Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer Sabbath

After snoozing my alarm several times, I roll out of bed and reheat the coffee that my parents made hours ago. I meander my way over to the couch in my living room and either read or journal or check to see if any of my favorite blogs have new posts. This is my favorite time of day. I make sure I eat something healthy so that I can run later. (Thank goodness for Fitness Magazine and their couch to half-marathon plan because otherwise the couch is where I would live this summer. All I need is a little accountability and the plan has done just that.) After my run through the familiar cross country course, I make it home and spend the rest of the day reading or doing chores or spending time with family. I love being able to be home during this time of year because I spend many evenings going to my siblings final soccer games, choir concerts, and senior activities. It makes me feel like I'm making up for not being around during the semester.

One aspect of this summer that I especially enjoy is that I have several small homework assignments to complete for a summer class that I'm taking. It has been beneficial for me to be forced to continue to learn over the summer. I always say I want to read a million books over the summer. By the end of each semester I lament, "Gah, I can't wait until I can read what I WANT to read."And then I end up watching Netflix or spending mindless hours on Facebook. Ask me how I find hours to spend on Facebook? Beat's me. It's a skill I've acquired over the years, one that I'm not particularly proud of. However this year, I have to read for my class and I love the books that we are assigned. Interacting with a good book is one of my favorite things to do. The margins are filled with my questions, exclamations "wow!", and hesitations "hmm." These books help me put my thoughts together about how and why I am going to pursue my vocation after school. The class forces me to continue writing over the summer, something I always wish I had done by the time school comes around and I feel like an incompetent writer compared to the end of last semester. These are habits that I hope to be forming for the rest of my life: running, reading, and writing.

I spent most of last semester flying by the seat of my pants (as the old saying goes). I had so much on my plate between Young Life and schoolwork that I never felt like I did excellent work in any aspect of life. (I do not think it helped that I did not like most of my classes). I ended the semester with good grades, which was a miracle in itself. However, I do not look back on this semester and feel like I learned anything mind blowing or really had to work through any material that changed my worldview or personal philosophy as classes in semesters past have done. Perhaps this is just due to the nature of the progression of classes in the honors college or perhaps I was so concerned with getting by that I didn't have the time to really wrestle with the material. I want to turn in excellent work. I want to be proud of my assignments. I am greatly looking forward to next semester during which I will have the time to do so.

That being said, I made several huge life decisions this past semester, one of which was to stop leading Young Life. That's another post in itself, but the process that I went to do make that decision was a long and hard one. I had to learn to wait and trust, to be patient, to discern, to seek wise counsel, to pray, and to make a decision. It was a long discerning process, but I am at peace. The Lord made himself evident throughout the whole process and I am so thankful for that. I'm going to miss my team and all my friends at GV, but I know that many friendships will transcend Young Life, for which I have so much hope.



This summer is going to be drastically different from last year's. Not any better or worse, just different. Last summer was a blessing that I didn't know I needed. It provided so much healing and love that stayed with me through the school year. It bonded Drew An and I forever. We learned so much and grew so much. It is a summer that I won't forget and will cherish always.

This summer sabbath rest is much needed after a long and stressful school year and I'm going to soak it in and enjoy and reflect and grow. It is a time to just be. Thank the Lord for the summer time.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Living In the Already But Not Yet.

Every year my church at home asks members to contribute to a Lenten Devotional. We are asked to reflect up on a Biblical Passage and share our reflections to be compiled into a devotional book that is will lead us through the season of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday.

Here is this year's contribution. Hope you enjoy!

Psalm 51
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon
To the leader. A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
    and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
    a sinner when my mother conceived me.
You desire truth in the inward being;[a]
    therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right[b] spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
    and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and sustain in me a willing[c] spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you have no delight in sacrifice;
    if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God[d] is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
19 then you will delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.



Life is difficult. We face many hardships and disappoint ourselves daily. We live in a fallen world. This is apparent through broken friendships and marriages, betrayal, war, abuse of power, and the refusal to acknowledge another’s dignity. Though it is easy to list reasons how the brokenness of the world manifests itself in everyday life, it is often difficult for me to put myself in the “fallen” category. I am quick to declare that the world is sinful while simultaneously ignoring the parts of myself that are ugly and shameful. 

