August 16, 2011

Extra, extra! Read all about it!

Well.  I have decided to move to a different site.
Blogger, you have been good to me.

... But you're really just not up to par with Wordpress.


Here is the new site:

I went ahead and imported all the posts I've written through Blogger.
Keeps things familiar, you know?
I like that.

I have also created a new blog to keep up with my internship:

I haven't decided what to do with my 'Side Notes' blog.  I'll probably just leave it as is.  Or perhaps I'll import it over to Wordpress, too.  Meh.  I'll decide later. 

May 25, 2011

Ch. 799 - The List: Strengths

I got me some guns, lemme tell ya.  I'm easily the strongest person I know.

Like I said in my last post... a comedian.

I'm one of those people who doesn't like to think about what they are good at.  It has taken quite some time for me to be able to accept compliments graciously, and I have often needed affirmation after affirmation to finally believe that what was being said of me was true.  I have come to accrue over the years, then, ideas of my strengths.  Things I am good at, abilities, etc.  Even some skills I have had to 'learn' to see I actually possess.  And yet at the same time, I often feel like I have no idea what's really included as a strength of mine.

I suppose I could go with the generic, obvious things... like... writing.  I write in a variety - for lack of a better word - of ways.  For example, I am able to switch from a very research-based writing style to a nonchalant, unpatterned style.  

With lists.
[For example.  ... That's how 'The List' series got started, after all!]

I don't know.  It is my belief that anyone can write.  And who is to judge what is "good" writing, anyway?  ... Alright, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. aside.  I like to write.  But that doesn't mean it's a strength.

Moving on, I would also say that a strength is my public speaking ability.  While I do tend to be a better communicator with the written word, as long as I have time to prepare, I can be a very good speaker.  So I may include my tendency for preparedness as a strength, as well.

I am an excellent organizer.
That sounds so much nicer than, "I have OCD."


Well, my mom just walked into my room.
So I asked her what my strengths were.
"One of your strengths is that you're pretty."

She also mentioned poise.
A kind and gentle heart.
A heart for children.
And those who are downtrodden.

She also mentioned information processing. 
And a variety of other things.

So yes, some of them may be considered strengths.... others, not so much.
But she is my mother and I love hearing what she has to say.
She knows me better than anyone.
Save God, of course.
I love her.

But going on from there... mmm.  I don't know.

Language acquisition?  Haha.
Ability to adapt?  See things through different lenses?


If you didn't already know this, I often am a lot of weeks "behind" my posts.  But I like the idea of consistency, so with this 'List' series I've been spacing each post by five days from when I first started.  So even though it is actually August 17, I will post this as May 25... and continue this way until I am done with the List posts.  And here's something semi-interesting: I started this post about a week and a half ago.  August 8, to be specific.  And on August 10, I had a meeting with a couple people and was presented with some books after the meeting.  A couple were to read throughout the fall as part of my internship.  One was for a study I will be part of.  And a couple were just read-through-them-if-you've-got-some-time type of books.  One that was recommended I read through first was this book called StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.  There's a code in the back of the book that allows the reader to access an online "test" so that he or she may be presented with their top five "strengths".  So here I am, two days after beginning a post that I really have no idea how to write... when I am given this book.  I'm sure you can imagine my delight.  So I went ahead and took the test.  ... The long, ridiculous, strangely-worded, "unfair" test.  You know the type... where you so badly want to say, "Yes, that's me!" to both of the answers they provide.  Boooooo.  So after forty-five frustrating minutes of arguing with myself over practically each question - but only for about 18 seconds because it automatically moves to the next question after 20 seconds! - I received my results:



I'll give you some quotes from each section in the book:

"I am inquisitive.  I collect things - information or objects.  Because it [whatever 'it' may be] interests me.  My mind finds so many things interesting.  The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity." 

"I see the potential in others.  In my view no individual is fully formed... [but rather] a work in progress, alive with possibilities.  When I interact with others, my goal is to help them experience success... to challenge them.  Over time many will seek me out for help and encouragement because on some level they know that my helpfulness is both genuine and fulfilling to me."

[Alright, this is the one I see in myself the most, so I'll basically be writing down the entire paragraph that explains Connectedness.]
"Things happen for a reason.  I am sure of it because in my soul I know that we're all connected.  Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our own judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger.  ... I gain confidence from knowing that we are not isolated from one another or from the earth and the life on it.  This feeling of Connectedness implies certain responsibilities.  If we are all part of a larger picture, then we must not harm others because we will be harming ourselves.  We must not exploit because we will be exploiting ourselves.  My awareness of these responsibilities create my value system.  I am considerate, caring, and accepting.  Certain of the unity of humankind, I am a bridge builder for people of different cultures.  Sensitive to the invisible hand, I can give others comfort that there is a purpose beyond our humdrum lives.  The exact articles of your faith will depend on my upbringing and my culture, but my faith is strong.  It sustains me and my close friends in the face of life's mysteries."  Note: this book is not a "religious" or "Christian" book.  Just fyi.

"I like to think.  I like mental activity.  This need for mental activity may be focused... [or] this mental activity may very well lack focus.  The theme of Intellection doesn't dictate what I'm thinking about; it simply describes that I like to think.  I'm the kind of person who enjoys my time alone because it's my time for musing and reflection.  I'm introspective.  It may lead to a slight sense of discontent as I compare what I'm actually doing with all the thoughts and ideas that my mind conceives [YOU HAVE NO IDEA!].  Or it may tend toward more pragmatic matters..."

[This one explains me very well, too.  Expect another longer bit of reading.]
"My world needs to be predictable... ordered and planned.  So I instinctively impose structure on my world.  I set up routines.  I am not necessarily neat and clean [oh yes, I am], but I do need precision.  Faced with the inherent messiness of life, I want to feel in control.  Lacking this theme of Discipline, others may sometimes resent my need for order, but there need not be conflict.  I must understand that not everyone feels my urge for predictability; they have other ways of getting things done.  Likewise, I can help them understand and even appreciate my need for structure.  My dislike of surprises [false], my impatience with errors [true], my routines [semi-true], and my detail orientation [TRUE] don't need to be misinterpreted as controlling behaviors that box people in.  Rather, these behaviors can be understood as my instinctive method for maintaining my progress and my productivity in the face of life's many distractions."

So there you go.
Each section has a few quotes from people that are under that category, which were neat to read.  The sections also have 'Ideas for Action' so that you can focus on your strengths and, well, strengthen them.  Develop them, really.  There are also some points made about working with people who have whatever strength you're reading about: also very cool. 

I would say that for the most part, I do agree with my assessment.  Some more than others, obviously.  And in looking at the other themes, I found myself thinking, 'This is totally me!  This should be on the list!' a few times.  But you can't expect a website or a book to know/tell everything about you.  That would be absurd. 

For example, I would have included: Adaptability, Deliberative [... well, maybe], Empathy, Individualization, Relator.

This has turned out to be an interesting post for me.  I love learning as I go along.  
It's good for me.

May 20, 2011

Ch. 798 - The List: Wants and Needs

As with Ch. 775, I have decided to group items on the list into one post.  I have decided to do this because of the great confusion that people have seemed to create over that which are wants and needs.

Want, want, want.
I want, want, want.
We want, want, want.

Need, need, need.
I need, need, need.
We need, need, need.


What I want is this: people to stop wanting all the time.
And what I need is this: people to stop needing what they merely want.
Er, for people to - at the least - stop saying they need what they merely want.

Sad, isn't it?  How greatly we tend to focus on what we [supposedly] want.

And I mean, it's not even the wanting that is so horrendous at times, but rather the objects of our wants... as well as the fact that it is more often than not ourselves that we desire to gratify, or obtain for.

Why not focus on what we see in Scripture that points to what God wants?
Both of and for us.

Does it really all come down to love?
I move that the answer very well may be 'yes'.

I suppose it's under the umbrella of '"Jesus" is always the right answer' when asked a question in Sunday school.  Silly, but true.  Just take a moment and think about it.  And then take another moment to read over the following Scripture verses:

' "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." '
[Micah 6:8]
... Don't fret over 'require'.

' "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "
[Matthew 22:36-39]

'Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.'
[James 1:27]

'Come near to God and he will come near to you...'
[James 4:8a]

Pretty forseeable verses to pull, I know.  Typical.  But I appreciate the fact they all do, indeed, point to loving God and others in one way or another.  They also all have to do with relationships, whether with God or people.  And while I would love to say that these are things that God "needs" us to do... I have a difficult time believing that God actually needs us to do anything.

There is so very much more to it.  I mean, I'm pretty sure that God "wants" us to obey Him.  And after three years of Bible college, I think it's safe to say that I know God does not "want" us to kill people - among other things.  ... Heh.

Perhaps God wants me to be a comedian.

I will say it again:

'Sad, isn't it?  How greatly we tend to focus on what we [supposedly] want.'
... Rather than that which is necessary, our needs to live.
And yet, do we even truly need anything to do those things?

We certainly don't need anything to love.

Other than the knowledge and belief that we were first loved by God, perhaps.

May 15, 2011

Ch. 797 - The List: Hopes

"I hope so!"

How often do we use this phrase?
[... A lot, certainly.]

