Thursday, November 17, 2011

No Place Like Home

I can't believe the last time I posted on here I was in Germany! It seems like so long ago, like a dream. Do I miss it? Absolutely, I think about it every day. I miss my friends of course, my crazy Euro coworkers, the beautiful mountains that surrounded my life there, and traveling nearly every month!! It was one of the best long-term experiences of my life, right up there with going to college. Thirteen months was a long time. I enjoyed (nearly) every minute of it. However, I must say how glad I am to be home. To be with my family, see my friends, sleep in my bed, share in eternal life with fellow saints at church, shopping trips to Target and Wal-Mart (sorely missed in Germany), and just the joy of being back in America. After having been through 36 US states and traveled to 10 countries, I must say there is no place like home. I will say that I regret not writing posts about each trip I took and I might have to amend that in the future of this blog.

I've been looking for a job off and on, and at the same time trying to decide on the type of job I'd like. I've concluded that since I love going downtown so often, my ideal job would be working in a skyscraper as a secretary, assistant, or some type of office clerk. We shall see what the Lord wants for my life though. For now I am waiting on getting a job until my sister has her baby and keeping busy by helping her with my nephews, Nathanael (3) and Isaac (nearly 2). They are incredibly sweet, say the funniest things, forever telling everybody in our family how much they love us, and very teachable. Today I watched them for several hours while their parents went to the doctor's office. We sang Christmas carols, listened to part of a MacArthur sermon, played the piano, and wrapped presents. I feel like they're my little brothers, sometimes my sister calls me their big sister. :) Stephy is due to give birth December 5th, coming up in two weeks! Hard to believe baby Hadassah Star will finally be here!

Since returning home I have done a bit of reading on various topics. I finally read one book that I have wanted to read for some time, mainly because I was attracted to the title, All Quiet on the Western Front. It's a novel about World War I, written from a German perspective which was definitely unique and very fascinating; particularly to get an idea of what German soldiers were like during that time period, their dreams for themselves, and how they dealt with the ugliness of what they were experiencing. The author was a German veteran of that "great war" and he wrote detailed accounts of the fighting and horrors of it, I got a better idea of how truly awful it was for both sides. It has been called the greatest war novel, and after reading it, I can now see why. As for the title, it has a certain irony that is understood with a tragic end. I also like the sound of A Raisin in the Sun, has anyone read that?

Living and working in a military environment in Germany greatly increased my appreciation for, and interest in, all things military. There I met amazing service members from various branches who demonstrated a spirit of selfless service, courage, humility, and honor. As a result I am now reading, What It Is Like to Go to War, a nonfiction book about (you guessed it!) what war is really like (the author is a Vietnam Veteran), the combat experience, and the necessity of better preparing soldiers mentally and spiritually for what they will be asked to do, namely, kill the enemy. I'm barely on chapter two but it has been a phenomenal read and I've appreciated the glimpse in the making of a warrior- "At the level of turning boys into shock troops for American society, the drill instructor had to teach the lesson that no matter how tough things got, there was more in you. You never quit." I imagine this principle has contributed in saving many lives and really is the heart beat of boot camp. The book was published recently (2011) and I discovered it on the Army's Facebook page. I'll probably write a book review when I complete it.

Well, that's all folks!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What I Shall Do When I Get Home List:

Kiss the tarmac (under debate right now, most likely the carpet when I disembark from the plane).
Praise God I'm home.
Hug parents.
Squeeze my cat, Peege.
Say hello to my books. <3
Play the piano.
Make some tea! tradition, tradition, tradition!
Update my facebook status? haha!
Sleep in my bed!
Wake up.
Go pay the Cole family a visit. (Cannot WAIT to see my sweet little bears whom I have missed soooo much!!!)
Maybe go swimming or to a park with my little bears.
Go to church and hug everyone!
Visit my friends, Katie and Abigail, and everyone else!
Go visit my friend, Betty.
Eat at Pen-Thai, Mongolian Grill, Jack-in-the-Box, British Pantry, the Kabab House, and have Jamba Juice and Red Mango sometime in the next few weeks.
Start going running again.
Look for job for at least 3 hours a day.
Count down days until Catharina returns from New Mexico.
Camping with my Dad possibly (next week).
Hang out in Seattle!
Seek to do one thing in a million ways: KNOWING JESUS CHRIST!
Go Bike Riding.
Play soccer and basketball with some of my favorite ppl.
Plan my trip to Washington, DC!
Go to some Mariner Games.
Check out renting to buy program to get a lever harp from Dusty Strings.
Cook for my Dad.
Write on my blog more.
Check out some books about places I have been (going on various trips made me realize that I didn't know as much as I thought I did about those places I visited).
Read some biographies on Martin Luther, George C. Marshall, John Knox, James VI, and several others.
Buy the Donald Rumsfeld biography (finally, yes I know)
Celebrate my friend, Katie Bear turning 26 years old. August 17th be the day!
Go to DC. (August 20th)
Look for a job in DC? lol
Hang out with my best friend, Daniel Bear Robert Sanders.
Help drive up to Michigan.
Walk down the aisle in my good friend Kayla's wedding.
Drive back to DC with Dan Bear.
Start studying Hebrew.

