About Me

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

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." 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quintessence [The Secret Life of Being a Wallflower]

I've been thinking.

    I recently sat down and read Perks of Being a Wallflower. I had seen the movie but needed to really experience the story in book form, so one day between classes I went to the library and checked it out. Aside from a busy first couple days where I read a "chapter" or two at a time, I finished the book in a matter of a day. There are some books, movies, moments that just hang in your head even when its over. For me, Perks is one of those.
    The story focuses on Charlie, who is entering his first year of high school, writing letters to an unknown "friend". He confides in this anonymous person with the details of his life including the thoughts he doesn't know how to share with anyone else. In his letters, he discloses the relationships he builds and experiences he has as he finds a place in high school. Charlie forms a relationship with his English teacher, Bill, who sees his potential and begins to challenge him with reading more advanced books and writing essays. One day, Bill and Charlie are talking and Bill asks Charlie if he always thinks so much, to which Charlie replies "Is that a bad thing?" Bill goes on to say "Sometimes people use thought not to participate in life."
Soaking in these words, Charlie sets out to participate in the world around him. He meets Sam and Patrick, brother and sister upperclassmen, who quickly become his closest friends. The two take him into their friend group and invite him to live outside of his thoughts but appreciate his qualities of being a wallflower. Sam and Patrick teach Charlie how to be a friend to others, the ups and downs of dating, how to take risks in life and step outside of his comfort zone, and show him love that he has missed most of his life as a wallflower. At one point in the story, Charlie begins dating one of Sam and Patrick's friend, but doesn't actually like her. In his attempt to be nice, he keeps dating her even though he loves Sam. One night at a party, Charlie is dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room and he chooses Sam. This causes a rift in the friend group, and Patrick advises Charlie to stay away for a while. So in a matter of minutes, he is back to being alone. He begins to spiral back into his anxiety, going through the motions of life and not really living. His thoughts become his friends, and he doesn't hear from Patrick or Sam for several weeks.

    Another story that has danced through my mind since I first saw it is the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I've already written a blog or two about my love for the film, but with it coming out on DVD and its parallel to Perks, I can't help but talk about it yet again. Walter is a daydreamer, through and through. Part of the draw of the movie is the ability to connect with his character's ability to daydream outrageous visions for his life. My daydreams may not include having "Benjamin Button" syndrome, but I certainly find myself daydreaming about different situations in my life. I daydream about having conversations with people, life after college, marriage, travel...you name it, I've probably daydreamed about it. In the movie, Walter is trying to "wink" at a girl on this online dating site, but he has to fill in his profile of "been there", "done that", so he keeps getting phone calls from a guy who works for the site. Walter tells the guy he hasn't really been anywhere noteworthy. His adventures have all been in his head, he hasn't really been participating in life.
    At the beginning of his journey, Walter is in Greenland and is forced to make the choice of giving up on his mission or getting in a helicopter with an inebriated Greenlandic man. He is sitting in the bar, letting his opportunity slip away, when he daydreams that Sheryl-the girl of his dreams-showed up and started singing "Space Oddity" to him. In a moment, he makes the quick decision to jump onto the helicopter as it's lifting off the ground. This is the point Walter's life changed. He went from daydreaming his adventure to living it. And just like Charlie faced difficulties after deciding to participate, so does Walter. Only a few minutes after taking this leap into a life of adventure, he jumps into the freezing waters of the Atlantic and is circled by a shark (or so I've gathered, as I've had my eyes closed through this scene all 3 times I've watched).
    Fortunately, in both stories, the protagonist continues forward. Charlie's friends work everything out, he gets help for his anxiety, and life returns to normal. Walter pushes on in his mission, adventures through Iceland and Afghanistan, finds what he's looking for and wins the girl in true happily ever after fashion.

So, as I said, I've been thinking.
    And there's the problem. I have been thinking and not living. Not participating. My life has been a series of daydreams and "what-ifs", thoughts and wishes instead of opportunities and adventures. Don't get me wrong, I love my life! And I don't think I'm as extreme as either of these characters-that's why they are characters. But I have been sitting back and thinking about how I want things to be, how I want to be, what I want to do, what I want to see. And I haven't been planning and working on how to get there. I haven't sought out opportunities to pour into other people. I use movie nights as a less-than-fulfilling substitute for really, truly spending time with the people I'm surrounded with.
    In Walter Mitty, Walter is searching for a film negative that is "the quintessence of life". Though, I'm not sure if that's life with a capital L or not, that is the purpose for the whole movie. On the surface, it's the search for the "quintessence of Life" (as in the magazine). But for Walter, it is the search for the "quintessence of life" (as in general-living, breathing, seeing, feeling life).
    Now, with all of this thinking I've been doing, I would have to say the quintessence of life is this: to participate. To think, yes, but to live outside of those thoughts and make life happen, instead of just letting life happening to you.

