Happy Nashvilleversary to Me!

It’s hard to believe I’ve lived here almost a full year. I took the picture below when visiting Nashville in April of 2017 on a spontaneous day trip. I remember loving this sign, loving the city and hoping with all my heart that I’d live here one day. And now I do!

Recently a friend recently asked me how long it took for me to feel like I had “arrived,” or finally found my place in this new season in life. My response was, “Oh, I’m not there yet. I’m a lot closer than I was when I started, but I definitely have more to go!”

I’ve written out 10 pieces of advice that have helped me navigate moving to a new city and starting a new season in life. Whether you’re starting a new chapter, beginning a job in a different city or looking to build deeper friendships, I hope you’ll relate to my journey and maybe learn a thing or two!

1. Show up alone.

This may sound terrifying to you, and it kind of is. Remember in high school when it was very uncool to go to the bathroom by yourself? You’ve got to do a complete 180 on this mindset! At first, showing up alone is hard. It’s awkward, it’s weird and it’s SO much easier to convince yourself to stay home and watch Netflix. But if you want to find your people and experience great things, you have to push yourself.

2. Do something brave.

Bouncing off of point #1, find something that you enjoy and DO IT. Well, I should really say try it because you don’t have to stick with it if it’s not a fit. I did theatre throughout high school, and I looooved it. I love to tell stories through acting, and as a kid, I always had a knack for performing. (Please don’t ask my mother for home videos.)

In April, I auditioned for Seussical the musical at a local community theatre. It wasn’t the audition that scared me, but the whole trying something new in a place where I had never been and knew no one 😳. I had no idea what this experience would be like, but I tried it. And I LOVED it.

Can you spot me? I’m a Who!

3. When in doubt, Google it out.

Profound advice, am I right? I’ve found Google to be incredibly useful for questions like, “Can you die from the hiccups? (Thank you, Grey’s Anatomy.) Can you blend without a blender?” and so forth.

Google is also a great source for finding community. Look up different churches around you, read about what they believe, if they have a young adult group, and try them out! Search for ways to get involved with a hobby you enjoy (how I found out about Seussical auditions) or places you can volunteer. Theses activities and communities are not going to show up at your doorstep, so do some digging and take the initiative yourself.

4. Accept that real relationships take time.

I really don’t have to explain this, because we all know it to be true. First, you have to find your friends (which takes time), then you have to get to know your friends (which takes time). When we’re eager for community, it’s easy to get impatient over the fact that knowing people on a deep level doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient! Friendships are coming, they just take time.

5. Have fun and explore!

Did I say I love Nashville? It’s a great city to explore! Last month I got last-minute, cheap tickets to see Third Day’s Farewell tour at the Ryman Auditorium on a Monday night, and I did it. Because why not? I went with my roommate/friend (a great combo) and two new friends from church. We had a blast.

(P.S. – Check out their new album, “Revival.” So good!)

Even if you aren’t in a “big city,” there are plenty of ways to explore where you live. Try out a new restaurant, visit an outdoor park or look for a place to enjoy live music. Open your eyes to what’s around you and be adventurous!

6. Know that your people will be your people.

College was an incredibly sweet time for me. So many of my close friends were just a quick walk across campus or late night Sonic run away, and now we’re spread throughout the country. The beautiful thing about post-college life is watching how true friendships transcend place and time. I may not see someone in-person for months, but when we talk on the phone for an hour or two to catch up, it’s like no time has passed.

People understand that life is busy, and it’s important to be present where you physically are, but that doesn’t take anything away from a good friendship. Plus, it makes real, in-person time spent together all the more sweet!

7. Realize you’re not the only one looking for community.

One time at church, I met a girl who said she had just graduated college and started a new job in Nashville. Instead of immediately blurting out “DO YOU WANT TO BE MY FRIEND?” I chatted with her, you know, like a normal person. After some small talk, the conversation turned to finding community. And what do you know, she was looking for friends too!

It’s a relief to know that you’re not the only person looking to make friends. It makes the entire process less intimidating!