Note: This is by no means an exhaustive list, just what I could think up at the time.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Working In You That Which is Wellpleasing...

As of this coming Monday, I have only two months left in Germany! Its hard to believe that I've been here for eleven months! Its hard to believe that I'm leaving soon! As I look back on the time I have spent here I think of all the wonderful memories I've made from traveling, working, and meeting some wonderful people along the way.

But I also look back on the time I spent here with lots of regret for not using my free time better, to be honest, the computer is a major distraction and I have lots of regrets for spending *way* too much time on here. I know I would be much closer to the Lord if I had directed my time more wisely. So as I was thinking about lost time and how I felt like I would never be what God desires me to be since I'm so easily distracted, and so many sins sway me this way and that, I was reminded of Hebrews 13:20-21- "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." and also Philippians 2:13- "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." These verses are such a huge encouragement to me because when I feel that God isn't working in my life or get discouraged at the slow progress I seem to be making spiritually, I am reminded that God works in us in spite of our failings and He is all-powerful to mold us into what He would desires us to be. The main job on our part is continuing to run towards Him. Its very simple but I really needed this reminder from the Lord.

I have to leave for Rome in a few minutes so I don't have time to write more but I hope to update again next week when I return. I am sooo pathetic, I can't believe I've only updated my blog about four times! *cringes* I have quite a few more things I need to write about including: turning 25, discovering white hairs on my head, a book I'm currently reading called "The Shallows," my trip to Israel, my dreams for the future, jobs I am seeking or not seeking, my remaining trips, favorite memories from travels, things I have learned, how I have changed, the gospel, running, and plans for this summer. So I will save that for next time if God continues to keep me breathing. May God shine His face upon you all, thanks for reading my blog!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Halfway Done

Yes, I'm still alive!! I was considering that for a post, but somehow this doesn't capture everything that I've been up to since July when I last posted. There are several reasons why I haven't posted in a while: I was discouraged and felt like I had nothing good to write about, and when I finally did have something to write about, I didn't know where to start since it had been so long. Okay, before I start getting melodramatic, I will attempt to update in an orderly and reasonable fashion. "Attempt" is the keyword because sometimes I'm a little scatterbrained and all over the place when I write.

At the time of typing, it is lightly snowing (since yesterday) after nearly a month of no snow. This past winter has not had as much snow as I imagined (thankfully) though I have seen quite a bit of snow here. I was expecting blizzards and 5 ft. snow drifts, kinda like Siberia. See, I always expect the worse or the best, yet I would describe myself as a realist, most of the time, situationally might be more accurate. In any event, Germany is a wonderful place to live and I am so thankful to the Lord for the opportunity He has graciously given me to live in the beautiful Alps and travel around Europe.

Work has been going very well. My hours are from 5am to 1:30pm, though I get off earlier sometimes. I enjoy going in early and don't mind waking up at 3am, however, my dilemma is making myself go to sleep early at night. As much as I would like to see myself as an early bird, I'm a night owl at heart. Anyhow, I'd like everyone to know how much I LOVE my job! Well, what I really love is the people I work with, who are mainly Greeks, Romanians, a German, and the rest, Americans. I have a super fun time at work talking, laughing, getting hugs, playing the piano, taking breaks, faaiiiling, etc. I mention failing because something misfortunate and crazy always seems to be happening to me at work, this makes for an interesting day tho!

I mentioned I was discouraged for a while. The first several months were difficult because I felt alone, like I wasn't connecting with other Christians, and I was feeling quite sorry for myself. One thing I've discovered, through multiple lessons is that I am most miserable when I am focused on ME. The right response is to turn outwardly, rather than inwardly. Turn completely to the Lord and pour yourself into blessing others. Unfortunately, I didn't do this at the outset, not completely at least. I'm thankful that the Lord changed my perspective, mainly with the counsel of a friend. She kindly sympathized with me, but most importantly pointed me to the Savior who was also familiar with loneliness. Since He had been with God the Father from the very beginning and knew Him in ways we don't He undoubtedly was lonely at times. It also didn't help that His disciples were out of it and didn't even understand what He was trying to communicate most of the time. She pointed out that Jesus responded by focusing on others and praying to God. So this was some of the best advice I received. Thank you, Katie!