Monday, April 21, 2014


I went cliff diving for the first time this year. There's a lake about an hour away from school that students frequent to spend sunny days on the shore, and more importantly, jump from the infamous cliffs. As a senior, we felt it our duty to finally check this adventure off our bucket list. So last semester, my 4 best friends and I packed up may car, drove to a camp site near the lake that we'd found online, arrived after dark to set up camp and make s'mores. It was fantastic! Quite the bonding experience figuring out, as 5 only slightly outdoorsy girls, how to set up our rented tent and start a fire. But we did it, and The Lord said "It is good." We slept only slightly off the sharp rocks for the night, doing the continual skootch back to the middle of the tent after sliding in our sleeping bags down the incline we'd pitched the tent on. And in the morning, as the sun peeked through the trees above us,
 we got up (for once, not only was I not the last one asleep but I actually got up before everyone else! Quite a victory if you know me well) and made pancakes using a skillet we had ingeniously thought ahead to pack, and some cardboard for the spatula we so ingeniously forgot to pack. After a healthy breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes, we packed up, figured out how to pay for our camp site, and headed to the lake!
As none of us had been before, we drove around slightly confused for a few minutes before finally seeing what we could only assume were THE cliffs! As we dropped our belongings onto a nearby picnic table, we excitedly took a picture with the lake as our backdrop and then headed to the edge. 
Crossing the threshold from gravel-y ground to rock-form made the impending feat amazingly realistic. Finally, after 4 years of hearing about cliff jumping, I was about to take on the task! We approached the edge, and suddenly every imaginable worst-case-scenario rushed through my mind.
"What if I trip and fall and go tumbling to my doom?" "What if I don't make it far enough out and crack my skull open, leaving my best friends staring down at my limp corpse?!" "What if I hit the water at the wrong angle and the water goes inside my body and makes my insides explode like the guy on 1000 Ways to Die?" And suddenly cliff jumping was not so appealing. I always used to think I had a fear of heights, like any respectable human, but I've come to realize the past couple years that I have a fear of falling. That moment when suddenly nothing is beneath you and you don't know if you'll ever know what it's like to have something beneath your feet again; no thank you. But here I was, and there was no way I could chicken out. I had to do this. Thousands of other students before me had jumped and survived. And so, after watching my more brave counterparts jump ahead of me, I focused on them in the water, stood at the edge of the cliff and pushed myself into the temporary nothingness. I felt like I was in the air for many minutes before I finally felt the cold water swallow me up, but as I kicked my way to the surface, I heard the cheers from my friends and I knew I did it! I leaped into uncertainty, trusting that my feet could propel me far enough away from the sharp cliff edge, fell through the nothingness for what felt like an eternity, and finally landed in the water near my friends, thus allowing me to become a true Harding student!

In 18 days, I will join with a few hundred other students in the Benson Auditorium. I will "close my Harding chapter", "complete my education", and "step into the real word". Yes, I'm nervous. Yes, I'm excited. But I am trusting that God will prepare my feet to move far enough from the sharp edge and that after falling a short time, He will swallow me up in a new chapter of life. I am facing one of the scariest, most thrilling cliffs of my life.
And here.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Midst of the Fire

We have started singing a song recently at church called "Cast My Cares" by Tim Timmons. The verse reads, 
"In the middle of the night
When worry finds me
In the middle of the fight
When strength is gone
In the middle of a fire
When fear is closing in
You are, You are my song
You're my hope, when hope is gone"

I love it! It gets stuck in my head quite frequently and I find myself unknowingly humming it or repeating the tune over and over in my head. It reminds me of those times of falling at the feet of God, exhausted and helpless, saying I don't even know what to ask because I can't find the words I am so tired, but knowing that in that exhaustion God is leading me through. The chorus goes on to say 
"I will cast my care on you, the Almighty.
I will cast my cares on you cause you're good.
I will cast my cares on you cause you love me..."
And there is the hope. I am not, but I know I Am! I am weak and fragile, but I can take all of those burdens and set them on the shoulders of my God. Praise!
Tonight at my Wednesday night devotional, we read Lamentations 3 and talked about the hopeless exhaustion that comes with this life but that through it all, God is sovereign and He is present. 

Lamentations 3:7-9, 21-23 says, 
"He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains. Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked. 
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord ’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

What a blessing to know that no matter what we go through (if you read the whole chapter, it talks about chewing gravel and being pierced by arrows and being mangled by animals and some other really unpleasant things) we will not be overtaken or consumed by them because we have God! And God is so faithful! He is strong. He loves us.

This morning, an old friend spoke in my Bible class, sharing what God has taught him during his time as a youth minister. One point that really stood out to me as he talked was about taking opportunities. As he shared a bit about his experience, he commented on how we tend to wait for our struggles to be tied up neatly before we share them with others, but too often we miss out on the opportunity to minister in those times when we are actually going through the fire. He said that he decided to share with his teens what he has been going through because "in the end, I believe I will come out faithful." And all day, those words have echoed in my ears. To look at a situation where you feel far from God, and know that you can accept your struggles and sin and hurt because, in the end, faith overcomes. 
Zechariah 13:9-
"This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’"
Sometimes, we have to be put straight into the fire, refined like silver to the point of changing states, and then molded back into what we are intended to be.

