May 24, 2010

you get what you pray for

i prayed for faith, i broke a bone. i prayed for patience, i got a cast and crutches. i prayed for reliance on GOD, i found dependence. i prayed for humility, i became helpless. i prayed for direction, i was placed right where i was. i prayed for a better prayer life, i got time to myself. i prayed for GOD to lead my steps, and i could no longer walk alone.

i am always fascinated when we ask GOD for things and then are surprised when HE gives us exactly what we asked for. we want a stronger faith, but we only want our faith to be developed in ease and comfort. we ask for patience because we're supposed to, but heaven forbid we get a totally annoying situation in which we have to be patient in order to obtain it. we ask for a better relationship with our FATHER, but we don't expect to be presented a stretch of time when it's just the two of us.

so why pray? i mean if prayer just means painful situations of growth instead of happiness, why do it? prayer is supposed to be about finding solutions and not creating problems and obstacles, right? or better yet, shouldn't we just pray for things that will only bring happiness without struggles?

well, i prayed for all of the above things, and i am slowly getting them, but obviously not in the way i expected at all. but as it says in the book i am reading (the ultimate life), "problems viewed in the past are revealed as blessings." so i will continue to pray for these difficult things because i know it's only through struggles and problems that the traits i want to have are truly cultivated. i have noticed that my faith is always the strongest just as i'm passing through a little rough patch.

and i will continue to say GOD is good. all the time.

"ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." matthew 7:7

May 18, 2010

the courage to care

"being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, i think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat." mother teresa

the following is a real conversation that took place this past semester between me and one of my girl friends at college:
my friend: "charissa, i know something is wrong with my relationship!"
me: "oh no! why do you say that?"
my friend: "i can see it in our text messages."
me: "uh oh! is he being mean to you?"
my friend: "well, no."
me: "did he tell you he needs to take a break?"
my friend: "well, no."
me: "then what is it?"
my friend: "well, you see, there's no more...punctuation!"

a ridiculous conversation, right? a typical girl for ya, right? reading into things, analyzing everything, assuming the worst. but what made this girl go from getting "hey!!!" (exclamations) to "hey" (no punctuation)? where have the periods, question marks, exclamations...where has the semicolon gone! ok, you're right, the semicolon was never there to begin with. but is there really nothing to read into, or is that text message sending a different message that's loud and clear?

whether we are conscious of it or not, we naturally express to people how we feel about them, the majority of the time without using a single word. we tend to put people in their places. to let them know exactly how we feel, or don't feel, about them, sometimes in only a matter of minutes. and sometimes using the most subtle of ways.

in our attempt to maintain control, the upper hand, our high position...we strive to treat certain people a certain way. it's that annoying guy who has got unrequited love for you that you wish would become unrecited love, and so you send a message. it's that person you were close with in the past who mistreated you, burned you, hurt you, left you, and no matter how many times he or she has apologized you feel any sign of forgiveness is a sign of weakness, so you send a message. it's that person who is socially inappropriate and who was never taught the correct behavior so you decide to teach him. but is giving someone what he deserves by not giving him the time of day really a gift?

why do we give people: indifference. apathy. the cold shoulder. an unpunctuated text. a side note. an afterthought. plan b. when all we want ourselves is: difference. empathy. a warm hold. punctuation. the title. the first thought. exhibit a.

since when have the majority of our conversations reverted to the form of texts? and why do we deem some people unworthy of our punctuation? when did it become ok for a guy to ask a girl on a date through facebook chat? where is our face-to-face interaction? when did our coffee dates become phone dates? how many facebook friends are truly friends? and when did the number of wall posts we get on our birthdays become such a significant factor in our lives?

it takes courage to break down the barriers of technology that have distorted our friendships. it takes courage to make time for people and to spend it in person, face to face. it takes courage to call instead of text and to let people know how important they are by you wanting to be in their physical presences.

