Tuesday, May 31, 2011

God Provides

A little over a week ago, I wrote a blog titled "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? (Matt. 7:9)" ...and the passing week, God has made His promise even more evident in my life.

In the verses immediately following Matthew 7:9, Jesus goes on to say: "Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matt. 7&:10-11)
I think it's easy for me to expect so little from God. I pray for good things, but that nagging voice in the back of my head makes me doubt that God is really going to provide....

You know, if you really surrender control on this issue, it's not going to turn out well.

God says He'll give you good things, but His life of purity is going to make you miserable.

God just wants to make you sweat it out until you give it up to Him.

Maybe He's not really going to give you everything you need.

What if you don't get that ___ in time?

That last question has been posed to me over and over the past couple of months. As my team and I have prepared for our trip to the Czech Republic, I've repeatedly heard the question, "What's the plan for if you don't get the money in time?" And my response would always be, "We don't really have a plan for that. I know God wants us on this trip, and He'll provide what we need. After all, God owns the whole world. A couple thousand bucks is chump change."

Yet, in the quiet of my heart, my unbelief has been difficult to silence. Even two weeks away, I struggled with the looming burden of another $3,000 my team had to raise before our trip. I personally still had a need of $500 in addition to the funds required to make it posible for my Czech sister, Andy, to join our team when we arrive. It's been hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.

However... God is bigger than all of this. He's bigger than my fears, than any problem. He saw my every thought before He even created the world. And He had a plan. Sometimes I wonder if He chuckles at me, saying, "Oh my child, if only you knew..." 

But I don't have to know.
'Cause He knows.
And all I need to do is trust Him.

I need to do a final tally of funds left to raise, but let's just say that God has provided for my team and I in ways that still bring me humbly to my knees. God provides.

Friday, May 27, 2011


My Love is so beautiful.

He sees every part of me, deep into the darkest shadows. Even though He sees my every mistake, He loves me with a deeper love than I can imagine.

As a single woman, I can have my lonely days. With many of my friends dating or getting married, I often want to ask, "Why not me, God?"

But as I seek God more and more, I'm discovering that He alone can make me feel loved like I want to.

A boyfriend will hurt me, a husband will fail me... but my Love will never let me down.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? (Matt. 7:9)

With the Czech Republic mission trip coming up, only two weeks from Wednesday now, I can really feel the pressure setting in. With fundraising difficulties, emotionally draining friendships, illnesses and personal financial problems, our team of four has really been facing a lot of struggles within these past few weeks.

I went to church today feeling more burdened than I have in a very long time. Exhausted, worried, pressured and stressed... I felt like there was a large bag of bricks strapped to my back. As my team and I met this afternoon, we shared the struggles we've been facing and the weight on our hearts. We recognized the spiritual warfare surrounding our team and spent some time in prayer over the trip and our struggles.

What a weight was lifted off of me.

I know God has a purpose for this trip on June 8th. And I remembered today that it's not about me. It's about what Christ originally did for us, and God's love for His people. Only around 2% of the people in the Czech Republic are Christians... they don't know that God loves them so deeply, and He sent His own son to die for them. He has a lot more on the line for this trip than I do... and He desires so much for His people to know Him.

*Please continue to be in prayer for my team and I, now only 17 days away from our departure to the Czech Republic. We still have a large amount of fundraising to be done, and there has been a lot of spiritual warfare surrounding us. God is circling His angels around us, but we also need your prayers covering us as we prepare and as we go. We know that God will provide.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Shield Around Me

Years ago, I recall hearing a story about a girl that avoided being mugged because the attacker later claimed to see "a man walking on either side" of her, when in reality she walked alone. Whether this story was true or not, it's a reminder that God protections in ways that we don't often see.

Tuesday morning, my good friend Mariah and I made plans to go downtown for a girl's day out. After walking through a beautiful park and taking silly pictures of each other, we settled down for a quick lunch of fast-food Chinese. After enjoying fairly good food and stellar conversation, we decided to go for a hike and headed back towards the nearby parking garage where I'd left my car earlier.