I have to confess that I had started this blog earlier today, with the intent of sharing the fire I am going through. With the hope that inviting others into my mess-and encouraging others to let those around them into their own messes. Yet, as I wrote, the words seemed stuck; stifled. They seemed hollow and choppy, like I was forcing the post. So I threw it out. It went against the mission of my blog-to share things that would be beneficial to others, and not just things that I wanted to talk about. 
However, I think that God wanted me to share this idea of being in the midst of the fire. He kept nudging me throughout the day, so here I press on with new intent. And while I feel I am going through the fire in some fashion, my words are not what needed to be written. I pray that this can be a call to hope for those of you going through a fire of your own, no matter how big or small it may be. To know that whatever you are going through, God will come out victorious-with you right beside Him!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Namaste! ::[And What You Can Learn From Others]::

Warning: Content below may be more liberal than it appears. 

Don't say you haven't been warned.

This weekend, I went on the coveted Living World Religions trip that takes place each semester. We spent 3 days in DFW, taking our learning from classroom to experience. Let me tell you, it was incredible! Aside from the fact that field trips are just fun anyway, I learn so much more from directly experiencing something. 
During the weekend we went to a Hindu Temple, a Theravada Buddhist temple, a Muslim Mosque, a Sikh Temple, a Jewish Synagogue, a Baha'i Center, and a Soka Gakai Buddhist Temple. Talk about a whirlwind of knowledge. I wish I could post everything I saw, processed, thought, felt, talked about, etc. but that would be pages-and I don't even know if I can put it into words justly. 

But there is one particular experience--well, one word really, that has played through my mind the past few days.
If you've ever done yoga, you've probably heard and said this word. 
Our first stop of the trip, Friday morning, was to a Hindu Temple. A beautiful Indian couple met us and spent a few hours explaining the basic beliefs of Hinduism. I could have spent the rest of the day there, listening and asking questions and looking at everything, and still not feel confidently enough to claim that I KNOW Hinduism. I don't seek to explain it here either, but I would love to tell you what I learned if you'd ask me! 
But the word "namaste", the couple explained, means "I bow to the divinity within you". I honor that "Brahman" is within you. Brahman is the Creator god in Hinduism. Something I misunderstood in Hinduism is that Brahman is the one god, and then there are different deities under it (like our Creator God, and then the deities of Jesus and the Holy Spirit). But they also believe that Brahman is in everything; that it is in the trees, the air, and us. So "namaste" is respecting the part of Brahman that is in them. And that word and phrase have resounded through my mind since Friday morning.
One of my biggest take-aways from the weekend was seeing how we can learn truths from other religions that are also present in our own. Every opportunity is a chance to learn and grow.

So what if we, as Christians, learned from "namaste"? What if we approached the rest of our brothers and sisters in this world and bowed to the part of God that is in all of his creation? I don't know about you, but I think God's fingerprint is in every part of creation, kind of like Brahman in Hinduism. I'm certain those implications are different in Hinduism than in Christianity. But I fully believe we can learn from different religions and grow in our faith because of it.
So just imagine if we acknowledged that God is living inside of your brother, or inside of your roommate, or your spouse, or that waiter at your favorite restaurant, or the scantily-clad woman you passed in downtown. Would you approach them differently? Would your thoughts go immediately to judgement, or would they go to love? Wouldn't it be much easier to go talk to a stranger who looks different than you if you thought about how you both had God within you? That's something that I really need to take to heart.
Hebrews 13:2 tells us to show love to strangers because in doing so, we could have shown love to an angel without even knowing (paraphrase). And Matthew 15:40, Jesus says "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." So greeting someone with "namaste", maybe we will be more willing to see the beauty and value in a person who, by our worldly perceptions, is not seen as valuable.
Not only does this idea of bowing to the divinity within a person change how you view them, but when you bow, you lower yourself and show humility in approaching someone else. I was reading this blog earlier today about the meaning of Namaskar (the act associated with Namaste) and it said that people look to the earth, humbling themselves, when they bow in Namaste. You humble yourself in the presence of God, so it only makes sense to humble yourselves to the aspect of himself in his creation. 
Let me say that again, we humble ourselves to the aspect of God in his creation. We do not worship the creation itself. That is one major difference I saw over and over this weekend, but that's not what this post is about. There's a major aspect in Namaskar that focuses on recognizing our oneness with those around us, being created by the same creator. Namaste acknowledges this idea that none are higher than anyone else. Bowing (humbling) ourselves to each other places every person on the same level. And therein lies the solution! When we recognize we are no more nor less than anyone else, we can show them the true, pure love of God that His greatest creation deserves.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


