Plants & Growth & You // Kathleen, RVA Intern

Kathleen1“Just some rocks, a layer of soil, throw the li’l guy in there, and some water and sunshine and he’ll grow just fine! Plants want to grow, you see. They are resilient and do what they have to to survive.” This is what John, the #PlantHustler, explains to everyone who asks him about the cool succulent terrariums we build.

This summer I am support raising to join the Cru movement in Richmond as an intern in the fall. Alongside that, I am working super part time with a cool guy named John who runs a local pop-up shop called “Glass Gardens.” John loves plants a whole lot and has learned so much about them in the last 5 years. He has been a source of laughter and lots of conversation these last few weeks as I’ve been going through this wonderful/draining/incredible/painful/challenging/exciting process of support raising. While I’ve been a #PlantAngel, as he calls us helpers, I have seen a lot of correlation between plants growing and our spiritual lives growing.

Rocks– Plants need a layer of rocks, something sturdy to hold them up and to help filter the water that comes through. Jesus is our Rock (Matthew 21:42). He provides the sturdiness and consistency in our lives that we so desperately need. He helps us filter the bad (thoughts, emotions, experiences, etc). He is unrelenting and never changing (Hebrews 13:8). When we try to run away or when we become distant, it’s not Him that moved, it was us. You can always go right back to Him!

­Soil– The soil provides the nutrients for the plant and provides the home for them. It holds them to the rocks. This is similar to your close community of Christian friends. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, please please find a small group this summer. It is crucial for us to have those that hold us to Jesus (like the soil keeps the plants to the rocks). Without accountability from community and strong friends to lean on, we may begin to wither. I know for me, this would often happen during the summer when I moved home and didn’t have a weekly Bible study meeting to grow in. The Lord commands us to stay in community (Hebrews 10:25, Acts 2:46). Not only does He command us to do this, but it just feels good. When you have friends to go to about your struggles or your successes, you feel that you are being bolstered by those around you.

Water– Water gives the plant life and health and sustenance. If you do not give the plant enough water, the soil gets dry and, again, he begins to wither. Water can represent our reading the Word. We often think we are fine without it. “Oh, I read the daily verse on my app, I’m good,” or “Yeah, we went through a passage in church on Sunday, really solid stuff,” or even “nahh, I don’t really have time for that.” Whatever our excuse, it’s just not worth it. One daily verse?? What if the plant got one drop of water? Or was just watered every once in a while? Or if the caretaker of the plant was like “nahh, I don’t really have time for that.” The plant would not thrive. Reading the Bible daily, asking questions, and truly desiring to understand and love God’s Word for us is crucial in our walk. Look to Joshua 1:8 and John 15:7 about the necessity and benefits of remaining in the Word.

Sunshine– Different plants need different amounts of sunshine. Some like direct light, some are okay without. Some need to be outside for LOTS of sunshine, others are okay inside. Nonetheless, the environment for the plant is key. The same is for our environment. Are you choosing to be around those that will encourage you and strengthen your Christian walk? I don’t mean during the school year, I mean right here, right now. It’s the summer time and who are some friends you can meet with during the week to encourage each other in the Word? This may seem similar to the soil aspect, as it is. But more importantly, if you surround yourself with negative people, not filled with the Light, what do you expect to happen to your soul? 1 John talks about how Jesus is the Light and how we are to walk in it. If those that you choose to be around are not adding to that light, then what are they doing? Are you shining light in their direction? Matthew 5:16 tells us to shine our light wherever we are and this is done by actions but also in simply telling people what we believe and the HOPE that we have in the Gospel!

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That was a whole lot. But, plants are really cool and your spiritual life is incredibly important. It needs to be nourished and taken care of. What steps can you actively take this week to freshen up and nourish your soul? Is it going to take some MiracleGro? Or maybe a rainy day of scripture reading? Call a friend and meet up for coffee and just ask each other how you guys are really doing? Whatever it takes, do that. Do that right now. Don’t let your summer be dry. Don’t return to school in the Fall wishing you had read your Bible more. Just like the #PlantHustler says, “Plants make people feel good!” Well, so does reading the Bible and being in good community.


 

blog post picHello friends! My name is Kathleen and I am a very recent graduate of Christopher Newport University. I enjoy sweet & salty snacks, listening to podcasts (Relevant & 99 Percent Invisible are two great ones!) napping, and driving with the windows down. As for post-grad plans, I am currently in the process of raising support to intern with Cru in Richmond! During this summer I am also, as I mentioned earlier, working part time with Glass Gardens which has been such a joy. More things I enjoy: Arrested Development, cozy blankets, and Justin Timberlake’s newest song!