Sometimes I wonder whether we have forgotten the meaning of the word 'hope'.  Verb?  Noun?  Do either mean as much as they used to?  What kinds of things do we hope for?  And what should we place our hope in, anyway?

Merriam-Webster says that to hope is 'to cherish a desire with anticipation.'  To trust.  And it says that hope itself is 'an expectation of fulfillment or success.'  A reliance.

Trust.  Rely. 
I can work with that.

Place your hope in Jesus.

Trust in Him.
Rely on Him.

Jesus is our Hope.

He is our anticipated desire.
He is our expectation of fulfillment.

Easier said than done.

Done before it's even said, if we truly have faith.

Where do you place your hope?
Your family?
Your friends?
Your career?
For you "religious people", perhaps even your church?

What do you hope for?

The lists could go on.

And I could leave it at that, and let you think a little.  But I don't feel like being done [because I don't feel like starting my laundry yet], so I will let you in on a few things. 

I tend to place my hope in my mom.  She is a wise woman.  A teacher, though not professionally.  Sometimes I first go to her for advice or help, rather than God.  But while she always has something good to say, she doesn't have all the answers.  And she knows that.... which I am thankful for.  Anyway, I really need to continue working on going to God first in and for everything.

I also tend to place my hope in myself.  'I hope I can do this, so that/or else... yadda yadda yadda.'  It's just so wrong.  I mean, it's one thing to have confidence in yourself and your abilties, skills, etc.  But to put pressure upon yourself through that hope in order to obtain something or get somewhere - especially for self-benefit... not a good idea.

Sometimes I hope for the most trivial of things.
'Man, I hope all the parents come for their kids by 5:30 today!'
'Dang, I'm five minutes later than usual - I hope "my" elliptical isn't taken.'
'I hope I make all the lights downtown!'

Why aren't we quicker to hope for things like people coming to trust in the gospel?  Or for an increase in the Holy Spirit's guidance of our everyday lives?  Or, even if seemingly a bit premature, the return of Jesus Christ?  We should be thinking twice about what we are honestly hoping in and for.  Both for ourselves and others, really.

May 10, 2011

Ch. 796 - The List: Romania

I have written about Romania before.

Nothing has changed since then.
If anything, my interest regarding Romania has increased greatly.

Oh, to be an unknown orphan of Romania.
Loved by no one save our Lord God.

Sometimes I feel so helpless.

... Is it awful to say that it's almost as if prayer does not suffice?

God-willing, my time to [physically] "do" something will come.

Until then, I place my trust in God to watch over His beautiful children, enabling my brothers and sisters to do what they can in order to help the abandoned and forgotten children of Romania.  And I ask that you would also keep Romania and her people in your thoughts and prayers.

May 5, 2011

Ch. 795 - The List: Overseas

I have never been overseas.
It seems that when people find this out they are somewhat surprised.

And you know what? Sometimes, I find myself surprised, too.

For I all too often think about a variety of oversea locations.

Dream, really.

So it's almost as if I have been to certain places.
To an extent.

So, yes, surprised.

I think also it's that I have such a great desire to be... there.
Another place.
A foreign land.
Civilized or uncharted, I want to go.

I simply do.

Sometimes I feel so out of place.
In 'this' place.
[A multitude of "here"s and "there"s.]

There are so many experiences waiting to be had.
I know there are places to see.
People to meet.
Things to touch.
Things to smell.
Things to taste.

I think you can live a full, satisfactory [if you will] life without ever having been overseas. ... But I don't want that life, necessarily. And yet I know that if, in the end, I don't end up ever stepping foot in an oversea country, I will not think of my life as incomplete.

May 1, 2011

Ch. 794 - The List: Missouri

Well... my post on Moberly, Missouri kind of stole the thunder for this post, huh? I really don't have much to say, but it is on 'The List' and so I figure I might as well give it a bit of time.

I do enjoy Missouri. I really do. One of my favorite "things" is the drive between home (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) and Moberly - especially after I cross into Missouri. Like Iowa, the state has its own beauty and I appreciate it throughout the different times of year. ... Yes, even during the winter.

I've only spent time in four places in Missouri over the past three years while at school. Moberly, of course. Columbia. St. Louis. And Kansas City. I don't have a favorite place, per se, but I do like Kansas City quite a bit more than the other places, I think.

Fun fact: Did you know that Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis are refugee cities? Refugees from all over the world are placed in these cities and given government-owned places to live and whatnot for a few months until the people are able to really get onto their feet and help themselves.

I think Missouri has a lot to offer. From those refugee cities to multiple higher education opportunities, and from many recreation and vacation spots to concert halls and museums... it seems that anyone can go to Missouri and find something pleasing or beneficial to them specifically.

April 30, 2011

Ch. 793 - The List: Alabama

Ohhh, Alabama. The Heart of Dixie.

I was born in Huntsville, Alabama and lived in Madison, Alabama until I was nine and a half years old. I still call myself a Southerner, rather than a Midwesterner... proudly, I must admit. I don't care about what people say about the South and its inhabitants being redneck, idiot hicks. I went to excellent schools and was actually ahead of the class in Iowa when we moved to Cedar Rapids in the middle of my fourth grade year. I was not raised as an ignorant farmer's daughter. And I probably had better manners than practically everyone in my new school combined, excluding my brother.

... Not that you'd be able to tell by my actually saying that, of course.
But anyway, that's an exaggeration.


Looking back, I really enjoyed the portion of my childhood that was spent in Madison. Dance classes, swim team, softball... basketball and soccer for a couple years, too. Swimming at gramma and papa's house [they also lived in Madison before moving down to the gulf]. Going back and forth to grandmother and grandaddy's house in Columbus, Georgia. Riding my bike up to Kid's Kingdom with my brother. Making up dances and practicing tumbling moves in our backyard with my sister. Sledding down an icy driveway when we got half an inch of snow and school let out... ha! I could go on and on.

I love and appreciate any time I get to spend in Alabama [or the southern states in general]. It's true what they say about southern hospitality and that comfort, or warmness, that so very many people exude. I wish I had lived there for a longer period of time. While I feel that I don't seem to be able to recall an awful lot from time spent there, some of my most precious memories are rooted in experiences in Alabama, as well as Columbus.

Okay, and I simply must mention that one thing I love about Alabama is that it's home to the AUBURN TIGERS! Ahem, the 2010 BCS national champions... A lot of my family attended Auburn, including my parents. Well. And my sister, for a year and a half.

... Now, Alabama is a place I would live in the future.
Them redneck cotton farmers need some Jesus, too, y'all!

April 25, 2011

Ch. 792 - The List: Moberly

Moberly, Missouri.
"The Magic City".
It was given this nickname back in the railroad days. Once the railroad was built through the area, it was quite the place. Now? Not so much...

My school, Central Christian College of the Bible, is located in Moberly.

I have lived in Moberly while at school for three years.
And while it's not exactly that magic city it once was, there is something I do... like [love is too strong here]... about Moberly. I can't exactly place my finger on what thing something is, though. Really, it's more of a combination of things.

Like Santa Fe, the best Mexican restaurant in town.
And my secret spot at Rothwell Park.
And the train tracks south of Moberly.
And the path I run on the most.
And the ghetto, rundown movie theater... baaahahaha.
And the haunted antique shop located downtown.
And the numerous country roads surrounding the area.

Moberly really isn't all that bad.
There's not a lot provided "to do".
But if you know how to come up with ways to entertain yourself, then you're set. Not to mention we've got Columbia a short drive away... that helps. :)

As with Iowa, I wouldn't choose to live in Moberly in the future. There's just not much it has to offer. However, it is certain that the town is somewhat in the dark in regards to the Kingdom of God and the love of Christ. And it's too bad that the community seems to have a bad perception of CCCB. Yet honestly, I don't blame them. But that's another post for another day.

The Magic City?
... Again, perhaps not so much.
But it has been good to me for the most part, I suppose!

April 20, 2011

Ch. 791 - The List: Utah

I wonder how many times I've written, thought, or said the following:
"I miss Utah."


It is true.
So very true.

I loved being in Utah for my first year of school at the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City. I loved the campus, the groups I was a part of, the people I met and became friends with. I loved the city, the weather [yes, even the snow now and then], and the adventures I had.

I particularly enjoyed the experiences I had with the Mormon students, which probably make up about half of the student population. For example: My roommate tried to convert me [to Mormonism]... and when she realized that I wouldn't, she finally gave up and moved out because she "couldn't handle living with someone who wasn't Mormon." HA! She also played the accordion... and not very well, unfortunately.

But yes, overall I enjoyed my time in Utah.
It is such a beautiful place.
And I learned an awful lot about a variety of things.

One of the most surprising things I learned was what it can be like to grow up as a non-Mormon in a heavily Mormon-populated area. You move into a dominantly Mormon neighborhood? Be prepared for your kids to not make any friends with the neighbor kids. I realize that this probably isn't the case with most "Mormon neighborhoods". But about a handful of people I was friends went through that problem. And I have heard a number of other 'exclusion' stories going along the same lines. It's just... sad. Having heard about those kinds of things made me think about moving back to Utah and doing something with YoungLife or WyldLife, or starting a new youth ministry of sorts.

