asked for an update.
My first year of college is over. It was good, challenging, exciting, not at all like I expected. I definitely feel like it forced a lot of growth and I could have used it to grow more than I did, but I'm so grateful for the opportunities God gave me and lessons He taught this year. I made some wonderful friends, had wonderful teachers, and a wonderful roommate
who all made it a powerful year. I'm finally home and starting to unpack and look for a summer job, and it's wonderful to be back in my own bed and in a house with my family again. I'm sure after a few weeks I'll be itching to get back to school and friends, but I am finding lots to be grateful for here.
We lost our dear, fun Mamaw Sherry on April 30th, and it's been hard for my family. She was a huge part of our lives and had been one of my closest friends for as long as I can remember. My first cosmetology client, she let me try out hairstyles and makeup on her long before I should have been allowed to hold a hairbrush or mascara. I'm so grateful to have known her, and even though she was stubborn and crazy sometimes she was a powerful example of strength and perseverance and humility in so many ways. When I was packing up my dorm room I found a book Mom
gave me at my high school graduation, which was full of letters of advice and love from all the women I know and respect. The last letter in the book was from Mamaw, and it started out by saying "Emma Louise...I love your middle name. It makes me feel like I'm a part of you." I've never been as proud of my middle name as I am now, and I hope she really is a part of me. I miss her every day, and have trouble not feeling shocked when I sit down in services and she isn't there, or when Mom is talking on the phone and I realize it isn't her. I treasure every minute I got to spend with her over the past 19 years, and can't wait to see her again.
So, for now, I am having fun with my family, writing cards to friends who are far away, looking for a job, anticipating the marriage of Micah
and Kathryn, anticipating getting to be an S.I. leader and an Alpha Club member and a Zeta officer and a PTK officer next school year (madness), then anticipating being in two
more beautiful weddings this winter, and most of all I'm anticipating Heaven, where I'll get to be with all those who I love and miss.
Thank you all for being my dear friends and examples! Let me know how I can pray for you, and I always solicit your prayers for me and my family and my friend Molly (see post below).
As some of you/most of you know, someone I love a lot left God last year.
A year ago today, I found out that my best friend in the world had decided to desert her belief in God, her family, and her friends, to follow an immoral, worldly lifestyle. I think that day and the months since then have been the most emotionally and spiritually challenging I have faced in my life. I haven't talked or shared with many people the feelings that I have had, but I think that maybe it can be useful for me to write a little bit about what I've learned this year, and maybe you can be challenged and warned and encouraged in some way by my scattered, emotional thoughts.
I don't think there can be anything more painful to Christians than knowing that someone they love isn't following the Lord. There are some people in my life who I grew up being close to, and always knew they weren't faithful, but it was a much more jolting, scary feeling getting the phone call that my friend had left her house and had no intention of going back. I had no idea. It's scary thinking that you know someone and then realizing they had struggles that you never addressed or knew about.
Talk to the people you love about their spirituality. Know what they're struggling with so you can pray with them and for them. Give your sisters/brothers ideas of ways they can help you and pray for you. That's what we're designed for, helping each other get to Heaven. Don't be ignorant or complacent or assuming about your family and friends' spirituality. I know that if someone wants to hide a struggle or flaw they're dealing with, you won't know that, but try to always be looking for ways to help other people and notice their needs. If that's not the focus of every friendship, and someone ends up falling behind, you will feel guilty. Trust me.
I probably had never realized how much I wanted to go to Heaven until I thought about Molly not going with me. I couldn't sleep thinking about her missing out on the joy of praising God. Music was a huge bonding point between us, and I cried thinking about singing praises without her harmonizing with me. Every time I have an experience (birthday, Disney, FC) that I wish she was here to experience with me, I am reminded of how much more important it is that she be in Heaven and how much greater that would be than any earthly memory.
Remember where you're headed. The more excited and driven we are to get to Heaven, the better we will do in encouraging the people we love (or people we don't even know) to come with us. The more we show that Heaven is our home, the more it will show others that Heaven is worth working towards.
After the first few days, weeks, and then months of talking with, encouraging, pleading with, arguing with, and praying for Molly, it began to be very hard to not just want to forget and move on. She wanted to be my friend, but she didn't want to hear logic. She doesn't. She was angry and frustrated and ready to make herself happy. The problem is that when she rejected God, we lost our common ground. There is nothing that I can talk to her about of substance, because the substance of my week, studies, friendships is God. At this point, if I was meeting her for the first time, she is someone I wouldn't even think about being friends with, because there's no reason for it. But when I start thinking about just moving on and getting over the hurt and frustration, I think about the Good Shepherd.
We can't get complacent. Our example of love is Jesus, the Loving Shepherd, who does NOT stop searching until He finds that one lost sheep. I may have had to end my friendship with my best friend (as it had been), but there is no reason for me to forget about her. She is a soul. She has potential. She's lost. She doesn't have God. She isn't just without my friendship, and her family, she's without GOD. She's without hope. And while she may refuse to face that, how can I leave her with no reminders of what she is missing? I want Molly to see my hope. I want her to see that no matter what tough things I come up against, I have something that pulls me through. Jesus has still not stopped searching for Molly and opening doors for her to repent. And I pray every day that he will give her another day to see Him. I am so grateful for the year she has had, and I want her to have another 30 years if that's what it takes before she comes back to God.
When Molly left, I was the only person she maintained contact with from her old life. And I mean that, the ONLY person. I was so, so stressed. So scared. I had no idea what to say. I am non-confrontational and mushy and I pretty much just wanted to bawl to her every day and beg her to come back and tell her how much I loved her. But sometimes you have to show a different kind of love, a kind of love that is logical, not bending, not conforming. That's the only love that may, eventually, help Molly.