Traveling has been a blast, even solo trips! So far I've been to Bonn, Germany (birthplace of Beethoven) for the Beethoven Festival concert, Geneva (for Reformation Day), Nuremberg, Paris, and London. I've gone to the top of Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze, which is very close to Garmisch, where I live. This past Saturday I took a sobering and very informative tour of Dachau Concentration Camp. And I'm taking a three day trip in a few days, to either Prague or Berlin. I know my title for this post is "Halfway Done" but I'm actually more than halfway done, it sounds better like that though. My military id card expires July 22, so I'm guessing that will be the day of departure. I'm sad that its gone by so fast and was complaining to someone about that recently, but realized I should be grateful for the time that I have had, and the remainder of the time I do have. Gratefulness is an excellent remedy for a complaining spirit. Well, I think this shall do, thanks for tuning in, friends! I intend to write on here more often because I have several items I'd like to write about. So...stay tuned!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reporting Live: From the Fatherland!

I am thoroughly enjoying my time here in Germany. It's hard to believe that I am living here in the middle of the Alps! I would have never envisioned this being my life a year ago. You never know what God has in store!

Most of you know already that I have been assigned to work in the custodial department on night shift. It's interesting, as soon as I tell people here what my job is, they visibly wince and ask how I am dealing with it. I don't think it's really a big deal mostly because my sister, my brother, and my brother-in-law have all worked night shift positions and I've seen them handle it, I don't think it will be terribly difficult for me. So I try to have a positive attitude and hopefully better represent the Savior. Although I would have preferred the 5am shift, I know the Lord has a purpose in placing me where He has me.

So what is life like here? It's interesting and challenging. Nearly everyone here is into three things: the World Cup, traveling, and drinking. I'm not into watching sports, I prefer to play them so I am out of the loop in regards to the World Cup, although I do love to play soccer. The traveling part I can identify with since I have always been fascinated by geography and history, so i can converse easily on these subjects. The drinking, not so much. I've explained to a few that although drinking is not a sin, I decline from it primarily because it can lead very quickly to drunkness (which is sin) and other sinful behavior, not to mention saying or doing things you will later regret. (Editor's Note: Because I don't participate doesn't mean I am condemning those who partake in a wise manner, nor do I consider myself better than them in any way.) This means I have a limited social life since I don't go out to the bars and clubs, but God will send me friends in His own way I have realized.

Two night security guards have befriended me (their office is right next to my room and I have to pass it every time I go to the bathroom) and I am trying to be a witness to them (they are both Catholic and in their sixties, for some background here). One has told me on two seperate occasions that he hopes I am not corrupted while I am here. I was touched by this non-Christian who wants to see me do right. My response to him was that God's word clearly lays out the consequences of sinful behavior and I am continually aware of them through reading His word on a regular basis. This is the primary reason for the direction of this post, because I have been contemplating standing strong amidst a world that is sinking into hell, yet needs Christians to live with them, love them, and tell them about the Lord. CJ Mahaney writes in his book Worldliness that seduction from the world, rather than persecution by it, is the biggest challenge facing Christians today.

It would be foolish and prideful to think that certain sins are unable to touch you, or that you are stubborn enough, to resist. It is this kind of thinking that will allow you to be decieved and fall into sin blindly. As Christians, we are no longer under the weight of sin, however, we are neither immune to it either. Paul warns in I Corinthians 10:12, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." And one more from Proverbs 16:18, which we all have heard, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."

We clearly need to be on guard, vigilant against our flesh, the world, and Satan (I Peter 5:8-9) at all times. Especially our flesh I'd have to say, since we are so easily deceived by sin, which is why it is so needful to have the fellowship of other Christians. Hebrews 3:13 says, "But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today,' so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." It is so easy to see the sins in others and be impatient with them for it, and at the same time be completely blind to our own sin. This is where our relationship with other Christians comes into play very helpfully, by pointing out to us our sin. Ouch! It certainly does hurt at the time but will reap eternal benefits for us as we correct our behavior. So we must not be proud but humble about who we are -weak people in need of God's enabling, strengthening grace!