8. Make time for a hobby you know you enjoy.

Adulting, plus living in a new city and trying to make friends, can be tiring and time consuming. Make sure you carve out time for a simple pleasure that you know you will enjoy––baking, reading, exercising, playing an instrument, you name it. A small activity can be infinitely refreshing!

Baking funfetti cupcakes is always a fun pastime!

9. Lean in.

Lean in to connections that you already have in place. If your mother’s cousin’s best friend lives in town and wants to invite you over for dinner, take her up on the offer! Or reconnect with a friend from high school who you haven’t seen in the last few years. Chances are, you have more built-in connections than you may realize. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

I love getting to spend time with my aunt, uncle and cousins who live nearby. Isn’t Caroline a sweetheart?!

10. Remember that no one will love you like God.

We all crave community. We want to find people who understand us, care about us and love us for who we are. While it’s important to pursue relationships with people, we’ll always come back around to an important reality: no person can fill the God-shaped hole inside each one of us.

There are times of loneliness and insecurity, and I won’t sugarcoat it as glamorous. But I’ve found that those tough moments are often what bring me back to the Lord, reminding me that true hope and peace only come from Him.

Ellie Holcomb speaks of this in her song “You Love Me Best.” We can search high and low to find unconditional love, when God, the perfect Father, is waiting for us to run back into His arms. Above all, abide in Him!

IT’S NOT EVERY DAY you have an impromptu duet with Kelly Clarkson, singing one of her original songs in perfect harmony, completely on the spot. Soon Kelly is yelling, “Pick me! Pick me!” Two chairs down, Adam Levine is smashing his buzzer in protest and yelling, “Nooooo Kelly!”

That’s exactly what happened when 18-year-old Alexa Cappelli made her blind audition debut during NBC’s The Voice. Out of the two judges, Alexa chose Kelly.

Alexa Cappelli sings “I’ve Got the Music in Me”

“Every preteen loves Kelly Clarkson growing up,” Cappelli said. “I love that she doesn’t stick with one genre. She’s done basically everything, and she could teach me a lot through the experience of being a contestant. Adam is very persuasive, but I had to go with my gut.”

Alexa went on to conquer the Battle Rounds and Knockout Rounds, earning a place in the top 24 overall, and top six on the historic, first-ever Team Kelly. Alexa said the process was an incredible experience, and she was struck by how personal her relationship was with the judges.

“I loved the insight of being able to see that these people we look up to in the media and in music — they’re normal people,” Cappelli said. “And they want to hear about us! Kelly was a great example of being such a great, genuine person. She really poured into us and wanted to hear from us and what we loved about music.”

FRIENDSHIPS & FAITH

In addition to vocal sessions and rehearsals, Alexa got to know Kelly and her team through fun activities like bowling and going to Universal Studios theme park. She also built strong friendships that extend outside the show, particularly with her teammate Brynn Cartelli, and Jackie Foster and Britton Buchanan of Team Alicia. (Brynn and Britton are in The Voice finale, airing May 22.)

“Being able to work alongside Brynn and see her motivation at such a young age… she’s got such a drive that is really inspiring.” Alexa added that she, Brynn and Jackie hope to meet up this summer for a girls trip in Boston.

Jackie was Alexa’s roommate, and the two bonded over their love of music and their shared faith in Christ. One of Alexa’s favorite verses throughout her time on the show was Jeremiah 29:11.

“I had a little rock in the bathroom of our hotel with Jeremiah 29:11 on it,” Alexa said. “I left it there when I went home, so now it’s Jackie’s! She wanted me to take it, but I told her it was hers.”

A few days later, Jackie called Alexa and told her she had been reading over the verse, and she knew she’d be at peace with whatever would happen.

“I love that verse, because it’s all right there,” Alexa said. “If I can see anything into what God has planned for me, [I know] it’s a hope and a future.”

Alexa said that staying grounded throughout the ups and downs of the competition was harder than she realized. “The toughest part was the internal struggle, remembering that this was not about me in any way. This was about me sharing my voice, the gift I’ve been given to share. It’s easy to get caught up in the cameras and music, but you have to keep going. I had to remember I wasn’t there for me.”

