We are all Willow//Maggie

Ever since I adopted my wonderful puppy, Willow, last November, God has been using her to teach me a lot about myself and my relationship with Him. I’ll give my roommate Jocelyn the credit for coining the phrase that we say daily in our house: “we are all Willow”. Her (Willow) relationship to me has helped me put myself in her shoes…bear with me here. Willow and I have a child to master/mom relationship. I am not at all relating myself to God, because I am not perfect or even close to being like God, but it’s more that I’ve been able to look at Willow and her behaviors, and see aspects of myself in her. There are three big things that I notice about my dear pup, that I can apply to me walking with Jesus.

  1. She thinks she knows what’s best for her.

Something that I tried so hard to avoid when rescuing a dog was getting a young puppy. I wanted it to be easy, coming to me perfectly trained. I realized how selfish and unrealistic that was especially with rescue because I had no idea the life they had before they got to the shelter. The first thing Willow did when I met her was jumped and nipped me in the face. It has been a long yet rewarding process watching her learn and respond to me. Even still, she knows better when not to do things. Whenever I leave the house for a while, she will try to find anything she can eat or chew on. She knows that she shouldn’t be counter surfing, but she wants to do it, so she does, and then I come home and she is so ashamed. In my relationship with Christ, I think I know what’s best. I try to control my time and the plan for my life. I go back to things that I know is going to hurt me in the long run because it’s what I want, and then I come to God ashamed of messing up. He doesn’t want us to feel shame when we mess up. He loves us. He’s taken care of our sin on the cross. He knows what’s best for us, and we have been set free from the bondange of sin. It doesn’t have a hold over us, God still has us.

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the fruit you reap leads to holiness, and the outcome is eternal life.” Romans 6:22

We are living in the now and not yet, the process of sanctification is that, a process. When I come home and Willow can’t look at me and cowers in the corner, first, I laugh because she looks ridiculous, but then I call her into my arms and I pet her and tell her it’s ok. We think we know better, but God is the one who we can trust with our lives. God has what’s best for us. Even when it doesn’t make sense, God knows what we need that will bring us closer to Him, and help us to grow. He loves us.

  1. She lets fear consume her.

Most of these past 8 months with Willow, she freaks out if I leave her presence. When I would go get ready for the day and she’d sit out in the family room with Nayra last year, she would whine at my door just laying there wondering why in the world I left and thinking I was never returning. She couldn’t see me, so to her I was gone for good. I abandoned her in her time of need (which is always). This past year has been a really tough one emotionally. My team had experienced unimaginable loss, and it just seemed like bad things kept happening. I started to live more in fear than in peace and trust of God. As I headed to Ocean City for summer mission (which will have to be a whole other blog post), I lived in fear of the next bad thing happening. I wondered if I would experience something horrible, and I sat in that for the first couple weeks. Thankfully God was using the Word and people in my life to speak truth and encourage me so my perception of “waiting for the next shoe to drop” was removed and God gave me peace in my heart.

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’.” Romans 8:15

  1. But, she knows the sound of my voice and listens to it (mostly) because we spend so much time together.

I chose Willow to be mine, and that gave me the responsibility of loving her and raising her well. The only way she was going to listen to me and trust me was if we spent time together and I showed her how much I cared for her. She had trust issues when I first got her because the shelter picked her up after living on the street for a while. Because of the time I’ve invested in her, and because she loves me so much, she can differentiate the sound of my voice from anyone else. She recognizes me as her dog-mom. She chooses to be with me rather than other people sometimes because of who I am to her. She comes running to me when I call her.

With God, spending time in His Word is so important because that is how we get to know His voice. We have the Holy Spirit in us to guide us and teach us, but lies can get into our heart too. We can get truth and lies jumbled up if we aren’t spending time knowing God and knowing his truth. That was a theme for our women’s time in OCMD. Truths and Lies. Being able to believe truths deep down in your heart, not just as head knowledge, is key to combatting the lies we hear every day. We need to spend time with Jesus to know His voice. By knowing His voice we can cling that much harder to the truths he speaks to us in our heart when everything around us is cutting us down, telling us we are worthless and no good for anyone.

“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand.…”John 10:27-28

We are all Willow. We think we know what’s best for us, and we turn to fear. Thankfully God is in control. He loves us and knows what’s best. He gives us peace. We can know his voice by spending time in His Word and sitting at his feet.
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This is Willow trying to be a part of the blog writing process yesterday. What a goof. <3

 

“I will never be satisfied”//Keriann//W&M

“You strike me as a woman who has never been satisfied”

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean. You forget yourself”

“You’re like me. I’m never satisfied”

“Is that right?”

“I have never been satisfied”

“Satisfied” is one of my favorite songs from Hamilton (which, if you haven’t listened through yet, I would highly recommend). It also hits on something everyone is familiar with: satisfaction. I find this to be an especially pertinent topic for our generation, with all the new ways people can attempt to satisfy their desire to be admired, loved, or earn the respect of others. However, the only way we will ever be truly and completely satisfied is through Jesus Christ himself.

I’m sure in this day and age that everyone has had the experience of ordering something online. You see the picture of the product that perks your interest, so you click on it for more details. You scroll through the display pictures and, subconsciously, start fantasizing what it would be like to own it. Once you place the order, a short burst of contentment washes over you. You go about your daily business, but the knowledge that it’s on its way puts a little more pep in your step. You eagerly await its arrival and every time you check the mail and it hasn’t arrived yet you’re secretly disappointed that it hasn’t come yet. Then, on that fateful day, you are finally holding the package, the package that will fulfill all your hopes and dreams (maybe a slight exaggeration). But what you find instead (or at least in my experience) is a muted sense of contentedness at best or frustrated disappointment at worst. You have what you wanted, but its effect doesn’t last long. It may or may not live up to your expectations, but either way you’re already over it and ready to move onto the next thing. We are in a never-ending quest for something that can quench our desires.

