Update

So.  I don’t have much to say, but I’ll give a little update.

I got a new study Bible the other day.  I’m very excited to start going through some of it.  My previous Bible was just a “notes” one, which mean it had a place to put notes, but it didn’t have any kind of study thing at all.  So, I’m excited.

Also, in my reading plan, I am about half way through Ecclesiastes.  That one is a bit of a strange book.  I’m not sure I really understand any of it.  When I finish this plan, I’ll definitely be going back to that one with the study Bible and trying to figure it out a little bit more.

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Summer Camp

So, early last month, the beginning of July, I found out unexpectedly that I was going to summer camp.  It was like four days before, but I was ecstatic.  I’d been to camp one year before, and it was awesome, so I definitely wanted to go again.

It was just as awesome as I remembered.  We had amazing worship (a terrific band, trust me), and our speakers (we had two; one spoke in the morning and the other in the evening), and they were both awesome and moving.  I spent the entire week hanging out with my cabinmates, which was a little strange, since I’m usually very much of an introvert.  But I loved spending time with them and time with Jesus.

In that one week, I memorized twenty-five Bible verses and by the end of the week, I could recite them all together.  It was John 15:1-25.  I’m not sure that I can still give you the entire verses, but I think I still remember most of it.

We had so many other awesome things, too.  Our church played capture-the-flag with a football, and I accidentally wore flip-flops.  I didn’t let that stop me, though, and I ran as fast as I possibly could.  Didn’t catch as many people as I’d have liked, but it was a whole lot of fun.

There were other things that happened, too.  A bat flew into one of the boys’ cabins the first night we were there, and somebody got bitten.  He was fine, but the entire rest of the week, everybody was teasing him (and he was making jokes about himself) about having rabies.  We also had some cabins play pranks on one another, which was not pleasant.  I’m so glad our cabin didn’t get involved.

Anyway, onto the more Jesus-y stuff.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so close to God as I did in that one week.  I prayed more then than I ever have, and I read my Bible every morning.  I learned a lot from the speakers, and I really wish I’d kept notes.  I’d brought a notebook and pencil, but I was so absorbed into what he was saying, I didn’t actually write anything down.

My reading went from the last few chapters of 2nd Chronicles, all the way to through Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and half way through Job.  Since then, I’ve finished Job, read Psalms (yes, in it’s entirety) and just started Proverbs this morning.  I’ll admit it’s not quite as fast as the actual plans would have me go, but I’m still happy with it.

I’ve also found prayer to be a lot easier since I came back.  Prayer has always been my weakest spot, but I think it might be a little better.  I also met so many people and I still talk to them at church, so my fellowship has been better.  I don’t feel stressed out about talking to so many people, either, which is often when happens to me after a while.

So, yeah.  Summer camp was awesome.  To finish up this post, I’ll share a joke that one of the leaders told me the last day.  While I was eating breakfast, of course, so I nearly made a mess of myself.  I barely kept it in.  Nobody else seemed to find it as funny as I did, which was disappointing.

Jesus said to John, “Come forth and have eternal life.”

But John came fifth and got a toaster.

I’m Actually Still Alive…and Coming Back to Blogging!

Boy. It’s been three months since I’ve posted last. I’m not entirely sure why I suddenly stopped posting. I did go on vacation, but that was only two weeks…not three months.

Anyway. I’m back now! As I said, I came back from vacation. Something about being away from home for two weeks really messes with a person’s routines, so now that I’m back, I feel like I can do a whole lot of things different with my life. Break bad habits, create some good ones… things like that.

First in line, get back onto my Bible reading plan. The crazy one that’s supposed to have gotten me through the Bible in three months. I can’t remember when I stopped reading it, but, unfortunately, I did. So whereas I should probably be done with it by now, I’m only in 1 Chronicles. That’s still more of the Old Testament than I’ve ever read, but I really want to finish this.

Next, I need to work on praying. This has always been my biggest weakness. I don’t really know how to pray, so instead of trying to figure it out, I’ve always just… not done it. Being a writer who loves character interaction, I know how important communication is, and how bad it can be when two people stop communicating. So, I need to start communicating.

I think I might also start up my verse-a-day post that I had going for a little while here.

Man. My life hasn’t changed too much since my last post, but I feel a lot more optimistic than I think I’ve felt in a long time. It’s a very likable feeling. I hope I can do something with it.

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I’ve been feeling a lot better since my last post. Not great, but a lot better. I started a Bible reading plan that I found on my Bible app that will take me through the entire Bible in ninety days. Ninety. Days. I have to read about twelve to sixteen chapters a day. It’s really crazy, but it’s been forcing me to actually read a decent amount so I don’t fall behind. Unfortunately, I have fallen behind a little, so it might take more like four months, rather than three, for me to read through it, but even so, I’m really going to do this!

I’m also trying to work on memorizing verses again. My mom stuck a whiteboard in my room because there was no room for it anywhere else, and I decided, hey, might as well use it. So I wrote a memory verse on it. Currently, the verse on it is Psalms 5:11. I’m trying to have it memorized by the end of the week, if not before then.

