Category Archives: God

Standing in Solidarity

We have our television almost constantly tuned to the news. My parents watch it in the morning while they get ready, and I always watch it a little before I head off for my day, as well. I watch the news with my mother at night while dinner is being prepared and after dinner. I wake up the next morning, and it happens again.

Not many people my age regularly watch the news, and it’s one of the many things I’m thankful that my parents taught me to do. The world is changing, becoming ever more depraved and dark as we move forward in the years. To take Megyn Kelley’s words, America looks very different than it did thirty years ago. Keeping up on events is more important than ever.

Even in light of this, however, imagine my surprise when I turned on the news to find that twenty-six people are dead. Twenty of them are children.

I cried. Immediately. I love children so much. To me, they are the world’s greatest hope. The values that we instill in the minds of our children are the ones that are going to continue on long after we’re done. Children have always been a huge part of my life, and the idea that anyone would willfully hurt even a single child makes me feel ill.

The number of shootings in the last few years has risen drastically. It seems like this year, especially, there have been more shootings than ever. This is the second shooting this week – first at an Oregon shopping center, and now nearly an entire kindergarten class.

The only thought running through my mind is why.

There is so much debate these days about gun control. I myself am a very firm believer of the second amendment – that the citizens of this country have the right to buy and bear arms to protect their life, liberty, and prosperity. There are many people who disagree with me, and I’m sure many more that will disagree with me in light of these recent events.

Today I will not fight with those who disagree with me. Today, I will take their hands and stand in solidarity and urge everyone to realize that politics have no place in the conversation today. Today is about standing in the gap for all those involved in the shooting – especially for the parents of the children who were killed and the children who had to witness such a horrific event.

Listening to the several children that the news stations have talked to this morning fills me with grief. It would be terrifying to go through this as a twenty-year-old. To go through this as a child of eight, as the child that is speaking now is, breaks my heart. “I was really scared. Everyone around me was shaking.” What eight-year-old should have to have witnessed this?

I took a break from writing and merely cried for a while longer after I wrote the above, and I think there are many people around me who feel the same way. Grief is natural at a time like this, especially in the light of the innocence that was stolen this morning. How we move forward past the grief is important.

My largest comfort in times of grief is the Lord. Many people say that there is no God – how could there be if He allows things like this to happen? But it is tragedies like this that convince me even more of the existence of my Savior, because a moment of silence can fill me with peace and comfort more than a word from anyone else can.

One of my very favorite hymns is entitled “What a Friend we have in Jesus”. We started singing it a while ago at my church, and I’m always comforted by the sweet and simple words of this beautiful hymn. Keep these sweet children in your thoughts and their families in their prayers, but remember this: today, twenty beautiful children get to sit with Jesus and rejoice with him forever.

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge,
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to
Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there
will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship
will be our sweet portion there.

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Out of Heartbreak Valley

Something everyone should know about me is that I am an absolute sap for romantic movies. Movies that can make you laugh, make you cry, make you do the stereotypical sigh of bliss when the hero finally wins his lady (or the heroine lands her man!). When I have nothing better to do, I stay curled up in bed or on the couch with my huge fleece blanket, make myself a cup of tea, and pop in one of these wonderful movies. Movies like Pride and Prejudice, Return to Me, While You Were Sleeping, You’ve Got Mail

The list could go on forever. There’s something about these movies that appeal to women like me. Perhaps it’s our natural desire to feel loved and cherished that sends us flocking to the theaters to see Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly fall into each other’s arms, or Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s romance blossom, or Lucy and Jack ride away on that train together for their honeymoon in Florence. Something about these movies appeal to sentimental little hearts like mine. What can I say? I love love.

I never really equated this kind of longing and heart-fluttering to my relationship with God. I suppose it’s because God is so intangible most of the time – I mean, all He’s really given me that I can touch is a huge book full of rules, poetry, and prophecy, right? Verses like “All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be regarded as unclean by you.” Really? What on earth is that supposed to mean? Who would want to eat insects, anyway?

So here I am, a big dusty book in my hands full of ridiculous rules, staring at it with that disbelieving look that I often get when I’m confronted with difficult theory homework, and praying that I honestly don’t have to read this book. It’s going to be boring, that little voice in my ear tells me. Don’t read it. But God told me to. So I suppose I probably should read it. So I crack the thing open and try not to fall asleep.

It’s hard sometimes. Getting through Leviticus? Not so easy. In fact, to this day (after reading through the Bible TWICE) I still have yet to completely read books like Leviticus and Deuteronomy. There are so many rules and regulations, and – ugh. I just can’t do it yet. But I will! Before I turn 21, I promise that I will read them. Promise.

But then I hit Psalms, and beautiful language pours over me. David’s songs of old are refreshing and new even over 2,000 years later. I find new meaning in them, things that stick out in my mind. They bring me comfort, make me weep, even make me angry sometimes. I get angry that David could pray to God to destroy and kill and curse –

And then realize I do the same things sometimes. David was human, just like I am. He was a man with thoughts and feelings and flaws. A man who loved God completely, but got angry sometimes when things didn’t go his way. He sinned once – it’s one of the things people remember about him. He defeated Goliath with a single stone … oh, and he also got a woman pregnant and killed her husband just so he didn’t have to face the consequences. But he still loved God.