Tips for Livin’ La Vida Post Grad/Kate/Alumni

It’s been two years since I graduated from CNU, one year being filled with completing my teaching degree and the next year completing a leadership development program called the Raleigh Fellows Program.

I’m getting real here, life after college is daunting. Here’s what I envisioned my life would be like before entering the post college arena: I always imagined that I would meet the man of my dreams in college, get married after we graduated, move to a lovely city with farmer’s markets and festivals, and hang out with the friends we made at our perfect church.

That’s what I believed to be the next step in life, my dream life.  This was not my reality.

As I finished my master’s year, I had heard about the Fellows Program from other CNU folk who had either gone through the program or knew someone who had. After talking with them and praying about it, I committed my next year to one unique and significant year of growth for me personally, professionally, and spiritually. While I could spend copious amounts of time here sharing how the Lord tested me and stretched me, there are three big takeaways I learned, that I hope encourage you, as you begin this “daunting” life after college.

  • Life after college looks different for everyone. Don’t get caught up like I did in what is expected of you or what you think is the “right” step to take after college. Don’t worry about trying to fit whatever mold you think is right. Instead, listen to the Lord. Be in tune to what you believe he is leading you to, whether it is graduate school, marriage, missions, or a job. Don’t feel pressured to choose a path that you think you’re with for the rest of your life. You might not have an ideal job right after college. And that’s ok! God is using all things for your good and His glory. Rejoice in where he has you and don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • Find a church. With all of the options and possibilities, you might think, “Is there another church that better fits my needs?” I encourage you to find a Bible believing church, try a couple, choose one, STICK WITH IT, and get involved in a ministry. I’ve heard this method referred to as the Pick-and-Stick. I used to approach finding a church based on fitting my needs rather than serving the Lord in community with God’s people. And sometimes you may find that you are the one to create community. If it’s not there, the Lord can use you to be a catalyst in creating a community that glorifies the Lord, is welcoming, and of course, fun! Instead of asking yourself, “Does this church fit my needs? “, ask, “Does this church bring glory to God?”*
  • Find a mentor. This can be scary when you graduate from college. With awesome accountability found in para-church organizations like Cru, we had it at our fingertips. I even had the luxury of the Fellows Program placing me with a wonderful mentor at the church I attended. Now, we’re out in the world. Once you find a church, I encourage you to seek out a mentor; someone of the same gender, who is older than you. And it may take time. It doesn’t happen often that a woman will approach you and say, “You look like you could use a mentor!” It’s up to you, girl. Pray for the Lord to lead you. He will. It may take time to find the mentor. And even once you do, life might not always allow you to meet weekly, but pursue a relationship with a mentor that can be as consistent as possible. You will find that you can learn so much about God and His grace through each other’s experiences and stories and their insight into yours.

I hope the lessons that I learned will help you as you continue the story of your life that God has perfectly prepared for you. I hope you find grace, peace, and joy in the Lord. I’ll close out with one of my favorite verses.

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” [Zephaniah 3:17]

 

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I graduated from CNU with a bachelor’s in Studio Art and a Master of Arts in Teaching. I will be teaching 2nd grade in the fall in Harrisonburg, VA. My favorite things include discovering new music, playing pick-up volleyball, poorly performing our rendition of Riverdance with my sisters (yes, we still do this when we are together), seeing kids create art, watching BBC mini-series, and eating ample amounts of grapefruit. My talents also include quoting Mulan and The Parent Trap in their entirety.

 

 

 

For Times When Jesus Lets Things Crumble…/Sarah/VCU

ESFJ is my Myers Briggs. For those of you who know about these magical letters and love them, you know what that means. For those of you who do not (**giving you a sassy/shocked look in my mind**), this is what it means- being the personality of “ESFJ”, I love to have control, order, and stability. I enjoy knowing what is going to happen and I feel secure and comfortable in that. Over the last year, the Lord in His loving kindness has graciously tossed that idea out of the window. Life now is not ever what I dreamed it would look like. It’s been a hard year, but a sweet year.

Let me take a poll. How many of you have answered the following or a variation of the following question: “So what are your plans for the future/after graduation/next year/ (any given timeframe)?”

