Quarantined … again

11/01/20

It’s only been three days but I haven’t been able to decide whether this is wonderful or just plain awful.

For the next week and possibly longer I’ll be stuck at home sweet home, waiting for life to be COVID free … at least for the moment.

I have to be honest … I spent the first day flipping out after deep cleaning my apartment, editing pictures, going on a run, anything to keep busy. It reminded me way too much of getting stuck in the Airbnb after New York.

Then I started making plans of everything I wanted to accomplish this week … after lying on the couch stone-still for hours contemplating my near future.

I decided it was high time to get my room set up since I had a spare minute so I went online to order some new things for that plus our living room. (Good thing I can work from home so I don’t go broke XD.)

I have a few days before my furniture and decor arrives so I made plans to bust out homework assignments that were opened early, find some good empty hiking trails (man, I wish I had my bike with me but I left it at the school), think of new skills to learn, and actually finish the book my old youth pastor gave me a few years ago.

After being paralyzed at the fact I’ll be cooped up again, I think it’ll be exciting to learn more about who I am when the me I am is all that I see. If there’s anything I’ve learned from life it is that we will never stop learning. And that applies to everything.

I pray that in the next week God will help me to make the best of this unexpected little break and see it as a blessing. I’ve felt that in the past couple years since I’ve received that book from my old youth pastor, I’ve let my life become so busy that I’ve squeezed God into the little corners.

It’s a busy season of life, and so different than the one I left. It’s hard to find a balance. It’s hard to find time to open the book.

You don’t have to work full-time as a missionary or be involved in church ministry throughout the week to keep your flame alive.

You just have to keep your eyes on the cross, and relish in the wonders of God’s grace.

And that means,

Don’t ever be satisfied, because there is so much more.

Thoughts with Hannah

Hi my dear friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve shared something like this (and it pains me to think that as it is the most important thing in my life). As I sit here trying to get through my homework load at my newly arranged yet already cluttered workspace (much like my newly transitioned but already disorderly life), I realize that all too often when times are good, I tend to stick these serious issues in the backseat while I enjoy the drive. It’s not a new thought! But sometimes it takes a change to help me remember and reflect once again on to Whom I owe my joy, and why life is worth the living. And that’s what I’m here to share.  I’d like to talk about the greatest love story in history, and that starts with creation.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Gen. 1:1. God created us in His own image and breathed in us life. But we sinned against him because we were not satisfied with what He had given us, and our unity with God was broken. But from the very beginning, God created a way for sinners to be reconciled, and that Way was Jesus. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. 2:5.

Jesus was God’s only begotten Son, fully God yet fully Man, and the only One who had lived a perfect and undefiled life, therefore the only One who could lift the curse we had brought on ourselves. “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” Isa. 53:5. Jesus suffered a painful and humiliating death on a cross to pay for the salvation of His people. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Rom. 10:9.

Salvation is a free gift. We didn’t earn it, we couldn’t, and all we have to do to receive it is to believe and confess. While everything in the world we see seems to be changing so drastically, this Truth never changes. Jesus is way to eternal life. Don’t take that lightly! “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:28. Jesus is the reason that we can rejoice in the midst of suffering because He is Enough. He will never leave us nor forsake us!

 “I hadn’t asked Him to forgive me of all the sin in my life, and I realized all along that I had just been depending on my good works, and maybe my parent’s faith, to get to heaven.

And boy is that a joke, ’cause when I was on the brink of death, I realized that nothing I ever did was enough to pay for what I had done.

It had taken me all of just a minute then to recognize that the only thing that stood between me and eternal damnation . . . was the cross. So while I was lying there in that coffin, I asked Jesus to save me and make me His forever, because I don’t think I took it seriously before, but a close brush with death can make you rethink your life all over, and I knew right then that I didn’t want to live anymore without living for Jesus.”

-Excerpt from “The Summer of Our Lives,” some book that will start in existence if this old self will ever get around to finishing it.

Seasons of Change

Change is inevitable. It’s not always bad, nor good. But it always happens.