This mentality isn’t limited to materialistic tendencies either, it applies to all aspects of our lives. Lately, I have seen it play out in my own life quite often. Many of my friends are traveling internationally, whether it be for study abroad or vacation, or pursuing professional internships this summer. Furthermore, every time I check any kind of social media, I am bombarded with more engagement announcements, wedding photos, and posts about babies being born than ever before. Being surrounded by all these people who are growing so much professionally and/or personally, it is easy to find myself discontent with my present circumstances. Despite the fact that I know in my head that my work at this Christian summer camp is part of His plan for me and will bear fruit in His timing, it is easy struggle with feelings of insignificance. There are many aspects of myself with which I am dissatisfied. Appearance. Intelligence. Travel experience. Musical talent. Athletic ability. Chinese fluency. Not being as well-read as I’d like. Singleness. I could go on. Proverbs 14:30 says “envy rots the bones”, and I have found this to be true. When I am constantly dwelling on the things others have that I don’t, it feels like part of me starts to wither away on the inside. The abundant life Jesus speaks about in John 10:10 feels like a foreign concept to me.

Like the Samaritan woman at the well, we are trying to find satisfaction in the things of this world. We place our identities and worth in what we can do, what we have, who we are with, and our present circumstances. The thing is, we are always seeking what is “good” (or what we think is good) for us. But “good” isn’t good enough, it isn’t God. Good will quickly run out on us. It is far too temporary to satiate our thirst, to fill the hole that only a relationship with our creator is able to do. Ultimately, anything that is not Jesus himself will fail to satisfy us. He promises us we shall never thirst again and that what we will receive a spring welling up to eternal life (John 4:14) should we choose to accept what he has offered us, that is life with Him. He is the only one who can satisfy our eternal longing.

I’m not going to pretend I have this down and pat. I still find myself searching for worth and joy in the temporary, whether it be friendships, accomplishments, or experiences. However, I continue to remind myself of this truth, a truth I might not have internalized perfectly yet, but that doesn’t mean I should give up on pursuing it. Regardless, we must be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that when we do receive the living water, that everything in our lives will miraculously fall into place. The famously misquoted Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” If I am delighting and, therefore, finding my whole satisfaction in Christ, then my desires will be His desires. This doesn’t mean that if I am acting within His will that everything will work out favorably for me or that my circumstances will change “for the better”. Often times His plans for our lives do not line up with our own. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that being satisfied equates to being comfortable. God doesn’t call us to be comfortable, he calls us to love him above all things and then to love each other and make disciples of all nations (which often times just seems impossible). I eagerly await the day that I can honestly proclaim satisfaction in him.

 

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Hello all! My name is Keriann and I am going to be a junior at the College of William and Mary this coming school year. I am majoring in Sociology and minoring in Marketing. My ideal job, if I had the talent or training for it, would to be a National Geographic photographer/photojournalist (or a semi-professional napper if that was a thing). This summer I am working at Camp Bennett which is a Christian stay-away camp. I enjoy learning about subcultures through YouTube videos, NPR tiny desk concerts, and living vicariously through other people’s Snapchats. Also, I make some pretty ok Spotify playlists and am willing to make one for your next life event, whether it be a wedding, a party, or your dog’s teeth cleaning (for free!).

 

 

Vulnerability. It’s Beautiful.//Rachel//ODU

 

The Lord’s timing is always the best. Before the time I spent in NYC this summer, I had come across references to John 3:30 multiple times. The book of John was the first book  I read right after I started walking with the Lord, I have seen the “HE>I” bumper stickers all around, and have even heard of people wanting to get “HE>I” as a tattoo. Yet, I never asked much about it and never had a desire to know what Bible verse it referred to. Each time I started to want to know more about John 3:30, I could tell that the Lord was telling me, “Not yet.” IMG_4115

A key thing I have struggled with in the past is being open and being vulnerable. However, this summer the Lord was able to use and grow me in the midst of my vulnerability. During my 6 weeks in NYC with Cru for summer missions we started to go through the book of John. One day I sat down and started reading and was determined to focus more on what the Scripture was saying and what the Lord was trying to teach me. That’s when I came across John 3:30: “He must become greater; I must become less.” As you are born again in your walk with the Lord, you start to become less of your old self and grow more in your new identity with Christ. This verse gave me comfort during my time in New York because I was constantly being placed out of my comfort zone.

I have never felt comfortable praying in front of people, singing in front of more than one person, or even just getting up and making a speech. Every single one of those things made me feel extremely uncomfortable and vulnerable. In society’s eyes, vulnerability is a way of becoming less of who you are. If you are vulnerable, then you can not be the strong and guarded individual that you have tried countless years to create. All the walls I have built were quickly torn down and the Lord met me where I was at. I started jumping at the chance to pray first or close the group in prayer; I was one of three who helped lead worship every week during our trainings, for a church service one Sunday morning, and for singing in the subway every week on our free day; finally, during our High School Week I had to give a training on how to prepare a personal testimony in front of everyone. All of that pushed me out of my comfort zone, it made me vulnerable. I started to become less of who I thought I was. While all of that was happening, God became glorified, he was becoming greater, and I was becoming more of who the Lord knows I am.

 

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Hello friends! I am currently going into my fourth year at ODU. I just recently switched my major from Biology to Criminal Justice while I was in NYC as I started to listen more to the Lord’s plan for me. I plan to graduate in two years after this big switch! A couple things I enjoy are being outdoors, rock climbing, playing guitar, and finding any little bit of free time to watch Netflix. Thank you for taking the time to read what the Lord has taught me this summer!