She found strength through prayer and reading the Bible. “I had to remember that this is just a step in the big journey that God has planned out, uniquely for me, and for music.”

“That moment that I got sent home, I thought, ‘Okay. I really wanted that [win].’ But I also just had to stop and trust that He has something so much bigger… I don’t know what that is, and it will be a crazy journey finding that through Him.”

WHAT’S NEXT

In a few short weeks, Alexa will graduate from Orange County School of the Arts, where she attended despite the 1.5 hour one-way commute. This fall she will study music business at Cal Poly Ponoma, a short thirty minutes from her home.

Alexa is excited to spend more time with her family and friends during this new season. She will also continue to be involved in Steven’s Hope for Children, a non-profit organization run by her parents that helps families of seriously injured children. Additionally, she plans to spend the summer writing and producing new music.

“I think the time to look out for new music would be the fall of this year,” Alexa said. “I’d love to get an EP out, and that’s my vision. So look out for that soon!”

To keep up with Alexa on Instagram and Twitter at @alexacappelli and through her website at alexcappelli.com.

Less Is Best: Counterintuitive Lessons on Control

Last week I had lunch with a new friend at an adorable restaurant in Downtown Franklin called the Mercantile. (It’s the cutest soup, sandwich and salad shop you could imagine, and they always have fresh flowers in blue mason jars sitting on top of each table. Very Joanna Gaines!)

My friend and her family are adopting a baby boy from China, and I couldn’t wait to hear the latest details about their upcoming trip to bring their son home. Their adoption story is filled with such joy, love, prayer and patience. This brave calling also requires accepting a lot of unknowns about the future.

At one point, I asked her, “How do you do it? How do you manage all of these unknowns, especially when they involve people you care about so much?”

She paused, understanding the weight of my question.

“Not knowing just makes me rely on God all the more,” she replied, then added, “and that’s not a bad thing.”

Bam.

What a message! My friend hit the nail on the head in describing a theme that God has been teaching me lately:

Not knowing can be good. Not understanding is okay. Not having control helps us yield our desires to Him, which is actually where they should be in the first place.

I don’t know about you, but the whole “less is more” concept when it comes to control is strongly counterintuitive to me. In my own little ideal world, I would make plans, lay out a strategy and ask God, “Does this sound good to You? Yes? Great!”

But guess what, guys? I am not God. This realization is a human-wide struggle goes back all the way to the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve thought they had the right to know as much God.

God knew what was best for them. He loved them. They didn’t need to understand everything to trust that His plan was right and good.

Furthermore, they didn’t deserve to understand everything.

Yielding our rights, expectations and understandings to God is a difficult but beautiful process. It brings us back to where we’re meant to be. The more we let go of ourselves, the more we are able to embrace the Gospel of Christ and live the good life — the best life — that God has prepared for us.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, CSB).

Coming to Meet Jesus

Yesterday my mom and I started to send each other Christmas song titles only using Emojis, and it was much too fun! (#🤓 ). Can you guess the ones below? For bonus points, think about what all these songs have in common!

 

The answers are at the bottom of the article, and the common thread of the songs is that they are all about coming to see Jesus.

As I reflected on the Christmas story this year, I was struck by the interesting––and truthfully, peculiar––audience who had the privilege of first meeting Christ the Messiah. Why did God invite these specific individuals, and what can they teach us about coming to Jesus? Let’s look at some of the nativity narrative characters:

The Wise Men

These men were “from the East” (not of Jewish descent) and studied magic, astrology and interpretations from a variety of religions. They were not your A+ Sunday school students by any means! But they were seeking.

I think it’s interesting that we don’t know the end of the story. I would like to think the wise men learned more about Jesus and chose to believe that He was God’s Messiah, sent to redeem the world. However, they also could’ve just labeled their journey as an “interesting experience” and tossed Jesus in a pile with other religious figures. The important takeaway is that these foreigners who were not Hebrews were invited to meet Jesus and see for themselves who He is.

