- God, in all three persons…. He is my best friend!
- The cross that made a way for me.
- Redemption, because no matter how much I mess things up, He brings good out of it
- God’s faithfulness
- The Bible – It continues transforming the way I see the world
- My dad – he is a role model to me in ways I never expected.
- My mom – she is so smart and wise, I’m always learning more and more from her.
- My brother – he has such a tender, loving heart
- My twin sister – she is always there for me and challenges me to become a better person
- David Bunce, my sister’s fiance – I never thought anyone would be good enough for her, but he proved me wrong!
- The Church – God’s people coming together in healthy fellowship
- Accountability – I would not be who I am today without my godly friends
- Music, because somehow it expresses those emotions that words alone cannot
- My job –I now have 2.5 years under my belt and still love it!
- My employers – they recognize my strengths and then release me into a setting where I can grow and thrive!
- My co-workers – I work with some of the best people in the world! They make me laugh. And they come up with the best innovative ideas.
- My committee members –I could not do this job in all of its intricacies without their assistance. I am thankful for their support!
- Metaphors, similes, and symbolism – powerful tools to communicate abstract truths in a more personal way
- My cat Chiple – she is my sweet cuddle-buddy!
- Snowflakes shining in the light of a street lamp after nightfall – if you’re from the north, you know what I mean!
- Dogs – they so clearly express the love of God, and His playfulness!
- My pastor – what an amazing leader, so full of wisdom, love, and divine revelation!
- America – despite our issues, we’re still free to worship God, speak about our faith, and vote for our own leaders. Let us not take that for granted!
- The military and their families
- Peru and all of my memories there
- Millie Ann Rivera, one of my best friends – I feel I can share anything with her no matter what and she never judges me.
- Antioch en Español – It is so much fun serving alongside these amazing men and women of God!
- My lifegroup – these are my comrades in arms!
- My co-leaders – they keep me steady
- My grandparents and rich heritage
- Fall foliage – just a glimpse of the crimson yellow patchwork is enough to invigorate my spirit!
- Friends with whom I can be myself and laugh my head off
- Jackets, scarves, and mittens
- Email – you can send entire documents and photos for free… across the globe. Whenever. To whomever. It’s cool!
- Facebook – for all the things we could say are wrong about it, I’m still thankful for Facebook because it allows me to keep in touch with my childhood friends from New Hampshire.
- My Jeep! What a story of God’s provision!
- Languages – call me a nerd, but it is just so much fun to analyze a language.
- Starbucks – I love me a good mocha! And Starbucks is a great place to chill with a book, journal, and/or some good friends!
- The piano – it was my favorite past-time growing up
- Springtime flowers
- The night sky and all the majestic depths of space
- Being home alone…. No one knows this, but when I’m at my parents’ house and everyone else is gone, I sing Phantom of the Opera at the top of my lungs!
- Walking around barefoot – there’s nothing like it, especially in a field of soft grass.
- The sound of water lapping against the sand
- Blankets in cold weather – I’d much rather snuggle under a warm blanket when it’s freezing outside than endure the heat of summer.
- Daisy’s wagging little stub of a tail
- Dinner with my family
- Toilet paper and modern plumbing – after living in a third world country for seven months, I can tell you, America is spoiled!
- The heater in my car
- Thunder storms – I just love a good lightning bolt!
- Pizza – I don’t want to list fifty foods I’m thankful for, but I must mention pizza. It’s so easy and so versatile!
- Water – in the form of rain, but also ice cold cup of water to quench your thirst!
- Cooking – it’s a lot of fun to craft raw materials into something delicious!
- Dishwashers – it makes cleaning up so much easier!
- Mountains – they are so beautiful and majestic. Nothing quite like them!
- Washer and driers – seven months of hand-washing my clothes tells me these machines are amazing inventions that improve efficiency and decrease illness.
- The Task function in Microsoft Outlook – I love me a good to-do list, and this tool makes it so easy for me to organize my work and not forget anything.
- Pencils and pens (especially Zebra pens! … you know what I mean if you’ve ever used one!)
- Shoes, so that your feet don’t get poked by pine cones or little rocks
- Massages – they just hit the spot!
- Literature – there’s nothing quite like a good book! You never know when one sentence could change everything.
- Photographs – I’ve seen the face of my great-great-great-great grandma, even though I never met her!
- Wheels: the best invention ever!
- Medicine – it sure makes things better when you’re sick
- Socks that keep my feet warm while sleeping!
- Les Miserables – I grew up watching this musical and it taught me that no one is just black or white.
- Airplanes – you can travel to the other side of the planet just one day…. What the heck???
- Paul the Apostle – I often wonder, if it weren’t for him, would I be a believer today?
- Bowling – when I was younger, my dad would take me and my sister bowling almost every Sunday after church. Those are good memories!
