Fourteen Days

Happy Spring Break to me! I’ve done nothing but enjoy the company of family and friends, sleep, eat, tan, and read. This week I’ve read The Shack and Crossroads by William Paul Young. I’m also in the middle of the Marta’s Legacy series by Francine Rivers. These books have overwhelmed me with Truth and given me a new perspective on my relationship with Christ. It sounds a little silly, but through these books I feel like I’ve found more ways to know Jesus more.

The God of the universe loves me and wants to know me personally. Sometimes I can’t believe that the One who thought up the vastness of the universe and spoke it into existence wants to have a relationship with me. With you. With each and every person that He has ever crafted. Lord, how sweet it is to be loved by you!

And now, on the Sunday night before my week back in the classroom I’m sitting on my bed watching this video my mom sent to me. Wow. Its an amazing story told by Louie Giglio about grace and God’s perfect timing. I can’t believe I waited so long to watch this 26 minute video. I hope that you take time out of your day to watch it. It’s so. worth. it.

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Happy 22 Years of Life!

Happy Birthday Nicole!

Thank you Lord for creating such an exhuberant, thoughtful, compassionate, hilarious, beautiful lady.

This picture was taken approximately two hours ago. Isn’t she gorgeous?! I love her so much!

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Also, it looks like I’m obsessed with you since I wrote all about you two posts down. #sorryimnotsorry

Attraversiamo

Attraversiamo is a word that I learned a few years ago when I read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. In Italian, it means “Let’s cross over.” As my life is beginning to transition from college to adulthood, I think that it’s appropriate to say that my life is in a state of attraversiamo.

I am just amazed by how quickly time can pass. I have been student teaching this year at A.B. Combs Elementary in Raleigh and somehow I am already approaching the end of my time there. I graduate on May 11th – what?! Shortly after that I’ll begin a summer filled with trips to Detroit, Alaska, and Hayesville with people that I love. Before I know it August will be here, and sometime between now and August I’m expecting to find a house and a teaching position somewhere in Wake or Guilford county. It just feels like it is all happening so quickly! Thankfully, this week I’ve had a few opportunities to just be still and take in what’s happening around me.

Tuesday, Mr. Kelley’s talented friend Mr. Frederickson visited our classroom with his guitar. The children were hanging onto his every word, swaying to the chords and melodies that he played. I could have taken that time to get some things done in the classroom before spring break, but instead I chose to sit next to the kids on the carpet and enjoy the moment. I know that I won’t easily forget singing “Yellow Submarine” and “Three Little Birds” together. I looked around and realized that I am going to have the greatest job in the world. When I’m in the classroom, I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. I love the crap out of those little first graders. I’m so thankful that I’ve found such a passion in teaching.

Last night Jake and I stayed up late reflecting on life and love. We talked for hours about the past four years at N.C. State. We talked about all the different phases of our relationship, our friends, our family, hilarious times, and times that were really tough. I enjoyed listing off memories with him. I was able to share my anxieties about the future with him, and I also shared this underlying sense of peace that I’ve been experiencing. Jake understands me, and he loves me so well. I am so thankful for our time together last night!

In Luke 8:22, Jesus says to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. The disciples trusted in and loved Jesus with every fiber of their being. He told them to go, and so they did. This is what I think of whenever I say the word attraversiamo to myself. I can’t just simply say the word to myself, though. I feel like it’s a word that deserves to be exclaimed. Attraversiamo!

I am making the choice to embrace this transition in my life and all that it involves. Jesus is who He says He is, and that means that He will never stop holding onto me. His plan for me (and for you) is great and beyond what I can comprehend. Instead of freaking out and being afraid like I am so tempted to be, I am going to view this time like it really is – exciting! This time is so exciting, and I thank God for revealing that to me. Not with my own strength or courage, but with His, I plan on cherishing and embracing every moment of this transition in my life. It will begin this weekend celebrating the resurrection, and then I will spend a week with my best friend Nicole and her family at the beach. I hope that this week of rest will prepare me for the craziness that is about to head my way!