The Shepherds

Another group of people who were invited to meet Jesus were the shepherds, who were taking care of their flocks in an area near Bethlehem. When an angel of the Lord appeared to them, what was their first reaction? Fear! And understandably so. A messenger of God––in all God’s shining glory––had just burst in and interrupted their everyday, familiar routine. Did the shepherds fully grasp that this baby in a manger was God himself? Sent to save the world? Probably not. BUT, God invited them to meet Jesus, and they came.

After they visited Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Bible says “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them” (Lk. 2:20, emphasis mine). They didn’t know for sure that when they followed this bright light in the sky, it would lead them to Christ. Instead of thinking over all of the reasons to doubt what the angel of God had said, they went in faith and found everything just as God said. His word was truth.

There are countless other people in the Bible who followed Jesus without understanding everything up front. Did Mary and Joseph grasp the full identity of their Son and His mission on earth? Probably not. What about Peter, the disciple whom Jesus said would be the rock upon which He could build the church? Peter certainly didn’t understand all that was involved in following Jesus, and he definitely made some major mistakes (Mt. 16:23, Lk. 22:54-62). But he followed Jesus anyway.

What about us?

Sometimes I think we feel pressured to have it all together before we say “yes” to following Jesus. Maybe you would like to study the Bible, but you have no idea where to start, and you can already think of certain passages that will be confusing. It’s easier to sit back in the shadows than to try and possibly fail.

Maybe there’s someone who you’ve been wanted to reach out to and ask about their relationship with God. But when you think about starting that conversation, there are so many things that could go wrong. You don’t want to offend them, and you’re afraid you might not have the right answer to their questions, so it’s safer to say nothing and hope that someone else will do the job.

I’m not presenting these as hypothetical situations; I’ve been here myself, and I think that many of you can relate. The point is that Jesus has invited us to come see who He is.

 

He calls us to follow Him in obedience and in faith, but NOT in perfection.

You don’t have to know it all before you accept His invitation. Just come as you are, and tell Him that you want to know Him more, because Jesus comes in grace and truth (Jn. 1:17). And like the shepherds, I hope you will return “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” Merry Christmas!

 

Answers: 1. We Three Kings 2. Little Drummer Boy 3. O Come, All Ye Faithful 4. Do You Hear What I Hear?

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The world has gone crazy.

Twitter feuds have escalated to a new level. Kylie AND Khloe are pregnant (whaaaat?). And yesterday Chip and Joanna Gaines broke the news that “Fixer Upper” is entering its final season.

Why must all good things come to an end?

Fans are heartbroken, and understandably so. Over the past four years Chip and JoJo have brought us beautiful home improvement inspiration, uplifting binge-worthy TV, an unprecedented obsession with shiplap and the ultimate #couplegoals.

And while the end of “Fixer Upper” is disappointing on our end, I think they are incredibly brave to choose what is right for their family over what’s popular.

How many TV stars have we watched as their lives slowly spun wildly out of control and far from their original identity? I remember in middle school when “Jon and Kate Plus 8” came out, I couldn’t get enough of watching their family’s chaotic life with those precious children. Then there’s Hannah Montana. Remember her? I remember telling my mom what about this cool, Christian girl named Miley Cyrus. “Rachel, she’s probably going to go ‘wild,’” Mom said. “That happens sometimes.”

Silly Mom. Not this girl! She obviously had no idea what she was talking about…

Anyway, you see my point.

I don’t know the specifics of why Chip and Joanna felt that ending the show was the right decision, but I know it couldn’t have been an easy decision. Keeping the show would’ve been normal, comfortable and, in the short term, conflict-free. However, they acted based upon what was right for their lives, not what was comfortable.

How often do we say “yes” to other people without stopping to think about what’s healthy for our personal lives? When we’re presented with an opportunity that is not inherently bad on its own, we feel guilty for politely declining and saying, “It’s just not for me.”

I think we can learn a lot from Chip and Joanna’s announcement. First of all, let’s take time to stop and actually think about big decisions. Maybe take a week and pray it over. Do some soul searching to discern what is right.

