One Week!

Well, it’s official! I leave for Liberia in ONE WEEK! I am so excited to be able to go on this trip. We’ll be in Liberia for two weeks and it’s going to be busy. We’re running a VBS over three days for 180 kids, holding Bible studies, teaching craft classes, helping organize a new library, and building a greenhouse, just to name a few things. 

I have to admit, I am nervous about leaving. I’ve traveled overseas before, but it was to Ireland. Liberia is a whole different experience. One that I’m excited to have, but it’s daunting at the same time. It’s a whole new culture to try to adjust to. New customs, a new climate, and a new way a life to adjust to. And I have to adjust quickly. With such a short trip, I’m sure the time will just fly by. 

I’m really excited about this trip for multiple reasons. This is my first trip to Africa, which will be a unique experience. This is also my first mission trip outside the country. Plus, I really love to travel. 

With only a week left until we leave, I feel a little crazy. On one hand, it feels like I have things well in hand and will be well prepared to travel. On the other hand, I LEAVE IN A WEEK! That’s only 7 days! How am I going to be ready on time?! I know that I will be fine, but it’s another thing altogether to convince myself of that.

Anyway, sorry to ramble, but that’s what happening in my head right now. 

Wow. Just….wow.

Sometimes it takes something huge to drive home a simple truth you’ve known all your life. I have always heard that God is good. I’ve experienced it before, but there are days and experiences that really make that obvious. Today was one of those days.

In 10 days I will heading to Liberia with a team of 13 people to visit a missionary couple and help out however we can. The trip is not an expensive one, and my family and I have been praying intensely about raising the money. Most of the trip has been paid for, thanks to the generous donations of friends and family, but there was still a substantial amount left. However, when I called the church this afternoon to see what was left for us to pay, the answer was….nothing. A donor, who at this point remains anonymous, had paid what was left. I am still shocked. 

That brought up a question in my mind. Why is it that I am surprised that God answered our prayer? After all, I prayed asking him to make the trip possible and had hoped it would be completely paid for by fundraising…but I didn’t really expect it to happen. I certainly didn’t expect one person to donate a big bulk of it. 

This event has obviously been a blessing to my family in helping my trip move along, but it’s also made me reconsider my prayer life. I need to have more confidence in my God, who gives me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4), and I really need to be aware that He works in big ways. 

So, whoever you are, thank you.

Ta-Da!

Big announcement people. BIG! I mean, like, huge!

I have a title. For my book.

Now, granted, that may not seem as big a deal as, say, actually finishing the book, but believe me, it’s a big deal. Here’s why.

A title is the first thing a reader sees. When a book is on the shelf (excuse me a moment while I fantasize about my book being on shelves somewhere….), the title is the first thing they see. If it grabs their attention and interests them, they’ll pick it up and find out more. If it’s bland, boring, or generic, they’ll move on. 

A title also sums up the book. In roughly five words or less, an author has to convey the essence of his or her story. That’s incredibly hard! I have been trying for weeks to come up with a decent title for the book I’m currently working on and I have gotten no where. Until yesterday, that is. That’s right, my Robin Hood story now has a title! And now to answer the question I keep getting. What is it?

The Mark of the Outlaw.

I won’t get into why it’s relevant right now, because I’d have to explain the whole plot. Which I don’t want to do at the moment. But I thought some of you curious folks might want to know what’s going on with the book progress wise. 

I’ll continue to keep you posted! Also, if enough people are interested, I might post a sneak peek or summary of sorts this weekend. Who knows?

My Problem with Sharing Your Faith

I heard a fantastic sermon this morning about the importance and individuality of our testimonies. The pastor talked about how everyone has a unique story to share and testimonies are more than just conversions stories.

I used to hate giving my testimony. I thought it was boring. The whole “I-grew-up-a-Christian” spiel was ineffective in my mind. The radical, life-change stories were the ones I thought would win over hearts best. I didn’t realize that conversion was only the beginning of an ongoing story. God doesn’t stop working when someone becomes a Christian. In fact, He’s just getting started. A Christian can see God at work in the big things and the small in their day-to-day life. 

You’re probably asking yourself, “Well, if testimonies are so great, why do you have a problem with them?” I don’t.I haven’t changed my mind since coming up with the title and I’m not contradicting myself, I promise. My problem with sharing your faith lies in the word choice and the implications of those words. 

The phrase “share your faith” is a common one in churches and the Christian religion. I cringe a little whenever I hear it. The concept is a good one. Share with others how your Christian faith has affected your life and your outlook. But when someone says they have shared their faith with another person, I think of something entirely different. 

Share can mean “to tell about” but for me it has always had the connotation of “to divide out equally”. You cannot share your faith in that sense because our faith is only for ourselves. We can’t believe for other people.

My other problem lies in “your faith”. While we are saved by our faith in Christ, it is not our faith we should be telling to others. It is God’s grace and mercy and how He works through us despite our many shortcomings that should be our focus. Our faith is the lesser part of the equation that gains us salvation and we shouldn’t make that the selling point of Christianity, especially because we are imperfect human beings who cannot have perfect faith. Instead we should focus on the perfect love of God that redeems us.

So, while “testifying about God’s grace” or “telling about God’s strength in our weaknesses” takes longer to say, I think it’s more accurate.

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Until a few weeks ago, all I knew about Star Trek was…well, practically nothing. My sister introduced me to “the final frontier” with the 2009 movie. Shortly after that, we went to see the sequel. I have to say, I was impressed. And while this isn’t a movie review, I do recommend it as a fantastic movie.

If there is one thing I love in a character, it’s internal conflict. I feel like it makes the character, whether protagonist, antagonist, or otherwise, more real to the reader. People can relate to characters who struggle with moral issues or making difficult decisions. Seeing so many of the characters in Into Darkness struggle with themselves made the movie so much better. I know that sounds a little inconsiderate of me, but I factor in that most of the characters who struggled came up with an answer and came out the better for it. After all, Romans 5 tells us that “we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.” We have to struggle with ourselves if we ever expect to grow either as Christians or as people.

So here’s the deal….

I’m not a professional blogger. I’m sure you’ve realized that by now. However, I am a writer and I think this is good practice for me. Over the summer, and hopefully during the school year as well, I am going to try to update this blog twice a week. It may be about a song that’s stuck in my head, a Scripture that stuck out to me, or a funny experience I had.

This summer, as I have no job, I decided to make writing my job. By the time I go back to school in August, I will have sent a manuscript to at least 3 publishers. At least, that’s my goal. Fingers crossed on that. So it’s possible that I’ll post some excerpts here if anyone is interested in that. Let me know what you think!

Hey There!

Well, this is my second blog (my first one was about my semester in Ireland). This is going to be a place where I put random thoughts, funny experiences, and anything else that comes to mind. I’ll try not to ramble incessantly, but I make no promises that it will all make sense. So yeah, I think that’s all for now. Check back later for something maybe a little more entertaining.