I Am Still Confident of This

I am still confident | www.heismakingeverythingnew.comCan I be honest? 

This first month of 2015 has not panned out quite how I had thought it would. It’s been filled with a lot of challenges and emotional ups and downs, discount but it feels like mostly downs.

It was incredibly difficult to leave my family and return to Ecuador for a second semester. Last semester in Ecuador was an incredible experience. I felt like God was constantly surprising me with new aspects of His character and in the things I saw Him doing around me. As I flip through journal entries from last semester, I’m reminded, and even surprised, by how much prayer I put in to the semester and by how God answered those prayers in magnificent ways. I felt like it was a semester of refinement for me, where the Lord really stretched my character and my abilities in ways that just wouldn’t have been possible had I stayed in Boston. And I truly am so thankful for it. I also made some incredible friends and was constantly challenged to face my day to day life with a heart of adventure. It really was an amazing semester.

But studying abroad is also exhausting. I’m always at least a little bit outside of my element and the constant street harassment and not feeling safe in my own city has worn on me. Living in a completely different country with a totally different culture is hard, as is being away from my family for so long.

My first week in Ecuador was really difficult. I landed and less than 24 hours later I got super sick with what turned out to be a stomach infection. How on earth did that even happen so fast? I was sick for several days meaning that I missed my first few days of classes and spent a lot of time alone in bed. This definitely didn’t make my transition back easier. Last semester I was amazed by how easy my transition was–I adjusted quickly and didn’t experience much homesickness. This time around has been pretty different. I’ve experienced more homesickness than ever before in my life, which has been a profoundly hard and new experience.

I’ve been continuously reminded of the importance of holding on to the promises of the Lord. I know that God has a specific purpose in me being in Ecuador for another semester. I know that He has already gone before me and prepared an Amilia-shaped space for me in this place. This has been something I’ve held onto tightly as I’ve struggled through this past week.

One Sunday morning before leaving for Ecuador I was at church and during the service there was a time where people took turns reading out scripture. One woman stood up and spoke out these words, “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” As soon as I heard those words, I felt God saying very strongly that this was His promise to me for 2015. Those words have been very powerful for me this first month of the new year. It’s been a reminder to be expectant to see the goodness of God here and now, in the land of the living. The following verse reads, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait on the Lord.” These words have reminded me that there is often an aspect of waiting to see the promises of God fulfilled. I don’t believe that the waiting is necessarily because God wants to withhold good things from us…I think sometimes we just don’t know what’s happening in the waiting because we see such a limited picture in the scope of the universe. But I do know that God is not ever far from us, and my prayer has been, “Lord, meet me in the waiting.”

I believe that God has special, joyous, and good surprises in store for me this semester, and even in my times with Jesus this week I’ve felt what it’s like to be met in the waiting, to learn in the waiting, to build an enthusiasm in this season for my day to day and for what is to come.

Things are already feeling easier as I’m physically feeling better and getting back to the swing of things. I am so thankful for all who have been praying for me and who have reached out to me these past few weeks–it has made a significant difference. I would absolutely love further prayer, encouragement, and words from the Lord as I live out my life here in Ecuador. It takes faith to say that I am still confident of the promises of the Lord, but praise God that He is so faithful and that we can expect to see His goodness in the land of the living.

Is God Enough For Us?

Is God Enough For Us? | He is Making Everything New

I am now accepting orders for this motivational poster ;)

Let’s imagine that you are the only person on earth–you are completely by yourself but you have perfect intimacy with God. You get to experience the incredible beauty of God’s creation while immersed in His constant, sick unhindered presence. Would that be enough for you? Would it be enough for any of us?

I used to think that the answer was an obvious yes–God is all we need to live a joyful, info content, rheumatologist and fulfilled life. If we had perfect intimacy with Him we would never feel lonely and we would never need anyone else. Our real issue is that we live in a fallen world and all this darkness and sin gets between us and God, but if we could live in a place without sin, we would only need God to complete us, to fill our souls. But I don’t believe that anymore.