"If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation." --Don Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend putting it on your list! Or really anything by Don Miller. Anyway, this quote really stuck out to me, so I just wanted to unpack a little bit. Recently I have been on an online quiz kick with my suite-we send each other silly quizzes that tell you everything from what color is your aura to which member of One Direction should you marry (for those wondering, I've gotten Harry for every variation of this topic.) I have also had to take some psychological tests for an application process I am currently going through. On both of these types of quizzes (legitimate and amateur-created), a series of personality/preference based questions are asked. In the past two weeks I have answered questions about what type of pet would I prefer, where someone would find me at a party, what my ideal first date would be, and even where I value myself. It may seem silly, but these quizzes-both clinical and not-have sent me on some soul searching. I realized that I have a hard time discerning how to answer some questions because I weigh my entire life in the options. And too often, I have to stop myself from answering how my late adolescent self would. I am realizing more and more that I have changed a LOT since high school. I have found a deeper faith-one that is informed and intentional instead of well-behaved and surface. I have gained more and more confidence in myself. I have started realizing what I actually like and what I don't like, instead of trying to like whatever is cool around me. 
And through it all, I keep changing. I have often been noted as the most changed person in different periods in my life. At summer camp, in middle school choir, with my high school friend groups, and now with my best friends. I never thought twice about how often I am told that I've "changed so much since..." You fill in the blank. But I think that's one of the qualities I am thankful for the most. The ability to grow in so many situations. And maybe that's because I have more growing to do than most people, I'm not quite sure, but I constantly thank God that I have experience character transformation. 
Granted, I still have many days where I backslide closer to my old ways, but the further I grow away from that, the further my backslides are from that original point. I don't say any of that to brag, just reflecting on life and story. We are given an opportunity to live the kind of story we want. And sometimes that story is walking alongside God, letting Him change and grow us. Sometimes that story has lows, sometimes it has highs. But we are always moving in our story. We can live as the protagonist-moving forward, toward a new self who is more loving/courageous/confident/joyful/whatever you desire most. Or we can live as an antagonist-moving back, away, down; becoming more pessimistic/angry/spiteful/fearful. Either way, we go through a character transformation. And, as Don puts it, "If you haven't experienced character transformation, the story hasn't happened yet." 

We can choose our own story, whether we will be an antagonist or protagonist. Whether we will grow forward, or slide back. Whether you will live your story intentionally or with apathy, playing the victim. What will your character transformation be?

I Just Can't Do It Alone

The reality of graduation is weighing very heavily on me. Not in an "I'm depressed and mopey, freaking out because college is ending" kind of way, but more of a "wide-eyed 22 year old, facing the precipice of real-life adulthood" way. 

In less than 2 months now, I will don my graduation cap and gown, hopefully smoothly waltz across the Benson stage, shake hands with Dr. McLarty, and shuffle my way into the cold world. And each step I take toward that day is making me realize more and more that I am growing up. What a terrifying, but simultaneously incredible, thought! 

I have changed so much in the past 4 years-physically, emotionally, spiritually-and thank GOD! As I approach this crossroads, I find myself stealing glances back at what was, thinking about all the things I have learned and the different places I have transformed. I can literally feel the growing pains, as I prepare to take my leap into full-on responsibility; a world away from the simplicities of the routine of school-life. And this semester is challenging me-this whole year, in fact. I have been given incredible responsibilities (and when I say incredible, I mean I am so honored by all the responsibilities handed to me within the past year). I was given the chance last summer to not only intern for a second time but to coordinate a seminar about human trafficking at my church. My best friend got engaged to the man of her dreams, and I am humbled to stand beside her as Maid of Honor this year. I spent last semester as an activities director for my social club with my dear friend Steph. In some fumble of life, I was selected to help lead our human trafficking group at Harding with a group of awesome people who are dedicated to the cause! And most recently, have been blessed to be connected in a powerful way with the organization PATH in Little Rock, and am directing a 5K in May to help promote awareness and raise funds.

And with all this responsibility, as amazing as it is, I am questioning what on EARTH God thinks He is doing. I'm the girl who can't finish anything! There's a coffee table sitting in our apartment living room that has been sanded down for almost a year now, waiting on me to spruce it up with a new paint job. I'm the girl who starts to clean her room, and get's stuck sorting through a drawer of old stuff, leaving it a bigger mess than when I started. I can't even list how many books I have accumulated over my life that are half-read, because I start a new one and never go back to finish it.

So this is my growing up challenge. God is challenging me to finish what I started. He's challenging me to not hope that things are moved or cancelled for my lazy convenience, but to take on all my responsibilities (be it Maid of Honor, HUmanity, graduation, post-grad planning, social life, PATH, etc.) and complete them for His glory. He is teaching me that I CAN'T finish anything on my own...except maybe a Peanut Butter Snickers. But I CAN finish if I turn it over to Him. I will always need help. Granted, I am often too stubborn to ask for it. God has been standing next to me so many times saying "Here, hand it to me, beloved. We can do it together. My yoke is easy and my burden is light. It's lighter than any of these things you are juggling. So hand it to me, let me help." 

