Saturday, December 13, 2014

His Name is Lord



“This God. This God you live for, worship, give up yourself for; what is so great? What makes Him better?”

What makes Him better? How can one describe what makes the God of the universe better than all else? The earth and all that is in it proclaim His name. The birds that fly are a testimony, the plants that grow, the mountain air and the crashing waves. Sunrises and sunsets; it all points to a God – a creator God, a loving God, a righteous God. A God of wonder and love. How can you see the stars above and not see the wondrous deeds, the knowledge, the amazement, the art? The art of our creator God.

And then the people. The precious people of the earth, all created in His own image. How He must love us to say that we should be created in His image. We ourselves point to the glorious God, even more than the countless grains of sand and stars in the sky. Go! Go into the nations and see the beauty in the people. An African grandma weaving a basket outside her hut; a papa hard at work for his family; a mama holding her newborn baby close; and then the children, big and small, faces filled with joy. Fishermen bring in their daily catch, architects design beautiful buildings, cooks fill the air with delicious smells, teachers bring knowledge, and pastors proclaim Jesus Christ Lord and Savior. All created in His image, we are. In the image of this Jesus, who is Lord. He is God. With the Father and the Spirit, they are God. They are three, but they are one; a great mystery. A mystery beyond our imagination because our God, they are. The one and great and holy God, and Lord is His name.

Lord of the earth, the sky, the seas; the trees and the breeze. Of the millions of stars and countless grains of sand; of every bird that flies; each mountain that trembles; every baby that cries, He is Lord. Lord of all that is, for He is the beginning, the end, the in between. He is God; the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, one God.

Forever, our God.

“As for our redeemer, the Lord of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel.” – Isaiah 47:4


Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Doctor of Love

The pain, it’s almost unbearable; the pain in your heart. You long for comfort. We all do. The breaking heart hurts more than all physical pain. For example, the pain of losing a loved one, having an abusive caretaker, or saying goodbye without knowing what the future will hold. Maybe you never had a father to love you, maybe you had one but he didn’t love you. Or perhaps you were the one kid in class who everyone teamed up on to make fun of, “Your glasses look funny, your nose is too pointy, you’re too skinny, your hair stinks, your clothes look like what your Grandma would wear…” The list goes on, and it’s all pain in your heart. It’s taking up too much room, you might hate yourself now, even though you are beautiful. We’ve all experienced heart-break. Heart-break doesn’t mean a boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with you; that’s only one form of heartbreak. And I believe many of us, if not all, have had this pain. We all desire comfort, healing. The world tells us “Survive. There’s doctors to help you if you break a leg or catch the flu, but with the matters of the heart, no one can heal that.” I am here to tell you something different. Let me introduce you to the Doctor of Love.

He’s strong and gentle, ever ready to lend a shoulder to cry on and an ear to hear. He’s full of grace and hope and longs to love you. His own heart aches when He sees the pain you have. He desires to bring healing, and He can. He can heal you, but only when you want Him. He will never force anything upon you, for you have free will, but He will offer advice and prescribe medicine for healing. He doesn’t care if you are the geek in school, wear braces, or have funny glasses. He doesn’t care how short or tall, fat or skinny you are. He doesn’t look at your outward appearance, for He specializes in matters of the heart and looks only at your heart. When it aches, He longs to sew into it stiches of love and joy.

He loves you. Oh, how He loves you. He loves you more than any man on this earth could ever love you because He is not from this earth. He is so much more than a man, yet He is a man. He is the Doctor of Love. Some call Him Jesus.

His love for you is so great that He was persecuted and wore a crown of thorns and was nailed to a cross, all for you. ALL for you. He saw that your heart was broken, He saw that you could not fix it; that no man could fix it, so He said “I will fix it.” As his blood was shed, your blood was cleansed and life was poured into it.

So come, come to the Doctor of Love. Come and be healed. Come and receive joy.


“Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” –Jesus Christ 


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Trust


“Welcome to Port-Au-Prince Haiti. We are happy you joined us today and hope to see you fly with us again.”