That wasn’t what you were expecting, was it?

Here’s the thing–the Bible tells us that our hypothetical scenario was real. God created the heavens and the earth and he fashioned one human being, Adam, to live in the world He created. There was no sin in the Garden of Eden, nothing to keep Adam from God, and Genesis 3:8 seems to suggest that God was present in the Garden in a physical form. And yet, God said that it was not good for Adam to be alone. Alone? But how would he be alone if God was there? But he was alone–Adam needed the presence of another human being to fulfill him, to satisfy the longings of his soul, in addition to his relationship with God.

Some might argue that God created Eve not because Adam actually needed her to live a fulfilled life, but rather that God wanted more children to pour out his love on and so he made Eve so she and Adam could have children.

But that argument isn’t convincing to me. If we did not need the community of other humans, wouldn’t God just create an infinite number of gardens and create a beautiful individual to place in the middle of each one? Or wouldn’t He at least create a less intimate way to procreate? And if relationships and community didn’t really matter, why would God strip himself of heaven to come and be with us on earth? Because of our salvation, you say? Well then, couldn’t Jesus have been born and then killed a few hours after his birth? Why was it necessary for him to become friends with a close group of men and women and live life among God’s children?

I believe God placed the longing for heaven into each human heart because he knows that we will never be fully satisfied without him. He wants to give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4), but I also think he made us for community. He designed us in such a way that we need each other. Our families and friends and spouses and children are not some sort of substitute for God until the Lamb breaks the power of Satan and restores God’s creation–we need these relationships to really live.

Now, of course, we do live in a fallen world and Satan twists our relationships to hurt us. But, in spite of this, we still need each other. And when we’re living in the new heaven and new earth, we will still need each other.

I agree with C.S. Lewis that “if we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” If we are in tune with the deepest longings of our heart, we will find that we have a longing for a place we’ve never been but that we somehow remember. We have a longing for home. But I would submit that we also have a deep longing for real intimacy, vulnerability, and the experience to be truly seen and known by those around us. The desires of our heart really go hand in hand–our pursuit of God should deepen our pursuit of human beings. And our relationships with those around us, people created in the image of God, should lead us deeper in love with the Lord.

This has practical applications for our lives. If you’re trying to take yourself out of the world so you can be more connected with the Lord, you’re missing out on a beautiful part of life that God created for your delight–intimacy and community–and actually might cut yourself off from a deeper understanding of God that we can only get from living life with others. And if you’re trying to find your identity and purpose for life in those around you, you’re never going to be able to fill the deepest longings of your heart.

What Recovery Looks Like

In my first ever post on this blog I shared that God told me that 2013 would be the year I recovered from my long-term eating disorder. And it was. This is an update on my recovery journey, ask two years after I received that promise. 2014 ushered in a year of solid, glorious recovery. I’m living a life I never thought was possible and it just keeps getting better year by year!

I’ve learned that recovery truly is a process. In 2013, I had a lot of bad days, days where I felt like my eating disorder was controlling my life. But I was able to stop all my eating disorder behaviors and then slowly my depression started fading away and my self esteem improved and I entered 2014 with so much more confidence and actually loving my body for the first time!

In 2014 I found a continual increase of good days. Days filled with glorious freedom, days where my mind was able to fully focus on the present, on my day to day life and my relationship with my friends, family, and God. I would find myself during rare, quiet moments realizing that I hadn’t even struggled remotely with my eating disorder in a long time. My eating disorder is becoming more and more removed from me, fading into my past, becoming more like the memory of a nightmare that almost doesn’t feel real to me anymore.

If you had told me that this sort of recovery were possible for me while I was in treatment or even during my first semester of college, I wouldn’t have believed you. And yet here I am.

I’ve learned a lot about recovery and have been so surprised by the faithfulness of God. And when I say the faithfulness of God, I really mean it. I think back on the life I was living, completely miserable and distanced from my friends and family, hating myself and convinced that God didn’t love me, and I’m left feeling astounded and thankful because I know none of it would have been possible without God’s never-ending pursuit of me.