And of course, spending time with the Lord is so needful. That's where our strength comes from to withstand temptation and to choose what is right. Continuing to cultivate that love for the Lord is a sure safe guard to avoiding sin and overcoming temptation. When I think about the lure of the world, I'd rather stay with my Savior, I'd rather have Jesus (love that hymn). And who wouldn't who knows Him and loves Him?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thoughts On My Imminent Departure

I hate goodbyes.
I will miss my family and my friends, quite *dreadfully!*
I must be crazy to be leaving my sweet little nephews. Miss them *much.*
I dislike missing out on things, I had better get used to it.
I am a bit nervous, scared, frightened.
Thankful that God will never leave me.
I hope I make friends.
I kind of wish I didn't sign up, but I have to work!
This will look good on my resume (the bright side).
I've always wanted to work for the government!
I wonder what life will be like there.
What job will I be assigned?
I hope that I won't freeze to death. I hate being cold!!
Hoping I will return a gourmet chef after cooking for myself for 13 months.
Potatoes are inexpensive and there are multiple ways of preparation. I think I will be eating a good amount of potatoes.
I wonder what will happen between then and now. Will some of my friends get engaged? Anyone I know die?
I am excited to visit all the places I have always dreamed of traveling to.
My agenda: London, Paris, Geneva, Jerusalem, Ephesus, Rome, Normandy, Greece, Spain, St. Petersburg, Beethoven Festival, Berlin...
Looking forward to Daniel coming to visit me (during his spring break in March), Felicia (maybe?), Heather (hopefully), and Katie (idk?).
I am thankful there is a Bible-believing church in Garmish, it is good to be among the redeemed.
It is clear now that this was the Lord's good intention for my life.
This gives me peace.
I am so thankful that His purposes always come to fruition.
I am looking forward to what He will do in my life and how He will change me.

There are so many areas I need to be strengthend and sharpened in:
Confidence in the Lord
Better disciplined
More trusting in the Lord
Prayer life
Have a gentler, kinder heart towards others
Minister effectively with resources I have
Be a better blessing to other Christians
Reach out to non-Christians with patience and without intimidation
Write better
Learn more through books I am taking
Be a good witness for the Lord
Prioritize better
Use my money wisely
Invest in others more
Overcome the fear of man
Openness and vulnerability with others
Love Jesus more
Surrender and submission to the will of God

This is not an exhaustive list, and I realize that I will not come back perfect, or even close to it. But, I am hoping to stand more firmly and faithfully in Jesus Christ. So if you think of it, I'd so appreciate your prayers on my behalf!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Zealous Man

As a young child, Theodore Roosevelt was terrified to go alone into the family's church in Madison Square, New York City. When his mother inquired the reason, he told her of "the zeal" he had heard the preacher speak of, a monster he imagined who lurked in the dark shadows of the church waiting to devour him. His mother wisely consulted a concordance and went down the list, reading aloud the verses having to do with "the zeal." She got to Psalm 69:9- "For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up..." Theodore cried out, "that's it, that's the verse the preacher read!" And so often, the thought is that kids aren't paying attention in church! I read this humorous story in a biography on TR several months ago (one of my fave presidents) and I just had to laugh out loud.

What does it mean to be zealous? To be consumed, eaten up with an idea or truth that has gripped your heart. You stake your whole life upon it and are willing to do whatever it takes to further the cause and see it's purpose and goals achieved. There is a definite sense of urgency. Galatians 4:18 says it is good to be always zealously affected and Titus 2:14 says that believers are meant to be zealous of good works.

One book that was spiritually beneficial to me during my college years was Practical Religion by J.C. Ryle. I came across this book on my Dad's bookshelf and took it with me to college. Ryle has many excellent, relevant chapters about living the Christian life and it was such a treasure to discover, one such chapter was on zeal. I was recently going over old files on the laptop my sister and I shared in college, when I came across these quotes I had typed up a while ago. I was freshly encouraged and provoked to be a truly zealous Christian, because our time on earth is short, we have to make our lives count for Christ!

A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, through-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives, or whether he dies, -whether is has health, or whether he has sickness, -whether he is rich, or whether he is poor, -whether he pleases man, or whether he gives offense, -whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish, -whether he gets blame, or whether gets praise, -whether he gets honour, or whether he gets shame, -for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing; and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God's glory. If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares nothing for it, -he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him. Such an one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannot preach, and work, and give money, he will cry, and sigh, and pray. ~Practical Religion, pg.184-185

Think of the shortness of time. You will soon be gone. You will have no opportunity for works of mercy in another world. In heaven there will be no ignorant people to instruct, and no unconverted to reclaim. Whatever you do must be done now. Oh, when are you going to begin? Awake! Be zealous, and repent. Think of the devil, and his zeal to do harm. It was a solemn saying of old Bernard when he said that "satan would rise up in judgment against some people at the last day, because he had shown more zeal to ruin souls than they had to save them." Awake! Be zealous, and repent. ~Practical Religion, pg.208