As my great grandmother says,
For so many reasons, I want to say thank you Lord.
Attreversiamo!

Nicole Danielle Langkamp

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Today this special lady was baptized. It was such a joyous event, and I am glad I was there to witness this beautiful person that I care about so much respond to the amazing freedom that our God offers us all.

I met Nicole near the beginning of our freshman year at NC State. Over the years, she has done what so many of us strive to do with people in our lives: she met me exactly where I was. She has put up with me, guided me, challenged me, encouraged me, and loved me so well. Nicole loves Jesus so much, and the Lord used her in many ways to light that same fire in my own heart.

After sharing a room together for the past two years, I can’t imagine what it will be like to pick out clothes in the morning or even go to sleep at night without you! Nicole, thank you for teaching me every day how to love and be loved. I am ever thankful for you. I love you so much.

Oh, and I hope you enjoy the random pictures!

Back to the ATL

(I intended on writing this post about two weeks ago. Woops!)

I had the wonderful opportunity to travel back to Atlanta, Georgia to take part in the M25 mission camp over Martin Luther King weekend. I shared the experience with Kirk, Eddie, and fifteen college-aged folks like myself. These three days were amazing. To my friends who shared this weekend with me – thank you. I so enjoyed gathering in fellowship with you. I will always value what we saw, felt, talked about, prayed for, and learned together over this short trip. To Gabe, Addison, and Kaitlyn – y’all rock. Thank you for loving Jesus like crazy and for leading us so well. To my High Point crew – thank you for embracing my college friends and getting to know them. The Lord has blessed us with this community, and I love you each so much! And to Logan, Murphy, Keith, Nicole, and Jake: thank you for loving me so well. Thank you for trusting me enough to go on this weekend trip. I hope that we can continue to love and support each other as we start graduating and begin new exciting times in our lives!

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This past summer, the Lord began to change my heart through M25 in Atlanta. Somewhere between the “homes” under bridges, packed homeless shelters, chess games in Woodruff park, and front porches in the Bluff, my heart broke. That week, God gave me a glimpse of the brokenness in this city, this country, and this world. The crazy thing, though, is that God also gave me hope. Not hope in humanity or in this world, but in Him. On the high school mission trip, I witnessed transformations in the hearts of high schoolers that I love so much. I cannot thing of a prettier sight than watching my younger brother embrace one of his new homeless friends with both arms and not be the first to let go.

Since that summer trip, I have prayed and prayed for the Lord to take what He revealed to me in those experiences and have them manifest in my heart and change my life. I’m not sure exactly what I expected out of those prayers, but I know that I expected something drastic. I think I pictured this big, life-changing epiphany that would just smack me in the face one morning. I would look up and smile as God would tell me exactly what His calling is for me and which steps to take to live it out. Maybe He would say something like, sell everything you own and go live in Africa to love on starving children. Or maybe He would tell me to go live in China to spread the gospel to those who have never heard it before. Maybe there would be that big golden light shining on me kinda like in that show Touched By An Angel, and I would feel all warm and gooey and things would just start to take care of themselves from there…

But as you probably guessed, that didn’t exactly happen. Instead, what I experienced has manifested in a different way. I have gradually started to accept this incredible peace that God has been offering me all along that I already am exactly where I need to be right now. That’s a hard thing for me to accept some days, because I feel like I’m not really accomplishing anything for God’s kingdom. But the truth is – any genuine accomplishment in this world is actually determined by God, not by us. And if I’m going to be really honest with myself, I think I already have my hands full trying to love the people I already have in my life.

