About Me

My photo
Just a twentysomething living my life and, as most my age, figuring it out as I go,

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Faith Like Peter

"During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. 'It is a ghost', they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: 
        'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.' 
        'Lord, if it's you,' Peter replied, 'tell me to come to you on the water.' 
        'Come,' he said. 
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out 
        'Lord, save me!'
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 
        'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?'
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, 
         'Truly you are the son of God.' " 
                                            Matthew 14:25-33

I bet by now you're thinking,  Wait a second. Isn't the title of this 'Faith Like Peter'? Wasn't that story about his doubt? Yes and yes.

I have been having a faith like Peter lately. Peter is the first to jump out of the boat and onto the water. He has such a great faith that Jesus can help him walk on water that he eagerly calls to Jesus and willingly climbs out of the safety of the boat and into the torrent of the stormy sea.
I am Peter.

A year ago, I decided that God had put a nudging on my heart for missions, and it was my responsibility to see where that nudging led. Now, a year later, I am in the midst of support raising to move to England for a year to share the Good News! I eagerly jumped out of my safety in America, into the storm of a new country, new culture, new friends. I trusted that Jesus was standing beside me all the way, helping me to walk on the water.

And as soon as my feet touched water, I panicked. I looked around at the wind and the struggle that is ahead of me, and I started to doubt myself and, more importantly, to doubt God. I knew in my head that God can do the impossible. That He could provide support for me to go; that He could surround me when I felt alone in a new place; that He could lead me exactly where I needed to be. But my heart doubted. I began to sink.
I am Peter.

It wasn't until a few days ago that I finally gave up my stubbornness and cried out "Lord, save me!" Just like Peter. I rushed in with such faith, but my doubt overwhelmed me. My faith seemed to be overshadowed by my doubt in myself. Just like Peter. And in my sinking, God looked at me and said "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

I just got my first official supporter last week. I was having dinner with a friend, catching up on life, and she looked at me and said that she had money for me for England. Which I was so grateful to hear. But that's not good enough for God. My friend told me the story that this amount of money fell into her lap, as she had been praying about being able to support me in this ministry opportunity. She said she reread my support letter and that the money was exactly what I had asked her to give. I, firstly, couldn't believe that I had my first supporter, but I was even more amazed that in the midst of my sinking and doubt, that God was at work. I could not be more grateful for the story that comes with this first commitment of support. It is such a beacon to me, standing in the middle of the torrent, that God is faithful--even when I have faith like Peter.

We sang this song at a retreat I was on last weekend, and the words stuck out to me as we sang. But I forgot about it, until this morning at church, when we sang the same song. And the story of Peter ran through my mind. It's called Oceans, by Hillsong United. It's a great song about following God into the uncertainty, but I want to share a few of the lyrics that have stuck out to me. The second verse says
"Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed, and You won't start now"
I think the first step to getting over the doubt is to recognize it. So as I realize my doubt while I'm sinking in the water, I am remembering these words from Oceans and God's faithfulness to never fail me. I know that while my feet may fail me and I may fall short, God never will. He doesn't have feet. And He can't fail.

So if--like me--you have faith like Peter, take heart. Jesus still loves Peter, despite his doubt out on the water.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Pieces of Manna

At the end of 2014, I took on a grand total of 3 part time jobs. It was crazy, it was fun, it was tiring. I know several people who have worked multiple jobs, just like I was. And I shouldn't say anything, but I was also beginning support raising for London, had friends that I like to keep up with, and enjoy the occasional (or binges of) Netflix. I know, I know. I can live without the last one, but c'mon, "Friends" just came to Netflix!!!

Now before you stop reading, because it sounds like I'm about to complain about how busy I was or how many thing I have going on, hear this: I am not complaining. I love it! I love this little infinity I've been given (any of you TFIOS fans will understand that one). I've seen so many blessings in this year of work after graduation. It's been incredible so far, and I know it will just continue to be a fun, crazy, difficult time of transition into working life.