Having parked somewhere around the fourth level, we began walking up the rounds of the concrete building. As we neared the top of the third floor, I catch a glimpse of movement out of the corner of my eye. Glancing to the right, I saw two men coming around a corner right next to us. Black wifebeaters, tattoos, spiked hair... and silence. They fell into step about 3 feet behind my friend and I, not saying a word to each other. I abruptly ended the giddy conversation we'd been carrying, and the floor echoed only our footsteps. My heart began to pound, and as I clung tightly to my keys and purse, I felt blood rush to my face. We quickened our steps, and my mind raced frantically, bouncing around and stopping at: "Do we need to start running?"

We began to walk a little faster, my mind frantically attempted to remember the self-defense tips a friend had mentioned during coffee the week before. I could almost feel the movement... waiting to feel the tug of a hand on my purse, or around my neck. As I grew ever more anxious, the two men abruptly changed direction and climbed into a nearby SUV. Heart still racing, Mariah and I rounded the next turn as quickly as possible, eager to get out of their view. Once I paused for a moment to look around, my stomach dropped and I realized that in our tunnel vision to get away, we had walked right past my car. We nervously headed back down and around the corner, and I dreadfully noticed that my car sat only two spaces down from the mens' SUV.

The men hadn't yet started their car, and as we hurried past them I tried my best not to glance over. We climbed into the front seats, and I hastily locked the doors and started my engine. It was not until we were locked into our car that the men started their own and left the building.

Finally able to breathe, I waited just a moment then pulled out of my space. As we drove down the levels, we both attempted to calm our nerves, and Mariah recognized that we had been protected. In truly the scariest moment of my life, we walked out with only a story.

An hour later, we were safely in my home and preparing to for a hike. I ran upstairs to change into my sneakers and Mariah scrolled through her text message inbox while waiting for me. When I came back downstairs, she was so excited to share a blessing with me: You see, Mariah is subscribed to receive daily Bible verses texted to her cell phone. While we had been talking over lunch, she'd merely glanced at the Verse of the Day, thinking nothing of it. However, after our experience in the garage, the words took on a whole new life:

"He alone protects and saves me, He is my defender, and I shall never be defeated."
-Psalm 62:6

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

College Isn't a Fraternity: Sexual Pressure on College Students

Composition II Final Paper

     Sex has consumed our American society. Nearly every car commercial, beer commercial, or even fast-food commercial capitalizes on sex appeal. A recent Carl's Jr. commercial was advertising its new Char-Broiled Turkey Burger, and in the commercial an attractive woman is shown walking by the side of a pool, first in a stunning dress then stripping down to a bikini. While we see footage of her, a man with a sexy voice narrates:
  • "To help you remember our delicious new char-broiled turkey burger, we hired Miss Turkey. to help you remember Miss Turkey, we put her in a bikini. And to help you remember Miss Turkey's bikini, we had it designed with little tiny pictures of our char-broiled turkey burger."
     In most cases, the average consumer would not mentally connect a turkey burger to any sort of sexual image. However, sex sells, and Carl's Jr. knew that people would remember their product if it were associated with a sexy image. Sexual content has permeated every part of our modern media, creating a culture of people obsessed with sex and often unrealistic expectations. While in college, these social expectations can feel very extreme, with students still learning how to be independent from their peer's opinion and discovering their own self. In this self-discovery, students often cave to the peer pressure to be consumed with sexuality and become sexually active. College students are indeed pressured to engage in sexual activity, and there are several factors contributing to the pressure, including the fact that students thing their peers are having sex more often than they really are, virginity is considered socially awkward, and marriage while still in college is discouraged.

1. It's All About Perspective

     College students think that their peers are frequently having sex with multiple partners, feeling pressure to also have sex, while in reality most college students are not as sexually active as society portrays. this belief is perpetuated by popular movies and television shows in which college is often described as one big frat party with students gallivanting around having sex with new partners every night. An example of this is the popular television series, Greek. First airing in 2007, this ABC Family show is about students that attend the fictional Cyprus-Rhodes University and immerse themselves in the fraternity and sorority life. While these students are supposedly attending college to further their education, the cast spends little time on their studies and instead focuses on parties and nightlife. According to PluggedIn Online, a family-oriented website that reviews television shows, Greek's portrayal of college life includes "...taped sex acts, homosexual kisses, scenes featuring lovers writhing in the sheets, and a slew of double entendres. Sorority sisters parade around in bikinis and other skimpy outfits" (Pluggedin.com). With modern media portraying college as "party central" instead of an academic resource, many college students believe that they're expected to impersonate the college lifestyle that is being modeled to them.

