Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Concerning Doors

I've been praying for a miracle. Lots of miracles, actually. But mainly for a job, the answers to critical decisions I've been having to make for a long while now, and peace through all of whatever God has planned for me.

Ever since the end of the Summer Workshop, I've been trying and failing to find a job. Most of that was lack of motivation, a great chunk of it was due to pickiness and wanting the "perfect" job, but a very small portion of it was not being able to find anything. I had many, many options before me. But the perfectionist side of me took over. I wasn't sure what God wanted me to do, and I was waiting for Him to show me. All summer long, I prayed and stressed about having no money, and then prayed some more. All summer, I kept on thinking of the future, of next summer, and wondering if I would ever make money, if I would ever get out of the house and actually DO something with my life. A lot of my summer was spent on the computer; chatting with friends, writing my novel, and waiting. Nothing seemed to motivate me to actually apply for a job. I was leaving it up to God, but I didn't want to take action myself.

These past couple weeks have been the most stressful and frustrating weeks of the entire summer. As the school year is looming ever closer, I kept on wondering and praying and pulling my hair out and just screaming at myself for not pushing harder to find a job. I worried that I would never be able to make money for the myriad of things I have/want/need to pay for next year and the coming fall. I worried that I wouldn't be able to do orchestra, to do choir, to go to next year's OYAN Workshop, to pay for my graduation, to pay for various things for my sister's wedding... I was beginning to lose hope of any of this ever happening. I was beginning to fear my passions would be scattered to the ground and I would have nothing left but darkness.

But I had no reason to worry.

God did a miracle. Over the past few days (and especially today and yesterday), He has been working something wonderful through something altogether unpleasant. It started yesterday as I was waiting in line at a local school to sign up for a one-semester Biology class. I was previously feeling very excited to do it, but as I sat there, I began to feel uncomfortable thinking of the secular environment I would have to be in, the information that would be fed to me from the Science textbook that ran contrary to my beliefs. Something stirred inside me and screamed at me, "NO! DON'T DO THIS! DON'T SIGN UP!" But, as I've become quite good at doing, I ignored the voice of reason and went through with it. I signed up, payed for the textbook, and went home.

After that, I was looking through the book. Things popped up at me. I began to feel sick to my stomach, just looking through the sorts of things public schools teach. And then I began to reconsider even signing up. A fierce headache zapped me and the stress started to pile up in my brain again. I took out my "Exploring Creation with Biology" textbook by J. Wile and soaked in the richness of the pages, the cleanness, the fulfilling information within it. The headache worsened. I worried that I had made the wrong decision.

So I took a nap. But my brain kept switching between a firm "NO" and a resounding "YES." One part of me said, "No, Julia, you made the right decision, and you should just go through with the class you signed up for and learn what you can." The other part said, "Yes, Julia, you made the wrong decision, and you should read the textbook that is more glorifying to God and more satisfying than any old public school textbook." So, I considered that and brought it up with my mom. She emailed my homeschool group, asking if any other teens were doing the "Exploring Creation" Biology course, and within an hour, two people replied. A 16-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl. I could be accountable and motivated this way. I wouldn't need a class full of people I didn't know. It would be far better to get to know Christian homeschoolers, whose friendships would probably last longer than any messed-up, public-schooled kid.

As my brain juggled with the idea, I started to think about my lack of work again. A couple weeks earlier, God had put it on my heart to start teaching piano to a few students. I got all excited about it and almost put an email out to the homeschool group, but then got scared. So I left it. Not long after the two emails came in about the Biology course, a lady from the same group emailed and asked if I would be willing to teach her two youngest children piano. I snatched the opportunity and said yes, and then she asked if I would ALSO be willing to teach two kids from the same family of the 16-year-old who might do Biology with me. Of course, I said yes to that, too. A week or so ago, a different lady asked for a young girl to babysit her three children on Monday nights. I will be meeting her to see if we're a good fit for each other sometime within this week. =)

God worked a way for me to do both orchestra AND choir again this year. Though piano lessons are still a little on the downside, I truly believe God will work out a way, if He really wants me to continue with piano. He worked out all of THIS, didn't He?

Funny how a Science class can teach you important lessons, even if it has nothing to do with the class at all. God's been closing a lot of doors, but those closed doors have led to open doors. Through these bad decisions, He's been showing me what I already have and that I don't NEED more. My life won't be fulfilled in a classroom. My life can be fulfilled HERE. At home, where I belong.

And now, I feel quite willing to give up this Science class to build a stronger relationship with the friends around me, with my family, and with God. And I also have more freedom to fit in the job opportunities God has presented to me.

Isn't that wonderful? God took things away so that He could make room for even GREATER things. He put me through these difficult situations in order to fill my life with blessings.