That being said, I was exhausted. I would run place to place, work crazy hours at 2 (then 3) jobs, exhaust my alone time by being with friends or taking care of other errands. And by the time I got home at the end of the day, I was pooped!
I'm sure you can relate! And so, I slept later in the mornings, I chose selfish ways to spend my free time-which usually consisted of Netflix and laying around. And I took my pieces of manna and expected them to last me days or weeks, or sometimes even months. I would maybe get up early once a week and have some quiet time with God and call it good for the next few days so I could sleep in. I would sometimes skip church on Sundays so I could sleep in and then get things done around the house, but tried to substitute God-focused conversations with people for the real thing.

I've now dropped one job, and am beginning 2015 with a better idea of time management. But still, I spend my time unwisely.

And my manna goes bad. Just like the Israelites in the desert, my manna only lasts for one day. I can't store it up, like I foolishly try to do. And I certainly can't substitute imitation manna for the real thing.

I was talking to my support raising coach a few weeks ago, and at the end of our call, she prayed that I would come to seek God daily and that He would give me just enough energy for one day-not for several days or one week.

That's all I need!

I just need enough manna for one day. For 24 hours.

And after that, it's time to throw out the old, rotten manna and start fresh with a new day. Recently, I was talking to a friend who is still in school. She was feeling overwhelmed by work, by school, by social events, etc. And I told her, take it a day at a time. That's all you can focus on. That's probably one of the best lessons I've learned in life. It does NO good to worry about anything past today. And who knows if you even get anything more than today's manna anyway?

So join me in praying that we ask only for enough manna to last through today. That we approach God daily, asking for the energy and strength and peace to do what we need for the next 24 hours. And at the end of the day, we throw out anything we weren't able to do, and start fresh again for tomorrow.

Friday, October 17, 2014

London Offish!

It's been exactly one month since I was approved to join the Serge family and move to London next fall to partner with a mission team for a year! This has seemed like such a long process.
It took exactly one year from the time I started talking with Serge to finally being accepted and one month to order missionary prayer cards. It will be 9 more months until I can get my visa. And another 3 months until I actually can leave for the field.

This process has been all about patience. Even in this month between acceptance and meeting with my support adviser, I have had to practice a LOT of patience. I just wanna go, go, go! But God has met me here and said "Stop. Breathe. Wait." And so, reluctantly, I have.

I am excited for you all to join me here. Know that this blog will likely be converted into my missionary manifesto in the next year. I look forward to keeping you guys updated as I move into sending out support packets, meeting with friends, seeing God provide funds, and in just 11 months, moving to England! ......Just can't wrap my head around that one quite yet.

Here's a preview of my prayer cards! 
If you'd like to receive info about what I will be doing in London, please comment here or message me on Facebook!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Take My Hand

It seems to me that God likes to live in the difficulties. The times that I've struggled the most, I can't turn one way or another without seeing His presence. 

This week I went on a mission trip with the youth group I'm working with to Tuba City, Arizona--to a Navajo reservation. Now the week was incredible-getting to see a very different side of America, observing our teens in action as the hands and feet of Christ, serving alongside them as they poured their hearts into those around us. But one part of the week has circled in my mind over and over. 

Our last day in Arizona, we took a big part of the group on a hike down Jackass Canyon-part of the Grand Canyon. There was a choice to either get up at 6am for the hike or stay in Tuba, sleep in a little more and go to the Navajo market nearby. Now, for any who may not know me, I'm not the most athletically built person around. I'm pretty short, and decently round; and while I enjoy nature and doing outdoorsy stuff, I spend more time inside than going on crazy nature adventures. So I was pretty nervous when I volunteered to join the hike group, but determined not to miss out on what I was sure would be a great adventure.
Jackass Canyon
So at 6am, I donned my Nike running shoes, braided my hair back, grabbed my very stuffed Kavu filled with 6 water bottles, NutriGrain bars, and my lunch, and boarded our bus. We drove about an hour to where our trail head was, climbed through a barbed-wire fence, and began the day's journey. As we descended the canyon, the course became more challenging. The first twenty minutes were a gradual slope of a ravine-the most challenging part being trying to avoid slipping in the mud (which I nearly failed on a few different occasions). 

