Monday, March 10, 2014

The Simplicity of the What the Bible Says

Today, my roommate and I had a very interesting conversation over lunch. We were discussing various aspects of Christianity and how they are displayed in Christian circles. As we were talking, both of us started seeing something in the particular language we were using. Our words were big and complex. What do I mean by this? Mainly, if you told these words to a little kid, they would probably have a very confused look on their face or think you said something really bad. 

So this got me thinking. Why do we as Christians use such large words to convey rather simple concepts? Now please, don't think I am bashing higher level Christian education. I do go to a Christian university. 

Here's what I'm getting at, most Christians I know (and myself included), like to use big, theologically awesome sounding words when talking about Christianity. Sanctification, assurance of salvation, salvation, the Gospel, propitiation, the list goes on and on. Yes, I understand some of these words are in Scripture and I am not by any means disregarding translations of the Bible. 

However, I have started to think that what if when telling someone what the Bible says, we didn't use these complex words and stuck to the simple route. This actually plays a HUGE role in my personal testimony. I was saved at the age of four. Yes, I said four. But here's the thing, I understood the simple concept that sin separates me from God; God sent Jesus to die on a cross to take my sin and pay for it; He rose again on the third day, beating death; and through Him I can have a relationship with God again. 

At the age of four, I didn't even know what the terms salvation or the Gospel meant but I just portrayed them in one (run-on) sentence. Sometimes I wonder... if we as believers used our personal stories and what we simply believe in to tell the loving story of Christ, instead of these articulate and elaborately worded stories, what larger impact we would make. 

As I said before, I am not against these large words, I just think they have a time and a place which doesn't include an initial presentation of Christ. I love how Jesus emphasizes simplicity among His messages. Take the parables for instance. Specific stories directed right at His target audience, with an element of child-like faith added to them. Christ simply and explicitly lived and presented His message. Shouldn't we as believers do that too? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Why I'm Thankful For My Parents and Youth Leaders

I know much has been written on this topic and the distinction between a parent's role in a teenagers life and a youth leader/pastor's role in a teenager's life has been made quite clear.

But I've never read a student's perspective on this particular topic. And to be honest, I feel like it is very important that teenagers, parents, youth leaders, youth pastors, etc all understand the difference.

In my own walk with the Lord, my youth group was a HUGE blessing. I feel like it was the place where I did the most growing in my eighteen and a half years of life.

 However, my parents are the main people responsible for my walk. They encouraged me to get involved in youth group. They prayed for my heart to grow. They prayed for my leaders hearts to grow. They loved on and encouraged my leaders.

So, if I had to say some things to parents and youth leaders alike, it'd be this:

1. You are first and foremost the spiritual leaders in our lives. You are the ones who decide which church we attend, and what events we partake in. You are the ones who encourage us to get involved. You are the ones who pray for our hearts and ask us about our walks. YOU. God gave us to you for this very reason.

2. Be actively asking questions about our lives. Oh my goodness will we push you away like we never have before. We will ignore you, give you a quick smile and tell you everything is okay when it is not. But keep pushing and poking at us. We may get mad, but believe me, it shows us more than anything that you care and love us. Even if it takes singing the Barney theme song to make us laugh and stop crying (yes, my Daddy did that and it worked) then do it.

3. Don't just tell us you want us to be involved in church, show us how to be involved in church. Be active in your Sunday school classes or ministries you participate in. Show us how to greet strangers and love anyone who walks through the doors. Show us how to differentiate between gossiping and actually showing concern for people's problems. Show us how to lead someone to the Lord. Show us how to pray. The list can go on and on.

4. But most of all, know that we know the Lord placed you in our lives for a specific reason. Know that we are blessed to have you as parents. We may not show that very often (I'm definitely guilty of that), but we couldn't do life without you. Don't beat yourself up when we fall into sin (I'm not saying don't be disappointed or don't discipline. But don't sulk in self-pity and think you are a failure), cause it's going to happen whether you want it to or not. Instead, discipline us in love and show us how to fight sin.

