Tuesday Challenge-Be present today (Brooke)

I think a lot about the verse in Colossians that says, “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the BEST use of the time.”(Verse 5, ESV)

Or as the New Living Translation says, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, & make the most of every opportunity.”

I want to live a life that makes the m o s t of every single opportunity.

My prayer is the I would grow today and this summer in making the best use of my time. to be present. to serve and to watch. to listen. to put down my phone & love. to enjoy those that are right in front of me. to notice the needs that God has brought across my path. I’m convinced that God wants us to meet needs every single day.

I want to be awake//aware//present so that I don’t miss those.  I think the deep joys of life are found when we move past ourselves and focus on loving others. This is a struggle for me, but I’m learning.

On Thursday night I was standing under an overhang outside of P.F. Changs(with our dachshund dottie). Brian was inside getting our takeout order and it was pouring down rain.  the all of a sudden crazy rain. A older lady poked her head out the door and saw how horrible the rain was… I asked her, “I have an umbrella here–can I walk you to your car?”  She looked kind of surprised and quickly said Yes.  She grabbed my arm and we went for it together with the dog in my other arm.  We did some small talk and laughed about rain, and hair and her dog back home. And I got her to her car dry! It was a sweet moment.  The kind of moment that makes you smile for the rest of the day.  She was so thankful and I was so happy.

I want to be aware of those little moments & the big moments that are surely always around me.  I get so caught up in the days agenda that I miss SO many little moments…I don’t want to look at instagram too much that I miss living real life moments with those around me. {I love instagram by the way- it’s a favorite…I just have to be careful how much time I spend with it;)}

Join me in praying today and this summer, “God help me be present.  To be aware of the needs around me. Help me not MISS one thing you want me to do today. Help me be sensitive to your Spirit. And help me be present with you God.”

I think as we focus on Him and pray to be AWAKE to the moments we will surely see sweet things happen.

On love & waiting & worry (Brooke)

-Shauna Niequist
In the past 2 weeks I have been face to face/voice to voice/email to email with so many friends & students that are waiting. waiting for something–in most of these scenarios it is for the right guy to come. and stay. forever.

I remember feeling the exact same way. With each new or familiar guy wondering could this be it. But if I’ve learned anything it is that God will and does line it up{in His time} and it’s good. He has a plan for us. It’s better than our best any day. I grieve over seeing girls date & marry guys that are just okay. It’s better to be alone than to be with a guy that doesn’t lead you and love you and love God first. The guy should make you really love God more.

This world loves to sell us the love at first sight business all day long.  And not the –> make love work over the decades.  The world doesn’t care about that.  But God does.  And that’s why it’s SO important to wait for the guy that catches your eye because of his consistency with Jesus, his heart for Gods world & for His friends, and the way he cares for people and respects you.  The way he treasures the Word of God and lives it out. More often than not these qualities in yourself and in Him work themselves out into love through the decades-through the highs and through the lows of life. I know it can be tempting to throw in the towel and date the guy that is “pretty good but mostly pretty.” Wait. Be with God. Be still. Trust Him.

I know it’s easy to just think about the future. I know I do. I worry about tomorrow. I worry about the summer. I worry about what my staff team will be like next fall. I worry about when my Dad’s dog Sugar Girl will die{she isn’t even sick}. I worry about tunnels and germs. I worry about if the meat has been sitting out too long. 

I worry if God will ever give us kids (we’ve been waiting for 4 years).
I used to worry too about the guy. If I had only known that God was lining every detail up. When it came time to meet and get to know Brian(10 years ago)–it made so much sense. This is what I have been waiting for and praying for. Every so often I think to myself-“thank you God. You know me so much better than I do. Thank you for not letting me marry the guy I thought was a really good dresser and drove a car that is 4 times more expensive than mine, thanks God for not letting me marry the guy that loved photography more than You. Thank you for directing my heart.mind.soul. Thank you for giving me Brian.”

