All Creatures Great and Small/Clare/CNU

Every Christian has probably heard the question before: how do you KNOW God exists?

When I am asked this question, I feel a thousand reasons rush into my heart all at once. But above all, I see God in every creature He created. I see God when dogs wag their whole butt because their sheer joy cannot be contained in their tail alone. I see God in the serenity of a cat’s purr after a stressful day. I see God in the gentle curiosity of a horse nose-deep in my pocket looking for snacks. In the playful heart of a goat who treats every meal as if it’s his last. In the fascinating way crows remember faces. In the bond of elephants mourning for their dead. As a cell biologist, I see the way intricate, microscopic cells somehow come together perfectly to form these amazing creatures and I can only believe there is someone Greater involved. Truly, I could go on for hours. But I didn’t write this just to talk about animals (or did I…?).

God has placed a desire in my heart to care for these animals from a very young age. In Luke 12:6, He reminds us that He remembers and cares for every living thing, even the sparrows who are sold for meager cents. I feel such a responsibility to care for God’s creation and I delight in the challenges of being the voice for a creature who cannot speak. But for a while, I felt guilty that I wasn’t using my life to serve God traditionally, as a global missionary or a church leader. I so desperately wanted to please God, and I thought in order to do that to my full potential, I have to drop my secular passions and work in a church for the rest of my life.

However, through prayer and patience, God is teaching me how the passions of my heart were put there through Him and can be used for Him. People may never make it inside the walls of the church, but that doesn’t mean they will never see God so long as people like you believe your job has a greater purpose to serve Christ. Treat the workplace as your church. Love your co-workers unconditionally like Christ loves you (John 13:34). Be diligent in the work set before you – even in school, as you prepare for your career – without grumbles or complaints (Philippians 2:14). Understand that every seemingly insignificant task serves a greater purpose (Romans 8:28). Share your passions with others and let them see the light in you (Matthew 5:16).

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

Maybe your passion falls for people, the other creatures of this earth that we are called to care for. Maybe it’s the beauty of the plants that keep us alive. Maybe you perform – music, plays, dances – as a way to bring joy into the hearts of others. Maybe you seek to use numbers and algorithms to bring sense and security into an ever changing world. Maybe you’re teaching the next generation. No matter what, you are sharing your passion with the world, and that is something to be celebrated. I pray you remember each and every day that God created you with this passion for a reason and that you may find joy in the day to day tasks that make the dream possible. Let your work ethic in school and in the workplace reflect the gift God gave you, and watch His kingdom come alive.

“Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called and his work will be as sacred as the work of ministry. It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.” A.W. Tozer

 

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Hello! My name’s Clare and I am a senior at CNU studying Cell Biology with a focus in pre-veterinary medicine. I play cajon (“that box-drum thingy”) for the worship team and marvel daily at the power of music to bring us closer to God. I love to spend my free time running and lovin’ on the shelter dogs at the SPCA. My family and my pup Maggie hold a special place in my heart. I am engaged to the love of my life and eagerly anticipate the adventures God has in store for us.

Grieving, Gardens & Grandma//Lindsey//CNU

Ever since I can remember my family has planted a garden. Not just your small, two row garden in a planter of sorts…I’m talking “semi large, row after row of vegetable plants” type of garden. In the summer we usually grow tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, squash and this year we had sunflowers, which were so pretty. In the fall we’ve been known to grow pumpkins. My parents and I look forward to this time every year because of the anticipation of what’s to come, yummy tasting vegetables of course. My favorite part of having grown up with a garden is the “first pick.” Watching the seeds grow and turn into a plant is great but actually reaping the rewards from the hard work put into a garden is truly satisfying.

There’s one particular person that I think helped to instill this appreciation in my life and that is my grandma, who I call ‘Nanny.’ Nanny absolutely loved being outside. People who drove by her house knew to always look in the yard because she was either siting on the swing, helping mow the grass, or simply picking up sticks and pinecones. Similarly, she loved her garden and cherished the time spent tending to it. While she helped to give me an appreciation for nature and God’s creation, she also helped to paint a beautiful picture about what living a life for Christ meant. She taught me so much over the years and until recently, I thought of and reflected on this garden analogy. In a way, Nanny’s life, and ours too are like gardens. We are each individually thought of, created and delicately planted. We are made for a specific purpose and spend our lives living out that purposeful plan just as the seed is planted and grown to fulfill its job.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully make’ your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139: 13-14

Just like the seed is protected in the ground, we are too comforted and protected in the womb. Once we are born and begin to grow older, we experience more of the world, just as the young plant experiences the elements of earth. Throughout our journey on earth we have the opportunity to give praise and glory to our creator just as the seed can show off itself because of the work and care of the gardener. I tell you all of this because current season of life and how recent event have given me a new love and respect for our garden that we call life.

On September 15, my life as I knew it changed. I don’t mean to sound incredibly dramatic but at the time I truly felt as if it had. My family and I wdd62d371cd589e766b74bafd0356fd72ere forced to deal with the sudden death of Nanny and we were no way near prepared. My sweet, vibrant and independent Nanny became ill over a matter of days and would not recover, as the mysterious infection would take over her entire body. We were shocked and heartbroken. It’s been about a month and we are still shocked and heartbroken.