I will probably still always be that girl who has a hard time finishing every book I pick up, or every DIY project I so boldly take on. But I also know that God is growing me in this stage of my life, to be a mature adult, willing to take on tasks that will glorify Him. He just has to remind me sometimes that I can only truly finish them if I rely on Him.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Girl Post: Cheetah Nail Art DIY

When I'm stressed, I paint my nails. It helps me to be able to focus on that one thing and feel like I'm being productive. So last night, I decided to try out this cheetah print nail art that I saw on Instagram. I'm kind of obsessed, might be trying it in many different colors until I find some new design that I feel I can manage.
Anyway, I wanted to pass on how to make your own cheetah print nail art!

You need:
3 colors of nail polish (particularly your base color, white and black-but feel free to get creative!)
Top coat
Pointed tip or very tiny paint brush (I used an old ball point pen with a sharp tip)
Cotton ball or tissue

[Step 1] Paint your base color. The one I saw was purple; I decided on a slate so it would go with more.
[Step 2] Once your base dries, take white polish and make sporadic dots on your nail as desired.
[Step 3] Taking your pointed tip-in my case a pen, blot some of your black polish onto the tip and dab around the edges of the white dot. 
As you do this, you may need to use your tissue or cotton ball to wipe off excess polish from the tip so you can keep your strokes small.
[Step 4] Fill in the areas around your dots with smaller dots of black paint and little squiggles, as you see fit. 
[Step 5] Once the spots have dried some, paint your top coat over the whole nail and let it dry completely. 

I did mine a little to close to bed time, and made a couple blanket impressions while I slept. Lesson learned. 

Here is the video tutorial I saw from "theStyleChick" on Instagram, in case you're a visual learner like me.

Go crazy and enjoy!

Monday, February 17, 2014

The One Where I Cried At Church

Yes I just titled my post like a Friends episode.
No I'm not ashamed.

Anyway, a Facebook friend shared this link, and I thought I'd pass it on. This is the video they showed in church yesterday. Very incredible story of singer Lacey Sturm, NFL player David Tyree, and Illusionist Jim Monroe. So if you read yesterday, or even if you didn't and feel like hearing some tear jerking testimony, click the link.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Living Alive

I cried in church today.

There! I said it! They played a video about three different peoples' testimony and I cried. I can usually suck it up pretty well-I hate being "that girl"...about anything, so I try to hide it. I'm guilty of the eye-scratch, wiping away any tears that got past my stubborn steely resolve. But today, I cried. There's something about redemption that makes me tear up a bit. 
Today was different though. As I listened to those three different stories, I realized that I haven't felt in a while. It's more like a nudge on the surface. I haven't let life seep into me, and really emote any responses from me. It was one of those moments, where I kind of pulled out of my stupor, looked around at what's been going on around me, blinked to clear my vision and then felt the jab of reality. I don't know exactly what made me cry, I think it was the famous magician who had to go through killing his immune system, received a bone marrow transplant from a 19 year old girl, and hoped his body would reject this new blood. His words were something like, It was no longer me in my veins but someone else's blood filling me and making me alive. With that, I remembered The Blood. The Blood that poured out for me at Golgotha-somewhere I have seen/walked on. I haven't thought about that Sacrifice in a long time. And I think it's something that is important to reflect on frequently in order to keep you on track. 
And I have definitely not been on track. I haven't been doing anything majorly sinful, but I have turned off. I am realizing I have a bad habit of shutting off my feelings. It starts with distracting myself with something because whatever I'm feeling becomes too much-for me, it's boredom with life, ready to move on to something bigger; something different. And then, I start to pull away from making plans, going out of my way. I start to just come back to my room and spend many hours on the computer or my phone or watching movies and reading books. Anything to escape into a different reality. Then I have a moment where I start to get frustrated with how much time I'm wasting and the energy I haven't been using for anything actually good. But I go on as a robot-knowing, but not feeling. I really start to notice when I haven't gone out of my way recently to see people-aside from those I live with (praises I live with people or things could be a lot worse). And then finally, I wake up. Like I did this morning. I look around and see that I have been living quite unintentionally. 
So that's where I am. Realizing my less than inspiring habits. And recognizing its time for a change. My bad habit of turning off my feelings when I get overwhelmed has got to stop. I need to feel, even if it makes me "that girl"-the one who cries at sweet things and talks about their feelings too much. I need to feel the weight of new blood pulsing through me. That since 9th grade, when I chose to go into that water, my blood was replaced. The Blood that spilled out at Golgotha is pulsing inside of me, keeping me alive. It's sustaining everything I do. How can I take that transplant and then go on living a life that does not live up to my purpose when I was given a second chance? 
Can you imagine if the man this morning had gotten the transplant from the 19year old girl, gotten better and then turned around and cheated on his wife, left his family, and started shooting heroine into his bloodstream? It would have been a huge spit in that young lady's face, knowing she saved his life and he turned right around and ruined it.
I have been given new blood. But I am turning around and spitting in the face of the one who gave it to me. I am still living as if I am dead, not alive. 

