Making Tough Times Produce Great Growth

Hello all,

It has been awhile! I could use the “I have no time excuse” but I do. As my youth pastor once told me “It’s not that you don’t have time for this, it’s that it’s not a priority to you.” Those words hit my little 17 year old soul hard, but they were what I needed to hear.

I am going to work on making the things I am passionate about a priority, and I encourage you to do the same. Let’s commit together to making passions a priority and not putting them on the shelf as we fret over the more “important” things such as work or college.

Excuse my tangent, for that is not very relevant to the topic I want to talk about today-thanks ADHD!

This week has been draining, mentally and physically. A few weeks ago, I was at a peak. I felt like I had finally recovered from the mono I had in August. I was going to the gym for once in my life, eating healthy, and going to bed early to wake up early and have a full day. My schoolwork was all caught up, only two months or so now before I get to transfer to Lee University- I felt unstoppable.

I think that is the problem with feeling “unstoppable” though, because once you are that high, the pitfall to the bottom seems even more harsh. About two weeks ago, I woke up with a sore throat and I instantly felt off. There’s no way I am sick again right? Well wrong. I started feeling worse, achey, headache, all that lovely stuff. In the back of my head I kept thinking “could I have mono again?” I shrugged off the thought, reminding myself that it is extremely rare to get mono a third time, but I couldn’t shake the fear that I may be that lucky rare case.

I went to the doctor and she said I probably just had a throat infection, they took my blood just in case.

Life resumed as normal, I was happy, a little sick feeling, but okay. Then I got a call from the doctor saying I had mono once again!

A lot of questions went through my head after I hung up.

There was a lot of “why me God” at that moment. I knew it wasn’t the end of the world, but I was frustrated. The past month I had been eating healthy, getting proper sleep, and exercising- and somehow I still got sick again!

While I was whining to myself, I also became panicked when I thought about how I was leaving for a university in January. That gave me 2 months to be better. I was catastrophizing thinking things like “what if I get sick over and over and over?!” Or worst, what if I have to wait another semester to go to Lee?

After a day of moping, I decided I needed to suck it up. But I didn’t do this alone. God reminded me of his sovereignty and that he is guiding my future. So I don’t need to worry over the “worst case scenario.”

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23

When we are going through a hard time, we can either dwell in the fear and negativity, or we can rise above it. You can’t always choose what situation you’re in, but you can choose how you react to it. One of my favorite sayings recently I heard from one of Sadie Robertson’s podcast episodes (I do not remember which one).

When in a tough situation do not say “God get me out of this!”; instead say, “God, what can I get out of this?

If you are going through a rough season, I encourage you to try to keep positive mindset.

Change your outlook, take this tough situation to God and let him use it, because he will.

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He Leaves Me Astounded

Hello all!

I have a quick story to tell.

So before I left to go to work today I suddenly got the song, “Leave Me Astounded” by Planetshakers stuck in my head. So I decided to look it up on Spotify and to listen to it on my way.

Due to the hurricane that is coming soon, it was raining. It wasn’t an overwhelming downpour, just the right amount to produce that peaceful sound. As I drove and sang along to the words, I realized that this song is one that is more important and significant in my life than I previously realized.

I remember the first time I heard it. I was senior in high school. My senior year was one of the toughest years of my life. So I went to Winterfest, which is basically a giant gathering of teens who worship and take time to know God deeper. Also, a side note is that have always been slightly disappointed that this event is not in the winter, as encouraged by the name.

Sorry, ADHD rabbit trail there, I am going back to the story now! Anyways so when I went to this event, I was in pretty rough shape. The year had broken me down I was bound by fear and depression. The first time I heard “Leave Me Astounded” was at this event. The more I listened, the more I felt God speaking to me about how his strength and his power can help me overcome my demons. I remember crying and not being able to keep my composure. Because in that moment, I knew for sure that there was a God up there who was bigger than any heartache I was facing.

Later on, I was on the worship team at my youth group and we played this song. It never failed to touch me whenever I heard those words.

And now, 3 years later, God is still using it to work on my heart and to remind me of his great power.

Music speaks to us in so many ways, and I am thankful for the way this song has spoken to me over the years.

