Saturday, June 13, 2009

Back from Vacation

So I know I didn't really announce that I was going anywhere, but I have been gone for about a week. We sort of had a family reunion on my mother's side in Indiana, and got back yesterday afternoon. I thought I'd share some of the details of our trip with you. :)

On Monday night we got together with one of my mom's childhood friends. She now has a family with five children, with whom my sister and I became fast friends. The whole family is musical; some play piano, others violin, and the whole family sings. I found out that one of the daughters who plays violin took the same lesson books as I did, and we played part of a duet together. That was a lot of fun!

Tuesday we went to a resort with my grandparents and uncle and aunt. It was really neat there! They had horseback riding, boats, bicycle trails, hiking trails, a game room, and a lounge with lots of Thomas Kinkade puzzles. There was also a restaurant downstairs, which we ate at once a day. For the other meals we all got together and shared our food; my grandparents supplied the bread, we supplied peanut butter and jelly, and my aunt and uncle the chips. It was kind of fun to do that.

We didn't end up horseback riding or riding a bike, but we did go boating! On our boat ride we saw a family of swans. My dad, being a photographer, naturally took a lot of pictures of them. However, we didn't enjoy the boat ride to the fullest because it was cloudy, rainy, and cold. But it was still fun.

One day we all took a hike on one of the trails. Scratch that. Several of the trails. They didn't have the trails marked out very well, so when there was a fork in the path, we didn't always know which way to go. Thankfully, my grandparents had been hiking there several times before and were able to lead us back to the inn. It took a while, but we eventually got back. It was kind of fun, being "lost" in the woods like that. It kind of felt like the part in Prince Caspian where Peter is leading his siblings and Trumpkin through the woods to where Caspian is, but they end up going the wrong way because they wouldn't listen to Lucy. Lol. I know, I know. I've read the book too many times.

On the way back we went to Lake Michigan. It was the first time my sister and I had seen the lake, so it was a neat experience. It was raining off and on, though, and rather foggy. We did our best to enjoy it, though. Mom was telling us about how she used to run down the sand dunes when they visited the lake. So she and I ran down one just for fun. I got sand in my shoes, but it was still fun. Later we fed the seagulls on the beach and a rather large flock gathered. I don't know how many pictures my dad took, but I'm sure it was a lot. :-) Then we had a picnic in the car, and started the drive home.

So those were the highlights of our vacation. Hopefully you weren't too bored reading them! :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009


(Warning: long post ahead! Only read if you have time to finish it.)
So lately I've been feeling insecure, and I really haven't dealt with it until yesterday. Like, I've been doing almost everything to win people's approval. I've been so scared to face rejection from people. What will they think of me? I don't want them to think I'm not as good as them.

We all face insecurities at one time or another. Whether it's standing up for your faith, or even just mustering up enough courage to try out for a band, or sports team, or whatever, we all face the fear. Most of the time it's fear of failure or rejection.

What if I fail? What if people laugh at me? What if all I've been hiding inside goes on display for all to see? What if *gasp* people see I'm not perfect?

These questions were going through my head yesterday, and early this morning. But now... it's different. I've prayed about it, and started reading my Bible, which was already open to 1 John 3.

3:1 "See what kind of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him."

God has loved us so much despite our insecurities. Despite the fact we were once sinners. He loved us so much that He wanted to save us from sin and destruction. And the only way to do that was to sin His Son to die for us!! WHILE we were still sinners. God saw ALL our sin. Every imperfection. Yet He still gave His best. The Almighty God who created the universe, gave His very best, knowing He would die at the hands of His creation: man. Even though He knew all that would happen, He still created us.

He could have chosen not to.

He could have looked and seen all the sins "So and so" would do. He could have said, "Let's just not create "So and so". Look at all the sins "So and so" will do!!!"

But He created you. He created the entire human race and loved us. He has called us, those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, His children. And now we are His children.

Not only that, Jesus has taken away our sins! Not just covered them up. They are removed. When God looks at us, His repentant children, He sees pure, righteous children.

So how does this help us not feel insecure anymore? Well, just the fact that God loves us and did all that for us should humble us and realize that pleasing God is really all that matters. But there's so much more that God's shown me this morning. The following are verses in the New Living Translation, with my notes and possible reactions to the verses underneath each verse:

1 John 5:1-5 "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves His children, too."
Oh wow! I believe that Jesus is the Christ, so I'm a child of God!
"2 We know we love God's children if we love God and obey His commandments."
Well, I love God but obeying His commandments is kind of hard. Obeying His commandments means I have to love my enemies! It means I have to be slow to anger and not speak evil about anyone. It means I can't be prideful or look down on anyone.
"3 Loving God means keeping His commandments, and really, that isn't difficult."
It... isn't difficult?
No, not when we apply verse four:
"4-5 For every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory. 5 And the ones who win this battle against the world are the ones who believe that Jesus is the Son of God."
So all I have to do is trust Christ for the victory?
Yes! Trust Him to give you victory over sin the same way You would trust Him for safety while you travel on a family vacation. Just as you would for anything else in life.
But what does it mean by defeating the "evil world", exactly?
Rewind to 1 John 2:16 "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world."
That pretty much sums up each way we're tempted, huh? Lust of physical pleasures, lust of the eyes... and the big one for me is the boastful pride of life. What is behind our fear of rejection?
Pride. We want to look perfect. We want to be accepted. We want people to look up at us and think good things about us.
Whenever we're tempted to be in pride, or tempted in any other way for that matter, we need to trust God to give us victory over it!

Then concerning fear...
1 John 4:16 "We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in Him. God is love, and all who live in love, live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world. 18 Such love has no fear because perfect love expels ALL fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that His love has not been perfected in us. 19 We love each other as a result of His loving us first." (NLT)
Wow. Every day as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. And perfect love expels all fear!! So if we're afraid of other people's opinions, we're not walking in love.
When we're afraid of what people think of us, our focus is on ourselves. "What's best for ME. What makes ME look good." Instead of, "God has loved me so much and called me His child!! Now I love Him and others as a result. What does God want me to do? What does His Word say about this situation? What can I do that would best benefit the other person, even if it has the potential to make me look silly?"

Those are the questions we need to ask ourselves. Every word, every action, all we are, needs to be out of overflowing love for God. Love that, as we walk with God, grows more and more perfect every day. Sure it takes effort to remember to trust God for victory over sin. It takes effort to seek God every day, and do everything out of love.
But it is certainly well worth the effort.