Romans 6:11-13 says,
"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness."

My bad blood has been replaced, but I am still acting as if I am dead. God has brought me out of that death, given me the purest blood possible and invited me to be an instrument in His Kingdom. I want to stop turning off my emotional response to that thought, and start really feeling it. I want to let it wreck my bones, seep all the way to my core until I don't have the strength to stand anymore under the weight of that truth. Real, raw feeling. The kind you feel when you're so overwhelmed with one particular emotion.

When I think of being overwhelmed with emotion, I think of my senior year in high school. Let me set the scene. I was in an extracurricular class called "Ready, Set, Teach", where we went off site for an hour and worked with an elementary school teacher. One day my spring semester, I was having a really tough week-stressed with school, overwhelmed about college, and had been having fights with one of my best friends. I made the decision that day that it was better that I didn't go offsite that day because I felt like my performance would be affected by my mood, but I didn't want to talk to my RST teacher about it or have to sit alone in the classroom with her for an hour. So when we all went downstairs to get on our buses, I made a bee-line to the theatre room (my home away from home) and hung out in there until the next class period. That afternoon, my dad came into my room and said the secretary at the elementary school (who was a family friend) called my dad, worried about me because I didn't show up and my RST teacher had come looking for me.
The next day, in RST, I got my first ever referral-I HATED getting in trouble at school; cried about it then, still probably would have cried now. So I had to go down to the VP, and she told me I was suspended for a day. I have never been so ashamed in my life. I didn't know how I was going to tell my parents that I got suspended from school for skipping a class! It was so out of character and I knew I would be dead meat. Fortunately, I was able to talk her into giving me Saturday School.
After school, I didn't go home. I think I had play practice, but then I just hung out in my car until church. I cried off and on all day, so ashamed that I had broken trust with my teacher, and was lying to my mom (dad already knew unfortunately). But I went into class at church that night, barely made it through the singing before I went to the back of the room, buried my face and sobbed the entire rest of the class time. I prayed fervently-more fervently than I've ever prayed in my 22 years. I was so overcome with shame, I didn't know how anyone could ever forgive me. Looking back, it was such a stupid teenager thing, but those emotions were so intense. And when I finished crying in bed that night, I felt God's peace rest on me and I knew that as stupid as my mistake was, it wasn't enough to separate me from Him and His love. 

That is the kind of earth-shaking, bone-quaking emotion that I want to fill up my life. I want to connect to God and His sacrifice truly and deeply. But also to look at those people around me, and feel such a love for them that I can't help but be emotional in one way or another with them. To feel. To feel deeply. And to stop turning the feeling off.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

4 Things I Want to Say to Teens

For the past two summers, I have been given the opportunity to work as a youth intern with a youth group in my hometown. It has been a tremendous blessing and I am still in awe that I got to do it not only one, but two summers! I have got to see those teens grow and be challenged by different things in their life, and have truly come to love them more than words can say. I also am excited to be doing a different internship this summer with a new group of teens, and cannot wait to come to know them in a way that I have my OLY kids! 
In my time working with teenagers, although I am not far removed from being one myself, I have noticed that I am more sensitive to the things teenagers are encountering. From the tv shows they-and even I-watch to the clothes they wear and the messages our culture feeds to tweens and teens. My heart breaks knowing that they are being fed some of the same lies I was when I was their age-lies that so many others older than me have experienced. And I have spent the past few months just having that unsettling feeling eat at me. I speak directly to my OLY teens in my statements, but I also want to shout a proclamation to any other teens out there when I say these things. 
Maybe these will be helpful to you, maybe you have other things to struggle with, but I felt the need to share some tiny bits of wisdom from someone who was just there not long ago. When I graduated high school, my church-on Senior Sunday-had us leave a bit of advice from our experiences to those kids still in the youth group. So maybe that is what I am trying to do: share some advice from my experiences, especially now that I have been out of high school for a few years and have been able to reflect on the person I was throughout my teenage years.
1) Embrace your quirks!
Once you accept that you are weird and that's okay, others will accept it too. In case you hadn't heard, WE ARE ALL WEIRD!
Just look at some of the most popular celebs now (Ex: Jennifer Lawrence). 

