Friday, December 24, 2010

A Post About Junk

You know what I don't like?
I don't like junk.

I don't like clutter or disorganization or unfolded clothes sitting in a hamper for days. Today as I was cleaning my room an audible sigh of relief came from my mouth the moment everything was put away in its place. I love how peaceful organization makes things. An area, whether a desk or a closet or a room, has so much purpose and a even sense of purity when the junk is gone.

You know what else I don't like?
I don't like spiritual junk.

Tonight in prayer I was talking to the Lord about all the junk that I have a bad habit of allowing in my life. I can almost feel it is I describe it: so often I spend my days turning from side to side, left to right, looking for something to distract me. I wouldn't admit this in the past... but it's true. I wander around, I keep myself busy, I try to fill my life, satisfy my thirst for purpose by drinking from a broken fountain-- things of this world that can not make me complete because they themselves are empty. I waste time and neglect my heart's desire to just be with the Lord. And in this... I neglect the Lord himself... Ah, but there is forgiveness and there is a God who loves me above and beyond all my sin and shame. Praise the Lord for that.

Do you ever feel like this? Do you ever feel like your entire day was spent being "busy" or being "distracted" or "wasting time"? I hate those kinds of days... but sometimes I still choose them.

I don't want to look to the left or the right anymore. I just want my eyes to be fixed on Christ. Tonight I prayed with authority and confidence that the Lord would help me slam the door shut that welcomes compromise and junk into my life.
Because compromise and junk and laziness just leave me feeling like junk.

But that's not who God made us, is it? Junk and frustration don't belong in our lives. I know that that which keeps me from Christ doesn't belong. It just doesn't make sense to hold onto things that only serve to distract us from the call of God. I want to hear His whispers and following the leading of the Holy Spirit... but that can't happen if I'm spending my day looking for the next thing to keep me entertained or "busy". Life lived for self is just so frustrating.

Junk keeps me from peace. Junk keeps me from sleep. It keeps me from building healthy relationships and even from the Lord. Because when junk starts to fill our lives, it tends to be what our flesh wants-- entertainment, stimulation, lack of responsibility.

But God offers something so much greater than junk and distraction... a life of purpose.
Purpose.


That's beautiful.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Beatitudes


Each week in Master's Commission we memorize 4 Scripture Verses.
Laura, our wonderful 2nd year student, takes time each week to grade our verse quizzes and our reflection papers-- short papers on our thoughts or applications of the verses we chose to memorize.
Recently, Laura began offering us the option of doing a "Creative Project" in place of our reflection paper. I love that we have this option-- often new insights on the verses come as I rewrite the scripture and design the creative project.

This is our 14th week of scripture memorization and for the past few weeks I have been memorizing the beatitudes found in Matthew 5. This week, my verses are Matthew 5:9-12. So here's my creative project for this week. (I am well aware that this looks disney-princess-esque... that was not a mistake) This week I'm praying my that my life would become a reflection of the Word of God.

"God, help me to become a peacemaker (bringing others to you) and a pursuer of righteousness (no matter what). In the face of insult, persecution, and evil, help me to maintain integrity and strive to reflect the character and the heart of my Jesus. I pray that any suffering I face would bring you all the glory you deserve. Lord, this week I need to keep my eyes set on heaven and upon your face. It is so easy to be distracted and to wander away. Keep pulling me closer and softening my heart when I try to pull away in my stubbornness. In all things, Heavenly Father, may I rejoice and be glad that you are my God and that I find my hope in you, and your Word, alone."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

An Early Christmas Gift

Tonight I feel like God has given me an early Christmas gift.


Back in October, I donated blood at Freedom Valley's blood drive with the American Red Cross. It was a really good experience. I didn't cry, it really didn't hurt, and I got free juice :). The nurses were so sweet and the blood drive was run very well. Unfortunately, the next day I woke up feeling like I had the flu. Prior to donating blood I was told that if I developed flu-like symptoms within 24 (or 48?) hours of my donation I needed to call the Red Cross. As a precaution, the Red Cross can not keep blood that could potentially have traces of infection. I was so upset that I was sick. I didn't feel that donating blood had inconvenienced me at all. The situation just broke my heart because there were people who needed good blood and now mine wasn't available to them. 