Secondly, let’s not be intimidated by what other people will think. There is no doubt that Chip and Joanna care deeply about their fans, but that doesn’t mean the fans dictate their lives.

And lastly, let’s remember that it’s okay to SAY NO to something that’s popular, even comfortable, but not right for us.

Soft snaps for Chip and JoJo. Thank you for showing us what it looks like to make the brave decision. It’s going to be okay.

I wish I could say that my bedroom looked like this. (Actually, this isn’t even my bedroom. Thanks, Pottery Barn and Pinterest, for utterly gorgeous and utterly unrealistic home decor inspiration.)

Unfortunately, my bedroom looked this this:

Yikes! I kind of can’t believe I just posted this disaster on the Internet. However, I snapped a picture of this mess because I knew I wanted to write a blog about this lesson that God has been teaching me lately.

You see, I made the conscious choice to leave my room in cluttered chaos before leaving for work because I chose to spend that time with the Lord instead. It was one of those mornings where I simply didn’t have enough time in the day, and one of the following things had to give:

  1. My appearance
  2. A beautiful, organized bedroom
  3. Time with God
  4. Coffee and breakfast

(Okay, we’re going to go ahead and rule out the idea of giving up coffee and breakfast, because those are quite literally the fuel for the rest of the items above.)

So, let’s look at item #1, appearance. I could go to work without wearing makeup or fixing my hair, but honestly, I know that’s not going to happen. Why? Because I care about what other people think of me. And in some sense, rightly so! I am a #yopro (that’s cool lingo for “young professional”), and it’s important that I represent myself and my company well. So showing up to work looking like a pale ghost with Lizzie-McGuire-esque crimped hair is probably not the best idea.

That moves us to item #2, an organized bedroom with all clothing tucked away in its respective drawers and decorative pillows in their proper places. If fixing my appearance is to please other people, then fixing up my bedroom is to please ME. You know that feeling when you walk out your bedroom door, glance back at your Pinterest-perfect bedroom and gently sigh. Ahh, you think. Joanna Gaines would be so proud. That’s a great way to start a workday, and it leaves you feeling good about your life. For a little while.

But, without item #3, somehow the good feelings from your adorable outfit and nice makeup and organized bedroom (and even the coffee and breakfast) don’t last long. I recently read a story in Luke when Jesus went to visit his friends who were sisters named Mary and Martha:

 

Every time I read this story, I think, I am such a Martha. I am a PLANNER. A Walmart-list-maker. A person who loves to make others feel comfortable in my home. What if JESUS–Jesus Himself–came to visit my house? I can guarantee that I’d be frantically running around, making sure He was comfortable, preparing a delicious meal and cleaning up wherever I could. And if I looked over in the living room and saw my brother Andrew sitting on the rug, listening to Jesus, doing nothing to help clean up? Oooh… that would not sit well with me!

But what does Jesus say? “Martha, Martha,”––or put your name in there––”Rachel, Rachel, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.”

The truth is, I am anxious and troubled about many things. And we will ALWAYS be anxious or troubled in some way or another. But only one thing is necessary. Jesus ends the story saying, “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” What did Mary choose? She chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His teaching.

Oh friends, what a privilege it is to hold the words and teachings of Jesus in the palm of our hands. I know I fall short of spending time as much time with Jesus as I should. In fact, I’m sometimes hesitant to post blogs like this, because I do NOT want to seem like I have it all figured out. I wish I could say that I spent plenty of time with the Lord every day, but in reality, I’m still learning this lesson. And each time I choose to spend time with Him over “things,” I’m reminded again that He is infinitely more precious than a pretty outfit or a pretty room.

What are the many things that are making you anxious and troubled? How can you choose to prioritize time with the Lord this week? Write out small steps of ways to put Jesus first, and see how He blesses your time in His Word.

 

So I know Ellie Holcomb’s album “Red Sea Road” came out in January, but I’ve just recently discovered it, and WOW these songs are powerful! I’ve made a quick review of the album to hopefully convince you to listen to it if you haven’t already. There’s a lot of music out now, but believe me when I say that this is the real deal. I hope you enjoy!