Our favorite famous people are our favorites because they have accepted that they aren't always gonna come off as cool, and that's totally okay! Everyone has stupid moments-I have had more than my share today alone. So accept those weird things you like to do, don't be afraid to say you like something because you think other people will judge you, and move on with life. People will respect that you know yourself well enough to know what you like, and aren't just trying to impress others.  You were created to be a unique person-crooked nose, ant farm collection, odd sense of humor and all. In the words of my favorite poets "That's what makes you beautiful." Embrace it!
2) Being 18 does NOT make you an adult.
Trust me on this-I am almost 22 and I can't even tell you that I've fully reached adulthood. You will learn that there is no checkpoint for when you really feel like an adult (or so I hear). I have heard so many teens utter the words "I'm 18, technically I'm an adult and I can make my own decisions." Or even worse, "I can drive, I'm responsible now." No, you're not. I'm not.
So check the attitude at the door, accept that you are not fully ready to make adult decisions, and enjoy not having the responsibility that comes with adulthood while you can. 
 Wish someone had drilled that into me when I was a teen.

3) Don't lose your love for reading.
This may seem like a silly thing to share, but I have rediscovered my love for reading, and maybe its because I live with education majors who constantly talk about how important reading is to development, but I wish that I had never stopped. I would make a nice little bet that most teens were like me and as soon as reading became a requirement for school, you stopped liking books and (admittedly) spent a good number of nights on PinkMonkey or SparkNotes. 
Which is wrong, don't use SparkNotes...
[Parent moment: do as I say, not as I do. Okay, glad we're past that.] 
But I urge you guys, find books you like-take time on the weekends or instead of sitting back watching TV or Netflix-whatever newfangled mode of entertainment you kids have these days-and dive into a book you enjoy. Books are cool. Trust me. 
Reading takes you on more adventures than any movie ever can (and I am definitely a movie lover). There is nothing like living in book-world for however long it takes to read one. It seeps into every part of your life and you almost forget you're not actually living in book-world. It's GREAT! Plus books make you smarter. I can tell a difference in how I talk to other people, how I do on assignments in school, and how I think when I have been reading more frequently. So try it out. Go find a good book and chill in a library instead of on the couch one afternoon. Besides, one day, you'll be a twenty something year old, sitting in a coffee shop reading your new favorite classic literature book and meet the person you're going to marry. So that's always a plus.

4) Don't waste your energy on popularity.
First of all, popularity is incredibly relative (if you don't know what that means, Google it.)
Find who you enjoy being around, who makes you be the person you want to be, and stick with them. It will be more beneficial in the long run anyway. Friendships are such an important part of life, especially as a teenager. And that makes friendships a very fragile thing. As much as you don't want to admit it, bad friends will make an impact on you. Not that you can't be friends with everyone, but your inner circle will affect how you view life and how you feel about yourself and others. So be careful who you let into that circle, and realize that sometimes you have to cut strings with friends who don't influence you in the best ways.
Secondly, don't waste your energy trying to impress those "cool" people. It is distracting from actually finding out who YOU are as a person when you are trying with everything in you to fit into what their mold of cool is. Don't wait til later to really sit down and figure out who you are. That is something I never looked at until I was in college. I "thought" I knew who I was in middle school and high school, but I was really just trying to be acceptable enough for other people. And like I said in #1, spend time figuring out how to to accept your quirks. Ask what your strengths AND weaknesses are-not just your strengths. Figure out what you want to do with your life-not just career and college wise either. What are some things you want to accomplish in life? Even if they're absolutely bonkers, aim high! Maybe you'll never go to the moon, but it's fun to dream about it. Figure out what YOU want and who YOU want you to be.
That's a much better use of your energy than the negativity of trying to impress someone else.

I personally think teenagers are some of the most powerful people in the world. You guys just need some refocusing and encouragement! Enjoy the time you have as a teen-you're more responsible than a child, but not quite as responsible as an adult. It's the best of both worlds!

Friday, January 17, 2014

World Wide Wonder

Two years ago today, I stepped onto a plane to begin my semester abroad in Greece. 
Two years ago today, I left America for the first time.
Two years ago today, my life was absolutely changed. 
That may sound like an exaggeration, but I truly have never been the same since that day. The next time I stepped foot in America, my heart had been broken and rebuilt into something new. It's still being built new all the time-but that's another conversation. 
Two years ago, I did not know what wanderlust was. Now, it fills every part of my being. Some days-like today-I can barely live life without feeling like I am going to burst. Some days, I can only dream about leaving everything behind and getting on a plane to a different place. My desire to travel was spurred by getting on that plane two years ago. 
I have been incredibly, amazingly, surprisingly blessed to have been to 10 different countries since that day. I have been overwhelmingly blessed to now have friends in countries all over the world! When I think about that, I can barely breathe through my joy. I have friends now who are currently living in a different countries-whether through study abroad, mission work, teaching, etc.-and when I think of the things they are seeing right now, I can hardly hold myself together. There is something so incredible about being in a new place, taking in new scenes, experiencing new cultures, and especially meeting new people. I long for the day when I can step into a new place and experience life with different people. Sometimes my wonder creeps into my bones and pushes out through every part of me, making me feel like I'm going to explode. I am still amazed that one step two years ago inspired that in me. 
I wonder if I would have ever felt this way if I had not taken a risk to sign up for a semester abroad. I am thankful for that experience because I fear where I would be if God had not shaken my world in that semester. I fear that I would not be as fearless in the world and in God had I not gone abroad for that first time. I am so thankful for the experiences, friendships, and memories I have from two years ago. I am thankful for the people who challenged me to rethink how I love. I'm thankful that I can feel more gratitude in the difficult times now. I'm thankful that I am learning to take a step back from my culture every now and then. I am just immensely, overwhelmingly thankful that God has given me this wanderlust, and that He has given others the same desire to go and get to know others in different cultures. 
This is the place where my heart was changed. I am now filled with a world wide wonder.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Feeling Adventurous

