Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Time is Here

Happy Christmas everyone! This year's Christmas has been an especially good one. As I get older, Christmas is not quite the same, yet there is something nice about that. When I was little, there would be so many presents that we'd take hours to open them and then my parents would have to rush off to make Christmas dinner. This year after unwrapping, we were able to just sit and relax for a little while. I felt a sigh of relief and joy just to enjoy the silent company of my family. Traditions were broken this Christmas, but it was not as wretched as I had assumed it would be. Different, but not bad. I think that is part of what makes Christmas so special. Every year it is different, but somehow being able to celebrate Christmas brings a sort of stability to life. To think that no matter what else is happening, on this one day I am celebrating with all of my brothers and sisters around the world. Everyone may celebrate in their own way, but on this same day (albeit in different time zones)we are all celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior.

To celebrate this day, I wanted to list some of my most favorite things about Christmastime.
1. Obviously, Christ's birth. I have celebrated Christmas before with barely any mention of Christ. Yet when I celebrate Christmas keeping Jesus as the focus, I feel a deeper joy in Christmas. There's a sense of wholeness, of rightness. A baby changes everything, and Christ was the baby that changed the world.
2. My family. We have many traditions, but my favorite are the ones that revolve around each other. Like how we watch each other open gifts. It is so fun to see everyone's reactions and for a couple minutes to focus on each other. I also love Christmas family dinners. There's no ceremony, no propriety, no stiffness. It's just us (but with fancier food and dishes).
3. Snow. It just gets me in the spirit of Christmas. And this year we had a White Christmas!
4. Decorations. Same thing as the snow. I love what the decorations symbolize, especially the manger scenes and the lights.
5. Gift giving. I love to imagine the reactions as I plan gifts for people, and then I love to watch the reactions on Christmas morning.
6. Gift getting. Who doesn't love this part? But I think it's not just getting a gift, but knowing they took the time to pick out something you'll like; knowing that they were thinking about you. I think that's what makes gifts so special. And that's what made God's gift of His Son so special, because He was thinking about us because He loved us.

Merry Christmas my friends. May it be joyous.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just a Staff

Exodus 4:1-5 Then Moses said, "What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say?..." The Lord said to him, "What is that in your hand?" And he said, "A staff." Then He said, "Throw it on the ground." So he threw it on the ground and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. But the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail...that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has appeared to you."

All Moses had was a staff. At this time in his life, he was just an ordinary shepherd. But GOD USED WHAT MOSES HAD. He didn't give Moses fancy clothes, fancy words, and a magic wand with which to do miracles. He used Moses' plain old shepherd's staff to showcase His might. He can use what you or I already have, the gifts we already possess. He doesn't have to make me fancier, prettier, smarter, more talented; He doesn't want to turn me into someone else. He wants to use what I already have. And what do I have? The gift of teaching. A heart of compassion for children. A desire to serve Him. A yearning to know Him better. A healthy body. Leadership potential. A VIBRANT SPIRIT. Passion. Conviction. Money and time to give. Two hands and two feet.

"But Lord," I ask, "What if they won't listen?" "It is not your job to make them listen," He replies. "Take the staff. Be willing to let Me use what you have. I love you the way you are and I made you for a reason. I gave you your gifts and talents...your staff. And I want to use you. I am the Lord your God. I will be with you and I will teach you what to say." I don't have to have all the answers. I don't have to have all the gifts. I just need to use what God gave me. And if people don't listen, or agree with me, that's okay. It's not my job to make them listen. I just have to be willing to let God use me. After all, it's just me. Just my gifts and talents. Just a staff.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Did you ever think about the fact that God rejoices in us? Think about it, the Creator of the universe delights in mere human beings. Luke 15 is a passage that's familiar to most of us. It tells the story of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the prodigal son. Every time the story's main character finds what they had lost, they call all their neighbors together and they say "Rejoice with me, for I have found my ____ which was lost!" What a beautiful image of God! He finds us and He rejoices! He has found me, and He rejoices in me.