“Find You Here”

While the entire album comes from real life experiences, this song was specifically written about Ellie’s dad when he was diagnosed with cancer. Instead of despairing over what was to come, he and Ellie’s mother planned a praise and worship night at their home to celebrate God and his goodness. Wow. Read the full story here on Ellie’s blog!

“He Will”

This song has the sentiment of “Standing on the Promises of God” with a modern tempo. Speak aloud the promises of God! Claim it! His Word will not fail.

“Red Sea Road”

This song is soulful, steady and empowering. Feel your soul rise with the chorus and step up to follow God’s lead!

“You Are Loved”

What if we don’t feel loved? What if we don’t like the person we’ve become?

The lyrics say it all.

“Fighting Words”

MY FAVORITE! I can’t listen to this in the office because I will either start clapping, dancing, using a water bottle as a microphone, raising my hands or possibly all of the above. All I can say is PREACH IT, Ellie!

“I Will Never Be the Same”

Easter-level excitement about the resurrection packed into a perennial song!

“Wonderfully Made”

He knows us. He picked out all of the little things that make us unique, put them together and chose to LOVE us always. This song reminds me that I’m valuable–not because I accomplished something, or other people like me, or I feel good about myself–but because I am valuED by the king of the universe. That’s pretty amazing.

“We’ve Got This Hope”

Not only do we have Christ’s hope in this life, we have Christ’s hope for the resurrection! So often we zero in on the present. This song is a gentle reminder to lift your head, look to the future and remember the incredible riches that the Lord has in store.

“You Love Me Best”

I feel like I wrote this song because it resonates with me so deeply. I have been so, so blessed to have parents who loved me unconditionally and are always there for me. As a child–okay, and as a 22-year-old fully grown “adult”–my first instinct when faced with fear is to run to the comfort of the two people on this earth who love me the most. But, as the song’s lyrics say, “You [God] love me better.” Later the song talks about the promise of marriage, finding that forever person to always stand by your side. Marriage is a beautiful, good thing that many people desire.  BUT, He loves us better. He loves us best.

“God of All Comfort”

36 words, 1 minute-52 seconds. Powerful.

“Rescue”

This is another march-forth-and-conquer-fear-with-the-incredible-power-of-God song. I probably shouldn’t listen to it in the office either… Save it for running on the treadmill!

“Living Water”

A fantastic reason to look at John 4, the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. Also, Ellie does a throwback to the “spring up a well” melody from summer church camp. Good stuff right there!

“Man of Sorrows”

Jesus knows what it means to be human because He’s has been there. All of the experiences we have, all the feelings we feel, He knows. We’re not alone. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

 

There have you it, friends! I hope you will listen to this album and love it as much as I do. I’d love to know some of your favorite songs or what lyrics are most important to you!


 

Hello friends! Did you know that today–July 28, 2017–is #NationalWaterparkDay, #NationalMilkChocolateDay, #BuffaloSoldiersDay, #NationalGetGnarlyDay, #NationalTalkInAnElevatorDay… AND #NationalSystemsAdministratorAppreciationDay?

Maybe it’s just me, but I have no idea how I’m going to adequately celebrate each of these beloved holidays in one day. (Except for the milk chocolate thing. I can definitely celebrate that.) I mean, I L-O-V-E LOVE holidays and celebrations, but this “national day” thing seems to have gotten a little out of hand.

So, I’ve complied a list of some the craziest national holidays for each month. Good luck celebrating! I’ll leave the party planning details up to you :).

JANUARY 29 – National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day

Kind of ridiculous? Yes. Kind of awesome? I think so.

FEBRUARY 28 – National Tooth Fairy Day

To be honest, I’d probably be jealous of Santa and the Easter Bunny too. Let’s give the tooth fairy her own special holiday! (Also, click on the photo to read this article I found on Pinterest. My mom and dad could’ve used it, especially with poor second-child Andrew.)

