The Adventure

It seems to me lately that at every major point in my life, I’m always writing. Now, obviously, that fact is not apparent to you, my faithful readers, because in the last couple of years I have not consistently posted on my blog. That fact may not change. I’m not sure. But what I do know is that I have many a journal entry, furiously scribbled, when no other outlet succeeded in accurately conveying what I wished to express. Entries from times of great excitement, deep pain, definite uncertainty, and any other array of emotions you could conjure up in your mind. If you can imagine it, it’s somewhere within the pages of my journal.
This entry is different, however. It’s not scribbled in my journal with a Bible nearby as I sip on cinnamon tea (the ideal method for journal entries). No, these words are being tapped out at 2:45 am in the notes app on my iPhone. I need to be asleep because I have a full day of rock climbing tomorrow and need to be up in less than 5 hours. But creativity and reflection don’t seem to own a clock. And if they did, I’m not sure they would care anyway.
On the day this is posted, two days from the time I am writing this, I will celebrate. It will have been exactly two years since packing up what I could fit of my belongings in two suitcases and a couple of small cardboard boxes and moving, four days after graduating high school, to the middle of nowhere, Montana.
They have been two of the most difficult and rewarding years of my life and everything I’ve learned in the time can be summed up in one of my favorite quotes.
“God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.”
Do you have any idea the amount of pain and joy that one statement represents to me? It represents forgiveness when all I wanted to do was hold a grudge. It represents giving grace that is undeserved because I too received it undeservedly. It represents getting back up again when it felt like I’d been stuck down forever. It represents the ever changing seasons of my life. It represents God allowing me to chose His plan grudgingly, even as I told Him that I had no idea how it could be better than my plan. It represents letting go of offenses and restoration of relationships. It represents tears and laughter. Vulnerability. Peace. Hope. Joy. Love.
Ultimately, it represents me surrendering things I never imagined myself surrendering in exchange for the great joy of adventure with the One who crafted me so carefully in my mother’s womb and knows the number of hairs on my head. The only One who sees me every time I cry and gives me joy unimaginable in His presence.
He is the One who sits with me as I reflect over the last two years and says to my soul, “Look. Do you see it? This might not have been fun all the time and there were times you wanted to give up. But look. See my kindness? See my justice? See my love? See my faithfulness? This wasn’t the adventure you expected when you agreed to take my path and not yours. But it’s the best one because I’m there. And I’m all you need.”
It’s true. He beckons to my soul and calls me beloved. In Him I find rest in chaos and peace in turmoil. In Him is everything I need.
Here’s to the adventure that lies up ahead. I don’t know what it holds. But if the last two years are any indication of what lies ahead, as long as He’s with me along the way, I’m not worried one little bit.

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Hope

I’ve heard it said that you can live 3 hours without shelter (in extreme conditions), 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food, but not a single minute without hope. Then, of course, there’s the ever-famously quoted Scripture about having a “hope as an anchor for our soul.” And the whole, “Faith, hope, and love…but the greatest of these is love.” And while the greatest of these might not be hope, it did make the top three, which has got to be significant.