We hiked most of the morning in the shade, reaching our first major challenge after only an hour or so. At one point on the trail, we had to scale down a 20-30 foot rock face, using a rope anchored to the top. So while our guide got everything ready, we sat down at the top and nervously waited our turn to repel down the wall. When it was my turn, my legs quaked like crazy, scared I would slip to my death on the rocks and pool of water below. Looking back, it honestly wasn't too bad with all of the anchors' help (Thanks guys!). After everyone finished repelling down, we turned to continue on and found ourselves facing a very large water pool, leaving us only two options-both included shuffling along the sides of the canyon and hoping we didn't fall into the murky waters below. 

Repelling wall
Now that those challenges were over, surely we had to have been almost there! After all, he said it was only 2-3 miles down to the Colorado River-our final point before turning back to head home. Now either that was a gross understatement, or I'm very bad at judging distance, but the rest of the hike seemed to last years. Part of that was probably because I'm a very calculated hiker-making sure each step is secure before moving forward. The upside to that is that I can't think of any times that I've actually fallen while hiking-I guess unless you count slipping in mud. But I digress. 

As we pushed forward toward the rushing river, we came across several more challenges where some of the more skilled hikers had to assist the rest of us non-skilled hikers across at different points. Many of these points, I gave up trying to jump from rock to rock, and did the shame slide down on my butt, bypassing any assistance from those who stayed back to help us safely cross. At one point, as we were climbing-and I was butt sliding-through some tricky areas, one of the guys who was trying to help us commented and said "You really don't like help, do you?" I quickly apologized and rationalized why I didn't trust anyone else to help me across most points. 

Finally, we reached the river, roaring loudly past us. We had 30 minutes to sit down, eat lunch, and play in the frigid waters of the Colorado. So after enjoying our sack lunches, testing how long we could stand the snow-fed water that was the river, we turned back to hike toward the top. By now, it was around high noon, and the sun was directly overhead. I was still not completely recovered from the hike down, and now I had to do all the hard work again, but going uphill. It was pretty miserable for me. And my embarrassment at my slowness and heavy breathing was at an all-time high. But I knew I had to keep going, and I knew that those around me wouldn't let me quit. 

So I climbed and climbed, and panted, and stopped to focus my dizzy head, drank a bit of water and climbed some more. And when I reached those hard points where most people were taking help, I butt scooted my way across, or if I had no other option but to accept help, I apologized profusely as I grudgingly took the hand of whoever was helping me. Toward the end, I became more willing to accept the hand of whoever was around me, so we could just get back to the bus. We made it back through the little crevice we'd had to climb through, over the tricky rocks, up the small wall where people had to lift us, across the canyon wall that hung over the murky pool, up the wall we'd repelled down, and finally-after 7 hours-out of the canyon. My head spun, my face burned, I'd drank all of my water and then some, and I could already feel the soreness of my muscles setting in. BUT I DID IT! And I realized that through it all, if I had just been willing to accept help the whole time, the hike might have been just a little easier.

It seems to me that God likes to live in the difficulties. It seems that I see God most when I am in situations like hiking this canyon. Physical strength is a challenge for me, but some of the most beautiful moments of clarity I have are when that is pushed to it's limit. Two years ago, I faced the challenge of HUG mountain while studying abroad in Greece. Looking back, the hike wasn't too difficult, but at the time, it seemed impossible. There, I saw God in the group I hiked with, seeing them willingly take a role as a different contributor to our hike. Last February, I night-hiked a "mountain" about an hour away from our school with a group of my best friends. I saw God as each of us worked as a unit, pushing and pulling each other up through the cracks in the rock to finally make it up to the top safely. Now this. And each time, I realize that I can't do it. And I want with everything in me to quit. But God says "Stop. I've got this." Maybe it's not that He actually carries me out, but it's in those moments that I see Him through whoever I am with, reaching out to me and saying "Take My hand." And I know that I cannot do it, but He can.