He rejoices in me! That's such a spectacular, wonderful feeling. It makes me want to shout for joy! I feel wrapped in the warm blanket of God's love. Just to know that someone can rejoice/take delight in me for who I am. The Savior of the world finds joy in me! Like the warm joy a parent feels as their newborn's tiny fingers grasp their own, or as their precious toddler takes his/her first steps or says his/her first word, so does God take joy in us. Only His joy is an hundred-fold more than the joy of human parents. What an idea! What an amazingly spectacular feeling to be rejoiced in! God says, in Isaiah 65:19- "I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people." God rejoices in me, His child! And, my friends, He also rejoices in each one of you. Whisper that to yourself- "God rejoices in me!" Now say it with conviction! He rejoices in you! That thought should thrill you to your very fingertips.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

God Knows

Today I've been thinking about the sovereignty of God, and how He always has a plan. I can see evidences of His plan in my life more clearly this year than I have before. For example, when God told me to give up theater, I obeyed, despite my own private misgivings. I can honestly say that it is one of the best decisions I've made. I have way more time to do the important things, such as sleeping and doing homework, and even just hanging out with my roommates. I have time now to attend Vespers and Kingdom Mobilizers. And my heart isn't burdened by the competition, by the constant threat to my self-image. Although I sometimes miss it, it is freeing to know that I don't have to put everything else aside for theater. Instead, I put theater aside for everything else. Now I can support my friends in the theater department with no envy because they are more successful in that area than I. I am free to congratulate them whole-heartedly.

Another area is that of Women's Chorale. Last year I had a terrible attitude, therefore I had a terrible experience. I had wanted so badly to be in Concert Choir that I let my disappointment take over my life. This year, when I tried out again and didn't make it into Concert Choir, I decided to come at it with a new attitude. And God has blessed that so much. He gave me a leadership position in Women's Chorale, an opportunity to be an example. He helped me break out of my comfort zone and begin getting to know the other girls. He broke down my previously conceived notions about others and about myself. And if I had gotten into Concert Choir, I wouldn't have experienced this growth. He knew exactly what experience I needed to get me where I am today. And I can honestly say that I'm happier now than I've been before.

Sometimes I know that Jeremiah 29:11 can seem so cliche. But it is so true. God knows the plans He has for us. He isn't blindly making mistakes and then saying "Oops, how can I cover this up?" No. He is intentional. He doesn't cause the bad stuff, but He allows it to happen. He allows us to fall. Why? The Christian Bale version of Batman asks the question "Why do we fall?" That movie answers, "So we can learn to pick ourselves up." I disagree. Why do we fall? So we can learn to let God pick us up. You may not know why something has happened in your life. There is stuff going on in my life and I don't know why. But I know that God has a plan. In the moment, it is hard to see that plan. But I can look back on my life and see evidence of His plan, His timing. I bet if you look, you will also be able to see the evidence.

Brothers and Sisters, we must learn to let God pick us up. So, I leave you with the familiar, cliche, but so true verse-

Jeremiah 29:11 I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to help you, not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.


Thursday, September 23, 2010


"Jesus did not just die so we wouldn't have to, He died so we would know how to." -Professor Ted Bryant

Death has been something that's been on my mind lately. You might read that and freak out, but don't. What I simply mean is this: last weekend two college girls from two different campuses here in Indiana died suddenly. One of them I knew, one I didn't. They were 18 and 19. One was found unresponsive in her room and taken to a hospital where she later died. The other was simply hanging out in a hammock when a dead tree fell on her and killed her. So sudden. Just like that. In one instant a life can be taken. Two girls who weren't supposed to die so young.

We always talk about being prepared for death because it can come suddenly. But I guess it doesn't really hit you until somthing like this happens. After learning about the deaths of these two girls, it was like a new revelation, or maybe just a very poignant reminder, of how brief life is and how suddenly it can be taken. Anything I do while I'm just living a normal life could suddenly be the cause of my death. Both of those girls were just living normal everyday lives and freak accidents happened. Sometimes it's difficult to see God in all this. Right now, these deaths are still fresh, so it's difficult to see where God is working. But I know He does.

It's time like these when the idea that I will one day die comes to mind. And honestly, it freaks me out. I know Christians aren't supposed to be afraid of death. And here's the thing: I do want to be with God someday. However, I have always been afraid of change and of the unknown. And heaven will be a huge change. Heaven is the unknown. And that scares me. Not because I don't know where I'll go (I do know) but because it's a huge change. I'm not ready yet. I'm not ready to die this young. But neither were those other two girls. So why have they died, and I'm still here? Why is it that normal moments in their lives turned into nonexistence, while I am saved by God's gracious hand every day from those normal moments that could take my life? I rode my bike to the store today across a very busy street. Anything could have happened, but it didn't.