It is impossible to be human and not sin. Even King David who was chosen by God to be king of Israel, committed adultery with Bathsheba and then ordered the death of her husband Uriah. David, who we expect to be virtuous and Godly, was still prone to sin due to his fallen nature. Tim Keller, pastor of Proclamation Presbyterian Church in NYC writes, “The gospel is this: we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” As David writes in this prayer, “Indeed I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me” (vs. 5). Because of our fallen nature, we are prone to sin, however, there is profound hope in Christ.

The paradox between sin and hope in God is made evident in this Psalm. David acknowledged his sin and repented. Self-reflection is necessary in order to know the depths of ourselves. We must dive deep into the dark parts of ourselves in order to repent and be transformed by the Holy Spirit. We are not to dwell in the darkness, but rather know that we have a God who has forgiven us, all of us, down to the core of our nature. He loves us and “desires truth in the inward being” (vs. 6a). God will cleanse us and make us whiter than snow. What deep meaning that holds after experiencing so much snow this winter. There is hardly a more pure, untainted sight than looking out the window after waking up to fresh snow on the ground. God promises to make us purer than snow!

The words David prays in verses 10-12 are a testament to the hope in the restoration that is happening in each of us and in the world. Paul writes in his second letter, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (vs. 17)  Our beings are being transformed and renewed. Though we are sinful and fallen, we have a creator who is redeeming the world. Dwell in that hope and be joyful!

I would encourage you this week to take time in quiet reflection. Examine the deep, dark parts of yourself and lay whatever you find at the foot of the cross. God wants to bear our burdens and cleanse our hearts. We have a creator who loves us more than we can ever comprehend.

Prayer


Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of your salvation and sustain in me a willing spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I'm Allowed to be Angry

You hurt me. You really hurt me. You let me in and made me feel safe. I trusted you. Even though it was a new thing, it was natural and easy to talk about the future. You let me into your life. We were so honest with one another. I've never been so honest with a guy before you came along. Everything seemed to be going really well. There weren't any red-flags. I talked to my friends about everything, my best friends who can read me like a book and who will be honest with me, whether I want to hear it or not. They were on board. You seemed to be making an effort to get to know them, which I loved. You talked in terms of "when we date." Whatever it was between us seemed to have a future, a real future. You would stare into my eyes and it would feel like you were looking into my soul. You took me home to meet high school friends. We seemed to work. There seemed to be real potential. I wasn't being irrational or rash, but I was also beginning for form real feelings for you. I was being vulnerable and trusting. You seemed to be doing the same. We were in agreement that we both felt "really secure in this."

Then yesterday happened. The day you dropped the Atom-bomb. "I realized that I still like her and we should just be friends." Woah. That was not what I was expecting to hear when you told me that you had a bad day yesterday. I was so caught off guard. Hearing those words cut deep. I felt like you just slammed on the breaks and threw me out of the car.

It doesn't make any sense. You told me you were over here and you were just "unpacking," and that was the reason you wanted to wait a little while to start dating. When I told you that I liked you, you responded with "I'm interested." There were no red flags...no warning signs. Then you hit me with this out of the blue. It doesn't feel like you took my feelings into account. You spent the whole day with her yesterday. I feel forgotten and used. You promised that this was not a rebound. It sure feels like I was  rebound. It feels really rash.

One of my wisest and best friends pointed out that once you start dating someone it doesn't mean that you're immediately going to stop having feelings for other people. You will always be attracted to other people. There will always be residual crushes. That's natural. However, what matters is whether or not you choose to act upon those feelings. You can choose to "pursue" her now. Fine. That's going to hurt a lot. It's going to hurt to see you and her together, knowing all that you told me in these past two weeks.

I just don't understand. It's not fair. This does not feel like how I should be treated as your sister in Christ.

It's easy to be angry, but what makes it so hard is that I sincerely liked you. It hurts to see you around, it hurts to see your friends, it hurts to see things that remind me of you. It hurts to know that our friendship has changed.

However, I do know that my identity is not determined by this. I am grounded in Christ and the love of the Father. I am confident in who I am. That doesn't mean that I can't hurt. The Christian life is not all rainbows and butterflies. However, I have hope. I was vulnerable and trusting and you hurt me. This does not mean that God is not present in this. I know that He is working this out for good and I know I will learn more about myself and about who God is through this.