My recovery means that I’m living a joyful life. It’s not all happy rainbows, it’s not perfect, but it is marked by joy, a hope and excitement for each new day.

My recovery means that I understand that food is necessary for my health and survival, but also that it can be eaten simply to be enjoyed.

My recovery means that I can go clothes shopping and not be bothered that I can’t fit into the sizes I used to wear. It means I can wear a bathing suit and feel pretty darn good about myself.

I love my tattoo for so many reasons – it reminds me of God’s promise and faithfulness to me and it also embodies all the things I’ve learned about recovery – it’s continuous, it doesn’t move on a straight line. He is making everything new. He’s doing a new thing. And if it’s possible for my life, it’s possible for yours.

What Recovery Looks Like | He is Making Everything New

Recovery is a process and I’m learning what its twists and turns looks like. I am looking forward to the day that I realize that I haven’t thought of my eating disorder for years. I know that day is ahead of me and I am ready for it!

My First Year in Review

This time last year I started this blog and I am so glad I did! It’s been a fun space for me to write and share my passions and I’ve loved interacting with you all and sharing ideas. I appreciate all of you who have read my posts and who have encouraged me throughout the year! I wrote a total of 54 posts this year, hemorrhoids which I welcome you all to re-read at your leisure ;) but for now, pharm here are the 10 posts that got the most views this year, resuscitator and then a few of my personal favorites!

He is Making Everything New Year in Review 2014

Top 10 Posts of 2014

1. My Summer Goal: Becoming Olaf

Now this one was a bizarre surprise. I think what happened is that a lot of people googled Olaf images and my blog post came up, but I’m glad I got to share my love of Olaf with so many other people!

2. The Issue with How to Train Your Dragon 2

I wrote this post in response to seeing How to Train Your Dragon 2. I liked the movie but felt that the dark-skinned villain communicated a subliminally racist message.

3. I Believe in the Church

“The Western, American church is going to continue to fail as long as it continues being a place you go on Sunday mornings, sit down, listen to someone say things that don’t reflect the words of Christ, present a happy face, and leave without it having any impact on the rest of your week. Until we reform the way we think about Church, we can’t expect a reformation of the Church.”

4. God made my vagina and he made yours, too (unless you have a penis. In that case, God made your penis). 

“I’m guessing a lot of Christians live life with the feeling (either subconscious or recognized) that their bodies are sinful, especially those body parts that are used for, you know, sex. I think this is probably especially prevalent for women in the church who are constantly told to be modest so as not to “be a stumbling block to their brothers.” I think one of the unintended results of modesty culture is that women have lost ownership of their own bodies because the very existence of our bodies is enough to cause any man we encounter to fall away from Christ. And this leads to a lot of shame.”

5. God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines | Book Review

“This book has been called a game changer and I could not agree more. Matthew Vines has an incredible dedication to the validity of Scripture that has often been lacking from this conversation. He also demonstrates tremendous faith in the way he loves and follows God, which is evident in how he loves and respects even those who disagree with him most. This book is going to challenge, teach, and inspire all who read it with open hearts and ears to hear. I have absolute confidence that Matthew Vines is going to be long remembered as one who lead the Church into deeper revelation of God and His understanding of and love towards His gay children.”

6. He is Faithful to his Promises

This is my personal favorite because it started off this blog and also a whole new glorious chapter of my life!

7. What Frozen Teaches Us About Domestic Violence

“Often times people have a really hard time believing women who say they’re in an abusive relationship or kids who say that someone is abusing them because the abuser is just so nice. The brilliance of Frozen is that the abusive, manipulative, murderous, power-hungry man is also handsome, a great singer, and outwardly very kind and polite. And I would suggest that, in reality, abusers are not creepy, unwashed men who are violent and rude in all areas of their lives–they’re often very normal people and even fun to be around.”