Hm. I just really want people to know the true Jesus Christ, and come to realize the importance of the Bible as the sole authority - God's word. As much as I'd love to get back to Utah one day, it doesn't truly matter. Just so long as I'm doing these things and obeying God.

April 15, 2011

Ch. 790 - The List: Iowa

I would say a lot of people know the following exchange:

"... Is this heaven?"
"No, it's Iowa."

If you don't know it, the lines come from the movie Field of Dreams, which takes place in Iowa. Dyersville, mostly, and yes - I have been there. It is not the most exciting place on earth. But yes, I have been there and ran the bases of the baseball field and wandered a few steps into the fields of corn that Iowa is, well, "famous" for.

Corn, and pigs.
Oh, and soybeans.

These are the things Iowa is known for.

And here in Cedar Rapids, the Quaker Oats factory.
Also, down the street from where my parents live is Brucemore, a "castle of America", whose residents owned one of the MGM lions. Fascinating.


... I thank the good Lord that I was born in Alabama and raised there for the first ten years of my life before my parents moved us to Cedar Rapids, Iowa - not gonna lie.

There are a number of reasons as to why.
But I think one of the main ones is that I like having experienced living in two [very] different places before heading off to college. America, a melting pot? Or, as some have come to see it, a stew? Indeed.

Iowa is not the worst place to grow up or live.

... Really, it's not.
I mean, as with every place, it has both good and bad qualities.

And over time, I have come to see the beauty of Iowa.

The rolling hills, covered with rows and rows of plants in the summer.
The deciduous trees, turning brilliant hues of gold and rust and ruby.
The ground and foliage and cars and houses and mailboxes dusted with snow.
And the smell of the damp earth in the spring, the rivers churning with melt-off.


I appreciate these things more than I used to.

Would I choose to live here, though?

I just... couldn't.

I think I partly fear becoming like the people here. These... midwesterners. Iowans. Cedar Rapidians. Whatever they are... I do not like it. I know that I have been affected by them in small ways, both good and bad. For example, my manners slack when I am with friends here. The "yes/no ma'am"s and "yes/no sir"s tend to be left at home. There's a story that goes with that, though:

In my seventh grade social studies class, I had a great teacher. Mr. Schile. He was fun, and made learning really enjoyable. Anyway, one day, he asked me a question and I replied with, "No sir." He squinted his eyes at me, cocked his head to the side, and said, "Now, don't you get smart with me, young lady." He was not being sarcastic or anything. My eyes widened and my cheeks grew warm as I shook my head slightly. I had not intended to 'get smart' with Mr. Schile. I was simply answering his question the way I had been raised to. I then lowered my head and hunched up my shoulders. I think my reaction tipped him off about my use of 'sir', and he later apologized. And one way Iowa has affected me in a good way is that I have developed a good work ethic, when I put my mind to doing something. I can be lazy, that is for sure, but I can also be the hardest worker you know, when it comes down to it, whatever 'it' may be.

There's a lot more I could say.

It's 'home' for now, I suppose.
It does alright.

April 10, 2011

Ch. 789 - The List: Home

"Home is where the heart is."

Mmm... yes.
But we've all heard that before.

How about the following:
"Home is not where you live, but where they understand you."

I like this.

But I'd like it even more if it was, "... but where you understand them."

I feel that as I grow older, I find being understood less important than understanding others. Perhaps this is because I desire to be in ministry. I'm not sure, really. But if my heart is in understanding people so that I can help them and disciple them... then I suppose that, indeed, my home is there among those people.

I think I find home being where my heart is in regards to those dearest to me, my family, less important these days because I do know that they love me - and they know [I hope!] that I love them. I will always "be there" for my family, and I know they will be there for me as well. That will never change. But I'm lucky. Fortunate. Blessed. For not everyone has what I do. Not everyone in this world has a family that loves them, or a family that they can love. What a heartbreaking thought. Oh, how I desire to love people so that they may simply know that they matter. And I want people to feel "at home" - whatever that feels like for them - when they're with me. I think that's one of the greatest desires of my heart.

I don't know.

I feel like 'where' home is does not matter.
I can make a place home wherever I may be.

But I think that if I am not vested in something within that place... well, then it is simply just that: another 'place'.

April 5, 2011

Ch. 788 - The List: Students

Whether you like it or not, you are currently a student.

You just may not realize that you are.

Choose your teacher(s) wisely.

I've chosen the greatest Teacher one could choose.
Man oh man have I learned a lot from Him.

And yet there is always something new to learn.
I'm glad that I recognize this.

I will never stop learning.
Nor do I believe that I will ever stop desiring to learn.

Which is good.

April 1, 2011

Ch. 787 - The List: Teachers


That's what first pops into my head, thanks to my Boeing-/Rockwell Collins-employed father. Love you, dad - and, since I know you'll probably read this during a lunch break one day... I hope you're having a great day and that the rest of your afternoon goes well!




I could say an awful lot about teachers.
Talk about the "good" ones I've had.
And, naturally, talk about the "not-so-good" teachers, too.
I could say that, on one hand, they may seem unnecessary.
Then mention how, on the other hand, they are invaluable.

I am unable to say who I consider my first "teacher" was.
Preschool? Nah, don't remember a thing!

Hm. Mrs. Owen.
I remember that Clay Warden brought grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. And that I counted to more than 100 when I was only supposed to show that I could count to 100. And that we looked for evidence of leprechauns in a special room on St. Pat's Day. And that I was an excellent reader. And that there was another Natalie in my class, whose birthday was also on May 10. But she had brown hair and blue eyes, so she wasn't cool enough to be in the "Brown Hair, Brown Eyes Club" with me, my mom, and my grandmother. But do I remember anything about Mrs. Owen? No. Apparently she was from Great Britain and spoke with an accent. You would think I'd remember this, but nope!

First grade.
Mrs. Foster.
She made Christmas ornaments for us. I still have mine. She was really nice. Everybody wanted to have Mrs. Foster as a teacher. In first grade there was a kid in my class named Matthew Ramey. Such a cute kid. Sweet boy. But he was sick... a lot. He unfortunately had developed a brain tumor. That was really rough on me, and I'm sure on a lot of my peers. Mrs. Foster handled the situation with patience and compassion, trying to answer our innocent, tough questions the best she could. I wasn't the best of friends with Matthew, but sometimes I still think about him.

Second grade.
Mrs. Turner.
Don't remember anything about second grade, or Mrs. Turner - except that nobody wanted to have her as a teacher because they thought she was mean and strict. That wasn't the case, she was simply firm and knew how to get kids to behave. Props to her, really. Oh, wait! Her room was super colorful. Double props.

Third grade.
Mrs. Everett.
Portable year, stuck in a trailer outside. I liked to play the game 'LIFE' during indoor recess when it was raining. A drawing of mine was selected to be posted on a billboard to advertise for an arts festival. Long division became my worst enemy. But again, I don't remember much about Mrs. Everett herself.

Fourth grade, first half.
Mrs. Green.
All the girls in my class seemed to have become boy-crazy over the summer. That's all I remember. Then over Thanksgiving week, my family moved to Iowa. That's when things seemed to change, memory-wise. I seem to be able to remember a lot more starting when we moved.

Fourth grade, second half.
Ms. Wendt.
If it hadn't been for her, I probably would have tried to talk my mom into homeschooling me the next year. Scarred for life, lemme tell ya... I exaggerate, of course, but seriously... Now, while most of the kids were jerks and totally sucked [I'm pretty eloquent, eh?], Ms. Wendt made up for the fact and then some. She was pretty and sweet and caring, and put on classical music while we worked. She wanted each student to rise to their potential and recognize their abilities and gifts. She was simply great.

I'm not going to continue. That would take seemingly forever and a day.
But suffice it to say that it's interesting to think about your past teachers and see what you remember about them [good or bad]. I can't say that I've ever had a truly "BAD" teacher. Some I was never too crazy about. And others, well... others, I still can't determine whether they actually knew what they were doing or talking about most of the time. But I know that I at least learned one thing from each. And to me, if I learn even just one thing, I think people succeed as teachers in one way or another.

I think it's great that 'all kinds' of people are teachers. Because people are so different! And they learn in 'all kinds' of different ways! People aren't stopped from being teachers. If you want to teach, and you take all the necessary preparations and steps in order to become a teacher... you can teach. Unlike Air Force pilots, you don't have to have perfect eyesight. Unlike doctors, you don't have to go to school for a gazillion years and do your 'residency' at an educational institution. Student teaching doesn't count... Granted, there may be some restrictions. I mean, you can't float through college with only one general education science requirement and expect to be hired as the new AP chemistry teacher in a high school. Well okay, you could expect that... but that means you should also expect to be disappointed when it doesn't happen. But in all honesty, I feel that if you set goals for yourself, work hard, and truly have a passion for that which you desire to do... and actually receive the training and instruction needed for what you're working toward... there's no reason that you won't eventually be successful. Especially in the work of teaching. If you care at all about education and people and helping others... whether that looks like being a Sunday school teacher, a preschool teacher, or a college professor... teaching could surely be the way to go for you. People are so impacted by their teachers. Man alive! Without teachers, where would we be? It's a hard profession, a difficult thing to do. I feel that it's oftentimes thankless, taken for granted, and way too low-paying...

