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“Give Thanks to God”

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Verse of the Week: “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 NLT

Today I give thanks to God.  It marks 10 months seizure free.  When I look back over the last 10 months, I see a lot but what I see the most is growth.  I have grown in my relationship with God so much as a result of struggling in the past 10 months and can actually say that I am at the point where I can 100% agree with Paul when he wrote:

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he say, ‘My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.’  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT

The funny thing is, I found this passage right around the time that I was diagnosed with epilepsy.  Right when I needed it most.  Right when I needed to hear that an apostle begged God to take his pain away from him.  But God didn’t take it, because He knew what was best for Paul.  Just like He didn’t take my epilepsy away when I begged Him to, because God’s perspective is eternal, while mine is momentary, because that’s all I physically can see.

In what seemed like a long time span, that was really was not at all, God has literally used epilepsy to actually be a blessing in several ways that I can already see, including being in the process of writing a book, graduating from high school a year early, and getting my pup (pictured above!)

As a result, I can now see that God put this obstacle in my life to strengthen me and stretch me so that He could use me and therefore I can be thankful for God’s ability to see the greater picture when I can only see what is happening in this moment. When we still give thanks to God in the deepest pain, that witnesses to our relationship with Jesus Christ the most powerfully.

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What Working in Retail Taught Me

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Taken by Kevin Carden.  Direct link to photo on lightstock.

“Honey, appreciate having a healthy body while you still do.”  *Cringes*

I heard this on numerous occasions while working in retail, and I believe one other time outside of working.  Here’s the thing: my body might look healthy, but on the inside there’s a lot going on that’s not particularly good.  At the time, I was taking three different seizure medicines (only two now!) as well as other medicines to balance the negative effects of the seizure medicines.  In two days I’ll celebrate 10 months seizure free and thinking about that I’m actually getting choked up because of the ride that those 10 months have been.  However, the fact that at 18 years old I literally do not have a memory because of medicine terrifies me.  What does that mean for my future?  What does that mean for the business that I want to start?  I wish I could just get something done once in a while instead of side effects of medicine interfering.  So..

“You know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:9-10 NLT

The main thing that working in retail taught me was not to assume anything about anyone.  Those people were wrong in assuming that my young, healthy looking body treats me well.  Oh, do I wish that it did.   They were well-intentioned, too.  But that didn’t mean that it was okay.  We have to approach every situation and every person with open ears and open hearts instead of with our assumptions of their situations, because every person has a story.

Even though this honestly hurt, it helped me to be able to see that I needed to be able to say “You don’t know what that person is going through”and ask why someone is acting the way that they are before responding. 1 Peter 5:9-10 promises that we will be restored from suffering, and we can rejoice in that truth together.   I’ll leave you with this:

“We love each other because he loved us first.” 1 John 4:19 NLT

It is natural for Christians living in true relationship with God to love others, because they have experienced the love of God.  It’s not something that should be painful, it might not be easy but as God molds us into the people that He wants us to be we will show others love more and more naturally.

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That Email!

I got the email a few days ago that I’ve been waiting for!  Approval to post this.  And I’m so excited about it I just didn’t know how to put it into words.  But here we go.

I’m writing a book…(which I’ll give you more details on in the future ;)).  That book is almost complete.  And that book is getting published, thanks to Make-A-Wish® Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

When I was diagnosed with epilepsy, I said something along the lines of “God’s going to use this” to my mom and grandma.  But at the time, I don’t know how much I truly believed that.  Reflecting on the last three years, I can tell you this:

  • I can see many blessings that have come and that are developing from suffering
  • God is using the things that I’ve been through already to shape me and is going to use this to impact the lives of others.