And just like that my world spun around. One hundred and eighty degrees around. I came to a fork in the road. “Right or left?” Which would I choose? Many nights crying out to God, asking Him which way He wanted me to go. They would both be right; both leading to the same place, but which would be the best? As I began to veer down one of the paths, I got scared. “I can’t do this!” I said to my Father in heaven and my father on earth. “How can I do this? I’m not ready. I’m not old enough. I’m scared.” But my earthly father counseled me, “At one point in life you will go. Whether it be now or later, you won’t always be home because you are growing up and when the time comes you have to learn to trust. You will learn to trust God because in circumstances you can’t change you have to trust God.” So I bought a ticket and chose a path; the path I knew God was calling me down, even though it would be the harder of the two paths, it was the best.

So there I was, stepping off an airplane and into Haiti for the second time in my life. Before I came the first time I was wrestling with coming because I felt like God was telling me, even before I was there, that I would return again for several months. I didn’t want to do that! But I came. Sometimes I make life harder for myself. Guess what? The moment I met Mary Jane, I knew 100% that all my other plans were being thrown out the window and I was going to come back. I wanted to learn from this couple. This couple that rises at 4 AM to fill water buckets for school children, who work even when exhausted, who preach the truth even when it’s hard to hear, who love God more than anyone else, and pray like warriors. Andris and Mary Jane are missionaries for Jesus. They have given up themselves for Him, and I wanted to learn how they lived.

The immigration line…the long and dreaded immigration line. The Haitians had four booths to go too, we foreigners had one. By the time we reached the front of line, my bag seemed to have gained ten pounds. (Travel tip: invest in a carry on size bag with wheels.) I handed the guy my papers. “What address?” “I don’t know!” I replied. I didn’t have the address to where we were going. (My Dad always took care of such things before. I didn’t know what info I needed…) “Go to immigration office,” the guy told me, so we went to immigration office. The guy there told me that he could get me a hotel until I found my address, but Mary Jane was just downstairs, I didn’t need (or have money) to pay for hotels. So we agreed that I would leave everything with Kat and go find Mary Jane at the baggage claim, get the address, and return.

I arrived downstairs to realize that Mary Jane couldn’t get in the baggage claim and I couldn’t get out without papers. Now what was I to do?! I chose to do it my way first. I freaked and walked around in circles trying to figure out on my own what in the world I was going to do. After ten minutes of nothing and probably looking like my puppy just died to everyone else, I heard a little voice, “Do you trust Me?” And it hit me like a lightning bolt, this was a test. Did I trust God to get me out of this predicament, even when it seemed impossible or way too complicated? I stopped in my tracks and said, “God I don’t know what to do. Help me find Mary Jane.”

No light bulb of what to do hit me. Nothing. If I was honest, I would say that my faith dropped as it seemed my prayer wasn’t heard. “Oh you of little faith…” I was heading back to the stairs to go see if Kat could figure out what to do, and a young man at the bottom of the stairs said “What do you need, miss?” He was the only person in that area of the stairs, and I was suspicious of him, but for some reason I replied to him “I have to get out and come back in, but don’t have my papers.” He quickly said, “Okay. Follow me.” And so I followed him, right past the lines and security and through the doors to Mary Jane. I got the info I needed and he led me back to the immigration office. We got all the papers within seconds and the guy helped us find our bags and back outside. He was a godsend. I don’t think there was a coincidence that he was sitting there just seconds after I put the situation into God’s hands. I knew from that moment that this was just the first of many trust tests to come. I knew that it would not be easy interning at Living Hope. But I know that God never gives me more that I can handle, and I will always say “Bless the Lord, oh my soul. Oh my soul, worship His holy name. I will worship His holy name.”


“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Be Their Voice

I really don't know how to start. Children hold a big place in my heart. I take seriously the commandment Christ gave saying "Let the little children come to Me." In other words, don't neglect the children. Love them. Nourish them. Teach them to become mighty warriors of Christ. When I spent 5 months working with children at Hisani Orphanage in Tanzania, I had plans to teach them English or wash their clothes. To do the servants work was my goal, but God showed me that these children did not need to learn English, have me cook for them, or wash their clothes. They needed me to do one thing for them: to love them. I watched the most hostile of children laugh and sing and become children again. I saw the bullies turn into loving big "brothers" and "sisters." As I sought to love like Jesus, they learned to love like Jesus. We didn't need words, we needed actions.

But what I am going to talk about today needs words. It needs words because that is the action I can take. It needs words because these children never have words. Their voices are not heard. Their cries are silenced. Some will call me radical to say what I am about to say, and some will hate me for it. But Jesus had haters too, and when we do what is right there will always be those who do not like it. I am talking about the children of war. But not only are there children of war in Africa and the Middle East; there is a war in America, the war on abortion. It is a war of life and death. I fight on behalf of the children who cannot speak. I will be their voice. 

