Happy Birthday Gma!

I am double posting today because it is my Gma’s birthday. I love this beautiful woman so much! Happy Birthday Gma!

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Trains and Gifts

20171115_101207526154770.jpgMy roommate Jeans got me this little train whistle in celebration of me getting the train job at the mall.

I have been driving the train for a few weeks now and I am definitely liking the job. The train drives a lot like a golf cart. It is fun to get to see all the children light up with joy when they see the train around the mall. My favorite thing is when I wave at a child as I am driving the train and then by the time I get back to the station that child is in line for the train. Even though the uniform I have to wear is really dorky, this is definitely the most fun job I have ever had. Getting this job has been a huge blessing.

Wise Choice: Go: Jonah

In my Dare to Make the Wise Choice series I will share a story from my curriculum and sometimes I might comment on the story and how it applies to our lives as believers and why it was chosen to be part of this curriculum. Fair warning: this is a very long post compared to most of my other posts.

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Dare to Make the Wise Choice: Go

Jonah

Today’s lesson comes from a book in the Old Testament titled Jonah, which is also the name of the man in today’s story. Jonah was one of God’s special messengers called prophets, God would give Jonah messages to share with the people he sent him to.

One day, God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and tell the people there to repent (apologize to God) for their wrongdoings and turn from their evil ways or God was going to destroy the city. Usually when Jonah heard what God wanted him to do, he would do it without hesitation but this time Jonah did not want to go.

He had heard of the awful things the people in Nineveh had done, they were evil people; Jonah did not want to save them, he did not care if God destroyed them. Instead of making the Wise Choice and Daring to Go where God wanted him to go, Jonah tried to run away from God. Instead heading in the direction of Nineveh, Jonah went in the completely opposite direction and got on boat to go to a different city called Tarshish.

While Jonah was on the boat a huge storm started raging over the sea, rocking the boat; the other men on the boat were scared because they did not know what was happening, but Jonah knew it was because he was disobeying God. Jonah went to the other men on the boat and told them that the storm was because he was trying to run away from his God and they should throw him over board to stop the storm from destroying the boat. At first the men did not want to do this because they thought it would kill Jonah but as the storm got worse and worse, they knew that’s what they had to do.

The men threw him over board but instead of drowning, Jonah was swallowed whole by a large fish in the water. Jonah was alive inside of the big fish’s belly for 3 days and 3 nights, and he spent the entire time praying. He prayed to God saying that if he was given another chance at life then he would do anything God told him and he would never disobey God again.

After the 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the big fish, the fish threw up Jonah up on the shore. Jonah praised God from letting him live, but then God told him to go to Nineveh again. However, this time Jonah listened. He Dared to Go to Nineveh and tell them that if they did not apologize to God for doing evil things and stop doing them then God was going to destroy their city. He spent 3 days telling everyone he saw in the city what God told him, he even talked to the king. To Jonah’s surprise, the people did repent and they stopped doing evil things and started worshiping God. God forgave the people and did not destroy the city.

Memory Verse for the Week:

Psalm 96:3

“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all people.”

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I decided that Dare to Go was an appropriate Wise Choice to post as my first post in this series, seeing as I am preparing to “Go” in ministry.

The book of Jonah is a short one in the Old Testament, being only four chapters but it is packed with big lessons in obedience and going where, and to do what, God says to go and to do.

Usually when I have seen the story of Jonah taught, it is about how God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah disobeyed, God gave Jonah a second chance, Jonah goes to Nineveh, the people of Nineveh turn from their wicked ways and God saves them from his wrath, and that is usually where the story ends. But that isn’t where the story ends in the Book of Jonah chapter 4. In chapter 4, after God has spared the city of Nineveh, Jonah is angry that God saved these people. God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh to tell the people there to repent and change their ways, but Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh because he had heard how wicked the people were there and did not want to be the one to have to go tell them to change. Jonah tried to run away from God, but we serve an All Knowing and All Seeing God so there is nowhere to go where God does not see us or know what we are doing and God punished him by having him be swallowed by the fish but not letting him drown. After God saved Jonah from drowning and saved him from being eaten by the fish and Jonah finally went to Nineveh to do what he was told to do, he did not think that God would save the people of Nineveh.