Hope. This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. See, I’m a pretty self-aware person. I know my strengths and weaknesses relatively well. But this whole having hope thing…I’m not sure where to classify it on my list of strengths and weaknesses. And being that I tend to love lists on occasion, this is a conundrum for my order-desiring soul. I often find myself thinking that I have too much hope. I look at life and other people through rose-colored glasses, and translate what I see through my hope-filled heart. I try to find the best in most situations, and often that opens my heart to hurt when I realize (again) that not everybody’s word means as much to them as mine does to me. That their intentions might not be as pure as I imagined them. That they don’t always see things the same way I do. And you know something? It hurts. Every time. It hurts the part of me that wants to believe the best about everyone I meet. The sting of pain…it seems too frequent, sometimes even daily, but still, even in the middle of the pain, I can’t seem to shake the little inkling of hope that resides deep within my soul. That hope that doesn’t go away, no matter how I try to rationalize it.
It’s always there.
And this all got me thinking. If not for hope, what did Jesus die for? He came to earth as God in flesh, lived 33 years, and chose to go through with allowing his death when he could have chosen in an instant not to. But He had a hope. A hope in knowing that at the end of it all, when He had died and then rose back up from death’s clutches, He would get to offer His hope to those without it. To us. You and I.
He chose to hope in us choosing Him and turning from our pain and selfishness and pride into the depth of His grace. He chose to hope…knowing that He would be rejected by many. Knowing that His heart would be broken by those who chose not to accept the gift He offered. The part that stuck out to me when I was thinking of all of this is that His actions did not change, knowing He would be hurt by His very own creation. He chose to go through the pain, knowing it would mean nothing to some people. And in doing so, He became the most vulnerable man to walk the earth. Most of us don’t love like that. We don’t love with a hope of what will come out of the hard stuff. Instead, we try to find all of the negatives to justify why NOT to hope for the best. And while I believe that we need to watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing, and to be wise as serpents and as innocent as doves, we are also called to love. To hope. To know that all things work out for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
My challenge to you and to myself today is to hope. To love with abandon, even if it means getting hurt. To hope in knowing that Christ will vindicate, and you don’t have to worry about doing that for yourself. I’m challenged to see my hope not as a negative thing that I have too much of, but to see it as a God-given gift to use while I am here on earth. If you’re in the same boat, I challenge you to do the same. If you’re in the other camp, where you don’t look for chances to hope and love with abandon, to be known by your love, I challenge you to find those opportunities. They surround you every day.
Can you imagine what this world would look like if we went forth as vessels of God’s tender mercy, love, hope, and holiness instead of keeping all of that selfishly inside us, where it does no ultimate good? I dare say we might be able to change the world one act of hope at a time, through God’s perfect, undeserved favor. Find your hope in Christ and march forward to distribute it willingly to those around you who need it. Trust me, they’re there. Now let’s find them and believe for God to do something great in this as we humble ourselves to His work and heart. He’s done it before, and I choose to believe that He will do it again.
How about you? Are you with me?‎

Speechless

Hello, friends! It’s been quite awhile since I posted anything. I hope you’re all doing well!

I have a sweet, dear friend named Elizabeth who writes beautifully. She sent me this poem today that she wrote in the spirit of Thanksgiving and I would love to share it with you all! God has given her such a talent and you may see more of her stuff here on my blog in the near future (I’m super excited about that), but for now, here is a poem she wrote, titled Speechless. Enjoy!

Speechless

I don’t have the words for Him
And if I did I wouldn’t be able to speak them.
His glory is too great for me
I cannot describe it
Standing in His presence
I have lost all composure
No amount of scripting
Could hold me together.
The angels sing of His holiness
The heavens declare His power.
And I am unable to speak.
I put a pen to page and
It seems like a failure.
What kind of artist am I compared
To the one who paints every sunset?
Who created the language
I struggle to write in?
He has this way of making my best work
Feel like a child’s crayon drawing.
All crooked lines
And not quites.
But I keep trying
Because it never could be enough.
I’m only here because
He lends me paintbrushes
And His grace makes up for the rest.
See these words don’t come
To this tongue naturally
But He gives me every breath
So I’m giving this one back
And there’s still something lacking
It’s not my lungs but my heart
That He’s after.
I can sing all I want
But if I don’t really mean it
It won’t matter.
And I’m so done wasting time
I’m so tired of empty words
I’ma lend my voice to the universe symphony
I may not know the lyrics
But I won’t let it stop me
Cause let me tell y’all something
Ain’t no rock taking my place.
I don’t have to have words
I’m still gonna praise
I’ma praise Him with my body
Cause it’s already His
I’ma praise Him with my ACTtions
Although I sometimes go off script
I’ma praise Him with all I am
And I’m no Michelangelo
But He isn’t an art critic
Only man looks at the outward appearance
God looks at my heart
And even that didn’t turn Him away.
I know what He expects of me
And I’m not there yet
I’m trying my best
And here’s what I’ve got.
I still don’t have words for Him.
And I hope you’re not
Waiting for me to find them.
If you’re counting on a human
To explain the greatness of God
You can only be disappointed.
All the pastors, poets, and Preachers you know
Are merely signposts
Trying to show you the way to Him.
And He- He is everything
We didn’t know we needed.
He is salvation
When we didn’t even know we were lost
He is forgiveness
Although we hadn’t heard the condemnation
He loves us
At our most unlovable
And He reigns in heaven untouchable
I’m standing here before Him
Still Trying to find words I guess
for now I’ll just praise Him
Raise my hands
Speechless