I asked the Lord to make up for the blood that was lost by providing additional donors at the next Blood Drive, above and beyond what would have been provided if my blood were kept. Tonight God answered my prayer in a very special way. I was sitting in the living room when I got a phone call from a young man working with the Red Cross. He told me that my blood had been tested and is RH Negative. I am by no means an expert or even very knowledgeable about what this means, so he explained. Basically, RH Negative blood is fairly rare and extra pure compared to RH Positive Blood (what most people have). Therefore, RH Negative blood is especially used to help cancer patients and premature babies who need purer blood. (I became very excited at this point!)

The man continued by telling me that because this type of blood is rare, they really like to keep it in stock for these patients. He asked if I would be interested in donating again and I quickly said yes. We set up an appointment for me to donate a few weeks from now, only a couple minutes from Freedom Valley :)

I know some people wouldn't get this excited about donating blood... but for me it is just such a cool sign of God's faithfulness. I was so upset that my blood couldn't be used to help someone, but God turned the situation around. He's using the blood and the health he's given me to bless other people, especially those with issues so close to my heart. It is so like God to do something so special to me that in turn blesses someone else. He is so good.

To find out how you can support the American Red Cross or donate blood to someone in need, check out RedCross.org 

Thanksgiving

Well, it has been a long time since I last posted. With all the excitement these past few months writing on this blog has kind of fallen through the cracks (as you can tell by my last post date). But here I am posting, and I fully intend to get into the habit, and stay in the habit, of updating this blog regularly. :)

I can't believe it's already December! I am a little over three months into the Master's Commission program and they have been three of the most challenging months of my life. With that said, they've also been three of the best months I have ever experienced, far greater than I could have ever anticipated. Classes are beginning to wind down for the semester and I just returned from Thanksgiving Break. 

Thanksgiving Break was a really good week for me. Being with family was wonderful. I am blessed beyond measure with my siblings, my parents, my puppy, and our home. I even got to attend my 5 month High School reunion. Don't laugh, it was cute. :) That concept is kind of funny, but it was really special. I really enjoyed getting to catch up with friends and hearing about everyones' college experiences so far. It is so exciting to hear how God is giving my friends big dreams and leading them to pursue those dreams during this season. And of course, it was just nice to be together and laugh. I saw God's faithfulness all over the night. What an incredible senior class I have :) My brother and a group of friends from school also had a benefit concert for Bethesda Mission over the break. They did an awesome job and raised over $400 dollars. I am so proud of Aaron.

Thanksgiving Break was also quite the learning week for me. In a few different ways, I was disappointed in myself and beat up on myself a little bit. Thanksgiving Break is considered the most difficult for Master's students as it is the first time back home during the school year. I had been home a couple times before, but only for a day or two at a time. The past three months I have been in an intensive discipleship program, so leaving that environment and that set schedule really challenged me to make very active decisions about time management and just every day life in general. I am so thankful for the way God turned my disappointment around though. He didn't allow me to wallow in discouragement (He is so good at leading me out of those funks) or grow frustrated with myself. He gently and sweetly showed me the beautiful things He has developed in my heart these past few months. I was reminded that the enemy of my soul wants to rob me of my relationship with the Lord, my joy, my dreams, and this season of great adventure. I'm not letting satan take any of that from me. 

So by God's grace, I learned, I was encouraged, and a fire grew in me. I will fight to stay with my Jesus and pursue the destiny God has given me here at Freedom Valley. Every day God is reminding me that He has already won and I am more than a conqueror. He covers me in the truth that He loves me so deeply He will help me to fight through prayer and choices every day so I can be near to Him for the rest of my life. Because He wants to be with me. 
God IS the victorious one and I love that. :) 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday Recap

Today has been a total blessing. From the moment I woke up I just felt the Lord was so close ( as He always is) and that we were doing today together.

