I’ve been finding it really hard to write recently. Well, more specifically, I’ve been having difficulty motivating myself to blog. I’ve been reading through the blogs I’ve posted over the last year and I find it hard to believe I wrote them. I’m still journaling in my quiet times and enjoying spending time with God. For once, my laziness doesn’t feel like something faith related though. Its intimidating reading some of my old stuff and thinking, “Wow, I was inspired. Why can’t I feel like that now?” But I am inspired! It’s the transition between feeling this inspiration, scribbling it down and then converting that into something bloggable (not a real word, but we’ll roll with it) that I struggle with.
I think I’m spreading myself way too thin. I have so many journals that I need to devote time too. I have my “rambling” journal which has been with me throughout the entire year of my renewed dedication to God. When it’s filled (and it’s nearly there), it will be nearly 400 days of my life recorded on paper. I’ve never hit that sort of landmark where writings concerned. It marks all the highs and lows off the past year, of which there have been many. It’s the journal I feel like I need to consult daily or I’ll miss out on valuable detail. On top of that, I have my “One thought” journal. I fill in a page each day on one specific thought. It can be something silly- like a fight I had with a friend. I focus on one thing that’s on my mind and write it down which has proved pretty therapeutic. But still, it’s one more journal to write in. I haven’t even mentioned my ingenious “Pathway to Purpose” idea. I bought a book in a Faith Mission months ago that helps Christians reflect on their past, present and future in ways that are healthy and stress relieving! Once I started writing in it, I wanted to make it a daily thing. Because I’m OCD like that and have way too many assignments set for myself! I love all my journals and the thoughts they seem to get out of me but I love blogging too. And it’s taken a backseat to all these things. So I guess now I’m making this post to get myself back into the game!
I’ve decided that writing in my journals is something I have to do in the moment! They get my initial reactions and capture the mood of the moment. Blogging is something that I want to use in the aftermath of such things. I’m going to use it as an opportunity to reflect on situations and try to provide an educated response on things I’m studying in my quiet times or just happen to have on my mind. It shouldn’t be a chore, and I write better when I’m not under pressure. At the end of the day, this blog could get deleted in a second and all my posts will be gone. My journals can be kept forever, providing I keep them safe.
All in all, blogging is important to me! Admittedly, I enjoy messing around with themes and fonts. I enjoy knowing that anyone in the world can see and respond to what I have to say, and having the opportunity to pass on a little encouragement here and there.
Some things can be taken from the confines of a notebook and worked into something that can inspire others – I just need to channel my energy into reflecting on things after I spend time noting them down.
Pray for Moldova.
A few months ago those words wouldn’t have meant much to me either. It’s a country whose name I vaguely recognised. A country that, up until January, I had no idea existed! Yet there’s a very real spiritual struggle underway in Moldova. A struggle perpetuated by a blatant disregard for the widespread poverty in one of the poorest countries in Europe. A country that should have some kind of support yet has been left to flounder and sink alone.
I set out with 11 other people to help ease the burden placed on two churches in two different locations to cater for the youth in their villages. It was explained that Pastors in the Orthodox churches felt discouraged by the lack of numbers and vision for young people in Moldova. Many young adults are forced to work abroad to support families, and so churches lack experience in youth ministry because well, there’s a lack of youth. For anyone who doesn’t know the difference between Orthodox and Unorthodox churches - Orthodox churches believe in a personal relationship with God, rather than the rules and regulations associated with strict religion. Orthodox churches love sharing the gospel with young people and encourage the expression of God’s love in a range of ways!
Our main task was to help with practical work throughout the communities and organise kids clubs every day. I think one of the most eye opening things about the trip was the Moldovans ability to live simply by faith, and not by sight. This is a hard mindset for people like me to adapt because we have so much stuff! There’s very little that we can hope for when we have everything we need. We’d cram into a bus each afternoon and literally have no idea where we were going and what we’d be expected to do. It wasn’t that we weren’t being told half the time – it was because the people bringing us to these places knew as little as we did at times.
I could write forever about the poverty we witnessed and the effect it had on us but honestly, it’s not even something I can put into words. It’s something that needs to be felt and seen with your own eyes. I struggle to forget a lot of the kids though.
Most notably, the burst of enthusiasm as soon a camera pointed in their direction. The smiley faces beaming back at us, thrilled to feel important. It’s something so basic that could spark such an excited reaction from these kids. As awesome as this was to see, it filled me with incredible sadness. I loved capturing memories of the kids and making them feel special. But I don’t know how to get these photos back to them. They’ll never have anything to show for it. They’re just happy to know that somewhere in the world; some northern Irish teen has a photo of them.