Yet the thing that scares me more than being the one to die is being the one to be left behind. Even though I didn't know/barely knew these girls, their deaths have affected me. They're gone, I'm not. I and people like me have to live without their lives in this world anymore. Someday I'm going to lose my parents...and that scares me. I'm not ready to live without them.

At this point you might be wondering why I included the quote at the beginning of this post. I think that God is calling me to the mission field. This calling is a lot about dying metaphorically to self. This is a huge part a Christian's life, and something I still struggle with daily. But I think this quote also has to do with physical death. I feel called to go to unsafe places. I may have to face death or the death of loved ones a lot sooner then I would wish. And when I think about that kind of death (dying for the cause of Christ), somehow, there is peace. While any other kind of death scares me at this point, somehow the idea of dying so that Christ may be known doesn't scare me. It's not ideally the way I would chose to go, but if it's God's plan, then I think I'm okay with that. And that's what I think this quote means. Jesus died so we wouldn't have to die spiritually, but He also died as an example of how to die to ourselves spiritually and how to be willing to die physically for Him.

So I hope that somewhere in this random collection of my thoughts you can find something that speaks to you. Don't worry, I'm perfectly sane. I don't need counseling. But this is something that I think many people might think about and don't know how to express. And while I may not have expressed it perfectly, I'm willing to be vulnerable and say what's on my heart.

May the peace of God dwell in you richly.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

God Conceals So We Can Discover

Proverbs 25:2- It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

Can you imagine if we knew everything there is to know about God, creation, and His plans for our life the moment we became saved? The Christian life would be so boring! There'd be nothing new to discover, no revelation or 'ah ha!' moment, and certainly no need to read the Bible. Sometimes I think I'd like to know everything, but then I would just be like "what's next?" and there wouldn't be a "next".

I picture God like a parent who has set up a treasure hunt or an Easter egg hunt for their child. In these little eggs are great treasure, the "ah ha" moments, the revelations. New discoveries about God are in each egg. The parent lets their child wander around looking for the eggs by themselves for a while. The parent an see where they've hidden the eggs, but the child can't. So after a while the child becomes frustrated and asks for help. The parent then gently guides the child to the egg and the process may then be repeated. Sometimes the parent can only reveal one egg at a time before the child tries to do it on their own again, whereas other times the parent can reveal several eggs before the child goes off on their own.

This isn't a perfect analogy, but I think this is a good picture of God who, like the parent, wants to guide His chilren to these spiritual truths, these treasures. And sometimes we, like the child, try to insist on doing it our own way, but when we ask God for help we have much greater success.

I, for one, am so greatful that we have a God who does not allow Himself to be revealed all at once. I'm glad that I get to take this journey of discovery throughout my Christian life. It is God's job to hide certain matters from us like treasures on an Easter egg hunt and it is our job, with His guidance and at His time, to discover these matters, this treasure. It is like a life-long treasure hunt! What would happen to our lives spiritually if we looked at every moment we spent in God's Word as a treasure hunt?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


You know, somehow I thought that once I gave up what I perceived to be the idol in my life, I would be all covered. I figured I would be fine when preachers talked about giving up idols. It's like "been there, done that" and check that off my list. I thought I was set. Well, guess what. God showed me the truth about idols.

Although it sometimes may be the case that new idols come into our lives, I think more often it's that God is gracious enough to let us deal with one thing at a time. Therefore, when one idol is taken care of, He reveals the next one to us. This new idol was lurking there all along, but we didn't see it when we were dealing with something else/another idol. I think the idols in our lives are like the layers of an onion. We have to peel back one layer at a time. I mean, can you imagine what would happen if we tried to peel all the layers of an onion at once? I think that as long as we live we will always have idols to deal with, and every time we give one up we just get that much closer to God. It's like peeling away those layers one at a time until we get to the center. Getting rid of idols is a life-long process.