I woke up at 4:15 this morning (My Mom might have just gone into shock reading that) and arrived at the Hanover YMCA a few minutes before 5. One of the requirements of Gettysburg Master's Commission is that we work out for one hour, three times a week. A man from the church showed some of our team this morning how to use the machines in the strength training circuit. After that we did cardio and soon I headed back home to get ready for the day. As I mentioned in my last post, I am definitely a heavy sleeper. Getting out of bed is not a skill that comes easily to me... haha. Some mornings even my alarm clock, blaring two inches from my head, can't wake me up. But this morning there was no problem, I woke up and felt so good.

After leaving the Y and arriving back home, I spent a beautiful hour journaling. This was such a victory. In the midst of being so busy and, honestly,  overwhelmed some days by all I need to get done, journaling has really taken a back seat. Even though I love it and believe it is so important, it kind of became an area of frustration as it felt more like "just another task". But God keeps softening my heart and helping me to take joy again in journaling again, among other things that are easy to neglect with such a busy schedule.

Stepping out of the front door today after getting ready, the weather was so perfect. It was sunny and warm and felt so fall-like. Another little blessing of the day :) I took a trip to New Oxford Coffee Co with Kimmy, another 1st year, with the goal of getting some blogging done. That didn't happen, but that's okay! It was nice to just talk and enjoy something so simple and fun.

At the church we ate lunch, made progress on our human video we're creating to the song 'Revelation' by Third Day, and took scripture memory quizzes. Later I was so blessed to be able to talk to my good friend, Charity, from home. She is an incredibly faithful woman of prayer and every opportunity I have to speak with her is such a blessing. She encourages me and challenges me and, like I told her, every time she prays for me it feels like Christmas. Haha it is just such a gift! The Holy Spirit so led her prayers today and really ministered to me and spoke straight to my heart. Praise the Lord for the work of the Holy Spirit, prayer, and good friends!

Oh, and to finish off the evening, I accidentally took a nap and then ate a delicious late dinner made by Lorrie. Side note: I need to write another post about how wonderful my home openers are. I'll do that.
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On the Road to Tulsa


     It’s been a while since I’ve written, but today I am going to start the process of getting caught up :) I’m currently sitting in the third seat of the church van, occasionally glancing past my computer screen to watch the beautiful landscape of Oklahoma pass by. My Master’s Commission team and our drivers, Scott and Lara, have been on the road since 4 Thursday afternoon and right now, just a little after 2pm on Friday, we are within about 50 miles of Tulsa, our final destination.



video

       Our home church back in Gettysburg recently planted a church in Tulsa called Freedom Valley Church. We are so excited to spend the weekend with the team that has worked, prayed, and trusted the Lord for this church plant to come about. Freedom Valley Church is currently meeting in a theatre and had its very successful grand opening only a few weeks ago.
A 22 hour drive gets to your head :)
   This is the third out-of-state trip our Master’s Commission team has taken this year. In early September, we spent a day in Virginia with a church plant in Stafford, and just last week we had the opportunity to take part in a Convoy of Hope outreach in Hagerstown, Maryland.


   Our road trip so far has seemed to pass a lot more quickly than I really anticipated. I guess it helps that I didn’t have to drive… and I got a glorious 9 solid hours of sleep. Other team members weren’t so lucky and woke up a lot through the night. They’re all taking naps right now. I am just thankful to be a heavy sleeper. :) All right, well. I think that is all for this post! Just wanted to give you a little update and start to get back into the habit of blogging. There will be more to read once we get there and see what God is doing here in Tulsa!  :) Enjoy your weekend!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Inspiration From the Week

A beautiful song by Kari Jobe that I can't seem to get out of my head (and that's okay).


Hebrews 11:1, 8-10
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
...
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God."
(Read that again, slowly)
These two:
They've been an incredible source of encouragement to me this week. Love you both so much. 

A Little About Week #1

What a week it's been! Today marked the completion of my first week in Gettysburg.
Here are just a couple things that have really stuck out to me this first week of GMC:
This water bottle has caused me to stay so hydrated this week. Good choice, Anne!


