What Changes the LORD Can Make in 30 Days!

When presented with this 30-day spiritual journey assignment, my first thought was, ‘Oh good! I will have accountability in applying some of the things I want to be more intentional about now.’ From the beginning of this almost-month time period, I wanted to pursue growth and truth in the areas of fasting, stewardship, and silence and solitude. My goals for this journey included fasting from Facebook completely and being more intentional about my use of electronics, being intentional about making new friendships and strengthening old ones and about using my gifts well, and being intentional about spending good quietness with God and digging into His Word.

                  I learned a lot about fasting during this journey. My main goal for this time was to fast from Facebook because it can be such a distraction from doing the things I need to do, in turn causing delay and distraction from my times with God, my focus on the important things, and my relationships with other people. From the very beginning of this journey I noticed how free I felt after getting off of Facebook. My whole being felt more grounded in the here-and-now; I have felt more authentic since interacting mostly in person. I believe human beings were made to have community in person, not separated by a medium barrier. While I understand that letters, emails, messages, texts, etc. are often needed for long-distance connections, I believe that too often our social constructions today let us off easy when it comes to relationships. It is so much easier to write out damaging criticism and negative things about people because it has become impersonal; in previous generations if one wanted to say something negative to another, they told them to their face. This takes a lot more courage and nerve to do. Since our generation has moved largely to electronic communication, it seems communication has become less civil and more anxiety-filled. I experienced the opposite of uncivil during this journey; I have been more relaxed and at peace in my relationships and within myself. I think that all of the media stimulation becomes too much for me, causing me to be overloaded on unnecessary information and to begin to stress over it even if it is good input. I am a sensitive person, meaning that I am more easily over-stimulated by excitement and thus more easily worn out by levels of sensory input that others find normal. Even if the stimulation is a good thing, I can get too excited or overwhelmed and wear myself out quickly, causing me to become exhausted and anxious. I learned through this journey that minimal media is a very good thing for me. By limiting media input, I help reduce my own sensory input and keep myself from becoming over-stimulated as often. I have decided that I will continue to limit my media use because it benefits me!

                  I experienced much growth over this journey in the area of stewardship. Through my two-fold goal for this journey I learned more about what stewardship looks like and how it is pleasing to God. In the area of friendships, new and old, I enjoyed so many new things. I began going to Streetlight, a campus ministry of NWC students who go to the Marie Sandvik Center to minister to people there by helping the staff, making and serving food, and building relationships with people there. By sacrificing my time and energy to serve at Streetlight, I was exercising stewardship of my time and my gifts. I have already been able to start building relationships with people there and watch God work in them, through them to me, in me, and through me to them. It is so beautiful when God works through my ministry by ministering to me as well! I have also connected with the Streetlight students, bonding through a common goal and purpose even though I didn’t know many of them at all before starting. It is so neat to see God’s people work through community in such unity, being made one through something as simple as a common foundation in God. I have gotten to know so many amazing people and build deeper friendships with them in a month. My roommate Kate and I have gotten to know one another so much better over this month, too. I moved into this room at the beginning of this semester, so though I knew Kate previously, we were not close. We have enjoyed so many good conversations while making cinnamon rolls or cookies, cleaning for room inspections, or before falling asleep at night that have been great bonding experiences. We hosted a prospective student a few weekends ago, which was a great experience in working as a team to make her feel welcome, comfortable, and enjoy her stay at Northwestern. We plan on hosting other prospective students, too, as a result of a positive first experience! Kate was also sick for a week, which gave me a great serving opportunity. I am glad to say that I took it, serving her by bringing her dinner, doing her cleaning, and making her tea. I think both of us were blessed by the extra sleep we got that week!

