Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A "boring" story of salvation: of grace

I always used to be so amused with the super miraculous salvation stories that had drastic stories of "before and after" Jesus. When it came to my turn, I was hesitant about sharing because mine seemed so boring and so ordinary: I grew up in a Christian home where I was loved and taught about the fear of God and love for His word and ways. I was baptized when I was 9, making a public declaration of now walking with God. Since then, I have steadily been growing in the knowledge and relationship with the Almighty. Though feeling lost sometimes, I have not really strayed to the right or left. My story sounds like there was not much grace because I never "messed up" really bad and the change inside of me doesn't seem so miraculous.
Having seen more of the world and having met such a variety of people, I see that my type of story is actually the more rare one. Now you hear a lot of stories of how people have been into drugs, sex, pornography, etc, and then God saved them and their lives have drastically changed. In this day and age, my story is more rare, but not at all less filled with grace. As much as anyone, I am saved by grace and it has been by grace that I can know Jesus Christ and that He has preserved me from the plots of the devil. It is by grace that I am continually growing in the knowledge of God and stay humble.

Romans 12:2+3

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall Break in Ohio!

Well, here I am once again in Ohio with my good friend Laura. Let me tell you what a blessing she has been in my life since meeting her my very first minutes at Toccoa Falls. She has been such a source of joy, inspiration, challenge, comfort, and an adventure-partner. She came to visit my family in Turkey last winter before we went to Israel together.
Anyway, we came up here north to be with her family for our 4-day weekend and it has been filled with fall festivities. The weather has been nice in its chilly-ness and we have adored the variety of colors on all the oak and maple trees. Such rich colors in yellow, orange, brown, green, reds...all reflect the glory of God!! So I have been looking out for different shades of colors like I would be for sea shells and they've been getting flattened by a monstrous encyclopedia :)
So besides taking walks and collecting leaves, I have been sipping hot apple cider, reading, carving out a girly pumpkin, going out with Laura's older sister for coffee and biscotti, thrift shopping, and making Thai food. So good!

James 1:17
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Homecoming at Toccoa Falls College

This weekend is homecoming here at Toccoa Falls College and I love it!
I love seeing people come here with all their memories, sentiments, tears of joy, and the feelings of youthfulness revisited. People who haven't seen each other for decades now reuniting during brunches, luncheons, socials, ducky races, touring campus...It makes me happy that I go to a school where former students come back and share their stories of how they grew here and all that God taught them here.
I wonder when I will come back again for homecoming. I think it will be a great delight to see people that I went to school some 20 years later all grown up, probably most married and with kids, and catch up on all that has been happening in the last years. I pray that I will have that joy when it comes my time.
For now, I am still content and delighted to be a current student at Toccoa Falls College and am so thankful for that God has allowed me to learn here and all the people I have met.

All praise, glory, and honor to the Lord God of hosts.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fear and Trust


These have been two of my dominant mindsets/emotions in the last few weeks. I am graduating in about 70 days. That is so tangible, so close, so scary.
70 days and I will have a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with about 15 hours of coursework in counseling/psychology. But then what? For an international student (and even with "traditional" students) graduation poses a big ? mark. Rather than just being able to be excited about it and celebrate the accomplishment of a college carreer, we have to instead think of what we are going to do next. Going home is not always an option, not every international student has family in the U.S., and then there is the whole homeland security issue with visas and what not. For us, graduation in a way brings us up to a mountain peak and we're expected to make so many life decisions. At high school graduation, we just had to think about college. Now, life stands before us in an uncertain matrix.
The unknown can be scary. It can be a great excuse for adventure and growth, but looking at a "blank" in life is daunting and uncertain. Now days, we also have so many options! I could go any where in the world, doing pretty much anything. That's great, but now there is more we have to leaf and search through.
All of this, and the fear of leaving behind friends, thinking about where I will be in 3 months, how I will find good friends again, how I will do in a full-time, regular job, how I will find a good church, how will I grieve when I leave Toccoa Falls College...all these worry me.
Yet I don't want to. I want to just give it to God and LEAVE it in His able hands. But I keep taking it off His shelf by thinking about it and worry about it.

