“we learn through the process”

The dry erase marker squeaked across the whiteboard as the professor inscribed these words:

“We learn through the process.” 

I was a graphic design major, a junior still trying to figure out the world. The time had finally come for me to take a painting class. Working with oil paints was something new to me. Something I had virtually no experience with.

Starting the demonstration, the professor dipped his brush into the medium and began to mix color on the palette. Gracefully applying it to the canvas, He modeled for us the proper way to use the materials, to mix the colors, to reveal the tones of the image. I was excited and nervous all at the same time, my mind swirling with the possibilities of what I might be capable of creating. Yet a large part of me was afraid. Afraid that I would try and fail.

My paint was runny. I used too much medium, and the texture wasn’t there. I stepped back to examine my work and sighed in frustration. Some of the tones looked too harsh. The blending was rough. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Why is this so difficult? I don’t even know what I’m doing.

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But I continued to work. I worshipped the One who created light and dark, form and texture, space and substance. I started again. And I began to learn. I learned much more than I ever could have from watching the professor complete an entire painting. I just had to pick up my brush and do it. We learn through the process.

Sometimes I decide I’m not capable. I decide to let the fear of failing keep me from trying. I tell myself that I’m not a gifted evangelist, a strong leader or a captivating speaker. I forget that these people had to develop their gifts.

I tell myself that I’m not good at sharing my faith. Have I tried? I say that I’m not assertive enough to be a strong leader. Have I put myself in a situation where I have the opportunity? Many times, that answer is no.

We learn through the process.

May you and I have the courage to try and fail, even when we fail spectacularly. May we get up and try again, releasing to God our fear and resting in the hope that He is conforming us to the likeness of His Son. Because He is worth the risk and the reward.

creating compassion

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Have you ever thought how different your life would look if you were born in a different country? Like not just France or Austrailia, but somewhere like Haiti or Botswana or Ecuador. It blows my mind thinking that if I was born in a majority world country, I honestly would have a much higher chance of not even being here today. And I want to do something about that.

So I’ve decided to raise money to help expectant mothers and mothers of young, at-risk kids in poor regions of Ecuador get some help. This help comes in the form of Compassion International’s Child Survival Program.

Though my family has been sponsoring Compassion children since I was around 6 years old, it is now that I’m realizing just how well this organization does at taking a holistic approach to ending poverty. I recently had the opportunity to hear more about how Compassion partners with local churches in poor areas to meet the needs of children, ensuring that they receive good food, water, education, and medical care, all the while sharing the gospel with them.

But here’s the thing: the sponsorship program starts at 4 years old, and there are millions of children living in poverty who don’t survive to that age because of preventable causes. Ecuador’s poor mountain regions of Chimborazo, Bolívar, and Manabi have some of the highest rates of child malnutrition, and the funds that I raise will go directly to providing equipment for the program and training for these young mothers. 

It’s so easy to pass the problem on to someone else. But I’m learning that if I want something to change, I can’t expect someone else to do everything. Please, please, please, consider giving to help these kiddos. I know that there are a lot of worthwhile causes out there that need a lot of funding, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an organization with such a comprehensive and long-term approach to releasing people from poverty. I’m a college student and I don’t have the means right now to sponsor a child, but I do have a voice and a heart for these people. You have something to give –  don’t keep it to yourself.

Learn more about Compassion

Donate to my fundraising efforts

Start your own fundraising campaign with Compassion

Pursuing Holiness

I am beyond blessed to go to a school that will cancel class for a day so that we can gather together and worship our Creator. Every fall and spring, we have Day of Worship. It’s not just a time to sing praise songs and get pumped up on a spiritual high, but a time dedicated to beholding God through praise, scripture, teaching, and time spent alone with him. Usually each one has a theme, and yesterday we talked about holiness.