**everyone raises their hand**

I don’t think anyone gets through college without being asked that question a few (billion) times. If you have, God bless you and you are a rarity. A year ago I had a pretty solid answer for that beloved/hated question. I could have confidently told you a loose timeline of the next 2-10 years and how I thought life was going to be like. Now? Girl, I have no idea.

Our culture and even our own personalities thrive on knowing what we’re doing and having a plan. We don’t usually like to be clueless or uncertain. We like to be comfortable. We like to have a plan and usually… we like our plan the most. I know I liked mine. Yet, in this past year the Lord has given and taken away and mixed everything all up in the process. In this year He has left me with more question marks than answers and He has shattered my dreams. My dreams and my plans are totally ruined because of Him. He wrecked my comfort and my confidence in my planning. (Love you though, Jesus. Promise I am getting to the good part, just wait.)

I have learned that sometimes He takes our plans and He lets them crumble. He lets our hearts be broken. He lets our hopes be let down. He lets our bubbles pop. And He lets our dreams be shattered, all because He loves us and He knows what is best for us. When this happens, we are confronted with questions like: Is following Jesus worth it? Is He alone enough? Why would He let ____ happen? Why would He allow ____? Do I really, reaaaaaally have to trust Him with my life?

The answers to the previous questions are- yes, yes and yes. I have asked myself all of those questions in this year and more. I have struggled, really struggled with asking, Is Jesus and His plan better than mine? Again, the answer is yes. He wants what is best for us and He knows that He, Himself is what is best. Most times it takes being out of control to show us Who is in control. Let
me tell you, it is not a fun process. Tears, anger, anxiety and doubt may bubble up when things don’t go as we have planned them. In those times we
either fall to our knees or turn our backs. Through this year I have learned many lessons in this, let me share a few of them…580fb9e43ddb75f59f98ecde1a093c9e

  1. God is good. God is good. God is good. He swaps out our good plans for His better ones. His ways are higher and He remains good no matter the circum
    stances. Psalm 100:5 says, ‘For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.’
  2. He is faithful. He is faithful to keep His promises. He didn’t just start being faithful to us either, it’s not a new thing He just started doing. Look at scripture and see His faithfulness. In Genesis, God calls Abraham out from his country into an unknown land to be the father of a multitude of nations who fears and loves the Lord. God is fa
    ithful to uphold His covenant of blessings and provision. In Exodus, God calls Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and as we read, we see that once again God is faithful. Ultimately we can look to the cross and see He was
    faithful to complete the work of redeeming us and reconciling us to Himself. The list can go on and on. If we trust Him with our salvation, may we trust Him with our future all the more?
  3. The word of God is our sure foundation. Things change, people change and our plans change but God’s word stays the same. Isaiah 40:8 says, ‘The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.’
    Scripture shows us God’s character, His grace, His pursuit of people, His love for us, His wrath, His justice, His goodness. It corrects us and encourages us. It gives us a new outlook and shows us our purpose. We may not know what we are doing 6 months or 6 years from now but God’s word is the same yesterday, today and will be tomorrow.
  4. Jesus is better. We may not be happy with where He’s leading us and there may be emotions that need to be worked through as He’s guiding us, but my sweet friend, there is joy in knowing you are exactly where He wants you to be. Happiness can be so fleeting but true joy comes in knowing you are following after Jesus. He is better, even when it doesn’t always feel like it.
  5. He gives us our daily bread and enough manna to live through the day. What in the world, you may ask? Check out Exodus 16. After Moses led the Israelites into the wilderness, they are hungry and quite grumpy…’hangry’ as some may say. We see God’s provision for them as He provides manna each morning. It was enough to get them through the day, nothing more and nothing less. He provides the same way for us now. Thankfully most of us don’t have to collect our cereal from the streets every morning, but we do need surrender each day to the Lord, asking Him for enough strength, wisdom and grace for the day ahead. Just one day. Not tomorrow or the next year, but just enough for today.

So, we may still awkwardly laugh and say “I don’t know” when people ask of our plans, but we can have confidence in these five things. He takes our dreams and plans, potentially lets them shatter, but only so that He can put the pieces back together to make something more beautiful than we could ever dream. Trust me, He is good. He is faithful. He is better. He is enough. And knowing Him and being more dependent on Him is always worth it.

 

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Hello sweet friends! I am one of the many Sarahs of this world. Next May I will graduate from VCU with my degree in psychology and minor in religious studies. I am thankful for Cru, running, Jesus, cookie dough and YOU! Thanks for letting me share a little bit of my heart with you and how I have learned that Jesus is always better.