This is my constant prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name;
Thy kingdom come:
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil,
For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever.
Amen.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Welcome to the Wilderness

Well, we made it! Three weeks ago Drew An and I caravanned with my Dad all the way up to Maine for the summer. It's crazy how fast time flies. Reflecting back on the time we've already had in Maine, it's incredible to see how blessed we have been. We have a great job with wonderful coworkers and a boss who cares for us so well. My family's "might as well be family" has taken us in once again. I'm just so thankful to have been welcomed into town. We're here before all the tourists come for the summer, so we've gotten to know more of the "townies," which has been really cool. My family is trying to rent our camp this summer, so whenever we have renters (or work the day shift) we stay in a cute little apartment that a close family friend is graciously letting us use. We've made a trip to Portland and some of our friends have already been able to visit.

Our time here has already taught me so much about myself. I've realized first and foremost I need to relearn to trust God and His plan for my life. I've forgotten what it means to surrender and to trust that God's plan is greater than mine. I want to see God in creation. He knows me better than I know myself, and is the only one who can equip me to do anything. In the midst of the beauty we're surrounded by, I am learning to love God, not at some far away creator, but a God who loves me and wants to have a personal relationship with me.
Basically, I'm learning to apply all that I've learned this year practically in my life. The process is only beginning, but I'm already feeling the growth and sense of peace that I know only comes from the Spirit. I'm so thankful to have Drew An here this summer to experience all this with me as one of the best friends I could ask for.

YOU Are Beautifully and Wonderfully Made,
Kylie

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Adventuring

Peter, Anna, and I bright and early Sunday morning!
There's not much better than a good adventure. This past week was my spring break. I had been anticipating it for weeks. It could not have come quickly enough. After staying the weekend around here to babysit, Sunday morning finally came! I packed up the car and met two friends to start the first leg of our trip to North Carolina for the week. It's amazing how many connections you make in college. We always had a place to stop and so many families who took care of us. Peter, Anna, and I left early Sunday morning, stopped in Lancaster to pick up Drew An and Hannah, and then hit the road. We made it to my house in VA for a late lunch (stuffed shells! Thanks, Mom and Dad). It was a trip of much singing and laughing and good conversation. We made it to NC that night to meet up with Cora and Ryan, who went down on Friday. It's funny how great a reunion can be even after a few days apart.

Monday, we went slept in, went exploring in the woods, did a little homework (ew) and then went grocery shopping for the week. That night, Drew An and I tackled cooking two rotisserie chickens. We bought them frozen, and didn't think about the time it would take the thaw and cook, but after several phone calls to ask our moms what to do, we were successful! We ended up eating around 10:00 that night, but it was such a great meal. We had chicken, veggie burgers for our vegetarians in the group, mashed potatoes, and sauteed brussel sprouts. It was such a fantastic meal and so worth the wait. We ate so well this week. Oh, and we had milkshakes almost every night for dessert. It was so fun to cook together, sing while we worked, and then clean up afterwards all together. We would pile in the kitchen after meals and just hang out. Peter and Ryan demanded for us to let them do the dishes every night, which was such a nice gesture. We all served and loved each other very well this week.

The whole group at the top of the mountain!
All of us at Hooker Falls.
Tuesday, everyone but Hannah, our resident anti-outdoorsy person, went on a hike. We packed up lunches, piled into our two cars and headed for the mountains outside Asheville. We stopped at Hooker Falls, ate lunch there, and then continued onto a different hike. When we got home, Hannah had prepared a fantastic dinner for us. We began a tradition of singing the Doxology as our prayer. The harmonies that came out of all of us was incredible. I still get chills thinking about it. This was one of my favorite nights. We ended up sharing our stories, praying, and singing worship together. It was such a special time. We really got to know one another this week, and I'm really thankful for that. Spending time with people I love away from the stresses of school was so great. We got to really know each other. It was like the camping trip: part 2.
Wednesday, we spent the day doing homework, which was needed. I know I had neglected a lot of work that needed to be done. Thankfully, though, we found a cute coffee shop in town with wifi and we camped out there for several hours. When we got back, we ate dinner, had milkshakes again, and then went on a night hike. The stars were SO bright. I haven't seen stars like that since this summer in Maine. It was incredible. Wednesday also involved chair dancing. 'Nuf said.

Thursday, Abbie left us to go back to Greensboro and Cora, Anna, and Hannah took a trip to the Biltmore, a historic home in Asheville. Drew An, Ryan, Peter, and I hung back at the house to do some more homework and hang out. It was a gorgeous day, so Drew and I went exploring by the river and took some pictures. It was a great day. Once the rest of the group got back, we had dinner and hung out. After Tuesday, we ended each night with worship and singing together. It was great. 
Drew An and me!

