David bought me a beautiful engagement ring. It feels restless, impatient to never stay one color and when it picks a color to be - for even a moment - it is beautiful and piercing.
This is such an ironic (dangerously ironic) statement to consider in light of the fact that RICE Twelve trials is coming up. I am thankful for tonight’s youthworks study camp meeting because there was one particular moment when our director said, “how will you frame the bible for the first timers?”
Of course, I deferred to my usual answers and thinking - until I felt God take my perspective - as if it were a window or a camera viewfinder - with both of His hands and just physically shift it. Suddenly I realised that it is a big thing that non-Christians are coming to camp willingly, and spending two hours a day in chapel and bible study with us to present the gospel to them for all six days.
Wow. Evangelism is not only a gracious gift, it is an imperative for Christians, to keep sharing the gospel, the good news!
This realisation couldn’t have come at a more timely moment. Straight afterwards, and due to amazingly gracious codirectors, we had a RICE Twelve meeting.
Our event is in TWO WEEKS and we have TWO REGISTRATIONS. Cue panic.
But no. Tonight, I really felt God blessed our meeting. It wasn’t that hard, it wasn’t super stressful, but if there was anything we had to realise tonight it was that we really really really needed God.
Only God can bring people to RICE Twelve. Only God can administer His word through His people at RICE Twelve, and only God can save them.
This is a supremely sobering and humbling thing to realise. Although I am tempted to stress in this time I really feel convicted that instead, God wants me to take evangelism seriously - every single opportunity is a divine opportunity to share the good news of Christ! That, and God has convicted me to trust in Him. Two of the biggest marketing portals for us isn’t actually until two days out from the event. That’s an admin’s nightmare. But again and again God is asking us as a team to TRUST in Him.
I really hope one day to share with you the testimony of how RICE Twelve Trials even happened - it required a lot of God’s wrestling with us, and us slowing down His vision because of our love for structure and personal vision. It has been such a lesson of focusing on what He wants and having the faith to be brave and take it on.
But I thank God that He has been repeatedly gracious and gentle with us, reasoning with us when we needed reasoning and bringing us in line when it was necessary. God has worked with us despite our limitations and provided for us all through it, encouraging us to depend only on Him, and to submit to His goodness and perfect will.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
I’m discovering a side of social pressure in being engaged. There were the customary questions after we announced our engagement, “How did he propose?” and “Let me see your ring!” I feel the pressure to be careful to recount things carefully, and to hide the ring, because I don’t want to misrepresent who David is to me. It’s hard to explain a lot of the things that surrounded our engagement.
I love to share my life with people, but I don’t want to do it if it subjects Dave or I to judgement. Just really praying that we could stay focused in this time on what matters, on continuing to grow faithfully and spiritually.
Getting engaged was a massive struggle for us that started over two years ago, considering we hadn’t wanted to start dating without seriously talking over marriage down the track, and then when we did start dating we realised that the less marriage was far away, the better. Having this huge spiritual journey ultimately boil down to how David proposed or how big the rock is… it’s hard. I’m challenged to question myself: how does all this bring glory to God?
Can finally come back to blogging! It’s been hard to blog honestly when I wasn’t allowed to talk much about future plans with Dave, but now that we’re officially engaged (yay!) I can get back to it, hehe.
Something that I’ve found myself really looking forward to and appreciating recently is how productive my life has become recently. I remember in the past I used to hate how busy I was, and always be looking forward instead to the next big thing. Something like a holiday, or an event, or an opportunity. I remember the entire of my last year was based on launching RICE Twelve.
This year however, I feel like God has really taught me to be more content in anything and everything I’m doing. Amazingly, the other week I was encouraged to stop looking for joy in my every day because with my deceitful heart there isn’t much to see - anything can be twisted as terrible. So I had to submit it to God, for Him to show me how I could have joy - and here I am. Thankful that God is so generous to give His children what is good.