                  I also grew a lot in my implementation and use of my spiritual gifts. Over the past year I learned that the gifts with which God has blessed me are prayer, prophesy, encouragement, and discernment. I began exploring what exactly prophesy was last year when two different mentoring people told me that I have that gift. Since then I dug deeper into Scripture to explore spiritual gifts and discover which ones God had given me. During this journey I have specifically seen myself blossom with the gifts of prayer and of encouragement, being intentional about listening to God’s Spirit telling me who needs my gift. I have been able to pray for dozens of my friends, learning afterwards why I was praying for them or hearing from them just how impactful my short prayer was to them. It is so satisfying to see God working through me and to obey Him; after all, it is truly what we were made to do. I cannot wait to see how God will continue to use me as I grow in my knowledge and use of my gifts.

                  Silence and solitude has been an area of my life in which I have grown a lot starting last December over break. God showed me that one of the big reasons why I struggled so much last semester was because I did not use my time with Him wisely, either letting it become monotonous or cutting it short. I see that some of the problems that I faced were from not resting in my Creator and living in His Truth about who I am. During this journey I continued what God had started in me in December. I spent time in His Word, pouring over it to see what He wanted to teach me and how He wanted to change me through it. God had been working persistently with me for over a year on a phobia with which I had struggled for years. I knew that He wanted me to experience freedom from bondage, but I did not know how to take the knowledge that I had and move it from knowledge to apply it to circumstances that do not allow time to stop and think. The first week of this journey just before I began journaling, God graciously broke the barrier in me between these two areas and I experienced complete peace and freedom when encountering that phobia for the first time in years. I then continued to allow His peace and rest to wash over me, even when encounters with the previous phobia came up again. Instead of letting myself give into fear, I was able to actually choose peace and freedom, resting in my Abba’s truth of me and letting Him take over my heart. I have had much better relationships with some of my friends as a result, for this phobia was causing my relationships to suffer. Though the fearful thoughts still enter my head sometimes, I choose to focus my thoughts on God, letting Him transform me and entertain my mind. I have made huge progress in this area of previous fear and I feel so free because of it! In the past I have also struggled a lot with loneliness even though I actually really benefit from having alone, quiet time to myself. I believe this was due to some experiences in my home life from middle and high school that caused me to turn to negative thoughts when left alone too long. God has been teaching me a lot about this, and I only experienced those feelings of deep loneliness once over the past month. During that time I was able to rest in my Abba, letting His love wash over me and fill me with peace and contentment instead of restlessness and anxiety.

                  Just this week I hit a roadblock in a significant area of my life that left me doubting myself and questioning my current trajectory for life in the future. As difficult as this has been, I trust God, knowing that He has not and never will change and that He knows exactly what I need when I need it. I can confidently say that I know my God more and better than I did at the beginning of this spiritual journey, and that is the most important part. That is all that truly matters. This journey has not stopped, however; it will continue for the rest of my life on Earth as we know it. I will never stop learning and growing in relationship with the God I call Abba!

Slavery — END IT

Join in the fight for FREEDOM. Spread the truth — bring hope from bondage.

NWC – Hosting Prospies

Who knew that hosting prospective students (affectionately called “prospies”) could be so much fun? 🙂 When my roommate and I decided to start hosting prospies, we didn’t really know exactly what we were in store for, given that neither of us had hosted previously. We figured that it can be a commitment that is as often or not often as we can make work, so it’s ideal for a two-person rooming situation with one roommate being a music major to make sure the prospies get where they need to go on time. 😛

Last night we had our first one! It was a lot of fun; two of our friends also had a prospie staying with them, so we hung out with them, ate in the Nest, walked down to the island to traipse through the freshly-fallen snow, and show them some of the quirks of campus. I think they liked hearing the story about the dead person in the chapel on the island. 😉

I was praying for the prospie we hosted last night ever since we picked to host her a few weeks ago. I pray that God is real to her and that she has a close relationship with Him, listening and obeying. I pray that she is seeking His guidance as to where she should go to school and what she should study. I pray that my roommate and I were able to positively influence her. I pray that she was able to see God in us, through us, and among the people on this campus the last few days. Ultimately, I pray God was glorified. That’s all that REALLY matters. ❤

Some Food for Thought

An Artist in the Dark

      This article was quite fascinating to me. It definitely brought many thoughts of my own to the surface from some recess of the mind, just waiting to resurface at a time such as this. What I find beautiful about it is the way in which the author does not attempt to solve the problem or resolve a firm conclusion. Instead she hypothesizes and thinks out loud for our sakes, yet lays the foundation of what we do ultimately know to be true by the last paragraph.