Loving people is hard. Recently I’ve been becoming preoccupied with lesson planning for student teaching, my appearance, college basketball, and worries about my future plans. The list goes on and on. I haven’t been getting back down to those two simple rules: love God, and love others. God used this MLK weekend to focus my life back to Him, and I am so thankful for that. I feel encouraged to find new and better ways to love my coworkers, my students, my roommates, my neighbors, my boyfriend, and all of my other friends here in Raleigh.

God has done some pretty cool things in my life over the past four years. The Lord has taken the selfish, insecure, naïve little high school girl I was and has already started to turn her into a passionate woman who is (still selfish, but now) learning how to actively pursue Christ and love the things that He loves. I am no longer a scared little girl. I am now secure in my faith that Jesus is who He says He is. And I am so happy that I get to share that with you!

Come wake me from my sleep

I have so many things to share with you. Unfortunately I am so busy with student teaching and working! Hopefully I can post very soon. Until then, I wanted to share a song that I learned this weekend in Atlanta. This is Fall Afresh by Jeremy Riddle.

Awaken my soul, come awake
To hunger, to seek, to thirst
Awaken first love, come awake
And do as You did at first

Spirit of the Living God come fall afresh on me
Come wake me from my sleep
Blow through the caverns of my soul
Pour in me to overflow,
to overflow

Spirit come and fill this place
Let Your glory now invade
Spirit come and fill this place
Let Your glory now invade

Hop. Hop. Hippity-Hop… a Post for Christmas!

Each year at Christmas, it is my family’s tradition to listen to a recording of the Tale of Barrington Bunny. It’s read by one of our family’s favorite and beloved pastors. I think it’s important to think beyond the glitz and glamour of Christmas, and consider the reality of God’s gift and sacrifice for us. A gift. A free gift, with no strings attached…

The Tale of Barrington Bunny

Once upon a time in a large forest there lived a very furry bunny. He had one lop ear, a tiny black nose, and unusually shiny eyes. His name was Barrington.

Barrington was not really a very handsome bunny. He was brown and speckled and his ears didn’t stand up right. But he could hop, and he was, as I have said, very furry.

In a way, winter is fun for bunnies. After all, it gives them a opportunity to hop in the snow and then turn around to see where they have hopped. So, in a way, winter was fun for Barrington.

But in another way winter made Barrington sad. For, you see, winter marked the time when all of the animal families got together in their cozy homes to celebrate Christmas. He could hop, and he was very furry. But as far as Barrington knew, he was the only bunny in the forest.

When Christmas Eve finally came, Barrington did not feel like going home all by himself. So he decided that he would hop for a while in the clearing in the center of the forest. Hop. Hop. Hippity-hop. Then he cocked his head and looked back at the wonderful designs he had made.

“Bunnies,” he thought to himself, “can hop.” And they are very warm, too, because of how furry they are.” (But Barrington didn’t really know whether or not his was true of all bunnies, since he had never met another bunny.) When it got to dark to see the tracks he was making, Barrington made up his mind to go home. On his way, however, he passed a large oak tree. High in the branches there was a great deal of excited chattering going on. Barrington looked up. It was a squirrel family! What a marvelous time they seemed to be having.

“Hello, up there,” called Barrington.

“Hello, down there,” came the reply.

“Having a Christmas party?” asked Barrington.

“Oh, yes!” answered the squirrels. “It is Christmas Eve. Everybody is having a Christmas party!”

“may I come to your party?” said Barrington softly.

“Are you a squirrel?”

“No.”

“What are you, then?”

“A bunny.”

“A bunny?”

“Yes.”

“Well, how can you come to the party if you’re a bunny? Bunnies can’t climb trees.”

“That’s true,” said Barrington thoughtfully. “But I can hop and I’m very furry and warm.” “We’re sorry,” called the squirrels. “We don’t know anything about hopping and being furry, but we do know that in order to come to our house you have to be able to climb trees.” “Oh, well,” said Barrington. “Merry Christmas.” “Merry Christmas,” chattered the squirrels. And the unfortunate bunny hopped off toward his tiny house.