Kind of like parenting, eh?

March 30, 2011

Ch. 786 - The List: Friends

I wish I had a group of friends I know I could always fall back on. You know. "The group." I've never had that. Ever. I've always been a bouncer. I've had friends in different circles; I find myself able to hang out with a variety of different people. It's not that I'm an absolutely amazing people-person or anything. But I think I'm well-rounded enough that it's easy enough to relate to a lot of types of people, and have a wide array of similar interests.

Even so, I still desire to be part of a close-knit circle. I think part of this desire comes from looking at the model we find in the New Testament with Jesus and His twelve disciples. Why exactly He chose twelve men to be his close companions, we do not know. At least, I don't. Not too few... not too many? Representative of the twelve tribes of Israel? A number of perfection? I suppose it doesn't truly matter. I just know that I would love nothing more than to have a group of twelve [although I'd rather go with maybe eight to ten] people with whom I can learn and grow and love and be discipled.

It's important to have friends.
Basically all my life I've on-and-off felt like I don't have any friends.
There are times where that's been true.
A plain and simple truth.
Sometimes it bothers me to a greater extent than at other times.
My mom said something last night along the lines of, "It comes in cycles."
I know it's true.
But that doesn't make me like it any less.

Oh, but I forgot!
"I have a friend in God."

[I hate that song/saying. Yes, hate. I think that partly I don't like the idea of God being my friend because I know Him as my Father. And parents are not supposed to be your friend. I mean, I have great relationships with my parents. My mom and I are especially close. But that's what she is... my mom. Mutti. She is not my friend. And I am so thankful that neither she nor my dad ever tried to be "friends" with me or my siblings.]

Friendships/relationships take work.
Sometimes I just feel like there aren't any people with whom I truly desire to work on having a good friendship. That may not sound very kind. But I'm not going to put all of my heart, time, and energy into being friends with someone whom I don't even like that much, or can't see as a truly good friend.

Maybe more on this later.
Time for chapel.

March 25, 2011

Ch. 785 - The List: Family

[Ahem... this was actually written on 23. April 2011. I will get caught up with my every-five-days posting... and then after that, I plan on trying to write every day again. Or perhaps only every other day... we shall see.]

I love my family.
A lot.

A lot, a lot, a lot.

I am so thankful to my Lord God that I have good relationships with my immediate family, especially my parents. I would not trade them for anything in this world. I think what I am most grateful for in them is their showing of love through the support they offer me. Their confidence in me is comforting, and I can rest assured in the fact that they believe in me and the journey I am on.

What a blessing my family is.

I really don't feel like I need to say anything else.

March 20, 2011

Ch. 784: The List - Spirit

Holy Ghost.
Wind of God.
Fire of God.
Oil of God.
Rain of God.
Holy Spirit.

Whatever you want to call Him, He is greatly debated and discussed - probably just as much so as Jesus or God in general... and if not more so than the other Two within the Christian community.

My views of the Holy Spirit have changed over time, especially within the last two years. I went from not even realizing He was GOD to thinking He was just a come-and-go type of presence, and then from thinking He was only for those "super-Christians" to believing and knowing that He is very real and very available to those who confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

It is my fear that most Christians simply live their lives 'knowing' about the Holy Spirit, and not living by the Holy Spirit, fully believing in Him and what He can do. This is such a shame... I think a relationship with God includes fellowship with Christ and guidance by the Spirit. We need to realize how greatly we have the ability to rely on and trust in the Spirit. It is my belief that God works through us by the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

What a lot of people tend to focus on are the following two aspects of the Spirit: fruit and gifts.

Now, the fruit of the Spirit are as follows [according to Galatians 5:22-23]:

And gifts of the Spirit [according to 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12] include:
Tongues/Interpretation of tongues.

I personally believe that all these gifts are continually given to believers today and that they can all be used to edify the body of Christ and glorify God, as well as build up His Kingdom. I have experienced each of the mentioned gifts in one way or another - recognizing that they had to have been given to people as a gift from God. Unfortunately, I should say that I have also experienced some of these things in both positive and negative experiences. It saddens me to say that there are people who think they have an understanding of these things, but do not. And so they may attempt to forcibly use them in an improper manner, thinking they have the gift but in reality do not; or they may, indeed, have the gift but then misuse/abuse it. So it is important to have as great a biblical understanding of the things of the Spirit as possible... and then be able to pray about and have discernment of such things.

I think that everyone should attempt to know whether they have been given gifts of the Spirit [for the Bible states that not everyone will be given something], as well as work towards developing fruit of the Spirit. Easier said than done, at times... but well worth the time and effort when you consider what's been done for us in order that we may have the Spirit and His fruit at all... And when you consider how these fruits can affect other people, especially those who do not yet have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

March 15, 2011

Ch. 783 - The List: Jesus

You are Good, You are Good,
You are Good, and I worship You.

You are Love, You are Love,
You are Love, and I worship You.

You are Truth, You are Truth,
You are Truth, and I worship You.

You are Light, You are Light,
You are Light, and I worship You.

You are God, You are God,
You are God, and I worship You.

You give rest, You give rest,
You give rest, and I thank You, Lord.

You give grace, You give grace,
You give grace, and I thank You, Lord.

You give peace, You give peace,
You give peace, and I thank You, Lord.

You give joy, You give joy,
You give joy, and I thank You, Lord.

You give life, You give life,
You give life, and I thank You, Lord.

Jesus is the Son of God.
A Lamb.
A Lion.

Glorious in all ways, worthy of all our praise.

March 10, 2011

Ch. 782 - The List: God

For awhile I was thinking about grouping the next three topics on the list [God, Jesus, Spirit] into one post, just like I did for dislikes, hates, complaints, annoyances, irritations, and aggravations. I suppose the obvious reason is that these three "things" comprise the Holy Trinity: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And I mean, I could easily spend hours upon hours and posts upon posts writing about each of Them... but I feel that They each "deserve" Their own post, if you will. However, I am going to try and make these next few posts quite short, actually. Concise. To the point. I'll say what I feel I need to say, and that's that!


It basically goes without saying that God the Father has greatly affected my life in a profound way. And while it is quite easy to describe how, it is also quite difficult. After all, He is the Designer and Creator of the universe, our tiny world, and... me!


It saddens me to think that there are people in this world who refuse to give their lives to Him because they hate the idea of a puppeteer controlling them. While I do not see God as a puppeteer, I am glad that He knows everything about me and has a plan for my life. It makes me feel... secure. Safe. I live a very stress- and worry-free life, and I credit it to knowing that God holds me in His hands.

God is... good.
God is... faithful.
God is... loving.
God is... merciful.
God is... just.
God is... jealous.
God is... eternal.
God is... holy.
God is... unchanging.
God is... freedom.
God is... glorious.
God is... awesome.
God is... relentless.

And, as I'm very well sure you know or have heard: God is... love.


The truth behind these things brings me to praise my God.
My Lord God.
My Father God.

He deserves our everything.
He gives us life.
He pours out blessing upon blessing.

All honor and glory is due unto Him!

And it is my sincere prayer that He is the King of your life.

March 5, 2011

Ch. 781 - The List: Lovingkindness


Say it aloud.

Don't you just love the way it sounds?
The way it feels?

I do.

But more than the way it sounds and feels, I love what the word implies.

I feel that to show or feel lovingkindness towards another means to show affection, and perhaps even to care for, out of a desire to do good for someone other than yourself. I think that it is characterized by a sweetness or a tenderness, loyalty and devotion; and surely mercy plays a part in the lovingkindness of one to another. In doing a word study for my Hebrew class a few semesters ago, I focused on the word chesed, translated as 'mercy'. However, through my research for said study, I quickly discovered that chesed has been translated into several words, 'lovingkindness' included.

Anyway, I know that the greatest example of lovingkindness we have is our Lord God. First and foremost in that He has loved us since... before we can even imagine... and that in so loving us, He sent His Son to die for our sins, so that we can be in communion with Him. We can have a relationship with Him, and be near to Him always - and even spend all of eternity in His presence.


I was thinking about that a lot during the time I spent driving from Missouri to Alabama last weekend. And I think I will when I return to Missouri on Sunday. I mean, it's pretty heavy stuff! Here we are in the Lenten season, approaching Easter. Are we preparing ourselves? Are we truly reflecting on the life and ministry of Jesus? How often do we meditate on His word, on the beautiful Good News that is Christ Jesus, Son of God and Messiah? It pains me to see that year after year, people turn remembering both the birth and death of Jesus into holidays of sparkle and show, gluttony and greed, and emptiness and earthly things. The symbolism behind traditions that Christians and non-Christians alike partake in have been, over the years, covered up and even lost entirely. How very sad.

And yet regardless, our Lord God loves us the same. He extends His lovingkindness towards us... minute by minute, day after day. Always merciful, always loving, always kind, always loyal, always devoted. If only we were to follow His example, which can be found in His Son, Jesus. If only we were to extend these things to one another - to the lost, and the broken, and the hopeless.

... If only, if only.