I’m going to die.

I went to the doctor a few weeks ago. I didn’t tell anyone I was going. After all, it was just supposed to be a routine checkup. But it wasn’t. It was mind-numbing in more ways than one. The prognosis? Death. I mean, it isn’t that simple, really. The long and short of it is that there is a disease destroying me and there are not treatment options. None whatsoever. It seems that, ultimately, my death is the only thing that will end the disease. The doctor got ahold of me again this morning after running some tests in the last few weeks to confirm the diagnosis and prognosis.

 

You know, to be honest, I’m not super shocked by the news. As awful as it sounds, I can tend to worry a lot, so I’ve heard the news a thousand times in my head, a thousand different ways. It doesn’t make it easier, though, or less painful. Because this time it’s different. This time, it’s real. The doctor told me himself.

 

What disease, you ask? The little name doesn’t seem to do justice to all the pain it causes. Sometimes the pain is dull and throbbing. Sometimes it’s sharp and unbearable. But it’s always there. And I hate it. The pain, the sickness…

 

But before you start calling me to ask what’s happening or making plans to attend my funeral, I need to tell you about the sickness. It’s called sin. The doctor is God and He got in touch with me this morning though the Bible, His letter to me. Maybe it’s mean of me to lead you on, but I have a point to make in all of this that’s pretty important and I wanted to make sure that I had your full attention.

 

Before I had to be at work this morning at 6:30, I was sitting in my room at 5:45, reading in John 12. When I got to verse 24, I tried to go on and continue reading, but I couldn’t. My mind kept going back to verse 24. “I assure you,” it says, “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop.”

 

I’ve been in church long enough to have heard a sermon or two about how the seed has to die before it can begin new life. But it was a timely reminder this morning, and maybe it will be for you, too. Christians are called to “die daily,” to take up our crosses and follow Christ. And that often means going to places and doing things that we don’t want to do. It means sacrificing time when we have our own agenda, sacrificing our desires in favor of God’s. Growth requires opposition.

 

So although most of us won’t get a call today telling us that we are terminally ill, there is a sickness far worse than any illness we can be diagnosed with that we must fight every day. We’ve all been diagnosed with sin. And the only cure is Jesus. Today, I choose Jesus. I choose to take up my cross.

 

That last sentence never represents something fun. But the cure it worth it. Jesus is worth it. Let’s remember that growing pains are difficult. They’re painful and hard and there never seems to be an end to them when we are having them. But they are temporary. They will end. In exchange for the pain of earth, we will have the comfort of eternity.

 

And that, my friends, will make it all worth it.

 

“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?'” -Luke 9:23-25

The Light Forwards and Upwards 

  

I was reminded today while sitting outside in the hammock of something I feel compelled to share. The clouds completely filled the sky and it was dark, even though there were still hours of sunlight left. Out of nowhere, a ray of sunlight shone through and cast a glow on the patch of forest right in front of me. Everything else remained dark. The clouds stayed ominously overhead, and the mountains still loomed bleak in the distance. The place where I sat remained in darkness. 

If I looked just ahead, though, it was light. 