Abba’s Children

I am Abba’s child. He loves me. He is fond of me. He cherishes me. And all of this… BEFORE I existed in time and space.  Abba made me. He shaped me. He breathed LIFE into me. He sustains me now. He holds my body intact, the sinews of my fingers together as I type this. He speaks each piece of this beautiful creation puzzle into being. I am Abba’s child because of nothing I did or can do. How FREEING! I am resting in this amazing truth, this inexplicable beauty, this magnificent goodness.
You are Abba’s child, too. He loves you. He is fond of you. He cherishes you. And all of this… BEFORE you existed in time and space. Abba made you. He formed you. He shaped you. He breathed LIFE into you. Abba sustains you now. He holds your body intact, the veins and muscles in your eyeballs as you read this. He speaks each piece of this beautiful creation puzzle into being. You are Abba’s child because of nothing you did or can do. How FREEING! Will you rest in this amazing truth, this inexplicable beauty, this magnificent goodness?

Two Homes? Or Between Homes?

I am home again for fall break! This evening has been amazing — a wonderful birthday dinner (thank you, Dad!!), a lovely tour for my friend David who is staying with us for fall break, cuddling with my adorable dog Cody who has been missed and has missed me so much! Also card games with my siblings and David have been quite fun. 🙂
As fun as this has been and even though it has only been one evening, I’m finding myself with a strange predicament of feelings.
I feel as if I have two homes; or maybe I am between homes.
I know this isn’t an uncommon feeling. Missionary kids probably feel this a lot, as do people who move frequently or business kids whose parents move continents often. I came home to find my room switched around and my stuff in boxes or moved. I came home as a visitor. Yet college is not exactly home, either. I share a room with two other people. Now, this is lots of fun, don’t get me wrong, but I am not fully myself there as I have been here at my house. I don’t sing constantly in my dorm room as I do at home. I don’t hum and joke and laugh with my roommates in the same way that I do with my sister and brother.
It’s an interesting feeling… one that I don’t think will truly go away in this life. I mean, we’re always going to be moving around. Even if we aren’t moving around, we’ll still find ourselves in situations and circumstances which lend themselves to awkwardness, loneliness, or fear. There will always be a certain uncomfortableness to life, I’m finding. I think this is a good thing, as painful as it can seem at times. It keeps us on our toes. It keeps us from becoming complacent. It keeps us growing. Thriving. Thinking. It keeps us ALIVE.
As you face uncomfortableness today, think about where Home is. Think about Who makes home Home. Why should we feel at Home where we are now, at this moment in time and place?! In fact, I think I might be frightened if I did feel completely at Home here and now. That would mean there’s no other Place I’m living for, and that certainly isn’t true! Where and When are you living for?

It’s been ONE Month at NWC

On Monday it will be officially one month since I moved here to Northwestern. So much has happened in just this one month that it has felt much longer than that! I have seen my mom twice since they dropped me off 🙂 and I’ve seen the rest of my family once. Here are some serious (and some silly) Pros and Cons from the past month!
Some Pros:

  • I’ve met more music nerds here than I’ve ever met before! 😀
  • I can walk everywhere I need to go! No more driving 20 minutes!
  • There is a more even number of guys to girls here than at Schaeffer. 😉
  • I have listened to all of Bach’s Goldberg Variations for Counterpoint class.
  • By the end of Honors OT, I will have written my own summary book of all of the OT!
  • I can earn MONEY helping people with music theory!! 😀
  • I now have friends from Wisconsin, Hungary, Colorado, Illinois, more from MN, and lots of other places!