1) I am going to spend A LOT of money on journals this year. I feel like I'm writing all day, every day. It's great. If you're not journaling about daily life and what the Lord is doing in you and speaking to you, give it a try. Today as I prayed about some exciting things God has placed before me, I referred back to the past couple days' journal entries and was absolutely amazed seeing, in writing, how He's been preparing me and speaking to me even before I began to sense His leading about these dreams He's giving me. (Sorry for the vague-ness... haha I'll write more about this later)

Covered Bridge near Battlefields
2) I never realized I could love a drive so much. Each morning as I head out to the church for prayer, class, and GMC activities the beauty of the area grabs a hold of my heart all over again. I love it. There is one sweet old church I pass that is preceded by the most picturesque field of purple wildflowers. I look back in my rearview mirror every day as I approach the field to check if anyone is behind me. One of these days I'll stop to get a picture to show you all. Ah! I smile just thinking about it! It's so perfect.

Devil's Den @ The Gettysburg Battlefields
Yesterday was my day off! Friday serves as the GMC sabbath and it was a completely wonderful day. I knew I needed to spend the day praying about a few things the Lord was laying on my heart (that same vague thing in the beginning of the post), so I decided I'd do that primarily at Devil's Den on the historic Gettysburg Battlefields. I know, I know, it sounds a little strange to go to a place called Devil's Den to pray and spend time in the Word. That's why I am now officially referring to Devil's Den as "Jesus's Living Room". (He he he, creative, eh? :) So, I ran a few errands, picked up a sub to go, and found my way out to the Battlefields (without a GPS ;). The weather was gorgeous and after navigating from my handy little map to "Jesus's Living Room", I climbed some steps and found the perfect boulder about 30 feet up to eat lunch on. Lunch wasgreat and my time writing, reading, and praying was even better. The Lord made Hebrews 11 so real to me, taught me, challenged and encouraged me as I sat on that rock enjoying the beauty of my surroundings. Ah, it was so refreshing. In the evening I was blessed again to spend some time with my home openers, eat a delicious dinner, and just reflect on the wonderful people and opportunities God has so graciously brought into my life.

GMC girls.
I'm getting pretty tired right now and I feel like there is so much I could share tonight. I had a great evening in the toddler nursery followed by a trip to the Lincoln Diner with our director's sweet wife, Rachel, and GMC girls. I am experiencing what it means to follow the Lord like never before and my heart is full of joy and dreams that could only come from His hands. He is so good!

Ah, so. There's a little update. Not too much organization or purpose.. just a few things going around my mind tonight. Hope you've all had a great week!

Another blessing: Lady Grey Tea from Mrs. Benkovich :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Weekend at GMC

Mom and I a few hours before leaving
It's been an incredible and very quick day and a half since I arrived here in Gettysburg. I've met some truly wonderful people already, including my GMC group, my home opener family, and many members of the church. Everyone has been so warm and welcoming and they've really made me feel at home. The past two days have really been a blast. It's hard to put into words the peace in my heart about being here. It's so funny to think that I place I told God I wasn't right for already has such a tight grip on my heart. I mentioned in my other post that within 20 minutes of arriving at Freedom Valley Worship Center this past March I felt right at home. Not just comfortable, but at home. That feeling continues to grow in me this weekend with every passing hour, conversation, and prayer. God is so good.

It's been a great weekend of spending time with my family, my home opener's, my team (including our director and his wife), the church body, and of course, the Lord. I feel so blessed already to have met everyone I've met and I am really excited to build friendships and minister with everyone here.

A portion of my room here, so cute.
Last night after moving in and meeting my host family, my parents and I headed out to East Berlin for a cookout at the home of a family from the church. It was a really fun time with all the students, parents, and home openers, made complete with uplifting, God-praising conversation and great food. Later the group of students headed out to Bruster's while the parents met with Lance (our director). My parents would head home from there for the night and I would go back to my home opener's. After leaving Bruster's and traveling through Hanover I got really lost. I made a stop at sheetz to ask for directions (that didn't exactly work out) and later a stop at Giant where the WONDERFUL customer service girl gave me some awesome directions to get home. I thanked her as if she saved my life haha. I was just so thankful after being lost for so long. It was dark and I was cell phone-less and alone, so things weren't looking great for me until that stop at Giant. But long story short: I got home! I'm not writing this from a curb in Hanover or the trunk of my car! :) Atleast I got to know the local roads well! (Oh, I also locked myself in my room later that night. My home opener's and I got a good laugh from that one though!)