So often I sing some variation of “God, you are holy,” but I realized that I have let those words fall empty on my lips. The idea of God’s holiness is so, so far from me. I look to this world to find some semblance of holiness – but holy is distinct, set apart from this creation in every single way. I could never set up any kind of standard to measure it. HE is the standard. It is simply unfathomable; my mind cannot even grasp it. Confronted with this holiness, my first response is to fall to my knees and just cry. Even my shadowy, small view of his holiness is enough to ruin me – I have missed the mark so spectacularly. I feel much like Isaiah before God, saying

“Doom! It’s Doomsday!
I’m as good as dead!
Every word I’ve ever spoken is tainted—
blasphemous even!
And the people I live with talk the same way,
using words that corrupt and desecrate.
And here I’ve looked God in the face!
The King! God-of-the-Angel-Armies!” (Isaiah 6:5, The Message)

So what about God’s holiness causes Moses to worship him for it in Exodus 15? Why should we rejoice over this? Well, it was his very holiness that set apart the true living God from the false idols of Egypt. The same is true for us. No idol I could ever turn to could ever bear the weight of my sin. No idol meets the standard of holiness needed for redemption that is found in Christ alone. Especially considering that my biggest idol is ME. Looking at my life, it doesn’t take me long to conclude that I could never live up to that standard. But praise God, I am saved by grace, and my position before God stands on the perfect holiness of Jesus. Can I get an amen up in here? That is why his holiness causes us to well up with joy and thankfulness – without it we would be left to our sin. But our God chose to wrap himself in humanity, veiling his holy deity in flesh to die for us so that we could have salvation on the basis of his perfect sacrifice.

But that’s not all. And this is where my mind blows up a little bit: the Holy Spirit of God actually dwells inside us, helping us to pursue holiness. I have not been abandoned as an orphan to follow Jesus’ commands in my own strength, cause guess what – I can’t. But that same unfathomable holiness lives inside me through the Spirit, and I don’t have to live in slavery to my idols, to myself, to the lies I’ve believed. Peter says, “just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” Why would he tell us that if we were not to pursue holiness? We need to have hearts that seek the Spirit and say yes to what he is guiding us to do. I know that some days I will fail to do this, and other days I will succeed, but I rest in knowing that God is faithful, and he isn’t done with me yet.

1 Thessalonians 5:24-25:  “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.”

relentless love

Went on a walk with Dad a few nights ago to spend some quality time. What a guy.

Went on a walk with Dad a few nights ago to spend some quality time. What a guy.

This weekend is a pretty big one for our family – today is my dad’s birthday and my parent’s 35th anniversary, and it all falls on Father’s Day weekend! Yesterday we all celebrated together with 4 dads – my Dad, Grandpa, brother-in-law, his dad – and the rest of our family members. We went out to eat, had WAY too much dessert, and just had a really nice time. In the midst of all this, I think it’s pretty important that I stop and thank God that my family is not only intact, but seeking to serve Him as well.

I don’t know what it feels like to have parents who hate each other, or siblings who’ve completely dropped off the map, or a father who was never there. I know this isn’t the case for many people I know and love, and when these kind of family times roll around and everyone posts the mandatory Facebook photo of them enjoying these moments together, I can’t help but feel for people who are left wondering what happened to their family. I can’t even imagine what life would be like without mine. But I think something I’ve realized during my time at school is that good relationships are intentional relationships. For most of my life, without me consciously realizing it, my parents have cared for ME, set up times with ME, pursued ME. They’re not perfect by any means, but they’ve given me an awesome picture of God’s love for me, intentionally pursuing me even when I mess up.

Away from home, I had to realize that it’s my turn to be intentional. I realized that I have to make more of an effort to connect with people if I really desire a deeper relationship. As an introvert, sometimes that’s pretty hard for me. Sometimes all I want is to curl up with a good book, watch a movie, or finish a craft project to recharge. But then I remember that it’s people that matter. (Not that recharge time is bad – it’s actually pretty dang important.) In the end, it probably doesn’t matter if I knit a hundred sweaters or finish all my homework the day it was assigned or check everything off my to-do list on a particular day – but if I can encourage someone, show them I care, make them smile, point them to Jesus with my time, it’s worth it. So, so many people with hurting families don’t have a reference point for that relentless love that I’ve gotten a taste of through my family.  So Jesus calls us to love them. They may not have earthly families, but we can “adopt” them into ours and show them what it feels like to be wanted and pursued. Just little things like sharing a meal, giving a ride, asking more than surface level questions, and opening your home can make the gospel relatable. Often times these little things are really big things when you look back at them. Sometimes in the everyday I lose sight of this and slip back into my happy little snow globe of comfort. But Jesus didn’t come to earth to be stifled in a glass bubble. So today, I choose relentless love.