David screwed up, just like all of us. I screw up more times on a daily basis than I can count. I’ve turned my back on God before, convinced I could do it on my own. My way’s better, I’ve told Him. I know best. And like a loving Father, He’s stepped back and let me make my own choices, let me walk into destruction because He’s warned me, and He knows that sometimes, I have to fall and cry for a little while before I’ll submit to being picked up and healed again.

Over the course of walking away and falling down and being picked up and dusted off and holding His hand for awhile before repeating the entire process again, my favorite book in the Good Book has become Hosea. The language in it is, at times, a little graphic and disturbing. I mean, God’s letting this woman ruin her life, watching as the entire thing unfolds. He allows her to go and be a whore and be unfaithful and use His gifts to live off of while she sells herself to anything willing. Why would God do something like that? And why is it in the Bible?

But then comes Hosea 2:14 (The Message) and beyond:

And now, here’s what I’m going to do:
I’m going to start all over again.
I’m taking her back out into the wilderness
where we had our first date, and I’ll court her.
I’ll give her bouquets of roses.
I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.
She’ll respond like she did as a young girl,
those days when she was fresh out of Egypt.

Roses? Courting? Dates? Please, sign me up. If that’s the kind of treatment I get after ripping out My Father’s heart and stomping on it awhile, then by all means am I in. What did I ever do to deserve such fabulous treatment? The answer?

Nothing.

That’s right. I did absolutely nothing. At least, nothing good. I walked away, I threw away everything He was offering me. But when I was done trying to do things by myself, He met me where I was and romanced me again. He caters to the sappy, romantic heart that He formed in me and woos me to His own heart. He takes my hands marred by mud with jagged fingernails and scrapes from digging in the dirt and calls me His. I can’t imagine a great love than the one that My Father shows me on a daily basis.

Someone once told me that my relationship with God was a journey. That each day, I had a choice to make: I could choose to roll over in bed and ask for five more minutes before dragging my feet up and refusing His help; or I could take His hand and let him take me on a whirlwind adventure through the unknown. But the unknown doesn’t scare me . When I screw up like David and millions of other people do, I know that He’ll be there holding my hand and hiding the next bouquet of flowers behind His back to woo me back to Him again.

And that makes the journey worth it.

Living beautifully,
Sophie

Listening in the Silence.

Have you ever listened to silence?

I’m not talking about being quiet. Being quiet is something that you want little kids to do when they’re being naughty, or when they’re aggravating your headache. Being quiet is something you want the jackhammer outside your apartment window to be when you’re trying to study. Being quiet is what you want the party two doors down from you to do when you’re trying to get some sleep for your exam tomorrow. Listening to silence is not being quiet. No, listening to silence is a physical thing. You don’t shut your brain off while you’re listening. You are actively involved in listening to absolutely nothing.

This is a really strange concept for most Americans. We so often surround ourselves by noise. Even while I type this, I can hear my sister in her room, the television in my mother’s room, the music coming from my own computer. We are not accustomed to being without sound. We’re on sound overload, and we’ve forgotten what real silence actually is.

In my choir at school, we have this really interesting exercise where my director just tells us to close our eyes and not make sounds. We’re just supposed to listen. Sometimes it’s thirty seconds, sometimes it’s a minute. We close our eyes like dutiful students, take a collective breath, and then –

There’s silence. The hold-your-breath-and-don’t-move kind of silence. The kind of silence that makes your brain go, “Thank you, thank you!” The kind of silence that is just so still that no one disturbs it.

That is, until someone decides they aren’t comfortable and shifts around on the creaky risers. Or they cough. Or they sneeze. Or they take a drink of their water. Or they sigh. Or they scratch their head. Or they cross their legs. Or they tap their pencil on their black choir folder …

Do you see what I’m getting at now?

Silence is so rare in our culture. That’s why I’ve started driving to and from school in silence. I’m a commuter student, so I get a good 40 minutes a day of silence. I use this time to think about my day, to organize my thoughts, and to talk to God. Sometimes I’ll speak out loud, but mostly I use my personal thoughts and drive in silence.

Silence is needed for my sanity. If I didn’t have silence, I think I’d go absolutely crazy! That’s what I’m not a fan of huge parties or super loud music (other than the fact that too much noise gives me a massive headache). But there’s just something about silence that is a soothing balm on my day-weary brain.

I often lay in bed at night and listen to the sounds around me. Mostly, they are the tiny little sounds of my breathing, of my legs shifting under the sheets, and of a car or two driving past on the street. However, a majority of what I listen to isn’t sound at all. It’s silence. And it’s one of the most beautiful sounds ever. It’s that moment where everything seems to stand still. I love those moments. I feel like I’ve achieved something in those moments.

I challenge you this week to find some silence in your life. Find a place to get away from everything and open your ears. I promise that you won’t regret it.

Living beautifully, Sophie