Youth Pastors/Leaders
1. You are not our parents. And please don't try to be. I know that sounds harsh, but the minute you start trying to be our parents, we stop listening to our own. Also, you are all at different stages in your lives. Some newly married, single, have little babies, etc and you aren't meant to be parents to teenagers yet. And that is totally okay. You will stress yourselves out and take on too much which prevents you from being content where the Lord has you.

2. Instead, encourage our parents to step-up, and for us to respect and listen to them. Sometimes, us teenagers are prone to listen to anyone but our parents first and if you are encouraging us to go back to our parents, we will get the point.

3. Let our parents encourage and love on you. They really do appreciate everything you are doing for us. Don't shove them away. Let them in and make relationships with you. They are a few steps ahead of you like you are a few steps ahead of us. These relationships will pay off when times get hard or when joyous occasions happen. You never know what God is doing when He brings people into your lives.

4. Be genuine and honest about yourself to us. Don't try to show that you have it all together. We know you don't and while we might expect you to, what we are watching for is how you react and respond to those hard times. Showing us that you are human and that it's okay to not have it all together all the time speaks volumes. How you show us to rely on God and His promises will help us do the same when hard times come in our lives.

5. Most importantly, don't try to do everything. We know you are only capable of so much. You can't meet one on one with everyone, but those little side conversations after church on Sundays or spontaneous lunches/dinners after youth group mean the world to us, even if they don't happen often. Love us where we are at and be there for us when we need you. Just showing us that you are willing will help immensely.

I understand that not all situations will play out like mine did when I was in youth group. But what I'm trying to get across is that this distinction has a real impact on teenagers. I was blessed with amazing parents and an amazing group of young adults who truly care for the students they work with.

The only reason this all was able to happen was because God moved and is moving. He was steadily at work even when none of us acknowledged it. By fully relying on Him and knowing the differences that must be set, the church will grow and my generation will move.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

One Word

New Years Resolutions are on the prowl yet again. Everyone makes them whether or not they actually admit it. As I sat in my first speech class today, my professor suggested something different.

One word.

That's it. Just one word to focus on the entire year.

A meaningful word, one that will change your lives and the lives around you.

A word that impacts your life to the core and a word that will allow others to see a change in you.

So I was challenged. Challenged to pick one word to focus on. But I have decided to take it a step further. I want to focus on this word throughout The Word. I want to see how each Bible story and piece of Scripture use this word and see how God orchestrates it throughout His book.

What is the word I have chosen? TRUST. Plain and simple. I feel like it is something that I lack in. Trust is something that could and can teach me so many things. I know for a fact that God has much to say about trust and there is so much I could learn from Him. I mean, He sent His only son to die so that we can put our complete trust and faith in Him.

So I challenge you. Choose one word to focus on and incorporate it into everyday life. See how it plays out in the Word. And let it change you.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Invest. Invest. Invest.

I keep forgetting I have a blog. I think it was one of those "everyone is doing it" things that I just had to join in on during high school. But high school is over now. Woah. Just saying that feels weird. I'm in college. Like adult-status here. Yeah, still doesn't sound right.

I've been in college for about 2 months now. What a learning experience it has been. I have already grown in so many ways. It is very, very hard being 8-9 hours away from home. I get jealous when my sister talks about the things she is doing back at NRCA or when she tells me the latest activity that is planned for the youth group. But I have to remember that God has me here for a reason. And to be honest, I wouldn't trade where I am at for the world. Cedarville is a wonderful place for me. It's not perfect, no college is. But God had in His plan to put me here.

Having said that, I have been thinking a lot about high school and the things that I did (and didn't do) throughout those years. Senior year was probably one of the best years of my life. The friendships that grew stronger, the hilarious memories, and what God taught me are things that will stay with me forever.

But it wasn't all fun and games at first. I wasted the first semester of my senior year. I had this mentality that because in just a little under a year I was moving far away, I did not have to pursue intentional relationships with anyone. I could stay in the ones I was in of course, but I could not grow deeper or make new ones. That was not an option in my head. So what did I do? I covered up what I was actually doing. I became busy. Teaching a Sunday school class here, volunteering there, you name it, I did it. I blamed others for not making me feel included when really I was the one being superficial.

