Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ever Be

Your love is devoted like a ring of solid gold
Like a vow that is tested like a covenant of old
Your love is enduring through the winter rain
And beyond the horizon with mercy for today

Faithful You have been and faithful you will be
You pledge yourself to me and it's why I sing

Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips
Ever Be || Bethel Music

“Count your blessings.” I tell myself every day. My life is more chaotic now than it ever has been. I’m in a place I never dreamed I’d be in. One year ago I had a conversation with my mentor that went something like this: “Sveta, what college are you applying to?” “I don’t know yet,” I replied, “But not Berea.” Thankfully, God in His goodness knew I needed to be here, and He worked on my stubborn heart until I listened. Now one year later I am coming near to the completion of my first year as a student at Berea College. God is near his people, wanting only what is best for each one of us. And I am His person. God is near me. No, He is more than near me; He is in me. And His praise will ever be on my lips.

He is comforter. He is King of glory. Oh, He is so glorious. More than the morning sun over the mountains. More than the green grass of springtime. More than a sunset over the pacific. Dear Jesus is so glorious; so much so His name Son sounds just like sun, only His face is even brighter than the sun. He is worthy of all the worship in the world, and beyond the world. And His praise will ever be on my lips.

I am a control freak of my own life, and that is not who I want to be. I want my heart to desire what my Baba wants me to desire. I am but the stroke of His pen, a character in His story. I pray I live my life as such.  I want my life to reflect His light, for my face to only, and always, be fixed on Him. I want my heart to be in accord to His will, and I want to follow His commandments. That is my goal in life. People often wonder how to know the will of Baba. I think Jesus gives us the answer “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” As we draw near to God, He draws near to us. As we walk by His side, unceasingly seeking to know Him more, His will for our lives becomes what our hearts desire because He lives in us. And His praise will ever be on my lips.

I am so blessed. I complain far too often. There are people in the world with so much less than me that I look like a Bill Gates to them. Even if I only have x amount of dollars to my name, God is still good. I have a room and a bed. I have this computer. I have water. I even have a water bottle with a filter that my mom bought me. I have a cat. I have legs that move, ears that hear, eyes to see the world around me. I can sleep in tomorrow. (That’s always something to praise God for!) I have food served to me three times a day. I have professors who care. I have a mind that God has well equipped to succeed with. I have Jesus. That’s all I really need. Jesus is good. Jesus is life. And His praise will ever be on my lips.

I have the possibility to travel the world. I have a suitcase ready in case a plane ticket ends up in my CPO. How amazing would that be? In the meantime, I have a dance to dance. Life is a dance. I can go to the beat of the music my Jesus plays or I can run and go crazy in it. I can dance through life or I can stress through life, but I will not stress my life. I will dance. I will rest in the arms of the one who said “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Isn’t that a beautiful promise? It is so reassuring to know I do not even need to control my life because the Creator of the universe has a perfect plan already. Yes, I will go to that place He calls me to; that place which promises peace and life eternal and fullness of joy. And His praise will forever be on my lips.

Monday, November 16, 2015


John 1:16  "For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." 
This world is so broken and battered. It is filled with sin; deep, darkened, black sin. Attacks in France, bombings in Bagdad, ISIS attacks, child slavery, sex trafficking, the killing of innocent through abortion. This list could go on forever. And my heart cries in pain for those suffering. My soul is in anguish for the people of this earth. The response of my human heart is to be angry with those imitating these actions, but is the Christian response? 

Grace: unmerited, free, undeserving  

My soul is broken, battered, bruised. My soul is that of a sinner. My heart is filled with sin, deep, dark, black sin. I am but a nobody in this place. I am worthless, until grace came. When grace came, my soul was filled. My heart was healed. It is not black, it is pure with the power of Christ. God granted me grace, undeserving, unmerited grace. And I can do nothing but offer these people the same. 