I compiled a load of the photos into one big journal and try to honour the kids with prayer. I know Gods watching over them. As hopeless as their circumstances may seem at times, they draw joy from anything and everything. If my generation back home could do this, we’d have so much more to offer this world. I think that’s the saddest thing of all. These kids have attitudes that could help this world to thrive and they’ll never know it.
It’s difficult to not feel angry, returning home to all this luxury while those kids remain in such awful conditions. But God didn’t send us to Moldova to come home feeling high and mighty. He sent us to come home feeling truly blessed and to love others in a way we couldn’t beforehand, as an expression of that. I see the problems in this world so much more clearly, and I have a desire to see them fixed. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to bring those kids a little happiness for two weeks. I pray that more teams head out to carry on such good work!
Now I’m home and I have to draw upon the experiences I had out there as much as I can. I have to persevere through the discouragement that comes from feeling like the little things are overlooked. I have to bite my tongue when I see people becoming ensnared by the useless things young people devote time too and I have to work on myself. I have to devote my life to God and allow him to work on me from within, shaping me to be the kind of woman who could revisit those kids someday and make a difference. Or maybe he plans for me to make a difference over here. Either way, it would be nice if a difference could be made, wouldn’t it?
So please, pray for Moldova. When we can’t fly somewhere, the best we can do as Christians is place the country in God’s hands. If he hears his people uniting in a true desire to see that country’s circumstances changed, I have no doubt he’ll do wonderful things.
Lord, I wonder how much of a true servant I am to you. Sometimes my words and actions seem so far from what you’ve taught me and I question my spiritual growth. I look at the many ways in which you’ve blessed me and I cannot possibly repay you. Growth is hard to measure. Sometimes, I’m on the very cusp of breaking through but never quite get there. Every day, I’m striving. I’ve gone from making an effort to pray to praying without much thought. Yet I’m experiencing the best prayer sessions in my walk with you. That’s growth.
I’ve gone from making an effort to include you more and more in my life to physically being unable to revise for exams until I’ve sat down and spent time with you. I act on those moments of impulse you give me, Lord, instead of telling myself I have more pressing things to do. That IS growth. Things remain in my life that frustrates me greatly when placed beside the things you’re already achieving in me. I find it difficult to hold my tongue and keep an opinion to myself. Half the time, I don’t even consider how hurtful that opinion can be, but I voice it anyway. In that moment, I feel so disappointed in myself that I forget all the things you’ve been helping me get right.
I am changing – in small yet very important ways. I’m changing things in my life that used to be crumbling around me. When I’m in your presence, nothing feels too overwhelming or hard to take. All I feel is peace. All I experience is love. And I’m no longer weak.
I have so much to work on in my life but for all my flaws, I’m willing to submit, Lord. All my cares, stresses and, anxieties - I’m willing to give them to you and leave my worries trailing behind me. This year is going to present many changes in its self, but you’ve given me a courageous spirit. I know I’m facing every mountain with you, Lord. Every hurtful word and spiteful comment will be dealt with in prayer. I’ll revel in every awkward conversation just because I’ve decided to share my faith with someone else. I’ll face pain with joy and acceptance (probably after I shout at you in prayer – when anger hits, you know my first instinct, Lord.) but I’ll always seek to understand why you do things. This year is the year of The Lord for me. The first year I’ve ever walked consistently with you. Getting it wrong, getting it right, not getting anything at all. And it will all be done with you.
So, I’m asking you to use me. To look past my past failures and struggles when most other humans can’t. Rid me of the assumption that because I spent so many years struggling in my faith, that others can’t see you in me anymore. Even in my weakest hours, I want to be used. Even if another girl see’s me stumbling and realises she’s no worse for stumbling at times too. I love you, Lord. I love the things I can feel happening and I’m ready to be used.
So, I’m ready when you are.
The other day, my devotional book dealt with the topic of Self Control. This is an issue I’ve swept under the carpet many times in the more immature days of my faith, mainly because I knew it would reveal a very erratic, uncontrolled Child of God. The irony is that I was UNDER the control of sin, hence why I didn’t have much control of myself at all. Perhaps now that I’m growing under Gods wings, it’s time to face parts of myself that have been thriving under a lack of control for quite some time.
There’s one issue that springs to mind as soon as I open myself up to this question – What areas of my life need a little self control to better my walk with God?