Maybe if I would be more willing to accept help, my journey would be a little less difficult. Not easy, because no growth comes from that; but sometimes we need others around us to show us a little bit of God, carrying our burdens. The people who went on the trip with me will understand this perfectly, but if we willingly will open up and share our burdens with others, allow them to help carry them, instead of holding them all inside and trying to do it all on our own, things can be less difficult for us. Again, not easy. God never promises us an easy life. But He is there to share our burdens, and He puts others there to help carry them too. 

All you have to do is listen to Him when He says "Take My hand." 
Watching the sun come over the canyon
Through the middle of the canyon-lightness and darkness

Down at the Colorado River

Friday, July 4, 2014

Life is Like a Box of Fireworks

Happy 4th of July to ya! Hope everyone had a fun-, family-, food-, firework-filled day. 
Mine was a little different than usual. Typically, I wake up, give my dad a birthday card, load up the car and head to east Texas for some family time-complete with fun, food and fireworks of course. Today, I was heading the opposite direction on the map-through west Texas into New Mexico, without family, without cards, without typical 4th of July food. But it was incredible! A road trip to be remembered as our mission trip team drove through the very flat, field-painted plains, stopping at some unexpectedly memorable landmarkers. 
When we got to our destination for the night, we got some info on the town's 4th of July festivities, dropped our bags in our rooms and headed out to the lake to watch the local firework show. 
As I sat between my teens as we stepped into this town's picture of tradition and watched the spectacular display, I found myself thinking about how one firework is cool, but I really like it when 3 or 4 or 10 go off all at once. I love the crashing boom and the overwhelming flash of lights as multiple fireworks shoot up at once. And I almost wished that they would just bundle all of the fireworks together and just throw a match and let the chaos ensue.
And as I imagined this, I started thinking about how as cool as that would be, the spectacle would be over in seconds instead of a 30 minute show of spurts of amazement as one or two go up in the night sky at a time. So as my mind continued on this path, I began to think that there's something to that steady awe that comes with watching a fireworks show-one, two, maybe three bursts at a time, all building to the incredible explosion of a finale when boxes of fireworks are set off at a time providing a continuous display of shimmering flashes and satisfying booms.
How often in life, do I want everything to explode all at once? To know all of the answers right that seconds? To experience everything I can in a race to the end?
And God moves just like the fireworks show-the professionals. He sends up a few at a time, let's me experience a couple great things or even a couple difficult things at a time, pacing me out for the grand finale. When I want to bundle everything up all together and throw the match in the middle, God tells me to wait and enjoy the show. My impatience says set all of it off at once so I can see all the pretty flashes and hear the roaring boom. And God shoots off a few at a time, leading me more and more toward the grand finale when I will be able to experience everything to the fullest. I am glad, then, that He is the professional and holds me off patiently so that I don't experience all of the things life has to offer all at once, and the show is over in a matter of seconds. I am glad for fireworks, and that no matter how many times I experience them, they are just as beautiful as if I had never seen them before. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Understanding the Potter