It was beginning to snow when Barrington reached the river. Near the river bank was wonderfully constructed house of sticks and mud. Inside there was singing.

“It’s the beavers,” thought Barrington. “Maybe they will let me come to their Party.” And so he knocked on the door.

“Who’s out there?” called a voice.

“Barrington Bunny,” he replied.

There was a long pause and then a shiny beaver head broke the water.

“Hello, Barrington,” said the beaver.

“May I come to your Christmas party?” asked Barrington.

The beaver thought for awhile and then he said, “I suppose so. Do you know how to swim?”

“No,” said Barrington, “but I can hop and I am very furry and warm.”

“Sorry,” said the beaver. “I don’t know anything about hopping and being furry, but I do know that in order to come to our house you have to be able to swim.”

“Oh, well,” Barrington muttered, his eyes filling with tears. “I suppose that’s true–Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas,” called the beaver. And he disappeared beneath the surface of the water. Even being as furry as he was, Barrington was beginning to get cold. And the snow was falling so hard that his tiny, bunny eyes could scarcely see what was ahead of him.

He was almost home, however, when he heard the excited squeaking of field mice beneath the ground.

“It’s a party,” thought Barrington. And suddenly he blurted out through his tears, “Hello, field mice. This is Barrington Bunny. May I come to your party?” But the wind was howling so loudly and Barrington was sobbing so much that no on heard him.

And when there was no response at all, Barrington just sat down in the snow and began to cry with all his might.

“Bunnies,” he thought, “aren’t any good to anyone. What good is it to be furry and to be able to hop if you don’t have any family on Christmas Eve?”

Barrington cried and cried. When he stopped crying he began to bite on his bunny’s foot, but he did not move from where he was sitting in the snow.

Suddenly, Barrington was aware that he was not alone. He looked up and strained his shiny eyes to see who was there.

To his surprise he was a great silver wolf. The wolf was large and strong and his eyes flashed fire. He was the most beautiful animal Barrington had ever seen. For a long time the silver wolf didn’t say anything at all. He just stood there and looked at Barrington with those terrible eyes.

Then slowly and deliberately the wolf spoke. “Barrington,” he asked in a gentle voice, “Why are you sitting in the snow?”

Barrington replied, “Because it is Christmas Eve and I don’t have any family and bunnies aren’t any good.”

“Bunnies are good,” said the wolf. “Bunnies can hop and they are very warm.”

“What good is that ?” Barrington sniffed.

“It is very good indeed,” the wolf went on, “because it is a gift that bunnies are given, a free gift with no strings attached. And every gift that is given to anyone is given for a reason. Someday you will see why it is good to hop and to be warm and furry.”

“But it’s Christmas,” moaned Barrington, “and I’m all alone. I don’t have any family at all.”

“Of course you do,” replied the great silver wolf. “All of the animals in the forest are your family.” And then the wolf disappeared. He simply wasn’t there.

Barrington had only blinked his eyes, and when he looked– the wolf was gone.

“All of the animals in the forest are my family,” thought Barrington. “It’s good to be a bunny. Bunnies can hop. That’s a gift. A free gift.”

On into the night Barrington worked. First he found the best sticks that he could. (and that was difficult because of the snow.) Then hop. Hop. Hippity-hop. To beaver’s house. He left the sticks just outside the door. With a note on them that read: A free gift. No strings attached. Signed, a member of your family.”

“It is a good thing that I can hop,” he thought, “because the snow is very deep.”

Then Barrington dug and dug. Soon he had gathered together enough dead leaves and grass to make the squirrels nest warmer. Hop. Hop. Hippity-hop. He laid the grass and the leaves just under the large oak tree and attached this message: “A gift. A free gift. From a member of your family.”

It was late when Barrington finally started home. And what made things worse was that he knew a blizzard was beginning.