it takes courage to care. to show your true feelings. to say no, you're not really fine. to say you still care for someone even if it's not mutual. to let another person know that you think about him. to let another person know you pray for her. to tell another person he or she has captivated your heart and soul.

it takes courage to love. to love unconditionally. to love someone who may or may not be willing to love in return. to love someone who doesn't deserve it. who has burned you in the past or broken your trust. who everyone else tells you to forget, to reject, to shun. it takes courage to punctuate. yes, it does. to go the extra mile. to be the bigger person. to smile. to listen. to share yourself with another person. to be vulnerable takes courage.

so, when you're about to send that unpunctuated text message, are you thinking about the message you're really sending? is putting that person in her place really worth it, and will it really make you feel better about yourself? let us be honest with each other, but let us do it in a spirit of love. because isn't that all we really want in this life: to love and to be loved in return?

"be strong and courageous. do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go." joshua 1:9

May 13, 2010

getting back on the right foot

"be with me LORD, i cannot live without thee. i dare not try to take one step alone."

this song took on a new appreciation for me today as i broke my right ankle. i am now referring to this break as my "summer break," so here is the breaking news... i was playing with my mom's 3rd grade class at field day and was coaxed by the little ones to do the long jump in the sand. i, of course, was the biggest kid there, and everyone knows that the biggest kid has to go the farthest. i got a great running start, took a giant leap, landed, and heard a magnificent pop that i will never forget as long as i live. i then felt part of my ankle move without the rest of it moving and yelled the most important word that any 22-year-old person could yell in such a situation...MOM! countless people came to my rescue: the school nurse brought me ice, the 3rd graders surrounded me and told me hilarious stories and comforted me, people i did not even know prayed with me. and as i sat there in the sand, knowing that my ankle was broken and watching it swell to the size of a baseball, i sang "be with me LORD."

i love wit and irony, and i was amazed at the hymn that popped into my head. "i dare not try to take one step alone." how true! i learned several lessons while thinking about getting back on the right foot...

1) sometimes we all need to be helpless. i am a very independent person. whether it be organizing something or working on a project, i am the type of person that likes doing things by myself. so when i physically am not able to walk, i see the beauty in being helpless, having to rely on other people for everything.

2) sometimes we need to be humble. in my life, whenever i have tried to be the best at something i am always humbled. it's silly to think how we try to impress other people so often and how GOD uses those times to feed us a dose of humble pie. it just shows that GOD lifts up the humble and also teaches us our limits as human beings, that we can't do everything and that our value is not based on our performance.

3) sometimes we need to let GOD take the reigns and steer our path. i had all these plans i had in mind for this summer, and let me tell you that the summer has now taken a new direction. but that is beautiful to me because who knows how GOD will use this "summer break." my plans will all change, and different things will come from this situation. and as i realize the blessings that come from this, i am going to post them on here. i have always heard, "if you want to make GOD laugh, tell HIM your plans." my plans are taking a detour, and i can't wait to see where it leads.

everything happens for a reason, and GOD is in control. although i have no idea of the purpose of breaking my ankle during the first week of my summer, i know that it will be revealed. stay posted for the blessings to come from my summer break and my struggle to get back on the right foot.

May 9, 2010

those who weight upon the LORD

"GOD does not ask us to be successful. HE asks us to be faithful."

you may have seen the title of this one and thought, "charissa, you may think you can explain it all, but you can't spell." but if you know me well you know that i love puns, and i'm feeling that now is the time to be punny.

i graduated college yesterday and feel a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement. i have been blessed in so many ways and have had so many amazing opportunities in the last 4 years. i made hundreds of friendships, backpacked through europe, participated in unique groups and experiences, and left college with great honors that i just feel so privileged to even receive. looking back on it, i see that by the world's standards i should not be where i am right now. in a society that thrives on survival of the fittest and self-preservation, it sometimes feels that the only way to succeed in this life is by doing whatever it takes to get ahead. in a world that revolves around careers, salaries, and promotions, one might feel the only way to succeed is to be the best and to do whatever it is that makes you happiest, even at the expense of others.