Pray that others would feel the great desire and need to show lovingkindness to those around them. And that they would share the hope and joy and love that they have in Jesus Christ with others.

March 1, 2011

Ch. 780 - The List: Thankfulness

Alright, Thanksgiving is only eight months away. Better start thinking about what you're thankful for so that when it's your turn at the table to say something, you know just the right thing to say.

It has to be simple.
It has to be thoughtful.
It has to be meaningful.
... And you have to use the words 'God' and/or 'blessing'.

In all seriousness, though, I don't have a lot to say.

We don't give our Lord God 'thanks' often enough.
At least, not in my opinion.
Which means that really, I don't give Him thanks often enough.

But perhaps it is true that you do not, either.

So I challenge you to do exactly that.
Right now.
Just... give thanks.
Talk to God.
Thank Him for those blessings that He has so graciously bestowed upon you.
Thank Him for the seemingly meaningless things.
Thank Him for the small stuff.
Thank Him for... anything. Everything.

After all... He is God.
He kinda-sorta-totally deserves our thanksgiving.

February 25, 2011

Ch. 779: The List - Forgiveness

"I forgive you...
[Who knows what's coming?]
... because God forgave me!"

Man... I feel annoyed when people say that.
I really do.

Because it's a Christian cliché.
And I hate Christian clichés.
Yes. You read correctly.
I hate Christian clichés.

I don't care how true said cliché may be.
Usually when I hear/read one, I find myself thinking, 'Oh please.'
[A rolling of the eyes usually accompanies this thought. Needless to say, I roll my eyes a lot while here at school.]

Sometimes I wonder if we even have the slightest idea what it means to truly forgive someone. Ope, there she goes again... critical, cynical Natalie [nice ring, eh?] - always pointing out faults and weaknesses and the tragedies of life.

"Forgive" me.

Honestly, though.


Did you catch that?

The general concept of forgiveness is so meaningful and important... it began with the ideas of everlasting love, mercy, and grace. So is it truly so difficult to understand why I have my doubts as to whether we know what forgiveness is?

I don't know where to go with this.

February 20, 2011

Ch. 778 - The List: Brokenness

Oh, to be broken by my Lord God.

This is something we should be willing to pray for now and again.
Well. In my opinion, that is.
But let me tell you - expect rough seas when God begins to respond.

Yet it is good.
So very, very good.

To be broken means to be convicted.

God works at helping us tear down those sinful walls we put around our hearts... piece by piece by piece... until sooner or later, we stand before Him entirely - open and exposed. Broken. In desperate need of His tender mercy and love and grace. Oh, but the fight we put up against Him at times! Even when we know that we truly desire - nay, need - to be broken. Even when we know that we truly need to be cleansed and purified. It can be a painful process. I mean, it is a stripping away of all that we have held to so tightly... but these things keep us from the almighty Father! And we can only keep ourselves from Him for so long, I feel. It is no wonder that we feel the great need to be broken of anything and everything that is not of Him. The true desire of our hearts is to be with Him. To draw near to Him. To be filled with Him. To love Him, as He has loved us.

Oh, to be broken by my Lord God.
... How it hurts.

I am okay with that.
It reminds me that I am alive.
Alive in Christ.
A sinner.
But desiring to be like Him.

February 15, 2011

Ch. 777: The List - Happiness

Ha! Happiness... Fun fact: I just wrote a post on my other blog titled 'Happiness. Pure happiness.'
[By the way, today is actually February 28, not February 15. And I am glad that I am behind in writing my posts... because if I had truly written this post on February 15, it would have been written/read a lot differently...]

For the past three[ish] weeks, I have been... happy. Very happy. I haven't necessarily felt joyful, mind you, but that is okay. Yet that is important to note, I think, seeing how there is a difference between being filled with happiness and being filled with joy. Anyway, this is kind of a strange feeling for me. It's not that I am never happy - that is far from the truth. But I can't remember when I had such great feelings of happiness for an extended period of time such as this. It has been consistent. Steady. Seemingly ever-growing, even, and I can't fully explain it. I mean, I'm not on one of those "spiritual highs", nor am I going through a time of a prayer [for happiness] being answered - although I am more than thankful to God for it all.

I know that there are a number of factors in my life that have been contributing to my happiness. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. However, I do not think that our levels of happiness should be entirely dependent on our circumstances and "stuff" and... whatever [Am I eloquent or what?!]. Part of me believes that we should simply be able to be glad for the life that we have and the blessings that God gives us... and be happy. Of course sometimes - or a lot of times - that is easier said than done. I also wonder just how greatly our personalities play a role in our happiness or lack thereof. It is difficult for me to decide where I stand on that. And then of course there are also issues like chemical imbalances that allow for depression to affect people and it can be so very difficult for them to truly just... be happy.

That saddens me.

I feel that happiness is actually taken somewhat too lightly. It is important. It truly is. It can affect us so greatly, and also others through us. While I don't think that happiness is as contagious as joy, it can certainly lead to good things for others. Happiness is attractive. If you seem to be more happy than usual, people are more likely to approach you and converse with you; they'll be curious as to what is different for you and why you're so happy - trust me when I say I am speaking from recent personal experience. You can use those opportunities to speak of the goodness of God and those blessings that you feel He has bestowed upon you that have contributed to your happiness. Well. If that's truly the case, that is. If you're happy because your mean ol' great-great-grandma passed away and left you quite an inheritance, so be it. And... I guess... that can be counted as a blessing, too... okay, different example: If you're happy because your brother broke up with his stupid girlfriend you really didn't like, so be it. Spread the news. Why not? Just be sensitive about it...


But seriously. I think that happiness can lead to a lot of great conversations, especially conversations regarding God and the hope that you have in Him. I mean, I don't know about you - but knowing that my life lies in the hands of my Lord God gives me reason to be pretty happy!

There are also a variety of things that bring happiness, of course, that may seem pretty general or very specific.

For example, people make me happy.
Knowing that God created each individual... it makes my heart happy.
Being warm makes me happy.
I hate being cold, and warmth brings out the best in me, I feel.
Queen City Christian Church youth make me happy.
Those kids are so great, and I am blessed to be their sponsor.
Green vegetation makes me happy.
The knowledge of coming spring floods me with an impatient peace.

And it continues...

Being happy is good.
I think that God desires for us to be happy.

Sometimes I think that one way we can be happy is to give ourselves attitude checks and tweak our mindsets. I have found that if you start your day with the expectation that it will be a good day, and that God will bless you, and the belief that you are happy, chances are your day will be characterized by each of these things becoming and remaining true.

February 10, 2011

Ch. 776: The List - Real...ness

[Written on February 27. One of these days I'll be caught up and start writing "on time" for my List series (every five days). Meh, we'll see.]


Not really a word... but it worked with the group of words I put it in.

Being real.
One of my favorite topics in the entire world.

Man oh man, where to begin?


Call it a gift.
Call it a skill.
Call it intuition.
Call it fake.
Call it stupid.
Call it whatever you want...

But I believe that I am more easily able to tell when people are being real. More so than the average Joe, I suppose. Or maybe more like I can tell when people are not being real - even when others believe that they are being real. Why? I don't know. How? Again, I don't know. Just... 'cause. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I have not turned into a 20-something, socially-operated robot. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I am one of those kids who are tired of "religion" and "church". Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I want to see people come to know the Truth, filling themselves with Christ, and Christ alone. Or perhaps it has to do with the fact that I have dealt with too much confusion and misguidance and even false teaching, all coming from people whom I sincerely felt were not real.

And you know, those types of things are becoming a real problem these days.
It seems that we don't take the time to think for ourselves anymore.
We want to be spoon-fed information, and told what to do.
... That makes me feel sick to my stomach.

We are so greatly influenced by "the world" and people around us.

Family and friends.
People we don't even know, yet strive to be like.
... Because they seem to have it all together.

Who are YOU?
Do you even know?
And if you do, does it truly matter?

Think about that one for a minute.


Think about it.

What makes you... you?
Is it the family you come from?
The school you attend?
The activities in which you participate?
Is it the people you hang out with?
Your talents and abilities?
Your personality and demeanor?

In what - or whom - do you find your identity?

I pray that you are able to answer, "Jesus Christ!" - but not just because you know it's the "right" answer, but rather because it is the wholeheartedly honest truth.

But how do you share that identity?
Do you share it using your God-given heart and soul and spirit?

Do you share it at all?
Are others able to see Christ in you?
Can they see you being... you... shining with the light of Christ?


How can you expect to learn and teach and grow... if you keep your thoughts and dreams and inspirations and revelations to yourself? I mean, I understand the need that we have for some feeling of privacy. Believe it or not, I am more of a private person than some may believe - yes, me, the writer of internet-posted thoughts for not one, but two blogs. Anyway... And that privacy is important. But when we attempt to cover up the pools of depth that are within us out of fear, or worry, or anything and everything else, I think that in the long run of things we end up hurting ourselves. You've heard it before: something about you taking risks in order to gain reward... Well. I believe that is true. Maybe not regarding everything in life. But with a vast array of things, I think it is true - and that includes being real.

It's not that you simply don't care what others think about you.
It's not that you simply wear your heart on your sleeve at all times.

