The Crown of Life

Wow, it has been quite a while since I was on here. Lots has happened, but instead of writing the whole long update, I am going to talk about something I read this morning. That seems to fit with the theme of the blog, anyways. (P.S. – I promise to keep up with the blog more this summer. I need to do something other than watching Friends on Netflix.)

So today was a typical, uneventful day. I woke up in the morning and ate some eggs and drank some tea, just like every other day. Then I sat down for my quiet time, thinking it would be just like every other quiet time. But that thought gave me pause – quiet time in no way should be “ordinary” or “normal”. So instead of diving right into my well-worn bible, I sat still and prayed that God would guide my time in His word and give me something to read about that I have been needing to hear. And instead of opening up to the chapter in Romans I am currently studying, He led me to read James 1.

Preface: I love James, but I have only ever read through it, not dove deep into the meaning and application behind its words. I started reading, with my tea steaming to the left of me and my journal on the right, pen poised and ready for writing. But as I started reading, I felt the world melt away. I felt His presence come into the room, sweep me up, and whisper, “Come, let me teach you something.”

I might’ve read that chapter 7 times before I wrote anything down. Wow, what powerful stuff. For everyone that doesn’t have a bible handy, let me recap. James wrote this beautiful letter to the first Christians living on the outskirts of Palestine. By verse 2, he has dove right in and is giving hope to all those enduring trials and temptations – which may be one of the most encouraging things to hear as a Christian today, because I don’t know anyone that isn’t struggling with something. One of my favorite verses from the passage was verse 12, where James says:

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

The crown of life. Sure, we have to endure trials and fight off Satan’s temptations, but we get to spend eternity with the one true King. That is pretty awesome. He then moves on to talk about the difference between listening and doing. Another one of the many verses I highlighted was verse 22, where James says:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

You can’t get much more clear than that, friends. Listening to God doesn’t mean anything if you turn around and completely ignore what he says. Now, I know what you’re thinking – it is much easier said than done. Of course it is! Life is hard and full of suffering and moments of self doubt and failing organic chemistry. But the beauty is that from all this, we get to learn and grow closer to God and our eternal future.

I am going to post this, and things will go back to normal for a while. I’ll be tempted to eat the entire tub of icing in the fridge, and I’ll want to watch trashy TV shows instead of doing something productive or intentional with my time. The difference is that now I have some fuel to help me wage my war – the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Battles

Everyone battles something. As a young adult, especially a woman, I have so many battles that I have to face. The worst part – most of them are internal. Weight, appearance, grades, success, religiousness, friendships, and relationships…all of these things have really been weighing me down. Since school has ended, I have really had time to think about my life and my purpose in this world. Right now, I am not really all that important yet, but I hope someday I will be. I need confidence right now to get through these struggles, and honestly I think that all that starts with reading my bible, exercising, and eating healthier. I am not “fat” at all; in fact, I am perfectly healthy as far as my weight goes. But the feeling still exists – I see myself as unhealthy.  It doesn’t help that I am also pale and very curvy. I need to start appreciating my curves, but I also need to feed my body better. Tomorrow the journey begins.

Another really big issue for me is my deep need to please other people, usually at the expense of myself. For years now, I have done everything right, all the time just to make others pleased with me. Now that I am older, I know my body and my soul. I know what I believe in, but I also know what I need to let go of. The pressure of pleasing others needs to disappear, and soon. I know it’ll take time to get into that habit of listening to myself and taking care of myself, but it will be rewarding when I arrive there. All in all, I know I am a strong person. I have had a rocky past, but I can see the future, and it is bright. All I need to to trust and have confidence in myself, and I can really go far. If you think of it, pray for me. This journey will need a lot of patience that I don’t necessarily have.

 

The Essentials

Why do people blog? I think that it could be the insatiable urge of humans to talk about themselves, but it might also be a higher purpose – if I share my mistakes and life experiences with you, then you can learn from me and maybe not make the same mistakes. I am starting this blog mostly because I need a hobby and an outlet, something that I can be proud of and show off to the world. No one is reading these posts yet, but maybe someday the right person will stumble upon this. Who knows, this could be my humble beginnings of becoming famous (unlikely).

In order to really understand me, I think that you need to know a few things. First and foremost, I am a devout Christian woman that has given her life to God. I plan on serving Him my whole life, and I won’t be shy about it. Currently, I am struggling to find a church that I really fit in at, but hopefully during the span of my college career, I will find a place that really works for me. In addition to my passion for Christ, I am a hue swimmer – well, I was a huge swimmer. That statement might be one of the hardest things for me to admit. In middle school and in the beginning of high school, I swam like a champ; I even had the opportunity to break my high school’s 500 Freestyle record as a freshman. Now, don’t imagine that I am some brilliant swimmer and won Gold in the Olympics – quite the contrary. I never one any big titles in competitions, but I worked hard enough that I was able to attend a few invitationals when I was at my peak.

Of course, all good things come to an end, as is the way of the world. Slowly, but surely, my shoulder was beginning to give out on me. I tried physical therapy for years. I even drove 90 minutes away to visit one of the best doctors in the nation – there was nothing they could do for me. Overusing my arms without the proper technique and rest had worn me out to the point where I was never going to be able to return. I could swim, but not very much and I would be painful. The worst part of this whole experience is the fact that I can still swim. I have no excuse to fall back on when someone asks me why I’m not in terrific shape anymore. I just quit. I had to stop, but I never moved on. Maybe I will be able to swim a couple thousand three days a week, but that day is down a long road of pain and suffering. I think God may be telling me to let it go, and move on to bigger and better things.

Speaking of such, something that I am really in to(and think everyone should be really into) is serving. I love helping the community, little kids, other countries – whoever and whatever needs my help, I will give it to them. I have been to Honduras twice on missions trips, and I really feel called to go back down there and serve their community, hopefully as either a doctor or a teacher. I really felt connected to the people and the church down there. One of the most amazing things I have ever heard was told to me while Iwas down there.I was speaking with one of the village women that spoke a rough amount of English, and I was asking her about her faith. She kept telling me all the horrible things that had happened to her as a poor single mother raising four kids in a third-world country. I asked her how she had any faith in God, and what she replied, I will never forget – “How can you believe in God when you have no need for him in America?”. I stopped in my tracks as the gravity of her words hit me. Wow, I thought. That’s a really amazing point. Why do we as Americans want God when we have no reason to need him? Her words just made me even more humble, and I know that I am truly meant to serve people as much as I can.

I suppose I should stop rambling on about myself. I’m sure that I will blog again before the night is out. Maybe this will become a daily thing; I certainly hope so.

~Hannah