While I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to say about this, I was reading Leighton Burley’s post, “Finding God’s Will Where Your God-Given Passion and Talent Collide” where he says

“God’s will is not hard to find; it’s actually very simple: Fulfill the great commission. It’s how each of us does this that differs. Each of us has a platform – It doesn’t matter who you are! God has given you a special skill set, social status, or physical ability or disability that He expects you to use as your platform.I don’t know what this might be for you. Maybe you’ll be a phenom athlete, using your talent for His purpose. Maybe you’ll be a doctor, helping people both physically and spiritually. Maybe you’ll be a great evangelist, filling stadiums with people who are anxious to hear about Jesus. Perhaps you’ll be a politician, standing boldly for what you know to be right. Again, maybe God has planned for you to be constrained to a wheelchair or bed, demonstrating to the world the power of Jesus’ love, as you live your life infused with passion.”

Just as Leighton says, we each need to use the platform that He has given us so that we can share the gospel with the world, as we are commanded in the Great Commission. And here we find ourselves back at the Great Commission (like I promised in my last post!)

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NIV

I obviously now 100% trust that God allowed me to have epilepsy so that He could use it as a way to reach others through me.  But it took me quite some time to also have a passion for it, because I resented it.  Even during that time, though, God was working so that I could eventually stand up, dust myself off, and use it as a specific avenue to be able to reach people.  I now have both the passion and the platform to share Jesus’ love and grace with others via the platform He has given me, and I cannot express enough how excited I am to see where it goes.

Go check out my Epilepsy Awareness page, as well!

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Grace is Better

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“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 NIV

Because this past Saturday was Epilepsy Awareness Day and this has been my favorite verse since I was diagnosed with epilepsy I thought it was fitting that this be the verse of the week this week.  No matter what our current storm is, we know that God’s grace is enough.

It is in our weakness that God shows His power through us.  We need to be willing to admit that we can’t fix it or control it so that He will work in our lives.

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.  I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13 NLT

The only way we get to this point is by admitting our inability to control things.  The same Paul that wrote to Corinth about the thorn in his side was telling the Philippians that he could do anything through Jesus Christ.  Just as Paul could do anything God honoring, even “delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties,” we can.

Often, and throughout Scripture and the history of Christianity, following Jesus directly results in having more weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties.  Isn’t Jesus supposed to be like a “cure-all” for diseases, finances, and every other trouble you may have?  To that, I say seriously please go read your Bible and shut off the pastors on TV until you have read your Bible enough for yourself to be able to stop and say —“Whatchu talkin’ bout?” when you need to. I beg of you.

Following Jesus while on this earth isn’t pretty; He never said it would be.  But it is rewarding.  Having God’s grace is better than the lack of any of those things.

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I choose to rejoice.

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Our verse of the week this week is Psalm 118:24.

“This is the day the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.”  (NLT)

I’ve feel like I’ve been running around like crazy lately.  I just can’t seem to function without my head spinning.

So..this psalm speaks of Israelite victory over their enemies.  Of course they were praising God.  That’s what Psalm 118 is about.  Let’s look at other some key verses:

Psalm 118:10-11says “Though hostile nations surrounded me, I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD. Yes, they surrounded and attacked me, but I destroyed them all with the authority of the LORD” (NLT)

Although I’ve never had any literal enemies surrounding me personally, I have walked through some difficult times.  I was having some very unexpected and definitely unwanted side effects from epilepsy medicine changes just a few months ago and I ended up coming closer to God through that.

Even though we all have our own “hostile nations,” we can know that

“This is the day the LORD has made” Ps 118:24a NLT

He has control of every day that every was and ever will be.  Rest in that thought; then respond with action as a result;

“we will rejoice and be glad in it” Psalm 118:24b NLT

However, often as soon as this cycle occurs, it seems we end up back in the same place, which the psalmist displays quite clearly by including verse 25:

“Please, LORD, please save us.  Please, LORD, please give us success.” (NLT)

Even in this ‘victory’ the Israelites still needed God and they knew it.  We seem cling to God at our lowest, but let Go when we’re at our highest, because we don’t think we need Him anymore.  We’d be bold enough to think sometimes, I just want to do this myself, wouldn’t we?  That’s when we fall flat on our faces.

We need God all day, every day.  Whether we’re on a mountaintop or in a valley.