Being real means that you care so much for others that you will put yourself out there - all of you - in order to relate to and help them. ... Your fears, your dreams, your worries and concerns, your joys and hopes, your pain and suffering... everything. But most importantly, you clothe yourself with Christ at all times and share HIM, above all else. He can readily be seen as the center of "your" world. Being real means you don't sugarcoat or water down the Gospel, or what it means to be a disciple. You meet people where they are, taking a genuine interest in them. You let them know that they are not alone in their trials and tribulations; but you also let it be known that you can't change their life for them - only Christ can do that. Be vulnerable... transparent... with others. Stop hiding. And tell it like it is. Always. This doesn't give you an excuse to be abrasive, of course... but it does give you an excuse to be bold in our Lord God and ask for discernment in the Holy Spirit, following His prompting and allowing Him to speak through you.


There is more.
There is a lot more.

But I am unsure about how to continue.

I know this post was choppy. It was difficult to create transitions with my thoughts. My mind feels like it's working overtime, and it is becoming all the more difficult to think clearly. And, as aforementioned, there is so much I want to say! However, I think that I will simply let this post be. It is not meant to be a tutorial. Being real is something that you ultimately have to figure out on your own. Read the word of God. Talk to Him, listen to Him. Pray for help. Set others before yourself. Be yourself. Be true. Be real.

February 5, 2011

Ch. 775 - The List: Dislikes-Aggravations


These are the next six subjects on the list.

... So perhaps you can understand why I have delayed writing any new blog posts over the past couple weeks. I mean, I did it to myself; I'm the one who wrote them down in the first place. But really, why would I want to have to think about these things and write about them? That's an awful lot of negativity. I suppose I could simply limit myself to writing very small posts about each subject. That wouldn't be so bad. Definitions. Lists. Done. I may do that. Or, I may group each item together and just write one blog post. We'll see. So, until I [finally] decide how to attack this... peace and grace upon you!


Ch. 775, Part Two:

[Technically it is February 23, not February 5.]

Well. I have finally decided that I do not desire to write separate posts for each of those things on the list. But I didn't want to entirely group everything together. So the following is what I have come up with:


People have a lot of dislikes, usually. Or at least I feel that this is true. I know I do... But anyway, I consider things that I dislike to be pretty meaningless. Small. Petty. Dislikes are not a big deal, in my mind. We are each entitled to our own opinions and thoughts and feelings about anything and everything. They are a part of who we are, no matter how trivial. For example, I do not like sauerkraut. Or mayonnaise. Or the feel of polyester. I also dislike cats. And country music. And arguing.


I think the word 'hate' is overused and it doesn't mean anything anymore, to most people. Mmm, clichés... "Hate is a strong word." It is! And I don't think that people realize the difference between something they do not like and something they truly hate. I really do not like to say aloud that I hate anything [or anyone], unless it is [in my opinion] pretty much justified. But indeed, there are several things that I do hate. I hate bullying. I hate Romania's current international adoption status. I hate impromptu speeches.


Much like saying they hate things too often, I think people complain too much. I don't consider myself a complainer - except when it comes to school... my mom can testify to that. But I feel that I don't complain about it as much as I used to. I am really trying to seek out the positive rather than the negative in my circumstances. And I mean, I've decided to come back to CCCB for an entire year... so it really must not be so bad, right? ... Anyway. I figure that I am simply altogether far too blessed to truly make time for complaining about "stuff". Life is too short, yo. I have it good. Really good. I wish that other people could see that about their own lives.

Annoyances, Irritations, Aggravations

Alright, I grouped these three together because they are so similar. I think that most people would say that they are the same thing, but I disagree. Yes, they are similar... but the level of intensity in feeling progresses with each. And I think that certain things can be an annoyance, an irritation, and also an aggravation, depending on the situation and other factors. For example, let's say you have a sociable friend-stalker. You don't really know this person, you just know of them. But one day they approach you to talk. You're a little confused, but think nothing of it other than, 'Cool, a new friend.' From then on, however, they seek you out and try to strike up a conversation whenever they can. It's annoying. Then they take it to the next level. They get your number from someone and constantly text you, friend you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, and email you at least once a day. You don't really know what to do, so you just try to ignore them. But... it's irritating. Soon, they're basically smothering you. Whenever you turn around, there they are. Breathing down your neck, latching onto you, and telling everybody you're their best friend... you don't know how much more you can take. You confront them and try to talk about it, but they won't listen. They don't change. So now, you're quite upset. It's aggravating. You just can't get through to them, and it seems that you're going to have to file a restraining order. Great.

That may be a bit of an outrageous example, but I think it works to an extent.

Something that is an annoyance isn't a big deal. Like a mosquito or gnat, it's just a little pesky... and you can brush it off pretty easily. An irritation is something that gets under your skin, though... pushes your buttons... and you may have to work harder to deal with or get rid of it. And then an aggravation is something that more severely affects you... and you may earnestly feel angry or upset about that which is aggravating.

I think it's interesting to see how different people are when it comes to these types of things. What may be simply annoying to me may be extremely aggravating to you... or vice versa. But I think we can all deal with these things in the same way, in going to our Lord God to ask for guidance, discernment, and boldness.

February 1, 2011

Ch. 774 - The List: Concerns


This is something that bothers me.
Believers tend to gather and have these little sessions of "Joys and Concerns"... you know what I'm talking about. Usually it takes place during youth events, like Sunday school or youth group. But adults are just as... guilty, you could say... Sometimes there are even slots for joys and concerns during church services.

... Not a fan.

That's why.

[I kid, I kid.]

In all actuality, I feel that they can be a waste of time.
Think about it. How often is that which is mentioned a true concern that we should be lifting up in prayer to our Lord God?

I have a lot of concerns.

Like for my neighbor's co-worker's grandmother's youngest granddaughter's best friend's sister's cat, which has been stuck in a tree for four and a half days. Poor Fluffy...

Okay, that's a pretty ridiculous example. And it's somewhat biased, because I really dislike cats with an extreme passion. But it was based on an actual statement given as a concern in a youth group I have helped out with in the past. From how my memory serves me, my example was practically word-for-word, not even kidding.

I'm sorry, but I'm not going to pray for that stupid cat.
Heart issue?
But there are concerns... issues... problems... - whatever you want to call them - out there that should take... priority, I suppose, in our prayer lives, both in a congregation and as an individual.

People in this world are dying every day.
People in this world are alive to sin, and only sin.
People in this world do not have the assurance of salvation.

They do not know love.
They do not know mercy.
They do not know grace.

They do not know our Lord God.
They do not know Jesus Christ, Messiah and Son of God.
They do not know the Holy Spirit.

THOSE... are legitimate concerns.

January 30, 2011

Ch. 773 - The List: Likes

Well... there are a lot of things that I like. Take all the things on my "joys" list... I like all those things. But not everything I like brings me joy. Example: I really like water, but it doesn't necessarily provide me with joy. Although I suppose if I was dying of hydration in the middle of a desert, coming upon an oasis would allow for water bringing me joy... Anyway, I am not going to construct a ridiculous list of "likes" for this post. Rather, I would like to write up a short explanation of the importance of those things in life. I wonder whether people really think about just what is "said" about them based upon the things they profess to like or enjoy. I also wonder whether they realize that acting upon said "likes" can be of great assistance to one's happiness in life. Do you know how many people do not like what they do for a living? A lot. I really do think it's a good idea to follow the advice, "Do what you like to do." Okay, with some restriction, I guess. Just because you like to play video games doesn't mean you should do that all day, every day or for a "living". But pursue a career in the video game field, you see? What kind of things that you like fuel your passions? Start there... and see where God leads you.

January 25, 2011

Ch. 772 - The List: Joys

I suppose I'll begin with the obvious: Jesus is my joy. You know, a friend of mine often posts that statement for her Facebook status. She'll go all out, adding hearts and exclamation points, usually capitalizing all the letters. Nice. Yet as great as that seems, the cynic in me can't help but come out and I usually find myself wondering, 'Really? Is Jesus truly your joy? Does that statement even have any meaning anymore? Or is it now old and tired, and basically habitual?' ... Of course, who am I to judge? But I'm simply being honest.

Jesus is my joy.
My Joy.

He can be - and is - a lot of people's joy... but that means different things to each. While I believe that our Lord God is universal, I don't think that He is the same to each of His children. And I love that. I'm thankful for that. That's another that things that brings me joy - variety. Differences. Knowing that diversity exists makes me happy because it reminds me how grand this place we call "home" is... and that I am merely one person. Small. Finite. It makes me remember how big and powerful and majestic my God is - and that is a wonderful thing. I love thinking about position and location... I mean, currently I am sitting in a room within our student center. The student center is located within the central part of our campus. Our campus is located in southern Moberly, which is in north central Missouri. Missouri is in the Midwest within the United States of America. The country is part of North America, in the western hemisphere. The earth [obviously] consists of two hemispheres. The planet Earth is the third planet from the sun, within the Milky Way galaxy... amid universes and universes and universes.

And yet my Lord God holds my life in His hands.
He knows every thought.
Every desire.
Every fear.
... Everything.

Joyous thoughts, indeed.