Here I am including the lyrics please read them, it’s a message we all need to hear:

All my hands have made, I’m laying down All that I hold dear, my many crowns

I’ve tasted and seen of Your great love

You satisfy me

You satisfy me

Spirit fall, open up heaven’s door

We’re waiting with worship for more

You’re the only love that satisfies me

My constant request above all things

Every hour I wake, be near me, oh God

Though I’ve tasted and seen of Your great love

Show me Your glory

Show me Your glory

Spirit fall, open up heaven’s door

We’re waiting with worship for more

You’re the only love that satisfies me

Lord we run into Your loving arms

We’re safe and secure in Your love

You’re the only love that satisfies me

Leave me astounded, leave me amazed

Show off Your glory, let heaven invade

We’re waiting with worship, we’re waiting with praise

For the almighty presence of God to invade

Spirit fall, open up heaven’s door

We’re waiting with worship for more

You’re the only love that satisfies me

Lord we run into Your loving arms

We’re safe and secure in Your love

You’re the only love that satisfies me

Leave me astounded, leave me amazed

Show off Your glory, let heaven invade

We’re waiting with worship, we’re waiting with praise

For the almighty presence of God to invade

Why it is Important to Unplug

In today’s society, we are in a constant state of distraction.

One of our biggest distractions is something I believe to be a blessing, but also a curse.

Smartphones.
Smartphones are great, and technology is great, and I truly believe that these are innovations we SHOULD enjoy because they do make life more convenient.  A smartphone has the ability to be your calendar, notebook, Google search engine, communication device, alarm, fitness tracker, diet planner, and more.

And I say it is all these things because that is an example of what I used it for. And I also wanted to clear up before I begin my story, I DO NOT HATE TECHNOLOGY. But, I admit, sometimes I do not like to see what it is doing to us.
A couple of days ago I was outside with my dog playing catch in the yard. Instead of just enjoying that moment, I felt I needed to document and share it with others. Thinking that they needed to know what I was doing for some reason. In all honesty they don’t need to know.

But that is what these apps have kind of trained us to believethat we do need to share every moment.
Anyways, I was playing music on my phone and trying to record my dog to post on my Snapchat story and my phone screen turned black, with the music still playing. So I assumed the screen tapped out, and I tried to unlock it. Nothing.
Long story short. I dropped my phone and the LCD screen thing (this is the guess of what happened that I gathered from Google) disconnected.

So here I was, stranded without a phone.
DUN DUN DUUNNNN
I tried many procedures, and eventually I threw down the towel and accepted that my beloved phone (pitiful right?) was not coming back to life.
So, after cutting my finger super bad from slicing a cantaloupe (because apparently when I am stressed ,I slice fruit), I decided I needed a temporary phone. I went to Dollar General and got a TracFone for $20. And guess what, IT WAS A FLIP PHONE.
At first, I was frustrated at having to use it. Texting was super hard because I had to text SLOW and if there is one thing I am bad at, it is slowing down. But this forced me to actually think about what I was going to say. I couldn’t Google every time I had a question like “What facewash do I need?” Or send an awkward photo of my face as a form of “communication” to my friends.

And then I realized:

1. How extremely sad it was that I felt the need to do any of these things.
2. My life was controlled by a jumble of computer chips
That night, I went to my grandparent’s house. Usually, when we eat dinner I am half-way listening to the conversation because I am texting or snapping my friends from under the table. Right when dinner was over, the phone was pulled out and I was drawn in, unresponsive to the events going on around me, and tuned into my virtual world. Well none of that happened Saturday night.

For once, I was fully engaged in conversation. And I didn’t feel the need to rush through eating so I could be on my phone again! I felt no urge to check notifications. And it was freeing. After dinner, I  asked my mom if she needed help, we washed dishes and I noticed things I hadn’t before, like all the birds outside the window.
I no longer felt frustration over my phone breaking. Sure, I was going to have to get a new one, but honestly, money is just money, it is temporary, and it really is not the cause of my joy.
I think a lot of the things we think we need sometime are actually just wants disguised as needs.
That evening before I went to my grandparents, I spent some time reading my Bible and talking to God, and afterwards, I felt way more at peace about the whole situation. I knew if God could raise Lazarus from the dead, surely he would help provide.

I prayed to God that somehow if I could get a phone for free that would be great, and if not, that was also okay. And honestly, I did not think much about that prayer until the next day.

I was in church and my friend Brianna looks at me and asks, “Do you need a new phone?”

I am like “huh?”