The people who have been hurt, they need grace. The people who hurt, they need grace. My duty as a Christian is go into this broken world with the power of the gospel of grace. My call is to love the brokenhearted, and to love those who broke the hearts. No, I do not condone the actions of ISIS or abortion doctors or those who enslave people, but I cannot judge them. That is God's business. I can only love them. Jesus commanded that we love our enemies. It is no easy task, but will you join me in praying for our enemies? They are only broken human beings who need Jesus as much as you and me.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Unbeaten Path

Life is like a hike. You are born and you start off down the beaten path that many others have already taken. There are signs leading you here or there…elementary school, college, traveling, jobs…You follow the tree markers for the path you want. But then sometimes you find a less worn trail, and you think to yourself “that looks so lovely and undiscovered” and you decide to take the worn trail or the less taken deer path. You stay for a while on the trail, but then suddenly decide to dash up the hill; conquer the unknown. Be different. Not conform to the pattern the world sets.

Your friends and family look at you and say “be careful! There are cliffs you could fall off and slippery slopes you might slide down.” But that is life. As you dart up that hill you lose breath. You grab the next tree, hoping it holds you. You settle your footing and wonder if you should continue. But it’s worth it. What you see ahead is the top of a hill and you long to know what is on the other side. And you will succeed.

You might meet a fellow adventurer along the way. Someone else who has chosen the steep hill. You encourage each other and remind each other that you can do this. You know you are not alone in this. There are others who have seen the beauty of a different way and have chosen a way the world does not know. You will climb some rocks and as you reach the top realize you must climb down: for that was not where life was leading and it will not take you to the top of the mountain. So you turn around and climb down, seeing some of the same sights, but in a new light. As you slide down the slope and grab tree roots for footing, you say “Oh, Jesus, please don’t let me die. Help me down.” And that’s just how life happens sometimes. But He is always faithful, and you always make it down those rocks and slippery slopes you adventured up. Sure, the others might be ahead of you, but you’ll catch up. The challenge was worth it.

As you reach the beaten path, you rest a while and stay with your friends. But as you journey with them the undiscovered calls again. You choose which mountain to conquer and then you run. You are wild and free. You have chosen to be radical and to live fiercely. To move mountains and pray hard. That path the rest of the world takes is too easy for you. There are incredible starry nights and there are forest fires, but the life you have chosen is most rewarding. You finally reach the top of that mountain only to find it is not a mountain, but a foothill. Yes, the view is incredible and might stop and rest for a while, but then you continue as you see the summit in the distance and long to see the view from above.

Life takes us to funny places, especially when we choose the unbeaten path. It’s harder, but oh so rewarding. The glory of God is around us in it. And when we reach the summit, He calls us up further; home, to spend forever enveloped in His glory. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Heavenly Eyes

"If this is earth, I can't imagine what heaven looks like!" This is a saying I have often heard (what can I say, I like to be in pretty places that people would compare to heaven!), and one I have said frequently, especially as of late. G.K. Chesterton said "What's wrong with the world is that we don't often enough ask what's right with it." What's right with this world is God created it, and He said it was good. It was a beauty to behold in His eyes, this earth He had created. 

I always appreciated the outdoors and beauty of the earth, but it wasn't until some incredible God-things happened in my life this past spring that I was in awe of this earth. How did my life change? My soul fell in love with Jesus and His Spirit dwelt in me. My life became joy. Jesus said "I have come so your joy may be full," and oh, has he done that! As this happened I began to be in awe of every sunset I saw, crashing wave I heard, shining star in a night sky, foggy mornings on the way to work, country roads with arching green trees surrounding, waterfalls in the midst of the forest. Summer nights spent swinging among the bright green trees, bicycle rides down back roads, lookouts that covered miles. I saw the world in a whole new set of eyes; heavenly eyes. 

It is when Christ dwells among and in us that the glimpses of heaven are most vivid. After all, He is God come to earth. We receive this glorious vision when we receive Him into our lives. I'm not talking about that one time you prayed for Jesus to come into your heart. I'm talking about the everyday decision to have Jesus in you. I'm talking about the moments spent in prayer and the times we glorify His name. The times we praise Him and have a worshiping heart. The times we come before His throne of grace with thanksgiving on our lips. It is then He fills us with great joy and peace, and gives us a new set of eyes.