In the United States alone, more than 3,000 lives are ended with abortion. 3,000 people. Let that sink in. THREE THOUSAND LIVES GONE. They will never take a first step. They will never say "mama" and "daddy". They will never learn to ride a bike or read. They are gone. Their lives are stripped from them, and they have no say in it. "But their mothers lives were in danger," you might say. Or "Their mothers were raped." Only 12% of abortions take place because of medical conditions and 1% because of rape. Do we end a life because its father was a jerk? Even so it is only 1%. And there are still the other 87%, 2,610 every day, that are gone because they are not wanted. *

Why do I believe it is such an important thing for Christians to take a stand for life? Because it is the job of the Church to take care of the poor and neglected. It is our job to let the little children come. I've had the privilege of  meeting Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor, twice. She says best everything I am trying to say right now “I know, along my journey, I am already hated because I declare life! How much are you willing to take, and how much are you willing to risk, to speak the truth in love and graciousness, and stand up and, at least, be willing to be hated? And what arrogance, what absolute arrogance, and it has been an argument for so long in this human place that we live, that the stronger should dominate the weaker, should determine who lives and dies.  The arrogance of that!  Don’t you realize that you cannot make your own heart beat.  Don’t you realize that all the power that you think that you possess you really possess none of it.  It is the mercy of God that sustains you, even when you hate Him.There are things that you are only able to learn by the weakest among us.  And when you snuff them out you are the one that looses.  The Lord looks after them but you are the one who will suffer for ever." 


So are we going to stand back and watch this war rage on? Or are we going to end it? Which side are you on? I fight for the children and the lives lost everyday in clinics all around the world. Sure I don't know everything and cannot write it all out perfectly, but the most important thing is that we save these precious lives. When I was younger my dream was to stop this war, end the fight, save the children. I wanted to scoop up each one and love them. Now I realize that it is rather impossible to be love those millions of children alone, but when we all fight together we can save these children of war! Don't let the enemy win. Will you love the weak with me? Let's save lives together. 




Saturday, July 26, 2014

On God's Time

"I've found that there are two calendars - your country's and God's. You all came tonight on God's calendar. It was not planned, but you listened to the call of God's calendar. Thank you." -Babu Kipili (my African Grandfather)

It was just another ordinary Sunday in Nyakato, Tanzania; we had a wonderful church service in the morning, worshiping our Savior with other African, American, and European friends. After buying lunch in the marketplace, Mama and Daddy rested while the rest of us hung out on the back porch with our African brothers and sister, Philip, Daudi, Shanya, Danny, Davie, Lazaro, and Kerry. Daudi, being the actor, put on a show for us all. He had us laughing so hard our cheeks hurt.

As the evening came so did our friends to play volleyball. However, I never played. I was the scorekeeper and cheerleader. A team must always have those kind of people, right?! We played until dusk, and then all went home again until the next night.

While we played volleyball, Mama and Daddy went to Babu (Grand-Father) na Bibi (Grand-Mother) Kipili's home, just a two minute's walk away from our abode. After all our friends left, we kids had the impulse to join our parents, and off we went, skipping the whole way and singing "I've got peace like a river..." as loud as we could. As we approached the Kipili's we see Babu sitting on his chair outside, clapping and laughing. We each greeted him with a "Shikamoo" (the respectful greeting to an elder), and Bibi too. So much joy was in the atmosphere.

They shared their supper with us, and served us chia, kahawa, na karanga (tea, coffee and peanuts), by the light of lanterns, just outside the front door. We laughed a lot. We sang more songs, ranging from Christmas to Easter to Hymns of praise. Babu even sang for us in his tribal language, and Bibi laughed a lot. I will never forget the joy I saw in her face that night.

Then Babu scolded us for seeing to quiet (which I'm quite sure we were NOT), and so we upped the volume and did a chant of "If you love Jesus!" He clapped and laughed some more. He was so happy. We were all so happy. We were praising Jesus with our African grandparents in the light of a lantern, while drinking coffee. How could we not be happy? Just before we left Babu said to us "I've found that there are two calendars - your country's and God's. You all came tonight on God's calendar. It was not planned, but you listened to the call of God's calendar. Thank you." I hope I am always on God's calendar. Which calendar are you on?