This morning (Sunday), I met my family at Freedom Valley for the 11:15 service. It was really nice to be with them and allow them to see the church I'll be at this whole year. Service was excellent. I was so happy to see some familar faces from the day before and also meet new people. Worship was fantastic, our team was introduced and prayed for, and the sermon was very challenging and eye opening. It was about influence and with every note I felt God was preparing my heart more and more for this upcoming year.

After hanging around the church for a little while, my family head out for lunch then onto Walmart for a few supplies I needed. We said a tearful (but still joyful) goodbye, hugged a lot, and I was on my way. I am endlessly grateful for my parent's support through all this. They're the best and have taught me so much about courage and the beauty of following the Lord, wherever He leads. Love you guys!

Tonight, my team did some "team building". We traveled to the battlefields, did some fun ice breakers, prayed together, and went out for Rita's. It was really such an enjoyable night and I'm loving spending time with Lance, Rachel, and our team.

Thanks for reading! Most posts will be shorter than this, I hope! I'm so excited about what the Lord is teaching me already and the way He's renewing me and preparing me to follow Him more completely.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Background Story

Hi everyone!
Well, this is the first post. My name is Bonnie and in 6 short days I'll be starting my first year of Gettysburg Master's Commission. I hope to use this blog to share with family and friends the adventures, lessons I'm learning, and times of growth that I will experience as I enter into this new season of life.

The Lord first started leading me to apply for Master's Commission somewhere around the start of my 11th grade year. I had always planned to go college and major in psychology the fall after graduating from my High School,Bible Baptist. Occasionally I would add in "If I don't know what school to go to near the end of my senior year, maybe I'll apply for Master's Commission or something." (I'm not sure I really meant it at that point.)

So I kept searching for schools, visiting in person and online, and I couldn't find any school that I truly felt a peace about applying to. Now, I understand that I didn't need a big banner in the sky saying "This is the college for you!" or anything like that, but I am a big believer in the power of Prayer and the importance of being sensitive to God's guidance. As much as I prayed about each school I liked during that year... I knew that those schools weren't right for me just yet. All I wanted was to go where God wanted me to go.
One day, out of curiosity, I looked online at the Master's Commission website and searched for the MC's in my home state. Gettysburg was the first result, only 48 minutes ( I've timed it :) ) from my driveway. I think God flipped some kind of switch in me that day... I've never been able to get Gettysburg Master's Commission off of my heart or mind since then. Little by little, prayer time by prayer time, it became so completely clear to me that this was the place God wanted me to go. I went through times of doubt (a lot of times of doubt, actually) and several times I was overwhelmed by fear and uncertainty about doing something so different than I had initially planned. But God was so good to me. He taught me how to trust Him and reminded me over and over that fear was no reason to not be obedient. God filled me with so much joy as He revealed to me that I was not to doubt or fear or make my own plans anymore... He knows what He's doing and I've learned it is such a blessing to be living in obedience to God.

In December of 2009, my parents and I attended a service for the first time at Freedom Valley Worship Center (the church that runs the Master's Commission Program in Gettysburg). Near the end of March, my Mom and I attended a GMC discover day where we spent the morning with the GMC students and staff, worshiping, learning, and praying. I felt at home within 20 minutes of entering the church. Both of these experiences confirmed more and more that applying to GMC was right. God exceeded my expectations and showed me how much He cares for me. This time was so precious to me, and still is, as I reflected on God's sweet heart and His deep, endless understanding of what I needed to see and experience to know Master's Commission was really right for me.

So, there's a little background for all of you. I know it was long, but thank you for reading. I love to share this story about the life-changing power of the Lord. He has absolutely changed my heart, renewed my mind, and made me so so so excited for ministry. He's taken something I feared and tried to run away from and He's made it the desire of my heart. I know God is already developing in me a heart for Gettysburg and for the people I will encounter during my first year in Gettysburg. I am so looking forward to starting this new adventure and I hope you will be able to share in this experience with me through this blog. :)
Check back often for updates and always feel so welcome to leave comments.


"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
Ephesians 3:20-21