I wonder what you’re waiting for? Or worried will happen or won’t happen? Every time my anxious heart goes toward the future I hear{sometimes louder, sometimes softer} just live today. Be present for today. I made today for a reason. There is SO much I have for you today. Don’t miss a thing. Why worry about things that you think will go down tomorrow?

God is writing a story with your life. I believe it. I see it. Let us wait well, friends. It will all make so much sense one day.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” *Matthew 6:34

Brooke’s Story

At about 5pm on a October 23rd many years ago I was born into this crazy & wonderful world.  The doctors told my mom she would never get pregnant.  Looks like they were wrong–here I am!  I was born into a small family- a mom, a dad, and a dachshund(duh!).  God/Jesus was kind of important to them but not top priority–until my mom got sick.  My mom got breast cancer when I was 1 and when I was 5 she passed away.  But during those 4 years of sickness her spiritual life soared and so did my dads.  My moms outward body was wasting away but inwardly she was being renewed.  She was in many Bible studies and prayer groups– I have a book of notes that all her prayer group, neighbors, Bible study friends, and sisters wrote me after she passed away sharing about her love for God and others.  It’s the most precious gift they could have given me.

After my mom passed away my Dad made it a huge priority for me to grow up in the church.  And I am so thankful for that.  I got plugged in immediately to missionettes, youth group, youth choir– you name it.  I loved all these activities.  I heard many stories about Jesus and I loved hearing about him–I even traveled in a choir singing about Him.  I knew He was someone Special–I just didn’t know how special yet.

Then in February, during ninth grade, it all clicked and made sense.  I can still picture where I was sitting at the youth retreat. Our youth pastor gave a super clear Gospel presentation. He shared how people are sinful and separated from God. I knew I was sinful—I was sassy, snappy to my Dad, continually lied, was jealous….the list goes on and on.  He explained how God is perfect and Holy and unlike Anything I have ever known. God made me and wants to be in relationship with me on this Earth and forever.  But because of my sin I can’t know God because He is perfect.  But…God came into this world in the form of Jesus—he entered into our pain, lived a perfect/sinless life and died on a cross for my sin, our sin. “For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23  His death(because He was perfectly God) was enough to cover my sin and all sin for all time. (He also rose from the dead!).  He came to bring us life-forever. We can have a relationship with a perfect God today-amazing grace.  All we need to do is believe.

For God so L O V E D the world that He G A V E His One and Only Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

My dad picked me up from the retreat and when I got home I went straight to my room and spent the next 3 hours writing out prayers and singing and crying tears of thanksgiving that God would save my soul.  I prayed that night that God would lead and guide my life.  I prayed that I would honor Him and live out His dreams for my life.  This is still something I love to pray.

It wasn’t too long after that that this desire to be in ministry(to help people know about God) started to grow in my heart. I know that not every Christian is called to full-time ministry, but I found myself sitting on the the youth room floor praying that God would open doors for this to be true for the rest of my life.  With every year that passed the desire got stronger and stronger. When I went to Longwood University I majored in Psychology only because I thought it would one day help in ministry. It’s interesting the things that God puts in our hearts once we put our trust in Him.

About 4 years ago Brian and I were meeting with one of my moms friends and also a sweet supporter of our ministry with Cru at a Starbucks in Richmond, Va.  She mentioned to me as we were winding up our time with her, “You know, before your mom died she asked to have her friends gather around her to specifically pray for you—she prayed that you would come to know Christ at an early age and that you would go into ministry.”  amazing.  (At that point I had been in full time ministry with Cru for 6 years.)

Prayers never die.  I’m so thankful for the journey that the Lord has me on.  I’m thankful for the highs and lows and everything in between. I’m so thankful to get to do what I do– i love working with college students.  I’m so thankful that in the Lords kindness that He let me get a glimpse into my mom’s prayer life.

“The Lord will fulfill His purposes for Me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.”  Psalm 138:8

The Story that the Lord writes for your life is always the best….it may not always make sense, and it definitely won’t be without trials and sorrow, but Joy always will come. always.  

“But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.” Philippians 3:20-21 

Thanks be to God.