graders?

Do I like meeting with students week in and week out and teaching them about God when they’re at a confusing time in life?

Yes. Yes I do. I love the kids faces when they realize they can do a problem on their own now. I love the babies at church who tell me all about their injuries and then scream Bible verses at me to prove they memorized them. I love the students who make me cry in prayer.

Friend, I hope you enjoy what you do. I hope you have a servant’s heart, where you see it’s about the things you do and not getting famous doing them. I hope you remember, even when praises don’t come, that the work you do is praise-worthy. And if you don’t, please ask yourself: is it just my perspective? If it’s not, move. Because if your perspective is right and you still aren’t satisfied, I feel like you’re being called to move into something new. But maybe, just maybe, all that’s wrong is that your servant’s hear needs some tuning.

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.

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.