Sometimes I wonder if people realize the true joy that is available to us, the joy that is a gift through the Holy Spirit. There is truly a difference between worldly and spiritual joy. Joy unspeakable... uncontrollable, even, to an extent. Let me tell you: the worst time and place to experience this is during the school day... while in class... oh boy - but dare not complain about that! Anyway, this kind of joy fills you entirely. Sometimes you have no idea where it comes from; it simply comes upon you and you can do nothing but accept it and praise God. I think, however, that it is good to ask God for this kind of joy, and expect that He will give it to you. But I also think that it's important to share this joy with others - don't keep it to yourself! Allow the Spirit to move and work through you. Who knows what others will gain from that shared portion of joy? Things such as knowing that a prayer has been answered also gives me great joy. Divine appointments. Vulnerability and meaningful conversation. Sigh... God is good.

On a more secular note, some things that give me simple joy include the following [in no particular order, of course]:

Country drives.
Sitting in clover patches.
Exploring new places.
Memories of Mer.
Empathizing with others.
The smell of fresh cut grass.
My hands - and getting them dirty.
My nephew.
Discipling girls.
Really great, fresh fruits/vegetables.
Mountainous regions/hills.
Being scared [weird, I know].

Regardless of your definition of joy, and what brings you joy, you should consider taking the time to think about such things, and thank God for providing you with them.

January 20, 2011

Ch. 771 - The List: Dreams

Ohhh boy. Dreams.
And I'm not talking about dreams that occur during sleep, just a heads up.
[Perhaps another day.]

This is also not a post for encouraging you to "FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!" and "SHOOT FOR THE STARS!" I mean, that's great and everything. Sure, go for it - whatever "it" may be. But this is really just a matter-of-fact type of post. And it's all about me. Me, me, me: the way it should be [mmm, sarcasm... well, sort of].

I suppose I could say that I have a few dreams... a multitude, actually, if I were to interchange the word "dream" with "desire". I desire many things - some more deeply than others. And it is those deep desires that I more fully believe are God's desires for my life, which He has placed within my heart. I'm going to keep it fairly short and sweet, though, and only bring up a few of these dreams/desires/whatever.

Well, dreams... as with fears, I know I have written about dreams in the past. They specifically had to do with ministry outreach to Muslims and Mormons. I feel that a few things have changed in regards to working with Muslims but I don't believe it is God's will for me to do outreach to Mormons. At least not in the foreseeable future. And that's okay. Now, with the Muslim ministry... I don't feel that it is absolutely necessary to go overseas for... well... "forever". I've been thinking about that a lot the past few months. Part of me feels that doing so would hold me back, in a way. And there's just so much I want to do... and a lot of it I don't want to do overseas. So we'll see how things develop here in the semi-near future.

There are some... traditional, you could say... dreams that I have, alongside dreams of serving God and His kingdom. For example, I dream of one day having a husband. A husband who also desires to have a God-centered relationship. A husband who can lead. A husband who is willing to make mistakes, learning from them [because we all know he will make them]. A husband who can help me, but firstly whom I can help. A husband who is thoughtful and caring of others. And, naturally, I dream of having children. Yeah, yeah... I know: "typical woman"... for the most part. I dream of having children who come to love God as I do. Children who fear Him, as well. Children who have good [Southern!] manners. Children who obey. Children who seek the approval of God over that of man. Children who are honest, who understand the importance of morals and values.

[On a less serious note, I also dream of the day that I can finally say that I am not an indecisive person... oh Lord my God, let that day come soon!]

Recently I have realized that a dream of mine - a strong desire, truly - stems from the concept and practice of discipleship. Discipling young women, more specifically [even though I do want to be able to work with kids in general, girls and boys alike]. I have had the opportunity to disciple girls only a few times, but I have cherished those chapters of my life dearly. I feel very strongly about discipleship, and wish that others would, too. It is so important in our journeys to have people we can trust whom we know are willing to teach and guide us... pray with us... give advice... mentor us... help us grow in our faiths, and grow as people in general.

There's so much more. Meaningful things and trivial things - but regardless of their supposed level of importance, they are all unique and special to me because they are part of me. And God has created all parts of me - dreams and desires alike - in a manner that makes me unique and special to Him. I am a daughter of the King of Kings. Wow. All blessing, honor, power, and glory belong to Him.

January 18, 2011

Ch. 770 - The List: Fears

I have written about fear multiple times in the past. I actually did a search on my blog and the word "fear" came up in 32 posts. Granted, some of those were only in Bible verses, and I may have not actually written about fear... but still.

However, it doesn't matter - especially seeing how fears themselves can change over time. And I feel that mine have. I used to say that I had no fear, other than the fear of God [see Ch. 145 - duly titled 'Fear']. I've also mentioned the fear of man, and the fear of complacency. My biggest fear at one point in time was that of losing God. It happened. But for a reason - and it never will again.

It saddens me that so many people's lives seem to be controlled by their fears. There are approximately 500 indexed phobias... but a phobia is simply a fear. There could be "_______phobia" for anything and everything, technically. The possibilities are endless. But truly, I feel that some people allow their fears to take over... and that's not right. It's not fair to them. But until they realize that whatever they fear can only do so much... those phobias will continue to reign over them.

What is the worst that can happen? Illness? Loss of things or people? Death? These things matter not, if you know that which should truly reign over your life, God. The fear of God displaces all other fears, in my opinion. And if you fear God, if you revere Him, you love Him. And if you love Him, you fear Him. Nothing can touch you when you have these things. I mean, illness will run its course. Both material items and people come and go. Death brings you home.

I feel that currently, I have a variety of petty fears. The Triple-S-Threat... Sharks. Snakes. Spiders. Walking across streets/parking lots. And even of these I suppose I could say that really, I just dislike them intensely rather than truly fear them. Other than that fear of God that I mentioned, I feel like there is nothing that weighs heavy on my heart as a "fear". Which is good. And I am glad there are no fears that control [even a portion of] my life.

... I thank God for that.

January 15, 2011

Ch. 769 - The List: Plans

I find it interesting that we "plan" in such a variety of ways. There are things that we plan to do - and there are things that we do not plan to do, and yet happen anyway. There are blue-print plans, and flight plans. There are activity plans, and pension plans. There are plans made to achieve and succeed, and there are plans made to ruin and destroy. Designing. Projecting. Intending. All part of the planning process.

I feel that most often, we plan for ourselves - both consciously and subconsciously. Sometimes we have a very specific goal or aim in mind, and plan accordingly. Other times we have a deep desire or need, without even realizing what they are, and yet the paths we traverse are centered around fulfilling or obtaining said desire or need. Westerners especially plan for themselves, I think. Always trying to get ahead, and then stay ahead, of others. We make these lofty plans because of what our culture and media tell us are important: wealth, power, success... and we will do anything and everything to "make it".

Planning... I do love thee.
But I have, to a great extent, given up on you.
You're just no good for me, it seems.
You let me down, time and time again.
How many plans have I created? How many plans have seemed to rule my life? How often has my reliance on plans gotten in the way of truly living? And how often has God had to remind me that it is HIS plan that truly matters the most?

Now, don't get me wrong... I'm not saying that we absolutely, positively cannot plan. For one thing, I think I would go crazy if doing so was not allowed. I am a planner. Simple and true. But "planning" does not define me, nor my life. Not anymore, that is. It certainly used to; God took care of that [see Chapter 8]. I talk about planning a lot, I feel. It really is a big deal to me. Thus, I am so glad that quite some time ago I came to the beautiful realization that God has done enough planning for me... I needn't worry. Or stress. Or be fearful, anxious. And I feel that we do need to make plans to an extent - make plans so that we can follow His plan. We should not, however, be surprised if/when God tweaks our plans. His will be done. If our plans do not fit His will, then, well... He'll help and guide you. That's all. He is in control. He holds us in His hands. And He desires the very best for each and every one of us. What a calming, reassuring thought. God the Provider, God the Creator, God the Planner - He loves you. So seek Him. Trust Him. And obey Him.

January 10, 2011

Ch. 768: The List - Church


Church... hm.

It is difficult to know how to begin. For "church" fills my mind with a multitude of thoughts, all very different from one another. Yet at the same time, they are somewhat complementary to one another. Indeed, "church" has a variety of meanings. At times that knowledge... well... irritates me. Thus, I have a great desire to inform people of those different meanings, because some people do only have a singular view of what "church" is. And truly, their ideas may be somewhat wrong. Now, we can try and change the word around to better describe what "it" is, but I don't think that's very productive. In the end, people are going to continue to use the word "church" the way they see fit to do so.

It's a building.

It's a service.

It's the body of Christ.

I would say my first two layman definitions are both true and false. That is why I go so far as to say some people's ideas as to what church is may be wrong.

Is church a building? No, not really. But people have, over time, continuously said, "We are going over to the church!" to let it be known where they are going. Granted, some may say "church building" rather than merely the church. Truly, the same meaning is implied. To many, "church" is but an architectural structure, and nothing more.

Is church a service? Again, not quite. Oh, but, "We go to church each week." I suppose this is more appropriate than calling a building the church. I mean, by going to church, we gather in order to be edified and praise God. But church is more than a weekly worship service. It is more than something to be placed on a timeline, letting us know when to assemble.