Sometimes, everything around us is dark. Things loom over our head and make it hard to see. Things that cause us to fear stand dismally in the distance. Even the place we are in is dark. But, if you look just ahead, to the hope of the Cross, to the goodness of God in every circumstance, to the sovereignty of Jesus…things don’t seem quite so bleak. The thing is, you can’t look down at where you are and everything that seems to be going wrong. Nor can you look to the future with all of the worries that brings. Instead, you must look forwards and upwards to the hope of the Savior. To the patch of light that remains constant even in the darkest of situations. To Jesus. 

Look to the light of Jesus today. Sometimes, that’s all the hope we have. But really, when it comes down to it, that’s all the hope we need.

Drummer Boy

Here is a beautiful poem written by one of my dear friends. I know it’s after Christmas, but boy does this make me think! Enjoy!

 

I was a drummer boy.
I stood on a street corner
Playing tunes and tricks,
Hoping to catch someone’s attention,
Needing any spare change they might have,
Listening to their footsteps blend with my drumbeats.
It was the end of the day,
Traffic was waning.
I was ready to go home.
I was tired of playing
And I almost missed it
A distant cheering,
Shepherds revering,
A newborn king, they said.
No one turned to see it,
Could they not hear it,
This joyful news?
I followed the noise
Trying to catch a glimpse of the Savior
Who had finally come to free us
Just not in the way we expected.
They were in a barn
The King, his mother.
There was nothing royal about this family
No music
No fanfare.
Nothing to visibly set them apart from the rest.
But they were somehow different,
Something special.
This was the Son of God.
They asked me to play.
I tried my best but could stop the feeling
That it could never be enough.
Never realizing that that was the point.
That He came for all the broken pieces
I couldn’t put back together.
For the times when I failed.
That He loved me despite all of this.
He tried to teach my heart to beat like His
And I fumbled through an uneven tempo,
Attempting my own 3:2 beat.
He is my King for Him I will play.
Trying again
And again,
Never getting it quite right
But never giving up either,
Because He never gave up on me.
So I took this drum and tried to pass on what I had:
A heart beating
A soul breathing
A new beginning.
He was all anyone had ever hoped for
And they turned Him away.
When I was a drummer boy I played for the King.
When I was a man I saw him crucified.
This isn’t the fairytale we wanted,
Not the struggles we imagined
when we saw a harmless baby lying there.
We never thought about what was required of us;
Wanting a merciful savior,
But not a just one.
Never considering the sacrifice
that had to take place to reconcile us to Him.
We wanted the baby,
We did not want God.
That’s why we have
Christmas trees
And snowmen
Because if we look at the Manger
We will see the cross.
See, I was just like you.
Using this miracle
As marketing,
When I was a drummer boy.

My Heavenly Daddy

My Heavenly Daddy
Amanda Christine

I went to heaven’s gate one day,
A normal thing, it seemed.
What met me when I got there, though,
Could hardly have been dreamed.

My Daddy stood right by the gate.
He wore His kingly crown.
The winds of earth came from His mouth,
And spun my hair around.

All countries stood in fear of Him.
All nations caught their breath.
As Daddy raised His hand up high,
A silence came, like death.

Then, from His mouth, sprung forth the thing
That I so longed to hear.
“These nations that don’t know Me yet
Will run to you, sans fear.”

I knew how true these words must be,
For Daddy told me so.
And when He asked whom He should send,
I said, “Send me! I’ll go!”

He said, “Dear child, know this up front.
The going will be tough.
But I’ll sustain your heart and soul.
For you, I am enough.”

His words were true, I can attest.
Sometimes, it has been hard.
But He has been my Lord, my Friend,
My Daddy, and my Guard.

Noise

The raindrop tickles my cheek as it rolls down my upturned face. Soon, another startles me with its sudden presence on my face and makes me blink unexpectedly. It’s just sprinkling right now, but the dark clouds overhead hint of a coming downpour. I should probably go inside.