Anna, Drew An, and me!
Friday was our last full day in NC. Peter and Cora took a trip to Boone to visit some friends, Drew An, Anna, and I drove to Chimney Rock to hike, and Ryan and Hannah stayed back to do homework. We unfortunately weren't able to hike, because it was $15 a person to get to the top of the mountain (...wut?) so we decided to explore the cute little town of Chimney Rock and just dilly dally on the way back to the house, taking many many pictures on the way. It was a day full of fun and great conversation. We made a pit stop at a fantastic thrift store and Bojangles, which made the trip complete. Once we got back, Cora and Peter's friend Kristen joined us for dinner, which was so fun, and then we spent the rest of the night just hanging out.

We packed up Saturday morning, said our goodbyes to our hosts, stopped at the Trift Store again (80 cents for a sweater) and then hit the road for VA. We had some noobies for Cook-Out, so we had to stop for a milkshake on the way. Can you see a milkshake theme for the week? We made it to my house, had a great meal from my fam, watched the Princess Bride, and crashed. 

Sunday, we slept in, packed up, and headed back to Eastern. Once we got back to campus, though, we weren't ready for our week to end...so we decided to go out to dinner together. To top of the best week, Cora's neighbor happened to be a Chili's at the same time at gave us a $50 gift card to cover our meal. It was incredible. 

I'm so thankful for these people and the time we got to spend together this week. I'm truly blessed to be a part of this community. I love you all.



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lent Devotional 2013

Every year, my church puts together a daily devotional book that takes us through the season of Lent. For the past several years, I've been asked to contribute. I hope you enjoy.


Deuteronomy 10:12-22

12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. 22 Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.

I have heard many analogies for sin, but one that resonates most with me is this: ever since sin entered the world, humanity began to dig a hole, one that separated us from God and could not be filled. Nothing that we can do can fill the hole. We are indebted to God. We owe Him more than we can ever pay. In the words of St. Anselm, “Sin is nothing else than not to render to God his due, and the wish of every rational creature should be subject to the will of God.” The will of God is to “fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees” (Deut. 10:12-13). The law was created for the good of the Israelites, so that they could find favor in God, but because of sin, it was impossible. Even though this passage is originally addressed to the Israelites, who could not possibly love God the way he required them to under the law, through the grace of God we are now included in God’s chosen through the death and resurrection of his son, the ultimate sacrifice. The writer of Hebrews emphasizes this point by saying, “let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (4:16). Our debt is now paid for in the death and resurrection of Christ. He defeated sin and death so that we may enter into relationship with the Father. He is the fulfillment of the law; the ultimate sacrifice. As my class went through the Bible in my Old Testament class last semester, I was constantly in awe of God’s goodness. Everything He did, no matter how hard it was for us to understand, was for the good of his people. We are chosen by God, and as Christians, we are to love God with our whole beings, and to submit to his will. During this time of Lent, I encourage you to reflect on what that will mean in your life. What parts of your life are you holding on to and not surrendering totally to God?

Dear Lord,

You are good and you know us better than we know ourselves. I praise you for all that you do in our lives. Thank you for sending your son so that we may live in eternity with you. Forgive us when we try to take control and ignore your will. I pray that we surrender to your will every day and that our hearts become more like yours. Teach us to love like you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Braindead

If there's anything I've learned this year, it's that I'm not a philosopher. I enjoy learning, and I will own up to being a nerd any day, but I my brain does not desire to think deeply about hypothetical questions that don't have any solid basis. It's such a struggle to try and answer a question that doesn't have an answer. My teacher knows going in that I won't have an answer, and I know that I won't be able to argue as well as he wants me to. I know that it's all a part of the learning process. I'm learning to better reason through problems, which I know is a good thing, but it's hard to convince my self of that at the moment. Right now, I'm sitting in a study room with two of my best friends trying to prove that we cannot have a rational account of justice without an account of the human good...so I'm in the process of defining first the human good...and then justice. But here's the catch, I can only use the texts that we've read in class. I'm drowning in Plato. HELP. 

Oh, and I have 3 other papers to do this week on top of my Justice midterm... it's gonna be a late one. The good news is: SPRING BREAK IS SO CLOSE. 3 DAYS AND COUNTING.