Some Cons:

  • I miss sharing a room with Jenna!!
  • It can sometimes be hard to find time (or places) to be alone.
  • I don’t have a piano in my room (though there is one in my building… otherwise there are ~20 practice rooms in Totino!).
  • I do homework ALL weekend and EVERY  afternoon/evening… except for last evening! Maybe I’m getting back into the swing of school and getting faster at writing all these papers and reading all of these books and articles. 🙂
  • Some of my new friends are struggling with difficult things.
  • I am struggling with past things that I never expected would come back up.
  • Too much cleaning! I HATE the strong smells of cleaner in our dorm every Saturday morning. 😛 haha
  • SO many people go home on the weekends! Good for getting homework done, but sad if you want to hang out or goof off with people who left.

Well, I’d better get back to those papers that I mentioned needing to write… 🙂 Adios for now, my friends!

First Two Weeks at NWC!

Hola! I’ve been so busy I could hardly think these past two weeks… but I think I’ve finally figured out somewhat how to manage my time well and get all the papers, readings, and assignments done! It has been such a blast getting started with classes, meeting SO many new people, and learning from amazing professors.
I have met many music majors and had some very fun conversations with some of them! I am in Counterpoint this semester. Counterpoint is an upper-level music theory course in which you learn how to analyze and write independent melodic lines that work together to also create vertical progressions. I am in a small class (6 total students) and everyone else knows each other already, but I have known the answers to questions and been able to answer a couple that I knew I had correct. My professor, Dr. Danek, has a crazy memory. He plays in class many excerpts from inventions and fugues while we are learning the concepts and tells us important things to remember about each of them.
I have been able to unofficially tutor a music theory I student already this semester, too! I am going to talk to the Alpha Center about tutoring because it’s a wonderful program: students get tutoring free and the tutors are paid by NWC! COOL deal. 🙂
I am in 3 honors classes: Public Speaking, Old Testament History and Literature, and History of Western Civilization. Speech is fairly straight-forward; Rhetoric with Mr. H prepared me well last year. 🙂 OT will be lots of paper-writing, but I think I will be very satisfied with the results at the end of the semester. West. Civ. will be SO much reading. We have a huge course packet filled with articles, plus 6 additional small books to read this semester. Good thing I’ve read some of these already with Mr. D and Mr. Phillips! It will be much easier to skim and remember rather than learn brand new material. In honors classes professors don’t give tests or quizzes, so we just do big projects and write many papers. I personally think this is pretty nice! It will certainly make finals week MUCH easier.
I have visited 2 different churches so far and will visit another new one this week. I really liked Bethlehem Baptist the first week; I would like to go back and visit again maybe next weekend. I was very convicted by Pastor John Piper’s sermon on the end of 2 Timothy 4. For worship they took hymns and “modernized” them (for lack of a better term). I enjoyed that immensely! Last week I went to Real Life Church. It was their Youth Sunday, so their youth praise team led worship and the youth pastor spoke about impacting youth. It was very interesting listening to a sermon like that from this side of high school; every time that I remember, I was IN middle or high school when hearing sermons like that. It was a strange feeling to realize that I am not one of them any longer and I now have a different role to play in impacting youth. I have the same role to play in college life that I used to in high school, but it looks different. That is something I have been thinking about and praying about a lot this week: what does it look like to impact college students? High schoolers? Middle Schoolers?? Wow… that requires some more thought.
Please be in prayer for a new friend of mine, Wade Weeldryer. I have not talked to him very much, but he is in two of my classes. His mother just died on Thursday evening from battling a very painful cancer. While his family is rejoicing that she is no longer in pain and that she is with her Savior, they are still grieving her loss.
You can also pray for the spiritual life of the students on this campus. I have seen some on FIRE for our LORD, but I have also seen some who need Him so badly…. it breaks my heart to see them searching for fulfillment in the wrong places. I want to be a light here; I don’t know what that looks like or how God might use me, but I trust that He can and He will, if I let Him. And I WANT Him to use me, even if I’m not “popular”…. I’ve never been popular, so no worries there. 🙂 God has given me an urgency for this campus; may He bring this to action here at Northwestern College. Go Eagles! Go Jesus!! 😀 Thank You for LIFE.