God's great. And miracles DO happen. I am overwhelmed with His love.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Life is like a Bubble

The other day, I was watching my little sisters blowing bubbles. And they were the big kind. Not just the puny-sized, pop-almost-immediately kind of bubbles. These ones were huge. And they were pretty.

As I was watching these bubbles float around in the wind, a thought struck me. Life is like a bubble. Each bubble represents a person's life. No matter how big or small it is (even if it's a puny-sized one), it is significant and it represents something. Bubbles are beautiful. Life is beautiful. Inside these perfectly round spheres of substance is a beauty beyond compare. They may bump around for awhile, get tossed by the wind, clash into walls, be blown higher, but eventually they will have to find a landing place. Eventually, they will touch a surface and pop, having fulfilled their short-term goal in life. Every bubble has to pop. Every life has to end.

But then, that just leaves room for another, more beautiful bubble to emerge. New life. A new beginning. So, our lives are like bubbles. We last for a time, soaring high in the sky with wonderful dreams and aspirations inside of us, but we may or may not reach our intended goal. There will always be bumps in the road. A change in the wind. New dreams, new goals. Life is short. Maybe not as short as a bubble's, but I think you get the idea. And we need to soar while we can. Live and make a difference and give people inspirational thoughts. Just like the bubbles. Our lives may not be long enough to impact the entire world, but if we can just grab the attention of one or two people and help to change them for the better, if we can show them the life and the light of truth that rests inside of us, that will make our life worth living.

We don't live for ourselves. We never reach the destination that we thought we would reach in the beginning. Things move us and change us and we come to something far different, but something that is worth the pain and the stumbling blocks. It is far greater, and wholly rewarding.

Bubbles are amazing things, don't you think? Life is amazing. God is amazing. :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Amazing Grace

Well. The epicness of the OYAN workshop may be long past now, but the adventure lives on. The journey isn't over. Not even close. We're still fighting the battle, we're still living the dream, we're still gasping for air at every turn. Though we all must be wrenched apart by time and distance, we're closer now than ever. We've formed a bond that is truly unbreakable. A bond of love. A bond that'll never snap because of how strong that love is. And here's why.

The workshop left me stunned and awestruck and amazed and so many other feelings that I can't even begin to describe. In short, I was changed. Completely and beautifully changed. God taught me many things throughout that week. He strengthened my ability to love, He showed me that I COULD still love, even after all the bad things that had happened in my life. He gave me hope for the future, a strong hope that I cling to even now. Best of all, He offered me a glimpse of what I truly believe heaven is going to look like. Surrounded by the ones you love each and every day, for all eternity, having a shared love for Christ and for writing and for music that glorifies God's precious name. God lavished grace upon me that week, even through the struggles that I faced, even when I felt alone. Because every time bad feelings arose, every time I started leaning towards self-doubt and self-pity, there was ALWAYS somebody there to comfort me and lift me up. Always someone near to me who understood my feelings and who would give me a hug right at the very moment I needed one.

From the beauty of the critique groups and the wonder of the lectures down to the amazing fellowship I shared with OYANers--people like me--I felt truly blessed. And there was no reason to feel alone in the slightest because at the workshop, God blessed me with the ability to be myself. To not hide my opinion. To act random and crazy and not feel ashamed for it. To dress up in costumes and watch OTHER people dress up in even wilder costumes, and feel like it was the most normal thing on earth. To have long, nerdy conversations about Doctor Who and LOTR and Chopin and other random fandoms and then geek out together about said subjects. To have silly conversations that included My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Russian accents, Fluffnarks, converse, silence marks, lemurs-turned-penguin, the Land of Ood, telepathic mind powers, hats, elf ears, and glomps, and know that such things were not weird to talk about around insane writers. To snap pictures and not feel embarrassed to do strange things in said pics... Well, okay. Maybe I felt a LITTLE embarrassed. :P To laugh and cry on the last day of the workshop when we all gathered around outside of the gym and prayed, and not feel ashamed to cry my heart out in front of so many people because of God's overwhelming grace and love. To sing Amazing Grace at the end of our tearful prayers and look up into the sky, toward the heavens, at all of the twinkling stars above, singing out the words and praising God for the beautiful week that now stood behind us.

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of the Summer Workshop. Thank you for Mr. and Mrs. S, who have made all of this possible. Thank you for all of the speakers--Jeff Gerke, Mark Wilson, Mark Twain, Daniel Schwabauer, and yes, Carrol Schwabauer--who inspired us and who are leading us into victory through the words they shared with us. Thank you for my second family. Thank you for overwhelming me with peace and love. Thank you for showering me with mercy and your infinite goodness.

Thank you for the gift of writing.