My parents with Babu and Bibi Kipili, outside of their home.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Memories








Feelings don't just go away because we keep feeding them memories.








Monday, June 30, 2014

Set Me Free


If God, who is all powerful, is willing to send his son for our sake then why should it be so hard for us to sacrifice for him? Human nature can be awfully much in the way sometimes. But really, we say we love Him, and know He loves us but when it comes down to it we make it seem so very hard to spend only fifteen minutes a day with Him! Why are we trying to make time for the creator of time? Kind of ironic, huh? Can you imagine a marriage between a man and woman spent like that? It would be pitiful, and most likely end in divorce. Fortunately, God is not going to give up on us, but that is not reason to put Him off. He’s going wait, but He is ever so eager to have you. A friend of mine said something like this, “You don’t have to transform to accept Jesus. You just have to accept Him and he will transform you.” This statement holds such a truth. John Piper had some wise word to say, one of them being, “Sin is not small because it is not against a small sovereign.” We need God, and He wants us. He made a huge sacrifice for us, will we make even small sacrifices for Him? We cannot survive without Him. Are you willing to let your love for Him meet the demands of justice? It doesn’t take but a moment to see that we all need a savior, and there’s one waiting with arms wide open. Will you run into them, or run from them? 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Strength

The land of Egypt was once filled with the descendants of Abraham, who were called Israelites. They prospered greatly, just as God had said they would, and the king of Egypt grew afraid that these people might turn against him one day and overturn his power. This pharaoh then enslaved the Israelites so as to not let such a thing happen. But God was bigger. And so God sent Moses to set His people free.

A couple weeks ago I started reading through the Bible, intending to dig deeper and find more meaning than just the surface stories. So as I read the passage of God sending Moses to set His people free, I kept an eye out for something new. Most people notice the usual: "God sends people who aren't perfect. Moses begged God to not make him do this. God got angry at him, but still made him go. Sometimes God wants you to do things that seem impossible." Yeah, that. I agree with it all. It's true. God loves doing the impossible! However, what caught my eye was Exodus five, verse 21 "And they [the Israelites] said unto them [Moses and Aaron], The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us." Now, I get it. I'd be mad to if this guy shows up and tries to make things better, but ends up making things worse by my work load doubling and life getting 10x worse. But as we read to the end of the story, we see that life gets better. It takes lots of miracles and 40 years of punishment, but the Israelites do get to the Promise Land. 

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 that "For this thing, I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong." The Israelites had a time when they were discouraged because everything was getting worse instead of better, Paul had that time too, I have that time, you have that. It's a human thing. It's God making us stronger. "After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, strengthen, and establish you." (1 Peter 5:10) We cry out to our Savior for help and relief, and sometimes the answer we get is "Wait a little longer, child. I love you, but this will make you stronger, so you must endure." It is so hard to hear that! We want the miracle like the woman who touched his garments or the man who's sight was returned. We want it now! We don't like to wait, but, remember, it took 42 generations and a perfect plan before a Savior could come into this world; He hasn't forgotten you.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Haiti | Fall 2014!

UPDATE! I finally found out a date to go, and bought my plane ticket; leaving October 28th! 

Dear Family and Friends,

Hello there! Here I am again, sitting at the computer typing letter to all of you. This brings back memories of my family’s trip to Tanzania last year when I was in charge of newsletters. I had a lot of fun with that, and it feels good to be writing again. The purpose of my letter is similar, yet a little different. Some of you know already that in March, of this year, I had the opportunity to spend a week in Haiti with my sister, Anna. Memories of Africa flooded my mind while I made new memories in Haiti. We stayed with missionaries Mary Jane and Andris Jolibous, who run an elementary school, trade school and church. It was an incredible week and it left me longing to return and get to know Mary Jane, Andris and the people at Living Hope better.

It came as a surprise to me that I wanted to come back as an intern, as I was already exploring plans to return to Tanzania as soon as possible. Doing this trip would put Tanzania back at least a year. However, I felt a strong leading from the Lord to go to Haiti so I’ve taken the leap of faith and said “Yes, Lord.” I don’t have a plane ticket yet, but I am planning to go sometime in October and stay for three months. Ever being my travel buddy, my friend Keturah Martin is planning on accompanying me as well. As interns we will be assisting with classes and administration, organizing outdoor games for recess, attending weekly youth group and church meetings, and taking some mission classes taught by Mary Jane and Andris.