Even though the people of Nineveh had been a wicked people, they were still God’s creation and He loved them. Jonah judged the people of Nineveh to be unworthy of being saved but it was not his place to make that judgement. God did not want to see Nineveh destroyed because He still loved the people there. God was happy to see Nineveh change and begin worshiping Him because He wants to be worshiped by all of his creation. At the end of chapter 4 in the Book of Jonah, God tells Jonah that he has absolutely no right to be angry about God saving those people, especially when the people had turned from the evil things they had done. In Jonah’s disobedience and anger, he was no better than the people in Nineveh, but God still saved him.

It is in God’s character to want sinful people to repent of their sins and worship him. That is why He sent His Son to earth so that He, Jesus, could save us from our sins, so that He could bridge the gap between us, sinful people, and God. We are all sinners and none of us are worthy of being saved, but God chose to save us anyway. Just like Jonah, we have absolutely no right to judge whether another person or group of people are worthy of being saved or not. God still desires for us to go out into the world and share His good news about His saving grace, so He will be worshiped by all the nations of the world.

Dare to Make the Wise Choice: the beginning of a series

I plan on starting a series in my blog where I will be sharing some of the stories that I have written as part of a curriculum that I started writing last year, originally for a camp, and I am still developing for future use in ministry. Here is some explanation for this series, which I will start posting tomorrow and will probably continue to post at least once a week from here on out. This is also in celebration of this being my 50th blog post!

I spent most of my Senior year at IWU writing a curriculum for a camp that I had worked at the summer before and was supposed to work at this past summer. I poured myself into that curriculum, into those 32 stories with the hope of being able to see them used to reach the children at this camp. The camp is for underprivileged, elementary school children from a neighborhood in Indianapolis, for most of which the only place these kids were going to hear Bible stories, or about Jesus at all, was at this camp. But even the two weeks that I actually got to be apart of that camp this summer, I did not get to see them used to teach the audience I had written them for. I think that was one of the hardest things I had to accept when I made the choice to leave the camp earlier than expected to spend the summer with my family. There were a lot things that played into me making that decision and I still think I made the right decision considering the circumstances.

At IWU, I finished the classes that were specifically for my Children’s Ministry degree three semesters early, because the major was so small and I had to take those classes when they were offered. Since I wasn’t taking those focused classes and was instead taking classes for my Psychology minor and General Education classes, I felt like I was stepping out of the world of Children’s Ministry a bit. But it was still something that I wanted to hold on to, it still is something that I want to hold on to. I agreed to writing this curriculum because I saw it as a way to hold on to the skills I had learned while earning my degree after I had finished taking those classes, while still having the potential to reach children with stories from the Bible in a way that they might be able to better understand.

The main topic of this curriculum is about daring to make the wise choice and we chose eight wise choices found in the Bible that multiple stories that illustrated those choices. Then I got to find four stories to go with each wise choice adding up to 32 stories, with some guidance from the director of the camp. The wise choices we based the curriculum on are change, speaking up, believing, standing strong, trust, love, forgiveness, and going. I wrote these 32 stories for the camp but now I want to write more to get it up to 55 stories to be a full years worth of curriculum. On top of these stories I also wrote small group lessons to go along with each story with pretty basic questions that kids, who may be hearing these stories for the first time, could answer from just listen to the stories. I tried to write the stories in a way that kids who were not growing up in the church could understand, while still staying as close to the scriptures as possible. A lot of children’s ministry curriculum that I have seen or used in the past at different churches are written in a way that assumes the kids hearing those lessons already know the basic stories, but that was not the case for the kids at this camp. One of my dreams is to see this curriculum published whether it is self published with an online publishing house or what I don’t know, but I think it is far from ready to do that yet.