I’m ashamed to admit that I struggle with such a generic teenage girl habit. It’s something I don’t think a lot of people would guess about me because it’s only with certain friends that I’d allow this part of myself to REALLY come out in full force. But it’s very much there and present and wholly ungodly and it’s a part of myself that I really HATE. I find myself saying things all the time about others that are SO judgemental, yet I hate to be stereotyped myself. I do and say things that if I thought were said about me…. would hurt. A lot.
I forced myself to be completely honest about this with God because he sees my heart. He knows the guilt I feel in the aftermath of saying horrible things and my confusion. WHY do I let myself think the way I do? Even worse, WHY do I feel the need to laugh at others and make these thoughts vocal? HOW is that benefitting me or anyone around me? It’s an ugly truth that’s been hindering my walk with God. So, I had to think – what am I doing that’s making this such a hard habit to break?
Then it hit me. The music I listen too. Yes, I know that we’re all guilty of having a song or two that have questionable lyrics but I don’t just LISTEN to music. I use it as a proper escape. I have alter egos in my mind speaking the same words of the song, addressing people with ugly truths in my head that I could never say to their face in real life.
An example? Nicki Minaj. I frequently imagine myself singing her lyrics which are pretty bad, and in my head, I KNOW who I’m referring too. I suppose it’s a rebellious part of me, concocting some sort of character in my head that’s the complete opposite of who I am in real life. The scary thing is that I become more like that character in how I speak, the more I let myself enjoy it.
If I spend every morning on the school bus listening to rap music that’s both insulting and demeaning towards others and the world, how can I possibly be ready to uplift others with my OWN speech? I’ve always had this worry in the back of my mind. When I listen to certain songs, I can feel a shift in mindset. Some songs give me the wrong kind of adrenaline that seems to seep into my conversations. I become braver in my own opinion which is usually completely wrong and misplaced. It’s like I adapt the attitude of whoever’s singing the song and claim it as my own.
I took some time to delete every song from my iPod that I think contributes to this part of myself that doesn’t shine so bright for God. I’m supposed to be immersing myself in God as much as possible and this is just a small, practical step to allow myself to do so. There are many other things I need to be doing in order to take control of my tongue. God will help me work the rest out – this is just one thing he’s been gradually making me see for a while!
“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” – CS Lewis.
This struck a chord with me today. I spend so much time relying on God, taking every little infliction and placing as much of a positive spin on it as possible. Sometimes, I struggle through the school day, just about clinging to the thought of Gods master plan that I can’t quite grasp yet. I torture myself with the need to know why things happen at the exact moment they do. I find it difficult to live in the moment because while I’m aware I’ll experience immense blessings in this life with God, I’ll also endure fierce hardships. It makes me so anxious sometimes because I know that for every good thing God provides, he’ll also test me. Relentlessly, in a loving, fatherly way but when I can’t get past all the hurt I may face in the future, for a moment, that doesn’t seem like much of a consolation.
I’ve realised that my fear of what’s to come in this life with God isn’t really about trusting his perfect plan. It’s more that I know the cost at which this plan must unfold. I know there will be many sacrifices, heartache and pain.
I rarely feel scared about what God will do in my life. I trust that he’s bringing me to places I need to be, people i need to meet and allowing me to experience things that will better me as a person. It’s the journey that I tend to obsess over and analyse. I’m assured that everything will be done for Gods glory and that nothing will leave me feeling worse off.
I want my walk with God to be joyful and unhindered by the harsh realities of life. Negative thoughts tend to infiltrate my mind when I’m going through periods of stress, like exams. I’ve been thinking of this quote all day and I’m thankful that Gods showing me parts of myself that I can work on and progress with. As I write this, I’m in a pretty bad mood. In fact, I’m in a pretty foul mood! Exams are on the horizon and I’ve too much on my mind to focus properly.
Within an hour, I know I’ll be fine again. I’ll talk to God; he’ll tell me its okay and quieten my anxious heart. He’ll remind me that I’m living a life that’s been mapped out with immense grace and precision timing. I’ll sit over my bible and read something that stirs that familiar fire in my heart again and I’ll remember that I’m truly happy, even in times of sadness. I’ll step away from Gods throne feeling renewed and ready to fight, ready to submit, ready to learn. This will stay with me until my next downhearted day, and the process will repeat. And that’s not a bad thing. That’s exactly why we need God.
This life consists of constant flying, soaring, falling, crashing, and then mustering up the courage to get right back up and face whatever knocked us down. I don’t think I could do that over and over without a little faith.