Friday, September 9, 2016

The Waiting Game

Sometimes life feels like a giant waiting game.

You know what I mean?

Waiting for that relationship. Waiting for the pain to pass. Waiting for classes to get easier, for friendship drama to cease. Waiting to feel God’s Presence and for time with Him to come easily. Waiting for all of our dreams to come true. Waiting…waiting…waiting…

Does it ever stop? Do we ever just see God provide right when we ask for something?

Maybe, but not very often. And in the last couple of weeks I’ve learned what a beautiful thing that is when we learn to be grateful for it. In our American culture, being patient is perhaps the hardest thing for us (maybe it’s just me). We’re given everything whenever we want it. So often life is spoon fed to us and when we have to wait. And be still. It’s torture.

But this week God has really been revealing to me this thing called faith…and what it really means to have faith in Him.

I just added a Global Studies minor to my Elementary Education degree (so excited by the way), and in my Global Studies class we’ve been looking at faith in the Old Testament.

My professor revealed to us that in Scripture when the Bible was originally translated from Greek, the word for faith wasn’t a noun. It was a verb.

I don’t know if you caught the meaning of that, so I’ll say it again.

Faith is a verb. It’s an action. A continual movement towards a goal, fighting for what we believe in, seeking after what we know to be true.

Professor Harper (my Global Studies professor who is a fountain of wisdom) used Abraham as an example (this is where waiting and faith tie in together so beautifully). In Hebrews 11 we read the following:

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going…By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”

There is so much to unpack in those four verses, but let me just say this: Abraham went out from his homeland – he left his family and the only place he had ever known – and sought after what God was calling him to do. And he didn’t even know where God was taking him! He trusted God to the point that he was willing to sacrifice his only son – through which every nation on earth was supposed to be blessed – because it’s what God was telling him to do.

And how did Abraham do all of this? By faith.

Now, if you know anything about the Bible, you know that Abraham had waited nearly a hundred years for the birth of his miracle son, Isaac.

He had waited. 100 years.

In the middle of those 100 years, God called him to a new land. God told him that He was going to bless the nations through the offspring of his family (which he didn’t even have at that point). In the midst of Abraham’s waiting, God spoke the first words of a promise that would change the course of history. And we think this waiting game is a waste of time.

When I look at stories like Abraham’s, I am reminded that in the middle of our waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises (and the things we want/think we need), we are still called to active faith.

Being active in our faith doesn’t involve being stagnant. It calls us to go where God calls us, even if we don’t know where the location is. It calls us to reach out to that girl across the street (or down the hall) who seems lonely. It calls us to make disciples in every situation.

Acting in faith calls us to pursue the God who has spoken promises into our lives with the very mouth that He breathed the stars, to chase after Him and trust His will and His way above every other voice in this world.

Because in the waiting He will be moving and acting on your behalf and my behalf in ways that we could have never imagined. In our waiting we learn to trust Him and lean on Him in ways we never thought possible.

By faith (the very active verb) we can trust Him in the waiting, because He always keeps His promises. It’s who He is.

Just ask Abraham.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

From Africa

It's been almost two months since I posted and those two months have been so so so amazing.

I went to the beach and spent time with my family.

I started nannying two of the cutest kids ever.

And most importantly, I spent two weeks in Africa.

We just got back stateside two days ago and I'm already aching to go back. I don't know what it is about that place, but it does something to my heart that I can't even describe.

I've tried summing up this trip multiple times in my head, but each time words don't do a justice for the prayers answered, the ways God moved, and the things He showed me.

Every time I've been to Africa, this was the third time and fourth different country, God has shown me something new, placed a new perspective in my heart as He shapes me to become more like him.

During my first trip, He placed in me a love for the 140 million+ orphans around the world.

While on my second trip, He revealed to me ways that my book needed to be changed and planted in me the idea of missions.

This trip...this trip I went in with a specific prayer. I've been feeling called to the mission field for years now, even before my trip to Uganda in 2013. But it's only gotten stronger as the years go by. And so my prayer was this: Lord, if this is what you want me to do, show me, breathe it into me so that I'd know without a shadow of a doubt.

That prayer made me beyond nervous. Both a yes and no to that request terrified me. Both came with so many questions and what if's.