In the past couple months I've given up two major idols in my life. It was not an easy process. I wrestled with God in both situations, but I knew that giving up that idol was the best thing for me. And when I did, I felt such relief! It's incredible how wonderful it is to give up our idols! Last night when thinking about it, I wanted to laugh out loud, just cry out for joy! It's a huge relief to let go. I feel like a burden has been lifted, like the pressure's off. What a beautiful release.

I know I'll still struggle. But God has been so very faithful. What an incredible journey! I'm so glad that God is interested in the journey, and not just the end result. Because if all you have to look to is the end result, it's going to be one long, tiresome journey and you're going to want to give up. But if you focus on the process, you can discover so many wonderful new things you never would have known otherwise!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Liveliness of Being Lively

I feel so alive today! The weather is gorgeous, I feel well-rested, and I am simply enjoying life. I've been re-reading the Lord of the RIngs, so I feel as if any moment I could slip into an elven world of enchantment. Last night I was wishing that I could go walking barefoot in Lothlorien under a full moon. Oh what a grand thing life is! To breathe, to feel, to smell, to see! To smile at everyone and everything. I just want to dance! Unfortunately, I'm at work and in class all day. But in my head I'm dancing! Far away over mountains tall, I skim the surface of the seas. I flit in and out of light and shadows surround by majestic trees. I wish I were a bird to fly among the clouds and look down on this lovely land. To laugh, to dance, to fly, no, to soar! To climb, to win, to hear, to taste! Oh isn't it great to be alive!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Trip Down Memory Lane- LWBC 2010

I've been so busy this summer, that it's been difficult to keep everyone up on the adventures I've had, so I thought I'd share a list of memories from the summer.
Learning kumcha and ninja the very first night of staff development week
The staff boat trips
The superhero themed parties during junior high weeks
An impromptu carnival to beat the rain
Coloring disney princess pictures with the girls in my cabin the very first night
Squishing all the staff members into one booth at Culvers (though we did add a small table)
Taking breaks in the office with other counselors during Voyager week 3
Girl time every Thursday
Sleeping in the air conditioned apartment every once in a while
The ME Bible study during staff development week
Dressing up in crazy costumes for the Mallards baseball game
Our day trip to Devil's Lake
Hang-outs at Leya's house
The night of Jesse and Jo's engagement
Worship nights
Watching movies with staff
Three tornado warnings and the ensuing preparations
The lice scare
Sitting at the top of the waterslide having milk and cookies while watching a lightning storm
Setting off fireworks
Picnics in the park
Staff meetings
Going down the waterslide with a camper who was more relaxed then I was
Late-night conversations with the girls on staff
Walking down State Street
Going out to eat with the staff
Learning how to better do TAG and get closer to God

These are just a few of the precious moments of camp this summer.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Garden Fantasies

This afternoon I went to a botanical gardens with several friends, but spent much of the time exploring by myself. The enchanting cobblestone paths drew me into delightful corners of discovery. Giant pink flowers beckoned to me, but before reaching them I was sidetracked by a small grass path between two bushes. Following the path, I entered into a small clearing, which I named "the glen". I stumbled upon two rabbits who quickly skittered out of my way, and I gazed at the crystal wings of two dragonflies dancing on the wind. The clearing was bordered by luxurious firs and a variety of greenery. Lifting my face to the sky I spun in circles and danced with the Father. I met up with my friends for a while, and then was off again to secret enjoyments. Crossing a bridge, I saw an enchanting Thai pavilion across the river. I ran along the paths which led to it, passing several stone elephants on the way. I finally reached the red and gold pavilion and danced through it, lightly touching the intricately carved pillars. There were several pools of clear, crystal water, and I floated along on the edge of one, dancing again to my own tune. Another was so still I could clearly see my reflection in it. I found a path through the grass formed by several oblong stones, and I lightly skipped from one stone to the next until I completed the path. I continued exploring, sometimes alone sometimes with friends, and was continuously drawn down wooded paths and hidden escapes. My exploration only came to an end because of the late hour, but I think I can safely say that it was the most whimsically fun time I've ever had at a garden.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I've grown so much at camp this summer. I realized that all the depression and feelings I had during the last school year had less to do with how other people actually treated me and more to do with how I actually perceived their treatment of me. Because I was not satisfied with myself and who I was, I thought that other people were not satisfied with me. I've been convicted of this attitude this summer. As I've come to find myself this summer, as I've given up my plans for my life at school and given in to God's, He's shown me just how much of my depression had to do with my own thoughts. I've been so closely connected to God and to people on fire for Him, that my own selfish thoughts and self-condemnation have become less and less. I still struggle with pride and low self-esteem, but because I have realized that those thoughts are completely the opposite of what is right, through God's grace I have found healing. Healing from myself. I know that there are several things I need to do when I get back to school: get connected with my mentor, become a mentor (because you learn through teaching others), become more plugged in with on fire Christians, and find more ways to serve God unselfishly. I think that perhaps giving up theater will allow me the time to do these things. I do not know what's in store, but God is working and moving in my life. I am not the same person who left Bethel this spring feeling defeated. Through God, I will conquer the feelings of unworthiness and will spring forth to do what He desires. Amen.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Continuations of the Summer