A friend once told me that my life was like a movie. And now I see what she means. My life has changed crazily and rapidly. In one year, I went from a 4-H homeschool girl with big dreams and plenty of time for adventures to a run-from-class-to-class college student juggling two jobs.

But the dreams are still there.

Dreams of traveling the world with a pen and paper, the wind in your face and sun on your hair. Of early mornings in the garden with coffee, and late nights on the porch rocker watching the starts come out. Of sleeping on the beach and hiking in the mountain. Of getting the last paragraph typed.

I had this dream my life would be.

And so I’ve let go of my lifeguard job so I could have more time to start my little business and more time to write. Time. Every time I’ve let go of something to free myself up, I’ve looked back and wondered how I lived through that season.

And that’s life.

The real and the messy. The mud, blood, and tears.

Well, not too much blood. So far my worst injury was shooting myself with a nail gun and I aim to keep it that way. So let’s hope my aim is better.

Here’s to the raw.

I cried last night. And have lately…a lot. With everything swirling out of your control, sometimes the weight of the world seems upon you. But it’s not. And it’s under His control.

Isn’t it so awesome that our God never changes?

Be very sure, your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Ruth Cye Jones

Counting it All Joy

  Counting it All Joy – By Hannah Loviisa

Tears. I flittered around a bit while considering what I should write about until one topic brought tears to my eyes. And that topic is tears. We look all around us and observe and experience sorrow. Why do we have trials when we pray for blessings? Is God is looking out for our best interests? When will all this suffering end?

We all ask these questions when our lives seem to be covered with shadows. We all look for answers to our hearts’ cries. We don’t always have them. God doesn’t reveal all the answers to us. But there are some truths he does reveal.

Christians suffer

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12                                         

Suffering will come to the Christ-follower. Christians don’t get to escape the consequences of the fall. From the moment we enter the world we are firmly in its grip.

Suffering is purposeful 

“…but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Rom 5:3b-4

If suffering isn’t meaningless, then what is its purpose? We tend to focus on ourselves, so let’s do that. How does suffering benefit me?

Suffering strengthens our faith. I find that the times where we grow most spiritually are the times when we suffer most. Perhaps it is because our faith is being tested.

Suffering also grows our relationship with God.

“…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…” Philippians 3:10                                                               

When I look back at times in my life when I have experienced suffering, I can see how it has enhanced my relationship with God. Because during those times I most strongly and actively sought a relationship with Him, especially through my prayer life. Do we not pray most when we are the most desperate? When things go wrong, the worldly things seem to fade away and we look to our Savior for our comfort in this life. How much greater would our relationship be with our Father if we always reached out to Him with that same longing and desire?

Suffering also encourages other Christians. If we have experienced suffering, we can be of better encouragement to other Christians to be faithful throughout their own trials. We can be a witness to the world when they see that we suffer differently. We suffer with hope. That suffering reminds us that this world is not our home. Trust in your Creator because He is faithful to bring the good work He has begun in you to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Christian suffering can glorify God

“…you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith… may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  1 Peter 1:6b-7

Suffering wasn’t what God intended for us but it is part of His plan for our life, and His plan is not meaningless. We were created for a purpose, and that purpose was to glorify God. So what about in the midst of our suffering?

“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” 1 Peter 4:16

This is how we glorify God through trials; we show that He is more precious to us than anything in this world, even our own lives. And that means that while all else may get taken from us, we still rejoice because our greatest treasure, our source of joy, our glorious Author and Finisher of our salvation, will never forsake us.

The Good News

Jesus has conquered death. He suffered what we could not. He took our sins upon Himself when He died on the cross in our place and rose again victorious. Christ was the ultimate Sacrifice, the triumphant Sufferer, so that through Him we can overcome death. And the suffering will end when Jesus comes back.

Until then, we fight the good fight! We press on. The Christian can endure anything because Christ has accomplished everything. (Philippians 4:13) We have a unique opportunity to glorify God in the midst of our pain, and look forward to the day where we may, without the limitations of sin, enjoy Him forever in the place He has prepared for us.

So finally, rejoice because JESUS is ENOUGH!

Previously published on Refresh! Women’s Leadership Newsletter from Partners International.