 MARCH – 18 National Awkward Moments Day

(Courtesy of young Rachel)

APRIL 20 – National Lima Bean Respect Day

MAY 21 – National Take Your Parents to the Playground Day

I foresee some issues…

JUNE 18 – National Splurge Day

Donna and Tom approve.

JULY 15 – National Tapioca Pudding Day

Regular pudding step aside!

AUGUST 8 – National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day

Is this like “booing” your neighbors at Halloween, but for the summer? Or for vegetarians? Idk.

SEPTEMBER 27 – National Crush a Can Day

If anyone remembers this scene from the fabulous Mary-Kate and Ashley movie Our Lips Are Sealed, you and I should be best friends. If you want to reminisce, click no further than here.

OCTOBER 11 – National Fossil Day

Because we’re there for you, Ross.

NOVEMBER 17 – National Take a Hike Day

Interpret as you please.

DECEMBER 18 – National Answer the Telephone Like Buddy the Elf Day

Can you imagine how much fun this could be if the world took advantage of this opportunity?!


 

Hello, friends! I’m back with more reflections from my Hawaii, a time when I learned things like…

  • The Hawaiian alphabet only has 13 letters.
  • A pineapple at the grocery store only costs $0.79, but a Fuji apple is $2-3. (Plot twist, Mainlanders! How ‘bout them apples?)
  • How to surf and hula.
  • There is such thing as a “banjolele,” aka a banjo-ukulele. (Santa, please take note.)

Aside from learning these fun factoids and newfound talents, I also discovered a lot about who God is and His relationship with creation. Like any good Baptist, I tried to condense my thoughts into 3 main points, but they truly fit into 4 steps. So stay with me to the end!

THOUGHT #1: I get to know God.

It doesn’t take a ton of these views to realize that the world we live in is so much bigger than ourselves. I remember standing on the shore of a black sand beach after a rainfall, watching waves crash into rocks and feeling the extremely powerful pull of the undertow as the water returned to the sea. Facing the forces of nature is incredibly humbling. From breathtaking views on a mountaintop to a colorful coral reef habitat under the sea, I was in awe of creation and the One who created it.

I get to know the God who made this?! I kept thinking. The One who raised this mountain 13,000 feet high and gave this gray fish neon fins? THIS is the same God who gives me strength and courage? Who calls me his friend?

THOUGHT #2: Other people don’t know God.

As I marvelled at THOUGHT #1, I was saddened when I thought about all of the people who do not know the one, true God who is so dear to me. One day we visited an ancient temple built by King Kamehameha in the early 1800s. I was surprised to read that the temple was still a place of worship where some native Hawaiians come to practice their religion. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see that people have placed necklaces and food on the ancient structure as an offering. Other locals, instead of worshiping ancient deities, revere nature itself in a spiritual, transcendental type of worship.

 

I thought of Acts 17 when Paul preached in the Greek Areopagus in Athens, a city filled with idolatry. He first acknowledged that the people were very religious, and he specifically recognized their altar “to the unknown god.” Then he said,

“So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. ‘The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth…’” (23-24).

That’s what I wanted to tell people. I know the God who made this, and He’s incredible! This leads to THOUGHT #3…

THOUGHT #3: God wants a relationship with those who don’t know Him.

If you continue reading Acts 17, Paul says that God made people “that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” (27).

He’s not far from us! Isn’t that wonderfully comforting?

1 Timothy 2:4-5 says that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

We have one God and one Savior. God wants people to find Him through Christ. The Gospel is called the “good news” for a reason! And that’s not the end of the story.

THOUGHT #4: I get to tell people about the true God and His Son, Jesus!

Have you ever tried to convince someone to watch your favorite TV show or listen to your favorite band? (Next time you see me, ask me why I love Survivor or Lady Antebellum.) It’s not hard to get excited about something or someone you love!

In the same way, believers in Christ should be bursting with excitement to tell others about our amazing God. The Bible says we are ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). What does that mean? We get to help reconcile people to God by telling them the good news of Jesus.

So there’s my 4-step process of what God taught me in Hawaii. I hope that this week you will open your eyes and look for what the Lord is showing YOU in your life!