I sit up from my reclined position in the hammock that is strung between two evergreens and admire the beauty I am surrounded with. A dark mountain looms directly in front of me, and, in fact, all around me, reminding me of what a powerful and altogether mighty God I serve. image

But something is bothering me, and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. The horses to my left have wandered off to find a greener place to nibble. A fly circles my head, looking for a place to land. The house is 100 yards to my right, a tall structure in the middle of this Montanan sanctuary. Everything seems to be in its proper place.

As I carefully step out of the hammock, I suddenly realize what’s wrong. It’s the noise. The landlady has her window open and TV turned up so that the sound carries up the hill and straight to my ears. The sprinkler watering the lawn makes a steady click, click, click, click as it rotates in a never ending circle, shooting water as far as it can possibly reach. A car rumbles down the gravel road in the distance.

And it’s then that I realize that rarely is there a moment in my life that doesn’t have manufactured sound vying for my attention. When I’m not listening to the hum of a motor from my fridge or car, there are timers reminding me of important things that I have to do, places that I need to be. There are alert tones that ring loud and clear, announcing to me that I have a new text or Facebook message. There are phone calls to be answered. Sink water running. Dishwashers whirring. Keyboard tap-tap-taps. Lights humming.

And not to mention music. It’s everywhere! In stores, in movies, in cars. Even on days like today when I’m sitting in a hammock with beauty surrounding me, I’m tempted to pull out my headphones and iPod and get some tunes going. There is almost never a moment where sitting and enjoying the sounds of nature–just nature–is possible. The moments of quiet solitude with just me, my thoughts, and God are few and far between.

But to be honest, I miss silence. A lot.

I miss the times before I had a phone, before Facebook was popular. I miss being 11 and going out into the woods behind my house up to the tree swing. I miss swinging out over the outcrop of rocks, pretending to fly while the only sounds around me were the birds cheering me on in my superhero duties and the armadillos and squirrels scampering through the brush.

I miss climbing my tree and balancing there on my favorite branch, my backpack with snacks and water hanging above me, as I become immersed in a different book than the one I started and finished yesterday. I travel to England, Mexico, France, Russia, and Israel while the wind stirs the branch I sit on, and it becomes a bucking horse, a ship caught in a storm in the middle of the ocean, a bicycle traveling down a bumpy road. The critters keep me company in the tree, acting unbeknownst to them as dragons, snakes, scorpions… The only sound is that of pages turning.

I miss being in India. I miss those few nights that I got to sit at the top of an unfinished, five-story building in the middle of nowhere, watching the sun set in a majestic display of color. My feet dangled off the edge and there was no sound. It was just me and my thoughts. And I was perfectly content with that.

I miss the silence because it helped me in many ways I could not at the time comprehend. The silence allowed me to think through the problems of my day, and to do some processing about ways to respond to things differently. The silence allowed me the chance to look inside and see if there was something I didn’t like about myself that I could change to become a better me. The silence allowed me to commune with and actually listen to a God who is much higher than I am. The silence kept my attentions focused so that, even when I left the silence, I had learned how to think until I was done thinking. The silence allowed me to just be. It didn’t require anything of me. It didn’t require that I put on airs to impress. The silence taught me to be myself in a world that told me to be anything but.

You know, maybe that’s why the world has so many depressed people. So many people who have been diagnosed with ADD. So many people who don’t know who they are. Kids are bombarded with constant manufactured entertainment every minute of every day. They have video games that make them mindless robots. They have TV shows that are perhaps funny but also rude and more often than not vulgar. They have music that they “don’t listen to the lyrics” of that is telling them to be fake. To act like they’re okay when they’re not. To strive for popularity. To fill their lives with everything they can get their hands on in an effort to live a happy life.

But that noise…it’s filled with lies. Those kids have never had the chance to just sit undisturbed and live their life. They don’t know how to focus in school because school isn’t 6 seconds long. They don’t know how to be happy because they think their happiness depends on what they have or don’t have and the circumstances they are in at that moment. They don’t know how to be themselves. They don’t know how to listen to someone else. And even more, they no longer know how to be silent. There are moments when gleeful singing, a deep chuckle, chatting, and even screaming in exhilaration are appropriate. However, there are also moments when silence is appropriate. And kids are now being raised to not even understand what silence means.