I would like to ask each of you to keep me in your prayers as we prepare for our trip, go and serve, and come back. While I am gone I will most likely be posting updates here on my blog. If you would like to donate toward the funds of my trip, you can send checks to my home address (listed on my sidebar). Any extra donations I receive will go towards supporting my family’s missions in Tanzania. Thank you all for your continued support in prayer for my family as we face many changes in the near future. We are honored to have such an amazing group of family and friends. Thank you!

-Svetlana Dunlap

(The video below is from my Spring trip this year)



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How He Loves

pc
Being exhausted from jet lag and not enough sleep, I almost didn't go to church on Sunday morning. But, my conscience got the better of me, and I knew the thing to do would be to worship my Savior for the good He has done, even if my stomach hurt and my eyes heavy. My Lord deserves my praise; I deserve nothing. 

And God sure has a way of speaking in sermons that I least expect it.

I'm not sure what the exact scripture was that was read on Sunday, but I do know that John 15:13 says something very similar (and maybe that was the verse). "Greater love has no one that this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." Greater than what love? Jesus' love. The love when He healed the blind man; the love when He spoke to the woman at the well; the love He had for His mother; the love He had for you, for me, for His friends when He died on the cross. "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you." Jesus laid down His life for His friends. You are His friend. You are loved. You are worth more than the world and you were created for a purpose - to love and to be loved.

To love. Love. So often in the Western world we hear this world and automatically think "romance." But there are other meanings to love. Jesus didn't have romantic feelings for the world, He had brotherly love. The kind of love you have for your family and close friends. The kind of love that sits and listens when your friend needs it most even if you'd rather be doing something else. The kind of love that you have when you clean up the mess nobody else wants to, but it is a blessing to your mom. The kind of love you have when you offer a meal to the homeless. The kind of love that is always open when someone needs it most, even if it's midnight and you want to sleep. The kind of love that holds a crying child, or torn teenager. The kind of love that a mother has for her child. This is the love of Christ. This is the "laying of our lives." The little things that seem annoying are the big things that change lives. 

This is what I took away from the sermon on Sunday, and then promptly forgot due to work and sleep. And then on Tuesday I started a discipleship program and the first memory verse was John 15:13. 

I think God was trying to get a point across. 

So will you join me in my challenge to live a live of loving others? But don't forget to let others love you too. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

1. Where I Stand
I was in Seattle last weekend being a tourist and all...we visited Chihuly's glass gardens, and I captured this cool shot. 

2. Pink
We also went to the Science Center, which had these lovely butterfly gardens. I really love the black and white against the pink.

3. Technology
Sort of a long shot here, but see those giraffe looking cranes? Talk about amazing technology. They just got some new cranes in (not pictured, sorry!) that came from China already assembled: three to a ship. Imagine getting that off a ship and standing in the air! The cranes also load a box onto ships every 60-90 seconds. Pretty amazing invention in my opinion.

4. Something New
I've been wanting to get a Henna tattoo for a couple years now, and when I was at a street fair in Seattle I got one! It's already fading away, but it was fun to have. 

5. Favorite Place
Iced coffee + 80 degrees + beach/boat rides = a very happy me. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

one year

52 hours in airplanes
coast to coast
across oceans
visited two countries
countless hours on the road
moved to Tanzania
learned a new language
worked with orphans
came back to America
made new friends
worked three different jobs
took college classes
graduated high school
filled three journals
took countless pictures


A lot can happen in a year. And those are just the highlights.

That first time I went to an African church and we were escorted to the very front in hard, wooden benches. I remember the enthusiasm in their worship and the little girl who was across the isle who was the first to steal my heart.

I remember the first time I saw Davie, the little neighbor boy who you hear about quite often. He was the most hostile, quiet, sad, misbehaved little child I ever did see (except for his brother). But his transformation was amazing.

I remember the first time I saw our house, and all the mess of it. The broken toilet and shower, ugly yellow cracked walls, broken doors, un-level floors, cockroach infested kitchen and all. The yard that needed mowing. The water pipes needing fixed. But we had a house, and that's all that mattered.

