Monday, April 18, 2011

God is Good- All the Time!

About one year ago, I was trying out for the University of Georgia cheerleading squad. Ever since I was little, my dream for the future always included going to Georgia and being a UGA cheerleader. I had worked my whole life for this weekend, and I wanted it more than anything. After making it through finals last year, I got a letter in the mail telling me that it was not my year, but I should try again. In complete honesty, I was devastated.  But what I couldn’t see then was that God had a better plan.

That summer I was given the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic with Hebron Baptist Church. This was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I played games with children in the villages, I got to use my Spanish to help everyone communicate, I visited an orphanage that had some very amazing little girls, and best of all, I witnessed some of God’s amazing works firsthand. It was during this trip that I realized this was all a part of God’s plan. He wanted me in the Dominican all along.

When this school year began, I came in as a lonely freshman. Just to let you know, the University of Georgia can be a pretty intimidating place! I went from MCHS, where my teachers knew my name, I had a friend to talk to any time I stepped in the hall, I had something to do every day after school (be it cheerleading, track, baseball games, clubs, ect.), and I knew exactly where everything was. I was comfortable. But boy was I out of my element here!

Don’t get me wrong, this is exactly what I wanted. I had always dreamed of being at UGA, but I never knew how big of a change it would be. I knew my roommate, and I knew my best friends were only a couple dorms away, but we all had to adjust. We had different schedules, so we couldn’t go everywhere together like I had hoped. I began searching -alone and uncomfortable- for a campus ministry to get involved in, and I settled down with the BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministries).  I really enjoyed their style of worship and the great messages that were preached.

Eventually, I got involved in a small group through the BCM. These girls have been such a huge blessing in my life this year. We all grew close and became best friends. I don’t know what I would do without them- and that’s a good thing because I’m living with three of them next year! I have also been chosen to lead a small group for this coming year, and I cannot wait! I firmly believe that this was all a part of God’s plan as well. He wanted me to have time to get comfortable and involved here at UGA. He wanted me to make these friends and find this ministry to belong in.

So now for the ultimate blessing… after not making the cheerleading squad last year, I knew that I wanted to try out again. I worked hard all year long to improve my tumbling and stay in shape. I wanted this more than anything, and I wasn’t ready to give up on my dream. This weekend was it! Tryouts again! And this time I was ready! I had been praying about all of this and working so hard. The weekend unfolded and everything went really well. And when they posted the team, my name was on it! I cannot explain how happy and excited I was! Tears were rolling down my face as I hugged my family, friends, and new teammates. I am blessed beyond belief. This is my new mission field. I can now get involved with FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) as I was in high school. And I can be a light and encouragement in Christ for the rest of my team. I could not be more excited to see what God has planned for me!

I have learned so much through all of this. “Have faith in your dreams. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” –Gail Devers. And I have also learned that God always has a plan and purpose for everything He does. It may not be what you want at the time, and it may not be what you think is best for yourself. But God knows exactly what He is doing, and God is good-ALL THE TIME! “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11

Me and Mackenzie Stokes... Mill Creek High School grads on to cheer for UGA! The first two from MCHS! :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Save the Date!

Hey everyone! As you can see, this is my first blog! I spent some time on making it cute (of course!) so I hope you like it! My sister, my cousin, and some friends have blogs that I really enjoy reading- especially when I don’t get to see them very often. So I thought that now would be a good time to start a blog of my own. It’s a new chapter of my life here at UGA. I’m so excited about all of the things that I have already had the chance to do and the things that are still yet to come in the next three years! I wanted to be able to share with everyone how God is continuously at work in my life. I can’t promise that I’ll be updating very often seeing as school work has priority, but I am going to do the best I can. So here begins the journey and a little glimpse into my life. I hope you like it!

“Hungry, I run to You for I know You satisfy.
I am empty, but I know Your love does not run dry.
So I’ll wait for You. Oh, I’ll wait for You.
I’m falling on my knees, offering all of me.
Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for.”