Thankfully, someone loved me enough to slap me upside the head. She simply challenged me to think about my relationships with others as I went to ATL to visit family over Christmas break. When I was in ATL, it all clicked. Just because I was moving to Ohio in a few short months did not mean I had to cut everyone off or out.

So I challenged myself. I asked God to help me be truly intentional in my relationships; whether I had known the person for years, or had just met them. This decision made all the difference. Granted, I could not do it on my own strength. God was so active in it. Being able to talk to girls with a true desire to know them better is not something that is easy for me to do. I love to listen, I do not like to really invest. But by choosing to invest, I rekindled relationships with people who have truly blessed my life.

This attitude change reflected at school, in my youth group, and has made the transition to college so much easier. Making friends, and I mean good (life-long) friends is so much easier. The people I have met here at CU are amazing. And I would have never allowed them into my life if I had not let the Holy Spirit truly work in my heart in this particular area. It changed my world.

So, why did I write all this down? HIGH SCHOOLERS. That's why.

Especially seniors, DO NOT waste these last few months of high school. Challenge yourself. Let God grow you. Stop being clique-y. You might think you aren't, but do a double-take. Take the younger ones under your wings and show them they can make it through. Love on those who you have known for years. Let teachers make an impact on you. Fight that senioritis as hard as you can, but have fun in the process.

Those of you in youth groups, focus on unity. God called us to love one another and truly invest in each other. This is community. What the leaders do in your lives and how you respond, it matters. God is using amazing people who are just a few steps ahead of you to give you a "sneak peek" into the next phase of your life. Embrace that. Thank them. Respect them.

Invest. Invest. Invest. This quality will help you so much in the future. Being vulnerable is not a bad thing. Let people love you, hold you accountable, and help you grow in the Lord. Stop being ignorant like I was. It gets you absolutely no where.

GET IN THE WORD. Oh my goodness, I could not say this enough. Develop your prayer life. This is a time when God can truly speak to you. He has so much to say and longs to have an intimate relationship with you. LET HIM.

I have no clue who will read this, but I hope it encourages you. College is a whole new, and very exciting world. It's so much fun, emotionally draining, and academically rigorous. Do not waste high school and the things it prepares you for. Do not waste your time in youth group. As weird as it might sound, it prepares you more than anything for college. Trust me. Let other in, and let yourself to be vulnerable. Love others.

Most importantly, listen to God. He truly does know the best plan for you, whether it's what college you are going to next year, or who you will sit with at lunch tomorrow.

Hannah :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Past Few Months

Woah. It's been way too long since I last posted. But Junior Year decided to invade my life these last few months.
So many things have been going on lately.
1. I have started teaching MS girls Sunday School at church.
2. God has taught me SO much these past 6 months.

A few months ago God really started laying the sweet middle school girls in my youth group upon my heart. These girls are the cutest things ever. They are all smiles, some are crazy, and some are quiet. They are true sweethearts. There had been a need for an assistant teacher for them for quite sometime. Amelia, my youth pastor's wife, has been teaching them for a few years now. And let me tell you something about this woman, she radiates with beauty from the Creator. She loves Christ and shows it to us girls week in and week out. I approached her and her husband about possibly helping out and learning the ropes of teaching. They were very excited that I was willing to help out. In March, I started shadowing Amelia for a few weeks to "learn the ropes." Then, I was able to lead a lesson all by myself. What an eye-opener. Doing this has caused me to be involved in the Word daily. It has taught me so incredibly much. These middle school girls are crazy smart. They are so mature for their ages, and constantly challenge me. I LOVE it. It's also so cool to see how the Old Testament relates to the New Testament. Not many people pick up the Bible and decide to read Deuteronomy. Over the past few weeks, it has literally become one of my favorite books of the Bible. The Israelites are so much like us today. They are constantly having to be reminded about what God has done in their lives and what God is doing. God's faithfulness is reiterated constantly throughout this book, and it has allowed me to grow so much in my trust of God. I absolutely love teaching this book, seeing it relate to the New Testament, and relating it to today.