     The problem lies in that college students aren't really having sex as much as the media portrays and society believes. When comparing students' perceived number of how many sexual partners their peers were having to the actual number of sexual partners, the numbers don't add up. According to the 2006 results of American College Health Association's National College Health Assessment's survey of nearly 24,000 college students reveals that while the average female had 1.2 sexual partners in the past year, her perceived number of partners is 3.3, and for men, the average number of sexual partners in one year was 1.6, while the perceived number was 3.1 (ACHA-NCHA). College students are not having as much sex as society assumes, but this survey shows that students feel that their peers are having at least three sexual partners in one year. The perception that their peers are extremely sexually active puts pressure on the college students who aren't sexually active to have sex as well.

2. Against the Perceived Norm

     Because of the belief that all other college students are frequently having sex, the decision to remain a virgin and live outside of the perceived norm creates awkwardness and social tension, which may serve to further pressure students to have sex. Modern media capitalized on this awkwardness in the recent movie The 40 Year Old Virgin, where comedian Steve Carrell plays Andy Stitzer, a middle-aged man that is portrayed as nerdy and awkward because of his virginity (or perhaps he's a virgin because of his awkwardness). Taking notice of their friend's plight, his co-workers make it their goal to help him get laid, taking him to bars and speed dating services. Throughout the course of the movie, the characters make it a point to speak graphically about women and sexual interactions, capitalizing on Andy's inexperience for humor's sake.

     Interactions such as this serve to reinforce the social ides that for an individual to be considered well-developed and normal, they must be sexually active. As a college student, it is common to hear from every corner, "all students are going to have sex, they just need to do it safely," and there even tend to be free condoms available in university clinics. When people interact with college students, it is often assumed that they are sexually active, even to the point that medical officials are required to ask if there's a possibility of pregnancy if the patient is over the age of 18. This stress, while it may seem subtle, whispers to the minds of college students, "all college students are having sex. You're not normal if you're not having sex."

3. Too Young to Commit

     Modern society is discouraging college students to get married while still in college, and the expectation to finish their education before getting married makes it difficult for students to have patience with their current desires. Alexandria A. is currently finishing up her freshman year at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. As Alex finds the balance between studying for finals and working part-time, she also manages to squeeze in spare minutes to plan her upcoming July wedding.Getting married while still in college was a natural decision for Alex and her fiancee to make, and yet while many of their friends and family members are supportive of their decision, not everyone shares in their excitement. Alex's older sister is against her getting married so young, and when she had received news of the engagement, instead of responding with congratulations, she reacted with negativity: "Why get married young when you know you will change so much when you are in college?"

     Unfortunately, this reaction is an all too-common occurrence with college students that desire to commit themselves to marriage before graduation day. This negativity may be a result of people generally getting married at older ages, causing young marriage to be the exception. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1965 the average marrying age for a woman was 20.6, and the average age for men was 22.8. In just 40 years, however, the average marrying age has risen by nearly five years on both accounts, with the 2005 average marrying age for women resting at 25.3, and the average age for men 27.1, which are the highest average ages for the past 100 years ("Estimated Median Age..."). If a freshmen in college wanted to commit to their significant other, society claims they should wait at least four more years before they would be considered marrying age. Four years is a long time to wait, so college students often cave to physical and societal pressure, having sex with their other while still enrolled in college.


     We see that college students are indeed pressured to engage in sexual activity, and whether or not they cave to this pressure, society looks on them with expectation. Students often think their peers are having sex more often than they really are, feeling that they must have sex to be considered "normal," and virginity is considered socially awkward, swaying from the perceived norm. In addition, marriage while still in college is discouraged because students are considered too young for that commitment while still in college. The combination of these pressures, as well as others, is contributing to the decision for college students to begin having sex.