And so we come to the last definition. "Church" is the body of Christ. This is unswervingly true. There is no way around it. It is nothing more, nothing less. It cannot mean anything other than that. It is not used as an explanation for something created by man. The Church is a body of believers, united by the blood of Christ. We are called to serve. We are called to love. Teach. Disciple. Just as children are to obey their mother and father, so too are we to obey our Father God. For the Church is a family. A community. It is more awesome and beautiful than any cathedral ever constructed, and more powerful and Spirit-filled than any worship service conducted. And I am more thankful for the body of Christ than I ever have been before.


Ch. 768, Part Two:

A story.
Yesterday I went to... a time of gathering for prayer, music, and teaching... in a building that used to be a bar... okay, just kidding. See what I mean, though? Anyway, when I went to "church" I experienced one of those moments where God seems to say, "Natalie, listen. Look. Pay attention!" I did exactly that, actually. Towards the end of the service we were singing songs of praise to our Lord God. At one point we were told by the pastor to close our eyes and just think about the Father and His love for us. His role as a Comforter. As a Provider. As the congregation did so, the children returned from Sunday school. Their running feet created a wondrous sound as they came into the room. Some feet made little more than a "pitter-pat" on the carpeted floor, while others made a resounding "clomp, clomp, clomp" as they raced back to their seats. I couldn't help but smile and let out a soft laugh. When the footsteps lessened and the music began to pick back up, I opened my eyes. A man sitting in front of me was looking to a back corner of the room. I allowed myself to follow his gaze and saw one of the small boys he had brought with him that morning, standing in the back. The man then smiled widely and opened his arms. The boy ran to him and was enveloped by the man's arms. Oh, what a beautiful sight. I could - can - easily imagine myself in that young boy's shoes, running into the arms of my heavenly Father. I was suddenly filled with a feeling and thoughts of magnificent love. Oh, how I am blessed.

January 5, 2011

Ch. 767 - The List: Nomads

I can only imagine how many people have ever chosen to describe themselves as living with a nomadic heart. I know that I have, many a time. I believe it to be true. I don't enjoy staying in one particular place for an extended period of time. There is so much to see, hear, smell, do... This world is too big, its people too many, and its experiences too vast to simply stay in one place for all of one's life. Granted, I do realize that some people do have that desire to simply stay put for as long as they live. Born, raised, lived, died - all in one town. And that's great for them... but to many such as myself, that just won't cut it.

My parents moved our family from Alabama to Iowa when I was in fourth grade. That was okay. I then moved to Utah for my first year of college. That was great. Then I moved to Missouri for these last three years of college. That was okay. Each place has its pros and cons, naturally. And what you get out of a place really depends on what you make of your time there. But you know, with every traveling experience [big and small], a deep desire to simply... move... rises up within me. Not constantly, of course. I don't desire to live out of a suitcase and drive to a different state every other week, or backpack through Europe for the rest of my life. I mean, that's a little much. But there is something very appealing about living in such a way that allows for freedom of movement and minimalism.

The nomadic Tuareg tribe of south-Saharan Africa has fascinated me ever since I learned of them a handful of years ago. I mean, the desert in itself is absolutely fascinating. But a people-group who has, throughout time, been intentional in choosing to live there... what could be more interesting? After all, most people strive to live away from the desert. Or, at least to have the amenities to make them comfortable if they do live in or near those types of regions. Now, the Tuareg do not constantly move. They have nomadic seasons, moving only two or three times a year. And the way things are done as a nomadic people has changed over time, due to geographical limitations [i.e., country borders and resource ownership]. There is a large sense of being, rather than doing - so different from the lifestyles and ways of Americans. And I love that. To live in a community that is much defined by simplicity, yet still understands structure and society... that concept and imagery is beautiful to me.

I think that living a nomadic lifestyle would have many benefits. Next to being able to see many different places and people, one would be able to have an influence on said places and people... hopefully in a positive and God-honoring manner. Not attempting to change these things, of course. But rather walking through those doors that God opens... in order to allow Him to work through you... for in the end, it is Him Who changes lives. One reason I would love to be able to work in Romania one day is that I would be doing gypsy outreach. And gypsies are, in essence, nomads. So not only would I be able to learn from them and see how they live, but - over time, God-willing - I would be able to come alongside them, developing relationships. Disciple them. And as they continually move on, they would be able to do the same thing... with those whom they know and meet in the places they travel to. I mean, how neat is that? So in that regard, nomadic living is all the more interesting to think about.

I see nomads as people who do not take much... but are greatly thankful for that which they come upon and use, as well as possess. They move in order to take advantage of different places that offer certain things that they need, and/or to escape that which may threaten or endanger them. Regardless of motive, I do admire those who live nomadic lifestyles.

January 1, 2011

Ch. 766 - The List: Islam

Oh, how my heart aches.

I see a sister walking down a path that I once traveled.
I see a sister turning away from the Christ whom she so lovingly showed me.
I see a sister making a mistake - even though I know I do not know the story.

I see confusion.
I see desperation.
I see misguidance.

I see a lost girl.

I know.
I feel.
I remember.

I remember what it was like to be lost.
To be going down a path that seems to simply be... "right".

The worst part? Sometimes I feel fingers, reaching from the false light, tugging at me. How strong and relentless they can be. More than once have I believed that my heart and mind were going to be ripped into pieces.

And so I fear for this lost girl that I see.
... Yet all I can do is pray.

Pray that she continues to seek for truth... for the Truth.
Pray that she is influenced by someone as I was influenced by her.
Pray that she turns around and runs back to Him who holds her in His hands.

And pray that she comes to fully understand the meaning of John 14:6.
... Just as I did on that beautiful spring morning two and a half years ago.

Oh, how my heart aches.

But there is a peace that washes over me as I remember that HE is so much bigger than any of us. My soul is calmed as my spirit is stirred.


I just realized that this post has something to do with the first item of that "list" I created in Ch. 765. Thus, the title change from "One return. One departure." to "The List: Islam". I had said I would likely be posting reflections on each thing that I listed. I didn't know what those reflections would look like or how/when they would begin. ... But obviously, it just sort of... happened, eh? So alright, then. Here we go.

November 29, 2010

Ch. 765 - Growth Spurts

There are a lot of things I could talk about.
There are even more that I could write about... Does that make sense?











... Sometimes that's all I want to talk/write about.
I mean, sure - this is my story.
I could technically say/write whatever I want.

And yet, I don't.
Not truly.
Not fully.

Because I think that what I mean is I would speak of those... negative... aspects of "me". All of those things - topics - that I listed do pertain to me in some way. I could write about all of them regarding how they affect me, what I think about them, what they are, what they mean to me, etc... And some of those things most certainly do or would have a negative spin to them, I feel. I am sure I would have something positive to say about each. But really, overall, the tone would be negative.

So... is that so terrible?
Desiring to focus on "ME" to an even greater extent?

Doing so could, quite possibly - quite easily, really - lead to direct disobedience regarding the two greatest commandments that my Lord God gave me, I believe. Especially when that desire comes to fruition in actually talking with [more like at] others - regardless of whether they are believers and I think they can "handle" that which I find myself just thoughtlessly spewing out.

It's not that I would... come to love myself more than I currently do. At least I don't think so. But the focus on God and others would not be as great as it should be. I find it easy to see how my love for each would become diluted. I think it is awfully difficult to love others as you love yourself when all you care about is self and talking of or about self.

I don't know where it comes from.
I mean, I suppose I do.
I may have Christ.
I may have the indwelling Spirit.
But I still have flesh.
Man is man.
And man is selfish.

[Even so, God is the Father - Creator - of man. And thus, these... characteristics... are canceled out by His love, grace, and mercy.]

Perhaps I simply haven't fully come to embrace the fact that I do have people I can talk WITH [not at], realizing that over time we will learn about one another and come to love one another for who we are... made in the image of God... attempting to become more and more Christlike. I appreciate the fact that this can and does happen in a variety of settings. People are relational regardless of where they are, what they are doing, and who they are with - whether they realize it or not. Point of the matter is, if you are willing to invest time and energy into others, it will be reciprocated.

Perhaps I am afraid of coming to realize something about myself that I don't want to know. Because, chances are, it would not be pleasant and I know that God would need to work on me. Ouch. And yet, how good that is. I think that by going deeper and just getting things out there with others is good. Blank pages of a journal only offer so much comfort. Ink and lead run out eventually. New journals must be bought. And forget about personal insight and feedback. You can make the journal covers flap as if they are lips for as long as you'd like - but at the end of the day, you won't have heard a single word come from them. The same can be said about an empty HTML box on a blogging site. Start, stop, start, stop... delete this, edit that. Distractions abound. Granted, the hum of the fan offers a familiar comfort, as does the dim glow of the screen in a darkening room. Millions of resources for extra help, advice, suggestions, musings, and additional words are at your fingertips... but what does all that truly matter? What does that say about you?

Oh, how I am growing.
[And I am certainly thankful that my shoe size will stay the same.]

I think I'm going to begin a series of reflections on each of those things I listed at the beginning of this post. I may or may not post them on my other blog.