In the obsession of the Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack, I decided to build my own adventure playlist. Because I'm feeling whimsical and daydream-y and such. And because, why not? It's pretty much just a folksy mix of songs that would be good for coffee shops, plane trips, car rides, falling asleep to; whatever suits your fancy. So feel free to follow it if you have Spotify, and even moreso, feel free to add your own tunes to it. 

If all goes well, I've posted a link to it for quick access.

22 Favorite Quotes from the Screwtape Letters

I made it a goal this break to read the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, finally, considering I finally had time to sit and absorb myself in it. I apologize to everyone on my Facebook and Twitter, I really tried to keep the quotes at a minimum, but they were just so good I couldn't help but share sometimes. Anyway, in an attempt to keep myself from copying the entire book into Facebook statuses, I kept a note on my phone of some of my favorite quotes from the book, which I will share momentarily.

In the two weeks I took to sit and read and absorb this book, I was given so much insight into how Satan works in our lives. I am amazed that a man could sit down and write an entire book from the perspective of a being that is absolutely the furthest thing from the reality he believes in, but thankful that Lewis had such a brilliant mind as to contribute these Letters to the world. It was such a surreal moment reading each chapter as Screwtape addressed almost every sin I have ever dealt with and many I didn't even realize were something I struggled with. A huge part of me felt peace rush through my body though as I read the words that admitted I wasn't the only one in the world who experienced these moments of weakness. Clearly Lewis understood the struggle enough to address it, which I can only imagine means he must have faced the same things I have and, even more, currently am dealing with. I sing praises that C.S. Lewis was such a brilliant man, and even more that God was able to use him to reach into society through his literature. 
So without any further ado, my top quotes from The Screwtape Letters:

"All mortals tend to turn into the thing they pretend to be. This is elementary."

"Indeed-the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."

**"When [God] talks of their losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamour of slef-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I'm afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever." **

"The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring two-pence what other people say about it, is by that very fact forearmed against some of our subtlest modes of attack."

"Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, 'By jove! I'm being humble!' and almost immediately pride-pride at his own humility-will appear."
----this one appealed to me cause I have often caught myself double-thinking my motivation for doing something. It made me aware that this type of double-thinking is one way Satan tries to steal glory from God.

"Let him think of it [humility] not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely a low opinion) of his own talents and character...By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools."
---God created us perfectly and our doubting ourselves does not mean we are being humble.

"For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them."

"He does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it."

"Much of the modern resistance to chastity comes from men's belief that they 'own' their bodies."

"We teach them not to notice the different senses of the possessive pronoun..."

"And all the time the joke is that the word 'Mine' in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything. In the long run either Our Father [Satan] or the Enemy [God] will say 'Mine' of each thing that exists, and specially of each man. They will find out in the end, never fear, to whom their time, their souls, and their bodies really belong--certainly not to THEM, whatever happens."

"There are things for humans to do all day long without His [God] minding in the least--sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before its any use to us."

"On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything--even social justice."

"Thus we make it fashionable to expose the dangers of enthusiasm at the very moment when they are all really becoming worldly and lukewarm; a century later, when we are really making them all Byronic and drunk with emotion, the fashionable outcry is directed against the dangers of the mere 'understanding'."

"...Love is not enough, that charity is needed and not yet achieved and that no external law can supply its place."

"Anything, even a sin, which has the total effect of moving him close up to the Enemy, makes it against us in the long run."

"If the thing he prays for doesn't happen, then that is one more proof that petitionary prayers don't work; if it does happen, he will, of course, be able to see some of the physical causes which led up to it, and 'therefore it would have happened anyway', and thus a granted prayer becomes just as good a proof as a denied one that prayers are ineffective."

"To watch a mean do something is not to make him do it."

"Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is 'finding his place in it', while really it is finding its place in him."

"He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality."

"Pilate was merciful till it became risky."

"...the act of cowardice is all that matters; the emotion of fear is, in itself, no sin and, though we enjoy it, does us no good."

**Absolutely my favorite quote from this book! Truly a moment of really grasping how God works in His desire for us to give up ourselves and put Christ on. It is not a selfish request, but one that will give us even more freedom and joy than anything we could ever give ourselves in life.