Six months ago, I decided to deactivate my Facebook. I was tired of all the drama that was occuring and honestly wanted to communicate with people face-to-face not screen-to-screen. These past 6 months have been such learning experience for me. I have had more time to spend with my Savior, focus on my studies, and hang with my amazing friends.
God has definitely hit me upside the head lately. My biggest struggles in life are my pride, judgementalism, and showing compassion. All three of these things have been addressed or pointed out to me through multiple situations lately. I have realized that I am not the center of everything, that my opinion of other people doesn't matter (they were created by the same Creator who made me), and that compassion was shown on the cross and should be shown in my life as well. I am not saying I am perfect or have all this together, but the fact that my eyes were opened to these things has really changed my life.

I AM A SENIOR. Okay, not until tomorrow at 3:05, but still. The seniors finished their school days last week, and now my class rules the school! I can't believe how quickly time has gone by. I still feel like I am in my freshman year. I am so excited for what this next year holds. I know God is going to orchestrate some pretty awesome things and I can't wait to see what they will be. Also, I am now embarking on the lovely road of deciding everything for college. I had the oppurtunity to visit Cedarville University in April, and definitely feel that is where God is leading me to go. I want to major in Nursing and possibly minor in Cross-Cultural Nursing and Spanish (we'll see about those though, because CU automatically minors their students in Bible). I am so excited to see what the future holds!

If I had to sum up the past few months in 3 words it would be: Lessons, Excitement, and Growth. I hope to be able to blog more now that it's summer, but we'll see what happens! :)
Hannah <3
Here are just a few pictures from some recent events :)

Prom 2012 :)

 These 3 girls are my closest sisters in Christ :)

 Best Friends

 Class Ring

 Cedarville University

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chinese Festival

This past week/weekend, our family celebrated a new holiday. Chinese New Year! Since we have Charlene in our family now, we thought we would celebrate one of her biggest holidays with her. So, when mom found out that there was a New Year's Festival at the State Fairgrounds, we jumped on it. Mom, Dad, Charlene, Mrs. Freeman, Kevin, Matt, Nicole, and I all went Saturday morning. I was cool getting to see a different culture and their customs. Though we didn't stay long, it was still fun and definitely a different experience.
Matt, Nicole, and I :)

Dad, Mom, Charlene, and I :)
Charlene and I next to the Stamp :)
Dragon Dance

After the Festival, all of us went out to eat at a Chinese resturant, where we ate and talked for almost two and a half hours. I love time spent with friends and family, and a sometimes a different culture too! :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Lessons Learned Everyday

This past weekend, I was able to go on my youth group's annual ski trip. I looked forward to this since the last ski trip last year. I LOVE skiing. The anticipation that comes when riding up the lifts to the top of the mountain and the rush when flying down the slopes is something that I personally enjoy! But this year was a little different.

This year, our church paired up with North Wake's youth group (we also go to summer camp with them) and Dr. George Robinson came with us and preached 3 times. Before the trip, I heard he was going to preach on the story of the Bible. Like others who have grown up in a Christian home, I have heard the "Story of the Bible" multiple times, and have even found myself becoming apathetic to it. But this weekend changed some things.

Dr. Robinson told the entire meta-narrative (thanks Mr. Beaver and Mr. Ridlehoover) of the Bible in the first 3 chapters of Genesis, and then related it to passages in Matthew and Revelation. Oh my goodness. Things made COMPLETE sense. And it was understandable. Even when it was 9:00 at night after I had busted my butt on the slopes and ached all over. I understand that God had planned things, even the little details, since the very beginning.

This ski trip was more than just a trip of going down slopes in the freezing cold. It was a trip that opened my eyes to the bigger picture of the Bible. My apathetic mindset was shattered. I'm not saying I'm never going to be apathetic again, but I see that God's plan was and is still in affect.

Others can read this story at