NWC, Here I Come!! T-minus 10 HOURS

Wow. I can’t believe this is actually happening. In just under 10 hours I will be at Northwestern, checking in, moving in, and meeting Lauren and Rachel! I can’t tell you how excited I am, but let me explain another strange feeling that has overcome me this evening.
After I was finished packing (by the way, I packed the van all by myself! 🙂 ), I practiced voice (getting ready for auditions!), cut Cody’s nails and brushed him (I ALWAYS do that… now mom will have to do it sometimes :/ ), and got dressed for my Commission Service (more on that in a minute). And when all that was done and I had my first down moment for the day, I didn’t know what to do. My room is emptier than it’s ever been, my books are packed away… I feel out of home. I know that’s not true, but I feel like I’m in limbo or something.
Tonight I was pleasantly surprised when dad got home to be greeted by a smiling dad with flowers for ME! Aaww. ❤ There were roses in the bouquet, my favorite flower! Then we had a very nice dinner which consisted of sweet corn, ribs, and salsa! I LOVE Dad’s salsa. 🙂 We ate our fill; we cleaned that table off for my Commissioning Service, affectionately called Annie’s Commissioning.
My family went around the table, each giving me something and saying a few things about me to encourage me, challenge me, and tell me how much they love me. My mom started off by telling me that she prays I spread as much JOY at NWC as I do everywhere else! And she challenged me to love God and serve others. 🙂 Jenna gave me a poem that she wrote about me last year all typed up. She also gave me the picture she drew (at my request) to commemorate the day I got the inspiration (literally!) for Breathe In Me, a song I wrote this spring.
Reedie was really sweet and made me a digital picture in the shape of a heart using words that describe me, ending with my name (according to him) – Annieboo. 😛  It was really cool!! Definitely taking it to college with me. 🙂
Finally, Dad. He said a lot of nice things: stuff I’ve learned, ways I’ve grown, how my parents see me living for God… some pretty sweet things. Sadly I can’t remember a lot of it even though I wish I did. 😛 He gave me a bunch of colored pens, too (well, I HAVE been borrowing his for quite a while… 😛 ). Oh, and he used the peanut M&Ms we were eating as an illustration of the “many M&M’s of the seashore” being the blessings I will receive. He was replicating the Abrahamic covenant – COOL. I feel so loved. ❤ This brings me to describe further the STRANGE feeling I have… such mixed emotions. For the past… oh, at least 3 days, I’ve felt like leaving NOW, like I should be there already because most of my classmates are off at school already. But I realized tonight that I don’t know for sure if I’m ready! I mean, I felt really ready before, but now that it’s becoming real, I think I’m going to really miss my family, Rochester, ARC, Crossroads, Schaeffer, my friends… I’m going to miss what I have come to love. But I won’t stop loving the people, places, and things here, I will just be learning to love a new place, new people who will become wonderful new friends, and new things about this time in life that I’ve never experienced before! God, help me to do what You have planned for me!! I want to do what You want me to do. 🙂
Oh man, NWC, here I COME!!!

NWC, Here I Come! ONE Week Left!!

I only have one week left until I move into my dorm room and start college life. I am SO excited to get there and make new friends, learn lots of music and other stuff, and (most importantly) grow closer to God and learn more about His purpose for me.
I am so enthusiastic to meet my roommates, too! We have bought pretty much everything we’re going to need, though we’ll probably find that we need a few other things too, but we officially get to meet one another a week from today! Lauren and Rachel, I can’t wait to meet you!!
My prayer for this next week, Father, is that You might teach me what You want me to know going into this exciting freshman year. Mold my heart and mind into Your likeness. Shape my motivations, attitude, thought patterns, ALL of me into who You want me to be. Rain Your grace in my life. Whisper Your truth in my heart as I go experience many new things and meet so many new people all at once. Guide me to guard my heart and mind with everything that I have, but at the same time to be open and selfless to showing Your love to others as they need. Thank You for being who You are, God! I am constantly in AWE of all You are and I can’t wait to grow in knowing You and being known by You! May this be a year dedicated to You. I give You this school year, Father. It’s for You! It’s all for You!! ❤
Northwestern, I’m ready!! Boy, am I in for an adventure! 😀

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