I remember going into town with Kat and dala dala rides. When all the young men said we were to be their wives and we told them they "really wouldn't want to live with us". When the street vendors tried to charge us twice as much and were surprised to see us refuse. When everyone wanted to touch the wazungu and be our friend. And that street food was the best I've ever tasted.

I remember the first time I set foot into the orphanage where a couple hours each day would be spent. The chaotic mess inside that compound sent me out the door as fast as I went in. My dream of working in an orphanage was shot when I saw this place, but at the same time I couldn't give up on those kids. They needed me more than anyone else because they needed Jesus' love and that's why I stayed.

I remember singing with the kids and swinging with the kids. I remember running down the streets and laughing till we dropped. I remember cleaning up Junior's vomit and hugging teary-eyed Saguta. I remember laughing with the ladies in the kitchen and trying to cut tomatoes with the dullest knife in the world. I remember playing Frisbee and doing homework with the fifth graders. And I remember when Lalente informed me that "No, Speto (even Africans can't pronounce the "sv"), you can't leave."

When Saidi told me she would just have to go to America with me if I couldn't stay. That was the first time my heart broke. That was when I decided that my life would include lots of little black faces in the future, but in a time that they can call me "Mom" and I will never have to leave them.

This year brought me to new places and meeting new faces. Falling in love with lots of people and my heart broke with a pain I never want to endure again, but I would never trade this year for anything.

A year ago I set foot on an airplane and I had no idea the change it would bring.



















Sunday, May 11, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

1. Details 
My mom, sisters and I attended a mother-daughter tea yesterday afternoon (and all but one of these pictures is from there) and I just loved the table decor. We each got to take one cup home. 

2. Precious
Just look at that precious face!

3. Hungary 
Miss Ruth had a lovely spread for us.

4. Water
Or tea?

5. Wide Angle 
This was taken from the senior photoshoot I had last week. I don't know if it's wide angle, but it's the closest to it I could find.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Embarrassment, or not so much?


"Oh! And this part of ________ movie...that was so great. Remember _______? *laughs and looks at you to say something about movie or song or book that they just menioned*"

I just laugh along with whatever they are talking about, even though I have no clue. Or it turns out like this:
"I haven't seen that one."
"You haven't WHAT?! You deprived child!"

And it hurts. Kind of. And it's embarrassing. Sort of. And I guess because of not seeing Star Wars or reading Harry Potter, I am deprived and immature and weird. (Just to clarify, I do not have anything against either of those two things and now you probably do think I'm weird.)

I grew up without a TV in the house. I grew up without listening to the latest music and reading the popular books. But that does not mean I grew up without music or books; it's in our blood, we love music and books. My parents just wanted us to put good things into our ears and eyes and minds. And so we grew gardens and went on hikes and read good books and played music. We ate homegrown meals as a family around the table every single day. We had a little bit of cream with our coffee and a bit of bread with our butter. We shared jokes. We didn't always get along with each other and we picked fights. But we prayed together and worshiped together. We studied God's word together and we went to Africa together.

My parents taught (and still teach) us to do what is worthy, to live wholly and to love God. They taught us right from wrong, but gave us free will as we grew older, knowing that we would essentially have to choose how we would live. But they still encouraged and taught. Sometimes I didn't understand why I couldn't go here or there or stay out late with friends, but now I am thankful that my parents taught me to be responsible, thoughtful, compassionate and faithful. My life has been far from perfect, but it has been governed by The One who is.

So I might get embarrassed when I don't know what a book or movie is, but I am not at all embarrassed that my mind is not filled with ugly words or corrupt images. The goal of a Christian should be to become like Christ, and that is no easy task of humility, love, being ridiculed and persecution. I like the way a missionary friend put it "If your life as a Christian is easy, then you're doing something wrong." However, that is not saying that we cannot be happy or peaceful. That is saying that we are to constantly strive to be like Christ.

So the next time you don't know what it is someone is talking about, don't be embarrassed, I'm positive you know stuff that they haven't a clue about. What is popular isn't always right and what is right isn't always popular. Thank you, Albert Einstein, for reminding us of that thought.

I apologize if this post is kind of disorganized. These thoughts have been on my mind a lot lately and it makes me sad when young people fall into peer pressure just to be liked or accepted, or that people have to be a certain way or read certain books or watch certain movies to be accepted. Go out there and STAND. 
Stand for Christ. 
Tell of His greatness. 
Ask questions. 
Never give up. 
Determine to live wholly.