- Police officers, because they keep us safe!
- Tuftonboro UMC – the church where I grew up in New Hampshire…. They shaped me in so many ways. That is where I first fell in love with God!
- Paint. Yep, paint.
- My four years at Baylor University – some of the best years of my life!
- Matches and lighters – no messing around with flint and steel!
- Cars, because they make traveling so much easier
- Horse-drawn carriages for those nostalgic days
- Porch swings: the definition of relaxation!
- Saturdays at the park with nothing on my to-do list
- Stained glass windows
- My guitar
- The hard times, because that’s when you build the most character
- Conflict, when dealt with in a healthy manner, because you learn more about yourself and grow closer to those around you
- Coffee – it’s the reason I survived college!
- Art, because so much can be expressed through imagery
- Dreams – forget your limitations and dare to believe that anything is possible!
- Pan flutes and Peruvian music
- The holidays, because I get to spend lots of time with my family
- Christmas bells
- Hay rides
- Bags – such a simple invention, yet where would we be without them?
- The love of God – so extravagant, so transformative, so powerful!
- All the Christmas carols that I grew up singing
- Chocolate and peanut butter together
- The smell of pine
- Candle light
- Trials, because they teach me to lean upon God
- Clean air to breathe
- Joy – it keeps me happy even in the hard times!
Last night, God told me to go jogging. Of course I was hesitant because I hadn’t gone running in a really long time. But I got up, put on my running shoes, and hit the road! I ended up jogging just about 4 miles, which for me is quite impressive! The less impressive part is how long it took me, so I’ll spare you those details.
For me, jogging is a mix of running and walking at intervals… run, walk, run, walk…. I quickly noticed that every time I turned a corner and found a great stretch of road lying before me, I would begin running, but way before I reached the end, I’d say, “Yeah… that’s enough,” and would slow back down to a walking pace.
After several instances of this, I realized something. I love beginning a new adventure. It’s always exciting when I see the path laid out before me and know that I can take it on! All of the emotion and determination wells up inside of me and I race forth with a great burst of action. …But I hardly ever persevere until the end.
This tendency extends to several areas of my life, not just running. Once, I decided I would take up leather crafting. I bought all of the supplies, did a bunch of research and set down to work. I enjoyed stamping designs into a wallet and bookmark, but after those two projects, I stopped altogether. I haven’t really picked it up since then. On another occasion, I began writing music. I bought a digital audio recorder and actually came up with a few good songs on my guitar, but decided I didn’t feel like pursuing this as a career option.
I have a history of beginning things when they are exciting, but not following through. As soon as something gets old—or tough—I drop it and turn back to what I know. But last night, jogging along the edge of campus, I realized that is not what Jesus did. He persevered until the very end, even unto death.
I’m sure the forty lashes from the whip got old as soon as they had begun. I’m sure the mocking and beatings from the soldiers were more than challenging. I’m sure every second upon that cross was unpleasant. Yet He followed through with the mission God gave Him. Jesus was in it to win it. He never once backed down. He could have leapt off the cross at any moment, and He knew that. But He let the world murder Him so that the world could know Him.
I want to be more like Jesus. I don’t want to waver between yes and no, for Christ did not waver between yes and no (2 Cor. 1:18-19 NLT). When God calls me to do something, I’ll pray for the motivation to fully persevere in that calling, even beyond the initial excitement. When things get challenging and confusing, I’ll fix my eyes on God and keep moving toward Him. When work feels boring or mundane, I’ll breathe in deeply of the Holy Spirit. It’s like drinking in the fresh oxygen that refuels me. Only with that fresh breath of air can I keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I know that God is worth every struggle. His purposes are worth pressing through any frustration. His people are worth my sweat and tears. Jesus never gave up, so neither will I. Let me run by my spirit, not by my head. I look forward to the fulfillment of His promises and the rest that comes through obedience. He will reward those who serve Him (Jn. 12:26).
Once upon a time, there was a princess who thought she knew everything. Oh how clever she deemed herself to be! She wanted the whole world to know about it too. If she could make others admit her intelligence, perhaps they would love and put value on her. You see, even though she was a princess, she struggled with deep insecurity down to the marrow of her bones.
So she set out to show the world she was truly clever. But… how could she prove it? What scheme would she use? She looked at everything around her. What fresh idea had the world never seen before? What novelty could she exploit? And then she began to wonder… was she really clever at all?
So this is what she decided… I will sit down and pray and ask God for that one great idea. Surely He will give me the delight of my heart!
But she did not know that the one thing God wanted was her heart itself. A beautiful, pure heart devoted to Him. God did not care whether or not other people on the planet adored His princess, because He Himself already adored her. And since He is Lord Majestic of the universe, others should look to Him before they make opinions about their fellow-man.