Once again, I am reminded of how our life is like a garden. The garden’s prime is harvest when the plants that are planted are ready to be picked and eaten. Nanny’s prime was up until the very end when she could no longer rely on her earthly body. She had given her life to the Lord at a young age and spent her time as a mom and grandma while tending to her own spiritual garden. As time goes on and we get older our body fades, just like after all of the vegetables in a garden have been picked, the plant itself begins to die and there is no use for the garden. The soil and nutrients are returned back to the ground where it began. In a way, our earthly body is the same way. After our time on Earth is over we will one day exchange this earthly body for a spiritual body. I am reminded of a verse in 1 Corinthians where we understand how as image bearers of God, we have been given the opportunity to exchange our broken body for a spiritual body.

“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” 1 Corinthians 15: 42-44

“And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.” 1 Corinthians 15:49

It’s been a difficult to understand the events that have taken place over the past month. Dealing with the loss of someone so close to me has been extremely painful and at times unbearable. It’s taken a while for me to truly process all of it because it happened so suddenly. At times, I feel extremely sad and lonely, knowing that I am going through this without my parents and family in close proximity to me and when I go home I will not be able to see her. But, there is good news, my family and I were comforted during that long week in September and we have been comforted ever since. Yes, we all feel as though a huge piece of our family is missing. Adjusting to our new normal has been a difficult transition. In the midst of trial, I am reminded of this verse in Romans because it has truly helped me to rest in knowing that God’s plan is far greater than what I could ever imagine and I have to trust that he does all things for GOOD.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

God is constant and has been by my side and my family’s side the entire time. There is no timeline for grief or suffering. Some suffer their entire life. Some suffer temporarily. I do not have to look at the finish line to know when my grieving will end. I do know that God will be by my side the entire time as I run this marathon of my adjusting to my new normal. That is so comforting. Understanding that this life on Earth is temporary can be a shocking thing. But, understanding what our hope and faith is rooted in is even better. Yes, I miss Nanny every day but I am becoming more aware that she is happier, without pain and rejoicing with Jesus in heaven. My prayer is that you find peace and comfort with any grief or suffering you might be going through and that your rest in knowing of the great that is to come in our eternal reward.

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Hey y’all! My name is Lindsey Tate and I am a senior at Christopher Newport University! I’m a Psychology Major with a double Minor in Leadership Studies and Childhood Studies! I’ll be sticking around CNU for another year post undergrad to get my Master’s in the Art of Teaching, a graduate program offered through CNU. It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to be an elementary school teacher and CNU is helping make that a reality. I’m growing a lot this semester as I am currently in a season of grief after losing my grandma rather suddenly. I am learning my need for Jesus daily and continue to draw near to him through prayer. In my spare time I enjoy playing piano, scrolling through Pinterest and watching and re-watching episodes of Friends.

On Suffering, God, & Chronic Illness//Laura Kate//CNU

Suffer: a verb meaning “to experience or be subjected to something bad or unpleasant”

Such a simple definition. The words my online dictionary used to describe suffering made it sound like a mosquito bite – annoying, itchy, and gone within a couple of days.

Upon further research (because I’m a former English major and words are a part of me forever now), I found the Latin origin of suffer: sufferre – to bear, undergo, endure, carry, or put under – from the prefix sub- (meaning ‘under’) and suffix –ferre (meaning ‘to carry’).

Dead languages aside, I think the Latin parts of suffer truly give us insight to what is going on with this word. To suffer, to carry something under great strain, to be burdened. It’s more complex than a bad day, and it’s certainly not much like our mosquito bite at all.

Before this year, I could have given you a fabulous textbook definition of suffering. Other than a really rough breakup junior year, however, I wouldn’t have been able to piece much together in the form of a personal example. This past winter altered that when my health suddenly evaporated – my immune system decided it was time to wage war against my digestive system and I was left with a very unhappy colon and a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. My senior spring semester was filled with sleepless nights, diarrhea, constant vomiting, anemia, and more hospital visits and prescriptions than I ever thought possible for a college-aged, “normal” person.

Where is God and what is He doing? I thought (and still think) constantly. Doesn’t He see me suffering down here? Aren’t my prayers going through? Is this because I didn’t forward one of those chain emails nine years ago?

 Real, live suffering has a way of driving you to search for hope, and true hope can only be found in Jesus. One of my current favorite Scripture passages is Hebrews 4:14-16. Check it out:

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” NIV

I distinctly remember a Fall Retreat many moons ago (okay, like three) where the speaker reminded us that God cares and God can. That phrase has stuck with me ever since; God has compassion for me in my pain and has strength to carry me through it. Like the verses from Hebrews remind me, I don’t serve a God Who can’t relate to me. In fact, God experienced the depths of human suffering during His time on earth, both as a Son committed to dying for a purpose and as a Father watching His Son fulfill that purpose. I can take heart and push forward in faith, knowing my Jesus both understands my suffering and has overcome it.

So, here I am. And, there you are. In the midst of whatever hard, hard thing this season has brought, please know that God cares and God can. He sees the depths of our suffering, and He provides grace to bimg_7341ear up under the burden – whether it be a bug bite or an auto-immune disease!

 

Hi, friends! My name is Laura Kate, and I’m a super recent grad of CNU! I loved it so much, I decided to stay for another year…to snag a Master’s in teaching so I can plant myself in a local elementary school. I am very fond of cats and very not-fond of dogs, and I can quote (and act out) most of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Grad life is difficult, but God is providing a way through and paving it with episodes of The Office and third-grade jokes. If you or anyone you love is struggling with a chronic illness, please feel free to reach out to me! Community is a God-given resource.