God puts you in situations for a reason. I may not know why I am the one, or what in the world the plan is that includes my stuttering, tragic communication skills, but for some reason I was allowed to be in Molly's life, and I was given the opportunity to talk to her about God. I am not giving that up. Take advantage of the chances you have to help people.
I realize that everyone knows these things, and I realize that it's 1 am and I have worked 12 hours today so I probably shouldn't be writing. I'll probably add to this when I have clearer thoughts.
But please, please, think about a few things this week:
1. Prayer. It has great power while it is working. Pray for Molly, pray for everyone who is lost and searching (or not searching), and pray that God gives them time to come back to Him.
2. Love. The greatest way you can show your love to someone is by helping them do what's right. Things you say might hurt, it might make them mad, it might seem self-righteous, but it might be the thing that brings them back where they need to be. Don't give up opportunities to help someone just because you're scared.
3. Family. If you're struggling with something spiritually, your spiritual family was given to you as a blessing from God. I want to help. They want to help. I probably haven't been through what you're going through, and I probably won't speak very eloquently, but I will pray for you, and so will any other brother or sister in Christ that you have. God had an amazing plan when he decided to give us a family.
4. Sin. It's not worth it. Your selfishness is not just effecting you. Your choices are not just effecting you. Your attitudes, words, actions, and feelings are NOT just effecting you. You have no idea how many people's hearts will break if YOU don't do what's right. Your circle of impact extends beyond what you can imagine until you see someone hurting others through her actions. Please consider other people. It's bigger than you.
5. Law. God's laws are there for a reason. They are WISE. You have no idea how messed up your life will be when you choose to have no moral compass. It is completely senseless. It's not fun, it's shallow, pointless, painful, lonely, fleeting. God knew what He was doing when He set the guidelines that He has set.
I love you all, and I'm so grateful to have been so blessed in my life with the spiritual and physical family that I have.
Please don't ever take your friendships or family relationships for granted.
Please pray for those who are lost, and for the people who love them.
Help me get to Heaven. Tell me how I can help you. We all have a lot of growing to do.
"Your testimonies are wonderful;
therefore my soul keeps them.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your way with those who love your name.
Keep steady my steps according to your promise,
and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
Redeem me from man’s oppression,
that I may keep your precepts.
Make your face shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.
My eyes shed streams of tears,
because people do not keep your law.
Righteous are you, O LORD,
and right are your rules.
You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness
and in all faithfulness."
"For it is not an enemy who taunts me--
then I could bear it;
It is not an adversary who deals insolently with me--
then I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.
We used to take sweet counsel together;
within God's house we walked in the throng....
But I call to God,
and the Lord will save me....
He redeems my soul in safety
from the battle that I wage
for many are arrayed against me.
God will give ear and humble them,
he who is enthroned from of old,
because they do not change
and do not fear God....
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you."
Psalm 55 speaks to me.
DOV camp and the PA trip were both incredibly fun and encouraging.
I'm back to work this week but move in next Saturday :)
I wish I had time to do everything I need to do AND sleep some before then, but it's looking like I'll be pretty overwhelmed from here until forever.
Take time today to thank God for His patience. I'm grateful for it.
I realize that I never update. I kind of feel like that's a good thing, since I don't spend 2 hours a day on here anymore.
"Senioritis" is in full swing. I am so excited to be done with high school. But I just realized that Graduation at FC is in two weeks, and I'm very not excited about so many of my lovely friends leaving for 3 months. Lord willing, I'll find a job and work a LOT this summer so that I can pay for important things at FC (phone plan, new shoes, snacks, etc.) And maybe even get a car in the next 8-9 years.
FC. I am moving into Hinely in about 4 months and one day. CRAZY. FC kids always used to seem so old to me. BUT NOW I AM 18! (By the way, the "I'm 18, I can do whatever I want to" line does NOT work on parents. That's a myth. In fact, it tends to make them more upset than understanding.)
I have grown closer to some great people this school year. It's been amazing having David, Joycelyn, Sarah, Maggie, Stefan, Jonathan, and so many more dear friends down here. I'm going to miss them a lot this summer. (Stefan...You know you want to come back in August. YOU KNOW YOU DO.) Plant City has been really encouraging and exciting this year as well.
In the next two-three months, I hope to:
-Get a job
-Start a Bible study for the High School girls at Plant City (suggestions? I really want to do textual, not topical studying.)
-Have a visit from Hannah Bridges
-Graduate (but not make a speech)
-Go to Jady and Julianne's wedding and see friends and family
-Practice piano a lot. And guitar. This school year hasn't allowed for much of that.
-Finish Chemistry and never take it/science again
-See lots of pictures of my very pregnant Sister-in-law
-Get a half a shade darker in skin tone (That will take some intense sunshine, people)
-Go to Greece
Okay, the last one is just me being jealous of all the people who get to go on the amaaaazing FC trip in a few weeks. (If anyone would like to spend $3000 to send me to Greece and Italy instead of a graduation gift, let me know! I would be glad to arrange that.)
I'm very blessed. I do very dumb things sometimes, but I am glad I'm getting older and being forced into being a better person. It's a good feeling to know I'm not QUITE as stupid as I was 4 years ago. I still have a long way to go. Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me in the past few months, and thanks to those of you who challenge me to be better.
Also, my family is great. As terrible an idea as having 4 brothers is, in general, they have all turned out rather nicely, and sometimes they even take me to Carrabbas
, play tennis
with me, send me sarcastic birthday texts
, or sing really loud
. (Okay, that last one can get annoying.) Also, they have helped me have pretty stinkin' awesome music tastes. (Well, in Micah
's case, I've helped him, but still.)
How's God working in your life lately?