The girl never had to earn her Father’s love, or anyone’s. She just didn’t know that. She had yet to discover His great heart for her. Oh, if only He would open her eyes to see, so that she could understand!
So God sent a Treasure to the earth. A treasure inside of an egg. The treasure was a man, and that man was God Himself. He came to the earth to show her His great love. Even though she was a sinner, He died for her. Even though she was in all rights evil, He said, I still love her, and He gave up His own life to save her.
On that Christmas morning, she saw the baby lying in the manger, but did not know what it meant. Until forty years later when she saw Him lying on the cross. He carried all of her sins into the grave, where they stayed. And when He came back up from hell three days later, the world rejoiced! And she fell to her knees before her Savior!
Oh Lord, how much I still have to learn! Teach me Your ways and allow me to walk in Your footsteps! Help me live a life worthy of my calling. I only know enough to say that I still have much to learn. Guide me into Your holy presence, my Father! I will follow You all of my days!
Why do I follow Jesus?
- It’s a relationship. He loves me, and I adore loving Him back. In Him, I am fully accepted.
- It’s exciting. There’s nothing quite so exciting as surrendering everything to Him and letting Him come through for you. In Him, my life is an adventure!
- It’s peaceful. I know He will always be there for me, always protecting and comforting me, no matter what happens. In Him, there is no need for worry.
- It’s companionship. He enjoys to do what I enjoy to do, be it not sin. He loves just to be with me. In Him, I am never alone.
- It’s strength and salvation. He can do all things and has done all things, just for me. In Him, I will never be condemned.
- It’s identity. He has called me His friend, His child, the light and salt of the world, a disciple, a mountain-mover. In Him, I will never question who I am.
- It’s purpose. He has called me to a great mission, one that He formed me to fulfill. In Him, my life has direction and importance.
- It’s love. Completely, honestly, openly, it’s love, and I would never exchange that for the world!
How could I not want to be with my Jesus?
- I will look even more like Jesus (2 Cor 3:18)
- I will experience greater levels peace and God will be more in control (Isaiah 9:7)
- As I trust Him more, I will gain further clarity of vision and purpose (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- I will find closure and be able to move on (Phil. 3:12-14)
- I will grow in both character and hope (Rom. 5:1-5)
- I will find strength to endure and keep moving forward (Isaiah 40:29-31)
- With God’s help, I will prevail against any attack that the enemy sends my way (Rom. 8:37)
- I will never be alone (Mtth 28:20)
- I will never lose His love (Rom. 8:38-39)
- He will make all things new (Rev. 21:5)
Starting a Collection
Imagine you are a little girl. One day you wake up and decide that you want a collection of seashells. After all, they are beautiful! Each shell offers a unique display of colors, shapes, chips, knobs, and lines. They all smell like the ocean, and if you are lucky enough to find a conch, then you can take home with you the roaring sound of the ocean waves!
A little girl may not understand the mechanics of how seashells are made. She probably doesn’t know that a shell is actually the exoskeleton of an invertebrate animal. One thing she does understand is that, if she goes to the beach, she will probably find a seashell! Of course, she has no power to decide what kind of shell it will be or where along the coast it waits for her. But she will never find one unless she shows up.
The delight of being a follower of Christ is that we can collect encounters with our Savior! We may not understand exactly how they happen, but if we keep moving in His direction, He meets us in His own powerful way, creating experiences and memories that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. We find something new and delightful every time we seek Him. But we must show up. If the little girl wants her collection of seashells, she must go to the beach. If we want our collection of encounters with Jesus, we must go to our knees.
The secret of the seashell is that you must actively show up. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Encountering God won’t happen when we sit on the couch and veg out on TV. It won’t happen when we go to the bar and drink away our sorrows. It won’t happen when we let routines take their course as we slowly disappear behind the lines of monotony. No, it happens when we set aside time to invite His presence into our daily life. We pray, read the Bible, submit to His will, learn what it means to hear His voice and begin to truly know God. We must invest our heart, life and passion into showing up and seeking Jesus.
What If You Find No Seashells?
Unfortunately, we all experience the stormy days when you go to the beach and don’t find a single seashell. However, the beautiful truth is that the ocean always carries more shells to the beach each morning. The tide must recede for a while, but if you wait a short while longer, it will always return, carrying fresh new treasures with it.
Don’t ever give up! There may be seasons when it feels like God has withdrawn from you. But perhaps it is only because He is collecting fresh new treasures to lay at your feet. Trust Him and keep seeking Him out. You don’t know which day will be the day of breakthrough. It might even be today. But you won’t find out unless you make that trip to the beach. Let Him carry you even when you don’t understand, and someday soon, you will find breakthrough. You never know… maybe this seashell will be the most beautiful and valuable shell of your whole life! Just keep showing up. It’s worth the wait!