So much has happened during camp this summer, I do not even know where to begin. During the weeks we spend our time serving the campers in every way possible. It's been a challenging and humbling experience, whether I was cleaning up a slip 'n slide full of food slop or hosing down a giant inflatable Hulk. I've been involved in the worship team, I've helped run the skit and/or been in the skit, and I've worked on games, parties, banquets, etc. This past week I did not feel like I was as involved with the kids directly because I was so busy working on programming stuff. Because this was our first week of junior high camp lots of stuff had to be prepared for the first time.

On the weekends the staff just hang out. We go out to eat, watch movies, go on the speedboat, and recharge from the week. It's been a lot of fun and a great experience to hang out with such a close group. We've really become like a family, something I haven't experienced anywhere else. I truly consider every one of my fellow staffers as my brothers and sisters. I feel such a sense of belonging. I will be so sad to leave in four weeks.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I can't believe I've only been here three and a half days. It feels like I've been here for weeks, not in a bad way, but just because our days are so chock full of stuff. This week has been so much fun, seeing old friends and meeting new people. I am myself here, which is wonderfully freeing. Everyone is crazy and open with each other. We have individual devotional time, group devotionals, prayer times, etc. Everyone is so God-focused and willing to serve each other.

I am going to be playing piano in one of the camp's worship teams, which is a scary, new thing for me. I've played in front of people before, but never in something like this, and never in such a spontaneous, winging-it kind of way. I haven't played for so long, and now I'll be playing in front of campers and other staff, with very little practice time beforehand. But I'm very excited to be playing the piano and singing on a regular basis. It is also good because it's helping me to learn chords, which I should've learned a long time ago.

In short, I have been experiencing a few stretching, but wonderful experiences so far and I am so excited for this summer.

For now,

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Yesterday during a Staff meeting here at Lake Waubesa Bible Camp we talked about the five love languages. For those unfamiliar with this study (as I was before last night), the five love languages (ways in which people express or receive love) are words of affirmation, quality time, gift giving, serving, and physical touch. We talked about what expressions of love work for people with each language as well as what expressions of love do not work, or are even negative, for people with each language. I found this study to be very fascinating because it told me something about myself as well as about fellow staff members. Obviously, one person is not limited to one love language, and most of us like bits and pieces of each. However, there is usually one main love language that strikes us more than others. I feel the most loved with words of affirmation and quality time. I express love through words of affirmation and physical touch.

I feel that this study is a step in the right direction of my goal for this summer: discovering myself. Recently I've felt lost; I can't tell who I am and what defines me. This summer I hope to find myself again, so to speak. So my love language(s) is the first discovery I've made. Hopefully more to come.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

20 Years

So begins the first blog of Lady Violet, aka Renee.

Yesterday I completed twenty years of living. As I reflect on turning twenty, it has come to my attention that I am entering a new decade. The last decade of life included Junior High, High School, and my first two years of college. During that last decade I discovered my love for theater and music. I also met many new people and lost people. I spent eight years of the last decade being homeschooled, and two of them at Bethel college.

With all that the last decade held for me, I ponder what the new decade will bring. Adventures? New relationships? Closer relationships with the people I know? College graduation? Starting my own family? Missions in Africa? Becoming closer to God? I cannot even begin to fathom or dream up the events that will occur in my life in this next decade. All I can do is pray that I will live a life even more full in this decade than in the last one.


For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Tim 1:7