Because of that, they also don’t have all of the positive things that come with silence. And that is one of the most saddening things I’ve seen in my generation and the one that follows me.

You see, we don’t need medication to make us focus or be happy. We don’t need to listen to everything that other people think we need to be. What we need is good sleep, healthy food, and a big dose of silence in our day-to-day lives. Even if that means turning off our cell phones for a couple hours.

Silence is golden. Take a few moments to embrace silence and just listen. Who knows? Maybe in that silence you’ll hear what you’ve been dying to hear all along…from a still, small voice that couldn’t be heard over all the noise.

Prayer Request

Dearest Readers,

I need your prayer. But first, a quick life update so my prayer request makes sense.

1. I turned 18 in March! Ahhh! That makes me a legal adult. I’m not so sure I believe it yet.

2. I graduated! But I definitely don’t believe it yet. I think it will hit when I don’t go back to school next year. Which brings me to my next update.


3. I moved from Florida to Montana last month! Which puts all (literally all) of my blood family (thank God for spiritual family!) hours and hours away. But I’m content. FaceTime and cell phone service (when you can find it in Montana) help with the homesickness. I’m here working at a ranch for troubled girls. This year-long opportunity (which means I’m not going to college in the next year) is such an exciting ministry for me…a beginning to my missions career, but in the U.S. Speaking of missions and the U.S…

4. I’m leaving America! Only for 9 days, but in September, I’m taking a few weeks off work to go to China. And from here, I’ll copy and paste my Facebook update post, which contains my prayer request in it.

“Those of you who know me know that I love to travel. Those of you who know me better know that the reason I love to travel is to meet and minister to the people I have the pleasure of coming in contact with. Those of you who know me best know that God called me in a unique way from when I was 13 to live as a minister of the Gospel in foreign fields, though the field in particular was unclear. But in the last year, my heart has been broken over and over for one nation in particular: China. Last summer, a Chinese pastor preached at a youth camp I was attending, and since then, I’ve been asking the Lord deep in my heart, “Open the door for me to go to China.” While God normally opens the door slowly, this door has been flung open right before my eyes.

I was at a women’s Bible study at church, playing a silly icebreaker game, and happened to glance across the table at a sweet woman that I didn’t know very well. God spoke in a still small voice to my heart in the most unassuming moment, “When this study is over today, she will come up to you and offer you a mission trip to China. And I want you to accept it.”

I laughed. Not out loud, but in my heart, I said to God, “Wasn’t that a funny thought?” and dismissed it.

But He wasn’t kidding. Right after the study was over, I began walking away from the study table and stopped to look at a business card on the welcome table. The sweet lady walked up to me and engaged me in a conversation about my family. Before long, despite my doubt, she simply said that in September, she is going to China with a small group of people and would love if I would consider going, as well. I was shocked at how clear God made this step in my life.

The point of telling you all this is for one purpose: I need your prayer. God has opened the door of opportunity for me, and now I would appreciate your prayers as I take the steps necessary to go on the trip in September. Please pray that I won’t be fearful as God opens doors in His timing, in His way. Pray that I would have a deep-seated compassion and love for those I come in contact with. But most of all, please pray that God would continue to guide me in the steps He would have me to take. This trip is short-term, but I sense that it will have long-term affect on the path for my life. And that isn’t scary, because He’s the One guiding me.”

Thank you for your prayers, faithful readers! And please know that if there is anything you would like or need prayer for, I would so be willing to pray with you about whatever it is!

Remember God’s sovereignty and rely on His goodness!

Pressing on by His grace,

Amanda

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What Kind?

I’ve come to realize my own insignificance lately. Not because I’m unimportant, but in comparing myself to the significance of my Love. 

“What kind of King would choose to wear a crown that bleeds and scars to win my heart?”