I’ve also done something I probably shouldn’t, and I have a plan for the next few years of my life, more or less. My mom always says, “We make plans; God laughs”, but I feel a lot better knowing I’m not wandering blindly. It’s not a specific plan, though, so it’s not like it shouldn’t be adaptable to what God wants me to do. I hope.

For the most part, I’m planning on going to college. A few months ago, the idea of college absolutely terrified me. The biggest problem, I think, is that I’m homeschooled, so I’m used to being able to work at my own pace with my work, and I was terrified of the idea of having to work like everybody else. But my mom pointed out to me that college is different from high school, in that I’m not being forced to go there. If I don’t want to go to college, I don’t have to. And my cousin pointed out to me, I don’t have to do everything all at once. If I want to take only two classes in one semester, nothing’s saying I can’t do that. I still can take it at my own pace!

So, I’m feeling more confident about this. I don’t have any particular degree in mind to work for yet, so at the moment, I’m just planning to get a general thing. As my cousin put it, just “get my feet wet”.

Aside from that, it’s still pretty vague. I don’t really have a “dream job”, and I don’t think I particularly need one. I want to be a published author, but I’m thinking it might be better for that to be a side thing, like maybe something to just add a little extra money, but it’s mostly just going to be a hobby for me to do in my free time. As for what actual career I’ll go for, I have no clue. Maybe I’ll go somewhere with my art. Maybe I’ll get into music a little more. Or maybe God has something completely different planned for me.

Again, I’m not too worried about figuring it all out, like I was a few months ago. I still have to finish high school, and I know God will guide me in the direction He wants me to go.

What Am I Supposed to do With My Talents?

The things I love are holding me back. When I wake up in the morning, I think about trying to get some writing done before school. I don’t think about God or my Bible. Just writing, school, and often my baby brother, since he often wakes up before I do. As I eat breakfast, I think about how boring Cheerios are. When I eat lunch, I think about how lunch is the most boring meal in the world, unless there are good leftovers, which doesn’t happen often, there being seven people in my household. During school, I think about how annoying my literature class is and how I’d much rather be working on my own personal creative writing instead of poems and Shakespeare (or other well known/classical writers), or how history is so dry, even though I know it can be interesting, or how grammar is tedious since while it might take me a moment to remember which is a coordinating conjunction and a correlative one, I know how to use them in principle and I learned all of this stiff last year, didn’t I?. When I’m doing chores, I think about how school ran late so now I have a bunch to clean before my dad gets home from work, because we don’t want him to come home to a messy house. When I eat dinner, I think about how the day is nearly over and I’ve drank barely half a glass of water all afternoon—which is really bad. When I go to bed at night, I think about the writing I did that day and what my characters did and such. Often, I end up dreaming about them.

Mostly, I think about writing. I love writing. I love the fictional characters that exist only in my head and I love exploring things through their eyes.

I’m told I’m good at writing, too, even if I personally see more faults in my work than good, so I like to think its one of my talents.

But it gets in the way of God.

And I’m pretty sure, if I want to have a proper relationship with God, I need to get it out of my way. But it’s my favorite hobby. It’s my break from real world stress and issues.

What would I do if I didn’t write? Who would I be if I wasn’t a writer?

Why would God give me a talent that I only have to push away again?

I need help. What should I do? Writing has dominated my life for three years, so without it, I don’t even have anything to /do/ in the evenings after school. I could read, but I’ve noticed I can’t do that for very long without getting a headache. I could draw, but I’ve been so stressed out hat I can’t seem to draw more than once a month. I could play music, but my flute hurts my throat so hat I can only play for fifteen minutes at a time, at least until I work it up higher. Fifteen minutes is not very long.

But that’s wrong. I don’t need to fill my free time with other things. I need more time with God. But it isn’t supposed to be just a few moments that you spend with God, right? You’re supposed to honor and worship and praise and be with him throughout the /entire/ day. I don’t know how to do that.

I think it’s not really something I do but it’s more of a perspective. But I’m not sure how to get that. Why should God care if I write fiction. Why should God care I like drawing girls with really long hair?

I don’t know all of my talents, obviously. I know that I’ve been told I’m good at writing, drawing, and playing the flute. Aside from that, I can’t think of much else. I can see how I can use the flute to worship God—but that’s hard when every time I sit down to use the instrument, I get sorely frustrated at the un-music-like noise that comes out of it due to not having practiced in six years. I don’t know about the others. I don’t know how to paint or anything, I just draw with a pencil and sometimes charcoal when I’m feeling different. How can that be used to honor God? I can’t see a way.

I know there are people I can ask. There’s my pastor, there’s my three youth leaders, there’s my brother’s pastor and his wife, there’s who knows how many other people in the church who don’t really know me but would probably be more than willing to help me. There’s also my parents.