Hop. Hop. Hippity-hop. Soon poor Barrington was lost. The wind howled furiously, and it was very, very cold. “It certainly is cold,” he said out loud. “It’s a good thing I’m so furry. But if I don’t find my way home pretty soon even I might freeze!”

And then he saw it– a baby field mouse lost in the snow. and the little mouse was crying.

“Hello, little mouse,” Barrington called.

“Don’t cry. I’ll be right there.” Hippity-hop, and Barrington was beside the tiny mouse.

“I’m lost,: sobbed the little fellow. “I’ll never find my way home, and I know I’m going to freeze.”

“You won’t freeze,” said Barrington. “I’m a bunny and bunnies are very furry and warm. You stay right where you are and I’ll cover you up.”

Barrington had only two thoughts that long, cold night. First he thought, “It’s good to be a bunny. Bunnies are very furry and warm.” And then, when he felt the heart of the tiny mouse beneath him beating regularly, he thought, “All of the animals in the forest are my family.”

Next morning, the field mice found their little baby, asleep in the snow, warm and snug beneath the furry carcass of a dead bunny. Their relief and excitement was so great that they didn’t even think to question where the bunny had come from.

And as for the beavers and the squirrels, they still wonder which member of their family left the little gifts for them that Christmas Eve.

After the field mice had left, Barrington’s frozen body simply lay in the snow. There was no sound except that of the howling wind. and no one any where in the forest noticed the great silver wolf who came to stand beside that brown, lop-eared carcass.

But the wolf did come.

And he stood there.

Without moving or saying a word.

All Christmas Day.

Until it was night.

And then he disappeared into the forest.

Awake!

Yesterday when I heard the news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, I was overwhelmed with an aching sadness. I thought about the brokenness in this world. I cried for the lives of the children that were cut short, for the parents, for the teachers, for the community, for our country, and for our entire hurting world. I was overwhelmed with my longing for the Father, and I can still feel it stronger than I ever have. My soul is thirsting for Him. This tragedy has given me such clarity in the truth that I was not created for this world at all.

I am not simply sad. And I am not simply angry, either. My response to this tragedy is more complex than that. Instead, these words have been echoing in my mind: Awake, O sleeper. Christians need to awake to the realities of this world. We need to stand up against what is wrong and what is evil. We need to actively pursue Christ and pursue each other in love and in Jesus’ name. There is a fight between good and evil, and we have to fight. We need to awake from our sleep, and stop accepting our comfortable ways of life. I am not saying that God needs us to step up. I believe that God’s will is going to be done, and there is nothing that we can do to change that. Remember, God never loses. But I just pray that one of these days the terrible things that keep happening in our world will finally shake us to the core and force us to wake up! Wake up from the ordinary. Wake up and recognize that there is hate and trouble all around us. Wake up and accept the beautiful Truth that Christ offers us. Wake up and start fighting the good fight. Wake up and live as Christ intends for us to live. Wake up and advance the kingdom of God on Earth. Wake up and join our brothers and sisters in the fight against the evil we see on Earth.

For the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:14

Here is Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Awake, O Sleeper”

Awake O Sleeper, Rise from Death,
and Christ shall give you light.
So learn his love, its length and breadth,
its fullness depth and height.
Then walk in love as Christ has loved,
who died that he might save;
with kind and gentle hearts forgive,
as God in Christ forgave.

I would also like to share these songs with you.

This is a video created by Whitestone Motion Pictures that my friend Gabe shared with me a while back. I love it so much. It is very powerful, gritty, and challenging. Do you hear the Lion roar?