This weekend I stayed in Athens, so I went to Watkinsville Baptist Church yesterday with some friends. The message was awesome! God really spoke to my heart through this service in a way of comfort and answers. I have recently been looking and praying for a place to serve here. Well yesterday, God reminded me that as long as I am walking with Him and keep my focus on the ultimate goal, I will be given opportunities to be a disciple. The preacher began talking about how we tend to remember certain dates. Maybe we have games or appointments to be at that we write on the calendar or in our planners so we have that constant reminder to not forget. For weddings, the couple sends out a “Save the Date” well in advance so that their friends and family can post it up somewhere and remember not to plan anything for that day. A lot of people, my family for sure, put these up on the refrigerator. It’s important! And a very memorable event (seeing as we still have some on ourfridge that have been married for a couple years)! Well God uses that same picture of marriage and a wedding with Him one day. He reminds us that He will be coming back, and on this day, because of our salvation, we will be wed with Him for eternity. Now how much more important is that day?! How cool would it be if we could have a “Save the Date” posted on our refrigerators for this?! That way every day we would be reminded of His return. We would constantly look forward to our own ultimate wedding day! Of course, we don’t know the date of His coming, but we can still prepare for it. We can still begin setting our minds on it now. Because when this day arrives, God wants us to be ready. Our perfect wedding present to Him will be ourselves. Yes, you. Yes, me. All that God wants is us- pure, mature, perfect, complete, and ready on this day of His return. So how can we do that? How can we get ready? We strive for the ultimate goal: to be transformed in Christ’s likeness. Are our actions now intentional in striving to be more like Christ, or are we sitting comfortably in our relationships with Him? In Luke 5:27-32, we hear the story of God calling Levi. God said to Levi, “Follow Me,” and Levi gave up everything to follow God. Levi stepped out of the comfort that He knew to obey the command that was given to him. God is asking the same things of us here. We have to be willing to set comfort aside and follow Him wherever He leads. Verse 32 says, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” He doesn’t want us to just be comfortable in dwelling with those who know Him, but He desires for us to go out and make Him known to those who don’t already know Him. Our attitude should always be intentional in stepping out to proclaim Him. This means becoming a disciple. Discipleship is defined as a long obedience in one direction. To become a disciple is saying that we are being changed in this process of long obedience. I hear these words all the time and think, “How can I do that? What can make me a disciple?” The preacher laid out four ways to grow in discipleship… One: pursue relationships that will help us grow. Everyone is in need of a discipler and a discipled. Meaning we need someone who is pouring into us and someone that we are pouring into as well. Two: position yourself in environments to grow. Once again, this takes stepping out of the comfort zone that our every-day lives have us in. We need to take advantage of the new opportunities, places, and adventures that God presents us with. Three: participate in obedience to grow. It can be hard sometimes to actually do what God is calling us to do, but we have to overcome that fear in order to become obedient. Four: pause and evaluate our relationship to grow. We have to think about where we are in our walk with God and where we possibly could be. In doing this, I had to stop and think about my own life. What relationships am I in that are influencing me? Who am I having an influence on? What environments am I putting myself in that are out of my normal comfort zone? Am I being obedient to the directions that I hear God calling me to? The truth is that I don’t know the answer to most of these questions. And hearing that myself makes me realize that I need to start looking for discipleship every single day. Beth Moore says, “A place unchallenged is a place unchanged.” I need to begin challenging myself to constantly think about these four ways to grow. When we walk with Jesus, we see the Master Discipler at work. He moves and changes things continuously. Every move that God makes is intentional; it all has a purpose. So in turn, our actions should be intentional in discipleship with Him. In this way we will be preparing ourselves for the big day. We will be ready to present ourselves as perfect and complete when our ultimate wedding day with Jesus Christ comes. “Looking at his disciples He said, ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in Heaven.’” –Luke 6:20-23. Everything that we go through here on Earth is intentional and for the purpose of being prepared for the Glorious Day! I have now created my own little “Save the Date” that I printed out and posted in my room as a reminder that God is coming for me! It’s a little reminder that I should continue to prepare myself every day! Here’s what it looks like:

If you feel led to remind yourself this way as well, you are more than welcome to use this! I’m sorry for my first blog being way too long! But I hope you enjoyed reading what is on my mind today! Have a wonderful day!

“Living, He loved me. Dying, He saved me.
Buried, He carried my sins far away.
Rising, He justified freely forever.
One day He’s coming, oh glorious day. OH GLORIOUS DAY!”