But throughout the week, I don't know if it was at dinner with 50+ missionary families or during the day with their children or even playing with children at an orphan center...He showed me that at some point, Africa will be the place I call home.

I've never been more sure of anything in my life.

And I don't know if I'll be teaching or running an orphanage or working for another organization...I don't know if I'll be married or single or any of the details.

But I know that Africa will be home. And right now, that's all I need to know.

Because I already know He knows everything else. He knows the plans He has for my life.

So for now, I just thank Him that Africa will hopefully be a big part of that plan.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

LU: Year One

The shelves are growing bare as I pack my Rubbermaid tubs and suitcases full of picture frames and clothes and books.

All but one of my finals have been taken, my classes finished & assignments complete. Thank you’s have been given to my professors. Books returned to the bookstore.

I’ve already said goodbye to friends who left before me. My dad has already taken the majority of my stuff home.

I didn’t think I’d be sad about the semester ending, about the school year coming to a close.

But Liberty, you’ve surprised me this year.

This year…

I can’t even begin to put into words all that this year has been.

It’s been hard, no doubt. Really, really hard. I’ve missed home and my church and my friends and my family. I’ve struggled through assignments and gotten really bad grades. I’ve cried on the phone with my mom. I’ve been sick away from home- which is basically the worst…ever. I’ve struggled spiritually in ways I didn’t think I would, especially at Liberty. I’ve dealt with friendship drama. God has said no to so many things. Yes, it’s been difficult.

But, my gosh. It’s been so rewarding.

I’ve made more friends than I ever thought I would.
I’ve had professors who not only taught me with excellence, but cared about me and my life.
I’ve stayed up until 3am laughing with friends and talking about anything and everything.
I’ve spent Sunday nights with a leadership team of ten girls who are crazy for Jesus.
I’ve had the best spiritual and life mentors a girl could ask for in my RA’s and SLC’s.
I’ve cried happy tears when my dad surprised me by coming for lunch when I was having one of those hard days.
I’ve laughed…and laughed…and laughed some more with girls who have become like family to me.
I’ve spent time with my family, and it’s been extra sweet and meaningful now that I’m not with them all the time.
I’ve studied and made up for those bad grades, and more than that, I’ve learned SO much.

I’ve taken English classes where God has reminded me just how much I love literature and history and seeing how the two connect. Education classes that made me thrilled to teach and have my own classroom one day. Geography classes where we had fun learning about the world. Communications classes where God took a class that I was dreading and gave me so many great friendships and times of immense fun.

And yes, I’ve struggled spiritually.

But I’ve also grown by leaps and bounds in ways that I still don’t even fully comprehend.

I’ve learned to trust my Jesus through the up’s and down’s of daily life. To lean into Him when I really can’t make it one more breath without Him. To believe in who He is and know Him personally, not just know about Him. To let Him heal me, even when it hurts at first. To believe that He will keep His promises because He is faithful…even when I am faithless. To see and trust that He will bring me out of the desert and onto the mountaintop where I can see His grace in my every step…because I’ve seen and felt Him do it before.

Tears sit in my eyes tonight as I write this, because I simply cannot believe this year – my freshman year of college – is over. It went by in an instant, a beautiful, challenging, incredible, unforgettable instant.

So thank you…

To my professors for teaching me and guiding me in the Lord and in every subject you’ve taught.

To my people back home (my friends, my church, you know who you are) for supporting me and encouraging me and sending me endless letters (which made me smile so very often).

To my family: my mom and dad, brothers and sister, grandparents and aunts and uncles, for sending me texts (and pound cake!!) and calling and checking in on your favorite granddaughter ;) your love, visits, and support means more than you’ll ever know. Seriously.

To every single one of my friends at Liberty for being the best…ever. For making me laugh, for cheering me up when I’m sad, for being my family away from home. For being there. You’ve helped me fill this year with some of my very favorite memories…I can’t wait to make more.

To Liberty University for being so much more than I ever thought it would be. This time here (and over the next three years) has been and will be incredible. And I wouldn’t want to be any where else experiencing this chapter in my life.

And to my Jesus, for pulling me back to Him every time I stray even just a little bit and for keeping me in tune with Him every step of the way.

As I close out freshman year and head home for a summer with some of my favorite people, I am so so so thankful. And I cannot wait to see what sophomore year has in store.