i live a simple, honest life. i try to put other people before myself. i honestly don't care how successful i am as long as i am putting the LORD first in my life and my decisions. i have learned to put my weight on the LORD while waiting on the LORD. to let HIM guide my life, my decisions, my future. i have made some very hard decisions where i chose to put what i thought GOD would want above my happiness, and through all that, GOD has given me a feeling of success that i never expected...by being faithful. and that's just it: as long as we are striving to put the LORD first in everything we do whether it be our jobs or relationships or whatever, that is success. and if we are successfully faithful, i have seen that GOD gives us success in our lives even in worldly eyes. HE gives and takes away, and life isn't perfect. but HE works for the good of those who love HIM.

satan, however, is such a great liar. he makes us believe that we have to wait to start living and changing lives. he tells us lies like we can't be effective unless we have had a certain amount of education or experience. we can't be happy unless we have found our soul mate. we can't make a difference or do something great because we are young. we can no longer make a difference or do something great because we are old. satan makes us strive for the world's success instead of faithfulness when we just need to realize that living a faithful life and helping others live faithfully is the greatest success we could ever achieve.

my life has been short so far, but in that brief amount of time, i have learned 3 things that have brought me joy and allowed me to remain faithful:

work with all your heart. when you give your best to everything you do, touch, see, it can't help but be good. if you put your heart into your relationship, that other person can't help but feel the love. if you put your soul into your job and love what you do, other people naturally love the job you do. if you work for the LORD and not for men, you work on a heavenly standard that is nothing less than excellent.

live in the moment. there are two traps that satan sets for us: either dwelling too long in the past, whether it be reliving those glorious college days or focusing on mistakes and regrets, or living for the future and postponing living because we are waiting to be born. we must live just for today and not worry what tomorrow may bring. we must enjoy whatever stage of life we are in and just determine that each next stage that we enter is going to be even better than the last.

live for others. it is amazing how giving is so much more rewarding that getting...one of the amazing little signs of the existence of GOD. putting others first is difficult. i am always disgusted when i realize moments of selfishness in myself to which i am totally oblivious. but in my moments of selflessness i find true happiness and feelings of success. whether it is treating someone to sonic, making someone laugh, sending a letter in the mail, it's the little things for other people that make me feel like a success.

so whatever stage of life you're in, don't listen to the lies satan tells. and especially don't listen when he tries to taint your view of success. be faithful, and let GOD take care of the rest. HE knows the plans HE has for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future.

"i know what it is to be in need, and i know what it is to have plenty. i have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. i can do everything through HIM who gives me strength." philippians 4:12-13

May 2, 2010

dream big

i believe that new year's resolutions can happen at any time of the year. therefore, i am going to post my goals or resolutions that i have made for this summer, and sometime in august i will post my results. i figure if i post them on here for you to see it will help motivate me and keep me accountable, so thanks!

i want to/will (in no particular order):
1) read the entire bible through this summer (mid-may to mid-august).
2) read 20 books i have always wanted to read.
3) go somewhere i have never gone.
4) take a road trip.
5) drink absolutely no soda.
6) wear my retainer every night (straight teeth is serious business).
7) finish getting in shape from last summer.
8) unclutter and organize four years of college collecting and acquiring.
9) do something completely creative and artistic.
10) milk a cow.
11) dance with someone in the rain.
12) ride a horse.
13) tell 10 people about this guy named JESUS.
14) make an unlikely friend.
15) reunite with long-lost friends.
16) start a relationship with ebay.
17) make a music video.
18) do something completely for someone else.
19) concentrate on face-to-face communication and phone calls.
20) eat something not previously eaten.

i realize that 20 is a big number, but i think even if i don't reach all of them, it is good to aim high. so stay tuned!