And she says, “I have my old iPhone if you want it, it’s a 6.”

I was already excited and I was like, “Okay, how much do you want for it?”

And she responded, “You can have it for free.”

 

And just like that, in one short moment, God answered my prayer.

My pastor talked a couple Sunday’s ago about how we say we believe in miracles and prayers being answered but when it actually happens we are shocked.

That is honestly how I felt.

I guess it was small of me to think that the God who heals the blind couldn’t find a way for me to get a new phone.
This post has been long. And if you have stuck with it, I applaud you.
Here are my last points that I was trying to share/make:

1. I was addicted to my phone and had no idea the big effect that such a little device had on my life.

I was constantly distracted. And being someone who has dealt with generalized anxiety A LOT in her life, the constant feeling of needing to share my life and check notifications was overwhelming me much more than I thought.

Also it didn’t help the depression I struggle with sometimes either. I was comparing my life to other’s without even realizing it, it had become such a natural thing to do. And I would compare how I looked to other girls too. Feeling bad about how I did not have as many likes as so and so, not even realizing that I was not just trying to “share” like I lied to myself about, part of me was seeking validation from the wrong source.

2. God answers prayers.

I mean I know a new phone is not a “life-changing” miracle, but it is pretty awesome. And this free phone is going to allow me and mom to be able to still afford to go to the beach- a trip we both have been looking forward to.
3. IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO TAKE BREAKS.

I honestly believe that God allowed this to happen because he knew how much I needed to learn all of these things.

I am extremely stubborn, and honestly, most of lessons I have learned the hard way around.

I needed this forced break to realize how much I was missing.

Okay lastly, here are some of the lessons that I learned that hopefully will rub off on anyone else who may have the same issues I did: 

1.You don’t need to share every moment. It is fine to keep things private. People do not need to always know who you hung out with today or where you went.

2. It does not matter how many “likes” a photo gets. It does not define how beautiful or valuable that you are.

3. Live in the present moment and in real time, not the virtual world.

Don’t let notifications leave you absent from where you are.

Love,

Annie

God Knows “The Way”

This past week I was blessed enough to have the chance to be a counselor at “The Way” in Elk Creek, VA.

I had NO idea what I was getting into! I went anyways though because it had three of my favorite things:

  1. Jesus
  2. Kids
  3. Camping

I felt God pushing me towards doing this camp, but I can honestly say that I did not know it would impact me so strongly. Our God is so powerful that one week can help change your mindset. That’s all it takes. One week. One day. Five minutes.

If I write all the experiences I had last week then this post would be so long that it may turn into a novel.

So for my sake, and yours, I am going to cover some of the highlights.

Observation Number One (The Most Important One)

KIDS ARE LIKE SPONGES, THEY ABSORB EVERYTHING YOU SAY, AND WHAT THEY HEAR AND SEE FROM YOU, THEY SQUEEZE BACK OUT.

I knew this to some extent before camp, but this week it truly hit me how much they truly look up to the “older kids” and “adults.”

It breaks my heart to know what some of these kids go home to. Parents in prison, an empty fridge, and for a lot of them, no mention of Jesus.

But while they were here at this camp, they got meals, adults who loved and adored them, lots of hugs, and most importantly, lots of Jesus.

I have been around situations in the past where kids were around stuff they did NOT need to be around. And I admit, although I was upset about it, I was naïve enough to think “Oh, they won’t remember half of the curse words these people are saying in the movie, it goes over their head, they aren’t paying attention.”

Is anyone else guilty of thinking these same things when around kids?

Well this week condemned me in this thinking.

*It does go INTO their head

*They WILL remember and WILL repeat things they hear

and lastly,

*They are ALWAYS watching your actions

Want an example of this?

Here are some of the precious drawings my nine and ten year old’s did. They drew me and other counselors and some things based on stuff I told them, they look up to us:

 

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Observation #2

Kid’s have a raw type of love for Jesus:

I think we all need to have the same enthusiasm for Jesus as these kids did.

There was no embarrassment, no shame, no hiding it.

Little “I love God” doodles coated the majority of the paper we used as tablecloths in the cafeteria.

They listened in the sermons with eager minds, soaking it in.

Sponges, I tell you!

They weren’t afraid to ask questions, to come up to the altar.

I think we could all learn from them. 

We all need childlike faith!