So things have changed for me. I genuinely enjoy every single day, and I don’t dread anything. Work is great, relationship is great, uni is great. That doesn’t mean I’m not challenged anymore though. I am, and sometimes things happen in life that really hurt, and you can’t help but carry that pain with you into the next day, or the next. But God has always offered me a way out, to find comfort in Him instead of myself.
Right now, I’m learning what it means to let go of control. I am always being tempted to despair as to how things are going, then despair on how badly I’ve handled the situation - as I am often prone to do. Instead though I am encouraged to consider that as we grow up we are always being handed more responsibilities to steward, and now, as I feel more and more that I have more to love (be it money, relationships, ambitions, etc) God is always bringing me to a point of surrender on my life, that my own heart would not drive me into the ground with fear and anxiety.
I can only praise God for the way He continually provides for us, and how He knows we are only human with our very real limitations and extends grace to us.
and I just wanted to say that it is a great joy to be sharing my life with people in a way that isn’t as introspective as I’ve found myself to be in writing.
Thanks for all the love (:
Much Ado About Nothing
Yesterday I vlogged! I usually watch a specific youtuber every day and through her vlogs she effectively records stuff she does in the day as well as the growth of her family. Dave and I reckoned that was cool, so that’s why we wanted to start.
What I didn’t realise were a few things
Don’t know if I’ll keep going for it! But we’ll see (:
It was great for my spiritual journey - for a season. I used to swear by it, and encourage people to journal every day. But over the summer holidays I realised that journalling was detrimental for two reason.
The first was that it cultivated legalism within me. I felt that any thought I had that wasn’t written down would be hopelessly forgotten, when the truth was that I do forget all my thoughts, and the journal was just meant to back it up. This filled me with guilt when my thoughts were spiritual. I felt that if I did not journal every day then I was shunning the gift of learning more about God, and as a result I was a bad daughter of God, shoving him to the wayside by not journalling. The irony is however that I sin in other aspects of my life all the time, and that is looking God in the eye and disobeying as well. That was what sin was, yet in my false humility, in my failed understanding of what a pursuit of God looked like, I looked to journalling to direct and guide me.On days that I thought I had failed God, I was too ashamed to pray, so I would journal. When I didn’t journal I felt less holy and more afraid that I would fall away. It wasn’t until I was reminded that nothing I did contributed to my salvation that I had the conviction to stop.
The second was that journalling let me live a life of uninterrupted introspection which bred dark and evil thoughts. The heart is deceitful over all things, so who can understand it? I had committed myself to understanding it, but the more I wrote about the things that I was thinking I realised that there was such limited value in even reading through old entries. The pages were filled every day with less and less of God and His grace and more and more of me and my own feelings, none of which I could understand or even tame.
The limit of spiritual disciplines exist, I think I forgot that. Reading the Bible every day and journaling was such a means of grace, a way that God could further bless us. I was foolish to think that I had any claim to my own salvation and holiness outside of the sin I brought to the Cross.
This post comes with the usual disclaimer that journaling is good, until it replaces the Cross, then it’s bad. For me, it had.
But I praise God for the way He had released me from my fears and had reassured my heart and humbled my pride. I realise that my spiritual health is not how often I read the bible and pray and journal - although these things are still very good. Rather, it is important for me to look more to the Cross than to my own failings and to my own heart. When it comes to pursuing God, it means to pursue Him, and to not let other earthly acts take on that significance. I have been challenged to have more faith in what God’s Word says about my salvation and my value before Him, that it is not affected by my performance or endurance but is made possible in His grace.
I learnt today that we are always learning as human beings, necessary in our search to improve not only our skill sets but also our quality of life.
I realise that personally, when I read books set by a syllabus or has an academic purpose I am a vacuum cleaner, directed and efficient, controlled by a trusted educator and sucking everything up.
Yet, when I read material on my own I am more like a rumba, humming along noisily, picking up fragments and missing too-narrow corners, without any real sense of direction with an optimistic belief that all that I suck up will be useful in some way.
Sometimes hanging out with a friend is hard. They don’t seem to hear what you’re saying, and sometimes you wonder if they really care, as if their real life doesn’t really involve you much.
