Sunday, June 21, 2015

Speak for Yourself: a Collection of Quotes that Speak for Themselves

Every since I was little I have loved reading quotes. For some reason I have always found it incredible the meaning and depth that 26 letters formed into different patterns can have. I couldn't possibly tell you what my favorite quote is or even what my favorite five quotes are. There are dozens of great quotes I want to share with you but I will settle for a few. What are your favorite quotes?

  • "The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them." (Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island) - This quote is extremely profound to me. Most of us love ourselves even if we don't admit it. Therefore it makes sense that we try to find people like us. However, we must be sure that what we love about someone is not simply the part of ourselves we see in them.
  • "We accept the love we think we deserve." (Charlie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower)
  • "If you're looking for the word that means caring about someone beyond all rationality and wanting them to have everything they want no matter how much it destroys you, it's love." (Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother) - Often times beautiful things are quite inexplicable and love is one the most beautiful things on earth. 

  • "Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors" (Andrew Boyd)
  • “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” (Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness) - The thing that makes me the absolute happiest is loving and serving others. Nothing else can compare. I get filled up by giving up everything I have.

  • "That's always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they're pretty. It's like picking your breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste." (John Green) - I think this analogy is spot on.

  • "Revenge is for fools. Revenge is for fools and for mad men." (Patrick Jane, The Mentalist)

  • "The only One who can truly satisfy the human heart is the One who made it."
  • "God will take you where you never intended to go in order to produce in you what you couldn't achieve on your own." (Paul Tripp)

  • "You're mad. Bonkers....but I'll tell you a secret...the best people are." (Alice in Wonderland) - The greatest people I know are people who are different. They are creative and inventive and loving and intelligent and sometimes that makes them seem a little crazy. But that "craziness" is why they are so wonderful.

A Better World
  • "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold it would be a merrier world." (J.R.R. Tolkien) - We spend so much time working for and valuing things that don't matter like fame, money, and power when we ignore the greatest things on this earth: people.
  • “We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” (J.K. Rowling) - Complaining about the world or hoping for a better future someday does not help us today. We need courage to imagine a better world and the strength to work toward it despite opposition.

  • "Perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.” (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

Living Life Fully
  • "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." (William Shakespeare)
  • "I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." (Harun Yahya)
  • "Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter." (Francis Chan)

Monday, June 8, 2015

My Ministry Plans

What I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up
Growing up I wanted to be a teacher. From the first few times Mom or Dad would ask me until 6th grade that was always my answer. Then during 6th and 7th grade I decided I wanted to be a writer. I also always thought it would be really amazing to be a doctor so I could help people but I knew I could never stomach a lot of things doctors must do (so I decided I'd settle for being a doctor in the game of Life).

Ministry and Me
When I started 8th grade I led the Christian Club at my middle school. During that year I fell in love with ministry. I loved teaching, writing sermons, and listening to people who would come to me with problems. Interestingly enough, I realized all the careers I had been interested in previously fit in with ministry. Ministry involves teaching, writing sermons, and helping people. It seemed as though things had just fallen into place. Two years before I had found a great church and for the first time in my life I felt like the messages applied to me and made sense. I went from being distant and unwilling to know more about God to being eager to learn more. That is the difference a good pastor can make. I wanted to be a good pastor who would do for others what my new pastors were doing for me.

New Orleans
The summer between my freshman and sophomore year of high school I went on my second mission trip, which was to New Orleans. Going into it I had no idea what to expect or what an impact the trip would have on the course of my life. One morning in late June of 2013 I hopped onto a 15 passenger van and took off on the adventure of a lifetime. During my twelve day trip I interacted with homeless people whose stories affected me, kids whose smiles melted me, and pastors whose visions inspired me. We got to meet a homeless man whose prized possession was his Bible and a group of bikers who go around sharing the Gospel. We saw a church at work changing people's lives and we saw the result of many people's generosity when we saw all the homes that had been built for people who lost theirs in Hurricane Katrina. But I was also met with gift shops which made me want to run out as soon as I walked in and I had to walk down streets knowing that one block over were countless bars and clubs which to people flock to fill up their lives. We had to walk by people on "harmless" voodoo tours which are popular in the city. Our first night in New Orleans we were told by Pastor Byron that New Orleans was a wonderful city but that it became something completely different at night. When I came home I was greatly conflicted by the things I saw. On one hand there was lots of drug dealing, gang activity, crime, drunkenness, and lust. The Devil was at work there - that was for sure. But God was too - there was no doubt about that either. For six months a day would not pass when I wouldn't think of the incredible people I met there and worked with there. Those daily run-ins with the trip in my mind was God planting an idea in my head. I just didn't know it then.