If it’s anything like this year, then I know I’m in for a fantastic ride.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

When God Says No (Part 2)

I won’t lie. This semester hasn’t been easy.

I knew it would be hard. Paige’s birthday was in February, less than three weeks after we started classes.

I went home a week after and sat with my mom and cried…sobbed. This grief still hits in unexpected places and times.

I knew I was taking 18 credit hours and I knew it would be an insane amount of work. And boy, I’ve never been more right about something in my whole life. There have been points where I felt like I was drowning in math and English and education.

But what I didn’t know was that those comparisons from last semester would come back up to the surface. That my relationship with Christ would be in a very dry season. That things weren’t going to go the way I had planned.

Because, really, when does life go like we want it to?

But, friends, let me tell you…that is a beautiful thing.

The fact that life doesn’t go like we want it to…that is beautiful.

Because that means that life always always always goes just like our Jesus wants it to.

Yes, that’s coming from the girl who has had a really hard semester.

It’s also coming from the girl who has had the support of amazing friends. Who has found reconciliation in relationships. Who has been blessed over and over again by the God she serves…the God who is always good.

My goal and desire for next school year was to be an RA. I knew there was a crazy small chance of this actually happening since Liberty is very strict and picky on who they put in charge of their residence halls (and I’m grateful for that!).

But still, when I got that rejection email there was something in me that wondered: am I just not good enough?

God started laying on my heart the position just under the RA’s which is called SLC…I wrote a post about my passion for SLC in this post not very long ago.

But what I didn’t know was that I was going to go through interviews and paperwork and more interviews only to get an email that read, “this note serves to inform you that you have not been selected to be an SLC for the 2016-2017 school year.”

My heart sank and I wondered why…why…why had God placed such a passion in my heart and determination in my mind only to get rejected again? Why wasn’t I good enough? What had I done wrong?

I was crushed. I didn’t realize how badly I wanted this position until it was out of my reach.

But, of course, God was working…just like he always is. He kept breathing his promises and his grace and love into my disappointment. He kept telling me this, “You know I still want you to be serving next year. Now, my Bailey, what’s that going to look like?”

Prayer group leader.

I hadn’t wanted to do it again next year. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVED being a prayer group leader this year. But it wasn’t what I had dreamed of for next year until God kept whispering it into my head and into my heart.

And when my RA Caitlin mentioned that she’d be moving buildings (to one I was looking at anyway) and needed prayer group leaders…

Well, I knew that was my place for next year.

So on Wednesday when Caitlin walked in my room and officially offered me the prayer and life group leader position for her hall next year, I knew.

I knew that this was God’s plan A.

No matter what I had wanted or envisioned for next year…no matter if this felt like my plan B or C…this was God’s plan A, his plan all along for my life and my sophomore year at college.

God has said no to so many things this semester.

He’s said no to easy classes.
He’s said no to RA.
He’s said no to SLC.
He’s said no what I wanted for my life.

But on the flip side…

He’s said yes to having an amazing RA again next year, one that I’ve grown to love and become great friends with.
He’s said yes to learning and soaking up more knowledge and wisdom by the day.
He’s said yes to interview practice…and even learning to be rejected.
He’s said yes to beautiful friendships…to beautiful sunsets and conversations and people here at this school.
He’s said yes to prayer and life group leader for next year.
He’s said yes to giving me a fabulous roommate for next year.
He’s said yes to allowing me to go to Tanzania this summer with my family.
He’s said yes to always being there for me.
He’s said yes to always being good to me.
He’s said yes to doing what is best for me…
He’s said yes to doing his plan A. To making sure that His plan always plays out, that His desires for my life are fulfilled.

Maybe I’m crazy.

Maybe I’ve just really fallen in love with my Jesus.

Maybe I’m fully learning to trust Him.

But if I have to take a few no’s in order to have Him say yes to so many incredible things…then I am totally okay with that.

Because I know as a daughter of the King, when He says no to one thing, He is giving me an even better yes.

So this semester has been hard.

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world because my Jesus is saying “Yes!” in so many more ways than I could have ever imagined.

And whether you can see it or not, He’s doing that same thing for you, too.

Trust Him to give you the very best yes in every hard spot, in the midst of every no and every rejection.

Because that yes from your Father will be so sweet and beautiful…and you’ll know it’s exactly where He wants you to be. And that is the best place to be.