Catching up with my sister Kirsten the other week I left with something in mind that she’d told me. That is, the importance of being present when you’re with another person. I left wondering if ever I was not present with some of my friends, where physically I was with them but mentally I was elsewhere and only ever dipped back into consciousness of them occasionally. Kirsten was sharing how it says a lot about a person and the way they view you when they are simply not present when they are with you.
I realise that it’s really important never to take for granted someone being there with you, nor to take for granted the courage it takes to share anything about themselves with you, especially if you are hardly around in their lives. As my friend expressed this phenomena so perfectly, “Fellowship just seems like a drive-through”.
One way to bless people, to let precious fellowship time not seem like an infrequent and impersonal drop-in is through a genuine interest not only for their wellbeing (as you risk being a lecturing mother-figure) but in who they are as a person. Who they are in light of who God has declared them to be.
Here are some things I’ve been considering about how to be more present with our friends.
How often do I look over to my friend when I am with them? How often do I search their face for meaning or for clues on how they’re really feeling? Do I encourage them to continue sharing because they have my full attention?
I know this may sound weird but back in first year I spent some time looking at myself in the mirror, and checking what my facial expressions and eyes said or did in response to what I was being told. Wearing your heart on your sleeve isn’t always the best thing, because your heart is not always trustworthy or loving. Through controlling my facial expressions, I learnt to control my heart and put my friends’ needs above my own. How can I love them with the way I look at them?
Control your mind
My mind is prone to wonder. If you were inside my head while I am praying you would know this in less than 30 seconds. Letting the mind wander sometimes is a great avenue for deeper thought and amazing creativity but when you are with a friend, commit that time to them, down to your very mind, that you would reflect on what they are telling you. Something that I’ve realised the importance of is to be constantly praying whilst they talk and share, asking God if He would give any words that would bless and comfort them. Controlling your mind also is an exercise of integrity, that you would mean all that you say to them and be fully present with them.
Little vocal and body language cues can do a lot to make a person feel safer with you, and even feel more valued. When someone is sharing - particularly in a group setting - it is helpful to nod subtly when you agree, or smile at certain points where they are uncertain. There is a point where your presence can be used to encourage your friends. Understand that this is different from a text-based conversation, and use your body and your voice to affirm and encourage them.
Time, it is malleable
Don’t ever be in a hurry. Life is busy, but simply because you are in a hurry, it doesn’t mean you have to “be” in a hurry. When you talk to your friend you can preface it by making it clear when you need to leave at a certain time, but don’t push your friend to simply give you a sweeping overview of their life. Nothing says “drive-through” more than making your friend feel like they’re a short stop between your previous location and your real destination. When you are with your friend, they are your real destination.
Every one matters
Sometimes they don’t need your opinion. It’s helpful to be spending time dwelling on their desires because someone else’s hopes and desires for the future are precious (although not always right, but that’s another post). Affirm them, encourage them and give them freedom to be themselves before you, and use your time to celebrate who they are.
Care by showing that when you leave their presence, it doesn’t mean that they’ve left you. I’m a girl, and it’s trendy right now to be writing letters, and I hope to use this intimate medium to bless others in the future, to show that you affirm their desires and offer help in light of their struggles even if there isn’t something practical you can do.
I really hope this helps. This previous weekend was used by God to really show me the importance of celebrating the people He’s surrounded me with, and He has taught my heart anew how to see others as He sees them.
Most of all, we care as Christians because Jesus intimately cares for us. There is nothing that He hasn’t experienced, there is no burden that He would not accept from you. What a friend we have a in Jesus! May we learn how to be a good friend by following the steps of our perfect Friend.
Dave and I were going through his stuff after his big move down south and this little unassuming card dropped out and we froze. Easily one of the most precious and significant relics in our relationship.
So thankful for Connect ministries. Will never forget how God used it to change Dave and I and grow us exponentially, introducing us to people also who we will walk with for the lifetime to come.