But I can’t ask. Everytime something happens, I think, I’m going to talk to my youth leaders about this. Then, by the time Wednesday rolls around, I just feel silly. And I don’t say anything. Sometimes, I don’t quite feel silly and I gather up the courage I have to ask. Then, while I’m waiting for them to finish their conversation with someone else (my leaders seem to know every single other person in the church), I’ve lost my resolve. I can’t do it. I’m scared, sometimes even terrified, of asking and I don’t know why. It doesn’t make any sense. Why should I be scared of asking for help? I’m not scared of admitting I need help. I’m not scared of my church or my leaders.

The only thing I can think of is that I’m scared of not being taken seriously. Often, I can’t express things into words properly and I screw things up. My dad makes comments like, “and you call yourself a writer?” and I feel awful. My mom often misunderstands. I can never really express what I feel, so nobody understands, not as much as I need them to. They usually understand pieces, but I can’t even /express/ the whole picture, so they never realize they’re missing something.

Even now, I don’t think I’m saying this right. I’m making certain parts seem like no big of a deal, when they are, so it makes no sense. I barely understand myself now.

I hate being scared. It’s the second worst thing I’ve ever felt—the worst being that…I don’t understand why God cares. Why should He? Why should He bother caring about me? Maybe He doesn’t, not really. I know the Bible says that’s wrong, so I don’t even know why I still feel that way, but when I’m really upset and I need God’s help, I’m afraid he won’t help because he doesn’t care about itsy bitsy me, out of the seven billion or however many people are on the Earth now.

The History in the Bible

My family went to church this morning, after…several months of not going on Sunday mornings.  A big part of it, I’ll admit, is that my cousin is struggling with what she believes, so my mom invited to bring her to church with us.  So we went.

I went and got myself lost, because a lot of the rooms had been moved around, and that was a little embarrassing.  When I found the right room, though, I sat with a friend, and had a bit of a conversation with her friend about how annoying it can be to loan out books to people and then get them back in terrible condition.

We didn’t have worship, since one of the guys had injured his thumb and I guess the rest of them weren’t there.  But it turned out they were doing a sermon on the book of Esther.  I’ve read Esther once, a while back, but I don’t really remember it, and I didn’t do anything in-depth, so, the sermon seemed to be interesting.

It was pretty interesting, though I wish I’d been there the previous two weeks to get it from the beginning.  The thing that really caught my interest, though, is that our speaker really seemed to think that when you really get down to all of the things that happen, the book of Esther is really interesting.  He told us some of the history behind one of the people, Haman, I think his name was, and it really hit me…

I like reading so much, yet I’ve always had trouble reading the Bible.  Part of that is because it’s so hard to understand, and part of that is because I don’t know the history or really what’s going on.  But when you get down to the history of it and the little things, it’s actually really fascinating.

I think I’m going to look into that more, instead of just reading idly.

Lukewarm Christianity

Last night at my youth, my pastor spoke about something he’d been reading and learning about in his quiet time. Basically, it was all about the question: “Are you all in?” And, it really felt like he was talking directly at me.

Am I all in as a Christian? Or am I one of those lukewarm people, those that the God says he will spit out of his mouth?  Not…really.

At the end of his sermon, my pastor said that some of us are probably scared to be fully in as a Christian because we’re scared that God won’t pull through for us.

Is that how I feel? Yes. I’m scared. No, I’m terrified. The past year, 2013, I felt like I’ve been mostly all on my own. I lost my uncle and my grandmother. I had a rather terrifying seizure. I lost a lot of my motivation to do anything. For a few months at the end of the year, I really lost any self-confidence I had. And… a whole bunch of other things. Worst of all, though, I lost some of my faith in God. In hindsight, I’m not really sure why I fell away instead of growing closer. Usually, when something happens, I always turn to God. But this time, something was different.

And now, here I am. I’m bored and lazy. I have no motivation to do anything—not even things I used to love doing, like writing or drawing or learning about science. I’m spending time finding pointless, unproductive ways to pass the time, like playing silly video games or watching TV shows or something. Every time I don’t do something productive, I feel awful and incredibly lazy. Yet, I have no clue what to do to fix it all.

Last night, Ricky really inspired me to get up and do something. I’ve got to be all in, right? I can’t be lukewarm anymore—with all of my life.

I have a poster up on my ceiling (why the ceiling? Because I have a mural, a window, my closet, and bookshelves taking up all of the wall-space) that says Smile, you're designed to.  And, I’ve been wanting to put up other quotes and things with it, things that I can see when I wake up in the morning and when I go to bed at night. So, I think I’m going to put up Bible verses and reminders to pray and read my Bible. I’m not sure what else I can do, yet, to fix all of this, but this is my (rather late) New Years Resolution. (That, and trying to make more friends, which…isn’t working very well, especially when I got sick with the flu for a week and a half. But, hopefully it goes somewhere.)

So, there it is. Of course, I’m still really scared, but Ricky assured us last night that God will always be there for us, if we’re “all in.” That explains why I’ve felt like He hasn’t been there for me before, because I’ve just been lukewarm. But, hopefully, not anymore!

It also occurred to me that I should probably talk to somebody in my church and see if anybody can help me with this, but I’m honestly a little scared. I’m not sure why I’m scared, since it makes no sense, but I am.