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  

    Matthew 18:2

 

 

For anyone who does not believe children’s ministry is as important as the others, I can not say I agree. I truly think it may be the MOST needed part of ministry in God’s kingdom.

Why, you ask?

Because you can’t build a house, without a foundation.

-Annie

I am now going to include adorable photos of the kids I worked with, their names will remain anonymous for safety reasons:

 

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This camp is donation run and free for the kids.

If anyone is interested in “The Way” camp as a volunteer, sponsor, counselor, or for their child.

Click here to go to our website!

 

 

Happy (Joyful) and Waiting

What does it mean to be “Happy and Waiting?”

The “happy” part means not feeling the need of any relationship other than your one with Jesus to complete you. Rejoicing in life and loving who you are and who God created you to be.

The “waiting” part is harder. Waiting for the person God has reserved specially for you. Trusting God that he knows what you need when you need it.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27:13-14

It has taken me 19 years to accept this. I have been in countless relationships and they’ve each had negative and positive effects on my life. I do not have any regrets, because everything I have been through has shaped me into who I am today.

Although I can honestly say I have never been happier and more confident as I am now.

*Giving God the lead of your life will change your life!*

This message is to anyone, but especially to those of us who are as I would say “waiting.”

Never settle because you are scared to wait.

I know that’s kind-of a slap in the face, but it’s one I know I personally needed to hear and maybe it will resonate with you guys.

Waiting on God is hard. Especially when it comes to relationships. There is always that thought of:

God, what if there isn’t anyone out there for me?

That is where the trust part of our faith comes in. God knows the in and outs of our hearts.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5

He knows what we need and when we need it.

So we must trust HIS timing, and not our own.

So now that we have elaborated on the “waiting”, what about the “happy?”

What does it even mean to be happy?

Happiness is being content in where we are, what we are, and who’s we are.

There are things I do that keep me happy and fulfilled (other then Jesus of course):

-Time with friends

-My dog (Who unconditionally loves me)

-Food (Straight-up, give me food and we’re good)

-Walking into a bookstore

-Sitting outside in the warm air and just taking it in

-Music up, windows down driving

What makes you happy?

Pursue it, and focus on it! Let these things fill you as you wait for your future spouse!!

Truth:

I am not happy everyday.

If I claimed I was happy everyday I would be lying. We are all human and there are things called bad days. Sometimes it’s even a bad few days, or a week.

So maybe instead of “happy” we could replace it with “joyful.”

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

We can’t always be happy, but we can always have joy!

So that’s my challenge for all my fellow single people today! While you are patiently waiting, choose joy!

Embrace your freedom and chase after who God made you to be!

The 9/11 Memorial

The North Pool was hard to describe. Right when you arrive there, the city becomes silent. You can feel the mourning as the water pours out and into a hole surrounded by the names of undeserving victims.

When we went in the museum, we were surrounded by loss, but also the hope that kept and still keeps America going. This event was one of the one times America truly united.

The Last Column

This steel structure was removed from the site to symbolically mark the occasion of 9/11. After the ceremony for it was held in 2002; families of victims, recovery workers, and the ones missing, all gathered together writing messages or adding flowers.

“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”

-Vigil

In my opinion, this is one of the most impactful and moving pieces of the whole museum. It is not just a bunch of blue squares and a nice quote. This creation is composed of 2,983 pieces. In each one the artist Spencer Finch was trying to capture the color of the sky the morning of September 11, 2001.

On the written description of this work at the museum I saw this:

“Finch’s work centers on the idea of memory. What one person perceives as blue might not be the same as what the other person sees. Yet, our memories, just like our perception of color, share a common reference.”

“We came in as individuals. And we’ll walk out together.”

– Joe Bradley, Operating Engineer and Recovery Worker At Ground Zero, May 2002

Thanks for reading! I recommend checking this museum out if you’re in the area!

Love you,

Annie

New York

I had been to New York City prior to the trip I took last week. Although this visit made me finally get what all the hype is about. New York is fast paced and invigorating. Everyone seems to have some sort of mission as they walk to and from their destinations.

Saying so, I took in ALOT of this area in a pretty short amount of time (4 days). So it has taken me a week to start blogging about it. I had to adjust to being back in my small town and no longer on vacation! Haha!

Anyways, I am going to cover New York like I covered DC, small tidbits in different post. Maybe through my experience, you can experience some of the magic of the city too!