Anyway getting on with the reason for me writing this blog post, I plan on sharing some of the stories that I have worked on in future blogs starting tomorrow. I am still developing these stories so that they can be better and use to reach more children. I hope to be able to use these stories in some capacity in the future once I am on the mission field.

Stretch Marks

This past Friday, a couple of my roommates and I went to a Women’s Event at our church. I don’t know what I was expecting when I went into this event but I honestly have to say that I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the worship/singing aspect of the service but once the speaker got started, I had a hard time not just checking out.

The speaker got up and started talking about stretch marks, specifically those from pregnancy and she went on and on about this. She eventually got around to relating it to how God challenges and stretches us in our lives to make room for new things. As a 23-year-old woman, who has never been pregnant and has no interest in having a child anytime in the near future, it was difficult for me to relate to the speaker and what she was trying to get across in her message. Side note – first of all, pregnancy is far from the only way people get stretch marks, second this was a topic that only related to small group of women at the event who had ever experienced pregnancy  and I feel like it was a missed opportunity to speak life into something that a large group of women of various stages in life could actually relate to.

Outside of struggling to relate to the analogies that the speaker made throughout almost all of her talk, I do relate to the idea of God stretching and challenging us to grow more in our faith in him. In the stage of life I am in right now, I feel like everything is stretching to me. I just graduated college and moved over 600 miles from everyone I have ever had close to me and I am in an internship program that specifically tries to stretch and challenge me everyday. I know that God is stretching me and sometimes it feels like it is too much and it is hard to breathe.

I do not know what I was looking for in going to this event but I left feeling discouraged and more disconnected that I was when I went in and I have thought about it too much since Friday. I know that this event was not about me in any way other than me being a woman, I know I can’t go to every event thinking I have get something out of it for myself. I am sure there was probably some women at the event who needed to hear what the speaker spoke about, so I don’t want to be too dramatic.

 

Church

I want to start this post by saying, I miss my church, Fairmount Wesleyan Church, I went to while I was at school! I miss the community I had there and knowing people there other than the people I live with or see everyday at work.

Since being in Richmond, I have been going to Commonwealth Chapel for church, which is where most people in our office go, and I have really liked going there for the most part. However, since I have gotten a weekend job driving the train at the mall, I have to work on Sundays. My shift usually starts at 10:45 if I am scheduled for the morning shift, but the first service at Commonwealth Chapel is at 9:30 and doesn’t finish in time for me to make it to my job in time. So I needed to find another church that had an earlier service on Sundays.

This Sunday I went to Hill City Church with my roommate Ray, because they have an 8:30 service that gets out in time for me to go to work. A few people from our office go there, so I have heard good things about this church. I liked the service a lot and hope to get more involved in this church.

Ready

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives” by Lemony Snicket.

This is one of my favorite quotes. I think we often spend so much time thinking we aren’t ready, when we really are ready. Like being ready to try something new or do something that we have been preparing to do. Somethings are never going to happen or are never going to change until you do it, until you make it happen. That is terrifying sometimes but it is true, we can’t live our lives waiting for someone else to do the things that we want to see happen. Sometimes you just have to try something new, sometimes you will fail but that is okay. Failing is better than never trying.

I think this applies to my life in missions. Some days I think to myself, “What are you doing? You are never going to be ready to do this. Who do you think you are?” but this is something I can’t not do. I am in time of preparedness, I am being prepared for long-term missions in another area of the world. I may not be totally “ready” yet, I may never feel totally “ready” but I can’t let that stop me from doing what I am supposed to do.

Care Package

Yesterday I came down to the office to find a package on my desk. This package came from my two favorite kiddos, Jasmine and Jayden. They sent me their school pictures, candy and notes. I had not been feeling well this past week but getting this package made my day, my whole week even. I have their pictures and notes hanging up by my desk in the office now.

I miss you too, Jasmine and Jayden! You two and Willow are so special to me and I love you so much! I can’t wait to see you all again!