I'm so glad I found these verses that bring together fear and trust in Isaiah 41:10, 13:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you,
Do not fear; I will help you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

AACC Conference

My time at the American Association of Christian Counselors Conference was fantastic!
There were many well-known speakers and authors like John Piper, Dr. Cloud, Joni Erickson Tada, Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott, Dr. Amen...and so many more! Our worship leaders were Charles Billingsley, Starfield, Mandisa, Amy Grant, and Michael O'Brien> praise the Lord! Our schedule was packed with plenary sessions and workshops.
My favorite plenary session was with Joni Erickson. There she was on stage, in her wheelchair, hardly being able to move, but testifying of God's goodness, faithfulness, and grace. She displayed and encouraged a heart of thankfulness, for every single thing. "I'm in this wheelchair day in and day out, but praise God I can still talk and do ministry." Wow.
The workshops that I most enjoyed were on relationships :) One was called "Trading Places" with Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. They talked about how, for real relationships to work, empathy is required. There is even scientific evidence of what a difference empathy makes. Another session with Dr. Sharon May was on what happens in the brain and body when a fight takes place. Wow, talk about interesting!! It is when information gets to our amygdala that makes us either fight back or run away. But if we talk our amygdala out of the "emergency" status, we can handle the conflict/fight/situation much more logically and calmly. So amazing.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Toccoa in Disarray in Turbulent Rain!

Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away. ~ Song of Solomon 8:7

Well, it's been an exciting day in Toccoa, GA!
I've been in Nashville for the last four days, but apparently it has been raining a lot in the last few days. This morning I allowed myself the sweet lux
ury of snoozing in bed for an extra hour under the restful tapping of
rain on the tin roof. What a delightful welcome to the Lord's day!
After an amazing lunch of potato salad, corn, and chicken, I could no longer hold the excitement in, but I had to go experience this non-stop rain for myself.
Collecting a few friends on the way, I geared up in shorts and rain boots, and we went out to explore what we may find. Wow, did we find some adventure!
We found rivers overflowing,

the "flood plains" quite flooded, the soccer field having a hard time draining, and, of course, the roads sweeping dirt, trash, and Georgia clay :)
The Falls were gated shut, but we saw trees in the river and road. Tonight, I got to tour Toccoa from inside a vehicle to assess the damage of the rain...Some riverbanks were washed away, back-gardens no more, ponds merged, sand-bags present to prevent even more damaged, families looking out windows...
And guess what else I saw? My favorite part: college kids playing out in the rain!! Everyone is curious to see what the rain did.
Today reminded me of the Flood in 1977 at Toccoa Falls College. If it's only been raining for 24 hours and everything is so overwhelmed with water already, I cannot imagine what it was like to have the dam break...So sad.

Monday, September 14, 2009

An obvious leader obviously serving

This morning I saw one of Toccoa Falls College's alumni working in the cafeteria. Kent was always one to brighten one's day with laughter, God's Word, and his passion for life. He knows the Bible very well and loves to disciple younger men in the ways of the Lord. It is so cool to see this leader now serving the students at TFC by serving lunch, wiping tables, and still encouraging people in the Lord and in joy. That, to me, is a picture of true servant leadership.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My attempt at blogging

I have to be honest...I never thought blogging was for me.
Because I thought that I would never take the time to write it, that I would never have anything substantial to write about, that no one would ever read what I write anyway, and that nothing would come of it anyway.
Well, for a few reasons, I've changed my mind, the most notable being that through a blog, I can write more than just updates in life (as I do in newsletters). I can write out thoughts, ideas, and questions and perhaps get some feedback. Or blogging can just provide me a platform on which to reflect on the day, what I encountered, and what I'm learning. It is a way for you to stay in closer touch with me so that you can pray for me more specifically and know more of what's going on.
In no way, however, do I want blogging to replace my more intimate ways of communication with people. I NEED to be called, emailed, hugged, and encouraged in different ways to continue on this life's journey of mine.
Thank you for being a part of it. Thank you for including me in your time, life, and prayers. Thanks for making my life's journey a member of yours'.