Living for an Audience of One // Kristin Ammons

I have enjoyed looking through the Christmas Gift Guide/2017 over the past few days.  So many fun ideas, and thinking about my girl who can really appreciate some quality lip balm. (She collects it from the orthodontist’s office!)  I am a little behind with shopping, but I’ll catch up.  In the meantime, I’m thinking about my favorite gift that I’m giving and the best One I’ve received.

Today I might have given my very favorite present of this season to my oldest boy.  It wasn’t the Playstation 4 that is hidden under our bed in an old, flannel pillow case that our baseball-playing boys have been asking for so they can play “MLB the Show.”(shhh..don’t tell!) And it wasn’t the spending money for our upcoming trip to Prague to see my sister’s family after we were gifted with plane tickets (!)  No, it’s a black, elastic bracelet that says “Ao1” on one side, and “Audience of One” on the other.  It has a fair market value of $1.

My son and I have been on a journey this year.  He is learning what it means to play his very favorite sport (baseball) for an audience of One.  At camp this summer, he began to grasp that “everywhere in life- even in a stadium full of people- ‘we live and move and have our being in Christ,’ and it’s His pleasure that we should pursue above all else.” (Athletes in Action) Josh is starting to walk a journey where he understands that this thing that he loves can draw him closer to the One who first loved him. (I John 4:19) When competition didn’t turn out the way he thought it would this fall, he still stood at first base, focusing on his Audience.

I have been reading the book Unseen (Sara Hagerty) and I’ve been finding friendship with God in the all the moments of my day.  Sara writes, “What I forged with God in secret led to a sweet partnership with Him,…”  I’m sensing His presence in the car, in hard conversations, in tasks that seem meaningless but really aren’t, in secret choices that only He knows but that draw me closer to Him and bear fruit in others.

At Christmas, I always think of the incarnation, but often from different angles, depending on what has happened during the previous year.  Fifteen Christmases ago, I looked into my newborn’s face and thought about Mary and the treasures that she could ponder in her heart when Jesus came to earth as a newborn baby (Luke 2:19) This year, I’m thinking about God’s presence with us that He so generously gave when He came to earth- that offers relationship now in every activity, in every moment of my day.

As I placed the bracelet on his pillow today, I left this note underneath.  “Dear Josh, I loved getting this bracelet for you.  I’m so glad that you are considering what it means to play for an Audience of One.  I’m praying for you and cheering for you as you begin this journey. Sometimes it will be thrilling and amazing and fun…but sometimes it will be lonely and hard and disappointing.  Sometimes it will seem like the best adventure ever, and sometimes you will ask yourself, “Is this really worth it?” Through the ups and the downs and even the mundane, I want to tell you-from my few years ahead of you, living for Him as my audience- that I don’t have any regrets. I have found Jesus to be worth it.”

 

Hi my name is Kristin! I came to know Jesus Christ at an early age through the influence of my parents. I graduated from Messiah College with a degree in nursing, and while working in the HIV/AIDS community, I observed what a critical decision-making time the college years can be.  Through this God led me to campus ministry. During our years on staff, my husband Jeff and I have served in several different countries and we now live in Williamsburg, VA where we serve with Valor, the ROTC ministry of Cru. Once upon a time I ran cross country but now I find myself running Joshua, Elizabeth, & Caleb to their varied activities and supporting Jeff as he gives guidance to our Valor staff.

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.

img_8998

 

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.

NO IFS, ANDS, or BUTS//Victoria//CNU

Do you use “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts” when praying? I do. I may not directly say it, but the underlying meaning is there.

If you can, please grant me ____”

If you could give me ___”

If you can help me overcome  ___”

Mark 9:14-29 is the story of how Jesus miraculously heals a boy that’s been possessed his entire life by an evil spirit. The spirit has thrown him into fire and water in attempts to destroy the boy’s body. The disciples were unable to heal him, so the father of the boy turned to Jesus, and asked:

  1. 22-23 “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us”

Jesus’ response was “ ‘If you can’. Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Jesus basically responded, as if to remind this boy’s father, “there is no if about my power or if concerning my willingness”. “If” implies doubt; which means lacking faith or not believing.

It’s not a question of God’s ability but a question of our belief.

Instead of ‘if you (God) can do anything’ it should be ‘everything is possible if you (we) believe’.

How can I have such small faith, when I know that He has the perfect track record?

Time and time again, we forget how faithful God has been and how attuned He is to our hearts. During trials, valleys, mountains, joys, pains, sorrows… just life, why do we forget?

We forget because we get distracted by minor things.

Oh but how quickly we can refocus, with a simple humble prayer.

  1. 24 “…Help me overcome my unbelief!”

The boy’s father spoke this prayer, asking Jesus to help him to have a stronger faith. Instantly, Jesus spoke, and the evil spirit shrieked and fled his presence.

God is able. He both can and will. How does this change our prayers? Or the way we view God?

Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that works in us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,

forever and ever! Amen.

Read that again.

“…immeasurably more…” : Not just more, because that’s measurable. So much more that it’s off the charts! There’s no measurement. (my little brain doesn’t understand this, and that’s okay)

“…more than we ask or imagine…” : What He does will exceed what we imagine or hope. He will continually provide in more creative ways than we can imagine; after all, He is The Creator.

God will always be able. He will do immeasurably more than we could hope for, or what our brain is capable of understanding. He will exceed our imagination, and will likely answer prayers differently than we ask them.

God’s able.

No ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, or ‘buts’.

I still believe

You’re the same yesterday, today, and forever

I still believe

I still believe your blood is still sufficient for me

-Kim Walker-Smith, Still Believe

{great song, look it up}

thetaylorfamilysession-11

 

Hello! I hope this blog finds you doing well and enjoying the beginnings of Fall! My name is Victoria Taylor. I’m a senior at Christopher Newport University, and I plan to graduate in the spring. I patiently anticipate May, as I will graduate, celebrate my 22nd birthday, and become a Mrs. all in just 1 week! God has given me a passion for medicine and healthcare, so I’m currently applying to Occupational Therapy schools while planning our wedding. I am experiencing many new joys right now, but I am also praying and watching my trust in the Lord grow. Thank you for reading this! I hope it brings as much peace to you as it does me.