8. How I Never Would Have Overcome Depression Without the Church

“When you are in the valley, do you have people who will walk with you? When you are incapable of coming to the throne, of praying, do you have people who will pray for you? Do you have people who will physically come around you and bear your burdens away? We need each other to face the troubles of this world. We need people to remind us that the Lord is faithful when we can’t seem to hold on to that truth. As my friends reminded me that night, we need people to remind us of how far God has brought us, and how far He is going to bring us in the future. We need the Church to remind us to hold on to His promises when we feel like letting go.”

9. Be Kind For Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle 

I wrote this post in remembrance of one of my high school classmates you ended his life.

“His suicide was a wake-up call for me to extend more grace and more kindness to those around me because the reality is that we never know the extent of the battle they’re facing.”

10. Things You Say That Contribute to Eating Disorder Culture

This post, along with my whole Eating Disorder Awareness Week series, was one of my favorite things I wrote this year. I got a really good response from people reading my posts and I loved knowing that my experience was helping other people understand their loved ones’ struggles.

My Personal Favorites

Here are a few blog posts that ended up being my personal favorites from the year, even though they didn’t get the most views.

1. The Who Rules the World Series

These posts were my first series and first real theological writings, and they address one of the theological topics I am most passionate about!

2. Remember Who the Real Enemy Is – Processing World Vision with the Hunger Games

“I love how deeply God knows me and I love the creative ways He speaks to me. I love how He knows just exactly how to point out my sin in a loving way. I love that He knows that in the past few weeks I’ve watched Catching Fire about a billion times and I love that He’s connected and involved enough in my life to use Catching Fire to speak to me, teach me, convict me, and help me process every heartbreaking detail of the World Vision story.”

3. The Danger of Dress Code

“A core part of Christianity is that it’s inclusive–everyone is welcome at the table. One of the problems with a dress code is that it can make things exclusive. If your youth group has a dress code, what happens when a new person comes and isn’t following the dress code?Instead of the Gospel we promote a shallow religion of rule following and dos and don’ts.”

4. When Relapse Happens

“And I’m learning that relapsing doesn’t change the fact that I am a new creation and that I live in Christ’s freedom. I belong to Jesus and Satan has no authority over me. My identity is freedom and that cannot be shaken or taken away from me. My relapses do not define me or change the fact that my story is about God’s continual faithfulness to me.”

What We Learn from Santa and Jesus | Advent 2014

What We Learn from Santa and Jesus | www.heismakingeverythingnew.com

There are clearly a lot of differences between Santa and Jesus, bronchi but I’ve never really thought about how opposite they are until this year. As I’ve been meditating on Christmas this advent season, plague I’ve been struck by how we have one season that celebrates both Jesus and Santa, and yet their messages and the lessons they teach us are completely different.

Santa teaches us that he keep a count of all our mess-ups and sins and will hold them against us.

Jesus teaches us that he sees us as pure and holy and righteous.

Santa teaches us that good deeds make us deserving of good gifts.

Jesus teaches us that prostitutes and murderers and traitors are the first to receive the gift he offers.

Santa teaches us about a practical system of rewards and punishments designed to make sure we behave.

Jesus offers his ridiculous and wasteful love, knowing that grace is the only thing that truly transforms hearts.

Santa teaches us about a world that is just–people get for Christmas what they earned that year.

Jesus teaches us that a baby came into an unjust world and suffered an unjust birth, life, and death, all the while teaching us of the importance of fighting for beauty and love and grace and truth.

In advent, we are caught between the tension of waiting for a Savior who already came and one who will come again. The tension of living in a world on its way to redemption but not quite there yet. The tension between being sinners and holy co-heirs with Christ. The tension between wanting Santa’s orderly, practical system of justice because it’s so much easier than wrestling with the messiness of mercy and grace, but also hungering for the extravagant love of a little baby. It’s a love we will never be able to fully understand, and yet it’s love that is strong enough to break the chains of death and redeem and restore us beyond what we could ever imagine.

In the midst of pain and longing and confusion, Jesus is a reason to rejoice. He is Emmanuel. He is the Savior. He is the Hope of the world. He is the baby we are waiting for. He is coming.

1 2 3 4 13