What if we're not just seeing little pieces of earth that will never compare to heaven (because, let's just face it, there are some incredibly beautiful places on this planet!), but God is giving us glimpses of heaven? What if when our lives are most in-tune to Jesus and our hearts are filled with worship and awe for our beautiful Savior, God grants us heavenly eyes? God's hand is painting a beautiful picture, of your lives, this earth, and heaven. For now we get pieces, but one day we'll see the finished product!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

you are loved

We had a team down from Michigan this week. The main thing we did was take photos and measurements of each child for sponsorship. My job was to write each child’s name down on an index card. This meant I saw each face; every single child in kindergarten to 6th grade that attends this school. It wasn’t until I had already been through three classrooms before I realized what a privilege this was. I could see each person and tell them they were beautiful. I could look into every face and tell them Jesus loves them.

Sometimes the next child would tell me “No. She isn’t pretty.” And I would tell them all over again.

So I would whisper it into their ear so that the others couldn't say this.

Sometimes I had the entire class in an uproar of laughter. Probably because of my kindergarten-Creole grammar, but that was the goal; smiles and joy. I’d tell each person these things and remind them to smile for their picture because I love smiles and their smiles are beautiful and God made them beautiful.

And they always smiled.

Several times since this I have passed a class and I’ll hear one or two people say “Sveta! Souri!” (Sveta! Smile!) accompanied by the whole class laughing. But that’s okay. Seeing the joy on these kids’ faces as I told them those words is worth every bit of teasing. In those three days I realized what my goal in life is: to make each person know they are loved.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

the little girl who brought me back to reality

It was day three of VBS. 250 kids and 16 adults were in the chapel. My row seemed to hold the most wiggly children, but maybe that is just what children do. "Sit" is a foreign word, even spoken in their language. If you say "Be quiet." they look at you like you're an alien. That's okay, though, except when you're in chapel. One girl got mad at her friend, and after hitting her she promptly sits next to me with a scowl on her face like I'm supposed to do something about it. Said friend starts complaining. Someone (or more than one) is rubbing my arm or pulling my hair. Four kids argued over who could sit next to me, and in the process they practically sat on top of each other. I had to smile at that one. And one little boy amused himself by pinching all the little girls in sight. I finally decided to ignore the chaos around me and dance and sing with the behaving kids. Not two minutes later another hand reaches my arm, pats for my attention, and continues to do so. Finally I look over and see a smiling face of a little girl telling me I'm her friend. My mind wanders off to yesterday morning…
I was making my rounds checking all the classes when I was stopped by the visiting nurse and a little girl, who appeared to be around eight years old. The girl had a head wound that the nurse wanted to clean out, but the nurse needed help communicating with her. I volunteered to give it a try since Mary Jane was otherwise occupied. I told the girl the nurse wanted to help her and she would clean her wound. The little girl looked up at me with her big brown eyes and gave me a quick nod okay. We went to the class where the supplies were and as the nurse cleaned the wound, I talked to the girl. Besides the fact that she had never been to school, I couldn’t understand what she said to me. I was, however, able to tell her that we loved her, that she was our friend, that we wanted to help her, that Jesus loves her, and that she is beautiful. Afterwards we went on our separate ways, and in the busy-ness of the day this incident got pushed to the back of my head until chapel the next morning, where I looked up at yet another child wanting my attention to see this little girl squeezing my hand and smiling at me. I had a new friend. She had a new friend.
My prayer is that she found the greater friend than I in that week, the One who sticks closer than a brother. It’s in moments like this that I am reminded why I do what I do, and why I want to do it for the rest of my life. I might not be able to love every child in the world, but Jesus can, and I can sow seeds wherever I go, bringing hope to the hopeless, joy to the joyless, and love to the forgotten.