This past fall semester, I was in a ceramics class at school. I learned how to mix clay, different techniques for how to sculpt it, and proper procedure for glazing and firing it in the kiln. Little did I know that I would use what I learned in my ceramics class in post-grad life. 
My first week of my youth internship this summer, I-along with the other intern-was assigned to sculpt 40 cups and plates for a camp we are attending this summer. So for a week and a half, I spent all day in the office preparing clay and crafting it into 40 cups and 40 plates. I worked each lump of clay as best I could to become the piece I envisioned, pushing clay in certain ways, pulling in others; smoothing out the cracks and imperfections as the clay molded into the cup or plate I wanted it to be. If you haven't worked with clay before, that sounds a lot easier than it is. In theory, you take a lump of clay, you push some of it this way, pull some of it that way, smooth some areas and you've got a right perfect piece that everyone will "oooh" and "awww" over. As I'd learned in my ceramics class, and as I relearned my first two weeks of this internship, clay has a mind of its own. Often times, you start trying to craft it into this majestic piece that you see in your mind, and it begins to stray and break, forming an unsatisfying creation that you had no intention of making. And sometimes clay is either too wet or too dry, making it hard to work with. If it's too dry, you end up with lots of little cracks that no amount of smoothing can fix. But if it's too wet, it makes it difficult to keep the right thickness and be able to keep it smooth because it pulls away with your hands. These conditions often make working with clay a very frustrating undertaking.
And I begin to really understand the scriptures throughout the Bible that refer to God as a potter and us as his clay. The Potter sits down and crafts each one of us individually perfect, exactly how he sees fit. But we are stubborn, just as clay is stubborn, and we move when He wants us to be still, and we crack when He wants us to stay smooth. We so often decide that we know what is best, that we ruin the perfect vision He has for us because we don't listen to the Potter's voice.
There is an Ellie Goulding song that I have been, frankly, obsessed with the past few months. If you ever hear me humming something, chances are, it's this song. It's called "The Writer", and it's about her wanting a boy to notice her. But the chorus of the song just really speaks to me (insert coffee-shop snaps here). It says 
"Why don't you be the artist 
and make me out of clay.
Why don't you be the writer
and decide the words I say.
Cause I'd rather pretend I'll 
still be there in the end,
only it's too hard to ask. 
Won't you try to help me?"
I can't say for sure, I'm not really friends with Ellie (though I wish I could be), but I would 
imagine this has no spiritual implication for her. But for me, every time I hear the song, I picture ballroom dancing with God. It may seem like a silly image, but if you heard the song, you'd understand why. I imagine dancing around an elegant ballroom with God, speaking these words to Him as we spin around on the shiny wooden floor, asking him to mold me like an artist, and tell my story like a writer. I picture Him looking at me, as I warn Him that I'm imperfect and may not always be there like I should, but that if He helps me, maybe I can be as perfect as He is trying to create me. And so, like me with 40 clay cups and 40 clay plates, I am starting to understand God's frustration, pride, anguish, joy with His creations. I am beginning to let Him mold me as a potter sculpts his lumps of clay. And just maybe, through that very human parallel, I will become the perfect piece He envisioned when He set out to create me.
"Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand."
Isaiah 64:8

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Dead to Self

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."
Galatians 2:20

As I enter my post-grad life, I feel more myself than ever. I have begun to take ownership of the God-given qualities I have and ownership of my ability to change certain things about myself that aren't leading me to the person I want to be. I am Bailee. I am no longer who I think everyone else wants me to be-thought I am still working to get rid of the traces of that life. 
But something still unsettles me. As much as I feel that I am becoming more of who God wants me to be, I still feel like I am off track. Cue Galatians 2:20. As I've worked toward being who I think God wants me to be, I have forgotten the choice I made 8 years ago. 
"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:11

I decided to die to myself and take on Christ in baptism. And I think we don't put enough emphasis on this choice and the seriousness of it. I'm afraid to say in churches, we seem to be more concerned with getting juice and crackers or how worship sounds or if we are praying correctly to remember that our old selves are dead. Bailee is gone, and replaced with Christ. What would my life look like if I actually lived that way? 
At the camp I've gone to the past 7 years at my, now, Alma Mater, when someone gets baptized in the fountain, we all yell "Bye Y/N!" As they're going in the water. And then follow it with "Oh he/she gone!!" It's a fun, silly camp tradition, but what if we took that truth to heart. It may be a split second, but that time between hitting that water and returning to the surface is our funeral. It's probably the shortest, happiest funeral but still a funeral nonetheless. 
So maybe you can join me in prayer and ask for a reminder that "I am dead to self but alive in Christ. It is Him living within me that sustains me day to day."