Oh Abraham would raise his hands
And mourn this very day
For his children left the promised land
In search of their own way
They kick and scream like wayward sons
Always wanting to sleep
And dream away these evil days
In hopes that God cant see
There are chains upon your children Lord
Chains upon your children
There are chains upon your children
We’re in chains
Do you hear the lion roar?
Awake O Sleeper
Stand with me well fight the war
Awake O Sleeper
Your suffering will come again
And never fall away
For we trade our many comforts
Like the one who bled for grace
There will come a day my God will come
And put me in my place
My God I pray, Youll call my name
Instead of turn away
Let no man bring me harm
I bear the marks of Jesus
Let no man bring me harm
I bear the marks of the Lord

Click here to hear the beautiful “Awake, O Sleeper” by Ike Ndolo Band.

In the darkest times of life,
when our lights refuse to shine:
you are there, you are there.
When our hearts become like stone,
when we live without hope:
you are there, you are there.
Don’t let your hearts be troubled;
don’t let your hearts be troubled.
Awake, O sleeper!
Arise from slumber!
Christ is calling your name!
In the midst of life’s decay,
when our lives become like graves:
rescue us, rescue us.
Don’t let your hearts be troubled;
don’t let your hearts be troubled.
Awake, O sleeper!
Arise from slumber!
Christ is calling your name!
Awake! Arise! and follow the light!
Awake! Arise! and follow the light!
Awake! Arise! and follow the light!
Awake! Arise! Christ is calling your name!
Awake, O sleeper!
Arise from slumber!
Christ is calling your name!

Joy

Just came home from a wonderful service at Vintage 21

16 Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” 17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” 19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you:Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Tonight I am thankful for the reign of Jesus. I’m thankful for Pastor Tyler revealing to me that the reign of Jesus is joy producing. And I know that joy is not just a feeling or an emotion. Joy is a deep security in ultimate well being.
Joy is Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus for letting me know that you will see me again. You will see me again in a little while. I am so thankful that Matt understood and believed in that truth, and that now he is with you forever.

Sushi and Prophecy

Two nights ago, three of us continued one of my favorite Raleigh traditions. Kathryn, Nicole, and I ate at Sushi Blues downtown. We shared stories and traipsed down memory lane together, and it was such a great time. At the end of the night, we talked about our four years at N.C. State. I loved sharing the different ways we’ve grown through these years. With New Years on our minds, Nicole shared that it is her hope for each year of her life to grow in her understanding and faith in the truth that the Lord tells us. Kathryn agreed that Nicole’s hope was such a beautiful thing to share with us. Sometimes my friend Nicole is just so amazing at communicating her thoughts and her ideas. And so often those thoughts and ideas stem directly from her faith in Christ. The Lord has used Nicole in many ways throughout the past few years to really turn me back to Him. He continues to use both Nicole and Kathryn in my life every day, and I am so thankful for those girls!

Today I have been reading Isaiah. I chose this book because I heard Nicole explain that reading Isaiah is really helping to prepare her heart for the Christmas season. Isaiah is the first of the major prophetic books in the Bible, and tells of God’s salvation through the Messiah (Jesus). This book offers so much hope for us. God promises comfort, deliverance, and restoration in his future kingdom. And God keeps his promises. Always.

As I was reading, 7:9 really stuck out to me: Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm. Wow. I pray for lots of things, and often I pray for God to make me a stronger Christian. Instead of just asking to be stronger in Christ though, I need to trust Him more! I need for my faith to be firm. If I can stand firm in my faith, then the Lord will make me stand firm against the worldly things that I struggle with.

A couple chapters later, I found this: For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…(9:6)

These five names that Isaiah gives us to describe the Messiah are beautiful.
Wonderful: He is exceptional, distinguished, and without peers.
Counselor: He gives the right advice.
Mighty God: He is God himself.
Everlasting Father: He is timeless; He is God our Father.
Prince of Peace: His government is one of justice and peace.

Today, I want to focus on those words. I hope to really understand the power of who Isaiah says the Messiah is. I pray not only for myself to stand firm in my faith that God is who He says He is, but I also pray that I find so many ways to share that truth with others.

(If you’re wondering about my two awesome friends in this post, you can check out Nicole’s blog here, and Kathryn’s new blog here!)