Works Cited:
  • American College Health Association. American college Health Asssociation - National College Health Assessment (ACHA - NCHA) Web Summary. Updated August 2007.
  • "Estimated Median Age at First Marriage, by Sex: 1890 to the Present." U.S. Census Bureau. September 21, 2006. Web. May 1, 2011.
  • Greek. ABC Family. July 9, 2007 - March 7, 2011. Television.
  • Miss Turkey. Carl's Jr. Commercial. Television. April 7, 2011
  • PluggedIn Online. TV Reviews: Greek. Web. May 9, 2011.
  • The 40 Year Old Virgin. Dir. Judd Apatow. Perf. Steve Carrell. Universal Pictures, 2005. Film.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Dearest Love,

I don't know where you are, who you are, or what you're doing, but my prayer is that you will be thinking of me. Praying for me, your future wife. Being a spiritual intercessor even before we meet. I pray that your heart will be only for me, and your attraction to other girls will fade as you wait patiently for me.

I already love you with my whole heart, and I think of you every day. I am waiting for you and loving you. Please wait for me, my love.

If I could whisper just one thing to your heart right now: "Your wife loves you!"

All my love,

Praying for your future husband

Thursday night, my mom and I were guests on Teen Talk Radio, hosted by Nicole O'Dell. We were talking about Praying for Your Future Husband, my mom's newest book, as well as some of my experiences as a college student praying for my future husband. If you're interested in hearing some of my story as well as Nicole's and my mom's, check out the podcast here:


No one is abandoned by the Lord forever.

What comes to mind when you think about God? My thoughts tend to be along the lines of Prince of Peace, Lover of My Soul, Savior, or King.

The other night I felt prompted to read Lamentations, and before I started I prayed that God would guide me as I studied His word. As I started in chapter three, I saw some descriptions of God that I'd never seen before.

"He has hidden like a bear of a lion, waiting to attack me.
He has dragged me off the path and torn me in pieces, leaving me helpless and devastated.
He has drawn his bow and made me the target for his arrows."
(Lamentations 3:10-12)

To be put simply, these verses caught me off guard. What happened to the benevolent God that I personally know?? The God I know doesn't seem to be waiting to attack me. In confusion, I paused and prayed that God would give me discernment. What is the Truth that He's wanting me to learn?

The beauty was revealed a few verses later:

"Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness; his merces begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, 'the Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!'


For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love.
For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.

If people crush underfood all the prisoners of the land, if they deprive others of their rights in defiance of the Most High, if they twist justice in their courts -- doesn't the Lord see all these things?
Who can command things to happen without the Lord's permission?
Does not the Most High send both calamity and good?
Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins?

Instead, let us test and examine our ways.
Let us turn back to the Lord."
(Lamentations 3:21-24, 31-40)

We as people often tend to blame God when we go through hard things, and an often-used argument against the  love of God is the question of why He allows bad things to happen in the world. But in the midst of our trouble, in the midst of our grief, His love never ends.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Living Water

Last night as I crawled into bed, I pulled out my Bible for the first time all weekend (I admit, the family went on a vacation and I forgot to bring it). Opening up the pages felt so... refreshing. I realized that just a couple of days with no alone time with my First Love left me so hungry for him. I found myself praying, "God, I've missed you so much. Fill me right now, fill me with Your Spirit. I'm thirsty for Your Living Water."

Here's some living water for your day:

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
(Joshua 1:9)

"Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth, for your love is sweeter than wine."
(Song of Solomon 1:2)

"Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love"
(1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

"For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
(2 Corinthians 3:17)

"So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."
(Genesis 1:27)

"I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes."
(Job 42:5)

"I took mmy troubles to the Lord. I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer."
(Psalm 120:1)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dear mom,

You know, you're just about the best mom ever.

Not because you're a world-renowned author with over 30 books published or on contract.
Not because you're friends with awesome famous and rich people (that send me money for my mission trip!).
Not because you've traveled all over the world and spoken to audiences of thousands.
Not because you gave birth to such amazing children... *cough, cough*...

If these impressive reasons aren't what make you so wonderful, then what does?

Your unbelievably good memory for where I happen to toss all of my junk.
Your thoughtfulness when life gets so crazy for me and you make my bed while I'm away.
Your glorious patience for putting up with me when I get crabby.
Your hugs for me when life gets hard.
Your ability to remember my favorite cereal while shopping and surprising me.
Your inspiration to live a life of Christ-like servanthood instead of just saying the right things.
Your sacrifices to be there for me when I need someone to talk to.
Your beauty, as you've shown me how to be beautiful on both the inside and out.
(I'm lucky. I look just like you!)

You are amazing because you are you. I've gotta say, I was very blessed that God gave me you.