Questioning to Confidence and a New Plan
In January of 2014 I went on the Revolution winter retreat through Eagle Brook. During that time I was struggling with whether God was calling me to be a pastor or if I was calling myself to be a pastor. I loved running Christian Club, leading a small group of middle school girls, and going on mission trips. I loved serving God but the thing is anyone can serve God in their jobs. Was vocational ministry really my calling or did God want me to use a different job to serve Him? I didn't know anymore. But on that retreat I found my answer to that question and the answer to another question I hadn't really thought to ask... For my morning break out session I chose "Leadership/Calling". With the questioning I had been doing lately it seemed like the right place to go. I went and I am so glad I did. Nate, the Student Ministries pastor at the Lino Lakes campus at the time, taught me so many things. Nate said that your calling is to make a difference in the world using the gifts and passions God put inside you. It was then I realized that the God had put in me a passion for ministry and gifts that could help me in ministry like patience, good listening skills, compassion, determination, and wisdom. Nate also said something that gave me peace. He said that there isn't just one career that is right for you. I walked out of that session confident once again that ministry would be an incredible career for me. Later that evening we had a large group session led by the high school teaching pastor Alex. The big question at the end of it was "where is God leading you?" Right then I knew where God was calling me. New Orleans.

The Coming Years
I just completed my Freshman year at UNW a few weeks ago. It will be several more years until I finish my program, a five year program where I will get my bachelor's in Pastoral Ministry and my master's in Divinity, but I am excited for what lies ahead of me. This coming year I will finish up all my remaining general courses and get to start taking ministry courses. Then, with any amount of luck, I will get to do my first internship next summer.

Update (7/23/16): I always assumed that when told me 'New Orleans' that winter night two and a half years ago that He meant I would be there forever. As I sit back here in New Orleans, I wonder whether maybe God meant that I needed to come back here to learn. Being here for the summer has taught me so much and I will never be the same because of it. However, I can't shake the desire to be back home doing ministry in the Twin Cities again. I wonder if maybe God wanted me back in New Orleans for this - to teach me new things about urban ministry and to help me realize my love & passion for the Twin Cities. I don't know this for sure. Maybe I will end up back here long-term. But maybe I will spend a lot more time in the Twin Cities than I ever thought I would. All I know is God has been showing me just how deep my love for home is. No matter what my future holds, I know God goes before me and yet is still with me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Stunning Songs from Across the Genres

Today I just wanted to share with you some of the greatest outside-the-box songs I have heard from across the genres. If you have any favorites feel free to leave a comment in the comment section. I hope you enjoy some of my top picks.
  •  Christian
    • Do Something by Matthew West - This song is easily one of the best songs to pump you up to serve (I can't tell you how many times we played this song when we were driving to Dallas, TX for a mission trip last summer). It speaks to the fact that changing the world requires action on our part and we can't wait for someone else to do something.
    • All the Same by Tenth Avenue North - This song is a powerful reminder that deep down we are all the same. We all are desperate for a change, in need of God's love, and afraid to show our need.
    • Build Your Kingdom Here by Rend Collective - This song is certainly unique - not only because of its unique sound but also because of its lyrics. This song is full of hope for the future and for God's kingdom.
    • By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North - There is something about this song that evokes incredible emotion in many people, which makes sense since it is a song by Tenth Avenue North.
    • There Will Be a Day by Jeremy Camp - The idea that someday there will be no more tears or pain is incredible to think about and this song makes the idea more real.
  • Country
    • Better Than This by Hunter Hayes - For some reason this song always stuck out to me as unique and special. To me it is a song about not knowing what the future will hold but embracing your life for whatever it will be.
    • The Heaven I'm Headed To by Dierks Bentley - This song certainly brings you back to the facts: the Bible is filled with imperfect people of all kinds and God accepts all who find amazing grace and accept it.
    • Change by Carrie Underwood - I've loved this song since I first heard it because I believe in it. I believe one person can make a difference.
  • Rock, Rap, & Pop
    • Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News - Admittedly I am super biased about this song because it is in Back to the Future, my favorite movie. Still, I think what it has to say about love having no prerequisites and how it can make you feel just about every emotion is true.
    • Just a Girl by No Doubt - This is the only song from this genre that I've heard ever delve into such a topic as gender inequality and it's quite an interesting listen.
    • Welcome to America by Lecrae - I've never heard a song such as this one before that so accurately portrays the true condition of America.
    • The World You Want by Switchfoot - We all agree the world is in pretty poor condition these days but this song informs us that we are a part in determining what the world is like whether we know it or not. Each of us have the power to change the world or at the very least someone's world.
  • Instrumental
    • Edward Scissorhands Theme by Danny Elfman - This song is absolutely beautiful yet positively mysterious too, which is what I love about it.
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: He's a Pirate by Hans Zimmer - The energy this song brings is definitely not lacking and the music pretty much made these movies in my opinion (okay, and Johnny Depp).
    • Beetlejuice Theme by Danny Elfman - This theme song is incredibly energetic and I love the different sounds that all come together in this piece.
    • Oz the Great and Powerful Theme by Danny Elfman - When I saw this movie in theaters I leaned over to my mom and said "this is great music - it sounds like Danny Elfman" and sure enough five seconds later his name came up in the opening credits. He is a musical genius and doesn't disappoint with this one.
    • Cantina Band by John Williams - I think this song is greatly under appreciated. The sheer complexity and speed is without a doubt a challenge (I know because I played it at a school event three years ago). Props to any musician who learns it.