Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Book Recommendation

In the August 2010 I started to read the Bible. Before then I had read bits and pieces, but never really the whole thing. I think I started at Matthew. From the day I started I committed to reading a bit of the Bible every day. At first, the amount wasn't much. Some nights (I've nearly always read at night) I would read only a paragraph. But eventually I started to read more and more each night.

I finished Matthew, then read half of Genesis. Then Acts. Then a few Psalms. I was all over the place.

Then about a year and a half ago, possibly two years, I decided to read the entire Bible. I set a rough goal to finish before I graduated (at the rate I was reading then, I wasn't sure if I could).

I started at Genesis and read all the way through 2 Kings. After that I skipped to the New Testament and read until Revelation, then went back to the rest of the Old Testament.

In January I didn't really set any New Years Resolutions. I rarely do. But I did make a commitment. I told God that I would finish the Bible before I graduated. I would for certain. This meant I really had to pick up the pace. It was a discipline, not in the sense of punishment, but in the sense of making myself do something.

I finished the Old Testament a few weeks ago. Now, four weeks before graduation, I have less than half of Revelation to finish. I am happy to say that I will finish before I graduate.

It hasn't always been easy to make myself read. Sometimes it took everything in me to crack open my Bible for just a few minutes before falling asleep. Guys, I'm not special because I made myself do it. I just knew it was important. And wow, reading the Bible is so illuminating. All the disjointed Bible stories - Jonah, Daniel, Joseph, John the Baptist - come together into one, cohesive whole with all the in between bits filled in.

And most importantly, I've learned a lot about who God is. I have learned about His love and mercy, His faithfulness to those who trust in Him. I've learned that He is the most important thing in life, and that my life here on earth is nothing at all in comparison to what He has for me. Of course, there is so much I don't understand. A lot I never will get because - let's face it - I'm certainly not God, and there's no way a silly human like me can truly understand the Creator of the entire universe.

Still, actually reading the Bible has illuminated so, so much. And I accomplished a goal that I didn't know if I could really hold myself to. But I did and I am so glad that I did.

I encourage you to pick up a Bible, as well. Maybe you have read the whole thing already, or maybe it never seemed important, or maybe you just really don't get or care about this God thing. Regardless, reading the Bible will open up your eyes to the world in a whole new way. If it's your first time, start small. Just read a tiny bit each night or morning or during lunch.

No matter how much, it's worth it.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Sign. A Great, Big Sign.

A few weeks ago I posted about college, and where that part of my life is taking me. Some exciting things, to be sure. At the time, several things were still up in the air. Today, I can talk about them for certain, and exactly how God led me to go where I will be going. I will recap this post briefly, or else some of this might not make too much sense.

This season in life - being a senior in high school, applying to colleges, finishing up school, writing seemingly endless essays over every topic under the sun - is exhausting. I had my plan and applied to 4 universities, and a few scholarship programs. One was my dream, two my "safe" schools, and one my back up. Then last minute I decided to apply to another school, another school that was really good, a great research university, and had a lot of exciting options. A few acceptance letters trickled in, I looked into the schools, visited one, but I couldn't really envision myself at any of them.

My family and I assessed costs of the schools and realized that most likely my "dream" school wouldn't be a possibility without some hefty scholarships. I hadn't heard from this school, or the other really good school, yet, so I held out hope.

Then came an envelope. It was a big, full paper sized envelope, and from a school that I hadn't even applied to or really considered. But printed on the front were the words "scholarship information." Curious, I opened it, and read it over. The school was pretty much offering me a full ride.

I didn't think too much of it at that moment - after all, I hadn't applied there and I had my plans all set. I'm a planner, down to the smallest detail, and this was a very unexpected variable. (Sounds silly, doesn't it?) But slowly it started to grow on me, and I kept coming back to this school. I did research, my dad looked into it, I scoured the website.

That was about where I was when I wrote the previous post.

I was getting more and more excited about it. I sent in my application, and got an acceptance a few weeks later. I really liked this school. I could see myself living and studying there. It just felt right. But again, my plans. This wasn't part of them. So I prayed. Almost jokingly, I asked God if He would give me a sign. A literal sign would be great, God. Like a great, big billboard. If I see a billboard, I'll know it's the one. I had never seen any sort of billboard for a university before, and the thought passed from the forefront of my mind.

This past week I went to visit the campus. I loved it. Everything just seemed to be falling into place. I could afford it, easily. The campus itself was amazing. By the end of the tour, my decision was pretty much, if not entirely, made up.

The next day we drove home. From the backseat, I glanced out the window...and saw a sign. A big, orange billboard advertising my school. A billboard. A big, huge billboard on a highway.

I knew. That was God. I could imagine Him grinning, reminding me that He is faithful. I've got your back, girly! He does. He has got my back, and right now, I am just looking forward, right at some sparkly awesome things that I am sure He has in store for me.

This post is part of Memorial Box Monday, hosted over at A Place Called Simplicity. Seemed like the perfect time to share. :)